Market Overview

Allison+Partners' Study Uncovers the Divide Holding Back Influencer Marketing

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Improving the Marketer and Influencer Relationship is a Must to
Unleash its Full Potential

Allison+Partners' latest
study
on influencer marketing suggests that despite becoming a
staple in today's marketing mix, there is a divide between marketers and
influencers holding back the true potential of influencer marketing. The
divide spans the spectrum from the length of an ideal engagement to the
essential question of return on investment. The qualitative study also
sheds new light on what each think will bridge that gap, as well as how
putting more rigor around process and measurement will help increase
effectiveness and credibility for the craft.

The study reveals a clear gap between marketers and influencers about
marketplace challenges that are critical to address as influencer
marketing evolves.

Some key themes they were divided on include:

  • Approach to Identification: One of the biggest challenges
    identified by marketers was the inability to confidently identify and
    select effective influencers. However, most influencers in the study
    stated that they don't provide audience insights unless asked, nor do
    they map their potential to a marketer's needs. Many also said they
    have their own media kits that marketers rarely ask for.
  • Authenticity: Most influencers reported that marketers
    generally only ask for reach, unique page views or monthly blog views,
    but the most value is found in the authentic comments to and
    interactions with their posts.
  • Testing: Just as they would in traditional marketing
    disciplines, testing, learning and revising need to be an integral
    part of the influencer marketing strategy. However, the study found
    that only some marketers conduct testing with influencers to see what
    type of content works best. Furthermore, influencers said they
    generally stick with the approved content over the course of the
    engagement regardless of the outcome, citing that they don't feel
    comfortable offering their opinions about how posts can be improved.
  • Measurement: Influencers continue to struggle to show their
    value in a comparable way to how marketers think about other marketing
    mediums. Yet, marketers are under increased pressure to prove the
    business impact of influencer campaigns. The challenges stem from
    several factors on both sides including defining the basis for
    influencer marketing, lack of benchmarks and myths about standard
    metrics.

"This is a critical year for influencer marketing where it must mature
and evolve to meet the standards of other marketing disciplines," said
Cathy Planchard, global president of All Told, a division of
Allison+Partners that combines research, content, creative, digital and
measurement expertise to deliver integrated storytelling for clients.
"By communicating better, implementing more process and developing
concrete methods to show value, marketers and influencers will be able
to see the full and realized potential of their partnership."

Allison+Partners' Influence 360 approach to achieving influence takes a
broad view of influencer marketing strategies, starting with the
understanding that an influencer is anyone who has the ability to carry
a message. Based on the study's findings, the agency further enhanced
this approach by recommending a series of industry best practices for
influencer marketing, with particular focus on the implementation of
advanced analytics and technology to show its value.

While the study revealed some key divisions between marketers and
influencers, both groups lamented in the difficulty of proving value for
campaigns. There are some simple solutions and best practices that can
address these challenges

  • Scoring Parameters: A clear solution to influencer
    identification is to employ a set of standards, such as influencer
    scoring parameters. For example, Allison+Partners' proprietary Influence
    Impact Score
    uses the equation [Reach + Authenticity] x Power to
    identify the influencers that will have the most impact for a campaign.
  • Optimization: While some influencers voice their opinions
    during the creative planning phase, the majority said they generally
    don't provide additional suggestions for improvement in the execution
    phase – something they need to take responsibility for. Influencer
    marketing must mature and evolve to a place where the consultation,
    relationship-building and optimization occurs as it would in other
    parts of the marketing mix.
  • Data Capture and Practices: The simple act of gathering,
    structuring and storing data is a fundamental best practice for
    measurement. But the study revealed that this, too, is lacking in
    influencer marketing efforts. Marketers need to look at their own
    internal data, such as coupon codes redeemed or website visits, while
    influencers need to provide more back-end metrics with marketers,
    particularly on paid campaigns.
  • Understanding Impact: Marketers and influencers must look
    beyond a "moment of time" in reporting and understand things like time
    to impact content life span and holistic data capture. This can be
    done through correlation analytics on the marketers' side, which
    determines the statistical correlation between two factors. On the
    influencer side, they need to report on the full range of success
    indicators, such as direct messages asking for more information from
    users, to better understand the impact of campaigns beyond direct
    sales or website traffic.
  • Deploying Existing Technology: An abundance of technology used
    in other digital marketing media can be applied to influencer
    marketing measurement. For example, the use of pixels or tags is
    largely non-existent, even for mediums that readily accept them. This
    implementation would allow for retargeting, boost conversions and
    create great depth of understanding for those who interact with
    influencer content.

"The underlying current of our study — a communications and relationship
gap between marketers and influencers — comes to light in measurement
perhaps more strongly than any other topic we explored," said Brent
Diggins, managing director of measurement + analytics at
Allison+Partners. "Despite the challenges, a pragmatic approach that
combines measurement and analytics best practices with technology can
help show value like never before."

ABOUT THE STUDY

Allison+Partners conducted qualitative interviews with 31 influencers
and 20 marketers in the travel, consumer electronics, lifestyle,
food/CPG and fashion/beauty verticals. Marketers were internal
employees, with a manager title or above working at a company with
revenue of $50 million or more in the U.S. Interviews were conducted in
October 2018. The influencers must have engaged in a paid influencer
program with a brand in the vertical set. The influencer panel was
sourced by Allison+Partners, and the marketer panel was conducted by
Qualtrics. This is the fifth study in Allison+Partners' Influence Impact
Report series, which is an ongoing exploration of the dynamic forces
that shape and drive consumers in an active ecosystem of influence. To
download the Influence Impact Reports, visit www.allisonpr.com/insights/.

ABOUT ALLISON+PARTNERS

Allison+Partners, an MDC
Partners
company, is a global marketing and communications agency
driven by a collaborative approach to innovation and creativity. The
firm was named The Holmes Report's 2018 "Best Agency to Work For,"
PRWeek's 2018 "Best Place to Work," The Holmes Report's 2017 "Digital
Agency of the Year," The Holmes Report's 2016 "Asia Pacific Corporate
Consultancy of the Year," PRWeek's 2015 "Midsize Agency of the Year" and
In2 SABRE's 2015 "Most Innovative Agency." Allison+Partners has 30
offices worldwide and is organized around six practices: Consumer
Marketing, Corporate, Global China, Healthcare, Public Affairs and
Technology. All Told, which combines research, content, creative,
digital and measurement expertise into one offering, works across these
practices to deliver integrated storytelling for clients. The agency
also has a network and deep affiliations with firms worldwide through
MDC Partners (NASDAQ:MDCA), a progressive marketing and communications
network, championing the most innovative entrepreneurial talent. For
more information, visit www.allisonpr.com.

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