Partnership management platform impact.com, has partnered with WARC for a research 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, found that both influencer and marketer perceptions around influencer marketing, especially given the rapid growth of the influencer market after a wave of investment and innovation on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Findings are based on global survey responses from more than 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 report added that “the value of authenticity cannot be overlooked,” finding that 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.
“At a time when there’s increased consumer mistrust towards traditional advertising, brands and influencers are creating mutually beneficial relationships where trust and authenticity are the critical pillars for both sides,” said Antoine Gross, General Manager of impact.com Southeast Asia.
“But these relationships are not just one-time engagements — in fact the research shows how marketers and influencers who invest in longer-term partnerships can drive better results while creating deeper community connections. As such, in just three years, the influencer marketing industry has increased from $6.5bn to approximately $16.4bn in 2022, incredible market growth considering how businesses have been transformed by the pandemic. When done right, influencer marketing benefits everyone involved.”
The report uncovers key considerations including the importance of establishing a wide understanding of influencer marketing across functional teams, engaging with creators over an extended period of time in order to receive the best results and working with influencer marketing experts, such as technology platforms and agency-managed services, to ensure the best reach and results.
The report additionally published the following insights.
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. At the same time, compensation is a vital part of the equation – marketers must focus on incentivizing influencers around important metrics, to help align both partners and deliver improved results from the relationship.
Driving valuable long-term relationships with creators is key.
As influencers become more important 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. A key example of this is in the beauty and fashion industry, where advertisers have proven that longer-term influencer marketing collaborations 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 of followers, resulting in higher engagement and their potential to influence product purchase decisions.
Image by Liza Summer