As both an influencer for brands and a marketer who develops and manages influencer campaigns for clients, I am well aware of the value of influencer marketing. Add to the equation the fact that I’m also a consumer, and I see in real time the value of influencer marketing—because I make purchases based on influencer recommendations. So what, really then, is the impact of influencer marketing on consumers? Let’s take a look.
There are many challenges when it comes to brands and agencies executing successfully when it comes to influencer marketing and the impact of influencer marketing on consumers. The interesting thing about influencer marketing, or at least one interesting thing, is that far too often, brands and agencies have no real idea how to measure the success of influencer relationships. In fact, according to a study on influencer marketing by Linqia, 79 percent of marketers responding to the survey reported their biggest challenge for 2018 is determining ROI, a continuing problem.
I believe that not only are marketers challenged by ROI, they are equally, if not more challenged by the idea of developing in campaigns in such a way as to truly be able to measure any kind of significant ROI. What do I mean by ‘significant ROI’ … oh, how about something like sales, how an influencer actually moved a needle in some way, caused a sale or a desired action. Most brands and agencies are still in the dark ages of being wow’ed by ephemeral things like “reach” and seduced by follower numbers that are largely insignificant, so it will be interesting to watch this evolve.
Here’s a chart from the Lingui study that shows the other things marketers reported being concerned with, including being able to keep up with social algorithm changes that make reaching customers increasingly difficult, as well as actually finding the right influencers with whom to partner.
While it’s not easy to do well, without question influencer marketing can deliver significant ROI for marketers. People trust the people they trust, and when people they trust tell them to go, do, see, check out, or buy something, often they will. For brands, getting that kind of response is much more difficult than it is for influencers.
When you can work with the right influencers, with the right audience, magic can happen. That’s also where it can be dangerous. We have a very large network of influencers with whom we work, and we know the difference between micro influencers with a targeted niche of followers/community (what we like to call “the magic middle”) and influencers with inflated follower rates and inflated fees that go along with those follower rates, who really rarely deliver any significant results. Finding the right influencers, working together to develop a campaign that suits their audience, soliciting feedback from influencers and integrating their suggestions into your campaigns, measuring results, tweaking campaigns along the way—those are all the things that go into making an influencer campaign successful. Even though ROI from influencer marketing can be challenging, when it works, it’s amazing. Here’s a snapshot of an infographic from Social Media Today on the ROI of influencer marketing, highlighting the fact that marketers generally see an 11X return on investment from the impact of influencer marketing on consumers compared to other types of traditional marketing.
Customers read reviews before making purchases. All the time. In fact, over a third of consumers report relying on reviews before making a purchase. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been ready to hit the “buy” button, but made time first to read reviews, and often decided not to make a purchase as a result. I read reviews on Google, on Yelp, I read reviews on websites and sometimes simply Google “product xyz reviews” to see what I find before making a purchase. That practice has saved me from a lot of mistaken purchases, of that I am certain. This is where the value of working with trusted influencers to try, then review products is especially valuable to brands. Below is a chart from Global Web Index that shows how influential influencers are and what consumer groups are compelled to purchase because of something they’ve seen, read, or heard from an influencer. The impact of influencer marketing on consumers is pretty impressive, no?
It’s important to note that those “influenced consumers” are all of different age groups, and on average 55 percent of those consumers who discovered new products, services, and brands through social media influencers, vloggers, niche bloggers, and celebrity endorsers left a product review in the last month. Those numbers are higher than the average digital consumer behavior and, for brands in search of reviews that give their products credibility and lead to purchases, significant.
It was interesting to see that the regional effect and impact of influencer marketing on consumers in Europe and North America shows that consumers are 35 percent more motivated to leave a review, compared to other digital consumers in their regions. More specifically, 6 in 10 of consumers aged 25-44 enjoyed leaving reviews, significantly higher in comparison to the other age groups. That said, content is also key for the Generation Z age group, with over 40% saying they’re more likely to be swayed by the opinions and reviews of others, especially celebrity endorsements.
What is the impact of influencer marketing on consumers? In short, it works. Why? Influencers are people. People like people. People trust people. People trust people more than they trust brands and more than they trust marketers.
Influencers are real. The best influencers are honest, know and respect their audience, don’t lie about products just to make a buck, and can deliver real value for both brands and the audience of friends and followers they’ve amassed over the years. Trust is key.
Influencers are also—or can be—entertaining and offer new and exciting ways of sharing a brand’s message. When I write this, I think of my 12-year-olds watching makeup tutorials on YouTube. They are discovering personalities, products, methods of application, tricks and tips that they are eating up. And they love the influencers who are sharing this information and these products with them. From what I can see, those influencers love them right back. It’s a relationship, not a one way sales channel that brands and agencies have been accustomed to in the past.
In the past year, influencer marketing was the fastest-growing method of customer acquisition over email marketing campaigns, along with paid and organic search. It was a $2 billion-dollar business in 2017 and is predicted to be a $10 billion-dollar business by 2020. And with good reason.
Are you using influencer marketing? What are you finding your biggest challenges to be? Don’t let the lack of a gigantic budget get in your way, but in order for influencer marketing to deliver value for you, in most instances, you’ve got to come to the table with some kind of budget. After all, influencers have kids to feed and mortgages to pay and that business of “working for exposure” or free products? Well, that’s just ridiculous.
The original version of this article was first published on V3Broadsuite.