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Influencer marketing has taken the world by storm, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Unless it’s not your style, chances are you have at least one social media account. Did you know that an average user spends more than two hours per day on social media – and this number is only rising! Speaking from a marketing perspective, this indicates that we’re definitely under “influence”, and opportunities to promote business or products are endless.

This is where influencers come in - and they are literally everywhere! An influencer in this context is a person who wields their power over their target audience using their online platforms. But influencers are not just marketing tools. They are valuable partners who come equipped with the perfect marketing mix - persuasion and storytelling - to work on a strategy that best suits your business, for optimized results. With concrete evidence of their effect on public opinion, it's easy to see why influencer marketing is red-hot and in demand these days. 

The past's future is now: What will the present's future bring? 

As we enter a brand-new decade of influencer marketing, we see that things are changing. Today, influencer marketing platforms are used to search for and discover clients, campaign management, analytics and reporting. The global influencer marketing platform market was valued at $137 million in 2018.  It is expected to further grow to $162 million in 2020, and surpass $370 million by 2027.

These are quite astonishing numbers. But, before we take a deep dive into the secrets of influencer marketing – let’s first understand…

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Why are so many businesses using it?

Leading digital marketers are of the opinion that influencer marketing has a lot of steam, and can go a long way to catch the attention of a variety of audiences - young, old and anywhere in between. Let’s talk about the most important attribute of influencer marketing. Well, no surprises there - the cost! Influencer marketing might sound like a costly affair but it is one of the most cost-effective options out there. This works to the advantage of marketers as they get the liberty to take risks, afford a few mistakes, absorb the methods, analyze the outcome, and refine the process to match their goals. Here are the top five reasons why businesses are using influencer marketing, and find it extremely valuable:

Because it's rooted in science

Influencer marketing is not a new concept – it has a history. Look back hard enough and one can trace influencer theories back to over 70 years, when sociologists first introduced the two-step flow of communication model. It proposes that ideas flow from mass media to opinion leaders, and from them to a wider population. 

Because it's effective, efficient, focused 

Influencer marketing is efficient. It allows marketers to take a focused approach to reach their target audience through multiple channels, and place their attention on high-value individuals rather than finding and connecting with every single prospect. Influencers also fulfill two of marketing’s biggest challenges - innovate and adapt - to engage and attract potential customers through their expertise, and authentic, relatable opinions. 

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Because it enables trust and establishes brand value

Collaborating with influencers helps brands create content that resonates with their target groups, and also helps them build trust, establish brand ideals, and most importantly, by-pass ad-blockers.

Because it's social media

Social media has created the influencers we know today, and brands can now identify them by observing who (i.e. people and organizations) their target audience is engaging with online. From “real” people to celebrities - social media platforms have the power to engage mass audiences and influence sales and services. The brand just needs to ensure they are touching the right people, at the right time, with the right message to feed its social media engine. 

Because it doesn't have to be complicated

Like the title says, influencer marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. Identify and connect with relevant influencers to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right message. Measure campaign performance, and effectively manage the influencer relationship and content creation processes. Take risks, analyze the outcome, and refine the process till you achieve your goals. And last but not least, remember that influencers, your audience and yourself are human. Treat everyone as you would wish to be treated!

The evolution of the social influencer

Influencer marketing is a great way for companies to expand their reach, increase brand awareness, boost conversions and get their name out to the world. In fact, a massive 93% of marketers now practice influencer marketing. Indeed, marketers have found their groove with influencers. Tapping into the social followings of celebrities and social media icons is an effective way to market. 

It may feel like a fairly new concept but it can be traced all the way back to the 1700s. Before social media, people relied on what they saw in print ads, radio, and television for product recommendations. But guess what - even the earliest marketers figured out that featuring influential people in their ads could sway the purchasing decisions of consumers! 

Here’s a look at brand ambassadors through the years:

Phase 1: The pioneers 

Starred in early advertisements, and lent their names and faces to reinforce brand values.

Going back to the early 18th century, marketers have continued to leverage the power of influential people. Take for instance the case of a British potter named Josiah Wedgwood. Wedgwood’s exquisite cream-colored artwork caught the eye of Queen Charlotte in 1765, and earned him the official title of “Her Majesty’s Potter”. Recognizing the Queen as the ultimate influencer, Wedgwood leveraged his new title and promoted his pottery as “Queensware”, making it the world’s first known influencer brand. The royal endorsement catalyzed his brand, and people started clamoring for his work soon after. Another example is that of Fatty Arbuckle, an American silent film actor, comedian, director and screenwriter, who became the first recorded celebrity to endorse a product, Murad Cigarettes, in 1905.

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Phase 2: Likable characters

Created by brands for their audiences to relate to lovable characters, and help create top-of-the-mind recall for the brand.

Next came in a wave of likable, fictional characters as influencers. Consider the famous example of Coca Cola’s popularization of Santa Claus in 1932 introduced during the time of the Great Depression. While the character wasn't actually created by the brand, Coca Cola used the jolly image of Santa Claus to convey cheer during an otherwise miserable time and drive beverage sales! The ad was so successful that it was able to boost massive sales by refocusing the target audience and helping consumers remember the joyful qualities of the company. Another popular example is of Tony the Tiger for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes. The advertising cartoon mascot character was first introduced in 1952, and spanned several generations to become a breakfast cereal icon.

Phase 3: Celebrities

Famous for their offline career and their service as messengers for branded content.

Next were celebrity endorsements. Compared to fictional characters like Santa and Tony, celebrities are real people who have real preferences, and huge followings due to their fame. They had the ability to convince consumers to buy the products that they endorse, and that's why brands like Nike and Pepsi started forming partnerships with celebrities to advocate for their products, in exchange for the publicity. However, celebrity endorsements have become less effective as people couldn’t always relate to their over-the-top lifestyles.

Phase 4: Reality TV

Larger-than-life personalities who are more relatable than traditional celebrities.

Most of us are drawn to the larger-than-life personalities on reality television. Portraying the ‘reality’, Reality TV shows like “The Bachelor” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians” gained huge popularity as they were perceived as more relatable and authentic than traditional celebrities. Paired with their overnight fame and heightened engagement from viewers, reality TV personalities led the way for social media today. This kind of influencer marketing has followed a similar path to that of celebrities, with people feeling as though they cannot relate to these stars’ lifestyles.

Phase 5: “Regular” influencers

Famous for their online and social media channels where they create content featuring brand related subjects and products. 

As social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube popped-up, everyone grabbed the chance to share their everyday life online. Celebrities, reality TV stars, and bloggers, also garnered many followers on social media due to their existing popularity. At the same time, a new phenomenon quickly set in as a handful of “regular” people started accumulating large followings, due to their highly engaging content and close interactions with their followers. Because of their ability to influence the decisions of their audience, these “regular” people became known as influencers.

Over the past few years, influencer marketing has become one of the sharpest tools of marketers. Today, a strong presence in social media may be worth more than expensive advertising space – as a result the role of influencers continues to grow stronger. 

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Influencer marketing benefits

Brands are finding it increasingly difficult to get attention on the internet. Almost every business, big or small, has taken to the online world for self-promotion. Naturally, there is a demand for new, innovative digital marketing strategies that cut out the fluff and talk straight. This quest for an alternate approach has compelled brands to appreciate the power of influencers. 

But before we get down to discussing why influencer marketing deserves the attention it is getting, let’s take a look at the numbers.

In 2018, Google received 61,000 search queries for the term “influencer marketing”. Searches surged from 3,900 searches per month in 2015, to 6,460 in 2016, then 21,000 in 2017. In 2018, the searches rose to 61,000. A massive 1,500% increase in searches for “influencer marketing” in just over three years! Influencer marketing has proven to be extremely beneficial. Brands are realizing how powerful it is, particularly as an alternative to traditional advertising. Traditional advertising can be expensive and inefficient, and research indicates that consumers no longer respond to it well. 

The best part of influencer marketing is that the audience is already there, and if you’re using it correctly the audience doesn’t perceive promotion content about your brand as advertising! Understanding the benefits of influencer marketing can help you plan an effective campaign.

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Better brand recognition

Influencers, owing to their massive reach, have the power to increase brand exposure and boost sales. The more people get familiar with your brand - your story, who you are and what you offer - the greater the chances that they will connect with you on a personal level, and eventually purchase your product or service. Plus, when an influencer recommends or endorses your brand, their followers are likely to take notice, since it comes from a trusted source. Thus, collaborating with influencers helps you cut through the noise and attract their followers (your target audience) to your brand. 

Accurate targeting

Identifying and targeting the right audience is a crucial part of a success of any marketing strategy. However, it is often a lengthy process and requires a fair understanding of your potential customers’ behaviors, attitudes and preferences. Influencer marketing allows you to surpass this process as the groundwork has already been done by influencers. Brands just need to ensure that the influencer they pick is relevant to their target audience and their public persona aligns with the brand’s image. 

Trust and credibility

The real power of influencers lies in the trust of their followers - and influencers already have an established relationship with their audience. Their followers respect their recommendations and view them as relevant, reliable, and relatable. When an influencer shares their honest feedback about a product or service, it is almost always perceived as an authentic testimonial. This can help strengthen your brand’s reputation and reinforce your brand’s credibility. Thus, collaborating with influencers helps build authentic relationships, creating high-quality content, and having a focused strategy.

Refreshing content

Influencers are experts at creating engaging content for their followers, how else would they have this amount of followers? Collaborating with them can give your brand a fresh, new perspective, as influencers know what content their audience is invested in, They are an expert in their niche and know exactly how to inform and entertain their audience (and your target audience) about a product or service. In addition, content that features influencers is often seen as more authentic and if it hits the right chord with the followers, they are more likely to share it with their networks. This increases the visibility of your content and connects you with an audience that would have remained unapproachable otherwise.

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Greater audience engagement

In the absence of good engagement, having millions of followers won’t yield any results. This is where influencer marketing can be of tremendous benefit. Content from the right influencer is likely to find more traction as it is bound to be more user-centric. When an influencer shares your content on their social media profiles, their audience will also engage with it because it’s user-centric. Once they like the content, they are more likely to tag their friends and share it on their own profiles, further increasing its reach.

Improved SEO rankings

Beyond meeting immediate marketing goals, an influencer marketing strategy can significantly boost your brand’s search rankings - and expand your reach further. Customers who look for information on social media will surely use search engines during their decision making process. Therefore, influencer marketing increases brand awareness, thereby driving more traffic to your website. Plus, when your content gets shared, it helps you attain authentic backlinks. Additionally, the quality of your content can also improve when you work with influencers. All of these factors can help improve your search engine rankings and grow your business further.

Increased conversions

The ultimate objective of any business is to drive sales and earn more profit. However, this can be difficult considering that consumers are becoming increasingly wary of brands blowing one’s own trumpet. Influencers have greater power than a brand itself, to drive more people towards products or services. This is because consumers trust the recommendations made by their favored influencers. Brands can use this to ‘influence’ purchase decisions and drive more conversions, and ultimately, boost revenue. 

Still wondering why influencer marketing needs to be integrated into your overall marketing strategy? Take a look at the following real-life example:

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Success story alert! The rise of Daniel Wellington

Filip Tysander, the founder of Daniel Wellington, devised an effective strategy for the launch of his Swedish luxury watch brand in 2011. He picked relevant influencers on Instagram and gifted them DW watches. He encouraged them to post pictures showcasing the product on their Instagram profiles, along with the hashtag #DanielWellington. Tysander picked Instagram as his choice of social media platform as it was relevant to his target audience (young and creative individuals). In addition, he also worked with several micro-influencers, prioritizing engagement overreach. He also got access to high-quality user-generated content that could be used as testimonials from real-life users. In short, he harnessed the power of word-of-mouth marketing and scaled it with the help of influencers.

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The ROI of influencer marketing

Businesses are making strong returns from influencer marketing. We see that influencer marketing is the fastest-growing online marketing channel, leaving behind other strategies like paid search and affiliate marketing.

Attract relevant customers through influencer marketing: 72 percent of marketers surveyed believe that influencer marketing attracts higher-quality customers to their business. This can be because social media users tend to be more affluent, and are more likely to recommend products to family and friends.

Influencer marketing delivers a strong ROI: Businesses generate $6.50 in revenue for each $1 invested in influencer marketing, on average. Most businesses get a good return on investment from influencer marketing. Merely, an 18 percent failed to generate any revenue.

Influencer marketing budgets increasing: Most marketers reported plans to increase their influencer marketing budgets over the next 12 months, with the global influencer marketing spending budget increasing every year

Influencer marketing growing faster than organic search: Marketers rated influencer marketing as their fastest-growing channel for acquiring customers online, as compared to organic search and email, which are too mature to provide the same yearly growth. Affiliate marketing and display advertising scored a mere 8 percent.

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Is influencer marketing right for your brand?

Influencer marketing is rapidly becoming mainstream. Done right, it can be an incredibly powerful and valuable tool to ensure your business growth. It can be effective for achieving any number of objectives – finding and connecting with customers on social media, growing your online community or even generating branded content to use on social channels.

But how do you decide if influencer marketing is right for you? Ask yourself these three questions before taking the plunge and investing in influencer marketing:

1. Does your product or service have mass appeal?

The first question asks you to consider if your product will get the attention of the masses. For example, if you have a niche product (with a small market size) influencer marketing as a part of your marketing strategy might not be suitable. Products that are general in nature and target the masses tend to see the maximum success, in both, social media and influencer marketing.

2. Do you have social media presence?

The second question asks you to consider if you have a prominent social media presence and have made an effort to build engagement with your followers and consumers. Experts believe that it’s important to be present and well engaged on social media. Simply to have a brand profile is not enough – as you will have to be active to attract more customers, which eventually will lead to sales and increased revenue.

3. Are there influencers for your target market?

Last but not the least, is a crucial question you need to ask – are there enough relevant influencers in the market that can communicate with your target audience? One has to be smart before picking the influencers, and pay serious attention to their niche and follower segment. Sadly, there are a few industries that don’t have a prominent influencer base - but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look!

In a nutshell, influencer marketing is not for every brand - you have to have the right product, be active on social media and there has to be influencers for your target market. Plus, you have to have a good influencer marketing agency working with you for the success of your campaign. If you have all this, then go for it!

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Working with a reputable influencer marketing agency

To choose an influencer marketing agency that’s the right fit for your brand, you need to look at many parameters - experience in the industry, influencer selection criteria, and more. You need to consider the agency’s past campaigns and their results. It’s also imperative to find out how they pick influencers and what criterion they use for matchmaking. Based on these, you can determine who you should partner with for success.

What’s more, you ask? When you’re looking for an influencer marketing agency, there are a host of other factors that you need to consider, starting with their services. Look for agencies that can strategize, execute, and manage your campaign – end to end. Ask for their measurement strategies to figure out how they determine the success of the influencer marketing campaigns. It is also essential to know about the content created in the campaign - how the content is evaluated once it goes live and optimize the output of the campaign. These factors can help you determine if the agency you are considering is a right fit for your business.

Now that we have told you all the nitty-gritties of selecting the right influencer marketing agency, allow us to unveil the best influencer marketing agency out there – atisfy – and tell you why you should consider it!

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Choose us!

Influencers are here to stay, but how the world of influencer marketing looks and operates is constantly changing. While there are some unique considerations to working with influencers; setting up a campaign is the same as most marketing campaigns and includes - research, budget plans, goal, find your influencers. 

But in-house execution is hard. You could end up working with the wrong influencers or plan campaigns that don’t really meet your goals or overspend on superfluous aspects of the campaign. Hiring the right influencer marketing agency can help your brand strategize and launch a campaign that meets your business goals. If you are looking for a full-service influencer marketing agency, atisfyreach should be your pick. The team at atisfyreach can help you plan, ideate, strategize, execute, and manage influencer marketing campaigns.

atisfyreach is an award-winning influencer marketing platform that creates and manages influencer marketing campaigns for leading brands. Our approach is unique - we help you leverage real-time AI-based data to help you connect with the right audience. The atisfyreach platform gives its client the power to turn influencer marketing into a self-serve platform in an effort to generate the most efficient results. Their advanced AI-based algorithm looks at more than just impressions and focuses on advanced metrics - the team has analyzed 9 trillion content views on the internet, and found unique patterns in promotion types and platform preferences, and have established reliability scores to increase brand safety with AI.

What’s more?

atisfyreach promises the first-ever machine learning system that retains the authenticity of influencer marketing but removes the time lost. Businesses could run a campaign with over 100 influencers and it would take you less than an hour to set up! atisfyreach AI handles the matchmaking, you deploy your campaign and get full control of the size of influencer, budget, platform and promotion type.

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Give atisfyreach a shot and you will be stunned by the sheer reach and accuracy of the system. Request a demo today.