Leveraging trusted voices to benefit your brand
Over the past decade, influencer marketing has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. Brands of all sizes now regularly partner with social media influencers as part of their marketing strategy. But what is the purpose behind this type of marketing? What benefits does it provide?
When done effectively, influencer marketing can help brands achieve a variety of strategic goals that ultimately contribute to business growth. This includes boosting brand awareness, expanding reach, increasing conversion rates, and driving sales. But influencer marketing also provides less measurable yet important benefits like enhancing trust and credibility with consumers.
In this article, we will explore the purpose of influencer marketing in depth and how brands are leveraging it to see real results. We will cover:
•An overview of what influencer marketing entails
•The primary goals that brands aim to achieve
•How influencers help with brand awareness, reach and market research
•How influencer partnerships build trust and boost brand credibility
•How influencers directly impact sales and conversions
•Additional ways influencers can enhance SEO and website traffic
•The conclusion that influencer marketing, when done strategically, provides a range of benefits that contribute to growth
By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of why so many brands are now integrating influencer marketing into their strategies and how you can potentially leverage it for your own business. Let’s get started!
Understanding Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing involves partnering with social media influencers who have cultivated loyal followings in order to promote your brand. Instead of traditional advertisements, influencer marketing uses the recommendations and endorsements of people that target audiences already know and trust.
This differs from other forms of digital marketing in several ways.
Paid social media ads can reach broad audiences but often get ignored or generate less engagement. Content marketing focuses on creating your own organic following through useful posts, but it takes longer to build an audience from scratch and runs the risk of being seen as inauthentic (something very important to a social media user).
Influencer marketing leverages existing audiences that influencers have already cultivated, giving brands an accelerated path to exposure and engagement. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and even Twitter and Facebook are commonly used for influencer campaigns. Although Instagram is likely the most well-known platform for influencer marketing currently.
Costs for working with influencers vary significantly based on their following size and level of engagement. Micro-influencers with under 50k followers may charge $0-$500 per post. Mid-tier influencers with 50k-500k followers could cost $500-$3,000. While mega-influencers with over 1 million followers could command $10,000 or more per post.
Like any marketing strategy, influencer marketing has pros and cons. For small businesses, it allows reaching a larger audience but costs can be relatively high. Agency owners and mid-sized businesses have more budget and likely see a better return, while global brands can afford top influencers for maximum impact.
However, all businesses must dedicate resources to managing relationships with influencers and approving content. Influencers may not be relevant to certain niches as well. Overall, influencer marketing is easier for larger companies to implement at scale. But even small businesses can test it with micro-influencers for a more targeted approach.
Goals of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing aims to accomplish a variety of strategic goals that contribute to business growth. While the specific goals may vary by brand, industry and platform, there are some common themes.
The primary goal for many brands is increasing awareness and reach. By partnering with influencers, brands gain access to their large, qualified audiences which they can leverage to promote products and services to potential new customers. This goal applies to all major platforms but is especially relevant to visual platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
Driving sales and conversions is another major goal, particularly for eCommerce brands. Influencers can directly promote products and discount codes to their followers, which can immediately translate into new orders and revenue. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok lend themselves well to this goal due to their shopping features and ability to include purchase links.
Building credibility and trust is becoming an increasingly important goal, especially for younger-focused platforms like TikTok and Snapchat. Partnering with popular influencers on these networks signals that a brand has been vetted and endorsed by a trusted voice within that community. This goal focuses more on long-term brand perception rather than immediate sales.
Enhancing SEO and website traffic is a broader goal that applies to most platforms. When influencers link to a brand’s website in their posts, it can provide an injection of relevant backlinks and traffic that can boost search engine rankings and visibility over time. This makes SEO an important consideration for even the most objective-driven influencer campaigns.
While these goals often work together towards the overarching aim of business growth, differentiating priorities based on platform and industry context can help brands develop the most strategic and effective influencer marketing campaigns.
Brand Awareness and Reach
One of the primary benefits of influencer marketing is the ability to raise brand awareness and expand a company’s reach to new potential customers. There are two main ways influencers help with this.
1. Increasing visibility
By featuring branded products or promotions in their content, influencers instantly expose that brand to their entire follower base. For large influencers with millions of followers, this can provide a brand with visibility to an enormous qualified audience almost overnight.
For example, Olay undertook a campaign in the noisy niche of beauty. They recruited a group of 9 diverse influencers and obtained 298k views with a reach of 21 million.
2. Expanding market research
Influencers also provide brands insight into their specific follower demographics which can help with market research. By understanding an influencer’s audience in terms of age, gender, interests and location, brands gain data on whether a particular influencer’s promotion will resonate within their target market.
In summary, by leveraging the large, qualified audiences that influencers have cultivated, brands are able to instantly expand their reach and visibility to potentially thousands or even millions of new customers. And data from influencers also helps brands confirm that their promotions will be relevant to their target markets, further optimizing influencer marketing campaigns overall.
Building Trust and Credibility
Influencer marketing is uniquely positioned to build credibility and trust for brands by leveraging the authenticity and reputation of influencers themselves.
Leveraging influencer authenticity
Influencers become popular because their followers perceive them as authentic and trustworthy voices in their niche. They establish this trust over time by consistently providing valuable, high-quality content to their audiences.
When an influencer then chooses to promote and endorse a brand, their followers intuitively grant that brand a certain level of credibility based on the influencer’s recommendation. This transfer of trust from influencer to brand happens subconsciously for most followers.
Boosting brand credibility
Being seen as credible and trustworthy is essential for brands today, especially with younger consumers who are sceptical of traditional advertising. Influencer partnerships signal that a brand has received a “stamp of approval” from someone their target audience trusts.
This boost in perceived credibility can positively impact brand metrics like purchase intent, loyalty, satisfaction, and willingness to recommend. All of these factors contribute to the long-term growth potential of a brand.
In summary, because influencers have spent time cultivating trust with their followers, they are uniquely positioned to transfer some of that trust over to the brands they promote. This transfer of credibility from influencer to brand allows companies to drastically improve how trustworthy and authentic they appear to their target markets in a very short period of time.
Driving Sales and Conversions
Influencer marketing has proven especially effective at directly driving sales and conversions for brands.
Promoting product purchases
Influencers promote product purchases by featuring brands and products in their social media content in an authentic and natural way. They often include direct calls to action like discount codes and links for their followers to easily make a purchase.
This makes it effortless for influencers’ large, qualified audiences to buy the promoted products. Many followers will purchase simply because they trust the influencer’s recommendations. The more popular the influencer, the bigger the potential impact on sales.
Increasing conversion rates
Influencer marketing is more effective at driving conversions than traditional online advertising. Research shows that conversion rates for influencer campaigns are 3-4 times higher than typical banner ads. There are a few reasons for this:
-Followers intrinsically trust influencers’ recommendations more than brand ads
-Influencers create a sense of urgency around discounts that motivate immediate purchases
-Influencers target highly engaged audiences who are more likely to take action
-Influencers share personal experiences with products that convince followers to buy
All of this demonstrates how influencer marketing has become so effective at driving real sales and conversions for brands. When utilized strategically and measured properly, this channel clearly outperforms other options for promoting purchases and conversions, making it a must for any performance-driven marketing strategy.
While the primary goals of influencer marketing focus on awareness, credibility and sales, this channel can also provide ancillary benefits like boosting a brand’s SEO and website traffic over time.
When influencers link to a brand’s website in their posts promoting products, it creates relevant backlinks that search engines can discover. Since search engines value the number and quality of backlinks a website receives, these influencer links can help improve a brand’s domain authority and search ranking.
Specifically, influencer backlinks can help with SEO in two ways:
Improving search engine ranking
As influencers promote a brand to their large audiences on a consistent basis, they will naturally include links to that brand’s website to facilitate purchases. Each of these links passing relevant link equity to the website acts as a “vote” in the search algorithms, signalling that the domain is an authority in its niche.
Over time, the accumulation of these high-quality backlinks from popular sources can boost a website’s ranking for targeted commercial keywords and phrases. This makes influencer marketing an effective long-tail SEO strategy.
Boosting website traffic
In addition to helping with ranking, influencer links also pass traffic directly to a website whenever followers click the embedded links while viewing promoted social content. This injection of targeted website traffic from an engaged audience can further improve key performance indicators tracked by search engines.
All of this suggests that while increasing SEO and traffic may not be the primary goals of influencer marketing, these benefits can nevertheless develop organically as a result of the backlinks and clicks generated from regular influencer promotions over time.
In summary, influencer marketing provides brands with a unique way to achieve a variety of strategic benefits that contribute to long-term growth. Partnering with influencers allows brands to:
•Reach large, qualified audiences to expand reach and raise awareness
•Leverage the trust and credibility of influencers to quickly enhance their own brand perception
•Drive more product purchases and conversions through influencers’ recommendations
•Build relationships with influencers who become advocates for the brand over time
•Improve search engine visibility and increase relevant website traffic as a byproduct of campaigns
While the primary goals of influencer campaigns will vary based on a brand’s unique objectives, they generally centre around increasing awareness, credibility, engagement, conversions and sales. All of these metrics ultimately contribute to the success and growth potential of the business.
When done strategically by carefully selecting the right influencers, providing them with the resources they need and measuring campaign results, influencer marketing offers brands an effective channel to cut through the traditional advertising clutter and connect with their audiences in a more authentic and impactful way.