Influencer marketing is becoming a standard in brand marketing strategies, as more brands are beginning to see it as a viable consumer acquisition channel, with low costs and strong returns. Brands are also realizing how influencer marketing improves campaign reach. This allows marketers to target niche consumer groups with native ad content that resonates more deeply and drives quicker conversions.
Many brands still struggle to measure return and qualify the results, in order to justify the ad spend. This will change as the industry building around influencer marketing is becoming more tech driven.
I look at the phenomenon of influencer marketing as a three-wave evolution that began with the birth of the social media influencer. Consumers, who demonstrated the viability of native advertising on social media, sparked this first wave. They did this by sharing new products, trends and brands with their friends and fans, thus introducing these brands to new audiences.
The second wave started with a grand awakening. This is where brands realized this marketing potential and began flooding to social media with intent to leverage newfound influencers and engage and convert new consumers.
Influencer marketing is on the rise and the brands, consumers, and influencers are on the same page. We are entering into the third wave where brands, consumers, and influencers are all looking for more measurable return on their investment into social media. Brands want more consumer conversions and measurable results, consumers want more deals in return for giving brands attention and influencers want more money and opportunities for extending their networks.
In this next wave, automated technology and intelligence will play a bigger role than ever, supercharging influencer-marketing strategies to meet this growing demand for results.
Here are a few benefits of integrating more smart technology in influencer marketing:
Identifying Consumer Behaviors
Understanding consumer behaviors is one of the main objectives of analyzing advertising. Where traditional advertising was limited in identifying consumer behaviors, today’s tech platforms are better equipped to make sense of data to address consumer concerns and target them with relevant advertising. In fact, companies that use marketing automation are three times more likely than companies without automation to track and attribute their content-marketing efforts to multiple touch points.
Social media tech platforms can identify what photos generate the most likes or comments, what time of day is best to post and which influencers are driving the most engagement. In essence, what would take months of research and analysis at the hands of an internal marketing team can be outsourced to a single technology platform almost instantaneously.
Matchmaking Brands with Influencers
When venturing into the world of influencer marketing, a key concern for brands is understanding which influencers to collaborate with and what kind of campaigns work best. Facilitating this process manually can be very labor-intensive. Some influencers are difficult to reach through the flood of inbound inquiries. This happens once you have sifted through the tons of influencers accessible on social media.
Digitizing this process helps both influencers and brands identify whom to work with on what campaign, making it easier to vet opportunities to find the best fit. In fact, roughly 70 percent of influencers recommend working with a network. Key reasons are that, results can be broken down according to followers, reach, geographic location, vertical, price and more, enabling brands and influencers to clearly understand the budget, skillset and expectations before entering into an agreement.
Managing influencer-marketing campaigns can also drain resources and be very time-consuming. Everything from designing the campaign to organizing content into distribution channels to evaluating performance requires a lot time and effort. We now have the technological means to automate every step of this process, thus decreasing the workload of campaign managers and freeing them up for more opportunities.
A 2015 study analyzing the benefits of automated marketing platforms revealed that automating the marketing process reduced human error and took repetitive tasks out of marketers hands, allowing them to focus on new and more exciting projects. They were able to direct their attention to monitoring the overall results in line with campaign initiatives versus facilitating and managing each task.
As technology improves and results become more consistent and transparent, brands will become more comfortable with the idea of relinquishing these heavy-duty tasks to a programmatic system.
Producing Monetary Returns
There are many ways to measure ROI, but arguably, the most important is tracking revenue. Brands and influencers are in the influencer marketing business for the same reasons anyone is in the ad business, to make money, regardless of whether that is the key motivation or the end game. Technology platforms using intelligence to automate influencer marketing increase monetary ROI for marketers as the manual workload is decreased.
A study analyzing lead generation of general marketing effectiveness revealed that 78 percent of successful marketers credited automation systems as most responsible for improving revenue. Another revealed that companies using some sort of marketing automation see 53 percent higher conversion rates than non-users, and an annualized revenue growth rate of 3.1 percent higher than non-users.
Ideally, more advanced programmatic technology would be able to quickly identify what each consumer responds to, select the most relevant influencer and type of content and then immediately push that content out to the appropriate channels to maximize return. I believe we are on the cusp of this.
Finding New Deals
It is all about the new deal. According to a marketing automation trend report, the #1 benefit of marketing automation among B2B marketers is generating more and better leads. However, brokering deals the traditional way is cumbersome. It requires extensive research, legal expertise to facilitate contract negotiations as well as administrative and support teams just to get the ball rolling. In an industry where things are moving at light speed, there is little time to waste structuring the next opportunity.
It is not that our current string of tech platforms are not equipped to handle every phase of marketing, but rather that marketing teams are not quite ready to put such responsibilities in the hands of automated systems. Nevertheless, we are certainly moving to a space where as the technology becomes more efficient, reliable, and transparent and continues to produce desired results, we will rely more on automated technology to do the heavy-duty work of much of our in-house operations.
We have outlined the benefits, have done the research and have current working examples of how a future with automated marketing will play out. All that is left to do is support and trust the technology we are building and keep track of its performance.
This guest article was written by Francis Trapp, CEO of Berlin-bred influencer network Brandnew IO, an influencer marketplace which connects influencers with brands like Coca-Cola, ESpirit, L’Oreal, Nissan, Ford, Asos, Guess and others.
Image Credit: CC by MSLGROUP Global