When was the last time you saw or heard an online personality promoting a piece of clothing, food item, or online service? If you participate in the world of social media, it’s likely that you didn’t have to think very long about your answer. Perhaps you didn’t even notice that your favorite internet personality’s recent glowing endorsement for a product or service was, in fact, a paid advertisement. Seamless. Congruent. These traits demonstrate the power of influencer marketing (IM for short), one of the hottest advertising strategies currently trending with companies worldwide. And considering their results, it’s an investment opportunity you won’t want to miss out on.
Businesses of all kinds are jumping on the bandwagon and reaping the benefits of improved traffic and engagement. In fact, the results seem to defy expectation compared to traditional strategies. In 2015, influencer marketing was rated the “fastest growing online customer-acquisition channel,” even surpassing paid search and email marketing tactics. Starting real, organic conversation about your product, service, or website through influencers creates interest. Interest piques curiosity. Curiosity drives traffic. More traffic equals more sales or subscriptions.
Still not convinced? Here are three brands currently dominating with IM, and what you can learn from them.
Success stories – Dominating the world of Influencer Marketing
Sustaining an audiobook empire: Audible
Through partnerships with various podcasts, Audible – a digital audiobook service now owned by Amazon – has built a bulletproof advertising strategy. The trick? Paid ad-reads where podcasters encourage their audience to sign up with Audible, receiving their first audiobook download for free. Avid podcast listeners are likely already interested in accessible audio content, and so the compatibility of audiences makes for a long-running, traffic-driving, successful influencer marketing campaign that has cemented Audible as the leading digital audiobook service.
A game changer – Scentbird
When Sergei Gusev, the co-founder of Scentbird – an online perfume subscription service – came across a YouTube video of a girl with 150,000 subscribers discussing some of her favorite products, he knew he had discovered a solution to his company’s advertising woes. After sending her a product sample to be reviewed in a future video, Gusev was blown away by the response. “The resulting review from this girl brought us almost 100 sales in 2 days. The economics were incredible,” recalls Gusev in his blog post. “My resulting CPA was $0.14 per customer. It was a game changer for us.” His success isn’t mere coincidence either – other businesses in the subscription box niche have also seen incredible growth by marketing via influencers. Gusev mentions DollarShaveClub, Harry’s, Warby Parker, Birchbox, and LoveWithFood as examples.
The Power of Micro-influencers
Tom’s of Maine, a manufacturer of natural health and beauty products, managed to stimulate consumer engagement by doing the opposite of what you might think – targeting the little guy.
By partnering with influencers with smaller audiences – often referred to as micro-influencers – they were able to see an exceptional growth of interest in their products. Interestingly, these influencers only had a few thousand followers or less. It wasn’t the size of their audience in which Tom’s saw potential. It was the trusted bond these profiles had built with their smaller-sized audience that proved to be invaluable from a marketing perspective. We’ll cover more about micro-influencers later on in this post.
You can read more about Tom’s of Maine and their IM campaign here.
Why it works
A few success stories may be inspiring, but maybe you need further proof that this whole “influencer marketing” thing is a legitimate strategy and not just a fad that is soon due to expire. No problem! Here are a few reasons why IM is a sure-fire tactic you need in your advertising arsenal.
Alternative and Problem-Solving
Imagine spending extensive amounts of time perfecting a new ad campaign, only to find out that your ads are practically invisible. This scenario may not be far from reality, as reports indicate that ad-blocking is on the rise globally. Don’t think this phenomenon is millennial-exclusive, either – as evidence suggests, it’s not. Hit two birds with one stone by investing in advertising that is visible and effective.
Congruent, targeted brand strategy
Influencer marketing is an excellent way to connect with an audience that might already be interested in what your business has to offer. Maybe you’re offering a solution to a problem they didn’t even know they had! By targeting an audience that is likely already interested in your product or service, you’re more likely to generate interest and clicks. For example, the ubiquitous energy-drink juggernaut, Monster, commonly sponsors video game streamers on Twitch.tv. A partnership may involve affixing a Monster logo to their screen or drinking Monster products throughout their online broadcast. With 73% of Twitch users occupying the 18-49 demographic and 64% of millennials consuming energy drinks, it’s no wonder that their strategy is so effective.
Trusted audience relationship
Do you remember Billy Mays, the so-called “King of the Pitch?” His recurring warm-natured advertisement appearances on TV turned him into a beloved pop-culture icon, establishing him as highly valuable in the advertising world. The takeaway here is that charisma and rapport with audiences build trust and influence – and influencer marketing offers just that.
A personality-driven delivery or advertisement may come across as more compelling versus a CTA ad or static link, especially to audiences commonly soured by standard advertising content.
In a world oversaturated by a dizzying array of similar advertising efforts, make your voice heard by utilizing the voices of others. With 49% of Twitter users relying on recommendations from influencers, you can bet you’ll be turning some heads.
Potential strategies and challenges
Okay, okay – it’s time for the hard truth. Influencer marketing isn’t effortless. Like anything, you’ll have to be diligent about your approach if you’re expecting great results. So here are a few things to keep in mind before beginning your foray into the exciting world of influencer marketing.
Budget – Bigger isn’t always better
A larger potential audience reach does not necessarily guarantee more traffic. Consider the congruency between the influencer and your product or service. Is it a natural fit? Does it feel forced or out of place with their content, identity, or voice? In addition, don’t underestimate the power of “micro-influencers” – social media personalities with smaller audiences. According to advertising agency HelloSociety, engagement rates are 60% higher with micro influencers (designated as having 30k followers or less) than their big-name counterparts.
Diversify your platform reach
Don’t limit yourself by sticking to one social media platform for exposure. Research & invest in influencer opportunities across big-name networks like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as often overlooked options like Twitch.tv or Snapchat. Cover all your bases and maximize your potential traffic and growth.
Respect creative control
Allow the influencer to integrate your product or service into their online content naturally. Too many guidelines or restrictions can make your advertisement feel forced, and potentially minimize engagement.
Research and understand the compatibility between your targeted audience and the audience of the influencer before committing to a partnership. Does your audience overlap with theirs? What age bracket makes up the majority of their viewership? Paying close attention to these factors is crucial to make the most of your investment and partnership.
Investigate their reputation
Just because an influencer has garnered an audience, it doesn’t mean they have a good relationship with them. You might be surprised, but some followers engage with influencers out of irony or spite, making advertising efforts towards them less effective. A stronger relationship and bond between an influencer and their audience means better potential engagement and reach.
Analyze, analyze, analyze.
Track and follow influencer audience engagement to keep tabs on your results. Is it working? What could you do differently? Tools like Traackr can help you manage and analyze your influencer marketing campaigns by offering in-depth statistics and unique scoring algorithms. These types of tools only become more invaluable once your influencer partnership network grows in size.
Are you investing in a brief shout-out, logo branding, or ad reads? Weigh out your options to reach maximum compatibility and effectiveness. Louder doesn’t always mean better. And with traffic coming your way, make sure your website design is intuitive and attractive too – we’ve written a post about the importance of design here.
Don’t expect your traffic or engagement to suddenly spike once a partnership begins. Give it time for your brand to resonate with the audience. Consider the concept of “effective frequency,” meaning advertising works better with repeated viewing/exposure, which – you guessed it – takes time.
Call to action
Once you’ve captured the attention of an audience through an influencer, what would you like them to do? Entice them to buy a product or service with a coupon code? Download a free piece of media? Perhaps you’re looking to have them book an appointment or schedule a class through your website or service, in which case, Yocale has you covered! Keep your call-to-action in mind when developing your IM strategy, as audiences will likely respond differently.
Be honest! Provide advertising disclosure
A common mistake made during influencer partnerships is the failure to disclose or distinguish paid advertisement from organic content. While this might be tempting to overlook given that non-disclosure could ostensibly result in more traffic and lead generation, legal trouble could ensue. Skip the hassle and negotiate your agreements with audience transparency in mind.
Stay active, be perceptive, and you’ll be on your way to generating more traffic and interest than ever with the power of influencer marketing.
For more business and advertising strategies, keep up with us daily here at Yocale!