Jumpstart Automotive Media
While the buzz term “influencer marketing” may sound like a trendy industry tactic, it's been in the marketing world for some time now, but it seems to be gaining importance — especially in automotive circles.
The concept behind influencer marketing has made its rounds with celebrity endorsements in the automotive industry, harnessing the celebrities’ popularity to enhance brand awareness, and of course, sales.
Auto campaigns have included idols like Lebron James, Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey. With constant access to the web and smartphones, influencing is no longer reserved for the ultra-rich and famous. The masses are joining in, generating up to 11 times the ROI of traditional advertising, and turning influencer marketing into the superior standard (according to a TapInfluence study with Nielsen Catalina Solutions in 2016).
Engage ‘everyday’ influencers
In the process of purchasing a vehicle, Jumpstart Automotive Media has found that “consumers find recommendations from friends and family—especially from auto experts and enthusiasts — very important”.
A survey conducted by Ipsos Research for our latest Insights Book found that the most common people asking enthusiasts for advice are family (87 percent), friends and neighbors (78 percent) and coworkers (50 percent); people on social media were only 7 percent.
These statistics account only for those who seek advice; for an influencer marketing campaign to fuel ROI, it must reach both advice-seeking shoppers and those who aren’t in the market (yet).
Be careful not to confuse influence with popularity though. While strong influencers have reach, they also possess credibility and salesmanship. It’s crucial to consider influencer categories when strategizing a campaign. Macro-influencers have colossal followings on social media platforms; these influencers include celebrities and high-ranking gurus.
There is also a subcategory of influencers dubbed micro-influencers; they have a smaller reach, but their credibility gives them authority, lending itself to a strong marketing and sales tool.
Since micro-influencers are more approachable, their content is more likely to resonate with advice-seeking buyers because it feels more authentic. By contrast, macro-influencers position brands before millions of people, boosting awareness and pulling consumers into the market. Depending on the campaign objective and budget, top brands determine their focus.
Some depend on one influencer category; others rely on a mix to provide immense reach with a personal, attainable perception. To employ optimal influencers, companies must know what they are looking to achieve.
There’s value in advocacy
Advocacy is the No. 1 goal. Influencer marketing can encompass social media marketing and content marketing; though understand, these terms are not synonymous. The same applies for advocacy marketing; this form relies on brand advocates, existing customers who speak highly of the company and their products.
To sustain business growth and long-term engagement, brands strive for advocacy. In this concept, the influencer is an actual customer. Since 92 percent trust brand advocates (according to a Zuberance Infographic here), incorporating advocacy diminishes doubt and lends to even greater influence.
There are options to achieving this: Brands can seek influencers that are existing advocates and employ them as an influencer, or, they can mold current influencers into real product users.
To do so, brands must emphasize their relationship with influencers; engage with them frequently, keeping them in the loop with information and considering their opinions on the products. No matter which path they choose, disclosure of the relationship is key to gaining or maintaining consumer trust.
Emphasize the influencer, not the campaign
Lastly, brands must keep influencer campaigns “subtle.” An increased amount of advertising dollars are being allocated to influencer marketing, and with good reason. It emphasizes the influencer rather than the entire target market.
Campaigns are understated instead of aggressive, which is why they work. More specifically, by focusing on the influencer, brands are taking an indirect approach in delivering their message by filtering it through a credible third party (the influencer). Many consumers today have responded favorably to this approach, particularly as mediums such as social media have enabled everyday consumers to feel more connected and attached to their favorite influencers.
As influencer marketing continues to gain momentum and demonstrates unparalleled success, marketing professionals are eager to engage more influencers in their campaigns. As with any other business decision, research and application are imperative for tailored results. Be sure to consider these four key insights when developing an automotive influencer campaign:
1. Aim to reach both advice-seeking shoppers and those who aren’t yet in the market
2. Don’t confuse influence with popularity
3. Make advocacy your number one goal
4. Keep it subtle
Libby Murad-Patel is vice president of marketing and strategic insights for Jumpstart Automotive Media, a division of Hearst Autos.
Parenthetical references in article:
T. (n.d.). Earn 11x Higher Sales ROI with Influencer Marketing in Your Digital Marketing Tech Stack. Retrieved from http://pages.tapinfluence.com/nielsen-case-study
Social Media Influencers versus Brand Advocates Infographic. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/social-media-influencers-versus-brand-advocates-infographic