While influencer marketing has been a marketing buzzword for years, it can seem daunting to incorporate it into your marketing plan. Here's how to get started.
On average, consumers spend up to two hours a day on social media, according to Hootsuite. Further, their social media usage increased by over 40% after 2020. Importantly, consumers are not only using social media to keep up with friends and family but also to engage with brands and learn more about companies.
Additionally, consumers are leaning on their networks for recommendations and referrals via social channels. Seventy-four percent of all consumers trust the opinions of people on social media to help them with their purchasing decisions, according to IZEA's “Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing." More than 4 in 5 women—86%—turn to social media for advice on making purchases and over half of all women have made a purchase based on a post from an influencer.
Influencer marketing can be an effective and affordable marketing tactic for independent insurance agencies. Are you ready to give it a try?
How Can Influencer Marketing Impact Your Business?
Influencer marketing uses influencers—which is defined as an individual account with an engaged audience—to deliver branded messages or product information to target audiences. Influencers traditionally have a specific niche and create content to build a following of loyal fans.
While influencer marketing has been a marketing buzzword for years, it can seem daunting to incorporate it into your marketing plan. As a result, businesses can overlook influencers as a social media trend that might be too difficult to learn. However, 2023 could be the perfect time to rethink how influencers can benefit your agency.
Think of influencer marketing as a review seen by a large, highly engaged audience. Engaging with influencers is all about finding people who are already well respected in your community as thought leaders and a source of ideas that make everyday life easier. They provide a route to engage people in your community who look like your customer base and can speak to your audience in an authentic way. And while influencer marketing can be a huge, national campaign for big brands, it can also work very well for a small business.
If you decide endorsements from local influencers could help your business, it is important to keep in mind how you will measure success. While influencers can help introduce your agency to a new audience, it is important to track impressions, engagement rate and the sentiment of comments to measure how influencers are impacting your brand awareness.
Influencers often fit into a specific audience profile, usually centered around a certain age range and lifestyle. Choosing the right influencer will help expose your brand to more people that fit the target audience you are trying to reach.
Also, influencers often speak more casually than you might in a traditional advertisement. This can help showcase your agency in a more authentic way. This authenticity builds trust, which doesn't happen overnight. When consumers see your company as authentic, this can build trust much faster.
How to Get Started
Now that you have an idea of how influencers can help your agency, how do you get started? Understanding the right steps to get started can help you find the right influencers and create lasting relationships. Here are four steps to start:
1) Define How You Will Measure Success
There are two main metrics we focus on when working with influencers: awareness and website traffic. When your goal is awareness, metrics like the number of impressions, comments and likes will be most relevant. These metrics will tell you how many people see the post and are reacting to it.
Influencers can drive purchases. In fact, 70% of consumers are more likely to buy a product from a brand if they work with an influencer they know and trust, according to a 2022 study by Traackr. Make sure your influencers are sharing your website and your agency's social handles, so their followers can learn more about your agency and hopefully become customers.
2) Decide What Influencer to Utilize
Influencers generally fall into five different categories based on size, according to Influencers Marketing Hub. Most small businesses find the most success with nano and micro-influencers. Nano-influencers can have highly engaged, local audiences who are looking to that person for advice. Think of these people as knowledgeable trendsetters in your community. Other community members look to these people for advice, recommendations and reviews. Here's a breakdown of the five categories:
- Nano-influencers: 1,000–10,000 followers
- Micro-influencers: 10,000–50,000 followers
- Mid-tier influencers: 50,000–500,000 followers
- Macro-influencers: 500,000–1 million followers
- Mega-influencers: 1 million or more followers
It's also important to consider a niche when choosing an influencer. Think about the interests and lifestyles of your community and how you can best reach them. Do you serve a farming or boating community? Do a lot of people in your community collect art or have luxury vehicles? Does your market have a tight-knit motorcycle or recreational vehicle (RV) adventure travel community? Consider looking for influencers with similar lifestyles who can help talk about what insurance benefits your agency would bring to that niche.
Trusted Choice® has been leveraging micro-influencers in our consumer brand advertising in 2022. We have seen success working with five influencers across Instagram and YouTube who fit one of our major business lines. This year, we have worked with home improvement influencers to promote homeowners insurance, boating and motorcycle enthusiasts to promote those lines, and car maintenance influencers to promote personal auto insurance.
With just two influencers on Instagram and YouTube, Trusted Choice has generated over 471,000 organic impressions. These are potential consumers that may not have otherwise seen your brand, illustrating that influencer marketing is an authentic marketing touchpoint compared to traditional advertising.
Working with influencers also gives you a chance to highlight not only your insurance knowledge but commitment to your community, as well. While influencers may have a national reach, they each have a home base, which brings unique local flavor to their channel. They can easily speak to the heart and soul of independent agents and the importance of working with local partners.
A 2018 study by Launchmetrics showed that 46% of companies using influencers saw better results when using micro-influencers. Since micro-influencers have a smaller audience, their followers can engage more with their posts and be more directly connected leading to more authenticity and trust.
3) Choose Your Channels
You don't necessarily have to have a strong social presence to get started with influencer marketing. However, it is important to make sure you are targeting influencers in places where influencers are making the most impact. The most popular social channels for social commerce are Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, according to Traackr. If you don't have a presence on these channels, ask influencers to direct potential consumers to your website.
Successful influencers are successful for a reason. Therefore, it is usually best to give your influencers some creative freedom when creating the visual elements of the post or video. Provide brand guidelines, but influencers are often the best judge of what types of content perform the best on their channels. Given that 45% of all consumers say that short videos are the most engaging content type, according to Traackr, it is important to consider the rise in video content across all channels.
Crucially, choosing influencers who create strong video content could impact the impressions and level of engagement you can earn.
“We are seeing this consumer shift towards video content in social data too," said Evy Lyons, chief marketing officer at Traackr. “Over the past year, certain categories of influencer content have seen decreases in likes and comments but stark increases in video views. We think this is because consumers are more likely to show interest in video content by simply watching or rewatching the post instead of clicking or commenting."
4) Consider Your Budget
Influencer pricing can vary wildly but is generally determined by the number of followers, engagement rate and how much content is expected. For example, a video post may cost more than a simple image. Consider asking influencers for their rates when you reach out or asking other small businesses what they have been paying. Generally, you may be able to get started with nano- or micro-influencers for less than $100 per post.
Influencer marketing is highly effective and continually evolving. But as consumer media consumption habits change, so should your marketing strategies. We live in a world where consumers utilize multiple platforms every day. Plus, channel preferences vary by demographics, and it is important to evolve to reach multiple audiences.
There is no one size that fits all recommendations for your agency, but is important to keep in mind where advertising trends are headed. There are various factors to consider, including your agency's client base, culture and line of business focus. But don't forget to consider that influencer marketing can grow your client base with a younger demographic. It is crucial to keep an open mind, experiment, test, measure and adapt as you find success.
Kelley Smith is director of traffic generation at Trusted Choice®.