The Rise of Influencer Marketing: 10 Key Benefits for Brands in 2024

Over the past decade, influencer marketing has exploded from a niche tactic to a core strategy for many of the world‘s top brands. As social media usage has skyrocketed and traditional advertising has become less effective, more and more companies are turning to influencers to reach and engage their target audiences in an authentic way.

In fact, the influencer marketing industry is predicted to be worth $21.1 billion by 2024, more than double its value in 2020. With the creator economy continuing to thrive post-pandemic, it‘s clear that influencer partnerships are here to stay as a crucial component of the modern marketing mix.

Still on the fence about whether influencer marketing is right for your brand? Here are 10 compelling benefits, backed by data and expert insights, that demonstrate why influencers are such a powerful asset.

1. Influencer marketing delivers an impressive ROI.

One of the top reasons brands invest in influencer marketing is the strong return on investment it offers compared to other channels:

  • In a 2022 survey by Influencer Marketing Hub, 61% of marketers said influencer marketing had a better ROI than paid advertising, with the average campaign earning $6.50 for every $1 spent.
  • A separate study by NeoReach found that influencer marketing delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional digital marketing channels like display ads and paid social.
  • 75% of brands say influencer marketing has increased their return on ad spend (ROAS) by at least 25%, with 17% of brands seeing an ROAS lift of over 100%.

"Influencer marketing often outperforms brand-created content because it leverages the pre-existing relationship between a creator and their audience," explains Amanda Reddick, Senior Manager of Brand Partnerships at influencer marketing platform Grin. "That built-in trust and credibility leads to much higher engagement rates and conversion rates for influencer posts."

2. Micro-influencers make campaigns affordable.

Partnering with celebrity influencers isn‘t feasible for every brand‘s budget – but that‘s where micro-influencers come in. Generally defined as creators with 10,000-100,000 followers, these smaller-scale influencers offer many of the same benefits as their mega-famous counterparts at a much lower price point:

Influencer Tier Typical Cost Per Post
Nano (1K-10K followers) $10-$500
Micro (10K-100K followers) $500-$2,500
Macro (100K-1M followers) $2,500-$25,000
Mega/Celebrity (1M+ followers) $25,000+

Source: Linqia The State of Influencer Marketing 2021

In the same Linqia survey, 57% of marketers said micro-influencers charge under $2,500 per post, compared to rates of $5,000 and up for macro-influencers and celebrities. But those affordable partnerships can drive serious results – micro-influencers boast an average engagement rate of 3.86%, compared to just 1.21% for influencers with over 100K followers.

Beauty brand Glossier is famous for its innovative approach to micro-influencer marketing. Rather than paying for sponsored posts, Glossier cultivates organic relationships with "regular women" influencers, seeding them products and empowering them to create authentic content. This strategy has helped the brand amass over 2.7 million Instagram followers while keeping marketing costs low.

3. Influencers build trust and credibility for your brand.

In an era of increasing skepticism toward traditional advertising, influencer recommendations serve as powerful social proof:

  • 92% of consumers say they trust an influencer more than a celebrity endorsement or traditional ad, according to recent data from Nielsen.
  • 82% of people say they are "highly likely" to follow a recommendation made by an influencer they follow.
  • 94% of marketers agree that influencer partnerships are effective for building consumer trust.

"Influencers have spent years cultivating deep, authentic relationships with their audiences," notes Chelsea Naftelberg, Associate Director of Influence and Content Marketing at Traackr. "By sharing their genuine experiences and opinions, influencers act as relatable, trusted peers and inspire their followers to take action."

4. Influencer posts boost brand awareness.

For up-and-coming brands, influencer shoutouts are an incredibly effective way to increase name recognition and attract new fans. When an influencer mentions or features your product in their content, you gain instant exposure to their entire audience.

This strategy has been key for fast-growing DTC brands like Glossier, which has built a community of over 3 million Instagram followers largely through relationships with beauty influencers. By seeding products to influencers and encouraging them to share content featuring Glossier, the brand created organic buzz that translated into a massive follower count of its own.

Consider these brand awareness statistics:

  • 71% of marketers say influencer partnerships are good for increasing brand awareness among new audiences.
  • Influencer posts generate 5x the engagement of organic brand posts on Facebook and Instagram.
  • 74% of brands say they increased their influencer marketing spending from H2 2021 to H1 2022.

5. Influencers inspire purchases.

Trusted influencers don‘t just raise awareness for your brand – they also drive sales:

  • Fully 82% of respondents in a Rakuten survey said they‘ve made a purchase based on an influencer‘s recommendation.
  • Influencer partnerships drive 4-12x more conversions than traditional ads, according to HypeAuditor.
  • 44% of brands say influencer marketing has directly increased sales, with 18% seeing revenue grow by 30% or more.

This effect is particularly pronounced among Gen Z consumers, who are now the largest generational cohort in the U.S.:

  • A whopping 43% of Gen Zers say they most often find out about brands and products from creators, compared to just 5% who cite advertisements as their main source of brand discovery.
  • Gen Z is 2.2x more likely than millennials to say they use social media to get shopping advice from trusted sources.
  • 75% of Gen Z shoppers say influencer endorsements help them find new products and services to try.

6. Brands can form long-term influencer partnerships.

While one-off sponsored posts can certainly drive results, the real magic happens when brands invest in ongoing influencer relationships:

  • According to the previously mentioned Linqia study, 63% of marketers are focused on creating long-term influencer partnerships.
  • 64% of influencers say they prefer long-term collaborations over one-off projects.
  • Brands with always-on influencer programs see a 2x higher engagement rate than those running periodic campaigns.

"Establishing an always-on influencer program allows you to turn creators into true brand ambassadors," says Mae Karwowski, founder and CEO of influencer marketing agency Obviously. "Repeated exposure to an influencer talking about your brand lends an air of authenticity that is incredibly impactful."

Clothing retailer Express has seen major success with its Style Collective influencer ambassador program, through which it partners with fashion creators on an ongoing basis. Style Collective members receive commission on sales, early access to products, and opportunities to collaborate on collections – in turn, they create a steady stream of on-brand Express content. The program drove $6 million in revenue for Express in Q4 2021 alone.

7. Influencers create relatable, human content.

In a digital world oversaturated with airbrushed models and overly polished ads, influencers offer a refreshing dose of realness. By showcasing your products in the context of their everyday lives – whether that‘s styling an outfit selfie at home or unboxing a haul of favorite beauty products – creators help your brand feel more human and accessible.

"Influencer content performs so well because it mirrors the way real people discover products and interact with brands," states Jane Metcalfe, President of strategic consulting firm NEO. "There‘s an intimacy and relatability to creator content that can‘t be replicated through a brand photoshoot or commercial."

  • User-generated content is 42% more effective at engaging audiences than brand-created content.
  • 55% of consumers say UGC is more interesting and engaging than traditional brand creative.
  • 59% of millennials say they find influencer content more relatable than brand photos or videos.

8. Influencers expand your reach to new audiences.

For established brands looking to break into new markets, partnering with influencers who have already built a following in your target demographic can be an effective shortcut. Travel brand Away, for instance, has grown its customer base by working with fashion and lifestyle influencers to introduce its luggage to their style-savvy followers.

"Influencers offer access to incredibly engaged niche communities," Naftelberg explains. "By identifying the right creators who speak to the interests and values of your ideal customer, you can expand your brand‘s reach in an organic way."

Consider these influencer audience statistics:

  • 70% of brands use influencer marketing to reach new target customers.
  • 86% of marketers say influencer partnerships have allowed them to attract a new audience demographic.
  • The average influencer campaign earns $5.78 in earned media value per $1 of paid media – meaning brands gain nearly $6 in additional exposure for every dollar spent.

9. Influencer posts generate engagement and conversations.

Beyond expanding your audience, influencer partnerships can also deepen your brand‘s relationship with existing customers. Influencer posts tend to inspire high levels of engagement in the form of comments, likes, and shares – in turn sparking valuable conversations and interactions with your brand.

Influencer-driven word of mouth is especially important for reaching younger consumers, who increasingly distrust brands and institutions:

  • 92% of Gen Z consumers said they were more likely to buy products recommended by people they follow on social media and digital channels.
  • Social media accounts for 68% of all product discovery and purchasing among Gen Z.
  • Gen Z is 4.3x more likely to prefer organic, creator-led content over brand ads.

10. Influencer content can be repurposed across channels.

Finally, influencer partnerships provide brands with a wellspring of authentic content that can be repurposed far beyond the initial posts. User-generated content (UGC) from influencers can be woven into your brand‘s organic social media posts, ads, website, emails, and more to add credibility:

  • Influencer-created content receives 9.1x more impressions than brand-created content when repurposed in ads.
  • UGC outperforms traditional brand creative by 30% in terms of return on ad spend.
  • 77% of brands are increasing their spending on UGC as a content strategy across channels.

Gymshark is one brand that has mastered this approach – the fitness apparel company frequently shares influencer photos and videos across its marketing channels, and even has a dedicated UGC-powered Instagram account called Gymshark Central. This allows the brand to extend the impact of its influencer program while infusing all its content with an authentic, community-driven feel.

The Takeaway

As these 10 benefits illustrate, influencer marketing has transitioned from an experimental tactic to an essential brand strategy for connecting with modern consumers. By partnering with trusted, relatable influencers to tell your brand story, you can boost your credibility, awareness, and revenue in a way that feels organic and engaging rather than interruptive.

Of course, realizing these benefits requires a thoughtful approach to influencer partnerships – it‘s not as simple as paying a few celebrities to hawk your products. To build an influencer program that drives meaningful, long-term results, it‘s important to:

  • Align with influencers who are a genuine fit for your brand values, aesthetic, and target audience. Use platforms like Grin, Traackr, and Upfluence to identify and vet potential partners.
  • Give creators the freedom to interpret your products in their own authentic style. Provide clear guidelines and key messaging, but avoid micromanaging the creative process.
  • Think beyond one-off posts to cultivate ongoing influencer relationships. Structure contracts as longer-term partnerships, and look for ways to collaborate on product development, events, and more.
  • Amplify and repurpose influencer content as part of your larger marketing mix. Boost high-performing creator posts as paid ads, and integrate UGC into your brand‘s owned channels.
  • Track the right metrics to measure your success and optimize over time. Along with topline engagement and reach, be sure to monitor more granular data like conversions, revenue, and audience sentiment.

As the creator economy continues to boom, the brands that will win are those that view influencers as true partners in engaging consumers through relatable, value-add content. With global influencer marketing spending expected to reach nearly $24 billion by 2025, it‘s clear this strategy is becoming an increasingly critical revenue driver.

By getting strategic about influencer marketing now, you‘ll be well-positioned to connect with increasingly ad-averse audiences in 2024 and beyond. Those who write off influencers as a passing fad risk getting left behind as younger generations turn to trusted creators as their primary source of brand discovery and inspiration.

Ready to reap the benefits of influencer marketing for your own brand? Check out our complete guide to getting started with creator partnerships, from setting campaign goals to measuring ROI. With the right approach, influencers just might become your most powerful marketing asset.