8 Reasons Influencer Marketing Will Dominate in 2016

Today I’m going to show you 8 key reasons why influencer marketing is going to dominate in 2016.

As many people are aware,  it got a fair amount of attention in 2015.

But this year was just a warm up.

Now it is poised to really take off in 2016 like never before.

But before I jump right in, for those of you new to influencer marketing, here’s a quick overview …

Basically, influencer marketing involves building relationships with individuals, preferably third parties, whose audience overlaps with yours.

I’m talking about individuals who are not employees of a media outlet (which would make them press in our view) but instead people who own their own blogs with associated social media channels.

For some prime examples in the technology arena, check out our blog post: The Top 25 Influencers in Tech to Watch in 2016.  This list will give you a list of some excellent examples.

The point is, as marketers learn more about how their audience reacts to their own content versus their influencers, the real power of influencer marketing is becoming more apparent.

So, let’s jump in …

Here are 8 reasons why influencer marketing is sure to dominate in 2016:

1) Influencer Marketing: Everyone’s Getting in on It

Let’s start with the obvious.

Screen shot from The Shelf’s Influencer Marketing Infographic

Many have already started leveraging influencer marketing, and those who haven’t definitely have plans to. According to Schlesinger Associates, 84% of marketing professionals worldwide have plans to start influencer marketing in 2016.

And those who are already doing it have plans to prioritize it even more. Tomson reported that 59% of marketers have plans to increase their influencer marketing budget in 2016.

Influencer marketing is a bandwagon many will jump on in 2016.

Read on to find out why.

2) Traditional Sales is Annoying

You probably already knew this.

But really, people don’t like salesmen and their tactics of selling.

Business writer Dan Pink asked 7000 Americans to describe what they think of salesmen in one word. Here’s what they said:

Screen shot from Dan Pink’s Business of Software Presentation

“Pushy, yuck, hard, difficult, sleazy, annoying, dishonest.”

These are not words you want people to associate you, your brand or your product.

So why does this matter for influencer marketing?

People don’t want to hear you talk about your own products!! All they want from you is useful, engaging content, not a sales pitch.

At the same time, you’re trying to run a business here. So you have to look for other ways to market your product.  So, what’s the alternative?

 

3) Wake Up Call for Brands: Nobody Trusts You

In addition to annoying people by singing the praises of your own products or services, it turns out that they also think what you have to say is not particularly trustworthy.

An overwhelming amount of research has demonstrated who people trust, and it’s not the your company or brand.

Marketing Charts found that people are 70% more likely to consider brand advocates as a better source of information than the actual brand.

An influencer marketing infographic put together by The Shelf  reported that 92% of people prefer recommendations from others over branded content.

Our own SMB purchasing survey noted similar findings:  small, medium businesses (SMBs) rely on third party endorsement for making purchasing decisions.  Also, Twitter and Facebook are minimal factors in making purchasing decisions by SMBs in our survey (but that deserves its own blog post).

It seems that no matter what you say as a brand, people won’t take you as seriously as they do third party influencers.

Enter: influencer marketing.

4) Influencer Marketing Builds Your Brand

Almost every brand marketing in the digital space understands the importance of having a strong social presence to increase their reach. But being on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is only a part of the process.

By leveraging influencers on social media, brands can increase their reach in a way they never could on their own.

Research from Visual.ly saw that content shared by influencers gets 16 times more engagement than content shared by a brand.

The same holds true when comparing influencer posts (blog, Facebook, Twitter) to paid advertisements.

For example, when several top airlines teamed up with high profile travel and lifestyle influencers (like Tuula Vintage, Song of Style, and 100 Layer Cake) to develop content, the collaboration resulted in more than 8,200,000 social signals, 5,000,000 blog views, and 1,000,000 monthly unique visitors.

The lesson?  Your customers follow and listen to other people online.  Sometimes these are celebrities, but they don’t have to be!

Image from Media Kix

The Content Marketing Institute also reported that brands that spread their message with social influencers increase their conversions up to 10-fold.

Meanwhile, new customers who found out about a brand from existing customers have a 37% higher retention rate, meaning that influencers can help increase customer loyalty as well.

5) Influencer Marketing Improves SEO

Not surprisingly, the voice of influencers also affects your search rankings.

Search Metrics found that social signals are a major factor that helps Google determine page rank (websites with lots of associated social shares are more likely to rank number 1 in search).

The Social Media Revolution backed this up by showing how for 20 international brands, user generated social posts make up 25% of search results.

The more influencers are talking about your brand on social media, the better your SEO will become.

 6) Influencer Marketing Drives Sales

Image from Return of Kings

Many can demonstrate how influencer marketing drives engagement (check out the impact of these 5 creative influencer marketing campaigns), but the important question is how it affects sales.

McKinsey & Company found that 20 to 50 percent of purchasing decisions are made because of word of mouth, while Zuberance found that offers shared by brand advocates convert between 3 and 10x more than the same offers shared by the brands themselves.

Still not convinced?

Our own 31 Days of the Dragon case study demonstrates how powerful influencers are when marketing products.

Here are the fast facts with sales and traffic results supplied by HPshopping.com:

  • 84% increase in sales on the HDX Dragon system
  • 14% increase in overall traffic to the site
  • 10% increase in overall consumer PC sales for the duration of the program

How about that for impacting sales?

Because influencers are so trustworthy in the eyes of consumers, it makes sense that what they have to say about your brand will affect sales. This is why many can no longer ignore the value of influencer marketing for revenue.

7) Influencer Marketing is Better than Paid Advertising

When you compare influencer marketing to other strategies, such as paid advertising, it more than measures up.

McKinsey & Company found that word of mouth as a marketing tactic results in more than twice the sales of a paid advertising strategy.

Not only does it drive more sales, it’s also cheaper. For paid advertising, you have to pay a premium price to showcase your content on a platform and put it in front of the right audience.

If you have a good relationship with your influencer(s), this part can cost absolutely nothing.

8) It Pays Off

Tomoson’s research found that 22% of people thought influencer marketing was the most cost effective way to gain customers, and they’re right.

Rhythm One looked into the return on investment for influencer programs, and found that not only is it increasing (it was 1.4x higher in H1 2015 than in 2014), marketers are spending an average of $1 for every $9.60 of revenue generated this way.

So even if you have to throw down some money for content creation, it seems to be more than worth it.

Hurry Up and Get Started

For the reasons listed here, its pretty clear why influencer marketing will dominate in 2016.

Got any thoughts on the matter?  Leave a comment and let us know.

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