To say this year has been an interesting year would be an understatement. We as humanity have been forced to revise the way we live, shop, connect, travel, and build relationships. Businesses have been greatly impacted and brands have had to re-imagine their narrative when communicating with their audience
It will be fair therefore to say that over the course of the year influencer marketing has continued to prove to be an essential, agile, and more importantly resilient marketing strategy for brands. As we head deeper into the ‘new normal’ and retailers start to reopen their bricks and mortar stores, there have been many questions regarding how brands plan to navigate their way through these continuous difficult times. How will influencers be utilized in these times to help brands buffer the effects of these difficult times?
What we can see so far is that we are in a period of time that has witnessed a great acceleration and impact on brands’ e-commerce sales – when it’s needed the most. In a recent study on pre-Covid online sales by Neilson, we learned that online made up only about 5% of overall sales for retailers.
The last 8 months have flipped this on its head. Consumers have adopted online shopping at a rate that exponentially surpasses analysts’ previous expectation of an increase by only 2% a year through 2023 (Shopify), with recent months experiencing a surge of 129% in the UK and Europe (Internet Retailing).
As we witness continued exogenous levels of comfort, ease, and safety of shopping online in comparison to physical stores, it is anticipated that the masses will continue in the trend of in-home purchasing habits over the foreseeable future. This leads us to believe the fact that influencer marketing may continue to become a more valuable marketing tactic in the post-Covid-19 world.
Although 67% of marketers said their digital marketing budgets have decreased, only 41% said the same for their influencer marketing budgets. And nearly 60% said their influencer marketing budgets will remain the same or increase after Covid-19, according to a new survey by Linquia.
So what has Covid-19 thought us over the last 8months? And what trends do we see playing out in the coming months?
Well, the first thought goes to marketers who embrace more complex means of measuring their social media activation. These will undoubtedly be the most successful in justifying their budgets. With marketing budgets under ever increased scrutiny, brands are constantly asking questions about the effectiveness of different strategies and how these relate to their ROI.
Throughout history, we have been witness to faster growth curves from brands that advertise throughout a recession as they begin to emerge from the other side. Influencer marketing represents a unique channel that builds trust with consumers and can aid in this.
However, measuring influencer marketing results with more than likes will be essential for these strategies to grow. Brands will be forced to re-assess the effectiveness of their marketing channels and in so doing rationalize their spending. Being able to do the same with their influencer activations will be an increasingly critical action in driving conversion and understanding consumer trends.
While the priority objective can often be reach and engagement, historical sales performance, and tracking the sales impact of those campaigns further develops the influencer channel across marketing departments. The more data and insight shared, the greater optimization they can bring to the channel.
In troubled or uncertain times, strong ROI will be critical to sustaining and gaining brand trust and earning investment in influencer marketing.
Care must however be taken when pushing a strong focus on metrics, performance, data, etc; to maintain a brand that is still relatable to its audience. COVID has accelerated existing consumer trends, with consumers now spending up to 50% more time on social media on mobile (Forbes). This has created a huge opportunity for retailers, but also a giant need to create relevant content to reach them.
Influencers possess the unique skill to create content to ‘humanize’ a brand and create conversation, appeal, and demand for products in the context of everyday life. This is more pertinent now as humanity seeks to get back to normality, even more so through the guidance and assurance from those they trust most during uncertain times.
But it is fair to say that whatever the channel, being able to track which influencer channel converts best for their audiences will be paramount to a brand future-proofing an effective long-term influencer strategy
Influencer marketing will continue to hold its own as a media & marketing strategy. As the economy reopens, influencers will provide an even more effective strategy for building awareness and driving sales.