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Influencer marketing is no longer uncharted territory. It is projected to be a $15 billion global industry by 2022, up from $8 billion in 2019. It’s no wonder then that CMOs continue to emphasize influencer marketing strategies in their plans.

75% of CMOs in Gartner’s 2019-2020 Spend Survey planned to increase their spending on social marketing (including influencer marketing), while 65% planned to implement full or pilot influencer campaigns, and an estimated $6.5 billion was spent on such campaigns in 2019. But just because investing in influencer campaigns is an important consideration doesn’t mean it’s a simple task.

The ever-growing catalog of social platforms, the problems of fake followers coupled with inauthentic engagement and the complexities of influencer selection all contribute to a difficult landscape where, in addition, marketers are challenged to think holistically about where influencers fit into their broader marketing strategy.

To overcome these challenges and ensure long-term success, it is important for marketers to first assess their brand’s readiness for an influencer partnership. There are three considerations to evaluate to keep in mind:

  • Brand performance in relation to influencers: how can the brand get a significant boost in social media engagement from influencers’ branded posts about my brand’s posts? Attributable brand recognition metrics such as engagement rates and community growth should be monitored. Doing this internal review can help justify advertising spend and determine if these partnerships will add value.
  • Assess consumer desire to see more influencer content in a given category: This is a necessary step in the process, as increased consumer interest in seeing more influencer content can help gain organizational buy-in and dispel any misconceptions that influencer marketing is not appropriate for a category. 79% of respondents to an October 2020 Gartner Consumer and Culture Panel survey said they consume influencers and on average, 43% want to see more in at least one category.
  • Assess brand performance relative to industry peers: Influencer marketing penetration in the industry should be reviewed by evaluating adoption rates or sponsored post activity on different social channels. Understanding the broader market view will help determine if and how brands should leverage influencer marketing. This can be a necessary part of the consumer experience in categories with high influencer sponsored post activity or serve as a competitive advantage and differentiator in categories with low sponsored activity.

Once it is determined that an influencer partnership is appropriate, marketers are tasked with selecting the right type of influencers and relevant KPIs to measure success. While top-tier influencers achieve massive reach, Gartner research shows that smaller influencers help generate greater engagement. Marketers exploring influencer partnerships should consider starting with smaller influencers leveraging lower cost with higher engagement potential to test and learn if this is an effective strategy for the brand.

One useful approach is to align influencers with each step of the customer journey. While each brand’s journey is unique, customers will tend to go through the typical stages of the journey as they move from “buy” to “own” to “promote.”

First identify where friction exists along the customer journey (e.g., purchase, consideration, registration) and where an influencer partnership can help create a more seamless experience. Formalizing influencers in this framework provides clear objectives and measurable outcomes for marketers to help align and map partnerships.


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