With so many marketing channels available in today’s economy, it can be hard to decide where to spend your business budget. Paid ads are very effective, but they’re also very expensive. Search engine optimization can yield a strong ROI, but these results require time for organic traffic to slowly increase.
If you’re looking for the biggest (and highly effective) bang for your buck, then you might consider an influencer marketing campaign. Also known as key opinion leaders (KOLs), influencers can be powerfully persuasive and much friendlier to your business’ bottom line.
We’ll explain how this type of marketing works and share three benefits that might inspire you to market with influencers to grow your brand awareness.
1. Immediately Establishing Trustworthiness
A KOL is a member of a community—such as doctors, politicians, advisors, and academics—whose expert opinion is respected by others in their field. As highly trained professionals, they’re considered to be an authority on a specific topic, which makes them trusted by relevant interest groups. Influencers have a similar authority among their online audience due to their large follower counts, but unlike KOLs, they earn their primary income through endorsements rather than a paid skill.
By partnering your brand with a KOL or influencer, you can immediately establish trustworthiness and gain credibility—which is incredibly important in marketing, considering 92% of consumers say that they’re more likely to trust personal recommendations over advertisements.
2. Expanding Communication Reach
These campaigns are all about word-of-mouth marketing. You could be in the business of blockchain technology, for example, and enlist a successful investor to reference your company’s role in cryptocurrency at an upcoming convention. Ideally, interested audience members would take note and do their research on how you might be able to help them achieve financial success, too.
Or, maybe you’re working on an eSports project and recruit a popular gamer to mention the development during their next streaming event so you can pique visitors’ interest and position yourself as “the next big thing”.
These types of campaigns enable you to expand the communication reach of your marketing efforts beyond web analytics. You can gain global exposure and accelerate business growth by strategically choosing the right international business partner—without ever having to step foot overseas.
By marketing over Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, blogging networks, and similar online platforms, you can receive brand mentions that have the potential to go viral across the internet. Of course, meeting with the KOL or influencer you work with can benefit the campaign by ensuring you both share the same vision, but all of these details can also be arranged via email or phone call.
3. Targeting Audiences for High-Quality Leads
You could have a great marketing idea, but if the content doesn’t reach the right audience members, then all that advertising money could go to waste. Your initiatives need to earn revenue in order to offset the cost of marketing and increase your company’s overall profitability, so it’s important to target specific niches that already have an expressed interest in what you offer.
Collaborating with influencers and KOLs can put your brand before a relevant audience because you already know your motivations are aligned. They’ve already done the hard work on your behalf by engaging with a niche audience and building a community centered around a specific interest.
Influencer marketing focuses on aesthetics to create visually compelling content, so it’s popular among brands within spaces such as:
But influencers look to key opinion leaders as experts on a certain subject matter. So if they were to sponsor a certain skincare product, for example, they might include tips they learned from a licensed dermatologist in the field. KOLs, alternatively, are thought leaders because they have the credibility to back up their opinions, rather than just their online popularity. For that reason, KOLs are commonly used as a tool for brands whose success can depend on an expert endorsement, including industries such as:
- Dental Care
- Life Sciences
Brand awareness is always a good thing, but to drive the best results from your marketing investment, you need to make sure the right people receive the right message—that’s how you increase sales revenue. According to recent statistics, influencer marketing has an impressive ROI of $6.50, allowing you to easily capitalize on your efforts.
The success rate is due, in part, to its ability to attract hot “leads”, or prospective customers. A lead is considered hot when a person is ready and able to convert into a paying customer in the near future. You want to get before those eyes and ears because they’re the people who will feel the most encouraged to learn more by visiting your website. There, they can shop around or submit their contact information for additional details using a lead generation form, which your team can then use to follow up and make the sale later on.
In the world of business, the more leads, the better. However, some are more qualified than others, meaning they’re more likely to convert into a paying customer. Seeking these out from the get-go can make your sales team much more efficient by preventing time spent on fruitless pitches.
For example, if you produce IT software for enterprise systems, then you don’t want to waste time trying to convert a small business owner with five employees into a paying customer—your efforts are better spent elsewhere. By leveraging a brand mention from a global business leader in the future, you can attract the ideal consumer because you already know they’re interested in the same professional network.
4. Building Brand Awareness
Most influencers are the driving force behind the next wave of trends and hot topics. Aligning your brand with these types of influencers has the potential to skyrocket your brand into the realm of being recognized nationally and/or globally.
This type of recognition has the potential to not only drive up sales but can also help expose your brand to other press coverage and opportunities to establish relationships with other influencers for brands who can help you to continue growing your business.
Depending on the type of campaign you run with your KOL, the initiative itself may pique the interest of other companies and publications and may cause them to feature your business in organic press and social placements. For example, if you are currently offering your product at a discounted rate for teachers or another niche market, you may want to have your KOL promote this effort.
Due to the generous offer of the campaign, other sites and social pages may share what your brand is currently offering. Influencers should already have the brand awareness you are seeking, by partnering with your brand, they will automatically funnel some of that recognition your way.
While there are numerous benefits to influencer marketing, it’s also important to be aware of potential risks and pitfalls. When connecting with influencers, you need to make sure that their target audience has the potential to convert to hot leads. This can be a nuanced process and can require some fine-tuning, you run the risk of losing some money as you align with the right influencers. To avoid this, you may want to consider running sample campaigns to determine effectiveness.
Additionally, influencer marketing is a long-term investment and your campaign should focus on establishing meaningful relationships with your KOL’s. If you are looking for a quick win or an immediate ROI, your time and money may be better spent on paid advertisements.
Lastly, it’s important to provide your influencers with the creative freedom to run the campaign how they best see fit. Of course, staying on brand and making sure that there are no glaring issues should be addressed but ultimately, these influencers know their audience best and the most effective way to connect with them. They are the ones that established this following and should be given the trust to continue their process. If you feel the need to micromanage your KOL’s, the relationship may not be the best fit.
Influencer marketing doesn’t exactly fall under the realm of “bootstrap” marketing. If you aren’t prepared to do the research and dedicate a lot of time and energy to making the campaign effective, it may be worthwhile to consider hiring an agency to run the strategy.
Ultimately, KOL and influencer marketing can help you reach a targeted niche while increasing your exposure to new audience members. Data shows that it can be powerfully effective and cost-efficient when ran strategically because trusted recommendations have a powerful effect on consumer psychology. Be sure to run through all potential considerations before investing hard-earned time and money into a campaign of this nature.
Take your PR up a notch and save money spent on expensive ad dollars with an influential marketing campaign that puts your brand in the spotlight.
About the Author
Kaelee Nelson received her Master’s degree with an emphasis in Digital Humanities. She now pursues her career as a writer in San Diego, currently writing for 365businesstips.com. She enjoys informing readers about topics spanning industries such as technology, business, finance, culture, wellness, hospitality, and tourism.