Influencer marketing is on the rise and doesn't appear to be coming down any time soon--well, not if statistics have anything to do with it.

According to a recent case study by TapInfluence and Nielsen Catalina Solutions, influencer marketing delivers 11 times the ROI of digital marketing--as it pertains to actual revenue, not impressions and views. In this particular study, influencer marketing generated $285 per 1,000 impressions, which was 11 times as much as digital advertising. The ROI also doubled three months later with no extra investment on the part of the client (since digital ads go away as soon as your campaign does, while influencer blogs stay on the internet for the foreseeable future).

Influencer marketing is a viable antidote to certain marketing inefficiencies. For example:

  • Content marketing is important for brands--but even if your content is stellar, it will receive limited views if it's only posted on your website. Influencers are both the content creators and publishers, with a loyal, built in following.
  • Traditional PR is very effective when it works, but being that it's "earned" media, your investment in a publicist cannot be guaranteed. With influencer marketing, you will not only be seen--but if an influencer has chosen to work with you, you'll also be seen in a positive light.
  • Digital advertising works, but Millennials often block ads--so you're spending dollars without really knowing if people are seeing you. People electively follow influencers, so there's no getting blocked.

But those aren't the only reasons this avenue of marketing is mopping the floor with its tried and true counterparts. Influencer marketing's strong potency really boils down to the long relationships the actual influencers have with their audiences. For professionals like Emma Johnson, the connection is very real.

Having been a journalist for more than 16 years, Emma began to notice a huge flaw in the way the media talks to and about single mothers. "Brands almost universally paint single mothers as downtrodden, as if they cannot be successful as a single woman with a child," Emma says. "This is not only inaccurate but also alienates a huge and growing part of the population." Today, one third of U.S. households are headed by single mothers, and the majority of Millennial moms are not married. "But as women overall are more educated and affluent than even a decade ago, so, too are single moms," Emma says.

In 2012, she launched WealthySingleMommy.com as a resource for unmarried women looking to build amazing careers, finances, and personal lives, while being great moms--appealing to a largely ignored demographic of more than 10 million women. Right out of the gate, the blog received considerable traffic and was highlighted in The New York Times, on the Today show website, and in a few other big media outlets.

"The best part of my job is, 1,000 percent it's the beautiful emails and social-media messages I get every single day from women who say that my message changed their life, showed them that they can build amazing lives as single moms, that their pain and struggles are universal, and that my example of living a full life gives them permission to shut out negative messages and do the same," Emma says.

Each month, WeathySingleMommy receives about 100,000 unique visitors and its email list grows by 1,200. "In the past six to eight months, it seems brands woke up to the fact single moms are a giant, growing, and increasingly affluent population. They understand the opportunities for marketing to this group, and they are partnering with me," Emma says. "It is very a very exciting time, in terms of business and income. As part of a social movement, all this brand attention is absolutely thrilling." This marks the first year Emma is focused on brand partnerships, in addition to the digital courses she creates and markets to her audience, and she is on track to exceed six-figures in revenue in 2016.

At its core, influencer marketing hasn't really changed the reasons why people buy--we tend to listen mostly to the people that we trust. My best friend works for an upscale beauty supplier and is constantly telling me what creams and potions I need. I've never researched the rules of exfoliation; I have relied on Shelby to tell me what to do for over 15 years. And you can bet that when I see a new product in her medicine cabinet, I'm probably going to buy it next time I'm at Sephora. Influencer marketing is this on a very large scale.

Successful influencers treat their audiences like their best friends. "I'm careful about which brands I partner with because my audience has been built on my candor and honesty," Emma says. "That is why this business works for me."

Published on: Apr 27, 2016