Influencer marketing is a hugely popular marketing trend, with 93% of marketers stating they have used it in their marketing strategy.
So why is it so popular? The reason is simple.
Influencer marketing has a substantial influence on consumer purchasing decisions. And in this article, we’ll explore the role influencers play when marketing your business.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a relatively new digital marketing strategy that involves using celebrities or influencers to promote a brand or product through social media. Whether it’s an endorsement or just a brand mention, influencer marketing is an extremely powerful tool.
While many may think influencer marketing and celebrity endorsement are the same things, influencer marketing extends further into more niche areas through micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are those with a small following, typically less than 50,000 followers.
An influencer can be anyone with a large following on social media and may not necessarily be a celebrity. These influencers have usually built and developed trust with their following, which is what makes influencer marketing so successful compared to traditional brand messages.
The important thing to remember though is that influencers are experts in their field. Influencer marketing works by social proof, where people will alter their behaviour to copy the actions of others, typically to be liked or accepted. It’s similar to the idea behind the fear of missing out.
Many marketers are jumping on the influencer marketing bandwagon, mostly for raising brand awareness. Influencer marketing can also be used to reach new audiences, increase sales, strengthen brand advocacy, and improve lead generation.
Influencer marketing channels
Instagram is considered the most effective and popular channel for influencer marketing, especially among millennials and gen Z, thanks to its highly visual-based nature.
Instagram Reels are another reason why Instagram is such a popular channel for influencers, making it easy to share short-form videos (short-form videos are one of the most effective content types on social). Takeovers are another growing trend, where an influencer will temporarily take control of a brand page. Here’s an example from ASOS Face and Body Instagram:
Other channels that have become popular among influencers are YouTube and TikTok. Video content is one of the top content marketing formats, with 88% of marketers stating it provides them with a more positive ROI than other channels.
Unboxing and tutorials are popular videos from influencers to demonstrate a product. Brands will send free products or tasters to an influencer in return for a review or unboxing to their followers. Here’s an example of an unboxing from an influencer on YouTube:
Given how effective influencer marketing is, it’s no surprise that 17% of companies will spend more than half of their marketing budget on this tactic.
Other popular influencer marketing channels include:
The popularity of Snapchat for influencers has declined in recent years due to the lack of features and other platforms, such as Instagram, offering similar methods for sharing content.
The channel that will work most effectively depends on your target audience, which you can identify by creating your buyer personas.
The role of influencer marketing in inbound marketing
In today’s marketing world, consumers don’t like to be interrupted by disruptive marketing messages. While forcing messages upon audiences may have previously worked, nowadays it’s very rarely effective at attracting customers to your brand.
That’s why it’s become important to deliver your messages in a way that adds value and helps solve your potential customer’s pain points. That’s where inbound marketing comes in. Inbound marketing is a way to assist your potential customers and guide them along the buyer’s journey (all while providing a positive experience).
If you don’t know about inbound marketing, it works in 3 stages:
- Attract – drawing in potential customers by raising awareness
- Engage – engaging with your leads and helping to nurture them along the buyer’s journey
- Delight – Delighting your customers by providing successful solutions to their problems
Influencer marketing is an inbound marketing method that is widely used during the ‘attract’ stage – to help attract new potential customers. You can use influencer marketing to attract customers by creating valuable and tailored content (providing the influencer is a good fit for your brand).
How do influencers affect consumers’ purchasing decisions?
Influencer marketing works so effectively due to the trust that has been built between the influencer and their following. The trust that has been built here plays a crucial role in how influencers can affect consumers’ purchasing decisions.
It all comes down to word-of-mouth. Nothing is more powerful than word-of-mouth and it is considered one of the most effective forms of marketing. People trust the opinions and views of others when making a purchase. We’ve all looked at the reviews on Amazon, right?
Customers will trust what others say about a brand more than what the brand has to say. Fortunately, with electronic word of mouth (eWOM), it is much easier for people to share their views and opinions. eWOM could also be considered one of the most influential sources of information available online.
Influencer marketing is one of the methods you can use to help generate and amplify eWOM. Marketers can make use of influencer marketing to help create or shape attitudes towards a brand or product.
Influencer marketing and the decision-making process
The attitudes that you can shape through the use of an online influencer can have a significant impact on customers’ future buying intentions, leading a customer to be more favourable to your brand or product.
When looking at the consumer decision-making process, many will look for the views and opinions of others when seeking alternatives. The decision-making process outlines the steps that consumers take when evaluating a purchasing decision.
The stages of the decision-making process are:
It is at the evaluation of alternatives stage that influencers have the most impact. Whether consumers are looking at a blog written by a blogging influencer or following a social media influencer, the positive attitudes that are shaped can be a significant influence when consumers weigh up their alternatives.
Influencers can seek to evoke positive emotions from their followers that would encourage a purchase. In particular, influencers are more effective at impacting the purchasing decisions for clothing, shoes, cosmetics, and services.
Using influencer marketing to help generate and amplify positive eWOM will have a significant influence on a consumer’s evaluation of a product during their decision-making process. The better you manage to shape positive attitudes at this stage, the more likely a consumer will purchase your product.
Influencers also play a role in a post-purchase evaluation as well. Research has found that consumers will look at blogs to justify a purchasing decision. In the event a customer may experience post-purchase dissonance, an influencer can be used to try and reduce or eliminate that dissonance.
Post-purchase dissonance occurs when a customer experiences cognitive dissatisfaction between their expectations of a product/service and reality, usually from a difference in what the customer was expecting. In e-commerce, post-purchase dissonance is common due to the lack of physically seeing a product.
Customers can experience post-purchase dissonance as soon as they click the buy button. Influencer marketing can be used to reduce post-purchase dissonance by reiterating product benefits, and features, or even trying to build excitement.
By doing this you can continue to maintain a positive relationship with your customers that will keep them delighted. After all, it can cost 5 times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain existing ones.
With the strong impact influencer marketing has on consumer purchasing decisions, it’s no surprise why so many marketers are continuing to invest in this marketing strategy.
However, for the most success, you need to carefully consider which influencers you use, the content they’ll promote, the possible risks involved, and data on the influencer’s previous partnerships. By doing this you can ensure that influencer marketing will positively impact your customers’ purchasing decisions.
Guest Author: Aaron Middleton is a content writer and digital marketer at Dreamscape Design. He regularly writes about inbound marketing, search engine optimisation, and web design to help you grow your business and deliver results. Aaron is HubSpot certified in inbound marketing, content marketing, and SEO.