With travel back on the map, Asia Pacific’s travel industry is expected to see full recovery by this year. This serves as a promising development for brands in the region as the passenger traffic creates opportunities to market to a wider audience. However, as the likes of Google and Apple implement changes that are rocking the advertising landscape, marketers are needing to place their bets carefully for the months ahead. At such times, we see brands invest less in big, bold bets and look for solid, repeatable campaigns that build trust and advocacy within their core communities. It’s perhaps no surprise, therefore, that influencer partnerships are becoming a mainstay in Southeast Asia, especially when Asia Pacific is set to surpass North America to lead the influencer marketing platform market by 2024.
Such news means the industry is maturing, which equally applies to the level of travel content being published across the likes of YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. In fact, in a recent study 58% of influencers said they identified themselves as ‘content creators’ and therefore experts who share engaging content. Similarly, 86% of marketers agree that they work with ‘content creators’. This shift has changed the way brands and advertisers view influencers and their role in providing content that’s authentic and trustworthy, in some cases – especially for younger, GenZ audiences – becoming a consumer’s central source of news.
But while research shows how 85% of influencers and 67% of marketers rank high levels of trust and authenticity as the first and second most (respectively) significant strengths of influencer marketing, this is not achievable through a handful of one-off marketing campaigns. After all, why would an influencer have a vested interest in a brand doing well after such temporary interactions, like posting a single photo or video and adding a witty caption? To earn trust and convert influencers into genuine ambassadors, marketers need to play the long game. The research shows how building these relationships leads to better campaign results – e.g. sales, conversions from sponsored content – over time.
Investing in the long-game
Influencer partnerships are becoming part of a full funnel marketing strategy for brands, from gaining brand awareness, to educating potential customers, and converting them into buyers. In fact, two-thirds of potential travelers in APAC plan their travels by turning to creators and the informative online video resources they create.
But what we’ve seen over the years is that many marketers struggle to scale their influencer campaigns, especially when weighed down by short-term partnerships that take time to set up and become an attribution headache when analysing their success.
Firstly, a marketer needs to have oversight and control of which influencers are a good fit for their partnerships program, and there’s simply no substitute for having direct contact, which fosters a transparent relationship from the get-go. This in turn creates open conversations around content, reducing the need for long briefing documents and leading to optimal business outcomes on both sides. In addition, establishing small but important details like mode of payment – e.g. in local currencies – only strengthens the relationship further.
Creating a fair and repeatable model
In the past, giving free products or discounts may have been enough to entice influencers, but today’s content creators are turning to better and more stable compensation methods. Influencer partnerships often require initial fees when setting up a long-term business relationship as they require a fee that is paid upfront to cover their time and production costs.
As such, a hybrid mode of remuneration that combines both a flat fee and payment based on conversion is also increasingly popular. In an affiliate marketing arrangement, both parties reap the benefits, with influencers getting a commission from having their affiliate links clicked, thus incentivising them to drive sales or actions. Meanwhile, brands can form partnerships encouraging downloads through CPIs (cost per install) or queries for a potential sale through CPLs (cost per lead). This allows the setting of internal baseline KPIs on an individual influencer’s deliverables, optimising a brand’s campaign and motivating the influencer at the same time.
Measuring influencer contribution
A successful influencer partnership hinges on the ability for brands and influencers to streamline processes and work with transparency and autonomy. With the right tech platform, brands can have better visibility of their influencer campaigns, set terms, and own those relationships without the need for a middleman. It can also be difficult to set goals and understand the results that come with influencer partnerships programs, so making use of technology can help properly optimise campaigns through actionable insights, such as assessing audience profiles to determine the credibility of an influencer’s following.
But as I’ve outlined above, for a marketer it’s about striking the right balance – securing the right tech partner for your partnerships programs is only the first step. With travel being in such a dynamic market, it’s imperative that marketers apply greater focus on cultivating long-lasting relationships with influencers. As we continue to see the Southeast Asia influencer marketing landscape grow, it will be interesting to see how CMOs structure their brand and community teams to nurture influencer partnerships and create deal terms that are a win-win for both parties.
Discover how to further leverage influencer marketing to grow your travel business at impact.com.
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