Influencer marketing was already a high priority in 2020, but Traackr and Glossy’s new ‘State of Influencer Marketing 2021’ report shows marketers are upping their investment even further this year. According to the findings, the majority of respondents are allocating 1 percent to 20 percent of their marketing spend to influencer strategies, while the budget ranges of 41 percent to 60 percent, 61 percent to 80 percent and 81 percent to 100 percent all increased in 2021.
Ahead, find out how brands are leveraging influencers to meet new marketing needs, such as highlighting sustainability practices and brand values, as well as creating top to mid-funnel engagement and driving sales.
First up, 55 percent of respondents told Traackr that paid influencer tactics comprise less than half of their overall strategy, suggesting that these brands recognize the value of organic buzz and word of mouth. Nevertheless, paid collaborations remain a key influencer strategy as 46 percent of respondents commit over half of their programs to paid sponsorships while the number of paid posts increased by 28 percent YoY between January and August, according to Traackr.
Brands reported cited social posts as the most popular paid strategy, followed by seeding and organic gifting, long-term paid ambassadors and affiliates who receive a percentage of sales.
Before the pandemic, influencer marketing was an ideal marketing approach for top- to mid-funnel engagement. During and since the pandemic, influencers have become critical elements of ecommerce initiatives as TikTok and Instagram introduced ecommerce and affiliate link functionality directly on posts while Amazon created online shops with influencer-recommended products.
Social Media And Influencer Collabs Became More Complex In 2021
According to Traackr’s survey, of the social formats available for influencer marketing, Instagram Stories is used by 85 percent of respondents while Instagram posts and Facebook posts are used by 78 percent and 55 percent of respondents, respectively; followed by Instagram Reels, TikTok, YouTube and Facebook videos, in that order.
Next, 69 percent of respondents said they work with or plan to work with influencers on social commerce initiatives with the aim of driving sales directly on social platforms; 6 percent of respondents claim such collaborations are very effective while 23 percent claim them to be somewhat effective.
Influencers On Selling Ideas
Brands have also begun using influencers to evolve brand values and communicate social impact initiatives. According to the survey, 34 percent of respondents engage influencers to communicate their company’s sustainability practices to customers while 54 percent are using influencers to convey the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion practices. Dove, for example, has experienced successful influencer partnerships for its social issue initiatives such as its spring 2021 campaign Reverse Selfie.
Building An Influencer Program
Thirty-five percent of respondents said that the quality of traffic and customers from influencer marketing is comparable to that of other advertising channels while 26 percent stated that it’s moderately better than that of other channels.
Some of the challenges marketers and brands continue to face in this context include finding the appropriate influencer to reach their target audience (81 percent), measuring ROI (58 percent) and determining which platform to utilize most (34 percent). Other challenges include determining which type of partnership strategies or content types to focus on, finding undiscovered influencers and managing compliance.
In terms of ROI, 44 percent of respondents stated that influencer marketing ROI is somewhat comparable or higher than that of other advertising channels. Thirty percent were unsure, suggesting a hole in the data or a lack of tools for analyzing data.
Compared to 2020, 30 percent stated that ROI has moderately increased while 32 percent didn’t know enough to answer.
Measuring Influencer Marketing Performance
While the number of social media formats available presents new possibilities for brands, influencer marketing continues to present challenges around measuring efficacy. Traackr and its agency respondents list engagements, conversions and impressions or reach as the three most crucial KPIs for measuring the success of an influencer program.
Still, the biggest challenges for marketing teams in measuring influencer program performance include tracking performance across social platforms (59 percent), determining which KPIs are driving ROI (52 percent) and tracking performance across campaigns (43 percent).
Director of integrated communications at Shiseido, Erin Kelly, states that providing influencers with trackable links to measure conversion and incorporating data diversity are two practices that have led to more success for the brand. Kelly also points to the integration of tools from an influencer technology partner that has helped Shiseido understand scale and determine which influencers to work with.
Case Study: Beekman 1802
Beekman 1802, a smaller skincare brand specializing in goat milk-based products, chose to develop an influencer strategy that focused on TikTok and would allow it to authentically connect with consumers and generate brand awareness. In January 2021, Beekman expanded its influencer network to beauty and non-beauty influencers after it vetted them based on their brand affinity and alignment with Beekman’s brand values.
Selected influencers, including beauty creator Laura Lee Watts, created an array of content including educational videos to in-store promos and personal skincare stories. The result: Beekman’s 2021 TikTok activations produced 5 million views through 89 influencers, only 14 of which were paid. Beekman directly correlated Watts’ posts—which included discount codes for its Milk Drop product—with its biggest week of sales revenue ever since launching in Ulta, along with its two new launch items selling out. The company’s chief marketing officer Brad Farrell says that today, 90 percent of the brand’s influencer spend is invested in TikTok.
Scaling the process of finding the right influencer partners, assessing those influencers’ brand relevancy and optimizing measurement mark the ongoing challenges brands face in the influencer space. To address these issues, 85 percent of respondents said they’ve linked up with influencer tech platforms or have formed in-house experts to improve benchmarking and measurement capabilities. Other solutions reported involve attending virtual workshops (37 percent) and hiring third-party agency analytics experts (28 percent).
Traackr’s four takeaways for companies seeking to launch influencer marketing campaigns or make their existing campaigns more effective are as follows:
- Create a data-driven culture for influencer selection and vetting.
- Use social media to listen to consumers.
- Uplevel performance metrics with competitive benchmarking.
- Build a marketing stack that can accommodate emerging technology and channels.