This post by Bill Sussman, President of Collective Bias, originally appeared on Forbes.com.
For many, influencer marketing seems like the Wild West because of the lack of measurement standards. But that’s simply not true today. Influencer marketing is evolving at light speed and for those who are looking to truly measure marketing return on investment, influencer relationships and unique creativity are proving to be a solution on multiple fronts.
As cited by eMarketer in 2015, nearly 85% of “marketing and communications professionals worldwide expected to launch at least one campaign involving an influencer in the next 12 months” and “over 80% of marketers who had launched marketing campaigns involving social media influencers found them to be effective for driving both engagement and awareness.”
But in 2017, brands and marketers cannot afford to stop at engagement and awareness. The sophistication of influencer marketing now means data and measurement solutions are much more robust. There are so many options for putting the muscle of influencers to work for you to solve your biggest challenges.
Are any of these your issues?
- Your audience isn’t growing. Stagnant audience growth is not something any brand wants. One of the benefits of working with influencers is that sometimes their audiences are bigger, more targeted or more engaged than even the brand’s audience. Working with influencers can be the audience growth engine you’ve been looking for.
- Your sales are dipping. If your product isn’t selling, it is in danger of being de-listed and removed from shelves. Influencers can ignite a fire under audiences and create conversation and engagement for the product that gets the attention of management and shows that the brand is still garnering love from its consumers. Influencers can create new use cases for brands that increase sales and inspire purchases.
- You haven’t invested heavily in digital/social media. If you can believe it, we hear this all the time: “We have no strategy for digital social.” With the continued growth of mobile usage, e-commerce, and shoppers’ adoption of technology to make purchase decisions, it’s critical for brands to have a mobile, social and geo-location strategy in place. Influencer marketing can be the glue in your cross-channel, multidiscipline campaigns that drives digital offer redemptions, amplifies national campaigns, impacts in-store traffic and more. Influencer campaigns can be started quickly, and because the audience is already built, brands can see immediate results. The extra benefit is they can also share the influencer’s content on the brand’s owned channels for further syndication impact.
- Most, if not all, of your engagement is from paid content. Brands cannot live by paid engagement alone. You need the organic engagement that comes from interacting with your established audience. Harnessing those fans and advocates and working with influencers can help you re-engage.
- You’re not driving enough sales during key selling periods. Brands and retailers live and die by key selling periods, like the holidays. We have seen influencers break through holiday clutter and engage audiences at higher rates including time spent with the content. Social is often the first place audiences turn when choosing gifts, getting ideas or finding reviews. We just finished a survey of 2,000 shoppers in advance of the coming holiday season; 54.2% or respondents said they frequent social more during the holidays and 31.7% said they frequent social sites more than once a day during the holidays. Gift ideas were the top reason (at 52.6%) that they turn to social media during the holidays.
- Your redemption rates on digital offers aren’t what they used to be. Relevant content that inspires purchases is just one of the things that influencers do well. And attaching digital offers to that relevant content has proven time and time again to drive higher redemptions. For example, we connected influencer activity to promotional and coupon redemption rates and sales to prove lift versus historical sales benchmarks; a national rice brand saw a 44.8% redemption rate versus its historical 15% average redemption rate.
- You’re struggling to build brand awareness and provide the education your shoppers desire. The beauty of influencers is they speak the simple language of the consumer. They aren’t bogged down with market research, personas, real-time bidding and brand promises. They know how to tell a story that connects with their particular audience and can educate shoppers on your product in a relevant and authentic way through long form blog posts, Instagram Stories or YouTube video content.
Whether you are trying to solve a shopper marketing challenge or a national brand challenge, influencer marketing can be the answer you are looking for. Influencer marketing has come a long way; brands should know there are many options for leveraging data to measure the return on investment of influencer campaigns.