It’s really hard to connect with consumers. This doesn’t mean that it is difficult to put content or ads in front of them (it isn’t), but that it’s tough to get consumers connected to content – to engage with it, remember it and then act in the way you want them to. The problem is that they are overwhelmed.
In fact, in marketing we’re overwhelmed too. There are so many channels, a million metrics and shrinking budgets. We’re expected to create deeper relationships with our audiences, in more places, for less money.
This puts the squeeze on the volume of video, social posts and narrative content that can be created. Equally, ads are struggling because aside from frequently being the highest cost component in a marketing strategy, they face many challenges that restrict their ability to connect with consumers. In summary, we have a noisier consumer landscape, in which our traditional engagement mechanisms are being ignored or shut out, and we have less budget to develop that killer campaign.
If ever there was a time to embody a ‘less is more’ approach, it’s now. One way to do this is to create less, and seed it through someone more influential than you (or your brand platform). This is known as influencer marketing.
How do you do it? Before you worry that this means giving $1m to Beyoncé (the amount she currently earns with each brand-sponsored Instagram post) fear not. Yes, that is influencer marketing, but there is a lot more to the discipline than just throwing cash at a celebrity and hoping something sticks (brands have been doing this for decades). Whilst the largest global brands may still have the budgets for that scale of promotion, a range of innovative brands are getting great ROI by extending their content delivery model with influencers. Here are three simple steps to maximise impact by using influencers:
- The data bit – when budgets get cut, so too does the budget for gaining insights. This ought to be counterintuitive, as it’s that data that allows us to get the best return on spend. Who are you really targeting? Which platforms are they on? What do we know about them? These are all questions that will allow you to identify who has influence with these audiences, and therefore to achieve better results per pound spent.
- The ‘celebrity’ bit – once you, as custodian of the brand, have identified your critical insights, it’s time to commission some influencers. Their role is to create a range of content at scale (at a rate that may be cost effective versus traditional design avenues). Through their owned channels, these influencers push your message in a more thumb-stopping, less intrusive manner.
- The analysis bit – influencers don’t work in isolation. You can use media budgets to promote influencer content to understand, at scale, what content resonates with their audiences. With a feedback loop in place, you can push the content in the right direction to make it work harder. The best campaigns are the ones that make the greatest impression – not just the most expensive.
Our experience shows that when done right, influencer marketing can significantly improve the return on working spend (budget spent directly on activation versus behind the scenes creative). This means everything from proper data management and influencer engagement through to getting the terms and conditions accurate on the paperwork. Increases in ROI of around 40% using influencer marketing can be seen over a like-for-like campaign which uses only paid media.
It’s not for everyone, and it is certainly not right for every campaign or message. But as a mechanism to increase cut through in this noisy landscape, influencer marketing is an evolving and increasingly important tool. Don’t be fooled by the $1m celebrity posts. Piggybacking on the popularity of a relevant and astute influencer is a legitimate way to do more with less.