There’s no doubt that influencer marketing is all the rage these days, even though COVID-19 is making a temporary impact on influencer marketing spend. Everywhere you look, social media personalities are pitching different products and services to their followers. However, many marketers and their clients still have questions about the importance and the specific benefits of influencer marketing. After all, there are occasional problems with fraud and influencer scandals. With fraud, brands end up paying more than the services of a certain influencer are worth. Scandals cause influencers to suffer reputational damage, and the brands they pitch sometimes suffer in addition. Taking these problems into consideration, is influencer marketing beneficial? I would argue it is, and these nine benefits of influencer marketing show why.
Increased Brand Awareness
Especially for smaller companies, and those breaking into a new market, brand awareness plays a critical role in sales. Think about it this way: customers tend to reach out to familiar brands. Let’s say that a family is growing and needs a larger vehicle to drive all the kids around town. A quick survey of the options leads to SUVs from the “Big 3” Detroit automakers, in addition to common Japanese brands.
Unfortunately, what mom and dad don’t see is that there are some smaller companies that make the kind of car they want, as well. Cars that are a little less like the “mom car,” but still hold a bunch of people. Best of all, the company is offering really great financing deals. Because they weren’t aware of this car brand, they end up buying a “Big 3” model instead. If they’d known about the extra options, the other car company might have gotten a sale.
This sort of issue can be avoided with effective influencer marketing campaigns. If mom and dad had been following a lifestyle influencer or car guru that promoted the small-brand SUV, they could have heard about their additional options.
While most purchases aren’t as large as automobiles, similar scenarios play out every day in marketing. Really great products don’t sell very well because people don’t have adequate brand awareness. And, not everybody can afford those slick magazine ads or dazzling TV spots. Influencers can definitely help bridge the gap.
Expand Your Reach
Finding influencers in your industry or market segment is important. After all, you do want to reach the “right” audience with your brand message. While there’s an extent to which a B2B brand can do this with trade publications or expositions, not everyone in an industry subscribes or attends. Likewise with B2C brands, advertising in traditional paid media or posting a samples person at the store can only go so far.
With influencers, you get an opportunity to market your stuff to everyone who follows them. These can be people firmly within an industry, or slightly outside them. Followers who are in related industries to yours might not be heavily involved in the forums where you would normally pay for advertising, but every so often they might need to buy something from companies in your industry.
Consumer products have a similar phenomenon at play. Maybe they follow a lifestyle blog or something similar because they like how an influencer decorates her house. Yet, they might be interested at some point in what hair product she’s using to get that awesome hairdo she wore to the party. This follower might not be interested in beauty influencers normally, but on this occasion the lifestyle influencer is able to help.
In both the business and consumer product examples above, the company has expanded their reach with influencer marketing. Niches cross-pollenate sometimes, because consumers have different parts of their lives that can intersect. Sometimes an influencer can help with product selection in these cases.
Gain Credibility & Trust
No matter what industry you’re in, there is competition. And getting ahead only seems harder as time goes on. Part of the problem, of course, is that buyers don’t always know which brands they can trust. Whether you’re selling to businesses or consumers, it’s important to establish your brand as the one everyone can count on to deliver. Unfortunately, trust takes a long time to build up.
On the other hand, influencers have already gained the trust of their followers. An important aspect of building trust is to only pitch those items that the influencer has decided are worth buying and using. Even more importantly, the influencer spends time creating content that showcases the features of a product or service. Sometimes, such as with fashion, this simply involves showing how great it looks on them. In other cases, extended use trials are the way to go.
No matter the method an influencer uses to test and advertise a product, they have a willing audience. People tend to engage heavily with influencer content, because the influencer is often someone just like them. Even sharing a common interest builds a bond between people that can’t be matched by the corporate marketing department alone.
Save Money (compared to traditional ads)
One of the problems brands face with traditional advertising is that they pay continuously. Google keyword search promotions, for instance, require you to bid against other brands hoping to reach people. It’s literally an auction, and auctions are expensive. Generally, you’ll pay every time someone clicks on the ad, whether they buy something or not.
On the other hand, an influencer will generally charge you a flat fee for each post created. Sometimes, you can even get something posted for the cost of a product or service. Who doesn’t like free stuff? Additional options for compensating influencers include affiliate links and promotional codes that result in direct commissions.
While there are many different ways to compensate an influencer, they tend to either be some form of fixed compensation or payment for an actual conversion. In other words, you generally don’t pay for each individual eyeball that lands on your website. Plus, when social media posts are shared they travel beyond the influencer’s normal sphere of influence.
Generate True Sales & ROI
Did you know that influencer marketing generates $5.20 in sales for every dollar spent? That’s a lot of money, especially when you consider the fact that these are only measurable sales. Not all sales generated from influencer marketing are immediately attributable to the campaign, and this is especially true when you consider those which are aimed at brand awareness. With brand awareness campaigns, the intent is to tell people about a brand so that when they want to buy they’ll check the company out.
One of the reasons that ROI on influencer marketing is so high is that it helps generate demand for a product. While people will naturally choose from a variety of available products when they know they need something, these situations don’t generate all sales. For instance, a product might be intended to solve a problem that customers have, and they aren’t always aware a solution is available.
Don’t forget the value of an influencer showing off something cool, either. Especially in some niches, you might have an influencer demonstrate a new use for existing products. Think about all those elementary school crafts, for example. Pipe cleaners, which some people call chenille sticks, used to literally be used to clean tobacco pipes. Now, they have all kinds of uses in the craft world. Tissue paper is used as a wrapping material in stores, but it can also make beautiful paper flowers. You can be sure a lot more pipe cleaners and tissue paper are sold for crafts now.
Improve Your SEO
If you’re looking to improve your search engine optimization, you can also leverage influencers. This one of the benefits of influencer marketing you miss out on when you don’t treat blogger outreach as a type of influencer marketing.
Keywords are important for SEO, and they always will be. After all, these are used by consumers to find things on the internet. Every website has to work hard in order to place well in search, with the obvious exception of people looking specifically for that site. However, keywords and their placement are only part of the picture when search engines decide what to put on the first page of search results. Instead, search engines look for something called Domain Authority. Briefly, domain authority measures the extent to which a website is backlinked from others.
By working with influencers, your brand can increase the number of backlinks to your website and social media profiles. For instance, some influencers have their own website. They’ll often place links there to products they endorse. In another use of backlinks, an affiliate link might be placed in social media posts. Or, the backlinks can involve third party sites operated by followers. The possibilities are endless.
Allows for Hyper-Targeting Niche Communities / Reaching Target Audience
This is one of the benefits of influencer marketing that is not mentioned enough.
We marketers talk about buyer personas all the time, but finding these people where they spend time is often a challenge. For instance, we all know that younger people spend a lot of time on social media. If your buyer persona is young, then you should find them there.
Influencers excel in this area. Not only do they hang out on social media, but they have audiences that fit a certain demographic. For instance, beauty influencers attract a mainly female audience, though a few have significant male populations too. Makeup can be either cheap or expensive, depending on where you buy it. Therefore, some influencers specialize in high or lower-end makeup, while others pitch a mixture.
For a more niche example, think about certain subcultures. Generally speaking, goths or gamers have their own forums for trading ideas. Foreign sports car collectors have other places to hang out. All of these niche audiences have their influencers. Pick the right one, and you can easily reach the right audience. Traditional and general online advertising aren’t always this specific.
Provides You with Fresh and Relevant Content
Although marketers are generally creative people, it can be hard to get inside the heads of your target audience sometimes. Not only that, but it is easy to get stuck in a rut and be afraid to try new things, even when it’s warranted. Nobody is questioning the value of a brand voice. Far from it. But within those strictures there’s a lot of freedom.
In particular, influencers provide great content for your brand with little effort on your part. Typically, the content is created in the influencer’s unique style, allowing their audience to see your brand in a fresh light. Now that never gets old.
More and more marketers are seeing influencer generated content as one of the biggest benefits of influencer marketing.
Be Seen in the Organic Feed
It’s a well-known fact that social networks prioritize material from individual accounts over business pages. In particular, Facebook is awful about this, because they want brands to buy advertising. Working with influencers bypasses this problem somewhat. This is true because people subscribe to influencers for the content, which is generally posted on personal social media accounts. Then, branded content can pop up in their feed with everything else.
As you can see, the benefits of influencer marketing prove that it is highly effective and desirable for marketers. While it does require some extra work through the cultivation and maintenance of relationships, many companies find it highly effective. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re missing out.
Hero photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash