Gone are the days of old school advertising. The digital landscape is always changing but now more than ever. Marketers and communicators are finally tuning in to what really resonates with their customers and it isn’t brand messaging, it’s their peers. According to Business2Community, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people over brand content. Now more than ever, marketers are armed with the insights to create impactful campaigns that their customers can relate to. Enter influencer marketing.
So, what is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a fancy term, but let’s break it down. For starters, influencers are people within your niche that have insta-access to your target market – they engage with them regularly, build trusting relationships and ultimately shape their buying behaviors. Influencers come in all shapes and sizes depending on your business – fashionistas with huge Instagram followings, foodie bloggers with the best Pinterest feeds, content marketing experts with very active and engaged blogs, the list goes on.
Influencer marketing is the act of identifying these individuals that we call influencers and creating marketing programs around them to reach your target market, create awareness, drive customers down the purchase funnel and hopefully gain long-term loyalty. But the key to influencer marketing is trust. People trust their peers, not the brands who are marketing to them. Authenticity counts.
Why Influencer Marketing Is Essential in Modern Marketing
Today, influencer marketing is viewed as an essential component to any successful marketing plan. Social Media Today claims that 74% of global marketers will use ‘influence marketing’ as part of their marketing strategy in the next 12 months. This new endorsement model is lucrative for businesses both big and small; in fact, it’s just a matter of identifying influencers within your industry and league to get in front of your potential customers. Once you identify who has influence within your industry, you can start a conversation and provide access to exclusive content that they will be excited to share with their followers.
Harry Potter demonstrates this beautifully. Their marketing company, WCG was tasked with driving awareness and excitement about the launch of the Happy Potter 7.1 DVD. As it turns out, there are only 43 influencers driving the majority of viral conversations related to Harry Potter. These ‘super fans’ were identified after carefully sifting through the hundreds of thousands of people who have shared Harry Potter content. Those influencers were then invited to attend on-going private events, exclusive online experiences and never-before-seen content from the DVD extras. These influencers were more than happy to share the content given their passion for the brand and super fan status. The content, of course, was used to drive interest for buying the DVD. As a result, they reached 5,312,842 fans through influencers and drove 452,638 clicks with a 9.31% CTR on exclusive content. The campaign was the second most successful DVD release of the films; they attribute this to the fact that they deviated from the standard marketing plan.
Social media tool BufferApp took a completely different approach to getting in front of their customers. They built a comprehensive guest posting strategy with influential blogs to build awareness and increase signups. As a result, they acquired over 100,000 customers for their product within the first nine months of running their business. In the space of nine months, they focused solely on guest blogging and wrote around 150 articles in that period of time. It’s for this reason they can attribute their insanely high user acquisition to their incredibly focused influencer marketing efforts.
Getting Started with Influencer Marketing
With so much content being published and shared across the Internet, customers are overwhelmed. They’re turning to those they trust to filter out the noise, find new ideas and trends and ultimately make informed purchase decisions before they buy. This change in the digital landscape and the link between trust and purchase behavior can’t be ignored. Brands and businesses of all sizes can get in on the action by developing ambassador programs and influencer collaborations to stay above the digital noise.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to influencer marketing as multiple factors are taken into consideration. Businesses are looking at demographics, lifestyle, audience, shared values, goals and budget to name just a few. Most importantly, businesses are looking for influencers that are remarkable, not because of their fame, but because of their capacity to connect with their target market.
Lauren Jung is Co-Founder of TheShelf.com, an influencer marketing platform that enables brands and agencies to connect with the most relevant influencers. They currently serve businesses in the fashion, beauty, lifestyle, travel, food and family space. Follow The Shelf: @ShelfInc.