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⭐Why test virtual influencers?

virtual influencer

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Welcome to a potential extinction-level event – Humpday. Take heart and stick with me because we’ll get through this. Today’s Feature Story gives you a quick look at the possibilities of testing and using virtual influencers. Then we’ll get to the following…

  • The Knowledge Base (including Reddit marketing news)
  • Self Help (time problems)
  • Facts & Stats
  • Get Hacking (breaking up)

Let’s peel open that Feature Story like a Del Monte banana.

Virtual Influencers: 3 Takeaways

#1 Don’t create your own. Non-branded virtual influencers found to be more effective than branded virtual influencers.

#2 Over a third of consumers have made a purchase after seeing a virtual influencer promote a product.

#3 TikTok is testing AI-powered virtual influencers to insert into advertising deals on the platform.

Virtual influencers are not a magic solution (yet). But these takeaways show promise. Legit sales are happening via avatars of all sorts. You don’t have to go to the trouble of creating one from scratch since that’s less engaging. And if TikTok is testing it, most brands should do some testing themselves.

Recent research shows… Study on Virtual Influencers (2024)

This super-sciency report dives deep. And a few key points made (Instagram study, BTW).

“Brand posts result in less engagement with customers on social media (Shen, 2021), regardless of whether the posts are made by real influencers or virtual influencers.” 

“Virtual influencers can have different impacts on brands and customers depending on the explicit or implicit marketing intentions in their posts… this study disagrees with previous studies that all virtual influencers produce positive brand benefits and are effective in building brand image and increasing brand awareness.”

More keys:

  • There are limited virtual influencers to study as this tech is still new (or is it?)
  • Engagement not affected by humanization of virtual influencers (not all avatars creep people out – Uncanny Valley Theory)
  • Social connectors and brand assistants showed higher customer-brand engagement than virtual storytellers and product demonstrators

The main point the science folk at stated was to avoid overt marketing in virtual influencer posts. This is no different than any social media post – since most people are there to be entertained.

What did Gator researchers find in their virtual influencer study?

University of Florida Virtual Influencer Study (2024)

Ok, not a shocker that the U of F found human influencers were generally more effective at pimping products than their virtual counterparts. However…

Better results are possible when there’s a fit between the endorser and the product.

Also, your results are likely to be improved when using a virtual influencer for functional products. Human influencers proved better for endorsing symbolic or experiential products, according to the Gators.

That tells me that how-to / informational videos could be as effective and engaging with a virtual instructor as with a flesh-n-blood instructor.

Also, pricing would matter. I’d trust Billy the Bot to sell me a pack of gum but not a trip to Guam. 

Now, I’ll give you some tools for testing/creating virtual influencers if you wanna go that route versus the more efficient move of hiring a non-branded one. 

Platforms for Creating Virtual Influencers

  1. Adobe Fuse
  2. Mixamo
  3. Maya
  4. Blender

One more thought on using virtual influencers. This is not new – it’s just that more tools and distribution are available. Because look at all the following “influencers” who never called themselves that, took a selfie at a waterfall, or wore way-too-tight yoga pants.

  • M&M’s characters
  • The Michelin Man (since 1898😲)
  • Monopoly Man character
  • Mario Bros. (they promote more than their own games)

Even motionless logos can be turned into virtual or cartoon influencers. See KFC’s Colonel Sanders (the Colonel’s also Dave Ramsey’s favorite tale of The Olds being able to become rich🐔 late in life).

My Human Take on Virtual Influencers 

Virtual people won’t ever take the place of real people in marketing. But but but, there’s a place for this technology and it’d be foolish not to test the possibilities (and boundaries). 

Just do so in combination with human influencers and marketers. There’s big upside in the cost savings and scalability possible through using avatars in video marketing. 

A creative human writing the scripts and a talented human actor-type providing nuanced guidance for the animated character or virtual avatar should be part of the plan (like with Caesar). 

These neuromarketing tips will make both a virtual and human influencer more engaging and effective too. Now, let’s crack open a cold Knowledge Base.

The Knowledge Base

YouTube affiliate marketing how to (& how not to)

Using SEO in your email campaigns?

Learn Reddit marketing (Google’s boosting Reddit’s search rankings, allegedly💰)

California news getting unGoogled

Into the shopping minds of 6000 teens

Mind-blowing details on a giant website migration

14 Big-boy blogs doing blogging right

Quick book excerpt – Non-Obvious Thinking 

Selling on Amazon gives you this data

Now, does this…

Sound familiar? 

You pop open Gmail, and you have a long list of emails to go through. Then a new email pops into your inbox. You likely open that new email rather than the long list of older emails, right?

Inbox Mailers harnesses this inbox habit for email marketers. Rather than send an email blast to your entire list at once, you can send triggered emails to the subscribers that are actively in their inbox.

This strategy can lead to open rates of up to 70%, triple click volume, and improve deliverability… which lifts your sender score and inbox placement rates! Book a Free Demo to start ramping up your email revenue. 

book demo


Self Help

Seems like yesterday we had 50th birthday parties for my Dad and Mom. Last Friday, we went to my friend’s 50th birthday party – he’s a month older than me. Time flies.

The only thing I’ve found that slows time down is… being a kid in school. Can’t wait for summer and Christmas. 

You’re grown, though. So the only thing to try is focusing on each moment. This seems to extend time or at least stretch the enjoyment of it.

*Extra self-help (for me): Please advise coworkers to stop letting AI stick the word “Demystified” in every freaking article title. Thanks for your help – I’m gonna lose it if I see “demystified” one more time this week🥴.

Inbox Hackers Shout-out:

⭐Sunni at  Foundry Brands

⭐Kate at Emerald Coast Science

Facts and Stats

  • One in every 11.7 clicks was from invalid traffic (2022-2023 Lunio)
  • Virtual Toyota Highlander video ad gets 80% of viewers saying they liked the virtual format (Media Post)
  • 35% of consumers feel AI has made shopping easier (Business Wire)

Bonus: Top two industries affected by click fraud? Answer – photography and pest control.


Taxing Email Lists

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See success stories here. 

Schedule a Free Demo (learn how you can test the platform for free too).

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Get Hacking

Time to review your ESP (email service provider) to see if you need a break! Could be time to move on to a new email marketing platform.

I’ve used a few ESPs in my time, and I’m not easily impressed. But Beehiiv has been really easy to get up to speed on. Plus, it has tons of fresh features (the ad network is very cool and holds lots of growth and revenue potential for newsletters). 

This isn’t a pitch to use Inbox Hacking’s affiliate link to Beehiiv. I didn’t even use our link back there. I just think it’s worth a look if your ESP isn’t blowing you away with function or features lately.  

Share Inbox Hacking with your marketing peeps. The pups and I thank you.

Other Inbox Hackers Liked:

Password doom loops

Ranking the top AI tools for marketing folks (podcast)

Functional beverages on the rise

The end of bots on X or the end of X (Twitter)

Recommerce opps you’re missing but Lulu & Walmart aren’t

Lost dog going back to Cali, found in Michigan!

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Thanks for reading, 

Shane McLendon, Copy Kingpin – Inbox Hacking