When you are helping your clients select the target audiences for upcoming campaigns, are influencers on the list? We hear more and more about “influencer marketing,” but how does it work? Should you be helping your clients do it?  

What is influencer marketing? As Big Commerce explains it:

Influencer marketing is leveraging the reach of an existing influencer who has built a large following and strong brand reputation in a particular niche to support your brand, endorse your product, or co-create content, with the intent to increase brand awareness and drive sales.

For a make-up brand, for example, an influencer might be a top cosmetics blogger. For a new restaurant, it might be a well-known food critic.

Influencer marketing is not like purchasing advertising. A brand cannot hire an influencer or pay them to promote its products. The brand must invest in developing a relationship with that influencer, with the hope that the influencer will choose to promote a brand’s product or service for the benefit of his or her audience. Some influencers are paid, while others are not.

Where can printers play a role? While much of the actual influencing happens in a digital environment, that influencer must be reached in the first place. Engaging an influencer and developing that relationship can include both digital and print elements.

To more fully understand influencer marketing and how it is changing over time, Influencer Marketing Hub has been doing research in this market since 2017. It recently released its “Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report 2020,” for which it surveyed 4,000 marketing agencies, brands, and other industry professionals.

According to the survey, influencer marketing—forecast to reach $9.7 billion in 2020—is growing at least 50% per year. Average earned media value per $1 spent is on the rise, increasing to $5.78. Notes the report, “This is up from $5.20 in 2018, indicating that there is now a better understanding of influencer marketing, with fewer firms failing to meet their marketing objectives.”

The growth and success of influencer marketing is prompting the emergence of a growing number of influencer-marketing-focused agencies and platforms to simplify the process: up 380 agencies and platforms (for a total of 1,120) in 2019 alone.

In other words, if you want to invest in influencer marketing, or be part of that marketing, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

The fact that more and more companies recognize the value of influencer marketing makes selling these campaigns to your customers that much easier. In fact, that nearly four out of five of respondents to the Influencer Marketing Hub survey intend to dedicate a budget to influencer marketing in 2020, and two-thirds of those plan to increase those budgets.

Also good news for those looking to engage in influencer marketing is that engagement rates are highest among the micro-influencers (called “nano-influencers”), defined as those with less than 100,000 followers. Not only are these influencers more numerous than the largest celebrities, but they tend to be more accessible.

[The role of micro-influencers] is particularly evident on Instagram, where nano-influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers have seven times the engagement rate than mega-influencers with greater than 100,000 followers (7.2% vs. 1.1%). This pattern shows at every follower-number level in between these extremes.

Why the difference in engagement rates?

Micro-influencers tend to be regarded as experts on a subject, and have laser-focused supporters who take an avid interest in their views. While many people follow mega-influencers and celebrities, they often do so simply because they recognize the name rather than for any great interest in the topic of the posts.

While the influencer campaigns themselves occur primarily over social media (and the platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube are in continual flux in terms of their influence), printers can play a role in helping brands engage those influencers in the first place. Once those relationships are established, they can also help shape what the ongoing campaign will look like.

For example:

  • How many influencers does the brand want to engage?
  • What does it take to gain their attention, respect, and trust?
  • Will those campaigns include printed pieces? Emails? Dimensional mail? Kits?
  • Once the relationship is established what will be the printed and digital components of that campaign going forward? How will they work together?
  • If free gifts or promotions will be sent out, will there be print materials involved? If so, will they be customized?

Until now, the involvement of printers in influencer marketing has largely been on the back end. However, printers could begin to take steps to include influencer marketing as part of their clients’ marketing strategies, much as they have mobile marketing or social media. It isn’t going to be for everybody, but for those engaged in omnichannel marketing for their customers, influencer marketing is increasingly one of the channels that should be considered.

Are you helping your clients with influencer marketing? If so, what does that look like?