Influencer Marketing: how to influence your customers’ behavior?

Influencer marketing is a complementary practice to your marketing strategy to influence the choice of your targets with a suggestion. How can you do this? Let’s first talk about influencers without the marketing aspect.

In 2018, I went on a weekend trip to Amsterdam with some friends. When I got off the plane, I went to the toilet because I had drunk a lot of Chai Latte. And then I discovered… a fly tag in the urinal. And it’s simple, we boys are sometimes a bit stupid. So indeed, when there’s something in the urinal… well, we aim at it. So, I aimed at the fly, and guess what, my friends told me that they did too.

So, you’re going to ask me why I’m telling you this toilet story? Very simply because it’s an example of what we call “influencer”. Not that I usually pee everywhere, but there are lazy, disrespectful people who unfortunately don’t aim.

So, this fly has given some people an influencer to avoid peeing everywhere, saved 80% of the expense of toilet cleaning time, and is the most widely used example of an influencer. By tapping into primitive parts of the brain, this fly influenced the behavior of its target.

How does influencer work?

We don’t just make rational choices. Sometimes irrational choices outnumber our rational choices because things take over: our emotions and our current state of mind.

Would you rather throw your cigarette butt on the ground and pollute, or participate in one of the debates that divide the planet?

Here we find aspects of responsible gamification. You want to express your opinion and say that Ronaldo deserves more because he’s a huge worker or that Messi is talent incarnate, the God of football.

Knowing that it takes water to clean up people’s dirt and that your urine also contains rich elements for flower growth…

If all goes well, you have chosen the side of the debate or the flowers. That’s what nudging is all about: a little influencer, an indirect positive suggestion, and bang, our brain, lazy as it is, takes the direction desired by the person who gave you the information.

Influencing people’s decisions and actions is nothing new for anyone. But the tricky thing about the influencer theory is that it’s about making that influencer discreet enough to alter the person’s choice without them realizing it, without them thinking they’ve made a voluntary choice. Have you seen a reminder that throwing a cigarette butt on the ground is extremely bad? Or that relieving oneself all over the street is not very hygienic or respectful?

The lever will often be the appeal to common sense and the reminder of the validity of the choice you have made. An influencer has been talked about for more than 10 years, following the publication of the book “Influencer: the gentle method for inspiring the right decision” by Thaler and Sunstein. It has been applied by governments, communities, and companies. To sell, of course, but also to improve internal processes: by better understanding the behavior of employees, it is possible to predict certain results on their well-being or productivity following minor changes.

The example of Google’s all-you-can-eat canteen is quite striking: giving employees the possibility of eating whatever they want is very good. But at work, behind a desk when you snack, it’s rarely broccoli. So, Google, concerned about the health of its employees, put in place more opaque sweet dispensers (to hide what they contain), and moved the healthier products to the front of the canteen, as well as positioning the sugar-free drinks at eye level. The result, as you might expect, is a significant drop in the consumption of sugary products. And you’ll notice that the testers didn’t take away any choices from the employees: they changed their habits thanks to this influencer. You can technically still eat as much candy as you want at Google.

Should Influencer Marketing be implemented in your digital strategy?

Well, yes and no!

Let’s start by explaining why “no”. It would be unethical to suggest that you use Influencer Marketing as we see it in many cases: push notifications on booking sites (“9 people are currently looking at this accommodation”, “Only one room left”), a free month’s trial of a tool that leads to a tacit subscription, a pop-up on a site that asks you “Do you want to increase traffic to your site? with the choice of “yes” or “no” before collecting your email…

The examples are numerous: these methods easily manipulate your ability to make the most reasonable choice. Stressing you out on some booking sites or companies that take advantage of people’s high procrastination skills so that they forget to cancel their automatic subscription is not in line with the core values proposed by Thaler and Sunstein, nor with those of our agency.

There must be a win-win relationship between the company and the individual, that it is for the common good. Note that in a fast-food restaurant, you often only have the choice of selecting the top version of your menu, the Maxi Best-Of from McDonald’s for example. For a Chinese study, a student offered customers the lower version of the menu. Between 17 and 33% of customers chose it, which means 200 fewer calories per menu! The individual wins and the company are not obliged to produce blindly.

So yes, you should use Influencer Marketing if you want to benefit everyone. Arial worries about energy waste by putting on its laundry packs to wash at 30°C, hotels inform you of the percentage of people who reuse their towels to encourage you to do so (and save money) …

Influencer marketing is inexpensive if you know which levers influence your target’s decisions. You must therefore already know the psychology of your persona and its expectations regarding your product or service. But you also need to find out what their “bad” behaviors are to know how to get them to change them. Your product or service must bring about these changes!

Sometimes Influencer Marketing can be as simple as changing your action button on the website, adding a powerful statistic about complementary products to the product viewed on your e-commerce, adding more empathy in your wording… Analyze the user journey, and make small changes to test the reactions! Remember, our brains are lazy, so proceed in small steps so as not to confuse your site visitors.


Influencer marketing is a good idea, but only under certain conditions.

Through small, not necessarily expensive, approaches, you can help your target to make the right choice (or at least the choice you want them to make, and we hope it is in everyone’s interest). Influencer marketing is often used for purposes that are contrary to its nature: the common good. With an ethical and sustainable approach, Influencer Marketing is beneficial to your consumers/website visitors, to your business, to your communication and is a natural part of a well-honed Inbound Marketing strategy!

Would you like to get more information about influencer marketing? Contact us today

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