Influencer marketing is exploding onto the scene: It’s the hottest topic - all the rage - we need to be on it now!
Wait, hold on a second. What exactly is it again?
Oh yeah, it's the marketing strategy of using highly influential people to promote your brand. Which, makes it a lot like spokespeople, which means that it’s been around for … well, thousands of years actually. So that’s not new. But why is it so big now? Two important reasons.
The first is because it’s happening in an unbelievably hyper-connected world. People are better able to find each other and coalesce into niche interest groups more easily than ever before in history. It’s the only explanation for phenomena like Reddit, which boasts 923,000 active sub-communities, or the profusion of pet influencers. People are finding people like them who like things like them.
The second is that the digital marketing ecosystem is getting crowded. Everybody and their mother are clamoring for people’s attention. Even as long ago as 2013 thought leaders like Marketo were touting the dangers of attention deficit in the digital era, and we are no doubt nearing the singularity of media saturation. “We keep doing it, but it’s ringing false” said Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez at least year’s Marketing Nation summit, when highlighting the need for more personalization.
Together, these are major challenges for marketers everywhere. They’re desperately seeking out the right people and trying to get a word in edge-wise. And as they push ever harder to come up with more unique and engaging content that’ll be heard above the din, buyers are turning their backs and sheltering from the storm by looking for authentic voices from people like them who they can trust in their buying decisions.
Here are a few statistics that back this idea up:
· 70% of people 18-34 years old said that their recommendation preference was from an influencer - MediaPost
· 85% of B2B decision-makers rely on trusted online communities when buying - Forrester
· 20-50% of all buying decisions are directed by word of mouth recommendations - McKinsey & Company
Influencer marketing is thus incredibly powerful because it empowers influencer brands to skip the digital marketing arms race and work through those authentic, trusted, recommending voices that buyers have turned to.
Given this, and given how pervasive it now is, we’re able to observe not only how influencer marketing performs alone, but how it impacts the rest of your marketing. The results, frankly, are profound.
Here are the 4 big ways that influencer marketing can turbo-charge the rest of your marketing:
1. It improves your targeting
One of the biggest challenges for modern marketers is targeting the right audiences. Sure, you can buy lists, monitor online behavior, build personas, and set your multi-channel marketing system up to target people with the right content throughout their buyer’s journey, but you’re still going to hit some people with the wrong messages some of the time. Not so with influencer marketing.
In influencer marketing, “influencers give you access to an audience you’d never reach on your own,” says Forbes. Influencers wield a highly active and perfectly targeted group of followers - a sea of people already clamoring for answers to the questions that your solution solves.
By disseminating your message through them, you essentially release your influencers as homing missiles to identify and dig up highly motivated prospects who you couldn’t find and who couldn’t find you.
When they strike gold, you’ll gain a treasure map that leads back there every time. New niches will suddenly become well-charted territory, and when an unexpected new fin-tech or gov-ed client signs on, you’ll seize the opportunity to break open the new vertical.
2. It teaches you how to get your message through
This is the big one. If there are two TV’s in your buyer’s rooms, one full of annoying paid ads and the other with something that they actually want to watch, influencer marketing puts you squarely on that valuable second screen. Your influencers are the people that your buyers are already tuned in to, be that over social media, forums, or professional groups, and you’re placed in direct touch with them without having to navigate their ad-wariness and spam-filtering instincts.
Through this process, you’ll see your influencers bend and warp your message ever so slightly as they deliver it. This is good. They’re showing you in real time precisely what words and ideas are most potent to your prospects, and there’s nothing stopping you from using this to sharpen all of your other campaigns.
3. It gives you credible, authentic, and creative content to repurpose
This is the big, hidden 90% of the influencer marketing iceberg that nobody ever talks about: influencer marketing is pretty much the answer to your content shortage. By delegating some creative authority to tried-and-true professionals who just happen to also be customers, you’re going to watch your influencers dream up stuff you never imagined. From those quotes, phrases, text, and images, you’re going to amass an armory of content that you retain the rights to and which couldn’t be more relevant: your buyers created it for themselves. (If you do this through an influencer marketing platform, you’ll automatically gain rights to content created)
4. The incredible ROI lets you do more with your budget
This is the real attention grabber and we saved it for last: according to eMarketer, influencer marketing returns $6.50 for every $1 invested. That’s a 650% return. Yeah, we didn’t believe it either at first, but here we are. How does this help your other marketing? It opens up your budget for more of everything.
Influencer marketing can help you achieve the same brand-awareness and drive the same leads as a boatload of digital advertising spend while allowing you to invest in other high-performing categories like marketing automation and account based marketing (ABM).
Nothing like putting a little budget back in your quarter, huh?
Putting it all together
All told, influencer marketing is the hottest new thing because it’s delivering some amazing results for a lot of companies and rather than staying confined in the marketing channel “box,” it’s influencing all other areas of the business and making all of your entire marketing organization more effective.
The question then isn’t whether you’re going to try influencer marketing - according to Adweek, 75% of brands are already using it. It’s a practical inevitability. What you should be wondering is how will the rest of your marketing survive without it?