Influencer marketing is a hot topic. In fact, it’s reported that more than three quarters of businesses rely on influencers to maintain high levels of sales. And ultimately, that’s what influencer marketing is all about: it’s a way of boosting sales by impacting behaviours.
But today’s ambitious brands are putting a new spin on this established marketing method, using it not only to influence consumer behaviour, but to generate actionable insight into new opportunities for growth, giving them an edge over their competitors.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is one of the more recent introductions to promotional strategies. It involves businesses partnering with familiar and recognisable online figures to influence purchasing behaviours and boost sales. It works by providing businesses with unrestricted access to a ready-made pool of relevant audiences, expanding their reach, targeting new demographics, and increasing both conversions and sales.
It’s reported that the majority of marketers are planning to increase the percentage of their marketing budget that they allocate to influencer activities, which is why it’s never been more important to ensure that businesses are really deriving the most value from their efforts. Getting the most from influencer marketing means looking beyond the standard uses of the technique and exploring how it can really give your brand a boost.
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A New Twist
With the rise in online retail and cross-border selling, consumers have more choice than ever before when it comes to businesses they choose to purchase from. It’s natural that customers are becoming increasingly dependent on influencer recommendations. This is the primary reason for using influencer marketing today… but what else can it do?
Forward-thinking brands are beginning to look beyond revenue to industry status and market position, delving deeper into how influencers can help them to introduce new ideas to these consumers, at the right time, and giving them a competitive edge.
Choosing the right influencer can guide you through opportunities for advancement that haven’t been explored before. With the right support, your brand can go above and beyond your competitors by:
- Doing something different – A fantastic real life example to look at here is KFC, who chose an influencer that was perfect for them… even though that influencer didn’t actually exist. Instead, the fast food brand created a ‘virtual influencer’ that mocked the standard influencer arrangement. By doing something completely out of the ordinary and injecting fun into fried chicken, the brand cut through the competition to become a major talking point.
- Expanding into new niches – Influencers are five times as likely to see themselves as early adopters or innovators. Influencers are a segment of the population who are willing to take risks when it comes to trying new things, so choosing the right influencer can help to support you as you venture into new niches, introducing new products or services outside of the norm. Influencers can help you position yourself in subsets of the market your competitors haven’t yet dared to explore.
- Influencing sentiment – Influencer marketing has long been about influencing consumer behaviours. But by instead working to influence sentiment, you could give your brand a competitive edge. Regardless of whether audiences convert or not, businesses can use influencers to generate a strong base built on trust that improves all-round brand perception. You can gain the advantage by creating a stable long term foundation, rather than relying on peaks and troughs.
Choosing the Right Influencer
The benefits of using influencers to give your brand a competitive advantage are clear, but it’s important to remember that not all influencers were made equal. To successfully transform standard influencer marketing into the new influencer marketing 2.0 – a method that focuses on gaining a long term competitive edge rather than short term sales and profits – it’s imperative to have the right influencer, or influencers, onboard.
So how can you pick the right influencer, and maintain a strong industry position?
- Relevance – Social listening solutions can be used to identify those influencers who are making waves in terms of certain areas of discussion and conversation.
- Experience – Conduct competitor analysis to look at what sort of influencers your competitors have partnered with, and look at how these partnerships worked.
- Values – It’s important to work with an influencer who shares your brand values and tone of voice to ensure you’re always delivering a clear, consistent message
- Visibility – Analyse your target audience to determine what channels they’re likely to use, and ensure your chosen influencer is visible through these channels.
- Engagement – 62% of businesses say the number of followers is important when choosing an influencer. However, engagement with followers is more vital.
It’s worth putting the effort into finding the perfect partnership, especially if you’re looking to delve beyond customer behaviour to gain an advantage over rivals.
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