Influencer Marketing

Brands no longer take the centre stage, it is the customer who does! In such a market environment, influencer marketing thrives as a strong element in a business’s marketing strategy. Leveraging industry leaders to deliver a brand’s message to the larger audience is what makes up the crux of influencer marketing. Through influencer marketing, a brand inspires the larger customer segment to make a purchase decision rather than taking the direct marketing approach. These influencers could be anyone from celebrities and high-quality content creators to promoters and employees.

Breaking It Down

Influencer marketing at its base is a type of branded engagement that involves marketers connecting with industry influencers who showcase a strong social presence. Influencer marketing goes hand-in-hand with social media and content marketing. Social media elements act as a base for most influencer marketing campaigns – influencers use their social media handles to spread the word by creating engaging content to influence the target audience into considering a specific product or service. This does not make influencer marketing and content/social media marketing the same though.

The main goal of influencer marketing is to introduce and sell products or services via these social influencers by leveraging the trust established by them with their audience. This trust is established by these influencers by publishing authentic content. Insincere content tends to scrape off the influential power the person holds, rendering them ineffective for influencer marketing purposes. People gravitate towards influencers who create original content. Businesses develop strong relationships with such influencers and position their brand’s message in the content created by these influencers, thereby marketing their products or services via a trusted source. 

When brands are looking to target a specific segment of the audience, they approach influencers to attract people from that segment, engage with them and convert them to prospects and even customers. The content published by influencers encourages discussions, shares and likes. When a brand is being talked about with a positive tone, it earns greater trust from consumers.

 Is Influencer Marketing The Same As Word-Of-Mouth?

Although the two terms are used interchangeably, there is sufficient differentiation between the two types. Influencer marketing resides on the concept of leveraging the influence of key influencers to spread the word amongst a wide target audience, whereas word-of-mouth marketing is an organic way to communicate a brand’s message to friends and family, i.e., a smaller target group. Essentially, most influencer marketing involves word-of-mouth elements, whereas not word-of-mouth marketing is not propelled by influencer marketing campaigns.

Why Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing has brought about a change in the way customers make a purchase decision. Nearly 90% of marketers proclaim that influencer marketing is equally effective or even better than other marketing options. With an increase in the efficiency of collaboration, the marketing campaigns have exhibited exponential growth by the year. The 2nd quarter of 2019 witnessed an 18% increase from the previous quarter and nearly 84% of marketers run more than just a single campaign each year.

With this type of marketing facing such increasing usage and demand, the influencer segment is employing more streamlined solutions, taking advantage of influencer networks and programmatic tools that aid different brands to tap into the influencer marketing with greater ease. Brands that aren’t embracing this path are losing out in the market space. With greater control taken by consumers on the buyer’s journey, it has become more difficult to reach out to them and influencer marketing works best in such scenarios.

According to a report by Adweek, the influencer marketing industry will reach $10 billion worth by the year 2020. Under the influencer marketing umbrella, Instagram takes the leads in the platforms being used by influencers, while other platforms do have their own influencer group with different demographics.

How To Leverage Influencer Marketing?

Before one starts charting out a strategy, a few key elements have to be established:

Defining the target audience

The most common mistake a brand makes is to filter down the influencers they would like to approach. Although this is important, before doing so, one must determine the audience they are trying to market to, ie., the target audience. 

Setting clear goals

A brand needs to have clear goals as to what it wants to achieve via the influencer marketing campaigns. Some of these goals could be: convincing people to buy a specific product, brand awareness, gaining social media followers and so on.

Defining the KPIs

It is essential to define the parameters used to measure success, ie., the key performance indicators or the KPIs. These KPIs add to the overall marketing goals. On can identify a consumer’s position in his decision-making journey by setting up the correct tracking systems. A consumer could be in any of these stages of the decision journey- awareness, buying consideration, preference or loyalty.

Once these elements are decided, an optimal influencer marketing strategy can be built. The steps involved in building an influencer marketing campaign are:

    1. Planning for an effective strategy
      This requires the adoption of a careful process of thinking and planning. Studying case studies and undocumented examples will help with this step.
    2. Identifying relevant influencers and choosing amongst them
      One can identify influencers depending on the scope of the influencer marketing campaign. A brand can turn to databases, networks and market places to filter down and approach influencers who are relevant to the brand’s goals.
    3. Setting the campaign workflow
      The key element of a great campaign is great content that can convince the target audience and effectively deliver the brand’s message.
    4. Optimizing the distribution
      Creating compelling content and posting it on their social handles is an influencer’s basic function. Beyond this, a brand can create a content strategy that spans the overall marketing strategy, distributing the influencer as well as user-generated content across multiple platforms used.
    5. Monitoring and tracking the key metrics
      Depending on the goal of the campaign, different metrics can be measured to measure success. These metrics at different stages of the customer journey could be:

      • Reach, Views at the awareness stage.
      • Clicks, Votes, Views, Comments at the consideration stage.
      • Sharing, Likes, Social Listening at the preference stage.
      • Add to Cart, Conversion to sale, using Coupons at the purchase stage.
      • Sharing, Referrals at the loyalty stage.

    With the advent of social media, influencers today are able to reach a larger target audience and this has increased the value of influencer marketing to brands and businesses.

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