Standing out in the digital age is becoming increasingly difficult. As most businesses know, excessive noise makes it hard for brands to stand out from the rest of the crowd, resulting in lower profits. The wrong kind of influence can numb customers to online advertising, making it even harder to reach your brand’s demographic. From social media onslaughts to email blasts, knowing when your audience is ready to hear you is half the battle – and influencer marketing can be a solution to standing out among the competition.
Why You Should Consider Making a Change in Your Marketing
Between Facebook’s recent misinformation case and Twitter’s toxic culture, consumers do not trust these platforms (and sometimes the companies that use them) to provide them with reliable information. Other ways to reach customers have also been met with resistance. Consumers bombarded by constant marketing have leveraged adblockers to such a degree that it continues to be challenging to break through. People do not want to be overloaded with unreliable, useless information.
Customers are looking for products and services that align with their values and interests in today’s digital landscape. That’s where influencing comes in. Marketing influencers are looked to as relatable, knowledgeable people, and when it comes to advertising, it’s a great answer; no one’s going to block their favorite influencer.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is when brands collaborate with people who have influence – either in the digital work or on social media – to promote products or services.
Think of it as an advertising campaign where a brand pays a popular social media figure to promote and endorse their business. Sometimes it’s subtle, and sometimes it’s an outright promotion. Influencer marketing can be found across platforms, including TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.
Influencer marketing allows brands to create a personal connection with the customer on social media and websites. An influencer has the power to affect consumers’ buying habits because of their expertise in specific fields and, in many cases, their popularity. If an influencer is relatable in the eyes of the consumer, endorsing a product through social media marketing gains the consumer’s trust, resulting in higher product sales. Because there’s nearly a limitless number of industries with popular influencers, every brand can profit from a tactical partnership.
Understanding the Benefits of Influencer Marketing
Influencers are social media personalities with significant followers, who can reach a wide audience, and have established credibility in a certain area or field. Influencer marketing has become significantly more relevant and is utilized across industries, from your neighborhood coffee shop to big brands like Pepsi and Adidas. It’s truly becoming a staple of advertising. In 2021, over 70 percent of marketers reported that they were increasing their influencer marketing budget. Plus, over 10 percent said they intended to spend over 40 percent of their entire advertising budget on influencer marketing.
Collaborating with an influencer to launch a campaign will improve awareness of your brand, site traffic, and direct messages to your target audience. While working with an influencer, brands can easily access their consumer demographic. By connecting with potential customers, there is a higher likelihood that prospective shoppers will commit to a purchase and develop brand loyalty.
Influencers have the ability to engage with a niche group of people. When a specific demographic feels seen and heard by a relatable, authentic social media personality, they are more likely to share the content with their followers. By creating a feeling of authenticity through a social media influencer, consumers feel more confident in their purchase of a product.
By working with influencers who already hold credibility, you’ll be shortening the process of building your fanbase. Instead of spending the time and effort to develop an advertising campaign, a partnership with an influencer can help you outsource the majority of the time-consuming busywork that goes into establishing brand awareness. Because you and the influencer will be able to publish content simultaneously across many social media platforms, not only will you save time, but you’ll build your brand faster.
Influencer marketing has a relatively low cost to start a campaign and normally provides a significant return on investment. Many influencers these days work from home and conduct all of their production, resulting in a lower overhead.
How to Leverage Influencer Marketing
Creating a social media marketing plan with an influencer isn’t necessarily a walk in the park, but there are steps you can take to find an influencer who will positively affect your sales. Growth takes connections. To attract influencers who share your company’s values, you need to find someone that will positively speak to your brand. The best case is to find someone who organically already likes your products or services.
Discovering the ideal individual you would like to partner with can be difficult. Often, brands will use a reputable marketing company to strategize what kind of influencer would be best for their brand.
Before you reach out to an influencer, it is important to identify your goals first and start small. Find one social media platform that your brand is performing well on and partner with an influencer who has a sizable follower count on that same platform. Once you have successfully established a marketing campaign on one platform, you will be able to branch out to multiple other platforms.
The trust you have created with consumers on a single platform can transfer over to a new one, so you won’t have to start from scratch again. Expanding to different platforms can allow you to collaborate with new influencers whose reach you may not have been able to access previously and access more of your target audience.
The Cost of Influencer Marketing
The first step is determining your brand’s budget for marketing and how much of it can be divested to an influencer. Consider whether they will be paid a percentage of the sales they bring in or a flat fee.
A few other questions to consider are:
- What kind of impact do you want your brand to make?
- What is the ideal ROI for this campaign?
- Are you looking for an endorsement from a micro-influencer, someone that has on average about 1,000 followers, or a macro-influencer, an individual that boasts over 100,000?
In 2017, Influence.co conducted a study of over 500 of Instagram’s top followers. They found that:
- The average price per post across all influencers was $271.
- Micro-influencers average $83 per post.
- Macro-influencers average $763 per post.
Cost can vary between industries as well. Accounts that primarily post modeling content are the most popular across all of Instagram, which drives up the cost per post. Promotion by modeling-related accounts averages a cost of $430. Accounts that curate photography-related content typically average about $385. Food, pet, and fitness-related accounts average roughly $300 per post. Overall, companies who engage in influencer marketing spend less than $10,000 per year.
Influencer marketing is widely considered a cost-effective advertising strategy, with an average return of $18 per dollar spent. Because influencers have become so advanced and skilled with their own technology, production costs are remarkably low. There is no longer a need to hire a professional photographer or models because the influencer takes on that role themselves. Typically, the influencer will incorporate production costs into their price per post, so there are no additional fees.
How to Choose the Right Influencers
Research is key to finding the best influencer to represent your brand. It is important to remember that just because a popular individual has a large following does not mean that they will be able to connect with your specific demographic. Wide generalizations turn consumers away, so finding someone that can reach your particular target audience is ideal. You need to tailor your search to niche influencers who will be a friendly and positive voice for your brand.
If an influencer already posts similar content to your service, that’s a good sign. For example, if you’re opening a restaurant and want to get the word out, partnering with a local Instagram foodie would be a great place to start. It’s a bonus if they have previously promoted similar services or products to your brand.
Follower count is important, but it shouldn’t be your main focus when searching for an influencer you’d like to partner with. Influencers with roughly a thousand followers can still provide great reach to potential consumers. Lower counts can also result in better engagement and campaign reach ratios.
Be aware that spam accounts exist, and some individuals buy followers instead of organically building their platform. As part of your research, make sure to check the engagement levels on their feed. Have someone follow their account to consider whether their engagement is genuine. When an account has a mediocre engagement ratio to follower count, there’s a very good chance that it is more spam than influence.
How to Measure the Success of an Influencer Marketing Campaign
The success of your marketing campaign is largely based on the goals and KPIs (key performance indicators) that you determine before launching your influencer promoted content. Goals and KPIs can be very different from brand to brand, but there are some signs of success that are generally industry-wide.
- Engagement. After launching an influencer marketing campaign, the first metric you should measure is engagement. Engagement is measured by dividing the interactions on a single post by an influencer’s total follower count. Every person who interacts with your influencer’s post promoting your brand is a potential customer. The type of engagement matters a lot; it is a great indicator that the campaign has been successful if the influencer’s followers ask questions about your product or services. It’s important to note that your brand account should be joining in the conversation to answer questions in more detail than the influencer – since you’re the experts, of course.
- Traffic. If you’re building up your brand, site traffic is going to be the next metric you’ll want to look at. This should generally increase after the first or second posts by your chosen influencers. An increase in site traffic means that potential buyers are interested in your product and that you will have a greater likelihood of turning them into customers.
- Sales. If your site is set up to capture customer information, it will create leads for your product or service sales. Email sign-ups are a great way to continue promoting your product to the customer and funnel them to making an initial purchase. Email sign-ups can also increase sales when discount codes or abandoned cart follow-ups are sent out.
Sales Is a Metric, But Not the First Indicator of Success
At first, an increase in sales should not be your initial indication that you have run a successful campaign. In the beginning, your audience won’t be familiar with your brand yet. Focusing on engagement and site traffic from the get-go will help with the long-term goal of an increase in sales. As long as you partner with the right influencers and develop a strong digital marketing strategy, you will have a favorable ROI or return on investment.
Most sales increase after a few posts and a good indicator that your campaign has become successful is the conversion rate of leads and sales through referral traffic. Determining the source of the most traffic, whether it be a variety of things like trackable links or promo codes, will tell you what aspects of your marketing campaign can continue to be invested in. Methods that do not consistently provide a suitable conversion rate open an opportunity for your brand to try something new. Identifying and relinquishing the unsuccessful aspects of your influencer marketing campaign allows you to discover different potentials for increasing conversion rates.
Why Influencer Marketing Is the Next Big Thing
Customer mistrust of brand-created content and increased ad-blockers has made it difficult for brands to reach their target demographic without getting lost in the social media noise. Hiring an influencer to promote products in a conversational and authentic way to a set demographic will turn prospective shoppers into brand-loyal consumers.
Almost all industries have adopted some form of social media marketing as a major part of their advertising strategies. Influencer marketing is useful for everyone, and if your brand has not engaged in social media marketing, the time to do so is now.