In many ways, paid advertising is a robust strategy for brands to create brand awareness and boost sales. But at the same time, influencer marketing is an effective channel to drive target audiences to buy your product. This debate over influencer marketing vs paid ads has already begun among marketers.
The need for the debate arises because people no longer believe in paid ads. It lacks authentic opinions and reviews— something which influencer marketing thrives on. Influencers come with credibility, which paid ads have lost over the years.
For customers, paid advertising on digital channels is like clutter. And influencer marketing lets you cut through that clutter through authentic and reliable content by social media influencers.
Despite this, the smart move is to have a marketing mix that includes influencer programmes and paid ads to help you drive revenue. But before that, let us explore how influencer marketing is a notch above paid ads.
2. Warmer leads
Since influencer marketing helps you target a niche audience, it generates warmer leads than advertisements. These leads are in the evaluation stage, closer to the purchasing stage, and can convert into paying customers with the proper nurturing. Research shows that 71% of marketers say that the traffic from word-of-mouth marketing is better than other strategies.
In paid advertising, the leads are in the consideration stage of the marketing funnel, which means they are still deciding whether or not they want to buy your product. Converting these leads into paying customers can be hard work in changing their minds.
3. Limitless content
According to a survey of more than 500 marketing executives by Tint, a user-generated platform found that 47% of marketers said that it takes too long for their social media team to create content, and there is continuous pressure to create content at a high frequency. For them, time management becomes challenging.
With influencer marketing, you get access to unlimited authentic content that can be repurposed and shared across platforms to widen your reach. You can take their content, shorten it, change the format, or add and remove visuals according to the chosen platforms.
4. Lesser restrictions
When it comes to influencer marketing vs paid ads, the former is more flexible than the latter. In influencer marketing, you don't have to face platform restrictions like policies, rules, regulations, etc. You're good to go if your content aligns with the region's legal guidelines.
Advertising, however, doesn't give you the space to be flexible with your strategies as you have to follow the pre-set rules of ad platforms. Plus, in advertising, you cannot make specific changes according to the needs of different audiences.
5. Higher engagement rate
Influencers are conversation starters as they share branded content like posts, videos, and live streams reviewing your product. They even interact with their followers to retain proximity, creating a positive image in the audience's minds about your product and generating better engagements.
In this case, micro-influencers are the most effective as they engage more deeply with loyal audiences. But paid advertising is a one-way communication, which doesn't allow the customer to engage with the brand directly.
6. Increased brand loyalty
One of the stark differences in influencer marketing vs paid ads debate is the long-term partnership. By recruiting content creators, you can build relationships with your customers, who can be your loyal brand advocates. Authentic storytelling gets your target audience emotionally invested in your brand.
All of this is not possible in the case of paid ads, as it is about getting instant results without building any relationship.
7. Competitive advantage
Working with various content creators in different categories makes you reach a new audience. For example, if you are a health and wellness brand, you don't have to mainly onboard health influencers. You can look for athletes, millennial moms, yoga practitioners and others to promote your product.
This way, you can penetrate an undiscovered market containing consumers you cannot reach through ads or other strategies. Also, in advertising, your competitive advantage depends on your budget, and you can only beat the competition if you put in more money and bid high.
8. Better returns
Seeing the above benefits of influencer marketing, it is evident that it provides a better return on investment than traditional advertising. A survey reveals that influencer marketing offers 11 times higher returns than other marketing methods, tipping the scale towards influencers in the influencer marketing vs paid ads argument.
Besides this, it also lets you create a flexible marketing budget. You can decide where and how you want to spend your money. For example, you can choose less-charging creators, promote fewer products, or choose lesser platforms to balance your costs.
Cons of influencer marketing in comparison to ads
1. Increased manual effort
If you are doing influencer marketing manually, it will take a lot of effort to find the right influencers, coordinate with them throughout the entire campaign, and see the results. There is a possibility of errors while performing the menial tasks.
On the other hand, as advertising platforms are automated, it cuts down on manual effort.
Solution: Influencer marketing platforms like affable.ai provide a solution for this shortcoming. They automate the entire process and let you manage campaigns with a minimal workforce. Everything is controlled by the platforms, from finding creators to measuring the results, giving you a better and easier way to carry out influencer outreach.
2. Fake influencer collaborations
Not every social media influencer out there is genuine. Influencers with many followers often use bots to show traffic and engagement on their pages. Recruiting them will not bring traffic. And instead, it is a waste of money and damages your brand reputation.
Contrary to this, paid advertising platforms like Google Adsense and Facebook (Meta) follow the rules and guidelines and are safe to use.
Solution: Automated tools have a database of vetter influencers. It reviews their performance using metrics like suspicious followers, engagement rate, audience distribution, etc.
Influencer marketing can be more expensive than advertising, depending on the type of creator you choose. Some celebrities, mega and macro-influencers, with nearly 1M followers, charge as high as $10K+ per post to promote your products.
In advertising, however, you only need to spend money on keywords and bids. Platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads charge below $5 on average.
Solution: Partnering with micro and nano influencers can reduce the influencer marketing budget. These creators have small yet loyal followership and charge less than the bigger creators, usually between $10 to $500 per post. Some even promote your products for free stuff and exposure.
According to research, micro-influencers drive a 3.86% engagement, higher than the 1.21% rate of mega influencers, making them even more cost-effective.
4. Difficult to monitor results
Measuring influencers' individual and aggregate impact can be challenging if you have done a bulk outreach. Tracking engagements, audience sentiments, sales, performance, etc., can be tricky if not done correctly.
Meanwhile, paid advertising has always been about data and analytics. Data like reach, impressions, clicks, leads, etc., give a clear picture of your advertisement's performance and make it easier to calculate the ROI.
Solution: Influencer automation tools such as affable.ai make campaign measurement easy with real-time tracking. The feature gives you engagement details like reactions, comments, shares and earned media value. In addition, tools generate custom links and discount codes to provide precise data on the sales driven by influencers. Even sentiment analysis shows how your audience feels about your brand.
A Mix of Both Strategies
Even if marketers prefer influencer marketing, there is no winner of the influencer marketing vs paid ads argument.
Brands now recognise that both the strategies have perks and complement each other if used together. You can promote influencers' content through sponsored posts and advertisements to enhance the end benefits.
You can sponsor influencer content, label it under 'paid partnerships', or add a call to action (CTA) button to promote it. Also, you can repurpose their custom content and use it for your advertisements to add authenticity.
The hybrid strategy enhances your content and makes your ads look more natural and convincing, creating a win-win situation for you!
Affable.ai helps you automate your influencer campaigns so that you can spend more time developing innovative strategies and growing your business.
Book a free trial today!