We recently worked with Lewis PR to develop a report on influencer marketing that highlights the current approaches, opportunities and the key challenges of influencer relations. Lewis PR conducted the study with over 100 senior B2B PR, communications and marketing professionals from across EMEA, and the results shed light on some interesting insights.
1. Influencer marketing is more than just a passing trend
While Lewis PR reported that 45% of respondents have no influencer program in place, they found that 55% of organisations already do, and an additional 15% are willing to invest (32% planning to implement one next year.) As influencer marketing programs become more mature and refined, best practices are emerging based on long-term and successful relationship management that focuses on collaboration and shared value for influencers and brands.
As quoted in the excellent article by Matthew Claudel on Skyword last month, a recent McKinsey study found that ‘word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of advertising’. Our advice to the 45% percent of respondents that have no influencer program in place is therefore clear: make it a priority and get started now!
2. Influencer marketing doesn’t have a “home”...
The fact that many influencer marketing programs do not have a “home for the practice” is encouraging, particularly with 34% of respondents stating that influencer relations are owned by a combination of marketing, comms and/or PR departments. This demonstrates that influencer relationships are truly cross-functional, touching on PR, marketing, social, sales; in some organisations product, branding, development, and HR, and even used as a kind of CRM.
Developing an influencer marketing practice is an important strategic decision for organisations that could affect both structure and processes to bring increased collaboration across teams and business units. We are already seeing this at Traackr, with the platform being used as a collaboration hub between teams internally.
3. Influencer marketing is not just another digital practice - it’s about people
The fact that 42% of influencer relations programs are managed locally is also interesting and reflects the very nature of relationships. Even global programs rely heavily on local organisations for execution, as it is crucial to develop relationships locally and within communities.
Here are some additional insights from Lewis PR:
One of the key challenges of influencer programs is to measure and demonstrate ROI more clearly in order to justify increased strategic attention and investments. The comprehensive B2C study by Burst Media is a big leap forward finding that influencer strategy reaps $6.85 in “earned media value” for every dollar of paid media and there are more and more findings in that vain coming up everyday.
Some brands like Philips and ASOS are leading the way here, and should be an inspiration for those who remain unsure how to plan, implement and measure influencer activities.