What do shag carpets, landlines, and display advertising all have in common? The heyday for each has long since passed. And in the case of display ads, a shiny and new alternative — one that blends word-of-mouth buzz with high frequency — has emerged: influencer marketing.
It’s easy to understand why influencers have more reach than website banners or YouTube adverts. Our company did a joint study with Nielsen on consumer conduct, and we found that 82 percent of buyers regularly sought advice from friends and family members, including those they know only online. Those preferences for familiarity only strengthen among Millennials and Gen Zers; we found that 92 percent of those audience members trusted the words of their loved ones over brands.
In other words, it’s time to let go of the reliance on display ads and give influencer marketing a longer look.
Moving away from banner ads
Consumer distrust is hardly a new phenomenon. However, it has grown to the point that people are simply tuning out automated, impersonal messaging. In fact, 615 million devices use some form of ad-blocking software, which is a 30 percent increase from two years ago.
We’ve all experienced “banner blindness” on our favorite websites, completely passing over advertisements in our hunger for pertinent information. A Google DoubleClick study confirms this, estimating that click-throughs are at a staggering low of 0.05 percent and that 56 percent of online ad impressions are never seen. With so much content to explore, modern consumers are bypassing traditional displays and going straight to product feedback.
Display ads are valuable for industries that are supersaturated or that reside in an unpopular vertical. Generally speaking, though, brands need to move away from banners and similar digital solutions if they hope to measure up against savvier competitors.
Embracing an influencer model
It’s surprisingly simpler than most marketers assume to move away from display advertising and toward influencer marketing. In fact, you can implement influencer marketing immediately by following these three initiatives:
1. Seek out your most socially involved customers. Don’t automatically think you have to leverage the Kardashians of the world to get a boost. Your most loyal customers can become your most effective promoters if you identify them and use them properly.
Investigate your buyer base and find long-time users of your products and services. Determine who raves about you online, then offer those advocates the chance to test-drive a never-before-seen first-to-market opportunity. They’ll no doubt appreciate your noticing them, and they’ll return the love.
As your brand grows, influencers will eagerly come to you on their own. When positive word-of-mouth buzz helped increase our company’s profile last year, influencers began reaching out. They knew our services fit their audience base, saving us the trouble of digging for them. Our loyalists helped us kick-start that momentum.
2. Value engagement over vanity metrics. Sure, it’s exciting to watch follower counts grow. Unfortunately, all the followers and impressions in the world won’t matter if you lack true engagement. Even Facebook knows that engagement has dropped for business pages 20 percent between January 2017 and January 2018. Consequently, even if you have 1 million people in your follower base, you probably aren’t attracting a lot of eyeballs.
A wiser way to gauge influencer marketing success isn’t with “likes.” You should evaluate the number of comments, retweets, and other below-the-surface engagement your products and services cultivate. This type of behavior shows that people are spending meaningful time with your content. You’re better off drawing conclusions from that than the 100 extra followers you just gained.
3. Link influence to departmental goals. Have you been tasked with a revenue objective for the year? A specific number of leads you’re responsible for during the coming quarter? Lean on your strongest influencers instead of other channels to meet or even exceed your targets.
First, determine your high-profile customers or influencers with similar brand values. After making contact, create campaigns that give those influencers or bloggers commissions based on their promotion of your goods or services. Finally, use a trustworthy solution to track and attribute your leads and sales. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can penetrate the market.
Still like the idea of having a few digital ads floating around? You don’t have to completely scrap the idea but return to them sparingly. They’re considered garish by the emerging wave of sophisticated web users, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth the occasional consideration. However, put the bulk of your budget toward trendy, reliable, eye-catching influencer marketing instead.
Influencer marketing’s time has come. Don’t let it pass you by.
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