Is influencer marketing right for your industry?
Somehow we live in a world where you can read studies from the likes of Linqia claiming “92 per cent of marketers who use influencer marketing find it successful”, followed, on the same day, by a half-dozen recent articles about influencer marketing being dead.
Given this rollercoaster of information, it’s hard to know if influencer marketing is right for you and your industry. Some people still swear by it, while others have sworn off it.
So is your industry rife with influencer opportunities? In this article we’ll aim to find out by looking at:
- Whether influencer marketing will work in your industry.
- How to tell if you should be using it.
- Alternatives if you reckon it’s not right.
Part 1: Which industries is influencer marketing right for?
The short answer: Any.
The long answer: Seriously. Any. It really doesn’t matter what industry you’re in! Influencer marketing is all about leveraging the power of personalities who have the power to sway other people’s opinions on a topic. Because the internet is for anyone and everyone, the actual industry vertical is almost irrelevant, as every industry has its influencers.
Yes some of these personalities have larger followings than others, but because influence is about influence, not just follower count, you can talk to personalities with small, niche followings and still get excellent engagement compared to those whose brands are followed by myriad disinterested casual fans.
Here’s a little proof: A HelloSociety study found that micro-influencers could be as much as 6.7 times more efficient at engagement than influencers with large followings.
- Key takeaway: It may appear that you need to be a game developer, beauty product manufacturer or Silicon Valley tech giant to find good influencers, but this simply isn’t true. Every industry has its influencers – after all, everyone needs guests to speak at their annual conferences, right?
Part 2: How to tell if influencer marketing is right for you
So we know that it doesn’t matter what your industry is. Property, automotive, heck even custom wooden office desks – there’s somebody out there who will be qualified to promote your product. What’s next for you, then, is not the question ‘is my industry right?’ but ‘are my business goals right?’.
Influencer marketing has caused controversy in some circles because it has at times proven ineffective. That’s because it isn’t a magic wand that makes you famous. It’s a tool like any other, with correct and incorrect applications.
Getting those applications right starts with knowing your marketing goals, which we’ll discuss more now.
Influencer marketing isn’t a magic wand - it has correct and incorrect applications.
How to use influencer marketing
- Use influencer marketing for: Reach and awareness at the top of the marketing funnel, with some crossover to the mid-funnel depending on the influencer. Build long-term campaigns, as ongoing relationships with your influencers and their audience is key to success.
When influencers create content with your product, they are speaking to a large number of relevant audience members. This is going to introduce a large number of people to your business for the first time. As we know from the marketing funnel, this is a user base that isn’t ready to buy yet, but now knows your name for future consideration.
Some influencers, for example product reviewers, introduce new users into the middle of the funnel instead.
- Don’t use influencer marketing for: Short-term campaigns where you need fast results, Conversions can be a tricky goal to achieve via influencers.
Influencer marketing is a long-term marketing tool. It gets more effective over time as you build relationships with influencers and learn who is and isn’t effective.
Any campaign where you need big, fast results might not be appropriate for influencer marketing. The reason being that it can take time to find the right influencers and build relationships with them – although their actual act of posting about you can generate quick results once this has occurred.
Additionally, as influencer activity is notoriously tricky to measure – “determining the ROI” of influencer campaigns was the top challenge of 2018 in this area, according to the Linqia study linked earlier – you might have difficulty determining whether or not this new audience converted.
Wait, so I can’t use influencers in the lower funnel?
You absolutely can, but it’s a little trickier than those top-funnel goals as you need more than just a simple shout out or mention.
Micro-influencers with highly engaged followings are considered best by many marketing pros for bottom-funnel business goals. That’s because they have more engaged followings, and remember that engagement is key to influence, not follower count.
These are some tactics that other businesses have used successfully for BoFu influencer marketing, particularly with niche influencers:
1. Collaborating: A basic shout out won’t do it, but actually collaborating with an influencer could. For example, US business Lord & Taylor got 50 fashion Instagrammers to each wear the same dress from their latest line. The ‘grammers then did what they do best – posted a high-quality fashion photo, in this case wearing the dress. The product wasn’t just mentioned, it informed the entire substance of the content. The dress sold out the following weekend.
2. Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing is where you sell something via someone else (in this case, an influencer). The affiliate then gets a cut of the sale, which is their incentive to take part. Influencers are adept at weaving affiliate marketing deals into their content – some use unique discount codes, some use links, but both have the same intention. They add it into their content, and you as the business can track users coming via those unique links.
Is influencer marketing right for you?
You’ll need to understand what your business goals are, and what you hope to achieve. Influencer marketing can be used effectively at the top of the marketing funnel and in some ways at the bottom, but in all cases it typically requires a high degree of relationship building.
While it is cost effective, it can be time consuming. If you have the time and suitable goals, it sounds like you’re onto a winner. If you don’t, we have some alternatives for you…
Part 3: Alternatives to influencer marketing
Yeah OK, obviously all types of marketing are technically alternatives to influencer marketing. Don’t go getting smart. We’re focusing on digital strategies that are similar in nature to influencer marketing, but don’t require influencer involvement.
- Paid advertising
- Event hosting
- Your own social media
- User generated content
- Creating an influencer of your own
1. Paid advertising
You may recall we mentioned that influencer marketing wasn’t ideal for fast solutions. Well, paid advertising is. Whether you choose Facebook, Google Ads or another platform more relevant to your users, paid advertising is one of the quickest ways to get your content in front of more users online.
That said, as soon as the money stops rolling in, so too do the customers. Paid advertising used by itself gets costly over time. We recommend you pair it with a long-term solution like SEO content or influencer marketing,
So you have a solution that starts slow and gets better in addition to a solution that starts quickly but can be turned off later.
Paid advertising is only as effective as the amount of budget you feed it.
2. Event marketing
Event marketing is where you host an event specifically to promote a product, service or your brand in general. It doesn’t have to just be a product roll out, but could be educational (like a Hubspot conference, for example). In either, the event heavily features your brand.
Event marketing has a number of key benefits, but the big ones are:
- It promotes brand awareness.
- It’s a chance to network with key people in your industry.
- It can generate leads, as attendees offer their emails on sign up.
- It can drive sales.
If you invite influencers to speak at your event, that’s a double-whammy!
3. Your own social media
Social media marketing isn’t just for influencers. Are you posting regularly on your various profiles? Do you even have various profiles?
If not, you need to get serious about social. It’s a direct link to your audience, where you can chat with them, answer questions, post content and pay for advertising on platforms with millions, if not billions, of users.
To get started on revamping your social presence, check out our infographic “Clean up your social media pages with this checklist”.
4. User generated content
User generated content is when people create content for your brand without being paid to do so – they simply want to.
In its most basic form, this could be asking people to include certain hashtags in their social posts – hashtags that are linked to your business, of course. Every time someone uses these tags, it promotes your brand’s campaign.
Another example would be when businesses repost user content, thus encouraging more creators to make content to be reposted. Software giant Adobe uses this regularly, asking users to submit creative work using certain hashtags, which it then posts to its own page (this is an awesome relationship between a brand and creators that use its products).
Other examples of user generated content include product reviews, unboxing videos, tutorials and general blog posts about a topic.
5. Your own influencer
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em right? There’s no reason you can’t try to create your own influencer to then help promote your brand. Maybe that future influencer is you!
So how does one create such a magnificent beast?
Well, it’s time consuming. But it could have serious long-term benefits that are even more cost effective than paying outside influencers.
- Build your expertise: Create your own high-level content, network in your industry, speak at events and become a part of the conversation. The more you do this, the more ‘expert’ your persona will become.
- Leverage other influencers: Other influencers can help you become an influencer yourself. Create conversations and relationships with relevant parties on a personal level, not a brand level. Sharing their content and engaging with their content (i.e. commenting) is a good way to start this.
- Look after your followers: Followers aren’t sheeple that will follow you no matter what. If you don’t respect the relationship, they’ll move on. Engage with your community, answer questions, have conversations and make it a two-way street.
For a more detailed look at this topic, check out our article “How to build your brand influence online”.
Is influencer marketing right for your industry? Yes! And it doesn’t matter which one you’re in. It might take longer to find relevant influencers if you’re in a very niche space, but chances are they are out there somewhere.
Is influencer marketing right for your brand? That depends more on what you want to achieve, how quickly you want to achieve it, and how much energy you can dedicate to the attempt. Influencer marketing is not a magic make-me-famous wand, but it does work when used well.