One question brands and marketers working with influencer campaigns typically face is whether the campaigns drive in-store purchasing. Given the importance of ROI to brands, it’s a fair question. It’s a question that comes up a lot for a number of reasons. Sometimes people don’t immediately see the connection between something that takes place largely online and consumers actually entering a brick-and-mortar store. And a recent flood of press about influencer fraud has muddied the waters.
But the answer is still a resounding yes—influencer campaigns do drive in-store purchasing. It’s predicted brands will spend as much as $15 billion on influencer campaigns by 2022. That’s because they’re getting results and not just with online sales. For example, an influencer campaign for 5-hour Energy Drink boosted in-store sales in three test markets by 1.8 percent. And that’s just one example of the success brands are having with influencer campaigns driving in-store sales.
What Are Influencer Campaigns?
Influencers have been around for a long time in one form or another. The influencers of yesterday were typically celebrities who appeared in print, radio or TV campaigns or on packaging endorsing products.
Today’s influencers rule social media channels like YouTube and Instagram and range from celebrities to everyday people who specialize in doing certain things very well. Their specialties can range from travel and parenting to finance and fitness and everything in between.
People pay attention to these influencers and follow them on social media because they value the information influencers post. They share the same interests and are looking for recommendations, tips and entertainment from the influencers. They trust the influencers and consider them experts in their specialty.
When a brand partners with an influencer to promote its product or service, usually on social media, it’s considered an influencer campaign. When it comes to working with an influencer, retail purchases are an important factor in a campaign’s success.
What Are the Benefits of Influencer Campaigns?
The benefits of influencer campaigns are impressive. They can boost brand awareness, engagement, leads, sales, ROI, brand loyalty and more. Brands frequently use influencer campaigns to launch new products because they’re so effective in so many ways.
They’re Easily Shared
One big benefit is that influencer’s followers often share the sponsored posts with other like-minded consumers. Those consumers might be their friends, neighbors, family or co-workers, people who know and trust them, so the audience continues to expand. Word-of-mouth never went away. It just went online, where it’s more powerful than ever.
They Drive Brand Awareness, Refresh Brand Image
Influencer campaigns are a great way for brands to reach new and niche markets. There are influencers for practically every industry and community, with new audiences springing up all the time. Brands can reboot their images through influencers who reach Millennial and Gen Z audiences and by letting influencers present their products in new ways.
They Boost Engagement
Consumers love to engage with influencers on social media. Whether they’re asking questions about a product featured in a sponsored post or commenting on it, consumers are showing their interest. Influencer campaigns can also grow a brand’s reach when an influencer’s audience starts following the brand on its own social media channels.
Compared to many other forms of advertising, influencer campaigns are cost-effective. Influencers can create content and develop campaigns that cut costs for brands. For example, brands don’t have to budget to do expensive photo shoots in-house. They can also save money by negotiating to repurpose effective influencer content for different channels.
They Generate Qualified Leads
Influencer campaigns can help brands generate qualified leads in a variety of different ways. They include gathering information from interested consumers at in-store influencer events and through contests and giveaways influencers promote on social media.
They Drive Online Sales
In addition to driving in-store purchases, influencer campaigns also boost online sales. Some consumers prefer to check out a product in a store so they can examine the quality or try it on. Others would rather order an item from the comfort of their sofas. With influencer campaigns, brands can cover both sides of the market.
They Bump Up ROI
When they’re well executed, influencer campaigns can deliver a high ROI compared to traditional advertising campaigns like TV or print ads. Brands typically generate $6.50 for every dollar they spend on influencer campaigns.
They Increase Brand Loyalty
Because followers trust influencers, an influencer campaign, especially a long-term one, can develop brand loyalty among the audience members. It can also remind customers about the brand’s qualities they like and alert them to new products the brand launches.
How Influencer Campaigns Drive In-Store Purchases
When it comes to working with an influencer retail purchases can happen quickly during a campaign. There are several different ways that influencer campaigns can successfully drive in-store retail purchases.
Influencer Campaigns Reach Consumers in Stores
Brands use influencer campaigns to reach consumers on their mobile devices just before or while they’re in stores shopping. And they have good reason to do so. A majority of consumers say they use their smartphones to read online reviews about products while in brick-and-mortar shops, ready to make a purchase.
Brands can target markets through their smartphones that never leave their sides as consumers roam store aisles, influencing purchasing decisions on the spot. For consumers, it can be like having their favorite influencer with them as they shop, recommending certain products. Think of how often you’ve seen people shopping with their smartphones in hand to get an idea of the potential benefit.
Influencer Campaigns Direct Consumers to the Nearest Store
Brands use store locators in influencer campaign posts so consumers can easily find the closest place to buy the item. After the influencer has piqued their followers’ interest in a product with a post, they know right away where they can get it.
Influencers Appear at In-Store Campaign Events
When influencers appear at in-store campaign events, they’re often doing double duty. Their presence at the event attracts their loyal followers to the store, where they can try out and purchase the product. The influencers also frequently take photos of the store displays and event decor for posts that bring even more people in the door.
In-store influencer campaign events can include product launch parties, which influencers create buzz about on social media before, during and after the event. In-store events can also include experiences with the influencer, like classes or product demonstrations followers can benefit from.
It’s important that brands work with influencers that are relevant to their product to drive in-store purchasing at campaign events. They also need to choose influencers who reflect the brand’s values and understand its mission. Brands should carefully vet influencers in advance to make sure they don’t have fake followers or questionable reputations.
Influencers that are everyday people are usually far more likely to drive in-store purchases than celebrities are. Consumers relate to them, trust them and consider their content valuable. In-store influencer events can help brands develop the same type of bond with consumers.