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Micro-Influencers vs Pay-Per-Click Advertising: The Battle for the Eyeballs

People are exposed to more ads than ever before. In their Facebook feed, in the middle of their YouTube or Hulu videos, in their inbox—and virtually everywhere else, online and off—they are met with a relentless barrage of pay-per-click ads, to the tune of 5,000 per day.

Wowza, that’s a lot of ads.

Pay-per-click Ads, Ads Everywhere meme


Because of this, people have been forced into what those in the industry call ‘banner blindness,’ the tendency to subconsciously tune out or ignore advertisements. And, it’s the reason why Business Insider found you’re more likely to win the lottery than you are to click on a banner ad.

Maintaining a top ad position in search engines is becoming increasingly competitive, driving pay-per-click ad costs through the roof. A ZOG Digital study found that the cost of maintaining a top search position increased 60 percent in 2016 alone, with no sign of slowing down in 2017. This means that, eventually, only the top businesses are going to be able to afford to hold the coveted top spot.

Yet, while ad clicks are down and costs are up, an up-and-coming new contender has entered the ring. One that promises to break through the noise, overcome banner blindness, and equalize the playing field for cash-strapped SMBs and deep-pocketed enterprises.

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ll know the name of this new contender well: The micro-influencer. Gracing the headlines of Adweek, Forbes, and Ad Age, it’s the newest industry buzzword—and, just perhaps, the long-sought alternative to paid advertising.

Today, we’ll dive into just how well micro-influencer marketing stacks up to pay-per-click and what you can do today to get a leg up on your competition.

By The Numbers

As we saw above, pay-per-click ads are struggling to hook their viewers. While some of this can be attributed to banner blindness, it’s also indicative of a fundamental change in consumer behavior: We’re becoming increasingly social in our buying patterns.

We’ve become more skeptical of marketing than ever before. We embrace a healthy skepticism of marketing and, instead, place our trust in others—in our friends, family, and online reviews. And the data speaks for itself:

What does this all mean? With the rise in tech-savviness of the average user and the increasing distrust in ads, consumers are turning to people.

The Micro-Influencer Sweet Spot

Okay, so peer-to-peer marketing is in… but why micro-influencers?

Unlike traditional influencers—those with hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers—micro-influencers may have a few thousand, or even just a few hundred, online followers. Yet, where traditional, or macro, influencers have quantity, micro-influencers have quality.

Studies have shown there are diminishing returns to follower counts, such that follower engagement actually diminishes as an influencer amasses more and more followers. One such study, by Markerly of 2 million influencers, found the rates at which their followers engage with their posts decreases as their number of followers increase. For Instagram influencers, engagement rates broke down as follows:

  • Accounts with fewer than 1,000 followers averaged an 8 percent engagement rate;
  • Accounts with 1,000-10,000 followers saw an engagement rate of 4 percent;
  • Accounts with 10,000–100,000 had a 2.4 percent engagement rate; and,
  • Those with 100,000+ followers saw engagement rates level off at around 1.6 percent.

The Instagram Engagement Paradox: Higher Follower Engagement Among Micro-InfluencersOn Instagram, there is such a thing as being too popular.

While these stats may not be good news for leading influencers, they’re great news for most brands: You don’t need major celebrities promoting your brand. In fact, you’ll stretch your marketing dollars further by activating a more affordable group of micro-influencers with more dedicated followers.

Why Micro-Influencer Marketing Works

Micro-influencer marketing works because the influencer has established a social media following independent of your brand. They could be bloggers on a particular subject, Instagram fitness personas, or chefs known for their witty Tweets. Regardless of the domain, they all offer a network of highly-targeted potential customers.

There are literally hundreds of reasons and ways micro-influencers gain followers and respect in a particular industry. By leveraging their following you can quickly and effectively reach thousands of people, and leave the nitty-gritty of growing an organic following to your influencers. If done right, they can even encourage their own followers to engage with your brand, creating an instant ripple effect and the potential for viral marketing.

Picking out the right micro-influencer for your brand is highly important to your overall strategy. Make sure you check out where your current customers hang out and look for patterns. Ask your employees, fans, friends, and brand ambassadors who they follow – this seemingly crude tactic works. And that’s because the key to finding the micro-influencer is making sure they aren’t too popular.  

Out With Pay-Per-Click, In With Micro-Influencers

Pay-per-click advertising is only getting more expensive, and ad blockers are only getting better. Diversifying your marketing strategy and tapping into the way today’s consumers shop and consumer information will not only help you cut through the noise and hook your customers, but save you some serious cash as well.

And with a near infinite number of micro-influencers for almost any niche, micro-influencer marketing promises to be one such strategy for making the most of your marketing dollars.


Ready to level up your marketing? We’re here to help! Download our free guide to micro-influencer marketing with the form below, or try our leading micro-influencer platform today for less than a cup of coffee.

Alan VanToai

Alan VanToai is the Co-Founder and CEO of CrewFire.


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