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Paid vs Earned – the benefits of a blended influencer programme

Amy Maskell discusses how your brand can use the ever-evolving world of influencer marketing effectively.

Influencer marketing is the new frontier of communications. In the space of a decade, influencer strategy has evolved from seeding products in the expectation of bloggers writing posts in exchange for a freebie, to above the line campaigns in return for a huge fee.

Bloggers have been propelled from ‘a little corner of the internet’ to the mainstream, with influencers now playing the starring role in in-store beauty campaigns or television ads, taking the place of traditional celebrity figures.

Influencer marketing is constantly evolving as a marketing medium, so making the most of your budget is crucial in terms of building a successful campaign and achieving return on investment. With the current move from a more organic approach to a paid strategy, there is still a place for both tactics to build an effective influencer campaign.

Authentic recommendation resonates

With each generation becoming savvier than the next, it’s more important than ever for content to be authentic and believable. This, coupled with stricter ASA regulations stating that the ad should be clear and visible, it’s getting harder for paid content to pass as organic and therefore persuade consumers to purchase. With this in mind, seeding to key influencers can sometimes generate coverage, and whilst you cannot control the messaging, an authentic review can be more meaningful in converting to sale.

Micro influencers are key

Influencers with a large audience can now charge large fees for a multi-channel campaign, making them out of budget for most brand budgets. Focusing the strategy on gaining organic micro-influencer coverage not only makes financial sense but it is proven that influencers with less than 20,000 followers achieve more engagement on each post than their higher profile counterparts. Underpinning your campaign with an always-on approach to micro-influencer seeding means your campaign will be continually supported by organic recommendation from a relevant voice.

Invest long term

With research showing that consumers have to see content from a brand 11.4 times before they commit to purchase,[1] being front-of-mind is key to converting potential consumers to brand advocates. Engaging the influencer in a long term paid partnership, means you can engage their audience at multiple touchpoints over a period of time, making the recommendation feel more believable and therefore, trusted.

Influencer marketing can be extremely rewarding by both driving sales, and building brand identity, but a carefully considered blend of organic and paid for content yields the highest results.

[1] Research by Forrester: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2014/04/10/the-role-of-influence-in-the-new-buyers-journey/#3e8f2b25585d