When you think of influencer marketing, what comes to mind? A fitness expert touting a new athleisure brand? A get-ready-with-me video singing the praises of the latest plant-based moisturizer?

Even if influencer marketing has become synonymous with industries like fashion, lifestyle products, and food and beverage, its potential extends way beyond that. More than half of marketers say that influencer marketing has a high impact on both their brand’s awareness and customer loyalty, according to a Q3 2023 Sprout Pulse Survey.

For traditional industries—financial services, healthcare, insurance to name a few—this should be a wake-up call. Brands in these sectors have been slower to embrace influencer marketing for many reasons: industry regulations, assumptions about their target audience, a preference to retain full creative control over campaigns.

But as younger generations’ content consumption and buying preferences converge on social, these are the exact brands that stand to benefit from influencer marketing most. Now is not the time for legacy industries to fall back on traditional marketing tactics if they expect to grow.

Influencer marketing has the power to reroute the customer journey in some of the most traditional spaces. Why stagnate when you can innovate?

Influencers open the door to your next generation of customers

Throughout my time working in influencer marketing, getting incumbent brands to understand the power of influencers has always been a tougher sell. But the “sell” is far from surprising: all businesses need to meet consumers where they are, and increasingly, that’s on social.

To opt out of working with influencers—who have built captive audiences on social—is a total miss.

Marketers identified that the most valuable opportunity with influencer marketing is expanding their reach to new audiences, according to our Q3 2023 Pulse Survey. Given how product discovery habits are shifting, there is an urgent need to get in front of untapped audiences. Consider how 77% of Millennials and 73% of Gen Z car buyers would prefer to handle more of their next purchase from home. Or how 66% of Gen Z has used YouTube, and 44% has used TikTok, to find banking information.

We hear so much about how brands collaborate with influencers for their authenticity, but that only reveals a fraction of the business case. Consumers are smart. They recognize an ad or a paid partnership, even when it’s coming from an influencer they follow and trust. But influencers can afford traditional industries something that has been nearly impossible to achieve to date: the ability to bring a product or customer service experience to life in a more genuine way.

Take the auto industry. Car manufacturers like Subaru and Toyota are striking a balance between content and experiential quality by tapping influencers to show their vehicles in action.

A screenshot of an Instagram Reel posted by creator Faith Briggs Rose, in partnership with Subaru.

These partnerships can support buyers’ research process long before they step foot in a dealership, in a way that high-production commercials and website slideshows can’t. There’s no reason a similar approach couldn’t work for retail banks, insurance firms or appliance brands.

Your influencer marketing strategy—and metrics—shouldn’t stand alone

For brands used to running campaigns across TV, print or radio (let alone organic social), influencer marketing poses a new measurement challenge. Nearly half of marketers we surveyed told us they struggle to quantify influencer ROI.

The underlying issue is that influencer marketing can’t be compared apples to apples against other channels like paid social or display ads. Influencer partnerships are unique to media, in that the advertiser gets two outcomes: organic impressions and a creative asset that can be repurposed across channels. There are multiple elements of the spend to consider. Marketers need to understand their industry benchmarks for each channel they use before declaring whether or not an initiative was successful.

Measuring performance solely on the organic influencer posts won’t tell the full story, because your influencer efforts shouldn’t exist in a silo. Strategically weaving influencer assets into your broader media mix is what makes influencer marketing so effective. Defining a clear measurement approach upstream that accounts for the entirety of your “influencer media buy” is how you’ll understand the true impact of an influencer campaign.

The way you measure influencer efficacy will depend on the type of campaign you’re running at any given time. Assessing an influencer partnership aimed at growing brand awareness looks a lot different than gauging one intended to drive repeat customer purchases.

Another important (but often overlooked) variable in the influencer ROI equation is cost savings. Yes, influencers offer reach, they offer content creation expertise. But the content they deliver has legs far beyond social—and at a fraction of the price of working with some creative agencies. A six-month influencer partnership can quickly turn into a full asset library that can fuel your paid efforts, website content and even email marketing. It’s hard to put a price on working smarter.

Getting creative, even in regulated spaces

The magic of brand and influencer collaborations manifests most when marketers relinquish control. Influencers know their audiences and what will (or won’t) land. But letting go of the creative reins is tough for brands beholden to strict regulatory and compliance mandates.

If you can’t escape being over-prescriptive with your content briefs, it’s worth asking if influencer marketing is the right choice for your brand. (Partnering on a Reel that requires formal credits at the end misses the point.) That’s not to say that influencers should get carte blanche, but you do need to strike the right balance between being firm and being flexible.

Screenshot of a LinkedIn post from Jayde Powell expressing why brands need to give creators more creative freedom when partnering.

This means bringing influencers into the concepting phase earlier, so that the end product is a true collaboration. It also means creating clear—not rigid—briefs that are explicit in what cannot be included in order to comply with industry regulations. For instance, alcohol brands often have to ask partners working on summer campaigns not to show any body part in water at a pool or beach. Even a toe in the water could be construed as unsafe behavior while drinking.

Most importantly, brands have to remember that influencer marketing content isn’t simply a studio-produced ad. In the same way mascots like Flo from Progressive or Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World have become cultural icons, influencers can create cultural, relatable moments around your brand in the place your audience spends a majority of their time—on social.


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This doesn’t have to be hard sell content that details the ins and outs of your coverage plans and deductibles. It should lend a voice and (in some cases) a face to your brand, one that lives rent-free in consumers’ memories until they eventually need your product or service.

Chart a smarter customer journey with influencer marketing

Influencer marketing may be less familiar territory for regulated or more traditional industries, but it’s one well worth exploring. Businesses in these sectors have to reach new audiences in order to grow. If you’re not meeting potential customers where they spend the most time, you can’t expect them to invest in you.

Ready to start building a business case for more influencer marketing resources? Use our influencer marketing budget template to expedite the planning process.