Online marketing is in a perpetual state of evolution. What works this week may not work next week. However, influencer marketing has grown consistently over the past several years and its projected growth is astounding. Consumers look to the Internet for guidance in virtually all of their buying decisions, but they’ve grown immune to traditional advertising. They want advice they can trust and they want to feel both engaged and valued by brands. They look to individuals for suggestions, advice, and inspiration, be it friends or their favourite bloggers.
Working with influencers has proven to be the most effective and economical way to target consumers in a specific niche or demographic, outperforming even celebrity endorsements. Businesses and brands of all sizes and budgets have enjoyed unprecedented success with influencer marketing. Influencer campaigns generate results across the board, with increased engagement, organic reach, sales conversions and brand awareness.
The budget-friendly benefits go well beyond exposure and the cost per customer acquisition. The Value of Influencer Content 2017, a report by Linqia, found the cost of creating content can be drastically reduced if a brand works directly with an influencer.
Working with influencers provides marketers with a cost-efficient alternative to creating content at scale. Linqia’s survey found that by the time a project is complete, 49% of marketers who pay to professionally produce usage-based content spend an average of between $1,000–$5,000 per individual blog post, how-to article, or recipe, 2.9X more than what they spend working with flat-rate influencers. Similarly, 26% spend between $1,000–$5,000 per professionally produced photo, 2.2X more than if they work with influencers using a flat-rate, while 45% of marketers spend over $5,000 per video, 2.7X more than they would if working directly with an influencer using flat-rate pricing.
Top 10 Reasons 86% of Marketers Choose to Work with Influencers
All things considered, it isn’t surprising that influencer marketing has become an indispensable tool for many marketers. Following are their top 10 reasons for utilizing influencers in their digital marketing campaigns, according to the 2017 Linqia study.
- Relevance to my audience (73%)
- Authenticity / trusted voice (72%)
- Drive engagement (60%)
- Organic reach (55%)
- Spark word-of-mouth (45%)
- Quality of content (44%)
- Drive product sales (33%)
- Drive conversions (32%)
- Cross-channel following (22%)
- Generate reviews (17%)
The ROI of influencer marketing can be significant. According to a 2015 study by Tomoson, “Businesses are making $6.50 for each $1 spent on influencer marketing, with the top 13% earning $20 or more. A resounding 70% are earning $2 or more.”
A Twitter study demonstrated the value of social media stars in influencing purchasing decisions:
Focus on Influential Bloggers
It’s common for brands to focus on social media influencers. Instagram is one of the most popular social networks for merchants to target, especially in highly visual niches like fashion.
While social media influencer campaigns can be effective, the impact is short lived and the organic exposure on social networks gets more limited every day. For long-term impact, we suggest focusing on influential bloggers who, in turn, share their blog post on social media. That blog post will be there indefinitely and can be viewed and shared repeatedly for years.
Bloggers may be interested in all kinds of brand promotions, including sponsored posts and other native advertising, reviews, giveaways, and long-term brand advocate arrangements. You can also get in on seasonal content, such as gift guides. The more creative and natural you make your campaign, the better it will perform. If you can establish a long-term relationship to a point of advocacy, the benefits will be ongoing.
For example, if you become an “official supplier”, your product could be mentioned exclusively each and every time a related topic is blogged about. All you would have to do is supply the product on an ongoing basis, which works for everything from niche consumables to cameras. Instead of saying, “I use my laptop to work outdoors in the Summer,” I can say “I use my Dell XPS 15 Laptop…” Each year, Dell can send the latest model and that would be promoted until the next model is received. It’s more effective than a standard review or other feature because the blogger is presenting it as part of their life. It’s something they use on a regular basis because they truly believe it’s the best choice.
It’s tough to find Canadian influencers but there is no more effective way to reach the Canadian market, so they’re worth searching for. We have a listing of established, “PR friendly” Canadian bloggers to help you get started. It’s important that you know how to work with bloggers for the best results and we help you with that as well in Reaching Canadian Consumers Through Niche Bloggers.
Identifying the Right Influencers
The question you should be asking is, does the person have influence over your target market? While the size of their audience should be a consideration, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. In fact, smaller audiences can be more effective and will definitely cost less. A recent Markerly Instagram study based on 800,000 Instagram users, found that “micro-influencers” get more engagement than influencers with a high number of followers.
“The key finding of our data is that as an influencer’s follower total rises, the rate of engagement (likes and comments) with followers decreases,” states the Markerly study, Instagram Marketing: Does Influencer Size Matter? “Those with less than 1,000 followers generally received likes on their posts 8% of the time. Users with 10 million+ followers only received likes 1.6% of the time. Users with less than 1,000 followers generate comments about 0.5% of the time, compared to 0.04% for those with 10M+ followers – a difference of nearly 13X.”
Plus, follower numbers and engagement on social networks can be inflated by bots or purchasing followers. Even comments & other engagement is often manipulated as bloggers work together to help each other.
Keep in mind that Canada is a smaller geographic niche and that alone will impact the number of followers each person has, by comparison to the US. However, the geo-targeting benefits are priceless.
It’s also important to note that having a large number of followers or high levels of engagement doesn’t necessarily mean the person has influence over their followers’ purchasing decisions. What you care about is if the influencer is positioned to bring you leads and sales. Most often, that comes down to authority more than anything else. They need to be viewed as a trusted authority on a topic and therein lies their influence over purchasing behaviour.
You Can’t Buy Love
Brands must be aware that the value of influencers is in the trust they’ve earned from their followers. They didn’t gain that trust by “selling out” to advertisers. You won’t be paying them for a positive review or endorsement, you’ll be paying them to share their true experience with your brand.
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