In the last year, influencer marketing has grown from a sideline tactic into a game day strategy for brand marketers looking to regain and maintain that elusive customer trust and news feed relevance. With 80% of marketers looking to invest in influencer marketing in 2016, influencer strategies are now being used to achieve a variety of brand objectives throughout the marketing funnel. It’s no marketing secret that family and friends are the most trusted type of recommendation. As a result, marketers are turning to micro-influencers as an influencer strategy that harnesses this type of trustworthy social influence to drive consumers through each checkpoint of the marketing funnel.
Whether it’s combatting ad avoidance, promoting authentic content or connecting with Millennials on channels where they spend their time, micro-influencers are the only marketing strategy that helps drive conversion at every point of the consumer decision journey. This trend has grown in popularity as its success has been proven across several metrics; influencer marketing was rated by marketers as the fastest growing customer-acquisition channel, as well as the most cost-effective marketing channel (tied with email), driving an ROI of $6.50 on average. Even more tellingly, 51% of marketers in the same survey said they were acquiring better customers through influencer marketing.
Through data gained from Mavrck’s micro-influencer platform, here’s a breakdown of how and where marketers are using micro-influencers in their brand strategies:
The ability of micro-influencers to engage their friends around relevant topics provide brands with the ultimate lookalike audience at scale: a group of customers who have similar interests as your existing micro-influencers, and who trust the promotion of the micro-influencer that they follow. By using a strategy of content amplification and distribution by micro-influencers onto news feeds, your brand gets face time with the right people, the ones who are most likely to become loyal customers and to deliver a high lifetime value.
Brand Awareness at Work:
- Brand: Unilever
- Goal: Increase net promoter score on social, control the social conversation in relation to top haircare competitor Pantene
- Result: 5x improvement in net promoter score
Direct response includes acquisition-based goals like mobile app installs, coupon/promo code redemption, web conversions, subscribers, and more. Omni-channel activation of micro-influencers to share promotional offers with their social networks arms marketers with an always-on strategy to put content directly in target consumers’ news feeds without the threat of ad avoidance. Because micro-influencers are optimized for engagement, they’re an extremely effective bottom-funnel strategy, able to deliver quantifiable results for brand objectives instead of simply serving to reach as many prospective customers as possible.
Direct Response at Work:
- Brand: Glade Fragrances
- Goal: Generate anticipation for new product line and drive sales at target retailers
- Result: 12,944 coupons downloaded per 1,000 micro-influencers
Brands use micro-influencers for product launches to deliver an element of trustworthiness around a new product, and to ensure that the right customers are seeing this new promotion or product. What’s more, using micro-influencers around a product launch is more cost-efficient than using a macro-influencer strategy such as a celebrity paid promotion, since micro-influencers are incentivized by VIP treatment and brand swag over monetary compensation.
Product Launches at Work:
- Brand: Leading Confectionery Brand
- Goal: Drive awareness and brand engagement leading up to new product launch
- Result: 8,997 clicks to product landing page per 1,000 micro-influencers
When it comes to building a loyal and helpful brand community, not all customers are created equal. By driving conversation among like-minded friends and followers, Micro-influencers help build an engaged forum or VIP community that will push for your brand and attract new consumers down the funnel. Because they possess brand relevance and resonance with their social following, they are converting the right customers, the ones who will contribute to a community of loyal lifetime customers, instead of purchasing a product once and disappearing.
Community Building at Work:
- Brand: Tom’s of Maine
- Goal: Facilitate conversation between micro-influencers, increase brand relationship with community in a “join the conversation” feature
- Result: After activating micro-influencers, average M/M community growth was 46%, with 40% of visitors returning weekly
Content Generation & Amplification
UGC is the name of the marketing game- nothing is more effective than when brands combine their own messaging with their users’ human touch (we’re looking at you, Doritos.) By inspiring micro-influencers to create and distribute co-developed brand posts on their news feeds, you reap the benefits of endless user generated content, with the added benefit of it being done by your most influential customers. In a recent test, Mavrck found that micro-influencer UGC generated 6x higher engagement than sharing a branded post.
Content Generation & Amplification at Work:
- Brand: Leading U.S. Greeting Card Company
- Goal: Drive UGC creation for hashtagged movement
- Result: 2,152 UGC posts created & 19,286 engagements driven per 1,000 micro-influencers activated; Micro-influencer created posts received 10x higher engagements than branded content posts
With Mavrck’s platform, since you own your micro-influencer community once you discover it, the opportunities to gain insight from a brand’s most valuable customers are endless. Brands now have the power to tailor both the product side and the strategic side, using a wide spectrum of research tools such as email surveys, real time feedback, and focus groups to better inform their decisions and help iterate future business movement. Additionally, the value of their voice being heard is a reward for micro-influencers in itself, thus strengthening a brand’s relationship with its core community.
Research at Work:
- Brand: Tom’s of Maine
- Goal: Gain consumer brand insights across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
- Result: 2,340 survey responses captured per 1,000 micro-influencers activated
It’s not just about acquiring new customers, it’s about engaging with your existing ones. Loyalty retention programs and VIP communities allow customers to engage with the brands they love, to receive promotional offers in exchange for their continued brand advocacy, and to get the impression that their thoughts are heard and respected by brand. Micro-influencers are easily motivated by loyalty programs and reward communities. What’s more, since they possess the relevance, resonance and engaged reach necessary to wield influence, they are most likely to promote your brand to future loyal customers, rather than one-time buyers.
Loyalty Retention at Work:
- Brand: Leading e-Commerce Rewards Program for Major U.S. Retailer
- Goal: Drive loyalty membership and e-commerce sales among women aged 25-55
- Result: 15,750 emails captured per 1,000 micro-influencers
The Science of Micro-Influencer Marketing
Although influencer marketing used to be associated with big budget strategies and celebrity partnerships, the emergence of influencer categories like micro-influecers have allowed marketers to achieve multiple goals concurrently, in a cost-efficient and measurable strategy. Mavrck’s platform, for instance, dials down influencer marketing to a science. Its patented algorithm takes the guesswork out of traditional influencer strategies, using first-party data from brands’ existing customers to discover relevant micro-influencers based on their actual (not potential) ability to drive engagement among their friends, and how to activate them at scale to achieve specific business goals.
Unlike the rigid fencing of campaigns and contracts, influencer platforms are efficient and adaptable, because they discover the right micro-influencers to activate across channels, social media networks, and tactics for your brand. Think of it as your very own, customizable and always-on army.
In a global marketing atmosphere defined by distrust between consumers and ads, a micro-influencer strategy allows you to promote your brand in a more human way that fosters trust with your customers. Nielson’s “Global Trust in Advertising” survey analyzed the various ways in which consumers gain trust with brands; Mavrck’s platform alone leverages 4 out of the 6 most trusted ad formats. It does so by creating 1) branded microsites that are 2) full of micro-influencers people know in real life, who are 3) recruited via email newsletters they’ve signed, so that they can 4) post their opinions on social networks. This marketing hybrid of trustworthy ad formats allows your brand to become more human, which leads to marketing that people trust and more conversions driven.
The 2016 Trajectory for Influencer Marketing
In 2016, marketers should watch out for the evolution and adoption of influencer marketing as an omni-channel strategy that allows brands to see the impact of their dollars across multiple channels and business objectives. As influencer platforms continue to enable marketers to implement an integrated influencer strategy, turning the ability to measure conversions and sales impact into common practice, the percentage of marketers who are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets (currently 59%) will grow.
However, as influencer marketing grows into a mainstream strategy, the pressure is on to prove ROI. Influencer marketing will have to continue to shift perceptions of WOM marketing with scientific groundings like bottom line results, conversions and sales impacts, in order to claim a permanent stake in the tactical arena.
In 2016, customers in an eMarketer survey reported that trusted peers and colleagues influenced their purchasing decisions the most (95%), more than trusted independent content (86%), and vendor content on websites (81%). The first step towards harnessing this level of trust for your brand is by learning more about what type of influencer strategy is best for you: get started now by downloading the Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing Ebook.