One of the main highlights at Social Media Week NY this year was the growing importance of influencer marketing and how it’s helping marketers reach target audiences in more effective, authentic, and affordable ways.
Let’s dig in to what influencer marketing really is and how it could be a game-changer for your brand.
Influencer marketing encompasses several steps to create branded user-generated content that supports your digital marketing goals. These include identifying key individuals that resonate with your target audiences, marketing your brand to those influencers, activating those influencers to spread your brand’s message through their own networks, and finally, turning those influencers into loyal brand advocates.
92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands. Influencer marketing allows brands to break into that circle of trust in a way that feels organic and welcomed because it is relevant, reliable, and relatable.
The key to achieving this is building authentic relationships, creating high-quality content, and having a focused strategy.
The average American is exposed to 5,000 ads per day and can’t possibly process them all, leading to lower recall of marketing messages. In 2015, 47% of online customers used ad block technology, in response to dissatisfaction with digital advertising.
Influencer marketing circumvents these frustrations by delivering a highly-visible and relevant message from a trusted and welcome source.
Major challenges affecting marketers include questions of attribution, skyrocketing prices, and market saturation. Influencer marketing can easily be analyzed using web tracking and focusing on deeper engagements, such as engagement rates, comments, and sentiment, as well as clicks and conversions. It also generates more than twice the sales than that of display advertising, and those customers have a 37% higher retention rate than other acquisition channels. Plus, email and influencer marketing provide the most cost-effective channels for brands, however those prices are rising as popularity increases.
Simply put, if you’re not activating influencer marketing for your brand, you’re missing out on the fastest growing channel for customer acquisition, surpassing email, organic search, paid search, and display.
51% of marketers report that they acquire better customers through influencer marketing than other channels and have the ability to reach varied and diverse audiences. Beyond just B2C marketing, 84% of B2B buyers start the purchasing process with a referral.
A well-crafted influencer identification strategy will yield the strongest return. Different product categories have different influencers, usually with an overlap of less than 15%, so it’s important to select influencers accurately and appropriately.
Following general industry trends, automation and machine learning are also beginning to play a part. At SXSW this week, there was buzz around a start-up’s announcement that it would begin to help programmatically purchase user-generated content from Snapchat and Instagram influencers, beginning in April 2016, further enabling marketers to reach their selected audiences quickly and precisely.
Beyond meeting immediate marketing goals, an influencer marketing strategy can significantly boost your brand’s search rankings. Customers who seek information on social media will also use search engines during their decision making process.
According to The Social Media Revolution, user generated social posts account for 25 percent of search results for the world’s top 20 brands. The more people mention your brand on social media, the more popular and relevant you will be on Google and other search engines.
Influencer marketing is expanding rapidly with 70% of brands increasing their social budget over the next 12 months and 59% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budget over the next 12 months.
If you are not currently thinking about what it can do for you, it’s time to take advantage. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.