Influencer marketing, or using key personalities to spread the message of your brand to your target market, is on the rise—and for good reason. It delivers high ROI for your brand, helps you dial in your strategy by really understanding your audience and expands the reach potential for your message. In short, it helps you connect with your consumers by using the voice and presence of someone they already respect. Here’s how to do it and why it works.
A Three-Tiered Approach
Influencer marketing relies on leverage, as you’re expecting (and often paying) said influencer to use his/her presence to persuade followers, family, and friends. It isn’t, however, a lone wolf. Social media marketing and content marketing often go hand-in-hand with influencer marketing, making it a pretty unstoppable trio. It all makes sense if you think about it: What is a great way for influencers to connect with those they, well, influence? Social media. What do they distribute? Those videos, articles, interviews, PSAs—that’s all content. If your brand can create and send content that complements what your influencer is already releasing on those social media outlets, you’ve just expanded your reach without much expansion of your workload.
Tomson surveyed 125 marketers about their relationship with influencer marketing, and the results speak to the prevalence and effectiveness of the tactic. Here are some highlights from the findings:
- Fifty-nine percent of marketers will increase their influencer spending budgets over the next 12 months.
- Influencer marketing and email are tied for most cost-effective customer acquisition tool (22 percent each), coming in just ahead of organic search (19 percent).
- Fifty-one percent of respondents said the customers they get from influencer marketing are better than those acquired through other channels, and 38 percent said customer quality was the same.
- Half of marketers focus primarily on leads and sales (read: ROI) from their influencer marketing efforts, while 40 percent focus on engagement with their brands.
- Blogs are the most effective influencer marketing channel. See Figure 1 below to see how other platforms, like Facebook and Google+, stacked up.
- Influencer marketing is the fastest growing customer acquisition channel (22 percent), as shown in Figure 2 Affiliate marketing ranked last (with only 5 percent).
The Key to Effective Influencer Marketing? Be Genuine.
An effective influencer marketing campaign requires a true, established relationship between the brand and the influencer. If that doesn’t exist, find another influencer or risk losing the one thing that connects your audience to them in the first place—credibility.
As my business partner, Daniel Newman, warned in a piece written for Forbes, “For an influencer marketing campaign to be successful, it needs to have honesty, unbiased views, and transparency as the key ingredients. Take these factors out of the equation and it ceases to be influencer marketing.” Basically, that, my friends, is where marketers start to sink into a gray area and can, if they’re not careful, commit the ultimate, sales-busting sin of appearing disingenuous. You don’t like to feel played or patronized, and your consumers are no different.
So, there are big consequences to getting influencer marketing wrong. The good news? There are substantial rewards for getting it right. Do you remember that Tomoson study I mentioned earlier? It reported that businesses made $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Talk about ROI! I’d say the risks are worth the reward in this case, so just be mindful of your influencer marketing approach.
Have you had any success with influencer marketing for your brand, or are you still trying to build the right kind of relationships to get there? What is it about your target audience that makes your influencer—or future influencer—so persuasive? Perhaps you could incorporate a little of whatever that secret connection ingredient is into your own brand image in 2016. Here’s what I mean . . . is your influencer super approachable? If so, shouldn’t your brand be that way? Is he/she calm and sophisticated or hip and vibrant? Would you use any of those terms to describe your brand? Take some cues from who is responding to your influencer and incorporate those into your overall presence, and you might see ROI grow in other places, too. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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This article was originally seen on The Marketing Scope blog.