The holiday season is in full swing, and American consumers are ready to celebrate – and spend. From finding gifts for family and friends, preparing for parties, events, donating to charities and entertaining, it’s no surprise that this season holds ample opportunity for brands across a multitude of industries.
According to the National Retail Federation, both online and instore sales are expected to increase around 3.6% over last year, reaching over $650 billion. Americans plan to spend an average $935.58 this season. Six in ten will take advantage of deals for themselves (averaging $139.61), which marks the second highest level of personal spending in the survey’s 13-year history.
Competition follows opportunity and it’s no longer enough for brands to put their ads out there and hope that holiday shoppers find them and buy what they are selling. Marketers are being held more and more accountable for the ROI of their ad campaigns. Pair that expectation with a holiday landscape that is cluttered and has scarce inventory, and marketers are turning to alternative ways to get in front of shoppers.
One of those ways is through influencer partnerships. Connecting with an influencer (a blogger or social media personality) can help create a personal connection with your brand. Social influencers carry a certain trust with their audiences, and with that trust comes authority. A connection with the right influencer for your target audience often offers much higher ROI (in terms of both earned media value and sales) than the actual media investment. Depending heavily on scale and complexity, campaigns can be set up for as little as a few thousand dollars and can achieve specific goals like increasing sales, as well as traffic to your site and store location finder.
During the season where many retailers bring in upwards of 1/3 of their annual sales, what are some key ways that influencer partnerships can help brands drive sales?
WAYS TO UTilize influencer partnerships:
- Include a sweepstakes – Rhythm One, an influencer marketing company, reports that partnerships that include giveaways via a sweepstakes drive higher earned media value and higher influencer engagement rates than those that don’t.
- Incorporate live event activations – Inviting influencers to participate in an event is a great way to gain additional exposure that might otherwise only be garnered through PR. Influencers can offer their personal take on the experience, making it more relatable to their followers. This can work well for brands that aren’t in the ecommerce space (think of finance or insurance companies) to illustrate a larger consumer need or talk about a subject that isn’t always top of mind for your audience, but is still important. Brands can also gather great content in the form of video, audio, and photos to use for other types of advertising, including paid, earned, and owned.
- Make it easy for consumers to buy – Incorporating new technologies such as Like to Know It, which allows Instagram users shop from Instagram, offer a seamless process between: “I like that” and “I want to buy that.” For businesses that want to drive traffic to brick and mortar locations, don’t underestimate the power of local influencers.
- Use video – According to Brightcove, social video generates 1,200% more shares than images and text combined, and influencers help brands rapidly create engaging, authentic video. Consumers spend three times as long watching Facebook Live videos as they do regular videos, and comment 10X more on Facebook Live videos. Influencers are often experts in these newer technologies, which means brands can reap their benefits even without expertise in house.
- Include the influencer content on your owned channels – Once you have great influencer content, don’t forget to add it to and promote it through your own website, blog, and social media channels. For more engagement, you can ask viewers to share their opinions or reviews, or offer their own take or attempt at the content provided by the influencer.
Influencers offer unique connection opportunities
During the holidays, the media landscape is extremely cluttered. The trust and authority that influencers have with their followers can be a great way for brands to introduce themselves, foster new connections, and create loyal customers that will spread the brand’s message within their own circles of influence.