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3 ways to budget for influencer marketing in 2018

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 02 Jan, 2018
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How to successfully source and create an influencer marketing plan for 2018

Who are you more likely to trust before buying a product?

Pose this question to contemporary audiences, and they’ll predictably — and understandably —  say friends, family, and people who have previously used the product. Consumers have hit a new level of advertising fatigue, making us wary of any traditional messages and advertisements sellers throw our way.

That hasn’t stopped customers from buying though. It’s just that now those purchases get nudged along thanks to recommendations from the tweets, images, and posts a potential buyer sees online. After all, those aren’t talking at you; they’re talking to you in a subtle, casual, and unscripted way.

This is a familiar trip through the sales funnel for the customer, except this time the guide isn’t some traditional third party: It’s influencer marketing, it’s someone or something the customer trusts or admires that’s doing the selling.

And it’s paying dividends, according to a Tomoson study finding that companies that use influencer marketing generate $6.50 for every $1 they invest into it. That makes it a distinctly influential marketing channel in 2018 and beyond.

influencer marketing

Influencers — and their brands — are crushing it online

Think you have to head up a huge company to get the value of influencer marketing? Worried that you have to ditch other types of marketing for this emerging platform? Well, neither is the case.

Influencer marketing affects companies of all sizes by emphasizing customer acquisition, brand awareness, or some mix of the two. That doesn’t mean you need to ditch other forms of advertising in lieu of Instagram messages or LinkedIn articles; it just means that influencer marketing should play a strong part in the mix.

Potential is high for influencer marketing to scale fast and grab consumer attention in 2018. A HubSpot study reported that 71% of customers use social media as a resource for buying decisions, with Facebook (32%) and Instagram (24%) being the most popular options.

As influencer marketing becomes more prevalent, so will metric-collecting avenues and platforms, as every organization and influencer using the approach will want to track its ROI. Fortunately, influencer marketing can be monitored thanks to the awareness of big data and how to effectively use it.

Beyond influencers and brands, influencer marketing also appeals to consumers. It helps them cut through the noise and see which of the practically limited range of products and services will most likely meet their satisfaction. They don’t mind that they’re being swayed because they’ve already built up confidence that their influencers won’t let them down.

Leading starts with a plan

Building influencer marketing into your overarching marketing scheme won’t happen overnight. Unless you want your business limping to finish while others sprint, it’s time to start planning for next year’s influencer marketing today. Here’s where to begin:

1. Evaluate various channels

One size never fits all in influencer marketing. Your job is to get to know your channels and how they perform best for your customers. Otherwise, you could be throwing money at an influencer that isn’t going to provide the effectiveness you’re counting on to pay dividends. At the same time, however, you don’t have to focus on a straightforward message on your preferred platform.

Scottish company Diageo — the home of whisky brands Lagavulin and Oban — posted a 44-minute video on YouTube of actor Nick Offerman sipping adult beverages and relaxing next to a fire. The campaign built off the notoriety of Offerman’s “Parks and Recreation” character, Ron Swanson, who is fond of whisky, woodworking, and, well, silence.

It was as successful as it was simple, going viral, earning a Shorty Award for Best Influencer Marketing campaign, and pushing the brand’s YouTube subscriber numbers from 5,500 to 23,000. It was creative, unexpected, and almost baffling. Diageo saw an effective medium in YouTube and pumped resource into it to yield a successful breakout influencer campaign.

2. Manage spending with tracking and attribution tech.

Any marketing budget can get out of control, including influencer marketing. However, when 56 percent of social consumers claim to check their accounts no fewer than four hours a day, an influencer approach always makes sense.

Digital marketing technology has advanced to the point that it’s much simpler to evaluate the performance of any influencer campaign. The goal is to find trustworthy partners and solutions to maximize tracking opportunities. That way, successful strategies can be honed and repeated to enhance ROI and foster the predictability every company needs to feel more secure.

3. Jump on emerging social platforms

Who would have thought that Instagram would have 500 million users? Once a place for “duck lip” selfies, it’s now a powerful platform for many sectors of the marketplace, notably those representing beauty and fashion. Simultaneously, it’s still a bit of a wilderness, making it a prime target for pioneering ventures.

If you’re not familiar with the place that 74 percent of people say is the hottest ticket around, it’s time to get into this beloved channel. Like all social channels, it’s a way to get around the ad blocking that’s making it so tough to be heard through the clatter. Plus, Instagram has the benefit of consistent growth. And you know that it’s just a matter of time until "the next big thing" flashes on the scene. Use it to regularly stay on the ground floor with emerging newcomers.

Forming partnerships and building loyalty have always been a core goal of marketing departments. From the days of yore when Queen Victoria’s penchant for certain styles generated sales across the world (and led to an era named for the royal matriarch), to today’s vloggers testing out everything from hair straighteners to boogie boards, influencers are poised to be your brand ambassadors.

If you don’t have a line in your budget for influencer marketing, add it. Brands and the people who swear by them have your target audience’s attention nearly every hour of every day, so make the most of that connection with a targeted, refined, and relevant influencer marketing campaign.

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