Updated: May 26

In the year 2020, the concept of influencers is definitely not a new one. As social media has evolved from a neat distraction to an integral feature of our daily lives, we have systematically built up the credibility of a select group of individuals we consult before purchasing a product or service. These individuals range from bloggers, consultants, industry analysts and experts, but more often than not, people who have the same needs as you and I.


Influencers come in different guises. From amateur models, to video content creators, to bloggers and even ordinary people who have amassed a following.

Marketing in 2020


Recent studies have shown that more traditional digital marketing strategies have lost their potency as as consumers have grown warier of how they are targeted. Ad-blocking software has grown immensely in popularity, with studies showing that 41% of Millennials use Ad Blockers, while 80% of users polled by Adobe said they would even pay a small fee to remove ads from their online experience. The mega buying force that is the teenage market has also become less susceptible to conventional marketing strategies, as statistics from PageFair show that 69% of Generation Z will always skip ad content on YouTube when given the option.


Even the age-old tradition of celebrity endorsement no longer commands the attention of the modern consumer, as a 2016 report indicated that only 3% of consumers would consider purchasing a product or service after seeing a celebrity endorse it. However, the same report showed that consumers were 30% more likely to consider the purchase of a product recommended by a non-celebrity influencer.


Why use influencers?


Since most influencers are self-made and self-produced they can create content at an affordable rate.

With the past four years showing a decline in the success of conventional marketing, influencer marketing has shown an astonishing growth of 1500%. This can largely be attributed to the impressive returns companies are seeing from influencer marketing. In a recent study by influencer marketplace, Tomoson, companies have shown to generate a 6.5 to 1 return on investment when spending money on influencer marketing. The same poll also concluded that influencer marketing is the fastest growing online marketing channel, considerably outpacing other digital strategies like display ads, paid search and affiliate marketing.


When marketers were asked to rate the quality of customers attracted through various channels of marketing, the majority ranked influencer marketing as attracting higher-level consumers, i.e. consumers more likely to make future purchases or continue to make use of services provided. This is most likely due to frequent social media users being more likely to recommend services and products to friends and family.

The sheer volume of companies that incorporate influencer marketing into their online strategies has also seen tremendous growth in the last few years. In a poll by Retail TouchPoints, 31% of participating companies said they worked with brand advocates to become influencers, 30% said that they have made use of non-celebrity influencers, and 28% said they have made use of celebrity influencers. Only 33% of marketers cited that they have not employed influencer marketing as a strategy.


More impressive than the number of marketers using influencer strategies is the number of people that purchase products and services as a result of influencer strategies. According to a study by CivicScience, 33% of daily US Instagram users said that they had based their purchase of a product or service on the recommendation of an influencer. In the same study, it is evident that similar purchasing habits are seen on YouTube and Twitter users.


Influencer marketing has also shown to be one of the most effective marketing strategies when targeting Generation Z consumers. In a study by Google, 70% of Generation Z YouTube users said they relate more to YouTube influencers than traditional celebrities. Furthermore, 44% of these users said that they have purchased products endorsed by influencers. These statistics become vital when analysing revenue potential when targeting modern teenagers. Despite Generation Z only accounting for 25.9% of the US population, their buying power is immense, with studies showing that in 2020 they will account for nearly 40% of all consumer markets, with similar findings appearing in most Western countries.


Using influencers


The way in which influencers produce content creates the illusion that they are unmanufactured and unbiased.

When it comes to incorporating influencer strategies in your marketing plan, a host of factors should be taken into account. It is more than a case of finding a popular online presence to plug your product. The success of influencers relies largely on their credibility, relatability and their connection with their following. Unlike traditional celebrities who commodify their talent, influencers rely on their personalities, tastes and affiliations alone to drive their brand. It is therefore crucial that when pairing with an influencer your product and the identity of the influencer convey an organic match. Once a pairing seems contrived or “obviously sponsored”, it diminishes the impact of the nuanced and authentic way in which influencers sell products.


Furthermore, pairing with an influencer can be squandered when a proper strategy isn’t employed to drive your campaign. Working with a marketing strategist when employing influencer strategies can ensure that a relationship with an influencer results in fruitful growth for both the brand and the influencer.


Ready to harness the power of influencers?


Dillish Mathews uses her influence in partnership with the Emoneko Group to create content that drives sales

V5 Digital - one of the leading digital marketing agencies in Windhoek, Namibia - recently set in motion an influencer marketing campaign for the Emoneko Group featuring influencer Dillish Mathews. A thorough brand analysis was conducted by V5 Digital to ensure the pairing of brand and influencer would be an ideal match.

By analysing Emoneko’s target audience, as well Dillish’s army of social followers, V5 Digital was able to construct a content strategy to guide Dillish’s interactions across various social media platforms. The campaign has been a success in terms of driving awareness of the Emoneko brand and its products and services, growing their social following, and ultimately footfall and sales in store.

Ready to start your journey to success with influencers? Don’t hesitate to contact V5 Digital for a free assessment or to help you decide whether investing in influencers is the right next step.

CONTEMPORARY DIGITAL MARKETING: A SNAPSHOT

A recent study conducted for Altimeter by leading analyst Omar Akhtar examines the key practices (strategies, channels & practices) being used to achieve digital marketing excellence. Altimeter is a research and consulting firm who published the report with the intention of helping the industry make progress, guided by the principle of Open Research.


The V5 Digital team is constantly on the lookout for ways to leverage disruptive technologies. It’s this desire to consistently make strides forward which aligns the Windhoek-based Digital Thought Leaders with San Francisco’s Altimeter Group. Now in its fifth year, Altimeter’s “The State of Digital Marketing” is a highly regarded paper, based on a survey of over 500 senior digital marketers in North America, Europe and China.

The most valued indicator of the success of digital marketing efforts is customer loyalty or customer lifetime value (CLV), followed by direct revenue. This suggests that one of the primary ways digital marketers can move beyond brand awareness is by understanding how to use technologies and practices – like e-commerce - that have a more palpable impact on the bottom line.

Despite it’s geographic focus, the paper holds many insights that are applicable to marketers in Africa. It is these key insights that will be pulled out for the purpose of this article.


DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

While many companies can transform digitally in some way – typically shifting certain functions or channels to digital - most battle with achieving transformation throughout the rest of the organisation. The underlying reasons for this are the challenges around finding talent with the necessary digital skills and being able to successfully scale innovation across all aspects of the business.

The biggest gaps in talent appear to be in data analysis and tech expertise – especially around marketing automation software expertise. These areas are desirable and valuable because they allow for more data-driven targeting and personalisation, customer segmentation and analysis, campaign performance tracking, and they drive the testing and learning processes. User Experience (UX) design and coding are also near the top of the list.

However, the study showed that traditional marketing skills such as video editing and content writing and editing, are still in healthy demand. SEO and paid media expertise have moved to the bottom of the list, probably because in the markets where this study was conducted many of the tasks related to those processes have been automated.



MEASURING DIGITAL MARKETING SUCCESS

The most valued indicator of the success of digital marketing efforts is customer loyalty or customer lifetime value (CLV), followed by direct revenue. This suggests that one of the primary ways digital marketers can move beyond brand awareness is by understanding how to use technologies and practices – like ecommerce - that have a more palpable impact on the bottom line.



SEGMENTATION

Traditional marketing segments customer groups predominantly by demographics and psychographics, whereas digital marketers focus more on behavioural segmentation. This allows digital marketers to focus on personalising content for different audiences.

The study found that marketers who emphasise traditional goals like brand awareness are also more likely to focus on traditional data (demographic), which may inhibit them from tackling other vital success metrics, like customer loyalty.


DIGITAL CUSTOMER JOURNEYS

A whopping 90% of respondents said they have or were busy implementing customer journey mapping. Sophisticated digital marketers increasingly map multi-channel digital customer journeys. Due to the variety of consumers marketing typically needs to address, we have seen the rise of content customisation frameworks that indicate what content will be delivered at different touchpoints to each different audience segment.



TESTING

Testing is a major indication of the sophistication of one’s digital marketing efforts. The majority of participants in the Altimeter survey stated that they conduct three to five tests a month, while the next largest group expressed that they do multivariate testing more than ten times a month.

Testing leads to learning, which is then used to optimise content or experiences at different points of the customer journey so that marketers can optimise formats, offers and messaging. This has become a key function of the strategic planning required of digital marketers.


TOP PERFORMING CHANNELS

It’s no surprise that respondents expressed that websites are close to being their top performing channel, since consumers who visits websites already have high intent by the time they click through to a website. What is surprising is that social media beats websites. On the other end of the spectrum, email marketing is bottom of the list, probably because the influx of emails the average person receives dilutes their impact.

Interestingly, where companies expressed that Customer Lifetime Value was their primary concern, email featured far more highly. This suggests that email should be used for post-purchase communications, rather than brand awareness.


PERSONALISATION

80% of respondents said their company engages in real-time personalisation on their digital channels. This means that if you book a skiing holiday, for instance, a travel company might change the background on their website to images of skiing while you browse. Much more widespread is the use of web and social analytics platforms to deliver personalised content and experiences. However, the shift toward personalisation is evident in the fact that marketers specified that it is their top priority for future initiatives.


DIGITAL MARKETING PLATFORM VENDORS

The four major enterprise marketing platforms are Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle and IBM, which together hold 86% market share. Salesforce beats out the competition as the preferred solution. This is likely because Salesforce scores highly across the board, for achieving brand awareness, CLV and customer experience.

The biggest challenge facing digital marketers when it comes to using marketing platforms is pulling data from across the varied systems they use to facilitate consistent, pertinent customer experiences.



THE NEXT BIG THING

What’s the next big thing in digital marketing? The Altimeter study shows that the most-used tech innovations are:

1. Blended digital and physical experiences that enable and personalise in-store experiences and data capture

2. Voice or smart assistant technologies

3. Machine learning

The study also reveals the next next big thing, since participants divulged which new technologies they are planning to use in the next eighteen months. Topping that list is augmented and virtual reality, followed by the Internet of Things.


THE STATE OF YOUR DIGITAL MARKETING

If you’re a digital marketer or you have a company that is looking to up its digital game, hopefully you have found inspiration in this snapshot of the global landscape. In particular, understanding the multiple business goals that digital marketers can work toward – beyond brand awareness – means that attention can shift toward investing in practices and technologies that further those goals, such as e-commerce and CLV.


V5 digital, one of the leading digital marketing agencies in Windhoek, Namibia, can assist you on your digital journey by understanding your unique digital business needs. Whether that involves helping you to use digital to sell your products or services online, or connecting with your customers on social media, V5 Digital specialises in crafting fine-tuned, clear, agile digital strategies to help your business succeed.


Don’t hesitate to contact V5 Digital for a free assessment or to help you decide whether investing in a digital is the right next step.

Updated: May 26

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