If you are not using influencer marketing in your marketing strategy, you are missing out. Nearly 50 percent of consumers use influencer recommendations when they are shopping for a product or service, according to the Digital Marketing Institute. Since its relatively recent inception, influencer marketing has become one of the fastest-growing methods of attracting new customers today.
Fifteen years ago, word-of-mouth marketing was the go-to method for businesses to attract new customers. Word-of-mouth marketing meant exactly that — recommendations that were spread via conversation; one person chatting with another. Today, influencer marketing is the new word-of-mouth strategy.
Want to know how to incorporate this modern take on a more traditional style of marketing in your own strategy? Follow along for the lowdown on influencer marketing, from what it is to how to use it to build your customer base and boost your bottom line.
Word of Mouth and Celebrity Endorsements
In the 1990s and early 2000s, TV ads featuring celebrities were the most effective way to sell products and services. Celebrities provided the shining example of who consumers wanted to be. When they said a product was good, the public figured the stars knew what they were talking about.
Today, word-of-mouth marketing is taking a more natural approach. Brands are now partnering with influencers, from celebrities to Instagrammers and bloggers. Businesses are tuning into the benefits of asking these new stars to feature their products and services on their social media channels, YouTube or their blog. Influencer marketing is born.
The Introduction of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing takes the concept of celebrity endorsement and places it within a content-driven marketing campaign. At its most basic level, influencer marketing is a hybrid of traditional and newer marketing tools.
There is no doubt that influencer marketing has had a significant impact on more traditional marketing methods. Virtual word-of-mouth marketing, which began with review sites like Yelp, offered marketers the opportunity to target local markets and use ratings to leverage their brand. Although this form of advertising is still relevant and used by some businesses, influencer marketing is rapidly growing in both size and popularity as the more effective method of word-of-mouth marketing used today.
Influencer marketing can be an effective choice of marketing for businesses of all types and sizes. This versatile approach is a budget-friendly option that is further enhanced by another form of cost-effective advertising — social media marketing. More traditional word-of-mouth and other marketing techniques aren’t used as frequently as they once were, as small brands specifically are moving away from these options to use more modern and affordable methods of attracting new customers and building customer loyalty.
The Real Cost of Influencer Marketing
The explosive growth of influencer marketing cannot be understated. As many as 84 percent of marketers anticipated launching at least one influencer campaign during the year, eMarketer predicted. Big Commerce reported that 65 percent of influencer marketing budgets will increase this year as well. Businesses of all sizes are taking advantage of influencer marketing, with many brands choosing this strategy as their primary marketing method.
What are these bigger budgets purchasing?
It is important to note that influencer marketing can be highly expensive, particularly when celebrity influencers like the Kardashians are used. However, you don’t have to choose major (and pricey) influencers to get the job done. Micro-influencers also can offer a highly effective form of influencer marketing for a much lower price.
A study conducted by Collective Bias found that while 70 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product marketed by a celebrity influencer, 30 percent of consumers prefer to buy products marketed by non-celebrity influencers. It turns out that the general population often can relate better to these lesser-known influencers. This is what provides value in using micro-influencers.
If you are marketing to teens, micro-influencers tend to have an even greater impact. The Digital Marketing Institute found that 70 percent of teens trust an influencer over a celebrity. Why? It could be an issue of perceived familiarity. The same research discovered that 40 percent of teens think influencers know them better than their own friends.
You can’t talk about the cost of influencer marketing without considering ROI. In this area, influencer marketing seems to offer an excellent return, based on what others are saying about the strategy. Big Commerce reports that 89 percent of businesses say their ROI from influencer marketing is higher than, or comparable to, other modes of marketing. Of that number, more than half said the ROI was better.
Influencer Marketing and Social Media: The Perfect Match
Influencer marketing and social media are not one and the same, but they can work very well together. Most influencer marketing campaigns have at least an element of social media to them since these channels are a primary way in which influencers relate to their own audiences.
One reason social media works so well in this marketing strategy is that there are plenty of potential customers using these channels regularly. A Pew Research Center survey from 2018 found that 68 percent of online Americans use Facebook, while 73 percent use YouTube. More than one-third use Instagram and more than one-quarter use Pinterest.
These channels encourage interaction among influencers and their followers. The more personal touch explains why consumers think influencers might understand their needs better than celebrities, or (in the case of teenagers) their own friends.
What Is a Micro-Influencer?
Before you can create a marketing campaign using a micro-influencer, it helps to define exactly what a micro-influencer is. These virtual celebrities usually have a following of a few hundred to a few thousand within a very specific niche. The niche allows you to target your market with unprecedented precision in many cases.
Micro-celebrities are much more reachable than celebrities, communicating directly with their following via social media platforms, websites and regular blogs. They tend to have very high engagement rates as they form relationships (albeit virtual connections, in many cases) with their followers. Since your micro-influencer already has those connections with potential customers, you will form relationships as well through the micro-influencer you choose.
Benefits of Working With a Micro-Influencer
Social proof is the process of building credibility with your target audience. While people today are often slow to trust businesses they encounter online, they still have confidence in their family, friends, and others they determine to be like them most of the time. It is through these channels that you can establish social proof.
Micro-influencers are an excellent source of social proof. These people can engage with your target audience through a variety of channels, including social media and online content. In addition to alerting potential customers about your goods or services, they can provide information and answer questions about your business to inspire customers to go to your website and make a purchase.
The Formula for Success: Launching Your Influencer Marketing Campaign
Establishing an influencer marketing campaign begins the same way as any other campaign strategy. The first step is to define your target market. Who exactly do you want your chosen influencer to reach?
The next step is to determine your goal for your campaign, whether it is to promote familiarity of your brand or entice customers to buy your product or service. Lastly, choose the analytics you are going to use to measure the success of your campaign. Key performance indicators (KPIs) can include awareness, engagement, purchases or loyalty.
Once you have established the parameters and goals for your campaign, you can begin the selection process for the influencer you want to use. Identifying the right influencer for you may require the most research of all. You can start with Google searches, databases, marketplaces or networks to find the names that are best known in your niche.
When you approach an influencer to establish a working relationship, make sure that relationship is mutually beneficial. Most influencers prefer the payment of cold, hard cash for their services. The appropriate amount will require more research on your part to ensure you are offering a fair amount based on the reach of the influencer and the results they can produce. Other possibilities include free products or services, or commission on every sale you make.
As the campaign launches, get ready to track your results. Affiliate codes can be an easy way to determine precisely how much your influencer is adding to your performance. Through regular analytics, it is easier to tweak and tinker with your campaign to ensure you are maximizing your ROI for your efforts. You can also determine whether you chose the best influencer for your product or if you might want to look at a different person the next time around.
At PPA Agency, we know how to leverage influencer marketing to build your brand, sales and bottom line. Don’t try to navigate the complex world of digital and influencer marketing on your own. Contact PPA Agency today or call (614) 837-1998 and find out how we can help you take your marketing strategies to the next level.