Few things in life go together as well as influencer marketing and inbound marketing—it’s truly a match made in heaven. In 2016, roughly 86 percent of marketers claimed they were using influencers in their inbound marketing strategies and most were looking to double their initial investments. It’s clear influencer marketing is taking the world by storm, but what makes it so effective? Why is influencer marketing working so well?
While most people would assume the answer is complicated, it’s actually quite simple: the way people buy has changed—and not necessarily in the favour of traditional marketing methods. Today’s consumers want a more personalized, trustworthy, and interruption-free shopping experience. They don’t want to be convinced to buy something; they want to develop a relationship with the brand and decide for themselves whether it’s worth purchasing.
It’s this shift in purchasing power and influence that’s made influencer marketing so effective.
A New Generation of Marketing
Today’s consumers don’t want to be sold to—or at least they don’t want to know they’re being sold to. It’s this same shift that’s led to the death of cold calling and the rise of commercial-free services: the more disruptive the message, the less effective it becomes. For marketers, this means marketing messages need to be effortlessly inserted into consumers’ lives instead of obnoxiously thrown into their field of view.
Consider a television commercial. Your target audience is sitting on the couch watching their favourite television show, when it breaks for a commercial and your message is played. It’s likely being ignored for a few reasons…
First and foremost, your message has been forced onto the target audience. They didn’t ask for information on your product or service; it was decided for them. Not only is this annoying for the consumer, but it positions your brand in a disruptive light.
Plus, commercials (or most forms of traditional advertising) aren’t as genuine as they could be. Today’s consumers are much more likely to trust a product recommendation from a friend, family member, or Amazon review before they’ll trust an advertisement paid for by the brand itself. Lastly, people like to make decisions about companies and purchases themselves: no millennial wants to be told what to do.
It’s this mixing pot of consumer behaviours and characteristics that has created the prime environment for inbound and influencer marketing to become more effective than ever before. It allows your message to be received by the right audience, in the right way, and at the right time—free of any intrusive messages and from a reliable source.
Defining Influencer Marketing
If you’re not sure what influencer marketing is, the concept is pretty easy to wrap your head around. Brands partner with “influencers” online to promote their products or services to their trusted followers. “Influencer” is a relaxed term, mainly because it varies depending on the product or service you’re selling. Perhaps your product is very niche, and so finding the right influencer will take time and diligence. There’s no set number of followers or likes to be considered an influencer—you simply must have a respectable number of loyal followers who can be swayed or influenced by what you have to say.
For instance, a company that sells high-end fishing rods might partner with a popular Instagram fisherman with 102k followers. This allows its product to be promoted, reviewed, and shared to all of the fisherman’s followers, leading to a more trusted introduction and promotion of the brand. It also allows the product to be put in front of the right audience: people who fish or have an interest in fishing. Unlike traditional advertising, influencer marketing allows brands to get their messages in front of the right audience organically, allowing the consumer to make the ultimate decisions as to whether or not they’re interested.
Why Influencer Marketing Works
Influencer marketing works in a number of ways and for a number of different reasons. Depending on your product category, target audience, and marketing goals, influencer marketing can be scaled and adjusted for nearly any and every business.
It reaches your audience
One of the most powerful aspects of influencer marketing is its ability to reach the right consumer. If you’re selling lip-gloss, you likely don’t want your message to be seen by 40-year-old men. Instead, your target audience is likely women between the ages of 16 and 35 who have an interest in makeup. Thanks to social media, there are many influencers who have the exact following you’re looking for, allowing only those who matter to see your message.
Remember—millennials don’t want to be sold to, interrupted, or forced to engage with something they have no interest in. That’s why organic content is so powerful. Through influencer marketing, companies are able to communicate the messages they want, without being overly invasive or intrusive. Instead of the brand speaking directly to the consumer, the influencer takes on the role of the salesperson, promoting the product for you.
To say influencer marketing is influential may seem redundant, but it’s an important point to note when it comes to why the strategy is such a success. People trust people: That’s the driving force behind every influencer marketing campaign. Consumers are more likely to trust a personality they follow online and have a relationship with as opposed to the brand itself. That’s why it works.
There are two types of content: content that’s engaging and content that’s not. You want your content to be seen as shareable and engaging. While a consumer might not be very likely to comment on or share a Facebook ad, they are likely to engage with a video or photo that’s been posted by one of their favourite social media personalities. Your influencer may have 200k followers, but with all the traffic generated by the post, it will quickly lead to another 100k eyes on your brand.
Putting It All Together
Influencer marketing and inbound marketing use the same tactic to increase sales: they both attract prospects to your brand without being invasive or forceful. That’s why the two strategies are a match made in heaven. Instead of forcing a message into the minds of a target audience, inbound marketing and influencer marketing both invite consumers to engage, but only when they decide it’s time.
Additionally, these strategies allow for product and brand education. Today’s consumers want to research a product before they buy it. They want to know how it works, what it looks like, and how it will benefit them. With influencer and inbound marketing working together, consumers get a holistic view of the product, from an influencer recommendation to a blog post on how it works.
Last but not least, these two strategies build trust between the brand and the consumer. No one wants to purchase a product if they don’t know if the company is reliable, trustworthy, credible, and the overall expert in that category. However, when influencer and inbound marketing work together, consumers are able to develop a relationship with the brand long before they decide to make any purchases.