Table of contents
  1. 1. What is influencer marketing?
  2. 2. The development of influencer marketing
  3. 3. Why is influencer marketing important?

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is defined as “a form of marketing in which focus is placed on specific key individuals […] who influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers” (Adweek). More specifically, this type of marketing focuses on finding, analyzing, engaging and building relationships with influencers or key opinion leaders (KOL), then using them to deliver your brand’s message to the right target audience. Instead of using direct advertisements, brands pay, collaborate with or inspire influencers to share their content, which can enhance both brand awareness and influencer relations. 

Once just a trendy buzzword in marketing circles, influencer marketing has proven to be the real deal: an essential strategy for marketers. For the past few years, it has been evolving from a tactical practice (more or less trial-and-error) to a state-of-the-art digital marketing strategy implemented by huge brands across industries (Daniel Wellington, Mercedes-Benz, Puma, etc.) The industry around social media influencers has grown rapidly over the past few years, and its global value is predicted to be 2.38 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.

 

The development of influencer marketing

The general idea of influencer marketing was hinted at in a 2012 report called “The Rise of Digital Influence.” This report did not directly address the topic of influencer marketing, but rather explained the concept of influence and how it works in online environments, especially social networks. The report also compared the features of popular influencer tracking platforms at that time. 
Around 2015, some brands and marketers began practicing influencer marketing. At that time, mostly small and medium businesses (SMBs) tried this type of marketing with a simple concept in mind: paying social media’s most popular people to promote their products. In the beginning, as with any new marketing strategy, influencer marketing was little more than an experiment. Marketers tried every strategy they could think of to see what worked. 

Over time, as some of these experiments proved successful, a set of best practices in influencer marketing began to emerge. In 2016, brands started to invest more of their budgets in influencer marketing (Salesforce). More influencer marketing conferences were organized, and B2B brand managers started taking this type of marketing more seriously while planning their strategies and online activities. Now, along with content marketing and social media marketing, influencer marketing is one of the most common approaches in the inbound marketing funnel.  

influencer-marketing-in-new-inbound-funnel

New Marketing Funnel © comparethecloud.net 

The role of influencer marketing in this model is to fill the top of the funnel by increasing brand awareness and triggering people’s interest in the topic, message or product.  Many brands have achieved success by planning and executing their influencer marketing campaigns using this model. With the growing importance of the internet and social media, B2B companies cannot ignore influencer marketing and must begin to develop strategies in this area or risk being left behind.

 

Why is influencer marketing important?

At InfluencerDB, we understand the concept of influencer marketing, support its use and believe it will bring success to our partners. And this love is not blind. By using our data-driven platform to conduct several research studies, we’ve measured how effective influencer marketing (with proper strategy and practice) can maximize ROI and leverage your business to the next level. Here are the reasons why influencer marketing will continue to be a major force in the marketing world: 

1. The power of influence in the digital world

In this golden age of internet marketing, content is king and information is the most powerful asset. Influencers are the people who can provide content and manage the proliferation of information just by using their social media profiles. With their unique ability to engage a highly relevant audience and create authentic content, influencers have become increasingly important in a successful overall marketing strategy. Social media influencers come to the table with a group of followers who trust their opinions and recommendations and take time to engage with their content. Hence, converting those “influencer lovers” to “brand lovers” is the power of influence that marketers are trying to utilize. 

As mentioned before, brands may collaborate with influencers in many ways, from hiring ambassadors to soliciting celebrity endorsements. However, what makes influencer marketing different from advertising or public relations is the human connection between brand, influencer, and customer. Influencer marketing content is more unique, honest and interactive than PR content or social ads. Thus, a successful influencer marketing campaign will not only result in one-time deals but also long-term brand advocates.  

2. Skyrocketing ROI 

Money talks. Marketers care about value, and return on investment (ROI) is one of the most critical metrics for evaluating any marketing campaign. Our report of the richest influencers on Instagram in 2017 suggests that the ROI of influencer marketing can reach up to 5.9 times. The report shows that influencer marketing requires a smaller budget and generates a greater return. Additionally, unlike some other marketing approaches, the performance of an influencer marketing campaign can be measured easily with a proper analytics tool. This helps marketers and brand managers in tracking their campaigns and making modifications to maximize the marketing ROI.  

3. No industrial boundaries

So far, most of the companies using influencer marketing come from the B2C sector and work in “mainstream” markets such as fashion, sports, beauty, and gaming. However, influencers and KOLs exist in every industry. And where there’s an influencer, there is an opportunity for marketers to approach and implement influencer marketing strategies. This research on automotive brands on Instagram demonstrates how influencer marketing can generate value for companies in an industry not typically associated with the strategy. 

At InfluencerDB, our partners come from a wide range of industries including apparel, food and beverage, automotive, tourism and media consulting.   

4. Better than ads: avoid ad-block

If digital marketing has taught us anything, it’s that people do not like ads-- particularly mass media ads that bring little value to the audience. In 2017, over 600 million devices were running ad-block software, and 62 percent of those are mobile devices. Influencer marketing, however, is not an advertisement. It is more honest and authentic, so the message can be delivered to followers in a more natural way. This authenticity helps attract new customers, rather than repelling them as conventional ads tend to do. Thus, instead of investing in internet ads, brands and businesses now have more reason to invest in social influencers.

At the moment, top Instagram users such as Selena Gomez have more than a hundred million followers. Even a fraction of that number is enough to greatly enhance awareness of your brand. 

5. Influencer Relationship Management

Influencer marketing not only brings in customers but also strengthens the relationship between influencers and your brand. In fact, influencer relationship management is now as important as influencer marketing, simply because influencers are human so there is always a human factor in the collaboration. When an influencer feels a connection with your brand, they are more inclined to continue collaborating-- and sharing the goodwill they feel toward you with their followers. A good influencer marketing campaign will turn both influencers and their fans into your brand advocates, which assures you that your message will find the proper audience groups in the future.