Any brand official always wants to follow a path that will lead to enhanced customer loyalty.

One path to potentially follow revolves around influencer marketing.

Loyalty360 caught up with Chuck Moran, vice president of marketing for RhythmOne, to learn more about influencer marketing and the company’s 2016 Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report.

What are your biggest takeaways from this Influencer study and what do those insights mean for loyalty marketers in 2017 and beyond?

Moran: Perhaps, the biggest takeaway from our report is the fact that brands that implemented an Influencer Marketing program in 2016 received $11.69 in Earned Media Value (“EMV”) for every $1.00 of spend on average, which is a 4.4% increase over our full year 2015 EMV average of $11.20. For loyalty marketers in 2017, that ROI on media spend – though it may differ for a specific advertiser – is significant proof of the effectiveness of Influencer Marketing versus other media tactics. This fact is even more significant considering the shift occurring in consumers’ media habits, media fragmentation, and banner burnout.

Can you talk about influencer marketing, what it is, and how it can be leveraged by brands to enhance customer loyalty?

Moran: Influencer Marketing helps advertisers maximize ROI by authentically connecting brands with consumers and bringing branded stories to life through beautiful imagery and compelling content delivered to the right audience on the right platform. Influencer Marketing solutions today leverage multiple social channels and tactics that amplify reach and impact, both organically and through paid channels.

What is being done well in this area and where do the challenges lie?

Moran: Two of the biggest challenges we see (and seek to address both through our benchmarks studies and in our solutions) is effective measurement and scale. On the measurement front, RhythmOne is constantly adjusting the depth and diversity of reporting metrics we are providing our clients. Earned Media Value is great at a high-level, but engagement is becoming one of the clear metrics that can be used at a granular level during the campaign to optimize and adjust to ensure that the creative is on point and resonating with the target audience.

Scale is something we often discuss with our clients. That is why we have become innovative not only in the number of influencers we are activating during our programs to reach the broadest engaged audience but also using look-alike audience segments accessed programmatically to seed content and cast a much wider net than social media channels alone. This is where we see the additional potential for influencer marketing and seek to respond to our clients’ need to broaden the impact of their influencer marketing programs.

Driving customer engagement is crucial for any brand. How can influencer marketing programs impact customer engagement?

Moran: Engagement is a crucial KPI that brands use to evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing programs – and is a KPI that Influencer Marketing delivers on. Influencer Marketing programs provide broad opportunities for consumers to engage with branded content: opportunities that can include shares, reposts, retweets, pins and repins, likes, coupon downloads, contest entries, and more. As measured, we saw an engagement rate of 2.01% on our 2016 Influencer Marketing programs – and a Cost-Per-Engagement (CPE of $0.93.)  

How will influencer marketing evolve this year and beyond?

Moran: Influencer Marketing is a rapidly evolving field that is constantly providing brands with new and interesting ways to engage with consumers. In the coming year, we are paying attention to a number of emerging trends focused on format and platform, as well as data and distribution. From a format perspective, we do see the rapid emergence of video – in the form of video influencers and influencer created branded video content across channels – beyond just YouTube - as a viable medium brands are pursuing. 

We also see a growing trend in the creation of experiential connections with consumers, especially live events. The use of first- and third-party data playing a greater role in influencer programs. Data is being used to, not only refine targeting but also to extend the reach of influencer-created content beyond the walls of social platforms by allowing for broad distribution across the Internet. In this vein, one of the most interesting trends we see is in the ability to combine the bespoke nature of influencer content with the massive scale of programmatic advertising, allowing companies to move beyond the “walled gardens” of social media and gain exposure to a wider qualified audience.

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