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Influencer Marketing: The Latest Weapon in the Battle for Eyeballs

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Influencer marketing is having its moment.

Whether it’s a tagged pair of shoes in an Instagram post, or an “unboxing” video on Snapchat, brands are fighting hard to get their products into the hands of social media celebs who can move the needle on their sales numbers.

The Rise of Influencer Marketing

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, over one-third of marketers have a standalone budget for influencers in 2017.

It’s easy to see the appeal as influencer marketing can deliver 11 times higher ROI than traditional brand marketing. As influencer–brand partnerships begin to reach mass adoption, what metrics should markets be looking at? Today’s infographic is good primer on the state of influencer marketing.

Influencer Marketing Infographic

At first glance, influencer marketing sounds like a strange concept, but it’s a natural evolution of content marketing over social media platforms. To understand influencer marketing, it helps if we step back and look at the big picture of how content marketing actually works.

Content Marketing: Fighting for Feed Space

Most social media platforms have the same format – content posted by people is arranged into a customized “feed” for you to consume. Content marketing is simply the process of getting users to follow your brand on platforms so your content appears in their feeds.

In the earlier days of social media marketing, people were more actively seeking out accounts to follow, including brand accounts. Today though, many platforms have hit a growth plateau, so unless your brand already has a large, engaged audience, it can tough to gain any traction. To add a layer of difficulty, many platforms (particularly in the Facebook ecosystem) now restrict the reach of brand accounts in an effort to get them to spend money on advertising.

In short, reaching people (including your opt-in audience) is much harder than it used to be.

The Human Connection

The algorithms that rank posts in your feed are looking for something specific: engagement. And let’s face it, a brand posting about their product is not going to be as exciting as a well-connected personality showcasing their life. It’s the latter example that shows up first in social feeds, and that’s one major benefit to working with an influencer.

As well, peer opinion is a powerful force in purchase decisions. If a content creator is truly influential, they can provide a massive boost to a brand’s profile that would be very difficult to manufacture through other marketing methods.

We see these creators as partners of the brand helping us to build deeper connections with the young millennials who look up to them.

– Obioma Enyia, Head of Brand Marketing at PepsiCo

Demographic Bundling

Smart marketers are always looking for ways to target the right demographics to maximize the efficiency of their spend. Because influencers already have a measurable and observable audience, you can hone in on a specific type of consumer. If you find similar influencers in other regions, you can scale out a campaign in a very effective way.

Bigger brand are often looking for macro impact, and shell out big bucks to work with top tier celebrity influencers, but brands can take a more grassroots approach and partner with content creators at the city or even neighborhood level (often for a fraction of the spend). This is referred to as “micro-influence”, and is a fast-growing segment of influencer marketing.

How Does Compensation Work?

Compensation can take a few forms, but many influencers work on a pay-per-post basis. Experienced influencers will often be happy to receive compensation through referrals, particularly on platforms that have e-commerce integration.

influencer compensation chart pricing

How Do You Measure This Stuff?

Measuring the effectiveness of a campaign always comes down to sales in the end, but an influencer’s contribution to that can take different forms. Some brands are simply looking to align their brand with a “cool personality” who fits with their target audience. Other times, it will make sense to work with people who can drive traffic – and ultimately conversions – to their shopping cart.

influencer marketing measuring success chart

Industry Pushback

Many agencies are skeptical of the influencer marketing trend.

Since there is no industry standard for reporting results, and because certain platforms (e.g. Snapchat) offer scant analytics, it can be tough to calculate ROI or trust the numbers in post-campaign reports.

I have very strong opinions about micro-influencers. It’s basically the biggest scam…

– Anonymous marketing executive (The full interview)

Along with dubious analytics, marketers should watch for fake followers and engagement. Keeping track of average engagement rates and doing a proper qualitative analysis on an influencer’s account should be the first step before working together.

The Evolution of Sponsored Posts

There will be an estimated 14.5 million* sponsored posts in 2017, and by 2019 that number could mushroom to 35 million. This spike in popularity is prompting concerns that we’re reaching a saturation point for influencer marketing, and that consumers will begin to tune out sponsored posts.

One thing is for certain, social media personalities are amassing sizable audiences for their content and are commanding serious marketing dollars in the process. It remains to be seen whether sponsored posts become a ubiquitous part of the social media landscape, or whether it will become a hackneyed tactic.

*This estimate only accounts for tagged, public posts

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Markets

3D Map: The U.S. Cities With the Highest Economic Output

The total U.S. GDP stands at a whopping $21 trillion, but which metro areas contribute to the most in terms of economic output?

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US Cities by Economic Output

3D Map: The U.S. Cities With the Highest Economic Output

At over $21 trillion, the U.S. holds the title of the world’s largest economy—accounting for almost a quarter of the global GDP total. However, the fact is that a few select cities are responsible for a large share of the country’s total economic output.

This unique 3D map from HowMuch puts into perspective the city corridors which contribute the most to the American economy at large.

Top 10 Metros by Economic Output

The visualization pulls the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA, 2018), and ranks the top 10 metro area economies in the country.

One thing is immediately clear—the New York metro area dwarfs all other metro area by a large margin. This cluster, which includes Newark and Jersey City, is bigger than the metro areas surrounding Los Angeles and Chicago combined.

RankMetro AreaState codesGDP (2018)
#1New York-Newark-Jersey CityNY-NJ-PA $1.77T
#2Los Angeles-Long Beach-AnaheimCA$1.05T
#3Chicago-Naperville-ElginIL-IN-WI$0.69T
#4San Francisco-Oakland-BerkeleyCA$0.55T
#5Washington-Arlington-AlexandriaDC-VA-MD-WV$0.54T
#6Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonTX$0.51T
#7Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandTX$0.48T
#8Boston-Cambridge-NewtonMA-NH$0.46T
#9Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington PA-NJ-DE-MD$0.44T
#10Atlanta-Sandy Springs-AlpharettaGA$0.40T
Total GDP$6.90T

Coming in fourth place is San Francisco on the West Coast, with $549 billion in total economic output each year. Meanwhile in the South, the Dallas metroplex brings in $478 billion, placing it sixth in the ranks.

It’s worth noting that using individual metro areas is one way to view things, but geographers also think of urban life in broader terms as well. Given the proximity of cities in the Northeast, places like Boston, NYC, and Washington, D.C. are sometimes grouped into a single megaregion. When viewed this way, the corridor is actually the world’s largest in economic terms.

U.S. States: Sum of Its Parts

Zooming out beyond just these massive cities demonstrates the combined might of the U.S. in another unique way. Tallying all the urban and rural areas, every state economy can be compared to the size of entire countries.

US States and Country Comparison by GDP 2018

According to the American Enterprise Institute, the state of California brings in a GDP that rivals the United Kingdom in its entirety.

By this same measure, Texas competes with Canada in terms of pure economic output, despite a total land area that’s 15 times less that of the Great White North.

With COVID-19 continuing to impact parts of the global economy disproportionately, how will these kinds of economic comparisons hold up in the future?

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Misc

29 Psychological Tricks To Make You Buy More

This graphic looks at 29 different psychological tricks that marketers use to try and influence consumer behavior.

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29 Psychological Tricks To Make You Buy More

Ever suffered from buyer’s remorse? You’re not alone.

According to a recent survey, only 5% of people have never felt guilty about buying something. That means the majority of us, at some point in our lives, have regretted a purchase.

But consumers aren’t necessarily only to blame for impulse buys. After all, we’re constantly bombarded with advertisements and marketing tactics specifically tailored to try and get us to spend more money.

Today’s graphic by TitleMax explains 29 different psychological tactics that marketers try to get consumers to buy more.

Tricks are for Marketers

While this list isn’t exhaustive, it provides some key examples of the ways that marketers are attempting to influence your subconscious mind.

We noticed some high-level trends among the 29 tactics, which we compiled into four overarching sections:

  • Visual Pricing Tricks
    These tricks aim to intentionally minimize the appearance of the price, so it’s more palatable to consumers. For instance, a store will price something at $9.99 instead of $10.00, or label a product as “buy-one-get-one” rather than 50% off.
  • Intentional Language Tricks
    It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Making products seem costly to manufacture, offering exclusivity, and using words associated with small amounts fall under this category. These tricks use semantics to position a product in an appealing way.
  • Brick-and-Mortar Tricks
    A store’s layout is less arbitrary than you may realize. Having a bright and colorful entrance, playing calm and slow music, and putting the essential items at the back of the store are a few tactics that fall into this section. These tricks use displays and product placement to influence consumer behavior.
  • Urgency Tricks
    A false sense of urgency and phase-out discounts are included in this category. If a consumer believes they might miss out on a deal, they’re more likely to buy.

The Theories in Practice

While most retailers are guilty of using at least a few of these tactics, several big companies are notorious for their use of psychological tricks to boost sales.

For instance, Ikea is well known for its confusing, maze-like layout. This is no accident, as an Ikea store’s architecture is designed specifically to maximize product exposure—it’s mastered what’s called the Gruen effect, a term named after architect Victor Gruen, whose elaborate displays were proven to convert browsers into buyers.

Another example is Walmart’s rollback pricing, which uses visual contrast to make the sale price more appealing. It’s clearly served the company well—in 2019, Walmart made $524 billion in revenue, making it the world’s largest retailer.

Costco uses a few tactics on the list, but one it’s notorious for is putting fresh produce in the back of the store. That means customers need to pass through the electronics, clothing, and household goods sections before they can get to the necessities.

While the above tactics are in a gray area, other tricks are flat out dishonest. Makeup brand Sunday Riley was caught writing fake Sephora reviews to boost sales. Employees were encouraged to write outstanding reviews for the company, and the CEO even provided instructions on how to avoid getting caught.

The Influencer Era

As consumers become aware of certain marketing tactics, retailers are forced to switch up their game in order to remain effective.

A relatively recent phenomenon is influencer marketing, which is when brands partner with vloggers or influencers to endorse a product. And these partnerships tend to work—a recent survey revealed that 40% of people have purchased something based on an influencer’s recommendation.

But how long will influencer marketing—or any of these tactics—stay effective? Some of the more subtle pricing tactics might stay relevant for longer, but it’s unlikely that all of these tricks will stand the test of time.

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