Unlocking the power of seasonal influencer marketing through consumer insights
By better understanding their audience, brands can hire to increase brand awareness, encourage brand loyalty, reach new audiences, and drive sales
Seasonal events such as Christmas and other holidays present huge opportunities for marketers to push their brands. Yet as other brands also clamour for attention—and as markets become more competitive—cutting through the noise is getting increasingly harder.
In a world of shorter attention spans, brands are going to be more reliant than ever on consumer insights to better understand their target audience and the triggers that will drive engagement amid that noise.
“It’s imperative that you look at consumer insights and deep dive into the behaviours and the expectations and the needs of the customer in general throughout the whole year, but seasonality obviously plays a huge part in customer shopping behaviours,” says Katie Berry, head of brand at performance meal-prep company Fuel Hub.
By tracking customer habits year over year (YoY), the company can identify opportunities for growth it may have missed and optimise its influencer campaigns accordingly. Berry says her company also frequently conducts customer surveys to learn more about what their customers want.
Attracting audience attention
Once brands are armed with those insights, they can start to think about how to stand out in a crowded market.
“Brands need to avoid doing things that are stereotypical,” says Emily Hall, senior campaign director at social media and influencer marketing agency Goat. “We’ve moved on from how traditional media engage with seasonal themes; there are many more ways to talk to someone to make your brand feel relevant and truthful to them.”
One way many brands are seeking to make an impact is by using influencers to promote their products on social media channels.
“Influencers really raise our visibility in noisy market spaces,” says Berry. “It’s really important to lock down on the power that the influencer has with their community because they obviously have a loyal and dedicated following.”
That can result in those audiences having greater trust in the brand the influencer is associated with.
“In an essence, it’s a digital way of approaching word of mouth marketing,” Berry says.
Brands can also get their messaging to resonate more effectively through influencers than if they were just advertising using traditional methods.
“Audiences are very savvy to advertising and they get very quickly turned off by promotional messages,” says Mobbie Nazir, chief strategy officer at creative agency We Are Social. “But because influencers have their own audiences, they can create a sense of excitement and anticipation around a brand and fuel conversations around that messaging.”
In addition, influencer campaigns are much more agile than traditional advertising campaigns that may take many months to plan and execute.
“Influencers can work very flexibly, so you can be much more responsive to trends that people are talking about—we can brief an influencer and create content within 48 hours,” says Hall.
Engaging relevant influencers
Selecting the right influencer for a brand can be a challenging process, and there is not a one-size fits all approach, says Hall. When pairing influencers with brands, Goat will first look at the metrics an influencer is achieving, such as how many impressions they are delivering, their engagement rate and how relevant any comments are. Goat also ensures any influencers it works with are consumers of the brand being promoted.
“If it looks inauthentic, it’s never going to work,” says Hall.
Fuel Hub works with a range of influencers, from elite athletes such as British Olympic gold medal winner Jonny Brownlee to micro influencers.
“It’s important to have a mix,” says Berry. “Micro and nano influencers tend to work better in volume but they also have higher engagement, so their followers are more likely to share the content.”
It is also important to select influencers who have previous experience with seasonal marketing.
“If they have a track record of doing great holiday campaign content, that’s another rationale for using them,” says Nazir.
However, brands should ensure their seasonal strategies are an extension of their always-on strategy rather than something entirely different, she says.
“Often brands lean into being quite short term and promotional in their seasonal campaigns, and they miss an opportunity to connect to their wider brand story,” Nazir says.
Agriculture-focused marketing agency Filament gives its clients’ influencers freedom to speak about a range of topics as part of their always-on strategy, but then during certain seasons the brief becomes more prescriptive.
“At the start of the year we say here are all the topics we would love for you to talk about at some point during the year, but for these specific months, this is the content we need you to talk about,” says Danielle Burken, senior manager at Filament. Once the influencer campaigns are up and running, measuring their success ultimately depends on the objective the brand is trying to achieve.
“If you’re looking for awareness, then it’s reach and impressions, but if your objective is conversion and sales, then you need to look at different attribution tools such as affiliate links, coupon codes or website visits,” says Nazir.
By taking these steps and engaging the right influencers, brands have a better chance of rising above the seasonal noise and maximising their sales.
Combining consumer insights with influencer marketing campaigns
Meltwater’s suite of products including Radarly (consumer intelligence) and Klear (influencer marketing) can help brands understand more about their customers and how best to reach them in periods of seasonality
Standing out from the crowd is the biggest challenge brands face during periods of seasonality. For influencer campaigns to have impact, brands need to be confident about who they are targeting. Once that has been defined, it is then a question of how best to reach them. By combining Meltwater’s Klear and Radarly platforms, brands can build up a clearer picture of their target audience and manage their marketing efforts all in one place, making it easier to plan and execute seasonal campaigns.
The first step on that journey is for brands to understand who their customers are—and the best way to do that is by using consumer insights tools.
“These are able to track what is said about brands and their products but also take note of changing consumer behaviour and interests,” says Natali Savic, insight solution lead for Radarly at Meltwater.
For example, using consumer insights tools like Radarly enables brands to track how consumer demand varies with seasonality, as well as identifying when consumers are most active and engaged on social media. This helps brands ensure they are promoting the right products at the right time.
“The idea is to leverage the social data to forecast seasonal trends and plan marketing campaigns so they align with consumer behaviour and preferences,” says Savic.
Those consumer insights enable brands to segment their target audience based on certain characteristics, for instance by values, beliefs and opinions, as well as more traditional demographics and geography. By segmenting their audience, brands can start to build more personalised campaigns that are tailored around those different needs and pain points.
“Demonstrating customer intimacy is very important because customers want to know that brands are not only interested in transactions but that they have a wider purpose and are invested in topics that matter to the customer,” says Savic. “Segmentations based on values and belief are much stronger than the common criteria that were used in the past that were based on gender and demographics.”
Segmenting for success
This approach to audience segmentation, therefore, can lead to more successful marketing campaigns.
“It increases the likelihood of engagement and conversions because you are aligned with the audience’s seasonal needs and desires,” says Savic. “It can also drive greater brand loyalty, which should have a positive impact on your business and your reputation.”
Brands need to be aware of potential challenges when it comes to generating consumer insights. The first is ensuring the right data is being collected. For instance, there might be a low volume of data because a topic is too niche, or there may be too much data because the topic being tracked is too broad.
“It’s very important to make sure the data set is well defined and relevant so that it can pick up seasonal fluctuations and you can extract insights based on this,” says Savic.
A second challenge is that brands sometimes want to base their campaigns on static, historical data.
“It’s better to conduct ongoing data collection because it means brands will not only stay up to date with the latest industry trends and consumer preferences or behaviours, which can change rapidly, it also gives brands the ability to refine future seasonal campaigns,” says Savic.
Once that process of segmentation is complete, brands must figure out how best to engage those audiences. In periods of seasonality, when there is intense competition, one way to cut through is by using social media influencers. Klear’s platform not only enables brands to identify the right influencers, but also gives brands the tools to manage their entire campaigns.
“Klear helps marketers make data-driven decisions and execute well-crafted, targeted campaigns that are impactful, no matter if it’s an ongoing campaign or a seasonal campaign,” says Guy Avigdor, founder of Klear.
Planning seasonal campaigns
The first step in that process is to plan well in advance, typically around three months before a campaign goes live, says Avigdor. At the three month-out mark, brands need to plan their campaign strategy and objectives – for example, is it to raise brand awareness or drive sales conversions?
At the two-month mark, brands need to start their influencer outreach selection, negotiation and contracting, covering issues such as whether an influencer is paid or gifted. Six weeks out, products need to be shipped and, a month before launch, the content is created, which would need brand approval about two weeks before the campaign goes live, Avigdor says.
One reason to plan that far in advance is to ensure brands are able to work with their first choice influencers.
“Influencers can be selective about the brands they work with, so booking in advance can ensure brands get the influencers they want,” says Antonia Barchenko, senior client success executive for Klear.
Brands should also consider seeking exclusivity deals with influencers so they can’t work with competitors for a certain time period, says Barchenko.
As well as planning in advance, brands need to maintain consistent and open communication with their influencers and set expectations to ensure the campaign proceeds smoothly.
“If your influencers don’t know exactly what you’re expecting from them, you’re in trouble, so you have to make sure you’re clearly communicating with them,” says Avigdor.
Brands also need to ensure they have appropriate contingency plans in place, such as adding extra buffer days to safeguard against delays and missed deadlines, says Barchenko.
To aid this process, Klear has created a holiday calendar to help brands identify the most opportune times to launch their seasonal influencer campaigns.
“It will help brands plan their campaigns strategically, and by aligning campaigns with specific holidays and cultural events, brands can resonate with their target audiences and leverage the heightened season engagement,” says Avigdor.
Measuring campaign performance
Once the campaign is live, brands then need to track progress and report on outcomes to ensure they are achieving their return on investment.
“Klear helps brands track their campaigns from start to finish so you can see the overall metrics such as views and engagement and which influencers made the biggest impact for your company,” says Avigdor.
Not only can that tracking enable brands to refine campaigns while they are in progress, it will also help inform future campaign planning to increase their chances of success.
“It’s always a learning curve with any type of campaign, but especially with holiday campaigns,” says Barchenko. “Tracking your campaign performance is an important part of the process so you can understand how you can make your efforts better in future.”
Taking your seasonal influencer campaigns to the next level
Consumer intelligence is the key to unlocking a brand's target market – and how to connect with them
Influencer marketing campaigns are a key way for brands to gain audience traction during periods of seasonality. But to get there, brands must first get the foundations right by using customer insights to understand their target market and how to connect with them.
Here are five tips to help brands elevate their seasonal influencer marketing campaigns:
1. Define your target audience
Brands need to understand their target customers before they start any influencer campaign. “We have our core customers, then we have segmentations around that. So, when you start with any campaign, it’s important to know who the customer is and the demographics around them,” says Katie Berry, head of brand at Fuel Hub.
Brands might also choose to segment by psychographics – the interests and values of a customer – or geography (is the campaign location specific, for instance). With that information, brands can create a detailed persona of customers within those audience segments. “Once you dig deep into the customer profile, you can build more personalised campaigns,” says Berry.
These days, audiences gravitate towards online tribes based on complex interactions and relationships, with shared ideas, values and behaviours. Audience segments are more fluid and intertwined, so marketing professionals need a more sophisticated way to gain an accurate understanding of them that goes far beyond what conventional demographics can deliver.
Smart audience segmentation technology can help you research the different communities that exist within your broader target audiences, empowering you to target them more effectively with highly optimised marketing campaigns that make a powerful impact. Detailed audience insights will give you an understanding of the shared affinity they have for brands, media, influencers, and more.
Do… focus on segmentation and audience personas.
Don’t… start a campaign without first understanding who your audience is.
2. Tap into influencer knowledge
Influencers are closely engaged with their audience, which is possible because they know what makes them tick. When brands build communities with influencers, they get to tap into those customer insights.
“It’s one of the biggest ways to find out what consumers want and when they want it,” says Danielle Burken, senior manager at Filament. “By tapping into the influencers, you gain access to those anecdotal insights, which can be so helpful from a seasonality perspective.”
Burken says her company uses Klear to help select influencers because they can see the demographics of an influencer’s audience, so they can get a feel for who they are and what they’re interested in. “That’s been a game changer for us,” she says.
Do… take advantage of your influencers’ audience insights.
Don’t… pick influencers without first understanding the demographics of their audience.
3. Reflect audience diversity
Brands whose products have broad appeal need to ensure the diversity of their influencers reflects their audience segments. “The content needs to be different for each interest group, age range and socio-economic background. So it’s vital that a brand’s influencers don’t look the same,” says Emily Hall, senior campaign director at social media and influencer marketing agency Goat.
That means brands need to be open-minded about the influencers they choose to work with, and they must reflect the target audience. Those influencers can then repurpose the message in a way their customers can relate to – which is likely a segment the brand can’t reach through its own messaging, says Hall.
Do… ensure your influencers mirror your target customers.
Don’t… just hire influencers with similar profiles and backgrounds.
4. Listen to audience feedback
Brands can quickly tweak campaigns according to influencers’ audience responses. “We analyse data that measures the effectiveness of a campaign and whether purchases were made on the back of it,” says Hall. That can provide invaluable insights for brands, who can make changes to the content if needed, she says.
Do… engage with consumers who have watched influencer content.
Don’t… persist with content if a campaign is not working as expected – go and fix it.
5. Think like your customers
Brands need to put themselves in their consumers’ shoes when they want to cut through seasonal noise, says Gareth Crew, senior social media manager at Garmin. “That’s a tip for all of marketing but especially for seasonal activity when there is so much going on,” he says. That means keeping an eye on what a brand’s competitors are doing and honing in on the impulses that will make the audience stop and pay attention.
Do… think about the types of content that have stopped you in your tracks during seasonal periods.
Don’t… put out bland content that will get lost in the noise.
Seasonal influencer marketing in practice
Cutting through noise during the busiest periods of the year can require a fresh approach
Wearable tech company Garmin is one of many consumer goods companies that are already using influencer marketing to get their brand messaging across during periods of seasonality.
The main pain point Garmin faces, says its senior social media manager, Gareth Crew, is getting people’s attention, as audiences focus on a plethora of different platforms and priorities, and reaching them with key messages can be difficult.
“You’re competing for space, and when you’re trying to talk to consumers about new or existing products with a specific price point offering, it’s challenging to get that information across,” he says.
That is especially evident during the Christmas season, Crew says.
“Even if you consider that the consumer is probably more engaged than at any other point in the year, it doesn’t matter because there’s so much competition for their attention,” he says.
To help with that, Garmin works with social media influencers to talk directly to its target audiences. It then uses Klear data to get insights into how those influencers are engaging with their audiences so that Garmin can understand audience interests and how they react to certain terms.
“That then allows us to work with our creators with mid-funnel level activity, so we can get that cut through,” says Crew.
For example, if Garmin is working with a running influencer, at Christmas they will often talk about biking in the dark or indoors, Crew says.
“We can then use those insights and word clouds to think about a product offer and how we position it with that particular creator when they’re talking about those elements to their audience,” says Crew.
While data and metrics are important factors in choosing influencers, so too is authenticity. “We look at how creators resonate with their audience and if they show that passion about the products or lifestyle they’re promoting,” says Crew.
Relying on influencers is becoming ever more important as social media channels tweak their algorithms and make it harder for brands to get their marketing messages across. “It’s challenging to get any of those key messages to our audience effectively on Instagram,” he says. By using influencers, brands increase their chances of content being pushed to end users.
For Garmin, seasonality is not just about holidays but about the activities their audiences take part in at points in the calendar, which means the company needs to tailor its strategy accordingly.
“For the big seasons like Thanksgiving and Christmas, when people are looking for a bargain, we shift our marketing to price point and how they can gift our products to their loved ones,” says Crew. “But for those seasons of activity, for instance, when people are training for marathons, we shift our marketing to being a partner in that journey with them.”
As with many brands, how Garmin measures the success of its influencer campaigns hinges on a campaign’s objectives.
“For increasing awareness in areas where we don’t have exposure, we would measure awareness and engagement,” says Crew. “But if we’re looking at, say, branded partnership ads or the fact that they’re talking to a mature segment of our audience, we expect them to help us sell products.”
Garmin’s top tips for engagement
As well as putting himself in the consumer’s shoes, Gareth Crew outlines his other key marketing hacks to make his seasonal influencer campaigns a success.
Focus on the channel
“Tailor your creative to the audience and channel. If you put the same content on, say, LinkedIn, TikTok and Reddit, it won’t work because they’re all different and it needs to be relevant to the people who are using those channels.”
Watch your metrics
“Measure, measure and measure – and don’t be afraid to get it wrong. You can spend hours, days or weeks strategising without success, or you can spend 2 minutes and it all works. Sometimes you don’t actually know why, but that goes back to having the insights into who your customers are and how they’re engaging.”
Pricing is key
“Especially this year, we can't just rely on price points to help the campaigns, we have to illustrate the value for money that our products provide, complemented by our incredibly strong campaign creative. Regardless of all the snazzy, creative activity, anything that we do is going to be about value for money.”
Don’t scrimp on ESG
“You can be working with the best creators in the world. You could be getting the best message across. But if you aren’t conscious of environmental and social factors, that could be damaging to your brand.”
The power of consumer intelligence
Consumer intelligence in today’s FMCG industry requires marketers to move beyond surface-level demographic data to understand audiences’ shared values, beliefs, and motivations