The Hard Realities Of Influencer Marketing

Does Online Influencer Marketing Really Work?

As technology evolves, so too do the ways in which we do business. If the word influencer had been thrown around just a few years ago, most companies would have packed up laughing. Now, however, many are taking the idea of influencer marketing a great deal more seriously.

A recent study revealed that 85% of top marketing firms have plans to use influencer marketing. This in itself is an incredible statistic, more so that 59% of those using the platform plan to pour more spending into the project. So, this means that influencers are the bold new step in the world of marketing, right?

Not so fast. While some signs point to the new form of marketing being very effective, other signs point to it as being very overrated.

The ROI Numbers

First let’s look at the numbers that have everyone so excited. A recent case study found something extraordinary. The return on investment (ROI) for influencer marketing was found to be dramatically better than other digital marketing methods, with 1,000 impressions generating around $285. Furthermore, the ROI did not reduce over time as would be expected, but instead increased.

Again, all signs point to a marketing revolution. But here is the trick. What isn’t being mentioned above is that these sorts of incredible numbers aren’t guaranteed. In fact, they are more a fluke than anything else. The hard reality is that marketing of this type is basically a dice roll, and while $285 per 1,000 impressions sounds incredible, the real numbers are far more likely to be significantly less.

The reality is that influencers have to not only be carefully chosen, but may still produce poor results in the end, with little to no explanation as to why.

Audience Versus Influence

What is not mentioned during conversations about this form of marketing is that influence is very different from audience. Marketing an online casino welcome bonus, for example, is about more than just raising awareness. It is also about driving action. A random influencer can raise awareness about the bonus, but very few have the power to drive their audience into taking action.

Most influencers have audiences that seek entertainment, not suggestions on where to spend money. On the contrary, the product may even develop a poor reputation in the hands of the wrong influencer. It is, again, a prospect of simply rolling a dice and hoping for the best. 

This is versus traditional digital marketing where numbers are a great deal more consistent. It is true that the ROI may not equal the numbers above, but at least the numbers are reliable.

This doesn’t mean that influencer marketing is without value, but what it does mean is that the hype often doesn’t match the realities. Though, this does also depend a great deal on the product being marketed. Some industries are a great deal more likely to benefit than others. This flies in the face of those claiming that influencers are the universal marketing future. A more honest reality is that influencer marketing has a place, but not in every industry.