Research shows influencers are now vital to brand-consumer relationship

David A. Yovanno, Chief Executive Officer, impact.com

impact.com, the partnership management platform, in partnership with WARC, a global marketing intelligence firm, released a report on the evolving brand-influencer dynamic, which shows the disparity and alignment of perceptions of marketers and influencers, and offers guidance on how better alignment can lead to more effective and valuable partnerships.

The report, Aligning Marketers and Influencers: Shifting Perspectives on Influencer Marketing Across the Funnel, reveals influencer and marketer perceptions around influencer marketing, given the rapid growth of the influencer market after innovation on the heels of COVID-19.

What were the findings of the study?

The report, based on global survey responses from over 400 marketers and 400 influencers across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, found that 75% of marketers leverage influencers for brand awareness and 73% for brand engagement. From the influencer point of view, 58% say their top reason for working with marketers is to create authentic content, especially in a world where consumers are increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising.

The value of authenticity cannot be overlooked. 85% of influencers and 67% of marketers ranked high levels of trust and authenticity as the first and second most (respectively) significant strengths of influencer marketing, which, over time, creates stronger partnerships.

The report uncovers considerations for those seeking true partnerships with influencers who are now at the center of the brand-consumer relationship given their impact on engagement with consumers. Those considerations include defining a wide understanding of influencer marketing, engaging with creators over an extended time in order to receive the best results and working with influencer experts, like tech platforms and agency-managed services.

What were the executive’s thoughts on the study?

“Consumers are engaging with social channels like YouTube and TikTok more than ever before, which we expect to continue for the foreseeable future. At the same time, consumers have become distrustful of and annoyed with traditional marketing and advertising channels,” commented impact.com Chief Executive Officer, David A. Yovanno.

“These factors have helped give rise to a significant consumer population that looks to influencers, with an appetite for influencer commerce content that continues to grow. This has created a shift in the brand-influencer power dynamic – for many brands, building partnerships with influencers is now a critical way to reach their target audience.”

What were the key takeaways from the study?

Key takeaways marketers and influencers shared to create an influencer strategy include:

How brands can best reach their target audiences is shifting

Younger audiences tend to favor visual experiences, such as those on Instagram and TikTok, and they prefer smaller content creators over celebrities and mega influencers. These meaningful interactions drive the credibility and authenticity that audiences crave, and, at the same time, help influencers create relationships over time. Knowing how and where to connect with target audiences is critical for a successful influencer marketing program.

Creating a clear, mutually beneficial partnership must be a priority

Today’s creators want more control over the content they create for brands. They expect the relationship to operate like a partnership rather than a simple fee structure.

For marketers, it will be critical to balance brand requirements with creators’ demand for more freedom and control over the content they produce. In fact, according to 50% of influencers surveyed, striking this balance is the second most significant challenge they face.

Compensation is a vital part of the equation – marketers must focus on incentivising influencers around important metrics, to help align partners and deliver improved results.

Driving valuable long-term relationships with creators is key

As influencers become essential to the brand-consumer relationship, it is important to stay focused on creating long-term relationships, which over time help drive more conversions. Though marketers tend to leverage influencer marketing for shorter, more awareness-driven campaigns, results can improve the longer a brand works with an influencer.

An example of this is in the beauty and fashion industry, where advertisers have proven that longer-term influencer marketing cohorts yield better outcomes. And, among marketers who use influencers over a longer period, 73% rank trust and authenticity as the biggest strengths of influencer marketing – six percentage points higher than among other marketers.

The criteria for selecting influencers has changed, too

While macro influencers boast followings in the millions, nano and micro influencers with less than 1,000 followers may be key to unlocking a successful influencer strategy, according to respondents. Not only do they bring extra authenticity – they have very active communities, resulting in higher engagement and their potential to influence product purchase decisions.

In addition to in-depth surveys, the report is supplemented with a series of in-depth marketer and influencer interviews, WARC’s global data and expert contributions, all targeted at better understanding the evolving role of influencer marketing. WARC is an international marketing intelligence company that provides the latest evidence, expertise and guidance to make marketers more effective. For more information about WARC, visit their website.

The full research report, Aligning Marketers and Influencers: Shifting Perspectives on Influencer Marketing Across the Funnel, can be found at the impact.com website.