State of Influencer Marketing in India
Influencer Marketing is the new buzzword in the digital marketing space in India. We have noticed a huge surge of digital media consumption in post-pandemic India. While confined in their houses, Indians are left with no choice but to spend more time on digital mediums. Brands are now investing even more on online promotions and influencers are at the heart of this strategy. Let us explore who is an influencer, what are different types of influencers, how they impact customer’s buying behaviour and what is their future in post-pandemic India? Further how brands are using Influencer Marketing as part of their digital strategy to promote their products.
This article aims to determine the state of influencer marketing in India, which will ultimately help brands and marketers make informed decisions when it comes to spending their marketing budgets on influencer marketing.
What is an Influencer?
By definition, it means a person or thing that influences. So, we can say an influencer on digital medium whether on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat or Tik-Tok, is a person who has the power to affect the buying decision of customers because of their relationship with their audience. Influencers often upload some form of original content, many times it is sponsored, on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Website etc. So, it can be a detailed product review on YouTube, a blog on their website, or some moody photo on Instagram.
What is Influencer Marketing ?
At a fundamental level, influencer marketing is social media marketing, which uses people who have a dedicated social following and are considered experts in their niche as influencers. In other words, it is a medium with which a brand works with influencers (people on social media with a large, dedicated following) to promote its products.
There are a variety of influencer marketing strains, including social media, digital advertising, social networks and traditional media. These tools work in conjunction with other marketing strategies, such as traditional advertising and digital marketing.
Influencer Marketing uses existing influencers who have built up a large following and strong brand awareness by supporting your brand, supporting your product or creating content to increase brand awareness. The more your influencer targets your target audience, the more influence you will have. By identifying the type of influencer that best suits your business and developing an influential marketing strategy, you can improve your reach. To drive your influential marketing strategies, work with the marketing team to develop and learn your buyer persona.
Types of Influencers
While working with Influencers, brands are making more than 5X of what they are spending – provided they find the right ones to work with. Brands who don’t, are often those who don’t understand the mechanics of influencer marketing. They simply select the wrong influencers.
Finding the right influencer for your marketing campaign can be challenging, so it’s important to do research and set a clear goal for your campaign.
Mega-Influencers (more than 1 million followers)
Mega-Influencers/Celebrities are often more famous than influential. They aren’t necessarily subject matter experts but they provide a lot of reach in one hit.
When to use – They are more suited for top-of-the-funnel marketing campaigns that promote products that appeal to the masses.
Macro-Influencers (100K to 1 million followers)
These influencers are well-known in their domains and communities and have been able to generate an engaged audience for their content. They are known for their expertise in a specific industry.
When to use – When you are looking to target a certain type of customer, but still want to reach masses.
Micro-Influencers (10K to 50K followers)
These influencers have a smaller following but they are much effective when it comes to engagement and trust. Because of this, micro-influencers are more effective at driving actions for your business
When to use – When you have a limited budget and wish to target a niche segment of customer that is followed by some actions.
Nano- Influencers (1K to 10K followers)
They tend to have a smaller number of followers but where they loose on numbers they make up for engagement rate. They offer brands quite modest reach but the content is hyper-authentic and personalized.
When to use – Brands with limited resources can start with them. Some nano-influencers don’t even charge brands and they are building their following and partnerships with brands.
Regardless of which type of influencer you choose to partner with, be aware that you’re going to get different types of results. Celebrities seem ideal because of the large size of their following, but if you’re truly trying to target a specific audience and influence them, micro-influencers and nano-influencers can play a key role. Set your goals before you begin short-listing influencers and then find those that best align with your brand, your audience, and your objective.
Early days of Influencer Marketing
Celebrity endorsements can be considered an early form of influencer marketing.
More than 50 years back, in 1970 on World Cup Final match, right before the opening whistle, Pele asked the referee for a moment to tie his shoelace. Cameras zoomed in to what Pele was doing and voila – they showed those shiny Puma Sneakers that he was tying. Puma paid Pele $120,000 in 1970 to tie his shoes on the world cup final match.
More than 50 years later, even today, globally marketers still consider this event as one of the best marketing done by any sports brand.
Soon after the matching brand came up with the Print Ads and that hit the nail at the right place, bringing massive sales for Puma sneakers.
I would say it was one of the great examples where a brand used an influencer to promote their product without promoting it. They created a brand recall with the Print Ads campaigns that followed the world cup match which ultimately led to the purchases. They even used catchy headlines like – “Put Yourself in Pele’s Shoes” & “We make PUMAs for Pele. And You”. The Print campaign was compelling, to the point and most importantly – Aspirational.
Customer’s Buying Behavior
Customers mainly buy any product or service because of its utility and they also buy it because it is “aspirational” for them. Aspirational buying behaviour started booming since the birth of the advertisement. People read that powerful copywriting along with inspiring images and took multiple dips into this materialistic buying behaviour. Brands were smart enough to marry both the worlds of utility and aspirations to increase sales.
Marketers used influencers on digital mediums as they have the power to affect the purchase decisions of customers.
According to the BCG, Google report, 63% of consumer durable sales in India will be digitally influenced by 2023.
In this report, it is mentioned that in the pre-purchase phase, approximately 80% of digitally influenced consumers are undecided about their choice of brand when they start their research and spend typically 2-3 weeks on research before making the final purchase.
If influencers can fill this gap and aid consumers in this research process by giving their reviews, then it leads to conversion.
Many consumers rate online reviews as a significant influencer in their purchase decisions.
Digital mediums are increasingly playing an important role in consumers’ decision to buy a product.
Marketing Objective and Influencers
Influencers have proved to be very useful to Digital Marketers post-pandemic. They have helped brands generate more brand awareness/engagement, converting qualified leads into sales, more reviews and even getting the brand message across to its audience.
But this scenario isn’t as rosy as it sounds, getting the best results out of influencers is not easy. The marketing campaign using influencers needs to be strategic and thought through.
However, your influencer marketing campaign should target at least one of these four goals:
- Build brand awareness
- Increase social engagement and interactions.
- Improve conversions (free trial sign-ups, purchases, etc.).
- Gain customer insight and data.
If you want your campaign to impact your audience, first you need to get their attention. It’s all about making your audience realize they have a problem and they need to fix it. Once they have a clear idea of what the problem is and now they are looking at potential solutions. To generate and maintain your audience’s interest with the content is the most challenging part. Work with your influencer on content strategy and hit the sweet spot where your brand messaging and influencer’s style converge. Even on digital mediums, making an emotional connection with your influencer’s produced content is the best way to stimulate your audience desire. Now you have to ensure that each piece of your content is so powerful with clear call-to-action that it leads your audience to act in the right direction.
ROI in Influencer Marketing
Earlier, influencers were selected simply on their follower count but now the formula is the weighted average of the number of followers and the engagement rate of an influencer on a particular platform. While an influencer can have a huge number of followers, it won’t work until they provide a certain kind of engagement or cost per view on a video post. Brands are asking for ROI, cost per view and demographic of an influencer which shows that this space is maturing.
Increasingly brands are also looking for partnerships that deliver business results – and hence evaluating influencers not just based on their follower base but what they can do to help brands build a long-term exclusive association that drives ROI,
If your goal is to build a lot of engagement, it may make sense to work with an influencer agency, but if you’re trying to increase brand awareness, metrics like an influencer, reach, and traffic can be more useful. Some brands prefer influencers exclusively – focused influencer agencies when working with micro and nanomaterial – because these agencies have more experience dealing with large-scale influences.
Future of Influencer Marketing in India
We have talked a lot about influencer marketing. India is the second-largest country in terms of mobile Internet users, responsible for more than half of the world’s mobile user base.
According to digital marketing agency AdLift, India’s influencer market is estimated at $75-150 million a year, as compared to the global market of $1.75 billion. From an online marketing perspective, this is a sizeable amount, and the number is expected to go up as more Indians go online with cheap data and affordable smartphones.
Even if the specifics of the future of influencer marketing are unknown, one thing is certain: it will only continue to grow. It is on an ever-steeper path to becoming an integral part of every advertiser’s marketing arsenal. The combination will only get stronger as it spreads, and the results speak for themselves. So not only is it super powerful, but there’s a lot of potentials that it won’t go away.
Do leave a comment, share your perspective and let me know if you like the above article on influencer marketing.