Why Influencer Marketing is strategic, not just about the activation

Why Influencer Marketing is strategic, not just about the activation

In a relatively short space of time, influencer marketing has become a mainstay within brands’ marketing mix. At the same time, however, influencer marketing is a channel with so much untapped potential. This is primarily because we still take a relatively unsophisticated approach to how we implement our influencer partnerships. In a world that has seen a marked shift towards digital marketplaces over the past year, it will be the brands who can optimise every digital channel, and know how to utilise the synergies between the different channels, that emerge strongest.

Our research has found that influencers are still viewed as an activation as opposed to a strategy in the eyes of senior marketing decision makers. Just 32% of companies feel that influencers should be considered at the strategic marketing phase. Instead, 48% think influencer marketing should come into consideration at the content creation stage.

The evidence is there

However, this isn’t to say that brands fail to see the value of influencer marketing. In fact, more than three quarters (76%) of marketers think influencers will become more important over the next three years. What’s more, 76% also plan to increase their influencer marketing budgets over the next three years, as they increase their digital presence in response to changing consumer behaviour.

It’s this changing behaviour that is prompting brands to invest heavily in influencer marketing.

Today, consumers spend more time than ever on social media platforms. Whether it is Instagram, TikTok or Facebook, this is the place people get to know brands, seek inspiration, and, importantly for marketers, learn about new products. As such, the online marketplace and social media are now the most advantageous places for brands looking to build a relationship with their audience.

What’s more, it should be noted that the channel’s success is due in no small part to the fact that people actively like influencers, and that their more authentic approach to content resonates with viewers in a way that more traditional marketing approaches rarely accomplish. Younger generations, such as millennials, which are the largest demographic of consumers today, have a particularly positive view of influencers. This positivity can be leveraged by brands and routinely translates into selling power. Our research shows that 3 in 4 consumers have purchased a product recommended by an influencer at least once. They also perceive brands that use influencers more positively, and think an influencer’s opinion is more trustworthy than a brand’s.

So what’s stopping you?

The key challenge that stops influencer marketing being discussed during those crucial planning meetings, and why so few companies feel that influencers should factor into the strategic marketing phase, comes down to return on investment.

Measuring success is very important, and it’s understandable that significant investment requires accurate ROI data to determine if objectives have been met. It’s no longer enough just to have a social media presence. Brands need to learn from the channel and leverage it as a crucial way to get to know their audience in depth. What motivates them, what are they passionate about and what type of communication do they want to receive? These important questions can only be answered through accurate ROI data.

Solving influencer marketing’s ROI question is something many brands are grappling with, and it isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Without accurate ROI data, influencer marketing cannot be considered a strategic priority. However, without a strategic approach to influencer marketing, brands will struggle to foster an approach that can deliver meaningful insights.

A big step towards solving the issue can be achieved by taking a more long-term approach to influencer partnerships. It’s very common for marketers to plan influencer activity for just a few weeks, and 55% of brands expect their influencer partnerships to last less than 6 months. This would be inconceivable with other marketing strategies – any PPC strategist will tell you that the channel needs time to find out what is working and optimise accordingly. Giving influencer strategies more than six months will give brands the chance to track ROI more effectively and give them the data to determine that influencer marketing is a strategic player, not simply an activation.

A case in point

This is something we have seen first-hand with Readly, a leading subscription service for digital magazines that makes it possible to read newspapers from all over the world. Readly wanted to increase the number of downloads of their app, with the ultimate goal of acquiring new subscribers. Working with influencers who had a strong interest in reading across Germany, UK, Sweden and the Netherlands, we enabled a 13% increase in conversion rates within the first month of our partnership. However, while selecting best-fit influencers laid the foundations, the real key to the campaign’s success has been the monthly content and performance reviews we have undertaken, which have allowed us to continually monitor performance and optimise delivery for the best possible outcome.