Turning Awareness Into Sales With Authentic Influencer Marketing
An influencer promoting and amplifying your message, your brand, to their audience means credibility. It means additional reach. And it means you get an outsized modifier to the conversion process.
– Rand Fishkin, Found of Moz
Marketing spend is a precious commodity. The budget for this business process is often rigid and marketers must carefully choose how to invest it in the long list of potential marketing and advertising strategies and tools.
One of the biggest budgetary decisions is the one between organic and paid marketing. Due to the barrage of advertising that consumers face every day, many marketers have sided with more heavily relying on organic content. It often feels more natural to consumers and, in the eyes of many marketers, it is free.
The truth, however, is that while organic marketing can be a valuable tool, marketers need to look at the numbers and consider the power that certain types of paid advertising can have.
Marketing Budget Wasters
By The Numbers: Organic Reach
The fact that organic reach is down is no secret. Over the past few years, Facebook and other social platforms have been very open and honest about their decision to show less content from brands’ pages and more content from family and friends.
This change in social algorithms has been dramatic. In 2012, Facebook page organic reach surpassed 15%. Every year since has seen a dramatic amount shaved off, with Facebook page organic reach only touching the 2% mark in 2016. Over the last few years, organic reach has widely stayed at this level, with most European pages seeing a reach of 2%. In Asia-Pacific over the course of 2018, though, brands saw their organic reach cut in half, down to 1.2%.
Due to these figures, some marketers have taken a ‘try harder’ approach to organic content marketing. They aim to create viral content and incentivize liking, sharing, and commenting, among other tactics. And sometimes this works, but very minimally. When it comes down to it, it is time to see organic content for what it is and what it should be: A valuable method for marketing to those who have intentionally visited the brand’s various social media pages. It is not, on the other hand, a method for attracting new customers or convincing former customers to return. Therefore, by default, organic marketing needs to take a backseat to paid marketing, both in terms of marketing time and marketing spend.
By The Numbers: Conversion Rate
Relying on organic content is not the only mistake that is too often made in digital marketing. Another misconception is that the conversion rate is the be-all and end-all across all marketing efforts. This is simply not the case.
Conversion rate is absolutely important, which is why CRO can be beneficial. However, it is not where too much of the budget should be allocated. The reason for this is that only about 7% of leads turn into customers (important note: this varies by industry). In other words, even if a company captures leads on their website or social platforms, those leads do not necessarily go very far in terms of creating revenue. Therefore, the ROI of heavily investing in conversion rate strategies is fairly low.
Conversion rate should be looked at in the same way as a number of other metrics, such as bounce rate. It does provide insight and optimizing for it is correlated with a better user experience and a better search engine ranking. It is just not as strongly correlated with customer loyalty or revenue as many marketers might initially believe.
Marketing Budget Winners
By The Numbers: Content Creation
The vast majority of a marketing budget should be spent on content creation. This area of marketing has sky-rocketed in importance over the last few years and the reason is that consumers want more than just the end-product or service. They want to receive value throughout the entire customer journey.
Side note: We are choosing to refer to the customer journey, rather than the more widely known sales funnel. The reason for this is that in the current digital world, it is not truly a funnel that customers travel through. A funnel leads to a single destination. With how sales works currently, it is much more of a journey—it goes back and forth at different speeds, it takes alternate routes, and sometimes ends in different, yet equally beneficial destinations.
To return back to the initial argument, though, the customer journey is relying much more heavily on quality content not only for enhanced value, but also for trust. Consumers are demanding better products, more responsible brands, and an experience that aligns with their values—this is where trust is created. High-quality content illustrates to consumers that a company puts thought, consideration, and an investment into their activities—creating a correlation between the quality of the marketing content and the quality of the product or service. This helps to increase and deepen consumer trust.
The value behind content creation can be seen in the website traffic that it creates. A recent Hubspot report found that companies that create and publish their own content have over 400% more indexed pages than companies that do not. They also uncovered that this leads to over 50% more website visitors. The reason for this is that search engines will rank websites with more pages and more content higher and a higher rank leads to more consumers finding the site, learning about the company, and becoming a loyal customer.
In short, rather than CRO effectively increasing conversion rates on social pages and websites, it is the creation of engaging and trustworthy content that accomplishes this.
By The Numbers: Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing falls under the content creation umbrella. Harnessing the power of influencers is one of the smartest ways a marketing budget can be used because it has compounding long-term effects.
There are two reasons that influencer marketing is so effective at creating an unparalleled ROI. The first and most obvious is that it is new and unique content, leading to more indexed pages for search engines and nearly 100% more inbound links.
The second reason is that influencer marketing creates consumer awareness that is scaled up exponentially. Every influencer has a significant following of like-minded individuals. These individuals could have a lot in common, or they could have one very strong belief or interest, including anything from being environmentally conscious to having an interest in crocheting clothing for pets. A company can partner with an influencer to retarget their content and reach a very specific buyer persona and, potentially, an entirely new customer base that they were previously struggling to reach.
The benefits that influencer marketing create range from increased trust to the pounds that are produced. When it comes to the ROI, for each pound spent on influencer marketing, an average of £5 is brought back in—it is not rare to see an influencer marketing campaign create an ROI of £15.50 or higher per pound spent. The reason it works to get influencers involved is that consumers trust influencers. In fact, nearly half of consumers rely on recommendations from influencers.
Getting Influencer Marketing Right
When the facts and figures are lined up, it becomes clear that too many brands are wasting their marketing spend by focusing solely on conversions. Instead, companies should be dedicating at least three-quarters of their marketing budget to creating high quality content and spreading awareness by utilizing partnerships with influencers. In the long run, it is these investments that will increase conversions—the kind of conversions that lead to high-value sales and high customer lifetime value.
Much of the success with influencer marketing depends on companies identifying the right influencer. These influencers are the ones that fit in with the brand and embody the company’s culture and values. This influencer could be among the most popular on Instagram or YouTube, costing a company tens of thousands of pounds, but also reaching tens of millions of consumers. Alternatively, the influencer could be what is known as a micro-influencer. Partnerships with these individuals will go for a fraction of the cost and still reach tens of thousands of consumers.
It is important to note that it is not just about choosing the right influencer, but also about using the right influencer in the right way. The most effective way to use influencers is at the beginning of the customer journey and at the point in the journey when customers have purchased a product.
When influencers are used at the beginning of the customer journey—the awareness stage—they can communicate the message authentically to their followers. Using influencers in video for this is ideal and efficient. For the broad audience that a company needs to create awareness across, video consistently ends up being the most cost-effective content. This is mainly because algorithms prefer it, which can be seen through public statements from Facebook.
The influencer method can then be used again after customers make a purchase. These customers can be re-utilised as micro-influencers and share their success with the product or service in an organic and trusting way. This type of influencing is what Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms are built for. Consumers rely on those around them, that they admire and trust, to help them make their buying decisions. When even just a fraction of a brand’s customers share their positive experiences, the product or service is then advertised to thousands or even tens of thousands of new consumers. It creates excitement and inspires others who may have interacted with the brand in the past to engage with the new customer. It sparks discussion and awareness—and it does so in a much more cost-effective way than many other forms of paid advertising.
It is vital, though, for brands to use the influencers’ messaging correctly. They cannot shoe-horn social content into existing activity. Content must be filmed, edited, and marketed specifically for the social channels it is to be seen on. What works on Facebook, will not work as well on Instagram—unique content needs to be created for each individual platform.
Beyond this, content must be rigorously optimised and tested with multi-variant testing on header titles, images, and call-to-actions across Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. This last platform is particularly important to pay attention to. Currently, it offers the biggest investment returns due to the fact that there is noticeably less competition on it when compared to the likes of Facebook and Instagram.
Another key consideration pertains to the influencers and their relationship to the brand. Today’s consumers are savvy. They can quickly pick up when an influencer is being paid for a post by a specific brand. It is untrustworthy and ineffective at driving conversions. Instead of using the pay-per-post method and getting minimal interaction, brands should only work with influencers who are willing to commit to a partnership. These partnerships are built out of mutual admiration and trust, which will shine through to Generation Z and Millennial audiences.
In the end, the campaign will be 80% planning and 20% execution, with continuous optimisation and great care given to picking out the right influencers for partnerships. For many marketing teams, this will take an adjustment. It will force them to change how they look at their budget and how they measure campaign success. This adjustment is necessary, though. It is the only way to maintain pace with how social media platforms and consumers have fundamentally changed. It is also the best way to avoid resource misuse, in terms of both money and time.
To do this successfully, it requires a partnership with experts in influencer marketing. At Vouch Global, influencer marketing is our speciality. In order to create successful campaigns for all of our clients, we prioritize their customers. This means that we start with the audience, building multiple demographically-based audience profiles. When we have our client’s audience sorted into different personas, we build the right creative content that is comprehensively based on deep social media insights. Then we target the campaigns, execute them, and optimize.
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