From the Influencers

Brands' New BFF: Influencer Marketing

June 09, 2016

Marketing is a land fraught with peril right now, and a lot of great opportunities to waste money. Print media is in a death spiral, to the point where even the New York Times is offering side services. Television is fragmented and digital video recorders (DVRs) are making it easier than ever to skip an ad. Ad-blocker software is preventing many online ads from even reaching viewers. So where can a marketer place ads with a better-than-average chance of hitting? For many, it's influencer marketing that's the new target of the day.

With 65 percent of brands poised to hike influencer marketing spend, it turns out there are many reasons for such moves. One is the increasing number of customers who, while shopping in brick-and-mortar operations, turn to smartphones to check reviews before making purchases. So having an in with an influencer can be a way to turn some traffic directly to a product whether that influencer is regularly followed or not. Since product reviews are also part of the pre-purchase research process, the same applies, just at a different step of the customer experience.

Online reviews aren't just for millennials, either; with 95 percent of female consumers over 45 searching for online product reviews before buying, it's clear that Gen X has its share of online review demand as well. Seventy-four percent actually admitted to being more likely to buy a product after reading a positive first-person review.

Influencer marketing expands reach, allowing a brand to access the influencer's audience and get in on the halo effect therein; if this influencer is trusted, then so too are the brands connected to him or her by association. That can also be a shot in the credibility, though this often requires some time and effort to establish. Influencers must take care to maintain that influence, and being seen as a “sell out” will destroy that influence quickly. Access to an influencer can also improve brand visibility, as the people who turn to the influencer for content also get access to the brands involved.

Add these all up and it's a good reason why influencer marketing seems like a good idea. People are actively turning to influencers for content, so that makes them engaged users. Marketers love engaged users as they're less likely to tune out advertising. Combine heavy engagement with wide numbers of users and it's a formula tailor-made for marketers. Though it's not without its flaws—potential refusal of access by the influencer who must monitor his or her audience closely, a potential lack of the numbers involved in other media—it's still shaping up to be a good route to go.

There are a lot of ways to waste money in marketing these days, and so, influencer marketing is looking like a better option for buyers. It may not work for everyone, but it's likely to make some brands happy in the end.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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