What is influencer marketing and why your brand should you use it

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Influencer marketing is here to stay. 

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It’s been embraced by both small and large companies, who have the vision to see how working with key influencers can build a brand. As a strategy, it’s evolving and growing and those businesses not already investing some of their marketing budgets into this area could be missing a big trick.

What is influencer marketing?

Your social feed is full of posts showing you how to become healthier, earn a better income, have a better relationship. Your emails are from bloggers or online business owners you admire recommending products or services that they know will be of benefit to you. Some of these posts and emails will hit home, and you will go on to make a purchase. When this happens, you have become part of the influencer marketing phenomenon.

As an idea, influencer marketing is not a new concept as it is based on the foundation of recommendations, referral or word-of-mouth advertising, which has long been in existence. Television advertising has used it to good effect by employing celebrities to endorse products. Now, however, influencer marketing is based on key individuals creating content that sparks conversation and a desire to purchase.

This desire is built on how the audience perceives the referrer or influencer. Successful influencers build a following based on great content that delivers knowledge and experience within their chosen field. Their audience not only enjoys their content but usually receives something of value along the way. This can be in the form of tips, tricks, new knowledge or just pure entertainment.

The audience respects and trusts the influencer, based on their experiences with them to date. For example, the influencer talks constantly about a book they have read and recommends their audience read it too. They read the book and love it too. Or perhaps the influencer records a video of a recipe, which is easy to follow and tastes great. Others try the recipe and it works so well that when the influencer publishes the next video their viewers can’t wait to try it.

When an influencer then shares new content discussing third-party brands or products, the market is already primed towards the influencer’s choices and much more likely to follow the recommendation. A recent survey shows that 70% of buyers take the recommendations of peers into account before purchasing, demonstrating the capacity of this form of marketing.

Why use influencer marketing?

“Influencers are people. People (or maybe personas) with a brand and an audience. What makes them attractive to advertisers is their ability to speak to a very defined group of fans. The way the ecosystem is maturing looks a lot like the internet in the early days” – Mike Schmidt, Founder Dovetale.

As the above quote points out, influencers are people, and this is the key aspect of influencer marketing. Gone are the days of bland press releases, TV ads that feature models that don’t represent a real human being, or celebrities being paid to endorse a product.

Advertising mediums are changing, and influencer marketing has arisen in response. Consumers spend more time on social platforms and respond better to those they see as their peers. Influencer marketing targets audiences in the environments they spend time in and approach them on their level. Buyers of today look to each other for recommendations, rather than directly to companies.

Trust in your brand

With the internet now a more crowded marketplace than ever, finding ways to make your own brand stand out is crucial to long-term success. Positive exposure from a respected voice helps to build trust in your brand, which makes consumers not only sit up and take notice but remember you longer.

According to a Nielsen survey, 92% of consumers trust ‘earned’ media, word-of-mouth or recommendations from family and friends as opposed to other types of advertising. Influencer marketing is a referral form of advertising and goes a long way towards building long-term trust.

Your target audience

One aspect of influencer marketing that makes it so exciting for brands is its ability to put products right in front of a warmed up target audience. Investing research into finding the best influencer to recommend your brand results in your products being exposed to an audience who is already open to your type of products or industry.

Targeting not only the right audience but also a warm audience can have a big effect on your bottom line. Pitching an ice cooler to an Eskimo may not be the most effective strategy but approaching an avid audience of summer campers looking for ways to make their camping experience even better could see your profits double. Building a relationship with one key person in this area could see your product exposed to thousands more.

Improve your SEO

Although influencer marketing is an effective standalone sales pitch, it also has the bonus of aiding your SEO and in turn boosting your search rankings. The more influencers that are discussing your products, the more your brand awareness increases. This positively affects your SEO in several ways:

  • Lots of fresh content about your brand and your product, increasing visibility, awareness and engagement
  • An increased chance of sharing of your posts, links, and content that mentions your product. As your company or product name is mentioned more and more across social channels, Google will rate your popularity by pushing you up the rankings, which is the ultimate aim of search engine optimization

Accelerated growth rate

Marketing is not cheap and takes time and effort to plan, monitor, track and tweak. Getting customers is only half of the battle, as keeping them is equally as important. Influencer marketing creates twice as many sales as display advertising, and the retention rate is 37% higher, supporting that influencer marketing not only captures new customers but keeps them too.

The growth rate of influencer marketing is also outstripping other forms of marketing. A test program by Silk Almond Milk showed that it creates as much as 11 times the ROI as banner ads. Committing chunks of your marketing budget to influencer marketing creates a return not seen elsewhere.

Hanging out on social media

Consumers have changed. They are now more likely to browse Facebook or Instagram than the ads section of their local newspaper, usually on a mobile platform. Advertising methods need to move with the times or face being left behind, and the popularity and growth of influencer marketing show how this shift is already happening.

Getting your brand exposed through social platforms is now a key aspect of building your brand, and influencer marketing contributes to this exposure in a big way. In 2017 it was reported that 12.9 million brand-sponsored influencer posts were published on Instagram alone, and it has continued to grow. We’ve seen the Federal Trade Commission increase guidance for influencers and brands around the visibility of ads and paid partnerships; read more about this here.

Produce content

Content has been hailed as king for a long time online, although now content is not just available in the written form. Online users love fresh content and avidly read articles or watch videos created by their favorite bloggers. Influencers are very good at producing content and if they focus on your brand, you can then use it (with permission). Not only is the content being digested by the influencer’s audience but will also help with your own ranking and popularity.

This content also provides opportunities for the future to repost, share and deploy, helping to keep your product and brand alive for much longer than it would from a different type of advertising. Influencers also often perceive brands from a new perspective and provide fresh and interesting content.

Cost-effective

If the ROI is good, the cost of an advertising campaign is not necessarily the first thing to consider. But the good news with influencer marketing is, not only does it give a good ROI, but it is a relatively inexpensive method to set up, compared to other forms of advertising.

On average, for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, the revenue created is worth %6.50. Compare this to PPC, where every $1.60 makes $3, plus, the viewing time is about seven times longer for content produced by influencers.

The actual cost of influencer marketing depends very much on the influencer, as some require payments, some take goods or gifts in return (see Awin’s guide to influencer gifting here) and some don’t charge at all. PPC, however, can reach into the thousands per month for management fees, plus the cost of the clicks is then charged on top.

The net result

Take a look at some case studies and it’s clear to see that the net result of influencer marketing is creating more and more sales, both on and offline. Affiliate networks like Awin and ShareASale have experience in influencer marketing and can advise marketers on further strategies on how best to utilize this technique.

Of course, there are many factors that add up to the ultimate success stories, but it's clear that not only is influencer marketing here to stay, but those brands not already implementing will be left behind within the competitive online platform. To make sure this isn’t you, consider adding influencer marketing to your advertising arsenal.  If you’d like to discuss influencer marketing in more detail, please contact our publisher management team

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Social media and Influencer Marketing might commonly be associated with eCommerce and retail brands, but these powerful tactics readily apply across all industries, from lifestyle to professional services. Maximizing the value of self-published content can be a challenge, particularly with limited resources, but the added value of influencers can help brands across all industries effectively reach consumers in a way that inspires genuine enthusiasm.