Have you ever walked into a store and the products you need or love are all there and right where they should be? The color palette, sounds, and lighting of the store are like opening the door into a home with the heady scent of mulled wine. Product displays captivate and compel you to stop, look, and touch, so you linger and think about the products longer. You buy more, and feel wonderful about it.
It’s nearly magical, and it’s just for you.
How does this happen? A big part of it is the Shopper marketer, the Ravenclaw House of the marketing world. Their job: gather consumer insights for the retailer and their brands then develop an integrated and targeted marketing approach.
The Shopper marketer’s journey begins with the consumer’s first thought of the product, which is why social Influencers have entered Shopper marketing’s Great Hall. And they’ve been racking up some impressive points for the Shopper marketing House.
Want some up to date intelligence going into this holiday season? Instead of waiting until January to post our findings, we’ll share some valuable trends going into your busiest season. There is one totally eyebrow raising development, however, and Shopper marketers are responding with the dexterity worthy of their most educated House.
What’s Driving The Trends?
Influencer marketing has made some big leaps in technology, first riding the crazy commercialization hippogriff of the Internet, then the advent of Social, then Cloud. Each leap ahead was more momentous than the last. But of the three innovations, Cloud services like Amazon Web Services have really put the rum in the eggnog, allowing companies like Mattr to process and store NASA-like amounts of data cost effectively and speedier than you can do the swish and flick.
The three top trends we’ve seen develop from technology innovations are audience data, performance pricing, and conversion links. The unexpected trend had nothing to do with technology, interestingly, but has had a pivotal impact on the industry this year.
The Three “Ls” of Influencer Audiences
It’s the proverbial slap to the forehead, right? Sure the influencer’s demos are important but you’re trying to reach their audience, which is especially key in Shopper marketing as so many programs are geographically focused. Because of this new availability of on-demand supercomputers, the more technically savvy providers of Influencer data started directing their insights to influencer audiences around 2015. Think it: data for a few thousand influencers could fit on a spreadsheet. Next, multiply those few thousand influencers by ten, fifty, or five hundred thousand audience members each. Now keep the data fresh periodically.
Of course the most valuable audience insight is also the most logical – location – and we saw less than 40% of Shopper marketers asking for it in 2017. These campaigns focused on regions or states and rarely dipped into cities. As we scoured thousands of influencers in our pool as well as made new influencer discoveries, we determined the “most you could hope for” proportions of audience. These numbers are for the high mid-level influencer – a micro or macro would be at opposite ends of the graph.
Don’t be disappointed by these results! If you leverage ten influencers with 200k followers each and have aligned the audience on other factors like interests, values, etc., you’d be getting 600k optimally qualified impressions. And with audience alignment comes better engagement rates, so you’ll have thousands of optimally qualified engagements and conversions.
Flat Rates Are For Flat Earthers
The second innovation enabled for 2017 was even more rarely asked for: performance based pricing. This means you are charged for engagements such as likes, loves, shares, clicks or video views vs the historical flat rate/influencer reach. This lag is understandable, as pricing model innovation can lag technology sometimes by decades. Just look at how you’re paying to watch TV shows now compared to five years ago (and how many cable subscribers remain).
The ability to automate the tracking of clicks from social platforms like Facebook or Instagram are mostly unwilling to cooperate. This has been a constant battle since the start of the decade but with the heavy resigned-to-its-fate sigh of a giant mountain troll felled by a couple of determined kids working together, we now have sustainable solutions. This is critical for scaling Influencer marketing, as we’re seeing campaigns with enough posts that manually checking is cost inefficient.
Lastly, conversion. As we pointed out in this article, we’re seeing more campaigns measured by engagement than impressions, a business model change also recently enabled by technical innovations. Shopper marketing is far more than digital coupons, of course, but many campaigns rely on them. So adding a shortened link to influencer posts is a smart complement of leverage.
For 2017, adding a link to download a coupon as part of a separate digital offering was a nice-to-have. In fact, we usually had to prompt clients to leverage it. And yet, combined with the aligned audience data, these conversion links in the influencer profiles were astonishingly effective.
2018 to Date
As we moved through the first and second quarters of 2018, the trends for these three model innovations continued at a steady pace. But by the third quarter, the trends accelerated as word spread quickly throughout our agency partners.
It was like opening a crinkly roll of crispy Thin Mints – once clients got word of audience geolocation they couldn’t stop. Nearly 65% of our campaigns were reliant on audience location in 2018, up from 40% in 2017. In one case, we were targeting neighborhoods of Manhattan and New Jersey for a national high-end grocery chain. These hyper-local influencers are the most expensive to find and qualify, so expect those premiums if you ask for them. Another learning you should be aware of: influencers have audiences in multiple states and cities. So if you find enough scale in an influencer’s number two or three cities, you can achieve your qualified engagement numbers.
The performance-based pricing model is now firmly entrenched in the newer providers. If your provider is not offering a performance pricing model, demand it. This is 2018! You can binge the entire new season of The Great British Baking Show in one night, for crying out loud! Providers can definitely charge you by the click, like, or share. Make them or take your business elsewhere.
Probably based on the surprising results we had last year, conversion links are also “de rigueur” for each campaign. We’re seeing 3-7% engaged conversion, which is substantial enough to raise eyebrows. But be aware that links work better with some influencers than others. Some important learnings: specify how long an influencer is required to have that link active in their profile via contract and monitor it. It may sound obvious, but the longer the time in the profile, the more clicks you’ll get – although as time goes by they can be less relevant or qualified, since the link is usually a shortened link with no brand identifying information.
Now take the extra step! Take a look at your provider’s audience insights to be sure the influencer’s audiences are receptive to promotions– otherwise, you may be promoting your coupon to consumers who won’t take the time to click the coupon link. When you have a gross audience size of two or three million, for example, one or two extra percentage points is a worthy gain.
Last, and something that probably caught a lot of us by surprise, influencer budgets for Shopper campaigns are increasing dramatically. Shifting, to be more accurate. Enterprises like P&G and Unilever are pulling dollars away from traditional advertising to digital, and open-sourcing their agencies. Kind of like having Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
The House Cup Winners
With P&G and Unilever open-sourcing their vendors, agencies are scrambling to stand out and compete. But Shopper marketers have been swift to embrace innovations like conversion links, engagement qualified by location, interests, and values. The results have been above expectations–just what you’d expect from the brightest witches and wizards of the marketing world.
MATTR is the only full-service influencer marketing provider with detailed audience insights from PersonaMesh™. We go beyond demographics into psychographics such as values and interests so that your influencer campaigns align with your campaign targets.