Where Does Influencer Marketing Fit Within the Marketing Funnel?
The quick answer? It’s everywhere. When measuring the value of influencer marketing, it’s important to consider the full picture. Too often, the conversation around ROI turns quickly into one about direct sales. Don’t get us wrong, influencers have tremendous power when it comes to driving sales, but the story doesn’t start and end there. Influencer Marketing Programs have the potential to play a role in every level of your marketing funnel, therefore offering value in areas that often get overlooked because they may not be easily measured through data and metrics. Stephanie Stabulis, Founder of Social Creates Impact, gathered this list in her blog, so we thought it might be helpful to offer a condensed version here.
TOP OF THE FUNNEL
This one’s easy. Ad value is typically measured through CPI (Cost Per Impression) or CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) that can be directly benchmarked against other ad methods. When measuring video partnerships, CPV (Cost Per View) is a more reliable metric than CPI or CPM, and for an added layer of insight, look into Watch Time as well. Since Influencer Marketing is distributed through social channels, Sentiment and Engagement are also used to provide a higher level of feedback on how the brand messaging is resonating with core audiences, which is a form of feedback many other ad channels, even paid social media ads, lack.
Inherently more social than any other form of advertising, Influencer Marketing has the biggest potential over other strategies to be shared widely amongst the target audience. Though “going viral” should never be the goal of a campaign, it is important to measure the value of virality. Influencers create content that is most valuable to their audience and when the content has more value to the audience, the engagement of the content increases, which then increases the organic distribution and virality of the content.
CONTENT CREATION VALUE
Influencer Marketing is unique in the way that production and media costs are bundled. Beyond the reach and engagement a piece of content generates, there is significant value in the content itself, specifically when the assets hold strong to the values and beliefs of the target audience. Repurposing influencer content as part of a brand’s social media strategy can save thousands of dollars in production costs, and still receive the same, if not more ROI on your campaign.
PERSONIFICATION, LIFESTYLE, AND HUMANIZATION VALUE
A very important piece of marketing is knowing your consumers and understanding what their interests are beyond your product or service. What do they value? Where do they hang out? What are their hobbies? Putting a face and personality to your audience through influencers is a tangible way to make a statement about who your customers are, and what they enjoy and value. Content that offers context of how a product or service fits in to a real person’s life personalizes a brand, making its purpose relatable. When like-minded customers consume and relate to the content, they’re able to more clearly understand where the brand, product, or service fits into their own life and needs.
Consumers measure the popularity of a brand or product by how often they hear about it. If they repeatedly see and hear about it from a variety of different people, their perception is elevated, reinforcing a solid image in their mind. This positive sentiment leads to increase of conversion rates to purchase among consumers. Opposed to ads, which consumers have been trained to block out or view as disruptive, Influencer Marketing makes for a deeper level of correlation value. Consumers trust that Influencers will only promote products and services that they actually use or see the value in, which is why they are more likely to rely on their recommendations over messaging from a brand directly.
SOCIAL CONNECTION + PROOF VALUE
More mentions of a brand organically increases awareness of a brand drastically with zero costs. Having a number of influencers talk about your brand or product gives it an elevated level of “worthiness.” When influencers who are looked up to by their followers and your consumers speak highly about a product, the consumers often feel determined to purchase in order to feel a part of something – that they are “in” if they follow recommendations from people they respect. Consumers feel a greater connection to the lifestyle through the products and are more likely to share when it’s being emulated by influencers. Brand-owned channels often do not hold the same power in increasing the worthiness of being discussed over influencers, thought leaders and media.
3RD PARTY ENDORSEMENT/REFERRAL/AFFILIATION VALUE
Influencer Marketing is the modern day and larger scale form of word of mouth marketing. Testimonials, referrals, and endorsement from people that reflect your target audience have immense weight when it comes to engaging and bringing in new customers. Referred customers through endorsement, affiliation and other methods that influencer marketing capitalizes on are 15% more likely to be loyal and nearly 25% more profitable to a brand.
CONTEXT, USE CASE, AND EMOTIONAL VALUE
Influencers give you larger time and space to run an ad campaign. Compared to a YouTube ad that’s less than one minute, or just one page for an ad in traditional print, influencer marketing allows more “real-estate” to build context and use cases as an “ad type” than any other kind of traditional or online digital ad, especially when a campaign runs for a longer period of time. The value of an influencer marketing campaign is also higher on the emotional scale when compared to other forms of advertising. Personal stories and experiences from influencers help build an emotional connection with a brand and later with the consumer, which strengthens the campaign and supports the campaign goals.
BOTTOM OF THE FUNNEL
RETENTION AND LOYALTY VALUE
Beyond acquiring new customers, Influencer Marketing is powerful in helping brands retain and continually engage existing customers. Well-managed influencer campaigns can increase the customer LTV (Lifetime Value) by keeping the target audience updated and engaged through fresh storytelling. This offers existing customers the opportunity to engage with content they may relate to based on their own experience with the brand or product. Brands also have a unique opportunity to analyze how existing customers talk about their products/brand within the comments of influencer content, offering unfiltered feedback into what’s working and what’s not. Brands can choose to take advantage of this to have a 1:1 conversation with a consumer but need to remember to put the customer and their values first. A positive interaction between a brand and customer within the context of a piece of influencer content can be extremely powerful in reinforcing loyalty & retention, but a weak defense against customer criticism from a brand could quickly cause backlash.
DIRECT SALES VALUE
As the most traditional and commonly used form of measuring value, many brands do so by looking at the cost of the program over the amount of revenue the program can directly generate. Measuring Direct Sales value is fairer when the brand can validate the CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) of influencer marketing against other marketing methods. Direct Sales is also fairer when the brand can assess consumer LTV (lifetime value) against the cost of acquisition and the cost of the influencer marketing partnerships and programs, rather than looking at the simplistic formula of Revenue Generated – Overall Cost of Program = ROI.