Influencer marketing is no longer a trend; it has become fully integrated into brand strategies and continues to evolve. From a $1.7 billion industry in 2016, influencer marketing is estimated to have grown to $9.7 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $13.8 billion in 2021. The growth of the industry has led to a segmentation of influencers based on their audience size: nano influencers (1K–10K followers), micro influencers (10K–100K followers), macro influencers (100K–1M followers), and mega or celebrity influencers (1MM+ followers), creating a nuance in KPIs and a debate on which influencers deliver the best ROI.
As the cost of working with mega and macro influencers continues to rise, the buzz around the power of nano and micro influencers has increased. Despite the hype, new research by sampling and marketing platform Odore has shown that influencers with larger followings generate better commercial returns for beauty brands.
Micro influencers have increased in popularity in recent years and, for emerging brands, they often align perfectly with the customers they're looking to target and the budgets they have. And, importantly, we've seen for ourselves that they're able to deliver on key metrics," Armaan Mehta, co-founder at Odore, said. "However, there's no denying that major influencers are still king when it comes to commercial returns. The object of any product sampling campaign is to drive engagement and conversion, and this research shows that scale of reach can translate directly into data capture and customer engagement.
In influencer-led beauty campaigns where customers were offered the chance to redeem free samples of products, the number of followers who opted in to claim their samples and hear more from brands in the future was 53% higher amongst those coming from the Instagram profiles of influencers with more than 1 million followers compared to influencers with less than 50,000 followers.
The speed at which followers redeemed their samples was also quicker amongst the followers of larger influencers, with the average redemption time twice as fast compared to the redemption times shown by the followers of micro influencers.The stats were obtained in a study of sampling campaigns led by leading beauty brands and implemented through Odore. They compared a series of campaigns which used both major and micro influencers to assess which delivered the best results. With customers who try products first, e.g., through sampling, 4x more likely to buy them, engagement in sampling campaigns is a strong predictor of sales.
In the campaigns analyzed, the influencers offered their followers free samples of beauty or fragrance products. To claim them, consumers were invited to take part in short quizzes. Following this, they were given the choice to opt in to future remarketing from the brand. The time it took customers to redeem the samples was measured as the time elapsed between signing up to take the quiz and the point when they completed it.
Influencers with over 1 million followers delivered the highest proportional opt-in rates. Those with followers of 100-500K had the second-highest opt-in rates, although these followers were the quickest when it came to the time taken to redeem their samples, showing them to be highly engaged. Micro influencers with 10-50K followers had both the lowest opt-in rates and the slowest redemption times.
However, despite their smaller scale, collaborations with micro influencers did still deliver results for brands. Micro influencers produced opt-in rates for remarketing of over 50% on average, helping deliver tangible returns for brands operating with smaller budgets.
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