Traditional marketing was once limited to familiar forms of promotion such as newspaper advertising, billboards, flyers, and direct mail campaigns. The scope of traditional methods ultimately expanded to include radio, television spots, and a few other creative advertising strategies.
When people talk about traditional marketing today, it generally refers to well-known methods with a historical record of generating average results. These time-tested standbys may still have a place in your promotion plan, but the evolution of communication has been turning the page on tradition for some time now, blazing new trails on social media.
Influencer marketing represents a bold, productive development you can use to boost your digital marketing and brand development strategies.
Tapping the Power of Influencers
Navigating today's cluttered marketplace can be overwhelming for producers, service providers, and especially for consumers, trying to make sense of all the overwhelming information we’re fed daily.
Effective marketing solutions use the power of social media to cut through the noise, getting messages to the right people. Influencer marketing does exactly that, targeting the accounts that matter most and connecting them with your audience.
Influencers have the power to sway buyers, driving sales, and they also bring other benefits. Aligning with these advocates can help establish brand credibility, for instance, providing testimonials and reinforcing claims about the goods and services you provide.
Or, an influencer marketing campaign could be tasked with creating a conversation about a new product. Look at almost any celebrity Instagram account, and you’ll see them “tagging” products to push the conversation further, and ultimately, sales for the company being promoted.
Persuading an Audience to Act
Influencers sometimes come from within the supply chain. Retailers and manufacturers, for instance, share expert insight about products, influencing consumer outcomes. Journalists, academics, and analysts can also serve as influencers, shaping public perception of brands and goods.
Celebrities and their endorsements are among the most powerful influencers, now reaching millions of followers and promoting countless lifestyle brands. While influencers can be celebrities, they are mostly bloggers, affiliate sites, social media, podcasts, and vlogs with very large and trusted followings. You can use the power of these influencer accounts to promote your brand, get more likes, and sell more of your products and services.
Creating Influencer Relationships
Depending upon the audience and your reasons for aligning with an influencer, the relationship can bring a number of additional benefits. Influencers convinced your goods and services are worth talking about can drive traffic to your website and help with social signals.
The personal nature of the connection automatically brings your message one step closer to each potential customer and increases your brand awareness. Also, keep in mind, the information shared by an influencer radiates beyond their audience, spreading throughout each audience member's network.
The wide reach and direct nature of effective influencer marketing make it one of the best ways to lure customers to your digital doorstep, and is expected to become a $5 to $10 billion dollar market in the next 5 years.
Word of mouth quickly spreads among social media users, so it is increasingly important to harness it in your favor. Messages about your brand can instantly land on multiple platforms, before they are shared and spread, taking on a life of their own.
Aligning with the right influencer ensures you have an advocate interacting with potential customers through their massive social media accounts.
How do you create alignment with Influencers?
Outreach, outreach, and more outreach.
Outreach and the power of creating valuable connections has and always will be a cornerstone in marketing. Creating content without promotion is like ideas without action - they both go nowhere.
Be crafty with your outreach campaigns and provide value up-front. Nobody likes emails that ask for something without anything in return. Offer your product for free so it can be reviewed, provide a link to their content, and get on their radar by following/commenting on their social profiles. By all means, make sure you do something for the influencer first.
What about E-commerce and Other Platforms?
Savvy shoppers, particularly members of the younger generation, have grown accustomed to doing their own product research. Their search for information naturally brings them into contact with influencers. If you are able to capture the attention of the right bloggers and social media influencers, these invaluable organic encounters give your brand an indirect voice. Since consumers trust third-party sources more than direct self-promotion, an influencer's key "testimonial" role helps close sales and builds loyalty.
The technology is far from ancient, yet Podcasts are experiencing something of a marketing resurgence. The boost in popularity illustrates the public's thirst for alternative entertainment, which results in prime influencer marketing opportunities.
Resources, Software, and...Automation?
Let's be honest. Managing an influencer campaign takes a lot of time to do properly. How do you manage all your outreach? I can tell you from experience, that DMs rarely get read. While I already mentioned the email above, other methods can be more powerful.
If you're simply looking for resources, definitely start at Influencer Marketing Hub. They also have a "platforms" section to help you choose software to manage your campaigns. I've used a few of the options listed, and while some are not cheap, they get results.
All SEOs love automation. IFTTT and Zapier are great to push your own content out to social media channels, but how do you automate outreach and build a following? Social media tools help immensely to build campaigns and stay organized.
I've used various apps to build 500+ followers in a single weekend for certain clients. It takes a lot of work, and you will need the follower base before tackling an influencer campaign.
Influencer Marketing Statistics
Statistics show influencer marketing is outperforming traditional marketing in many ways. More and more stakeholders recognize its benefits, so this progressive form of marketing is on the rise.
According to a recent study, more than one-third of marketers have standalone operating budgets for conducting influencer marketing campaigns. And, since many other influencer dollars are not specifically laid out in budgets, the resources dedicated to this effective practice are probably even more substantial.
Recent responses to an online survey polling marketing managers indicated how much confidence professionals have in influencer marketing. According to 272 managers polled in 2017, 28% identified influencer marketing as the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition method.
More than two-thirds of the professional marketers surveyed anticipated increasing their influence marketing budgets during the coming 12 months. And more than eighty percent reported viewing the strategy as effective. With Instagram influencer business pacing to be a billion-dollar industry this year, the boom could easily add another 50% to the industry's value for 2018.
Like other forms of promotion, it is important to evaluate how influencer marketing fits with your overall strategy. Who are the influencers in your niche? Do their audiences align with your product following? What is your budget? What are your goals?
Answers to these questions can help form the most effective campaign possible, bringing average returns of almost $8 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing to your organization.
Once you've committed to the benefits of this forward-looking marketing method, follow influencers across social media platforms to zero in on brand advocates you may already have. Monitoring social media brings results, and people may already be talking. It’s your digital marketing agency’s responsibility to find the influencers that align well with your audience.
The most effective influencer relationships are authentic, offering genuine insight and helpful commentary about goods and services. For the best collaborations, use quality products and content to attract partners. And above all, make sure your brand image is a perfect fit for the bloggers and social media influencers telling your story across all available channels.