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Why Influencer Marketing is Growing in Importance

23rd Feb 2017
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It’s all about trust. In this time of “fake news,” fake claims, and continued exaggeration in advertising and marketing (e.g., “new miracle weight loss pill,” etc.), consumers believe less and less of what they read and see. They demand information from trusted sources and won’t buy until they get it. Add to this the fact that new technologies allow us to block advertisements and pop-ups, and there is real challenge for marketers who are trying to get their brand name out there.

Given that most companies do not have the marketing budgets or the longevity, and thus trust, of Coca-Cola, marketers face an uphill battle, especially when they are trying to gain new audiences who will trust their brands.

This is why 2017 and beyond will undoubtedly be the “season” of influencer marketing.

Defining Influencer Marketing

Consider this. The handyman that you have used for years has now retired and moved away. What do you do to find a new one? Probably, you ask him for a recommendation, or you may ask a friend or neighbor for a name or two. This is a very basic form of “influencer” marketing. You go to those you trust and you ask for their advice and recommendation.

In the digital world of advertising, you tend to do the same thing. You want recommendations from real people – whether through reputable review sites or on social media. Those brand ads that appear on your Facebook page are not nearly as important as an actual customer who posts that a product is all that it claims to be.

For the marketer, then, the strategy is this: find trusted influencers and use them to market your brand. Whether that be well-known and trusted influencers in the niche or individual “brand ambassadors” who love the product or service, these are the resources that consumers will be using.

Some Important Stats on Influencer Marketing

For those who may doubt the importance of influencer marketing, consider the following stats that were compiled by Customer Think.

  • Close to 50% of consumer who shop online use ad blockers. Marketers will have to re-think how they are using paid digital advertising.
  • 92% of online consumers trust recommendations from friends and even strangers on social media. Any time a brand can get a conversation going among customers who have purchased and loved their products or services, new audiences are found. Any time a brand can find a well-known and trusted reviewer of the products or services they sell, new audiences are found.
  • 71% of online consumers say that have a better perception of a product or service if they have read positive reviews about it. Think about how Amazon uses this tactic. If you have purchased a product, Amazon will contact you to answer questions of those who are considering the same purchase.
  • Consumers rely on “influencers” and give them greater importance than even pricing. 62% will be willing to pay more for a product that comes with positive reviews.
  • 77% of online consumers state that they use online reviews as determinants for their purchases. This should tell marketers to get out there, find trusted review sites, and send their products over for review.

Strategies for Marketers

As Samuel Messo, editor at Tuko News tells it:

“We have a large digital audience. Rather than brands just placing advertisements with us, they have found that telling stories of actual customers, and supporting those stories with photos and positive statements from those customers, has become far more effective than any other type of marketing. And, if they can get a well-known and popular figure to provide a recommendation, all the better.”

So, as a marketer in 2017, here is what you want to do:

  1. Identify influencers in your niche – those “experts” and reviewers that have become trusted sources for your target audience.
  2. Send your product to them or offer them free trials of your service. Let them experience your brand for themselves. Once they have experienced your brand, ask for a review. Remember: you do not get what you do not ask for. If they see value in your product or service, they will recommend it to their audiences.
  3. Use satisfied and happy customers as brand ambassadors. They are all over social media and they all have their own “tribes” they can influence. Feature them on your site, in your blog, and on your social media channels. They will share that content with their communities.

The Bottom Line

Your ads will be ignored more and more – you don’t have the budget that the “big boys” have for a full ad campaign.

Consumers are more and more sophisticated and more and more likely to ignore your ads or, worse, block them altogether. They want recommendations from people they trust – either experts in a niche or actual customers who have experienced your brand.

Give your target audience what it wants, and you will reach far more potential customers. Reaching more of your targets means more leads and more sales.

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