If you’re a good CMO, amongst all the other challenges, you’ll always be facing up to a couple of key questions. “How well are my marketing campaigns working?” and “What can I do to increase the ROI on my campaigns? ¨ PR has always been a key success ingredient, but it’s also very clear that the arrival of social media has dramatically changed the rules. While traditional PR may have a role to play in the luxury industry where printed collateral is still appreciated by some customers, now is really the time to get with it and make Influencer Marketing an integral part of your PR plan to make sure the new customers of today and the future are being effectively engaged. Nobody is saying that PR objectives have changed. It’s still all about image, awareness, notoriety, credibility, desirability and dreams. What has very clearly changed however is the channel of communication, as well as the need to add customer engagement to the strategy. It’s no longer an exclusively one way communication.
The popularity of social media sites have drawn people away from television and magazines. Online articles and blogs are now considered as the new media. WordPress, the famous website and blog creation platform estimates that over 409 million people view more than 20.6 billion sites and blog pages each month….and not only young people !
New influencers have emerged, facing well-established publications and magazines. They are bloggers, youtubers, writers from all ages and all countries, writing in both professional and non-professional ways, but trusted by their ever-growing audiences. Let’s be honest, these new influencers are now taking centre stage and marketers are now contacting them and paying them to access their communities and followers. This process is known as Influencer Marketing and a recent study has shown that almost 60 percent of American marketing experts reported a planned increase in social media and influencing budgets.
What advantages can you expect from Influencer campaigns ?
Results are easy to track: for example, you easily find out how many people visited the influencer blog, how many people read the article, how many people engaged with your brand, how many of them actually followed links to your website and where they’re from. The level of reporting far excedes the limited-value press clippings information you’ll get from traditional PR.
Stronger ROI: Traditional PR campaigns can prove to be very expensive : events, ambassadors, sponsoring, media trips, etc . Yes, influencer fees do exist but they will rarely cost anything like the cost of traditional PR. The influencer reach will always be higher and will additionally generate engagement levels which simply do not exist with traditional PR.
Virality: You’re working online! If the content published on the influencer site catches visitors’ attention, the audience will talk about it and share it. Effectively, it’s good old-fashioned ‘Word-of-Mouth’ and we all know how powerful that can be. A study by Nielsen found that 84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products – making these recommendations the information source ranked highest for trustworthiness. And don’t forget, what’s online stays online forever, which also improves your SEO performance.
A big jump for luxury sector marketers:
Luxury brand marketers are used to keeping complete control with powerful messages, brand images and storytelling and there’s an understandable concern that embracing influencers risks losing this control with communications getting off-message and core brand values undermined, but you won’t unleash the power of Influencer Marketing by being a control freak !
It’s all about keeping on message while simultaneously respecting the style of the influencer. After all, it’s his/her opinion which carries the most trust in his/her community so take advantage of it.
Another point to embrace is that the quality of visuals online while still important is less important than in traditional media. A beautiful blog doesn’t reflect how successful the blog is. Keep focussed on hard metrics : things like reach levels, reads, click-thru rates, and of course real engagement. Don’t forget Infuencer Marketing is about creating ‘word of mouth’ marketing when the influencer’s audience share and interact with the content ; content which is 3 to 6 times more powerful than content shared by a brand. Real engagement is much more than measuring Facebook likes.
Communication channels have changed and luxury brands need to urgently rethink the way they engage with the media. But there’s nothing to be afraid of. Influencers can allow brands to communicate with their customers where they are, through trusted channels in a powerful new informal approach without compromising their core brand values.
I say let’s embrace it, not fight against it by trying to impose old rules in a new order.