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How Influencers Reshape Marketing Strategy

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Why influencers are becoming increasingly important  

“Marketers are taking a different approach to the way they produce creatives,” Murphy observed. “In the old mode, they would go to an ad agency that would create a highly polished asset that would tell a very specific story, and everyone would get the same story.”

That one-size-fits-all approach has been supplanted by the more individualized stories relayed by influencers. They “tell the brand story in a specific way and relate to their audience in a specific way,” connecting to them through common ground found on the basis of interests or identity.

One reason why influencers are becoming more central to marketing efforts is that brands are discovering that they are an effective way to attract the under 24 year-old demographic.  It’s not all that surprising then that IZEA’s 2020 State of Influencer Equality report found that younger influencers are in greater demand and demand 44% higher prices than influencers of 25 years or above.

It also found that ethnic minorities command a premium over Caucasians, and that Asian Americans could fetch an average of 51% more per post. That reflects one of the other reasons why influencer marketing is on the rise of inclusivity.

“Marketers are recognizing that they have a more diverse audience of consumers to serve,” Murphy said. They do need to link their products and services to a variety of people then to offer a range of different types for their market base to identify with. “If you are trying to appeal to an African-American audience,” he explained, then “your audience would want to see themselves in that advertising.”

Murphy mentioned that the most expensive influencers of all are actually under 18, though he admitted that the legal requirement for lawyer and parental involvement does also drive up the cost. However, it’s also about paying for what the brands want delivered. As more younger people spend more time on social media, influencer marketing is proving to be an effective way of reaching them.

The proof is in the ROI

IZEA’s 2019 survey on influencer marketing found that experienced marketers considered the ROI of influencer marketing superior to other forms of marketing as visualized in the graph below:

Those percentages reflect perception, and many don’t have hard figures for the returns they are seeing from influencers. Therefore, it can be tricky to determine exactly what the return on a piece of marketing content is. However, some are coming up with precise dollar amounts. A poll conducted by Tomoson calculated a return of $6.50 for each dollar spent on influencer marketing.

The return on investment has to be in place to make the business case for using influencers given the sharp increase in costs for posts as visualized by these two IZEA graphs:

Better content from influencers

Perhaps the better return is due to better content. Indeed, 57% of marketers cited by the IZEA survey, found that influencer content is better. Nikki Carlson, Co- Founder/ Co-president of ChicExecs Retail and Strategy Firm agrees. She wrote in her Forbes article, Why Your 2020 Marketing Strategy Should Include Influencers that influencers’ insight into “what content resonates with their audience” is what delivers “better content and results” and recommends that brands leave the content creation in the influencer’s capable hands.

The brands “doing influencer marketing the best,” Murphy says, are doing just that. They grant influencers the freedom to tell the story in their own way because they realize that they have been able to build an audience by building a special bond on the basis of the content they are producing. He observes “too much direction can hurt the success” of an influencer’s marketing campaign.

Not one-and-done

Influencer marketing has already evolved and will continue to do so. Murphy recounted that when he first launched his company, it was “very transactionally driven,” meaning that they would contract with the influencer to produce the piece of content, and that was it.

In contrast, influencer marketing now is about “ongoing campaigns where the person talks about and features the product multiple times.” That allows the influencer to cover “different angles in terms of telling the story.”  Brands have come to recognize that “repetition is an important component” in strengthening the impact of their messaging.

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When the influencer is the brand

For certain brands, like Alo, influencers are integral to the messaging but not necessarily to the design or delivery of the product itself. However, some brands take on the name and the guidance of a central influencer as in the case of Emma Chamberlain’s D2C coffee line. In such cases, the influencer becomes the heart of the product’s identity.

Murphy believes that we will see more influencer-stamped brands in the future. The Commerce-driven type of influencer is already well established in China where influencers are identified by the acronym KOL (Key Opinion Leader). Murphy believes that we will see influencers in the United States following that example.

It’s not just a simple shift, thorough, and it will require “a broader support team and infrastructure to support that, depending on their level of involvement with the product.” Another thing they will have to watch out for is maintaining their own integrity in the eyes of their audience.

That means not signing on to products or services that are not “aligned with their personal brand and the content they produce,” no matter how lucrative that maybe, he warned. “Consumer opinions are shaped by the level of comfort and trust that impact the long-term viability.

Influencers who betray that trust and endorse something that is not consistent with their brand jeopardize their standing with their audience. If they lose that, they lose their position of influence.

Murphy is optimistic though, that “there will always be people out there that are doing it right,” meaning retaining their authenticity while promoting products to their followers.

This article originally appeared in the PostFunnel blog and has been published here with permission.

About the author

Steve Hutt

I'm obsessed with entrepreneurship, commerce, and Shopify. If you have the desire to implement what's working today for direct-to-consumer brands on Shopify, I'm excited you're here! Get the Shopify help you need. This industry blog and podcast is my digital brain where my guests and I share cutting-edge marketing strategy, must-have Shopify apps, and marketing platforms that will help you build and scale lifetime customer loyalty. To do this, I'm part of the Merchant Success Team at Shopify Plus and host of the eCommerce Fastlane Podcast.