The Outlook on Influencer Marketing: Boosting Inbound, ROI & Long-term Customer Relationships

Tatiana Beale
August 9, 2016
How to

What is Influencer Marketing and Why Does it Matter?

Influencer marketing is the process of identifying, researching, engaging and supporting the people who create high-impact conversations with customers about your brand, products or services.

Influencer marketing offers brands the potential to unify their marketing, PR, sales, product, digital marketing, and social media through powerful and relevant relationship-based communication. Both the ROI and marketing potential of influencer marketing are immense.

Certainly, the value of influence over customers is not a novel concept in marketing. But as online customer conversations continue to evolve so drastically, influencers are playing a critical role in breaking online clutter, creating relevant customer dialogue and bringing trust to the table for brands and marketers alike.  

The Sun Sets on Outbound Advertising Tactics

It should be no surprise that an increasingly digital landscape is changing the way we do business, the way your customers access information, and how your customers or prospects make decisions.

Recent studies have found that 75% of B2B buyers are influenced by information found on social media. While outbound marketing and traditional advertising methods will always carry influence, the targeting and relationship-building potential of inbound marketing methods like influencer marketing offers greater yields and increasingly relevant customer relationships.

In HubSpot’s most recent State of Inbound study, a full 76% of B2B and B2C marketers reported inbound as their marketing approach of choice.

Why Influencers are the Lifeblood of Your Inbound Marketing

Utilizing an inbound approach to influencer marketing drives awareness, cultivates an audience, and bolsters owned media over time. The effects of influencer marketing on your inbound efforts include:

  • improved word-of-mouth advertising
  • increased number of expert opinions gained
  • social proof

All of these factors are essential in gaining customer trust and loyalty. In fact, a recent Nielsen study found that 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations above all other forms of advertising. By starting with a relevant message and audience, mapping your best-fit influencers, and utilizing social engagement best-practices, your inbound marketing will reap massive rewards.

The Power of Influencers to Guide an Audience

In a highly social web, information travels like waves -- and influencers are the wavemakers. They have the following, trust and influence to guide an audience toward loving, listening or leaving brands.

So, how is this different from public relations? Influencer marketing does not revolve around paid shills, or celebrity endorsements. It’s about unique, honest, legitimate relationships between the customer, brand and influencer. Which is exactly what makes influencer marketing so unique from other marketing tactics. When brands commit to influencers, they are also committing to being long-term advocates for their audience and customers.

Learn how to find the right influencers and guide your audience with our Influencer Marketing Guide.

The ROI Don’t Lie: Influencer Marketing Nets Huge Returns

Trust pays. In an era where consumers have never been hungrier for reviews, ratings, and word-of-mouth recommendations, influencers are the key to unlocking their trust and dollars.

Burst Media, a digital media company, conducted a study examining 48 influencer marketing programs, spanning 15 industries, and 662 web publishers and bloggers. What they found was astonishing. These influencer marketing studies demonstrated a 6-to-1 return on investment. So, what’s working so well? Many of the influencer campaigns examined in the study included sponsored blog posts, influencer-driven content and social syndication.

5 Steps to an Effective Influencer Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

Ready to get started with influencer marketing? First, you should know what an influencer is, and how to identify the correct influencers for your brand. Here’s a hint: it’s about reach, relevance, and resonance.

What is influencer marketing?

Step #1: Define your Audience

Knowing your target customers and understanding who impacts how they evaluate, discover and buy your product (or service) is an integral step in kicking off any influencer effort.

Step #2: Discover the Right Influencers

Being influential is all about context. You will need to find people who produce and share content that can impact your business or your buyer’s decision making process.

Step #3: Monitor Influencers for Opportunities

It’s time to tap in and monitor what’s happening in real time. You’ll need to discover what your target influencers are writing about, talking about, and more importantly – what’s their audience up to?

Step #4: Take Action & Engage

In this step, you’ll start building a relationship using some simple actions. Following, sharing, and linking to your influencers will be the first step in a fruitful relationship.

Step #5: Measure Your Results

As you build relationships and send signals to your audience and influencers, you’ll want to keep track of your effectiveness. Are your online relationships translating into tangible events? Learn, iterate, and tinker.

To download the full infographic including more from each of these steps, click here.

B2C and B2B Companies Killing it With Influencers

  1. Travelocity: Advancing the Art of Travel

Travelocity was the world’s first online travel agency, inspiring millions to take control of their travel and champion their own journeys. But as more companies have entered the online travel agency fold, customer experiences in this arena are gaining a reputation for being a bit too transactional. No human touch. No authenticity. Just cut rate prices on hotels, flights, and all car rentals.

Enter influencer marketing. Travelocity set out to reverse these negative customer perceptions by creating an influencer community of travel experts, known as The Gnational Gnomads.

Through community engagement and monitoring, Travelocity sought to impact customers in an authentic way. By utilizing influencer marketing best practices (and partnering with Traackr), Travelocity has been a key component in humanizing travel planning for customers. This has been a huge success due to community management, ongoing engagement, and real relationship-building. Watch the video below and see how Travelocity kicked off its influencer marketing program to build a meaningful, inspirational community.


Download the full Travelocity case study.

  1. Philips: Building a New Marketing Model around Influencers

What Philips was known for and what Philips provided – from a B2B perspective – were two very different offerings, just a few short years ago. As they watched the effectiveness rates of their traditional media buys dwindle, they decided to make a monumental shift. Philips needed to reach and activate B2B decision makers in the Healthcare and Lighting communities in a brand new way.

Enter influencer marketing. Utilizing tools from Traackr, Philips set up an intense social monitoring program in order to both log and perform outreach to 3 key groups of influencers. The Philips team took things a step further by setting up a digital command center, where a team of dedicated, always-on professionals monitored and participated in social dialogue about the company.

The program was a huge success. Philips was able to log significantly more influencers than anticipated, improve brand awareness among the target audience, and increase their support of existing PR programs.  

Download the full Philips case study to learn more.

What’s on the Horizon for Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is rapidly gaining popularity. No doubt marketers are catching on to the ROI and relationship-building potential. But just how big is it? And what challenges can marketers expect to face in the coming years? In 2015, Schlesinger Associates released a study in which 84% of marketers said they would launch at least one influencer campaign in the following year. Others have claimed that the industry of influencer marketing could soon balloon to $5-10 billion dollars in spend.

No matter the size or costs associated with influencer marketing, a few key trends have arisen in just the past few months. Here’s what you can expect to see more of:

  • Increased regulation

As more money passes hands among influencer marketing practitioners, increased regulation will follow. The Federal Trade Commission released strict guidelines last December to address native advertisements and influencer marketing.

  • Saturation

Thousands of new folks are entering into the influencer marketing space every day. It will be crucial to our craft that we rely on a solid foundation, and lean on training programs to ensure best practices are met.

  • The middle-tier

As more practitioners seek to work with influencers, it will be more important to expand beyond the most popular, or famous influencers. Developing a focus on the middle-tier , or up-and-comers of your industry, will be key. The sheer number of requests for an influencer’s time or contribution shows no sign of slowing. The brands that seek to grow with middle-tier influencers will win big.

Keep up with the latest developments in influencer marketing by visiting our influencer marketing blog.

To learn more about Traackr’s technology platform, click here. 

This post is brought to you by Traackr,

the technology platform behind the world’s leading influencer marketing programs. Want to become the smartest marketer you know? Subscribe to get better at influencer marketing, one newsletter at a time.

Tatiana Beale

A B2B content marketer and publisher with a passion for creating unique story ideas. A stellar planner and executor with a “customer first” journalistic approach. A resourceful problem-solver motivated by deadlines and impacting business results.