Influencer marketing: the phrase heard 'round the world in 2015 when it came to marketing industry buzz. With 65 percent of marketers participating in the influencer marketing space, it's no longer the new kid on the block looking to prove itself. Consumer-crafted brand stories are here to stay and will only become more significant in driving sales, budget allotments and more, throughout 2016. Here's how influencer marketing will impact the landscape next year.
According to a study by Tomoson, businesses are making 6.50 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing. With this massive return on investment, it's safe to say brands will rake in even higher sales in 2016, particularly during the spending storm we all know as the holiday season. Recognizing this, global brands like Hallmark, Scotch and Kraft have already partnered with influencers as part of their holiday campaigns this year. Influencer marketing campaigns are also one of the most targeted methods for driving in-store traffic during the holiday season, which is crucial at a time when more and more consumers are spending their money on flashy Cyber Monday sales rather than trekking to brick-and-mortar stores.
A study released in 2015 by Turner Broadcasting, Horizon Media and MarketShare reviewed the effectiveness of advertising performances across several media outlets "including television, online display, paid search, print and radio advertising." The study revealed that TV had the highest efficiency at achieving key performance indicators (KPIs) like sales and new accounts. The kicker? Influencer marketing was not one of the industry outlets reviewed in the study. Influencer marketing exists because consumers desire tried-and-true product reviews and other content to make informed purchase decisions. In fact, Forrester reported that the average consumer engages with 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchase. A report by Augure revealed that 81 percent of marketing and communications professionals who had launched at least one influencer campaign found influencer engagement to be effective. As consumers continue to search and interact with more and more content on their path to purchase, influencer-created content will zoom past TV as the most effective advertising medium.
Disruptive advertising methods simply do not work because they provide no true benefit to the consumer. Influencers that have fueled the rise of influencer marketing built their audiences on a foundation of transparency. Few consumers are going to be influenced by someone's content if it seems untrustworthy, so why would an influencer risk it all to talk about a product they don't believe in? The amount of information and inspiration that influencer-crafted posts provide to consumers is being strongly recognized by marketing budget holders. In fact, in the same Augere study (released in May 2015) mentioned above, 84 percent of marketing and communications professionals worldwide expected to launch an influencer campaign within the next 12 months. With influencers' ability to create content that comes with an audience eager to interact with the content, as well as the ability to help brands reach new audiences, this trusted medium will be taking an increasingly bigger bite of digital marketing budget allotments in the months to come.
Final note: In marketing's current and future state, consumers are the storytellers. Save for celebrities, most social influencers are simply consumers who took to blogs and social media to share their stories and experiences that others vastly resonated with. Now that marketers are catching on to the authenticity and sway these influencers can bring to their brands, the medium will skyrocket. Let it be said: 2016 will be the year influencer marketing emerges as the industry's top dog.