Of the many marketing techniques available to brands, influencer marketing is among the most effective in successfully reaching targeted customers and niche audiences, conveying authentic messages, and earning consumers' trust.
Appropriate for businesses of all sizes, in various markets, and with access to marketing budgets large or small, influencer marketing can be leveraged in a number of ways to support the attainment of specific company objectives.
To illustrate this, we've highlighted six examples of influencer marketing that perfectly capture what this strategy can achieve – and help demonstrate the possibilities for your business.
Inspiring Content (Red Bull)
Beverage giant Red Bull offers a compelling success story of how brands can achieve high audience engagement by leveraging inspiring content on a modest budget.
Indeed, this company has long focused its marketing and advertising strategies around promoting the high-energy philosophy behind its brand, rather than focusing on the products it sells. To this end, Red Bull teams with a number of athletes and extreme sports personalities, following their exciting experiences throughout their daily lives, training sessions and sporting events.
This brings the adrenalin of racing, running and diving to Red Bull audiences through its online and offline campaigns, as well as promoting the brand to those influencers' own niche followings when sharing sponsored content across their digital platforms.
A key benefit is that, due to the exciting nature of extreme sports, inspiring content can often be captured simply, and with little cost. The brand often uses photos and videos taken by action cameras affixed to their ambassadors' sporting equipment, therefore mitigating the need for expensive professional photography, visual effects, or other costly elements that typically contribute to marketing and advertising campaigns. The remainder of the brand's influencer marketing budget can, therefore, be invested in funding these collaboration deals with their chosen endorsers.
In this way, Red Bull successfully markets its energy drink with a smaller budget compared to its competitors. It cultivates an authentic, captivating association with its brand, allowing its audience to feel as though they are part of a sporting enthusiast community, encouraging long-term engagement and unwavering loyalty among customers.
Micro, Meso and Macro Influencers (L'Oréal Paris)
Founded over a century ago, famed beauty brand L'Oréal has succeeded in appealing to modern customers and renewing its main consumer groups in the digital age by working with a careful combination of micro, meso and macro-influencers.
These three categories define the size of these digital ambassadors' followings. Micro-influencers reach a niche, highly engaged 5,000-50,000-strong audience, while meso-influencers have a more substantial following of around 50,000-500,000 people. Macro-influencers, meanwhile, generally boast impressive follower numbers of over 500,000. In collaborating with an amalgamation of these three, L'Oréal adopts an almost mathematical approach to reaching its target audience, which includes potential consumers across several generations and with differing beauty needs and expectations. This is an excellent method for brands to follow to successfully manage the development of their consumer groups, as their buyers grow and their preferences change.
A particularly successful example of this approach is L'Oréal UK's so-called 'Beauty Squad', consisting of seven strategically selected digital influencers who create their own content around the company's product launches, brand events, beauty tutorials and product reviews. By expressing their individual opinions of the company to their audiences, these brand ambassadors promote L'Oréal in a more genuine way that generates valuable demand, based on the existing trust between the influencer and their following.
To further enhance the engagement of their viewers on collaborated content, ambassador-specific discount codes are used, incentivising audiences to purchase the products mentioned. These codes have another use, allowing the brand to closely track the bottom-line effectiveness of its partnership with influencers, along with other methods such as affiliate links.
Influencer Only Approach (Daniel Wellington Watches)
Influencer marketing can be so effective at supporting the marketing objectives of a brand, that it may be used exclusively in place of other marketing techniques and strategies. Swedish watch brand Daniel Wellington, founded in 2011, provides a clear example of how to do this well.
The brand invests its full attention and budget towards executing a clear influencer marketing approach; Daniel Wellington works with around 7,000 macro-influencers across key geographical regions. In this way, the company is able to reach a significant online audience all over the world, predominantly via Instagram.
As well as sharing photos and reviews of the brand's products, influencers are given discount codes and affiliate links to use in their collaborated content. They also utilise another increasingly attractive form of promotion on social media platforms: giveaways.
These giveaways involve participants interacting with the brand's content in some way – be it following specific profiles, commenting on posts or tagging other users – in exchange for the chance to win free products. Extremely cost-effective, this means that the brand will give away several items free of charge to a handful of lucky winners, while having amassed hundreds of thousands of new followers and digital engagements in the process – a collective worth that is much greater to the brand.
By following this exclusively macro-influencer approach, Daniel Wellington has quickly become among the most recognisable modern timepiece brands, breaking into the traditional market in a remarkably short space of time.
Product-Oriented Content (Apple iPhone 11)
While many brands find success in promoting the experience or excitement around their product, Apple has chosen to promote its new iPhone models by allowing influencer-generated content to showcase the product's key features.
Recognising that the photography capabilities of the iPhone appeal to many consumers – and are highly marketable in today's visually-oriented market – the tech giant collaborates with professional and amateur photographers, as well as celebrities, to share photos and videos captured using the new iPhones. Hashtagged with a catchy campaign slogan, #ShotOniPhone, the brand now exclusively populates its Instagram profile with this commissioned photography and videography.
Recognising that the brand has no need to raise its profile, reputation or product awareness – a key tenet of Apple's overall business strategy – it utilises influencer marketing purely to better demonstrate the abilities of their product to online audiences.
User-Generated Content (Huda Beauty)
Cosmetics company Huda Beauty has grown into a billion-dollar brand in just six years, thanks in large part to its exemplary use of user-generated content. Taking a twist on the typical influencer marketing approach adopted by the company's competitors, the brand leverages content shared online by all its followers, rather than a select few.
This strategy offers a variety of benefits. By allowing each user to become a Huda influencer, the brand creates genuine excitement among its following, leading to engagement that encourages potential consumers further along the buyer journey. Additionally, the company is able to reach new audiences with each user's post, something which has contributed heavily to the impressive growth of the brand's online audience in recent years.
Huda Beauty also benefits from unique content – immediately differentiated from the more controlled marketing and advertising messaging promoted by other beauty brands – that can be used at no expense. Essentially, the company can populate its digital platforms with new, engaging content with minimal cost compared to its competitors, and is thus an excellent example for small businesses with modest budgets at their disposal to follow.
Finally, this approach has led to the creation of a close-knit beauty community around the brand that promotes inclusivity, creativity and positivity through cosmetics. Such engagement from consumers can be incredibly valuable, leading to excellent levels of customer loyalty in the long-term.
Led by a Cause (Pedigree)
Pedigree Denta Stix
Yet another fantastic example of successful influencer marketing is Pedigree Petfoods' 2011 'Buy a Bag, Give a Bowl' campaign, an approach driven by the brand's philanthropic cause of donating food to homeless dogs at animal shelters for every bag of dog food sold.
Throughout the campaign, the company worked with carefully selected dog-owning micro-influencers, aiming to appeal to their animal-loving audiences. The goal was not to reach a larger or more targeted audience; Pedigree was, and is, already among the most well-known dog food brands. Instead, the objective was to increase its offering's appeal to consumers, increase sales, and encourage customer loyalty in the medium-term.
In order to sway consumers' product preference to the brand, Pedigree focused on its influencers' touching pet stories, leveraging affective empathy from their audience and emphasising the humane approach of the campaign.
As a result, Pedigree was able to demonstrate the ability of influencer marketing to coincide with, and support, corporate social responsibility efforts, benefiting the community around the brand, as well as encouraging the development of authentic emotional ties between consumers and the company itself.
Influencer marketing can be an incredibly impactful tool for both large and small businesses, equipped with marketing budgets of any size. Assess the marketing needs of your company, to determine which approach to adopt during your influencer marketing journey, and secure the desired results over time.
Indeed, take inspiration from these influencer marketing examples, but remember that one size does not fit all, and feel free to mix and match your tactics to discover the right combination for your brand.
What other memorable examples of influencer marketing appealed to you? Let us know in the comment section below!