There are numerous digital marketing strategies you can use to build your brand. And all of them can be highly useful for driving traffic, boosting sales, or just spreading awareness about what you do. But how do you know which ones work best?
Between all the available options, business owners often find it challenging to choose the right marketing strategy. Startups, in particular, tend to work with limited budgets. This means they can only really invest in a couple of tactics. In these cases, effectiveness is of the utmost importance.
If you’re in a similar position, you may be on the fence about which digital marketing tactics to invest in. SEO is a definite must, and so is PPC advertising in most cases. But what about the more creative ways of reaching customers?
Content marketing is one of the most powerful ways of promoting your business. As it relies on on-page optimization, it offers numerous benefits, not least of which is widening your reach. However, a new way of reaching potential customers has emerged: influencer marketing.
Although both tactics have benefits working in their favor, they’re quite different at their cores. So, to get the best bang for your buck, you need to have a strong understanding of what you can expect from each one.
This article is a deep dive into the pros, cons, similarities, and differences between content and influencer marketing. By learning about them, you’ll gain the insights to choose the best approach for your needs.
So, without further ado, these are the things you must know when choosing between content marketing vs. influencer marketing.
The Persona Behind the Post: Ownership, Control, and Cost
The most significant difference between content and influencer marketing is in regards to the way things are done.
The first strategy relies on your company’s own work. You produce content yourself, have an in-house team, collaborate with an agency, or outsource the production. But the one constant is that the posts are published by your brand. This means a highly-focused message, a distinct voice, and control over the distribution platform.
With influencer marketing, however, the level of control you get is much lower. Essentially, this strategy means hiring a person with a well-established following. The idea is to have them produce and share content about your brand, knowing that buyer behavior leans towards peer recommendations rather than advertising.
So why is this distinction important? Well, there are several reasons.
Obviously, by publishing content in your brand’s name and on your own platforms, the text, image, or video is in your ownership. You claim not just the credit but the entirety of the results as well.
By collaborating with influencers, however, the opposite is a case. Yes, you will get a boost to your website traffic and possibly even sales. Still, the name (and potential popularity) associated with the post won’t be your brand’s but rather the influencer’s.
For example, take a look at this video posted by poet and writer Arielle Estoria. As a collaboration between her and the company Fully, it’s a way to introduce the brand’s product in an engaging and creative way.
image source: instagram.com
However, despite the quality of the post, its relevance is questionable. Yes, it is going to be seen by over 80k+ Instagram users. But is it truly benefiting the brand? Other than a mention in an overly-long caption, not really.
Instead, Fully’s potential would have better been used by further expanding its blog section or repurposing some of that content into social media posts. That way, the results would have a direct impact on their sales, seeing as there’d be a much clearer correlation between the post, the brand name, and the product.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing between content and influencer marketing is ownership also comes with control.
Posts published in your brand’s name and on its platform can be reused and repurposed as many times as needed. So, if a resource is doing well, it can be shared multiple times on social media accounts, maximizing exposure, website traffic, and conversions.
Moreover, by editing a piece of text, you can update it to meet current industry trends. You can expand it with commonly asked customer questions or even refresh it to be more relevant to the season.
Unfortunately, with influencer marketing, this is impossible. While your strategy will take preset social media goals into consideration, it will have a sort of expiration date.
Yes, the content will still be there. However, you won’t have the chance to adapt it if you were to need something along the same vein.
The last technical detail that differentiates the two approaches comes in the form of cost.
As you’re after a high ROI, you will have to put your financial knowledge to use in this regard. Provided that you’ve done your research, you will make gains by going with both content and influencer marketing. Nonetheless, you need to have a clear understanding of what you are paying for with both options, especially as the two strategies offer different returns.
Building Authority vs. Benefiting from Endorsements
Consumer trust is one of the main drivers of business success. So, it’s interesting to examine how content and influencer marketing can contribute to your conversions.
According to various statistical data, today’s buyers are consistent in doing some research before shopping.
According to Trustpilot, 89% of people read online reviews before making a purchase. Findings by Brightlocal show that reading a positive review made 94% of people more likely to use a business. And 79% stated that they had just as much faith in online reviews as personal recommendations.
With this in mind, it’s safe to say that brands must dedicate attention to choosing, displaying, and promoting their trustworthiness.
One way to do so is to build up authority through content. As value drives trust, content marketing that focuses on consumer questions and needs can go a long way. For example, statistical data shows that people are 131% more likely to buy after reading a piece of educational content.
If you decide to take this route, you’ll have a host of possibilities at hand. For example, you can create video guides relevant to your area of expertise like this one by REI. Or, you can even start an entire podcast, as McAfee did.
This is an excellent way to build authority, and so are endorsements. People trust influencers more than they do brands or celebrities. Naturally, you can use this tendency to your advantage. But the one thing to keep in mind is the reason influencer marketing works: the people advertising your products are relatable.
So, if your plan is to boost your brand’s trustworthiness through collaborating with people who have an established following, make sure you don’t fall into the common megalomaniac trap.
You don’t need to be endorsed by a person with hundreds of thousands of followers. A micro-influencer who has a genuine connection to their audience is actually much more likely to get you the results you want.
Moreover, you can collect user-generated content (with the permission of your clients). Then, post it through your own distribution channels. This way, you’ll be getting the benefits of influencer marketing, all the while retaining control over the conversation around your brand.
For a creative way to do this, look to BaseLang. This brand’s strategy is to interview satisfied clients and feature them in a “Success Stories” series on its blog. It’s an effective way of driving trust and conversions, seeing that the type of content they acquire resembles UGC.
Nonetheless, they remain the ones making decisions about how their brand is portrayed, which can be a big plus in building up the company’s status.
Targeting Different Funnel Stages
When it comes to effective marketing practices, it’s crucial to understand that one size does not fit all. A person in the top stages of the sales funnel will simply not respond to the same resources as someone intent on making a purchase. So, to get the most out of your digital marketing strategy, you must understand who you’re creating for.
The advantage content marketing has over influencer collaborations is that it’s slightly more versatile. With proper keyword and topic research, you can target all stages of the buyer journey and create compelling posts that will inspire conversions.
For example, reaching people who are just getting interested in making a career change and going into remote work would be highly effective with a guide such as this one by SkillCrush. With plentiful general information, it’s an excellent introduction to freelancing and a great way to present the company’s services to budding digital professionals.
However, if your objective is to get people in the bottom of the funnel to convert, then a reviews/testimonies page such as the one utilized by Spike can be the final push towards your desired outcome.
image source: spikenow.com
But what about influencer marketing?
Well, influencer marketing is more geared towards reach. That is, it works best if you want to boost the discovery rates for your business. However, if you reach out to the right person, it can have a hugely advantageous effect on your conversions as well.
The key here is to find the perfect person for your brand. Search for influencers using hashtags or keywords on your platform of choice, and ensure that their voice and content work with your brand’s voice. Then, once you reach out (either directly or through a service), you can agree on the type of content that would be most suited for your needs.
If you take a look at this video by productivity enthusiast Ali Abdaal, you’ll see that it’s an overview of the various products he uses to do work more efficiently. With several of the highlighted items being gifted by brands and over half a million views, the video is an excellent way for these companies to reach people on YouTube.
Of course, influencer marketing is less likely to go from impression to sale within the timespan of a single post. However, it is an excellent way to introduce your products on otherwise challenging platforms where personal stories reign over branded content.
How the Two Work Together
As you’re already aware, both content and influencer marketing complement one another. That’s why the best-case scenario is to invest in both.
If your ultimate goal is to collaborate with social media superstars and reach niche audiences, then you’ll definitely have to do some work before reaching out. Posts like this one, with 13k+ likes, are impossible unless you’ve already invested a great deal of effort into your brand’s content marketing and social media presence.
image source: instagram.com
The sponsored brand, TransparentLabs, knows this, which is why they’ve been combining the two marketing tactics from the beginning. Not only is their website filled with educational content, but their social media profiles are highly active as well, posting both original content and UGC.
image source: transparentlabs.com
Moreover, you also need to understand that having a good content marketing strategy can make for the perfect basis for your influencer collaborations. A recipe page such as the one by Joi is easily shareable by the relevant people, all the while giving you more control over the final outcome.
image source: addjoi.com
With such a resource on hand, you can simplify your other marketing strategies. Even the simplest mention, followed by a link to the content of your website, could potentially expose your products to relevant and interested audiences.
The Final Verdict on Content Marketing vs. Influencer Marketing
So, if you’ve got to choose between content marketing and influencer marketing, which should you go with?
Well, as you can see, there’s no simple answer. You will have to define your goals first and make your decision based on them.
If you’re just starting out, dedicating time to producing high-quality content might be the better option. However, once you’ve covered the basics, it’ll be time to branch out to more advanced tactics, one of which is definitely influencer marketing.