When consumers know or relate to an influencer they are more likely to pause and pay attention
A Think with Google report finds that 81% of consumers have discovered new brands online during Covid-19. A YouGov and The Trade Desk survey states that 82% of Indian consumers shopped online at least once a month in the past six months.
It’s safe to say of the many ripples the pandemic created, one is the speed with which consumers took to online shopping, overcoming their inhibitions about buying on the internet. For brands, it is a golden opportunity, particularly with the festive season in full swing.
If the best place to boost sales and underscore brand recall is online because that’s where customers are, then the best way to do so is through influencers because that is who customers trust.
Influencers win the battle of the attention economy
There was a time when influencer marketing was slotted as experiential and a mere amplifier. Today, influencers form the very nucleus of campaign strategies. Marketers are relying on content creators during high-impact events like festive season sales because they don’t just drive brand awareness.
When consumers stumble across content with a face they "know" or relate to, they are more likely to pause and pay attention. That’s why creators impact almost every stage of the purchase funnel – interest, consideration, traffic and sales.
Another reason for their effectiveness is their content. Influencer content doesn’t have the patina of a paid ad. It is personal, approachable and relatable. Given that 42% of people like to buy from brands whose ads feature people like them, those are invaluable qualities.
Cost-effective reach at scale
From the consumer’s perspective, relatable content is important. But from the marketer’s perspective, influencer marketing is at the forefront during the festive season because it’s easier to source, more cost-effective, and allows brands to reach scale.
Take Sugar Cosmetics for instance. Creators are central to the cosmetics brand’s marketing strategy, but it relies ever more heavily on them during the festive season. A perfect example is the Navratri Special Looks, all created by influencers. Take a closer look, and you’ll notice that they’re either nano-influencers or micro-influencers.
Small creators allow brands to execute campaigns within their budget, as they work at a fraction of the cost. Moreover, they enable differentiation. Bigwigs can entice traffic through deep discounts, but startups cannot possibly match those offers.
So, it makes more sense to roll the dice on the green baize of influencer marketing. A gamble that unquestionably works, if you take the Indian cosmetics brand as an example. It clocked a 60% growth in sales during the pandemic year.
Smaller influencers hit the sweet spot
Another reason why brands prefer small creators for marketing campaigns is that they bring in very high engagement. To put it in context, on average, a macro influencer (with over 100K followers) brings in 1.5% engagement. On the other hand, a typical micro-influencer brings in 2% and a nano-influencer around 4%.
By planning a campaign with a group of smaller creators, brands can still reach the same number of consumers as they would with a mega-celebrity while driving more awareness, interaction and traffic.
Ability to go hyperlocal
Before the pandemic, the hotbeds for retail were tier-1 and metro cities. Now, Kearney’s India Retail Index reveals that tier 2 and tier 3, where the offline to online journey is currently happening, are emerging as growth centres with strong sales.
These consumers are price-sensitive, value-seekers and respond better to digital ads in their local language than English. They also value useful, authentic content as opposed to traditional promotions. It’s no surprise then that influencers play a major role in their purchase decisions.
This brings us to why else brands are leaning towards influencer marketing. Collaborations with regional creators who produce vernacular content empower marketers to target this niche. For example, Nimyle, a Kolkata-based brand that ITC acquired, collaborated with eight influencers from the city this Durga Puja to generate awareness through Instagram videos.
Simple strategies boost sales and brand recall
Influencer marketing campaigns are effective in both increasing brand recall and boosting sales. Nevertheless, they need to be optimised. Here’s how brands can make the most effective use of them.
One is to plan early. Strategy, influencer discovery, vetting, campaign briefs, contracts, approvals, negotiation – a lot needs to be done even before the influencer begins shooting. That’s why brands need to plan in advance or, at the least, rely on an influencer marketing platform that automates most of the process, saving time.
Two, influencers are not an advertising vehicle. They are extensions of brand creative teams. Give them leeway and the flexibility to build upon the creative brief. Keep in mind that they know best what resonates with their audience.
Three, don’t sleep on different content formats. When running a traffic-based campaign, think of long-form content like blogs, gift guides, IGTV, YouTube videos. They drive sustained traffic.
Finally, invest in long-term influencer partnerships. One-and-done posts during the festive season may bring you some traffic and conversion. However, the real magic happens when creators advocate your brand repeatedly.
The Author is Ankit Agarwal, Founder, Do Your Thng
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