One trend that has attracted a lot of attention from businesses and marketing professionals in recent years is influencer marketing – the use of influential people such as popular figures on social media to strengthen brand recognition or messaging.
Research has indicated that the majority of marketers in the UK are investing in this approach, but there have also been some questions asked about return on investment (ROI).
The rising popularity of influencer marketing
Micro-influencer platform Takumi conducted a survey of 600 PR and marketing professionals in the UK and found that nearly four out of ten respondents (39 per cent) were planning to spend up to £10,000 on influencer marketing over the next 12 months.
One in five said their budget for this strategy would be somewhere between £10,000 and £100,000, while nine per cent were set to invest more than £100,000.
Only one in every 25 marketers surveyed (four per cent) said they would not allocate any funds to influencer campaigns, while 19 per cent had no previous experience with this form of marketing.
Just over a quarter of respondents (26 per cent) said influencer marketing has become a more effective way of targeting consumers than more traditional methods, such as placing adverts on social media. More than four in ten (43 per cent) agreed with this claim, but only in regards to millennial audiences.
Going into detail on businesses’ previous campaigns, the study found that just over two-thirds of firms preferred to work with influencers whose social media accounts had fewer than 250,000 followers. The rest stated a preference for brand advocates with larger followings.
Mats Stigzelius, co-founder and CEO of Takumi, said: “A lot of people are saying that influencer marketing is an over-hyped fad – that there’s no ROI and it’ll soon disappear. But as these results show, it is clear influencer marketing is here to stay. Brands recognise its value and are therefore dedicating big budgets towards it.”
In the Takumi survey, 61 per cent of businesses said they felt confident in their ability to accurately measure engagement and ROI from influencer campaigns.
However, there have been concerns raised about how brands can gain clear, quantitative proof of the benefit influencer marketing is delivering for their business.
In a study by Rakuten Marketing, 38 per cent of professionals said they were unable to tell whether investment in influencer activity has an impact on sales. Nearly nine out of ten (86 per cent) felt uncertain about how influencers calculate their fees.
Michelle Stoodley, head of digital marketing at Benefit, told Marketing Week that “no one really quite knows” what is the best way to measure the impact of influencer advocacy.
“It’s probably the only thing in digital marketing that exploded before there’s been any real benchmark for success,” she added. “It kind of goes against a lot of what digital marketing is normally about, which is numbers, data and tracking.”
Influencer marketing is a concept that will be around for some time, according to Takumi, but it remains to be seen whether it can deliver the necessary ROI and value to become a core part of most businesses’ marketing strategies.