As part of the WARC x impact.com “Aligning marketers and influencers” report, Guillermo Font (Marketing Head, FMCG and Healthcare, Mars), discusses authenticity and influencer marketing’s role within the full funnel.
How do you think marketers can best benefit from the full funnel effects of integrating influencer marketing?
We are focused on the initial parts of the funnel and shopping experience. We’ve been using them to complement the reach and engagement of other touchpoints. To help us build some relevancy and therefore to build awareness towards consideration, mostly consideration.I see the biggest benefit of using influencer marketing as driving consideration. They are helping us to bring new products to audiences, making sure they are top of mind when consumers are already in the funnel.
What do you think makes influencers a good tool for that top of funnel effect?
For me, it's about credibility. So the times when it works, brands can benefit. Consumers have learned to trust different sources of information such as influencers. Can we benefit from that?
How do you balance the meaningful connections that influencers have with their audiences with the business imperative of delivering results?
I think the balance comes quite naturally. The more authentic the relationship, the more true and genuine the message that the influencer delivers to his audience or her audience, the more returns that come. Now the big question is how to make sure that the results are clear, to make sure that we show the direct impact of that influencer marketing activity. That's when you need to have the ROI conversation.
What sort of measurement do you have in place? Is that still an ongoing challenge?
We actually use similar metrics or similar approaches as with other media platforms. I consider influencer marketing the same as any other media touchpoint. So we use classic ones like reach, impressions, CTR. Engagement rate is very important when it comes to influencers marketing. These are the sorts of KPIs we use to understand the effects. We have built a library of results to understand what sort of influencer marketing activities have performed better than others.
What positive opportunities has influencer marketing brought into the shopping experience and how are you planning to use these?
We don't have much experience on the last part of the funnel and how to bring it to conversion. We are not yet there with e-commerce activities, but I'm really looking forward to seeing examples and learning about them and how to really convert. What we have done so far is to drive trial with innovative competitions, samples and these kinds of things from the influencer to his or her audience, but not much more.
Tell me a bit about some of the things that you've done?
It’s been mostly on the petcare side. We've done confectionery as well, with m&ms and Snickers. But most of the recurring activities we have are with petcare. We have an adoption programme that we support, this supports one of our core missions. We are connected on a regular basis with influencers of a specific profile. Most importantly, some of them have actually adopted a pet so they can speak about their own experience. That's disclosed obviously as it has to be, but they are really leading the conversation with the audience talking in first person. Our mission and our purpose is to make the world better for adopted pets. Influencers help us bring this to life very naturally, and that's the credibility that I talked about earlier, by them being authentic, by them adopting pets who have been poorly treated, some of them, they can then pass on that message. That message is very genuine.
Younger audiences in particular have a growing acceptance of living their lives online, what opportunities do you think that offers?
I would say two things actually. From a media point of view I think influencers offer affinity and relevance. When audiences are paying attention to a message from them they are really engaged. And then I would add, it's more from a content point of view, we then speak their languages. A language that is trusted and credible.
Influencer marketing is continually evolving. Do you feel the newer forms are better placed to influence audiences because consumers believe they're more genuine?
Consumers are really well educated. They're not blind to the nature of the relationship, they understand what is going on. And then there are regulations, even internal ones that most of the multinationals have, we must disclose that this is a commercial relationship with a particular influencer. So I think maybe at the beginning of influencer marketing it was true that people didn’t realise. I don't think so nowadays. I think consumers do know, especially younger generations. They understand that this is part of the rules of the game. This is a new way of advertising. And it's accepted. As long as it's authentic and genuine. On the first part of your question, if it matters, this is important. Its efficacy for me relies on authenticity. Audiences have the right to know that there is a material connection between the influencer and the brand, even if the influencer may genuinely love the product. And when it’s genuine, that shows, and that's the beauty of influencer marketing, when it comes naturally.
What are the main points of friction within influencer marketing and how can we resolve them?
I think influencer marketing has evolved and influencers have evolved themselves. Everyone that I've worked with is very professional. But it's true that as a brand you're connecting your equity with external people. I think the main point of friction is how to measure the performance, how to make sure the ROI mindset that we have in other media touchpoints is applied. But it has evolved a lot. Maybe at the beginning it might have come with more friction in terms of the way to operate and to execute these kinds of activities, minimizing potential risks. Now, I think it's much less the case.
What is your priority when working with influencers?
In our case, it's a bit of both. If I go back to the example of pedigree, the’ adopt a dog’ campaign. We were trying to reach the right influencers where their content was dog related. And ideally, they’d have gone through this adoption process, which is what we're trying to do. So that's the content we wanted. To help us make it more natural. And then we wanted them to show the role of pedigree as the brand within that. And then of course, the second part of the brief is reaching audiences at scale. So we use Spanish influencers. Their audiences are not only Portugal and Spain, but also Latin America.