For those who aren't familiar with it, influencer marketing can be a bit of a mystery. From the outside, it can seem like you're putting a lot of power into the hands of a few people; people who aren't even officially connected to your organization.

However, influencer marketing is a powerful tool for businesses who want to connect with their prospects in a more organic (and often more effective) way. In a time when consumers are tired of being marketed to, influencer marketing may be the key to actually getting heard by your audience.

Unfortunately, many execs are still reluctant to give it a try. This post will look at 8 reasons your organization needs to use influencer marketing, and how you can convince your CEO to get on board.

1. You need an alternative to traditional, ineffective ads

It will probably comes as no surprise to you (or your CEO) that traditional banner ads have gotten increasingly ineffectual. In fact, according to Google's Display Benchmarks Tool, the average click-through rate (CTR) of display ads is now only around 0.06%.

And keep in mind that some web users choose not to view ads at all. According to the Reuters Institute, 47% of online consumers now use ad blocking technology. This means that if you're paying for exposure via banner ads, you've lost nearly half your audience right out of the gate.

In this environment, businesses need to find alternative strategies for getting exposure and traffic. As you'll see from the stats below, influencer marketing could be just what's needed in this advertising-wary culture.

2. Influencer marketing budgets are on the rise

While following trends is no guarantee for success, it may be a key to remaining competitive. So what do the trends show in terms of influencer marketing budgets? According to Tomoson's Influencer Marketing Study, 59% of marketers will increase their investment in influencer marketing over the coming year. Only 10% plan to decrease their budget, and none of those are doing so as the result of a previous influencer campaign.

A Business 2 Community poll showed 80% of marketers planned to increase their budget in 2016

Augure's 2015 State of Influencer Engagement report showed that 74% of respondents planned to increase or maintain their existing influencer marketing budget. A poll by Business 2 Community puts this number even higher, with 80% of brands saying they're planning to increase their budget in 2016.

Whichever study you rely on, the trend is clear: marketers are finding influencer marketing highly effective, and are willing to invest in it.

3. YouTube influencers have a greater hold on teens than traditional celebrities

If teens are among your target market, you need to be utilizing YouTube influencer marketing. In a ranking talent survey done by Variety, 8 of the top 10 spots were held by YouTube creators. The survey showed that YouTube influencers not only outranked traditional celebrities in terms of overall influence, but ranked 7x higher in terms of teens' emotional attachment.

However, it may not just be teens who are drawn in by YouTube celebrities. According to a study in Ad Age, adults in the US find YouTube stars up to 5x more influential and credible than traditional celebrities. According to Ad Age, the reason is simple: just like teens, adults believe "[YouTube stars] seem more like real people and therefore are considered more trustworthy."

4. Most marketers who have used influencer marketing say it was effective

The theory behind influencer marketing seems solid, but what do the numbers show?

According to research by Augure, 81% of marketers who have used influencer marketing say they found it effective. This same research found that 93% of marketing pros believe influencer marketing is an effective strategy for building brand awareness, and 75% say influencer engagement is effective for lead generation.

Multiple other surveys support these findings. In a time when people are increasingly wary of and resistant to anything remotely akin to advertising, influencer marketing fits the bill. Instead of being "sold to" via ads, readers and viewers may feel more inclined to trust a person not directly connected to the brand.

5. Businesses say influencer marketing is their fastest growing customer-acquisition channel

When asked about their fastest growing customer-acquisition channel, 22% of businesses stated that influencer marketing was at the top of their list. Surprisingly, it even beat out organic search (17%), email marketing (15%) and paid search (15%), achieving the distinction of fastest-growing channel.

Influencer marketing fastest growing channel - graph However, don't expect these numbers to increase indefinitely. As influencer marketing grows in popularity, it's likely to reach a peak; as with other forms of marketing, the more saturated the environment gets, the less effective it becomes. This means now is the time to jump in for maximum benefit.

6. Consumers prefer native ads to traditional ads

As a form of native advertising, influencer marketing works by attracting users via content rather than by pushing out traditional ads.

And we know that native advertising tends to not only be more effective, but is the type of ad format your prospects prefer: according to MDG Advertising, 70% of consumers would prefer to learn about a product through content rather than through traditional ads.

All in all, native ads (in this case, influencer content), are a win-win. According to MDG, the reason is clear: "Advertisers and marketers gain a more relevant and engaging way to reach their target markets. Publishers make money from selling branded content to advertisers. And consumers get more of the kinds of content they're searching for."

7. The ROI on influencer marketing can be phenomenal

There are obviously many factors that can impact the ROI of your influencer marketing program. However, according to a poll done by Tomoson, businesses make an average of $6.50 for every $1 they spend on influencer marketing.

The ROI can be even higher depending on the industry. For instance, RhythmOne reported an average $21.03 return on every $1 of paid media in the alcoholic beverages advertising category, and a return of $18.98 per $1 spend in the travel and tourism category.

An influencer campaign run on behalf of White Wave Foods (parent company of Silk almond milk) is a great example of the results you can achieve using influencer marketing. 258 influencers were asked to write a "Meatless Monday" post mentioning Silk products, and then promote them organically. The campaign was a resounding success, with the company achieving 11x the ROI of banner ads. To read the full case study, click here.

8. Influencer marketing gets higher conversions than traditional advertising

As you might have guessed given the higher-than-average ROIs, influencer marketing also tends to drive higher more conversions than traditional ads. According to this infographic by The Shelf, influencer marketing achieves an average of 3-10x higher conversion rates than regular advertising. Influencer marketing higher conversions Other research from Grapevine shows an average conversion rate of 2.55% for influencer marketing campaigns. However, the report notes that some campaigns can reach as high as double digits.

Final thoughts

If you're looking to make a case for influencer marketing in your organization, I trust this post has helped. Influencer marketing is a powerful and effective strategy, and now is the time to convince your CEO to get on board.

Are you using influencer marketing? Have you found it effective? Share below!