Bring back brand building: Influencer campaigns focused on conversion only are not sustainable

Katie Eastment, group account director at The IMPACT Agency, reflects on why conversation focused influencer marketing is not a sustainable channel, and why brands should instead focus more on the bigger picture.

Scrolling through social feeds, you’d be hard pressed to miss influencers trying to sell you something.

In Australia, influencer marketing grew 20 per cent in 2022 (to $266 million) and is on track to rise almost 16 per cent this year. With almost two in three Aussies stating they are more likely to buy from a brand that partners with a content creator they follow, these campaigns can be incredibly effective.

Yet, this glowing summary of the channel may not ring true for some marketers. If you’ve watched your influencer campaign ROI decline and CPM start to creep up you are probably wondering what’s going wrong.

It can be tempting to blame poor results on a lack of spend or change in buyer behaviour, but chances are the problem lies in the strategy’s foundations and goals. Influencer campaigns focused solely on conversion are simply not sustainable.

Unpick the sales funnel

For most brands, the traditional sales funnel is too simplistic. A consumer’s journey is likely to be non-linear; purchasing and repurchasing may not be the end point in the relationship, it might actually be the start!

It’s human nature to look to our peers for reassurance in how to act or behave – particularly when spending is tight. Validation from a trusted third party when making a purchase goes a long way.

Influencers can play this crucial role in building trust on behalf of a brand. Long-term partnerships can drive engagement, educate and connect with an audience. This can lead to trial, advocacy and most importantly, loyalty.

In focusing only on purchase, the relationship can become transactional and you risk competing only on price.

Before you start looking for influencers or content creators, take the time to nail down your objectives. A few questions to get started include:

  • Where in the sales funnel do you want to target with this particular content? How does this fit with other activity in market both recently and in the future?
  • How will you leverage the content?
  • What are the demographics of your target audience?
  • What content are your customers searching for?
  • Is there an aesthetic you are looking for?

Ditch the dabbling: Work closely with your creators to develop compelling content that does more than just sell

While a quick and dirty influencer campaign can give the bottom line a boost, what is more effective in many ways is an integrated, ‘always-on’ approach. Savvy brands are now looking to influencers to not only post on social platforms, but also to create compelling content to use in earned, owned, and paid strategies.

The IMPACT Agency’s Influencer Pulse Check recently found 69 per cent of creators prefer ‘always on’ campaigns, especially when it is a longer-term partnership, as it provides the opportunity to help build authenticity and trust with their audience.

‘Always on’ doesn’t mean set and forgot. A good ongoing strategy should by dynamic and include mini campaigns with a mix of objectives to nurture your audience.

Consider authenticity for the brand, creator and community 

Give creators the opportunity to trial and love your offering before committing to a partnership. In fact, IMPACT’s Influencer Pulse Check revealed that 100 per cent say it is important that they have used a product/service before committing.

Look at the saturation rate of your creators and their engagement as an authenticity measure. Creators who share paid content too often or leverage competing products in a short time period may not have the trust of their followers.

With brands deep in the trenches of 2024 planning, it’s crucial to ensure influencer strategies are considering brand building as well as sales.

Katie Eastment is group account director at The IMPACT Agency.


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