There’s a shift happening in the advertising and marketing landscape – consumers have lost trust in traditional advertising. At the same time, they have more control than ever in how they engage with the brands they want to buy from. In response, many brands are moving their advertising dollars from conventional campaigns, opting instead to invest in creators and influencers, who share their mission, priorities and target audiences. Still, some might be hesitant: how do they successfully deploy a partnership strategy, and what do they stand to gain?

Though this movement may still be emerging in some industries, many have seen a roadmap to success with creator and influencer partnerships – and prove there’s an opportunity for brands to grow and differentiate, simply by rethinking their advertising strategies.

In fact, recently found that 80% of consumers perform online research for high-consideration products, and most are more likely to do so now compared to two years ago. This speaks to wider trends – the industry is expected to grow to $16.4 billion this year, with partnerships contributing an average of 28% of overall company revenue for high-maturity companies.

Influencer content not only attracts more loyal customers – but also has the longevity that traditional advertising and marketing campaigns often lack. Here’s what brands need to know about the creator economy, the benefits of engaging in it and how to successfully kick off these partnerships.

Why influencers, and why do brands need to act now?

We’re seeing that consumers have had enough of traditional advertising and marketing. Simply put, they don’t trust it anymore – and look for recommendations from more authentic voices like influencers, bloggers and creators on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

This shift has had a profound impact on brands, as consumers are no longer interested in what brands say about their products, but rather what others say. To reach these consumers, brands must build partnerships with influencers and creators, whose more authentic endorsements can help them to enter the consumer circle of trust.

There’s a real opportunity for those who pursue influencer partnerships to deliver a true return on their investment. Consider this: influencer content returns an average of 11 times that of other channels.

Clearly, brands that have not yet bought into an influencer strategy are leaving segments of their target audience unreached (and money on the table). Influencer partnerships could pay off in the long term, too – influencers resonate particularly well with younger audiences that will have future buying power, thus helping brands to future proof.

For those just getting started with an influencer strategy, the successes of others helps underscore all that brands stand to gain

Beauty blogger Chloe Wen and beauty website Glossier came together to create a partnership that delivered real results – for both parties. The key to their success: a similar storyline and passion points they, in turn, leveraged to create a real relationship that resonates with their audience. Glossier gifted Chloe products which she then used and reviewed in her YouTube vlog and then provided discount codes for her audience to purchase the products.

These partners were working toward the same goals: better engagement with their audience and expanded reach. As they boosted their platforms, they also boosted their revenue – in fact, Chloe’s monthly earnings grew five times over in less than a year, just from partnering with notable names like Glossier. Beyond that first year, Chloe and Glossier have developed a truly long-term, mutually beneficial partnership.

Vivino, the world’s largest wine marketplace, was having trouble gaining partnership opportunities because the team was spending long hours each month pulling reports from various systems, manually calculating payouts and creating invoices one by one. By scaling its partnership programme with technology, Vivino has been able to achieve significant time savings with automated reporting, partner contracts and payouts. In one quarter alone, Vivino increased its international partners by 67%, adding up to a staggering 454% year-over-year increase in revenue that quarter.

But, it’s important to note that good influencer strategies have had success across a number of industries, beyond beauty and beverage. Across the board, when a brand connects with the right creator and the content of the creator naturally aligns around the brand’s strategy, it results in an increase in the brand’s awareness and sales alongside growth within the influencer’s channel.

Brands should start by building long-term relationships

For brands looking to achieve similar success, signing on the right influencers is critically important – look for those who share the same mission, and are seeking authentic, real relationships.

But, what happens next is even more vital. The most valuable partnerships are nurtured over time, with both parties invested in the relationship. For a brand, this means building a fully engaged relationship with active involvement throughout the partnership lifecycle.

Transparent, consistent, and frequent communication is essential to retaining and nurturing partnerships to stay top-of-mind with influencers. One critical component of this is pay transparency: as a brand seeking an influencer relationship, it’s always best to be upfront and honest about payment terms – find the compensation model that works best for each partnership, whether it be gifting, paying per post or another option, and then automate payments accordingly.

Partnership automation tools are valuable for helping with all these communications, as well as with general relationship building, measurement and more. When it comes to the partnership economy, it’s important to remember – good relationships today, create inspiring partnerships for the future.

As brands look for ways to leverage partnerships for significant, sustainable business growth, building long-term, impactful relationships with the right influencers is key to adapt, differentiate and deliver true results in today’s rapidly evolving, complex market.

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