Influencer marketing is exploding onto the scene. It’s the hottest topic—all the rage—we need to be doing it now!
Wait, hold on a second. What exactly is it again?
Oh yeah, it’s a marketing strategy that uses highly influential people to promote your brand, which makes it a lot like leveraging spokespeople…which means that it’s been around for, well, thousands of years actually.
Why Influencer Marketing Is So Big Now
There are two important reasons why brands are using influencer marketing more than ever. The first is because it’s happening in an unbelievably hyper-connected world. People are able to better find each other and coalesce into niche interest groups more easily than ever before. It’s why we have such diverse networks like the 923,000 active sub-communities on Reddit, or the rise of pet influencers. People are finding other people who like the same things, put simply.
The second is that the digital marketing ecosystem is getting crowded and ads are getting ignored or blocked altogether. According to eMarketer, this year alone, 69.8 million Americans will use an ad blocker—a jump of 34.4% over last year. Next year, that number is expected to jump to 86.6 million people. Everybody and their mothers are clamoring for people’s attention. Even as long ago as 2013, industry leaders like Marketo were touting the dangers of attention deficit in the digital era, and we are no doubt nearing the singularity of media saturation.
Together, these circumstances present a major challenge for marketers everywhere to target the right people and be a part of the conversation. Your buyers are shifting their attention to authentic content from people with similar views who they can trust in their buying decisions.
Here are a few statistics that back this idea up:
- 70% of people 18-34 years old said that their recommendation preference was from an influencer, according to MediaPost.
- 85% of B2B decision-makers rely on trusted online communities when buying, according to Forrester’s 2013 report, “The Social Behaviors Of Your B2B Customers.”
- 20-50% of all buying decisions are directed by word of mouth recommendations, according to McKinsey & Company.
Influencer marketing is incredibly powerful because it empowers brands to go directly to those authentic, trusted voices that buyers have already been turning to. Better yet, influencers can help boost the ROI across your entire marketing organization, if used the right way!
Here are the four big ways that influencers can turbocharge your marketing campaigns:
1. Influencer Marketing By Itself Has an Incredible ROI
This is the real attention grabber and the easy one: according to eMarketer, influencer marketing returns $6.50 for every $1 invested. That’s a 650% return!
These factors contribute to the high return:
- The audiences of influencers are opted in, which means they’re already looking to their favorite influencers for information and advice, like recommended purchases.
- In-depth product reviews and walkthroughs, in the form of videos or blog posts, help drive buyers further down the purchasing funnel than typical ads because they’re perceived as being educational, not promotional.
- Influencers can produce recurring content to demonstrate loyalty to products that they love.
2. Influencers Expand Your Brand’s Reach
One of the biggest challenges for modern marketers is targeting the right audiences. With a marketing automation platform, you can create audience segmentations, monitor behaviors, and run multi-channel marketing programs that target people with the right content throughout their buyer’s journey. However, influencers give you access to a different audience, one that you might not be able to reach directly through your brand.
Influencers wield highly active and perfectly targeted groups of followers—a sea of people already clamoring for answers to the questions that your solution solves. By disseminating your message through them, you’re releasing your influencers as homing missiles to identify and dig up highly motivated buyers you otherwise couldn’t find.
By digging into data from your influencer campaigns, you can understand what niche segments resonate strongest for a given product or service. When they strike gold, you’ll gain a treasure map that leads back there every time. New niches will suddenly become well-charted territory, and when an unexpected new customer signs on, you’ll seize the opportunity to break open the new vertical.
3. Influencers Can Break Through the Noise
There are two TVs in your buyers’ rooms: one full of annoying paid ads and the other with content that they actually want to watch. Influencer marketing puts you squarely on that valuable second screen. Influencers are the people that your buyers are already tuned into, be that over social media, forums, or professional groups, and you can reach your buyers directly through them without having to navigate through ad-wariness and spam-filtering instincts. You become of the content they want to consume, rather than the ad they’re trying to skip.
One thing to note: you’ll see your influencers bend and warp your message ever so slightly as they deliver it. This could be a good thing! They’re showing you in real-time precisely what words and ideas are most potent to your buyers, and that data is invaluable to sharpen all of your other campaigns. However, if their tweaks start to change your overall messaging, you’ll want to check in with them.
4. Influencer Marketing Fuels Credible, Authentic Content
This is the big, hidden 90% of the influencer marketing iceberg that nobody ever talks about: influencer marketing is pretty much the answer to your content shortage. By delegating some creative authority to tried-and-true professionals who happen to also be customers, you’re going to watch your influencers dream up stuff you never imagined. And if they’re not customers (yet), consider giving them a demo, free trial, or sneak peek at your product.
From those in-depth videos, beautiful images, and powerful testimonials, you’re going to amass an armory of content that you retain the rights and can have a tremendous impact on ROI, fueling your campaigns with credible content. Additionally, by using an influencer platform, you’ll be able to immediately scale up your content creation and track the impact of all your influencer content across channels.
Putting It All Together
All told, influencer marketing is the hottest new (but not so new) thing because it’s delivering amazing results. Not to mention, influencers can augment other areas of the business and make your entire marketing organization more effective.
So the question then isn’t whether you’re going to try influencer marketing—according to Adweek, 75% of brands are already using it. It’s inevitable. The question is: how long will your marketing organization survive without it?
Are you part of the 75% of brands doing influencer marketing? I’d love to hear your insights in the comments below.