Influencer marketing can be very expensive, or a cost effective way to give your brand a boost. Here’s why and how to turn your customers into influencers.
With more and more consumers ignoring and blocking traditional, outbound ads, content marketing is often touted as more effective and cost effective. Influencer marketing can play an important role in a content marketing strategy.
Some research and insights on influencer marketing
- The influencer marketing industry is reportedly set to grow to approximately $13.8 Billion in 2021.
- 75% of businesses intend to dedicate a budget to influencer marketing in 2021.
- A survey found that 90% of respondents believe influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing.
Why consider influencer marketing
Reports suggest that people are put off by traditional advertising and most likely to just ignore it in 2021. Research has also found that consumers trust recommendations from real people significantly more than we trust advertising and promotions from brands, and that influencer marketing works.
A study conducted a few years ago looked at the results of an influencer marketing program conducted for White Wave Foods, the parent company of Silk Almond Milk and other products, and found the following:
- Households exposed to influencer marketing purchased 10% more Silk products than a control group.
- Every 1000 people exposed to influencer marketing purchased $285 worth of Silk products more than the control group.
- After 12 months, the ROI of influencer blog posts alone (not including social promotion) was 11X the ROI of banner ads.
Why turn your existing customers into influencers for your brand
There are several different ways to employ influencer marketing. Knowing whether to pay big prices, or what you should be expected to pay can be hard to figure out, as it varies widely. And it can be difficult to know what to expect in terms of ROI and how to avoid getting scammed by people with fake followings. One way to find people to work with is to comb through Instagram and TikTok looking for relevant accounts with large followings. There are also agencies that work with influencers.
An influencer may have millions of followers, a few hundred thousand, or just a few thousand (maybe even a few hundred). Influencer Marketing Hub has broken down influencer levels into categories that look like this:
Nano-influencers: 1,000–10,000 followers
Micro-influencers: 10,000–50,000 followers
Mid-tier influencers: 50,000–500,000 followers
Macro-influencers: 500,000–1,000,000 followers
Mega-influencers: 1,000,000+ followers
The price of partnering with these people can be anything from $10 to more than a million. But bigger followings don’t necessarily mean better bang for your buck. You might find that someone with just a few thousand followers has far more actual reach and engagement than someone with a million followers. Even someone with 500 followers can be very influential, if those 500 people are very engaged with that person.
For example, Dwayne Johnson, who reportedly makes a million dollars per sponsored Instagram post, got 1.8 million likes on a shared photo of wireless earbuds. Out of his 200 million followers, that’s a less than one percent engagement rate. Compare that to a post by Gabby Whiten, a nano influencer, about dish soap that got 300 likes. Out of her 3,000 (at the time) followers, that’s a 10 percent engagement rate. Builtin.com points out that what nano-influencers lack in reach, they make up for in engagement.
One way to find these smaller-level influencers is to look at people who already know and love your brand. Tim Sovay, chief operating officer of CreatorIQ, an influencer marketing platform with a database of more than 20 million “creators,” told Marketing Dive, “As the industry evolves, we are moving away from what was ‘Influencer Marketing 1.0,’ which was really a transactional relationship between brands and the creators that they worked with on one-off campaigns.” Now, he says, marketers are looking for longer-term partnerships.
“A creator is really choosing the types of brands that they want to work with, that they identify with and who their audience is interested in,” Sovay said. “On the brand side, they’re looking for a more authentic relationship, and weirdly, it’s almost like a traditional endorsement.” This is where understanding your high-value customer comes in, he said.
Those influencers are already available to you in the form of your existing clients. Spa and hospitality is well positioned to truly tap into this. You already have customers that love you and your brand, and unlike many other types of businesses, you have direct interactions with and have built relationships with these people. They know you and you know them better than a retail company, or similar, probably knows and is known by its customers. Take advantage of that. Use your databases of customer information to partner with your most loyal. They are all potential brand ambassadors and they are your target market because they are already your customers.
How to turn your loyal customers into brand influencers
Find ways to incentivize your customers to market your brand for you. It does not have to cost you much and the return should be more than your investment. More than a third of brands are more likely to give away free product samples or offer discounts than to pay their influencers.
Offer discounts and products in exchange for referrals. Elkfox, a digital commerce solutions company, suggests creating tiered incentives, like $5 off a treatment for every friend who makes a purchase if they share a code, and increasing the reward to a hundred, or several hundred dollars worth of products or services if more friends become customers ($100 off when friends’ purchases equal $600). You can also use your loyalty program to encourage referrals.
You want your customers to share positive messages about your brand with their networks, and to make that happen, you have to ask. When you are communicating with existing customers, invite them to share these messages, particularly after a treatment, service, or purchase. You can send a survey before asking to make sure they are happy.
Eventually you’ll see who is bringing in the most referrals and then you can approach them about opportunities to be more engaged with your marketing efforts. You might invite these people to be part of an exclusive brand ambassador program through which you offer extra rewards for those who bring in new customers (another suggestion from Elkfox). This takes time. It’s a long game, unlike paying to post an ad somewhere. But it’s worth it.
There is no more trustworthy ambassador than an existing user of your brand. You have hundreds, maybe thousands, of potential influencers to work with out of your existing client base. Consider the possibilities.
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Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at book4time.com.