Let’s face it, we are all tired of advertisements and try our best to avoid and ignore those pesky little brats. We use ad-blockers on our browsers and change the channel to escape the agony of being repeatedly told by different companies what we need and what we should buy. So, speaking in plain terms, advertisement is just not the smart way to go for marketers anymore.
But what’s the alternative? Without advertising how will we know about new features and developments of products, let alone know that they exist in the first place? The thing is, with the entire ad avoiding that we do right now, we should all be pretty much living with outdoor appliances, gadgets and services. But we are not! We use and cherish the latest in technology and services and make our lives easier by the second. We know which new edition of the smartphone came out, we know what movie released this week and we also know about that new shampoo that just launched.
You see, we are averse to advertising, but not to information. We harbor an ingrained and long-sustained abhorrence and distrust of companies and the claims they make about their various products, and that is what makes us avoid advertisements with such fervor. Yet we are obviously very receptive to information about products and services we get from other sources – sources that we trust. These trusty guides may be people we look up to and know in real life or forums and websites whose opinions we trust. We rely on their opinions and recommendations and often base our purchases and product choices on them. In short, we are influenced by them.
Influencer marketing aims to take advantage of this new trend of purchase behavior. Strictly speaking though, influencer marketing is hardly new. Before advertising became an organized and lucrative industry, the information about new products and services spread through word of mouth and the system was pretty effective. Yet, its limited scope and nuclear reachability in those days prompted the development and rise of the advertising industry.
Because while influencer marketing owes its basic and fundamental existence to word-of-mouth, it is no longer the unsystematic, rule of thumb variant of marketing to be looked down upon with disdain. Quite to the contrary, it is a rapidly developing marketing concept with its own rules of the game that is played using the new arena of information technology.
When social media first burst forth into our lives in its present form, it was a little more than a private chatroom and a medium for sharing interests and pictures – basically advertising yourself to the world. In the short span of 10 years, it has come further than any of us can imagine and we know that it’s no longer a passing fad, but a part of our lives. Influencer marketing makes use of this social media boom to influence our purchase patterns.
The steps involved are simple – identification of the target demographic, identification of the influencer and trying to get the product in question evaluated and recommended by the said influencer. To cite an instance using anti-virus software of your computers, the marketer using influencer marketing will do a quick search on Facebook, Twitter and Google to know who the influencers for this sort of product are, He will make that decision based on the statistics of the said influencer such as number of visitors and on the reputation the influencer enjoys with the target demographic.
In our example, the influencers will be reputed websites or blogs and the pages those websites have on Facebook and Twitter. The anti-virus marketer will send the product to the websites for evaluation and recommendation. A positive recommendation will result in greater sales for the products than would have been possible with traditional advertising.
In fairness, influencer marketing requires greater research than traditional advertising and the identification of influencer groups is the key factor for success. As a result, marketers will have to keep abreast of not only the changes in the tastes and preferences of customers, but also have to understand and be in the know of the latest addition to the influencer groups under consideration. If a new website is garnering a lot of reputation and generating goodwill on account of its unbiased assessment of software, the wise move would be to include the same for evaluation as an influencer.
Frankly speaking, influencer marketing has very few limitations associated with it. Not only is it more streamlined and focused in comparison to traditional advertising, it is also more viable from a cost leadership viewpoint. It offers a more modern, systematic and sustainable model for marketers to follow and its results are immediate and directly attributable to the campaign undertaken. Some of its more detailed benefits are:
Influencer Marketing is a great facilitator of expansion of business and product awareness. As we mentioned earlier, a lot of people skip ads. If there was no influencer marketing, the target demographic of your product would probably never have known that your product existed in the first place, let alone use it. Influencer marketing gives marketers a wider reach and a greater scope of not only reaching more customers through sustainable channels, but also to expand their business through increased product adoption or sales.
Brand Awareness Increases
Influencer marketing results in increased brand awareness. This can be seen in the case of a number of products and services, where advertising does nothing to create the awareness for the brand unless the product is marketed through channels trusted by the consumers. This is most commonly found in the case of new and innovative products or for products which have just been introduced in a new market which needs an education regarding its use, benefits and functionality.
Assistance in SEO/ Search Engine Rankings
SEO or Search Engine Optimization refers to the use of technical tools and techniques to get more hits for a website or webpage. This is a valuable tool for marketers as the more hits their websites will get, the more will their products come to the fore in search result listings. Influencer marketing helps in improving the SEO of marketers through links and recommendations. For example, when a reputed blog or website will recommend a smartphone to its reader, it will also give a link along with the recommendation for buying the smartphone. More recommendations mean more links and more links mean greater and higher listings in search results for your product (in this case-smartphone).
High Returns on Investment
We have already talked about this; influencer marketing is a huge cost saver when compared to traditional advertising channels. Influencer marketing is more streamlined, focused and targeted. This results in greater cost saving and channeling of money to more productive uses. It is one of the best technique which promises very high return on investment if done with a proper approach.
Extremely Low/Almost Zero Maintenance
Remember how many different marketing campaigns you have to design for a single product in a month? Remember how many hours you spent at your desk trying to trump up the next catchy slogan for your product or creating a catchy design for shopping cart page template that will keep it relevant and fresh? Influencer marketing does away with all that. The initial work is concentrated on finding and identifying the correct influencer group for the target demographic. Once you have done that, you are all set! All you need to do now is to keep innovating and getting your product recommended by the influencers.
Significant Increase in Trust Factor
We have satisfactorily established that people don’t really believe claims made by companies about their products anymore. They basically ignore them as just claims. But they invariably trust reputed sites, reviewers, magazines and celebrities. Influencer marketing makes use of these various influencer groups to get marketer’s products noticed. This boosts trust in the product in a way that no advertising or promotional campaign can ever build even with millions of dollars of investment.
Influencer Marketing offers the rare opportunity for the actual marketer to work from the background and become a player from the backstage. He can now objectively observe, examine, analyze and evaluate the pros and cons of his products as the influencer takes the brunt of the consumers’ expectations and ecstasies. This is a golden opportunity as it lends seriously needed perspective to the marketers.
In my opinion, influencer marketing is still in its early days and there is a lot of room for further development and innovation in the process – both from a practical and theoretical viewpoint. As the business landscapes change, social media are poised to play a vital role in commercial activities and will often emerge as the kingmaker in the markets. Leading that bit of the business revolution will be none other than influencer marketing.
Have you tried influencer marketing? How was your experience? Did you get all the benefits listed in this post? Share it via your valuable comments. Also, if you liked this article, please consider sharing it across your social network.