The Future of Influencer Marketing

It’s no secret that Influencer Marketing is becoming more and more mainstream. Everyone wants a piece of the pie, and according to Schlesinger Associates, 84% of marketing professionals worldwide have plans to start Influencer Marketing in 2016 and those who are already doing it are planning on increasing their activity. By how much? Well, a survey from Tomson last year found that a whopping 59% of marketers plan to increase their Influencer Marketing budgets in 2016.

One of the reasons why Influencer Marketing is so effective is because it produces high Earned Media Values (EMV).  In fact, research has shown it to be 1.4 times higher than overall marketing channels in 2014 according to data from RhythmOne.

But what about content? Isn’t everything about content these days? Well not necessarily. Consumers are more likely to trust influencers over branded content.

Just take a look at Google search behaviour and you’ll see that the term ‘Influencer Marketing’ has increased by 76% since April 2013.

So we know that Influencer Marketing has leapt over the bell curve and earned a solid place in the marketing plan, but where is it going?

The Rise of the Tier-2 Influencer (power-middle)

We see the power shifting from a small number of highly influential individuals to a larger mass of mid-level influencers. Known as ‘tier 2’ influencers or ‘the power middle’, these lower ranked influencers command a great deal of power in numbers. Plus, because there are more of them, they are in less demand, which makes it easier to engage them on behalf of brands. The most exciting prospect about the tier-2 influencers is that they are very, very scalable and, as a result, can form a critical mass to significantly impact the marketplace. Instead of hiring one or two celebrity brand ambassadors, we’re talking about recruiting an army of brand advocates to disseminate recommendations on a mass scale.

Authentic Content

In a world of shiny, happy Instagram photos, authenticity is becoming more and more desirable. There is a shift away from ‘perfect lives’ being captured and glossed over with an Instagram filter, to a raw, honest style of sharing. People want real, not fake. Again, the use of tier-2 influencers provides a channel for ‘real conversations’ and sharing in ‘real networks’ instead of the traditional untouchable, Kardashian influencer model.

Maturing of Influencer Measurement Tools

As Influencer Marketing matures, it’s only natural that we will see measurement systems and tools maturing also. Currently, there is no one standardized way of measuring Influencer Marketing campaigns. However, there does seem to be an increase in an understanding of typical KPIS such as # conversations, reach and impressions. Over time, I would expect to see a more standardized measurement system emerge as the industry further diffuses.


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Ted Baker to Break North American Market With New Influencer Campaign

Luxury British clothing brand, Ted Baker, has engaged influential Instagram stars to feature in their new North American-specific campaign, ‘Ted Baker’s Explorer Club’, in a bid to increase awareness of the brand in the US.

Since launching in the UK, Ted Baker has consistently strayed away from traditional advertising approaches, dismissing TV, print and out-of-home in favour of word of mouth and digital initiatives.

With the ever-increasing popularity of Instagram, it makes for the perfect platform for Ted Baker’s break into the North American fashion market. It’s visually engaging and successful at delivering the brand’s core values.

Featuring six high-reaching travel photographers, ‘Ted Baker’s Explorer’s Club’ sees them capturing “incredible sites of wonder” across North America, sharing their photos to Instagram and hashtagging #TedBakerAW15.

Craig Smith, Ted Baker’s global brand communication director, hopes that the campaign will increase engagement with both existing fans and their previously untouched audience. By aligning Ted Baker with excitement and innovation, Smith believes the North American audience will become more aware of the brand and its unique position in the market.

We look forward to seeing what the future holds for the pro-WOM Ted Baker.


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The Evolution of Influencer Marketing in Australia

You won’t be surprised to hear that Influencer Marketing is a core passion of ours here at Contagious. This past month we’ve put the Aussie evolution of Influencer Marketing under the microscope by garnering insights from marketeers around the country. The responses of 110 Australian marketers from a variety of categories (FMCG, Alcohol, Retail, Pharmaceutical) were collated and a number of key findings were obtained:

  • 85% of marketers have used a free product to incentivise an Influencer
  • Engagement is the key Influencer Marketing metric for 40% of Australian marketers
  • 78% of marketers allocate $50,000 or more to Influencer Marketing each year
  • 82% of marketers are planning to maintain or increase their Influencer Marketing budget in the next 12 months
  • 96% of marketers are somewhat or very likely to conduct Influencer Marketing in the future

Prior to this report, the bulk of research analysing Influencer Marketing was international, leaving Australia’s channel uptake insight a little hazy. However, with the report identifying over 75% of marketers having conducted Influencer Marketing in the last financial year, it’s safe to say it’s hit the mainstream.

In addition to these findings, our report revealed the core objective among respondents for conducting an Influencer campaign was “education” & “shifting perceptions”.

Zoe Boalch (Contagious’ Strategic Director) commented: “I’m not surprised that marketers are intuitively using Influencer Marketing as an education tool because this is one of the innate benefits of this channel. Compared to the more traditional ATL methods – there’s more scope to communicate benefits & shift perceptions via in-depth recommendations.”

The report also examines marketers’ perspectives on the effectiveness of the channel. Results identify Influencer Marketing as the third most effective channel after TV and Facebook Advertising (ahead of Out Of Home, Radio and  Digital Media).

In a nutshell, the future looks bright for Influencer Marketing and we’re excited to be heading along for the ride.

A full copy of our report can be downloaded here

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Access All ASOS Advocacy Program

ASOS have launched a long-term advocacy program that sees them rewarding their most influential fans with a range of exclusive initiatives & VIP bonuses. #AccessAllAsos expands the social media presence of the brand by incentivising key influencers to recommend ASOS online throughout social media channels.

ASOS fans are invited to apply each month to become an ASOS Insider where they get access to exclusive new ranges, visits to ASOS HQ, invites to exclusive ASOS events and ASOS freebies and goodies.

Long term advocacy programs are becoming more and more popular for retail brands where regular product releases provide ongoing topics of conversation for advocates.

Harnessing the power of your most avid fans & followers can be a very cost effective method to create valuable online recommendations, & social media content which inevitably translate to an increase in sales.

See the full program in action here>> Access All ASOS

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Mastercard Shakes Social Media with a ‘Priceless Surprise’


It is hard not to think about ‘Mastercard’ without thinking about debt… and their iconic campaign slogan ‘Priceless’. For 18 years, Mastercard has celebrated the priceless moments in people’s lives but decided it was time to shift consumer perceptions by creating and surprising unknowing customers with ‘money can’t buy’ experiences, known as ‘Priceless Surprises’.

The way it works is quite simple, really. Mastercard customers are eligible to receive a ‘Priceless Surprise’ if they use their card or Tweet or post on Instagram using the hashtag #PricelessSurprises. Winners are chosen at random and can win a variety of prizes including: free Uber rides, restaurant coupons, clothing discounts, tickets to the Major League Baseball World Series, and VIP access to the Grammys.

Not bad, Mastercard. Not bad.

They have also incorporated a ‘Send A Surprise’ feature which allows Mastercard customers to send a surprise to their loved ones which can include beauty treatments, online store discounts, or even just let them choose what they want.

Mastercard have enlisted the help of celebrity and athlete influencers to create memorable surprises for their customers, including Pharrell Williams who surprises a fan during a playgroup that they’re running for kids. Portuguese footballer, Deco, was also recruited to go undercover at a Lisbon school to deliver a surprise to a young fan to walk out as a mascot to the UEFA Champions League Final.

Demonstrating the power of giving back to your customers, Mastercard has successfully created social chatter by encouraging their consumer advocates to create their own content through giving them an experience worth sharing. The campaign has generated hundreds of thousands of social posts and millions of impressions to date, even finding itself in the top 5 global trending topics during the 2014 Grammy Awards.

It’s probably safe to say the combination of Mastercard and ‘priceless’ will never be the same again.

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Guitar Center & DJ Zedd Launch Social Media Contest ‘Cover Me’


With the growing popular demand of audio streaming platforms, such as SoundCloud and Beatport, Guitar Center looked to harness this new found accessibility by teaming up with Grammy Award winning artist, DJ Zedd, and launching a social media based contest named ‘Cover Me’.

The contest asks musicians to upload their remixes or covers of Zedd’s smash hit ‘I Want You to Know’ where each submitted track will be ranked based upon their social engagement and fan/follower growth through social engagement platform, Amplifier. Zedd will judge only those tracks that place in the top 150 where he will eventually pick the final winner.

The contest boasts an enviable prize which includes: studio time with DJ Zedd himself, a meeting with Interscope Records, a mentoring session with Zedd’s management group Blood Company, a feature story in various DJ magazines, a VIP experience at the Nocturnal Wonderland Festival, new equipment and gear from Pioneer, GoPro, 8DM, Native Instruments, QSC and Roland plus $10,000 cash.

The campaign site has already garnered 5,400 different artist channels around the globe, which illustrates the way in which brands can harness the power of an influencer and the passions of their audience to drive social engagement through value exchange.


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Skype Launch Influencer Campaign

Skype Passion ProjectSkype recently launched an Influencer campaign to capture the personal experiences of influential bloggers. The core challenge they faced was how to make Skype interactions that are generally private in nature, visible to the public.

The Skype Passion Project engaged influential bloggers & community leaders to connect over skype and discuss shared passions. Categories included music, fashion & foodies and saw Influencers sharing the project with their followers & networks generating considerable awareness for Skype.

Results were strong with over 140,000 visits to the campaign hub, over 5,000 campaign shares and a 10% conversion rate (10% of visitors downloaded Skype on their mobile).

This campaign is a great example of how with a little creativity, a tech company that specialises in private interactions can still utilise the power of Influencers.

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New Research: Measuring the Precise Return on Word of Mouth Marketing

womma research

Earlier this year, the word of mouth marketing association (WOMMA) released new research that measures the precise return on word of mouth (WOM) marketing.

The research is based on detailed data compiled over a period of 2-3 years by a number of research partners including Analytic partners, Sequent partners, The Kellar Fay Group and Converseon.

This is the first independent study to quantify the impact of WOM across multiple categories using market mix modeling.

Key Findings

1. WOM drives a significant portion of sales across categories

Historically, the correlation between word of mouth and sales has always been a known fact – it has just been difficult to measure using traditional ATL metrics. We all know that a recommendation from a friend packs a serious punch, and we’ve all purchased a product or service based on just that. But how do we get specific in terms of how many sales come off the back of a word of mouth recommendation?

This new research has shown that across multiple categories (telecom, personal care, software, TV programming, FMCG), WOM is responsible for on average 13% of sales.

WOM drives sales


2. WOM impact channel comparison

Unsurprisingly, according to the research, a WOM impression has much more impact than a paid media impression. Dig deeper and it was found that an offline WOM impression drives at least 5 times more sales than a paid advertising impression and much more (as much as 200 times more) for higher-consideration categories.

This isn’t a surprise, it’s obvious that a personal recommendation form someone you know and trust is going to drive more sales than a piece of advertising that is clearly trying to sell you something. It is though interesting to get a solid metric that demonstrates how much more impact WOM has over other channels.

3. Offline Vs Online WOM

Offline conversations were measured by 3000 respondents who reported their daily conversations and the positive / negative sentiment of each conversation. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of social sites (blogs, forums, boards, Facebook, twitter etc) were scraped for online conversations.

The research showed that two-thirds of WOM’s impact is from offline WOM, with just one-third coming from online (this is not an unusual finding from research agency Kellar Fay, who have been advocating this opinion for the last decade).

4. WOM plays a direct & indirect role

When it comes to business performance, the research found that WOM plays both a direct and indirect role. It’s interesting to note the amplification effect that WOM has on online & offline media, which then impacts business performance. Plus, it was noted that WOM also drives search and website traffic.

Furthermore it was found that two thirds of WOM’s impact is direct with one third acting as an amplifier of paid media. When you look a little closer, WOM was found to amplify the effect of paid media by 15%.

This highlights an opportunity to utilize advocacy & influencer programs to not only promote brands or products directly but to also leverage paid media campaigns.

5. The immediate impact of WOM

Interestingly, the research shows that WOM has a more immediate impact than traditional media. Approximately 90% of online WOM’s impact is in the first two weeks and approx 73% for offline WOM. Compared to TV, with only 30-60% impact, this demonstrates the immediate nature of conversations & recommendations.

You can download the research in full here>>

Access more research on WOM here>>:

2014 Influencer Research Proves Influencers Drive Purchases

Recommendations Have More Impact than Brand

McKinseys & Wharton University WOM Reserach (2010)

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Burberry employs tweet-activated camera during catwalk

Back in Feb last year, we published a post detailing how Burberry China were offering fans a new way to connect with the brand during their Autumn/Winter 2014 fashion show. They teamed up with popular Chinese messaging app, WeChat, to give fans the chance to customise their own runway experience in real time.

A year later and Burberry are back on the front foot, driving brand advocacy and reaching new audiences via their innovative digital partnerships; this time connecting with both Twitter and the Japanese messaging platform, Line, as part of their fashion week activity.

The fashion house’s partnership with Twitter saw people anywhere in the world have the opportunity to take a photograph of the Burberry Prorsum Autumn/Winter 2015 Womenswear show. Whenever a Tweet was posted with the hashtag #Tweetcam and @Burberry Twitter handle, a camera was triggered to take a photo of the models walking down the runway. Burberry then tweeted each photo to the user’s own Twitter page.

A live stream of the show was also made available to Line’s 170 million active monthly users. In addition, Burberry has created a series of emoji-style stickers, which are a popular element of the app. These stickers are exclusive to users of Line; most certainly a successful move by Burberry to ensure they increase and secure their fan base around the world.

Burberry’s digital, global collaborations are definitely proving to be an effective way of reaching out to new audiences and securing advocacy with their multitudes of existing fans.

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Highland Park Whisky Engage Influencer Marketing Strategy

highland park whiskyScottish whisky producers Highland Park recently launched their new product ‘Dark Origins’ with the help of an Influencer Marketing Strategy.

Engaging influencers from the creative and drinks sector, the campaign paired Dark Origins with craft beers and saw people such as Chris Messina (inventor of the hash tag) jumping on board to show their support.

Influencers were invited along to an exclusive launch event and even asked to man the official Highland Park Instagram account.

The campaign saw Highland Park “engaging with influencers who had not only a very large social following, but a following that was in line with who we wanted to reach.”

By engaging young, tech savvy influencers, who were paid for their participation in the campaign, Highland Park were able to create a grassroots buzz about new ‘Dark Origins’. With an impressive 8,240 likes & 560,400 impressions garnered across the influencers own channels as-well as the @HighlandParkOfficial, this campaign demonstrated how a well thought out influencer strategy can be a vital part of an NPD launch.

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