Ask any savvy advertiser when the tectonic shift in marketing occurred, and they might pinpoint the rise of digital content, or the ubiquity of social media, or the intersection of the two. But looking at it through a wider lens, it’s easy to see that the dwindling efficacy of traditional ads coincided with the rise of the millennial generation. This group (those born after 1980) grew up immersed in technology, and many have been tethered to social media since they were old enough to manipulate a keypad. These consumers can sense the hard sell a mile away, and they value authenticity above all else. Forward-thinking brands have appealed to this new demo by focusing on peer recommendations, usually via social media. Thus, influencer marketing was born. Here are five reasons brands and advertisers will want to go all in on it this year.

Influencer marketing beats all other strategies
Where it concerns customer acquisition channels, influencer marketing leaves the competition in the dust. Looking at the trend closer, it’s not difficult to see why this is occurring. The popularity of influencer marketing is increasing in relation to the popularity and expansion of social media. Where once influencers relied primarily on vlogs and blogs, they can now be found on almost every social platform under the sun, from Snapchat and Vine to Youtube and Instagram. The proliferation of new mobile-optimized social media platforms gives influencers access to increasingly larger audiences who can be reached anytime, anywhere via their smartphones. You simply can’t get the same reach or engagement with ads.

No one blocks an influencer
With almost 50% of all Internet surfers utilizing some form of ad-block technology, it’s no wonder pop-ups aren’t having the desired effect. With influencer marketing you’re not paying for the possibility of reaching a target demo—you’re buying a direct path to conversion, provided the brand in question has sound market research on their end. That’s because trust has already been established, and the long reach of the influencers paves the way.

It’s as cost effective as they come

Influencer marketing yields $6.50 for every $1 invested. (2)

Brands operating with limited budgets might still think traditional email marketing campaigns are good bang for the advertising dollar—and they’d be right. After all, how much does it cost to disseminate an email blast? However, not only is influencer marketing a cost-effective advertising strategy, it’s actually tied with email marketing as the most cost-effective channel out there. Want an even more savory statistic? Businesses are averaging a whopping $6.50 per every dollar they spend on influencer marketing. It’s hard to argue with such an attractive ROI.

Content isn’t as effective without influencer marketing
Many businesses have rightly upped their content output to keep brand awareness at a fever pitch. But since 2014 engagement has been decreasing. It’s not that the public is no longer hungry for content—far from it. But they now prefer to receive their messaging via a trustworthy entity. Enter the influencer. Brands who supplement their original content with influencer marketing will not only see greater engagement, but they’ll be able to track KPIs more effectively.

Influencer marketing yields more engaged customers
Many businesses are realizing that influencer marketing delivers far more valuable customers than other tactics for one simple reason: word of mouth. There’s no clearer path to conversion than strong buzz, and influencers with loyal audiences have no problem creating generating meaningful buzz for products and brands they like. So not only does strong word of mouth lead to conversions, but consumers often times become brand advocates, sharing their positive experience across their own social media channels, feeding the cycle and increasing average order sizes.

These are a few of the reasons influencer marketing is primed to explode, and why all marketers need to make this a big part of their strategy in 2016. But one other crucial stat is this: 59% of marketers plan to up their influencer marketing budgets this year. Will your brand be left out in the cold?