Our annual Influencer Marketing Survey revealed some exciting findings this year, most of which suggest that 2019 will be a year of rapid growth and innovation for the influencer marketing industry.
Marketers feel confident about influencer marketing as a channel
Influencer marketing spending will increase in 2019
Instagram and Instagram Stories will be the focal point of many strategies
Finding the best influencers for a campaign remains a struggle
Measuring ROI is still a concern, especially in relation to “always-on” campaigns
As more companies incorporated influencers into their marketing strategy in 2018, it appears that many of them found some success. A huge majority (80%) of marketers find influencer marketing effective, and 35% find it very effective. Only 5% of marketers find influencer marketing ineffective.
Most marketers agree that the quality of visitors and customers from influencer marketing is better than other channels, and 18% of marketers strongly agree with this sentiment—only 5% disagree.
Nearly half (48%) of marketers say that ROI from influencer marketing is better than other marketing channels, and 41% say returns are equal to other sources. As more marketers improve their measurement and optimize their tactics, we expect more marketers to improve their returns in 2019.
Last year, 39% of marketers planned to increase their influencer marketing budgets for 2018. This year, confidence in influencer marketing appears to be notably stronger, as 65% of marketers plan to increase their budgets for 2019—while only 2% will decrease.
Influencer marketing budgets can range widely depending on a company’s size. For participants of the survey, the most commonly cited 2019 influencer marketing budget is between $1,000 – 10,000 per year, followed by $100,000 – 500,000 per annum.
Most companies are spending a modest percentage of their overall marketing budget on influencer marketing, anywhere up to 20%. However, a small but noteworthy 17% of marketers are spending over half of their entire marketing budget on influencer marketing, and over 25% invest over 40% of their budget on it.
Since hitting 1 billion users in June of 2018, Instagram has only continued to innovate and grow. The launch of IGTV represented a concerted push into video, and several shopping features rolled out in September 2018 poised Instagram as a powerful revenue generator for e-commerce brands. The Instagram Stories feature in particular soared in 2018, with over double the number of active users compared to Snapchat.
Top five most strategically important social media channels:
In spite of revenue gains, Snapchat ended 2018 with flat user growth. The company has struggled to catch up on influencer marketing for several years now due to a variety of early feature limitations. Historically, Snapchat users had a hard time finding influencers on the platform due to limited discovery capabilities, and influencers didn’t get much audience or engagement data, which created a huge roadblock to brand sponsorships. Although Snapchat took steps to resolve these issues last year, it appears many marketers have moved Snapchat to the bottom of their priority list for 2019.
69% of marketers plan to spend the most on Instagram in 2019—that’s over 6X as much as YouTube (11%), the second most-selected influencer marketing channel. This suggests that Instagram is not only strategically important to marketers, but will also be attracting the vast majority of influencer marketing ad spend in 2019.
Every content format available on Instagram is included in the “top five” list of most effective formats, highlighting the platform’s ability to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to supporting effective sponsored content. The close second place ranking of Instagram Stories comes at the heels of Stories’ rapid growth in 2018, and suggests this format may soon overtake traditional feed posts. In January 2019 it was announced that over 500 million (in other words, half) of all Instagram users now use Instagram Stories every day, and Stories as a format is growing 15X faster than feed-based sharing.
Top five most effective content formats for influencer marketing:
Although there are more platforms, databases, and tools than ever before to help companies find influencers, the majority of marketers still struggle to identify the right influencers for their goals—and 17% feel strongly that this is a challenge.
It seems the most common way that companies find influencers for a campaign is the old-fashioned way: through searching directly on social media platforms themselves.
Top three ways to find social media influencers:
While metrics like engagement rate certainly matter, the most important quality companies look for when evaluating influencers is the quality of their content. This suggests that strong creative will be a key differentiator for effective influencer marketing in 2019. The second most important factor is influencer alignment with the company’s target audience, which highlights the increasing importance of granular audience demographics data for influencer campaigns.
Top five determining factors when choosing an influencer:
In spite of Instagram’s crackdown on third party services that sell fake followers and inauthentic engagement, it appears concern over fake followers remains omnipresent amongst marketers in 2019. This may be because news of Instagram’s updated policies has yet to percolate across the industry. It’s also possible that companies remain skeptical because Instagram has not disclosed the scope of third-party apps targeted in the update, or possibly even because the platform has been caught selling ad space to the same follower-buying services that it banned.
Top influencer marketing challenges, in order:
While many marketers feel that influencer marketing can be effective at driving ROI, measurement still remains a primary concern for 78% of companies. Finding the right influencers also ranks as a key issue, which coincides with results above, where 62% of marketers said that identifying the best influencers was a challenge.
Top three concerns working with influencers:
While brand awareness and conversions are commonly cited campaign goals, the highly-ranked importance of “reaching new audiences” suggests that marketers see influencer marketing as a promising way to connect with new customers in an oversaturated digital advertising ecosystem. It also coincides with the stat above, which found that “target audience” was the second most important factor when picking influencers to partner with.
Top three overarching influencer marketing goals:
Many of the most common influencer marketing metrics are included here, including engagement, conversions, impressions, and reach. Engagement is by far the most important KPI, measured by three-fourths of all marketers.
Top five influencer marketing metrics:
While 44% of marketers still measure their campaigns the traditional way—from beginning to end—a quarter of marketers measure performance after campaign ends and 27% measure it on an ongoing basis, suggesting that increasing interest in an “always-on” strategy extends to campaign measurement as well
The industry remains divided over whether such a deeply human channel can be fully automated in the future, but it appears that marketers are fairly certain that it can’t. Only 4% of marketers believe that all aspects of influencer marketing can be automated. The vast majority (72%) believe that there will always be a human component, and 24% don’t believe it can be automated at all.
This survey was taken by 162 participants between January 15 – 25, 2019. Over 90% of participants were based in the United States, but a handful were from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Republic of Ireland, Germany, and France.
Survey participants were required to use a business email in order to confirm that they worked at one of these three company types: