Pros and cons of influencer marketing

Expanding your brand’s reach is a constant challenge. Millions of businesses are looking to influencers to answer this challenge, but do the pros and cons of influencer marketing make it worth the effort?

Here’s what we’ve learned from our experience with influencer marketing. 

The Pros of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is everywhere today, so there must be some serious benefits, right? Let’s take a look at some of the pros of using influencers to market your products. 

1. Build Trust and Credibility

Influencer marketing relies on trust that is created through an established, ongoing relationship between the customer and the influencer.

By contrast, direct sales tactics may seek to convince customers to act on emotional impulses, such as the fear of missing out, or the desire to acquire more resources for their money. 

Influencers may still create similar emotional connections and utilize direct sales language, but they often favor the kind of presentation that promotes long-term, sustainable, influential marketing power. They want their followers to come to them first for advice and recommendations within their niche: it’s their business model.

And trust is paramount!

When you work with the right influencers, this trust transfers to your business. The customer trusts your influencer and it’s clear that they trust you, creating an instant relationship. 

It’s like meeting the friend of a friend: you’ve got a head start, and that’s a great thing when a customer lands on your product page.

2. Immediately Expand Reach 

When we think about influencer marketing, two key benefits come to mind:

  • Reaching new customers
  • Harnessing social proof

Influencers are great at creating social proof because they can immediately harness the relationships they’ve built with their followers. 

What’s the next part of the equation?

Getting that social proof that your products are amazing in front of the right people.

Influencer follower stats

Look at the figures for average influencer followers:

  • Nano-influencers: 1,000 – 10,000 followers
  • Micro-influencers: 10,000 – 50,000 followers
  • Mid-tier influencers: 50,000 – 500,000 followers
  • Macro-influencers: 500,000 – 1 million followers
  • Mega-influencers: 1 million+ followers

How many visitors does your website get each month, and how many pages are those visits split between? An influencer can get a single message in front of a staggering number of people, all in one post.

3. Reach Relevant Audiences

Let’s say you run a company that sells high-quality coffee beans. 

What’s more beneficial?

  • Reach 1 million drink-lovers
  • Reach 250,000 hot-drink-lovers
  • Reach 25,000 coffee-lovers

Obviously, this is for you to weigh up, but a key benefit of influencer marketing is that you have the option. You can work with macro-influencers, and you can work with micro-influencers, it’s up to you. 

Statistics show that influencers with fewer followers tend to have better engagement rates, but it’s a question of balancing scale with targeting the right audience. 

4. You Can See Results Quickly

One of the pros of influencer marketing is that influencers tend to come ready-made with many of the skills marketers are looking for.

Influencer marketing isn’t some new trend anyone can get into; it’s a highly competitive industry. To get to the top people have to showcase the same skills you’re looking for to grow your sales:

  • Industry authority
  • Access to your target audience
  • Technological savvy
  • Marketing experience
  • Initiative and ambition

Influencers tend to have a lot of these qualities precisely because they need them to be successful in their ventures. The learning curve is often lower for influencers when it comes to creating successful marketing partnerships, requiring less support on your end.

Media-savvy influencers

This means influencers are ready to hit the ground running. Bringing your message to your target audience almost immediately and creating a buzz around your products. 

5. It Can Be Inexpensive 

As with anything, there are scales here. 

If you’re going to work with an influencer who has millions of followers, then you’re going to have to be prepared to pay up! However, there are lots of smaller influencers out there who you can start working with without having to invest too much. 

The other reason influencer marketing can be very cost-effective is that you can link it to your affiliate marketing program. There’s really not a lot of difference between influencer marketing and affiliate marketing, and you can find plenty of influencers who are willing to be paid based on the sales they create. 

By finding influencers who are willing to be paid in free products, or through a commission on sales, you can get started with influencer marketing with almost no start-up costs. 

6. It Brings in Sales 

Influencer marketing is a format for the modern world. 

Think about it: an influencer’s social media post or YouTube video is the combination of a testimonial, call-to-action, and demonstration. All of this in something that grabs people’s attention and maximizes the short time available.

Throw in the incredible power of social proof and you’ve got a powerful recipe for sales. 

Brands can earn as much as $18 per dollar spent on influencer marketing when it’s done right. Be aware that the average is nearer $5 though!

Cons of Influencer Marketing

The pros of influencer marketing sound pretty good, but there are some challenges you’ve got to overcome. As you’ll see, none of these drawbacks are insurmountable, but they show that running a successful influencer marketing campaign takes a clear focus. 

1. Working with the Wrong Influencers

Influencer marketing allows you to piggyback on the trust people have in your influencer, but it is possible to appear like you’re exploiting like this. 

We’re seeing large-scale examples of this with things like greenwashing. When companies with questionable green credentials try and align themselves with green initiatives and influencers, it’s often seen as a cynical move to exploit the consumer. 

Green influencers

On a smaller scale, you have to make sure that your brand is aligned with the ideals of your influencer and their target audience. If it’s clear there’s no alignment, then the authenticity of your connection with the influencer will be immediately questioned. 

Choosing the right influencers is extremely important!

2. You Lose Control Over Your Brand Image

When you work with an influencer, you’re giving up some control over your brand. There’s no way around this unless you make everything extremely scripted, and then you lose some of the authenticity. 

Branding is one of the most powerful tools businesses have, and it’s something they work extremely hard on. 

One slip up from a prominent influencer can have a big impact on that brand image. 

3. It Can Be High-Risk 

People are unpredictable. You can spend a large amount of money to align your brand with someone with a squeaky clean image, but you don’t know what they’re going to do tomorrow. 

One of the reasons influencer marketing works is because people transfer some of the feelings they have for the influencer onto the product they’re promoting. What happens, for example, if that influencer commits a high-profile crime? 

The chances are probably low, but brands have suffered from these things. 

Cons of influencer marketing

Think about Johnny Depp’s high-profile court case, and the difficult position this put brands he promoted in. 

4. It’s Hard to Measure Results 

One of the differences between influencer marketing and affiliate marketing is that influencers often get paid up-front whereas affiliates take a commission on each sale they help make. 

One of the drawbacks of this is that it can be difficult to measure results. 

This doesn’t have to be the case though as link tracking is extremely easy to set up

Yes, we hear you say, “affiliate links are ugly, influencers don’t want to use them.” Again though, it doesn’t have to be this way as you can allow your influencers to customize their links with Custom Affiliate Slugs.

Once someone clicks on the link, AffiliateWP takes care of all the tracking for you. You’ll know:

  • How many clicks each influencer is bringing in
  • How many sales those clicks result in
  • How much commission each influencer has earned (if you’re paying commission)

The same is possible with Vanity Coupon Codes which allow your influencers to showcase their own exclusive discounts. 

Out of all the cons of influencer marketing, this one’s by far the easiest to overcome!

Get Your Processes Right to Unlock the Pros of Influencer Marketing 

Life happens! Everything you do with your business has an element of risk, it’s about putting processes in place to limit that risk. 

Sure, there are cons associated with influencer marketing, but you can limit them with the right processes. A key part of this is seeing your influencer marketing as a program and approaching it with a methodical strategy. 

AffiliateWP allows you to do this, creating a perfect environment for you to carry out due diligence and track your results. When you work with the right influencers and can demonstrate results, influencer marketing is a powerful tool, so it’s time to get started. 

Get started with AffiliateWP!

William Palmer

About the author: William is a technical writer for Awesome Motive. He's passionate about helping small businesses unlock the power of affiliate marketing, and summit the rankings with great SEO. In his spare time, you'll find him exploring the wonderful scenery of Cantabria, Spain.

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