Take a look at any blog, social media feed, magazine, or even YouTube and tell me what you see?

I’m sure there’s more than a few advertisements. Consumers are bombarded with advertisements day in and day out. Faced with so many, they’ve learned to tune them out. Only a few can break through the noise. So, it’s not surprising that many companies struggle to capture the attention of their desired customers. To break through the noise, you need to employ innovative marketing strategies. Many marketers are now turning to influencer marketing to reach their audience.

An influencer is a person who inspires people with their accomplishments, values, or lifestyle. Likeminded people respect their opinion and can be influenced by their recommendations. For example, influencers may promote specific products, encourage their followers to visit new destinations, listen to a podcast, or read a new book.

Influencers include print authors, industry leaders, consultants, bloggers, and media figures that relay their opinions in front of a loyal audience. However, there’s a huge difference between finding the influencers available in your industry and getting them to promote your brand, product or services to their audience or followers.

If banner ads or regular media buys are not getting you where you want, it’s time to consider leveraging influencers. This improves brand awareness, which, in turn, grows your business. In this article, you’ll discover how influencer marketing can help you create massive brand awareness and grow your revenue.

 

What is ‘Influencer Marketing?’

Influencer marketing is the practice of collaborating with an influencer to market your brand, product, or service to a targeted audience. Influencers, most of the time, use content sharing to advertise your brand, product, or service to their already-established audience or followers.

They may also take charge of shows, contests, giveaways, and other activities that will further publicize the brand.

Influencers are people who many like, respect, admire, and are role models. Outside of the internet, influencers could be family members and friends or people around you. They also include community members and peers. Within digital marketing, influencers include celebrities, industry leaders, sporting and fashion icons, and pretty much anyone with a large social media following on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

This form of marketing strategy is redefining how we drive traffic to websites, and how sales are being generated online. That’s why businesses are tapping into this huge opportunity.

67% of digital businesses are set to increase their influencer marketing spend in the coming years.

When trying to choose which influencer to work with, you must be specific on the exact type of following or audience you need to reach. Understanding where your desired customer spends time online will help you identify the best platform and influencer to target. This is where developing buyer personas can help. When you have a thorough understanding of your target buyer, you can identify the exact type of person they would be most receptive to hear recommendations from. For example, if you’re trying to promote baking products and new cookbook, it probably doesn’t make sense to partner with a fitness influencer.

The number of followers an influencer has will directly affect the cost of partnering with them. The more followers they have, the greater your potential reach. However, don’t discount influencers with smaller audiences. They can be highly-engaged and very receptive to recommendations.

Many factors can adversely affect the deliverability of an influencer marketing campaign. For example, choosing influencers who have no public connection with your brand or who wouldn’t normally use your product or services. Forcing a rigid script on the influencer, rather than cooperating on a more creative approach, can also backfire if followers feel the campaign is deceptive. It’s important to form a natural partnership and collaborate with them to design a campaign that will resonate with their audience. Trust their feedback, as they are more familiar with their audience.

Not sure if your social media strategy is actually producing results? Curious if influencer marketing might be a better way to reach your target audience? Feel free to contact us. We’re happy to evaluate your strategy and discuss ways to grow brand awareness. 

 

The Role of An Influencer in Your Online Marketing Campaign

Many people tend to think of influencer marketing as celebrities promoting beauty products in television commercials: think Cindy Crawford in Revlon commercials. However, influencer marketing has evolved as the digital ecosystem has grown. Now, influencers can use a large range of digital platforms to share information about your brand to their audiences. Influencers can mention your product or services on their social media platform or create a blog post that reviews one of your products. Outside of the digital realm influencers can also attend events or conferences for meet-and-greets or they can conduct product demonstrations. Another way influencer marketing can be used is by adding your products or brand images to videos that are about another topic. This is similar to the way flashy cars are placed in movies or Target drops product placements in Netflix sitcoms.

When developing your influencer marketing strategy, you need to think about your target audience and where they spend their time. If they’re on social media daily, then that channel might be most appropriate. If they tend to listen to podcasts, perhaps it makes sense to partner with a podcast host that has an engaged audience.

 

Reasons Why You Should Use Influencer Marketing

i). Better Brand Awareness

A growing number of brands are taking their marketing to the next level and employing the service of influencers with large, engaged audiences. Recent statistics show that in 2018, 80% of marketers found influencer marketing effective and 89% say influencer marketing ROI is better than other marketing tactics.

Influencers give you access to their audience or followers, which naturally extends your reach. Putting into consideration that influencers are available across numerous social media platforms, collaborating with them will also boost your social media presence and increase brand awareness.

Let’s take a look at how two different brands use Instagram to increase brand awareness:

The outdoor retailer Backcountry partners with many outdoor enthusiasts. The influencers promote and feature the brand’s products as they hike, camp, and recreate in beautiful destinations. Their presence is especially strong on Instagram, where many travel enthusiasts go to live vicariously through the beautiful photography. The photographs capture their attention and the captions convince them why specific products are essential for their next camping adventure.

One prime example is the influencer Chelsea Yamase (@ChelseaKauai). She uses long-form narrative captions to engage her audience, weaving in personal experiences and thoughts. By displaying vulnerability, she is able to connect with her audience and gain their trust. As a result, the audience is more likely to trust her recommendations and purchase Backcountry’s products.

In another example, the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort turned to an influencer, Renee Hahnel (@ReneeRoaming), to promote their newly renovated hotel. As she explored the resort and grounds, Renee used Instagram stories and posts to highlight unique features, beautiful design, and thoughtful amenities. Many people turn to Instagram to find their next travel destination and trust recommendations from frequent travelers like Renee.

ii). Consumer Trust

When people decide to follow an account on social media, they’re inviting them into their daily scroll—and life. Every time they use the platform, they learn more about the person. They see their successes, failures, and they can often feel as if they’re part of their life. Frequent engagement strengthens the relationship; soon, the influencer feels like a friend.

As you know, people value the recommendations of acquaintances and friends.

Endorsements from influencers can enhance the authenticity of your brand and help you gain consumer trust. As much as 49% of consumers are known to depend on product recommendations from influencers. When evaluating products, consumers are looking for authentic reviews from authority figures.

By adding the right strategies and excellent content, influencers will be able to affect consumer buying decisions.

iii). Better Sales

Improving sales is the primary goal of marketers who use influencer marketing. This year, according to a Tomson study, businesses earn $6.50 for each dollar spent on influencers. It’s predicted to grow continuously in the next couple of years. This is ascertained by the fact that the majority of consumers today consider social media when making purchasing decisions.

It’s worth noting that social media presence matters because most people spend more time on their mobile phones, absorbing content on these platforms. Online retailers are making good use of this, dominating and revolutionizing the buying experience. This survey suggests that 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile devices in the last 6 months.

Another example of a successful influencer campaign is Bigelow Tea. They launched a marketing campaign with influencers who promoted the health benefits of drinking tea. They blended Bigelow Tea into their content in different ways: some made original recipes that featured the tea and others turned the packaging into DIY art. This generated more than 32,000 blog page engagements for their sponsored posts. Also, the total media value for Bigelow Tea increased more than threefold, and the brand experienced an 18.5% increase in sales.

iv.) It’s Cost-Effective

Influencer marketing uses a variety of pricing models. Often, the popularity of the influencer and their audience size determines which approach is best. Some influencers will cooperate with your brand just because it’ll help them to build their personal brand in the process. In those instances, free products or experiences can be offered instead of a cash payment.

Other influencers will accept pricing based on their performance, in which the amount you pay is proportional to the number of clicks and the number of engagement (likes, shares, retweets, posts, etc.) your brand earns through their posts. Others will accept flat-rate pricing, where you pay a certain amount per post or video. This wide range gives you a lot of options to choose from and allows you to select the option that suits you the most.

Another case study is RESCUE, who wanted to increase awareness of their natural health remedies. To achieve this, they partnered with influential bloggers who promoted their new “buy one, get one free” coupon. The bloggers shared their personal experiences and included the RESCUE coupon in their social media posts. The campaign produced amazing results, including 133 million social media impressions and generated well over 6,000 clicks to the coupon website. By the end of the campaign, their Instagram following had increased by 258%. The influencers also used Twitter to promote the coupon and at one point, RESCUE was the #4 nationally trending topic on Twitter.

 

How to Leverage Influencers

At this point, the effectiveness of influencer marketing should be apparent. Leveraging influencers is profitable to you and your brand. Below are a few ways to connect with influencers and tap into their vast audiences:

i). Make an introduction

Let’s assume you’ve identified two influencers you’d like to work with, named Brown and James. Brown has a large audience or follower base and James has a much smaller fan base, which is more engaged. Brown is a fitness coach with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media platforms, published books, and an informative blog. James’ audience, however, may be smaller, but his few thousands of followers trust his opinions and follow up on every recommendation he makes.

If you are planning to get either of these two guys to promote your product, service, or brand, you need to first appear on their radars. You can do this in several different ways:

  • Send a quick email complimenting or appreciating the influencer on their most recent social media post or blog article. You can also publish a story about how the influencer’s content or product has helped you.
  • Share the influencer’s social media posts or blog articles on your page.
  • Post an excellent review of the influencer’s brand or product on your blog.
  • Share a quote or piece of advice given by the influencer on your blog.
  • Leave a complimentary comment on the influencer’s recent social media or blog post.
  • Arrange a meeting at a conference or networking event.

The approach you decide to use will be based on the influencers you’re targeting. Brown, for example, may not monitor all the comments left on his blog. He will, however, be available for meetings at industry or networking events. On the other hand, James’ may be more responsive to thoughtful comments left on his social media channel.

ii). Be genuinely helpful

When working with influencers, you want to strive for a mutually-beneficial relationship. When you approach the relationship with a collaborative mindset, you’ll achieve more success. If you share similar values and goals with the influencer, you’ll form a more authentic partnership. This will be obvious to their followers and they will have a better opinion of your brand and sponsorship.

It should never resort to a situation where you take advantage of an influencer’s reputation to boost your profits selfishly. It’s vital that your initial contact is authentic and genuine.

Big Audience Brown, for example, doesn’t require the social boost that comes from your shares, likes, or retweets. Even James’ business probably doesn’t stand to grow exponentially from one link or post shared on your blog or page. So, however, you choose to approach your relationship with the influencers you’re aiming, be helpful by all means.

As time goes by, the helping hand you stretch out as long as it’s genuinely helpful and not just surface-level gestures, it will take your relationship with the influencer of your choice to the next level.

Australian fashion retailer Minnie & Maxxie gifted influencers like Sarah from Sarah Merrett Styling pieces from their range of fashion styles to introduce them to the brand and to generate exposure and ultimately sales. Results showed 18,459 direct engagements with campaign content and 333,445 consumers reached (size of the audience reached).

iii). Prove your worth

If you’re determined with your follow-up, you will discover that your relationship with your targeted influencer moves beyond simple and one-sided interactions but into a symbiotic one. For example, you take the next step from exchanging social media updates to sharing emails, then meeting up in person either for promotional events or collaborative workshops.

At a certain point, you have to be ready to prove your worth and the value of your brand, product, or services. The moment your relationship with a potential influencer exceeds simple helpful gestures, be prepared to explain the different ways your product can be unique and of benefit to the authority figure’s actual needs, as well as the needs of their followers and audience.

Never forget, however, that there’s no way to guarantee an influencer recommendation (unless you’ve made up your mind to pay for it and form a contractual relationship).

While you may have some luck when you give it a shot the first time, you may also have to work hard to try to enhance relationships that never go anywhere. Influencers are usually busy people, and they aren’t obligated to like your product or brand just because you’ve followed the steps mentioned in this article.

You have to do your research, look for opportunities to be helpful, and be ready to show the benefits of your product and services. Also, you need to be aware of the unique needs of the influencer you’re targeting. With continued patience and perseverance, you’ll discover your relationships improve and your brand benefiting as a result.

There’s no doubt that online branding is becoming increasingly difficult as the day goes by, as consumers become less and less trusting of information they find online.

Because of this, brands need to work patiently and build trust with their target consumers.

 

Conclusion

Influencer marketing is without a doubt growing in popularity, and in many instances, it’s the best way to engage with your target audience. Collaborations between brands and social media influencers will continue to expand in the coming years. You and your competitors could be going after the same influencers—and it’s up to you who gets the deal.

To succeed, develop an influencer marketing strategy and begin building authentic relationships with individuals who can have a genuine impact on the buying behavior of your target market.

If you’re not sure how to get started, you might want to speak with one of our marketing experts today. We can help you develop an influencer marketing strategy and identify potential influencers.

 

 

Alex Membrillo Cardinal CEO

Alex Membrillo

Founder and CEO

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal, a digital marketing agency focused on growing multi location companies. His work as CEO of Cardinal has recently earned him the honor of being selected as a member of the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 list by Georgia State University as well as 2015 and 2016 Top 20 Entrepreneur of metro Atlanta by TiE Atlanta, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year,and the Digital Marketer of the Year by Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).