Mabel Perry, Customer Success Manager at Activate by impact.com, looks at the changing face of influencer marketing, and how brands can harness its potential in 2022.
The inexorable rise of the influencer is producing some stunning numbers. In 2020 the industry was worth $9.7bn (£7.3bn), yet is projected to reach $15bn by next year. According to eMarketer, in 2020, 50m people identified as influencers, and that is projected to explode to 1bn by 2026. Today, we’re going to look at the causes behind this expansion, and introduce a few trends that might help you rethink your influencer programme for the next 12 months.
In a multi-device, always-on world, influencers have proven to be efficient and effective in delivering curated, trustworthy and emotionally engaging content directly to relevant audiences. As a result, the lines between traditional advertising and influencer marketing are becoming increasingly blurred, with advertisers abandoning their traditional media choices in order to focus on the channel most likely to engage their target audience.
In the same way that the lines between traditional and influencer marketing are converging, so has the difference between conventional celebrity and contemporary influencer, and we're heading towards a state where both of these groups are unified under the umbrella term ‘creators’. These creators, regardless of industry, use their status to communicate authentic and trusted messages to consumers. Many companies are using influencers to shape their environmental and social policies, partnering with creators to produce authentic campaigns that speak to consumers while simultaneously doing good in the world.
With the rise of social commerce features, influencers are also becoming an integral part of converting awareness into sales. Thanks to advances in technology, influencer marketing is now eminently trackable. Gone are the days when marketers would judge an influencer campaign’s success solely on metrics such as likes and comments. Using a platform such as ACTIVATE by impact.com, you can not only find the perfect influencer(s) for your program and see traditional brand awareness metrics, but also track deep, detailed ROI metrics such as revenue and total conversions. This allows brands to create flexible compensation models and reward Influencers more effectively based on their performance. The results speak for themselves: influencer marketing can generate 11 times the ROI of traditional marketing.
Just because influencer marketing is a rising tide, however, doesn’t mean it is necessarily easy to do well. Ensuring your influencer relationships are in a good place as we move into 2022 is critical. This is a fast-moving industry, so let’s take a look at three trends that will help you rethink your influencer marketing plan for next year…
Social and environmental focus
We’ve already touched on this, but a company’s environmental and social credentials will be increasingly important in the future, especially among Millennials and Generation Z, with 62 per cent of consumers in these groups preferring to buy from sustainable brands. Responsible digital advertising comes in many forms, and includes running promotions to highlight social and cultural issues, or getting involved in Corporate Social Responsibility marketing, combining your charity work and a campaign. Whatever the case, choosing the right influencer to collaborate with is vital and authenticity is critical, so only align with those that truly share your values.
Developing mature partnerships with the right influencers will reap rewards, and long-term relationships can generate as much as 28 per cent of a company’s total revenue. Compare this to just 18 per cent achieved by paid search, and you can see the attraction. Brands have moved on from one-shot campaigns, and the many benefits of developing long-term partnerships are clear: you will receive a regular flow of assets you can repurpose across your other marketing channels; conversion rates are boosted by this regular flow of content; and a long-term approach gives you the opportunity to take time in finding a winning roster of influencers that are best aligned with your brand. Influencer marketing platforms also allow you to pay your partners depending on the value they bring, rather than the quantity of content they produce.
At present the major players in the ecommerce influencer scene have been Facebook and Instagram, but that’s changing. Other influencer channels such as Pinterest are beginning to introduce ecommerce elements, which in turn is broadening the pool of potential creators for your brand. It is early days in terms of discovering how willing consumers are to spend their money outside of more traditional shopping experiences, but a diversified influencer programme is a good thing, so keep an eye on potential ecommerce channels as they open up. Clearly influencer marketing is a critical part of any broader campaign, and brands such as cosmetics giant Estée Lauder have gone as far as allocating 75 per cent of marketing budget to influencer programmes. Ensuring yours is integrated into any campaign will help maximise your message and brand goals, putting your marketing plan in a great place for 2022.
Choose the way you pay
The way brands pay influencers has come a long way in the past 15 years. For example, an upfront fixed fee combined with a bonus based on performance has become an increasingly popular method of compensating influencers for their work. Things are continuing to change, and as we head into 2022, brands are turning to a hybrid payment approach when engaging influencers for the long-term. For example, an upfront fixed fee might be complemented by performance or commission-based payments, and this helps a brand develop their influencers into long-term, fully-aligned ambassadors for the brand. There are an increasing number of ways to pay influencers, and in addition to pay-per-post, these include gifting or rewards, store credit or a content licensing fee.