New research this month has found that businesses are investing their marketing dollars in the wrong places.
The latest annual marketing report from Salmat, a marketing company which specialises in letterbox and online catalogues, shows declining reliance on family and less influence from influencers than most marketing budgets’ priorities would imply.
The star stat from the report is that 49 per cent of people surveyed said that search engines were the top influence for buying decisions. Google and Bing (though, one would assume, mostly Google) beat recommendations from family and friends, which was down to 46 per cent; a massive drop from last year’s 74 per cent.
But before we start drafting our tweets about the death of the family, it might not be that we trust our families less, but simply that Google is more available than your cousin Mabel, according to Salmat’s head of marketing Shane McClelland.
“Search is really convenient. It’s all pervasive, it’s available at any time on any device; laptop, desktop, mobile phones, iPad, and voice-activated devices,” McClelland says. “And I think it’s linked in to the fact that as consumers, we’re actually shopping around a lot more as well. Search really empowers us to do those comparisons really, really quickly, much more quickly than we would have in the past.”
Validating the career choices of those that write for this section of the website, the search for reviews is part of the rise of searche in influencing purchases. “Online reviews came in at number five on the list of influences of purchase decisions. So, I think the reason search has gone up to number one is partly because people are also looking at reviews as part of that process,” McClelland says.
And you’re not the only person doing those kinds of searches while you’re out shopping. The research shows that 57 per cent of consumers are actually Googling products while they’re in the store.
“They’re looking for price comparisons, they’re looking for the product comparisons and they’re even going onto the websites of the store that they’re actually in,” McClelland says.
Anyone who’s been near a marketer, Instagram, or young people in general knows about the huge rise of influencers and their perceived value. Kylie Jenner recently became a so-called “self-made billionaire” after leveraging her family’s money and reality program, as well as her huge social media following to launch a successful makeup line. She is considered one of the world’s most successful influencers. Her sister, Kendall Jenner, was paid $250k to promote Fyre Festival, a festival which turned out to be one of the most interesting cases of fraud this decade. And Ninja, a famous Fortnite streamer, was reportedly paid one million dollars to play Apex Legends for a single day.
Looking at those numbers, it’s no wonder that the top channel for marketing spend was social media, beating out the brand’s website and email marketing.
So, it’s surprising to learn that only 5 per cent of those surveyed said that they made a recent purchasing decision because of an influencer, especially when you put that next to the statistic that 28 per cent of people turned to letterbox catalogues.
However, before those frustrated by the “cash-for-comment” culture of influencers rejoice too much, McClelland was quick to point out that influencers still play a huge role in marketing a brand. “I would say ambassadors, celebrity ambassadors, are certainly a great way to drive brand awareness. But if you’re trying to drive consumer purchase intent, consumers are saying there are many other channels that are going to drive that more quickly.”
That 5 per cent number is averaged out across all the age groups, too. Only 1 per centof Baby Boomers rated influencers as influential on purchasing decisions, but that number jumped to 7 per cent in Gen X and 8 per cent in Millennials. One can only assume that number would have been higher still for Gen Z had it been included.
For small business owners wondering what to do with all this information, McClelland had some ideas.
“Encourage customers to leave a review if they’re happy with the service or the products that they’ve purchased,” he says. he says.
“And invest in the right channels to actually connect with