Often confused with word-of-mouth marketing, influencer marketing is really its own thing. Although they often work in tandem, they should not be used interchangeably. By knowing the difference, recognizing why it is important, and identifying how to harness the power of the influencer, your business cannot only attract more customers but, more importantly, retain its already existing clients. In this first installment we will look at the what and why of it and next month we will follow up with how.
Word-of-Mouth vs. Influencer
Word-of-mouth is a tool by which communication about a product gets out, whereas influencer marketing engages leading individuals to leverage their influence among family, friends, and beyond. Not all word-of-mouth marketing is guided by an influencer but almost all influencer marketing includes some form of word-of-mouth marketing. This approach can be seen in the recent influencer campaigns of both Jägermeister and Pabst who are using influencers in the bar industry to guide the trajectory of their respective brews. By rebranding their companies through one-on-one, word-of-mouth marketing, they hope to bring their products to a new and more refined demographic.
Influencers often work together with both social-media marketing and content marketing to drive a brand’s message to a larger market. In today’s digital world, word-of-mouth encompasses much more than yesterday’s intimate one-on-one conversation. Word-of-mouth now also performs on a one-to-many basis, with product reviews and opinions posted online through “neutral” social networks.
Influencers, both famous and home-grown, even use their own websites or blogs to scrutinize brands comparatively for their readership, inadvertently offering free content to the brands they highlight.
Why Influencers Are Important To Your Brand
Peer recognition has always been a powerful force in our society. It should be no real surprise that peer recommendations hold so much weight among consumers. And although the Kardashians of our celebrity-obsessed culture still hold a lot of weight as influencers, we are seeing an increasing response to seemingly “regular Joe” influencers whose motives seem less tied to brand. Consumers have become skeptical about traditional advertising and marketing which tells about a product by the very company that makes it. A thoughtful critique or passionate endorsement by someone with no skin in the game, free and unbiased, is now often looked to as a more trusted source.
By some industry estimates, word-of-mouth creates more than twice the sales of paid advertising. When further looking at those clients, they have over a third higher retention rate. The impact with first time buyers is also significant, as they tend to research before buying and seek more opinions. These are statistics that can’t be ignored. Coupled with the megaphone that social media can offer, influencer marketing is getting scrutiny by top marketers as an easy and subtle way to reach today’s discerning consumers. The trick is to secure an influencer who is congruent with your brand.