Influencer marketing is a medium built on trust and authenticity. The deeper an influencers relationship with their audience, the more weight their voice carries. Like all mediums consumers have already started to become inert to paid advertising delivered through influencers. So how do you get your message out with influencers?
These 7 steps provide practical advice for selecting influencers, as well as creating and maintaining win-win relationships that drives measurable (yes, measurable) results.
- Shortlisting your influencers
Selecting the right influencers to work with is critical to successful influencer marketing, it’s worth putting the extra time and effort at the tart to make sure you’ve found the right person. These four elements will help you make the right choice:
- The right audience
You know your customers, and your customers are already busy listening to, and interacting with influencers. Start by choosing influencers that have the same audience that you’re interested in. That ensures that any message they communicate has the maximum possible impact.
- Size of audience
Whilst it’s important that you get the largest reach possible, working with influencers that have millions of followers is considerably more difficult than working with those that have several hundred thousand. Don’t get too small though, the smallest of magazines will have a readership of 10,000 which is probably the smallest audience size you’ll want to accept. Any smaller and the effort likely won’t justify the returns. Conversely it’s been shown that influencers that have considerably more than 100,000 followers have much lower engagement rates – and therefore lower impact.
- Engaged & conversational
Engagement isn’t just about their posts attracting likes and shares. For an influencer to be effective they need to be constantly interacting with their audience. Check to ensure that they’re not just broadcasting, and they’re having actual conversations. You may also want to check how quickly they respond to messages (if at all), as speed of response can have a considerable impact on the value of a message.
Influencers that are already engaged with your brand are the most likely to become brand evangelists – with careful nurturing. These should be at the top of your priority list, and should be treated with special care. They’re already talking about your brand, and you need to deepen that relationship. Without at least an occasional pat-on-the-back, you risk your organic (the best type) influencers getting disillusioned or moving on to a competitive brand.
- Solicitation, Payment & Rewards
Not all your influencers will appear organically, nor will they all approach you, you’ll need to go out and find some on your own steam. Where ever they come from, it’s important to set some ground rules for your engagement with influencers. Will you pay them for their efforts? Will you provide product samples? How many will you fund/sponsor? How will you differentiate? There’s no hard and fast rule about how much to pay influencers, when I asked Christopher Dugal, Head of Social for Zalora, he recommends avoiding paying influencers and sticking to product sponsorship.
Like all good marketing campaigns, your influencer campaign can be measured. To quote Jay Baer “True influence drives action, not just awareness”, so instead of tracking the classic measurements such as volume of tweets, posts, sentiment and likes, try tracking referral links tracking mechanisms. By providing each influencer with an individual referral tracking URL, you can quantify how much traffic and how many conversions each of your influencers are generating. Even if they’re not commissioned or paid, there are lots of incentives you can provide them for using the links – from additional kudos & recognition in your formal campaigns, through to early access to your new products.
Run through these steps when you’re building you influencer campaign. It’s a good idea to go through them every couple of months just to make sure you’re still on track – and sticking to the principles you originally laid out.
Customer’s first, you see that emblazoned on lots of signs. How many companies really put their customers first though? A customer centric, data driven approach really is the only way to ensure that you’re consistently improving retention and staying ahead of the competition.
Understanding how your customers feel about your services is more than just a touchy feely HR excersize, it’s essential to your strategy. “I think it comes back to the essential reason as to why we want the data. To improve our business decisions. Too many decisions get made on intuition and gut feeling, rather than numbers, research and facts.” says Jori (Director APAC, Regus)
Using customer insights to create more relevant messaging
After running a survey with Survey Monkey, using an audience panel of 1000, they discovered that there were a lot of people that weren’t familiar with the brand. The survey delved into what influenced their choice of workspace. “That data helped us translate and change the messaging to specifically mention those aspects. What ‘they were looking for needed to be in the messaging, so that we could create that ‘click’.” Jori emphatically says “Knowing what your customer is looking for is critical to getting your messaging right.”
“The survey highlighted that we need to be heavily localized. Locally relevant.” Whilst many brands have a global identity, knowing who you’re serving in each local market, what their needs are, and how you can adjust your messaging to them, is very important.
As an example of how their messaging has changed, their previous (Google AdWords) campaigns had language that was focused on their global network. That has since been changed to talk about their local branch network first and only mention their global network at the end. The exercise paid off, with the localized advert content driving measurably more leads and better conversions.
The insights from the survey, and positive results from their initial localization efforts – have had an impact on their marketing across the board. There’s been change in everything from their marketing photography (using local models), to the text copy (local emphasis, local place names), right down to the keywords and core messages (why their customers buy their services in a particular country).
Your customers already know what they want
Customer feedback can have an impact well beyond just your messaging though. Your customer feedback can be leveraged to drive improvement across your business. Don’t just use one customers fancy ideas though – real insights are grounded in solid data from thousands of clients. It should hopefully feature helpful data points like “percentage of customers interested”, and weighted opinions on “would probably buy”. Which is why asking the right questions, and conducting a proper analysis on the traditional ‘feedback form’ is more important than ever before.
Customer feedback is a mountain of wealth. Use it not just to improve existing services, but as a key driver to introduce entirely new products. “It’s why we decided to partner with WiFi hotspot & airline lounge providers.”
So what does this mean for your marketing & your business?
Do not underestimate the value of data. Investigate. Even if you have an instinct, and a wealth of industry experience. Your investigation doesn’t need to be complicated, just ask a few hundred people and look for clear trends. A bigger audience is better, but a clear trend doesn’t really change with varying sample sizes. Good customer data will give your marketing clear direction, if you’re start-up it might even give you clear business direction. As Jori says “Before you build a product, build customers. Be product minded. We see a lot of startups build products, assuming that once they launch they’ll acquire customers – only to realize that they have a product no one wants. I think its essential that you know who your customers are, and those customers that you test how they respond to the product ideas, whether they’ll purchase, and whether your product solves the customers problem.”