The average person is seeing 300-700 offline advertisements, dozens of promotional emails, banner ads, pop-ups and other digital junk every single day. It’s an age of unprecedented data proliferation. You’ve likely seen first-hand the toll it’s taking on consumers. Amidst all this noise, are we really surprised that consumers don’t want to hear from us?
As you might already know, influencer marketing can help reinvigorate the relationship between brands and consumers. According to a 2015 study from Schlesinger Associates, a full 81% of marketers reported influencer initiatives were “effective.” Despite this fact, few marketers are developing long-term influencer marketing programs. The truth is the majority of digital budgets are getting eaten up by marketing automation, data initiatives, cloud solutions and good old fashioned advertising.
In our latest eBook, we argue that it’s time for marketers to stage an intervention. It’s time for less automation. Less data. Fewer marketing channels. And less noise. Bottom line – it’s time for marketers to say less, and mean more. Of course, influencer marketing won’t solve every single problem a brand is experiencing. But, connecting to your customers via influencers is a darn good place to start.
As part of this eBook, we reached out to some friends and colleagues in search of answers. These folks happen to be some of the most successful and influential voices in marketing. They shared groundbreaking insights that we couldn’t help but pass along. Read on to get a taste of these influencer insights, or download the full eBook for the full story.
1. Stop Thinking Like a Marketer
“Influencer marketing can play an incredible role in the future of driving consumer engagement. But, it must start with not thinking like a marketer, or thinking that this is rooted in the same principles as traditional marketing.”
Influencer efforts should not be treated like other marketing campaigns. Sure, you can track and scale what works. But, you should never treat influencers or consumers as tools or tactics. Tactics can be disposed. People can’t. As Brian points out in the eBook, this is about developing relationships above all else. These relationships will naturally have a positive impact on your marketing, but the focus must remain on relationship development.
2. You Don’t Own Your Brand
“Using influencers in the process of brand building, and product sales builds a sense of brand ownership among the participants that reflects the real brand owner, the consumer.”
All too often, marketers talk about adopting consumers into some sort of mythical “community.” There’s really no such thing. If we offer enough value, consumers might just let us into their communities, where they own the conversation about our brands. In Ted’s section of the eBook we discuss how marketers must make a commitment to truly caring for consumers, if we likewise expect consumers to care about our brands.
95% of companies fail to exceed the expectations of their customers – American Express
3. A Mission is Pointless Without the Customer
“The first step to marketing that drives clear business results is to define a customer-focused mission. This is the only way for a brand to earn their target customer’s attention and deliver value ahead of the sale.”
The reason so many mission statements end up in the trash can is they are rooted in the brand, rather than the customer community. Over time, we discover that the mission statement doesn’t do any good. Why? Well, it simply doesn’t get us closer to the customer. In order to get more from marketing, we must come to believe that our marketing activities should serve a greater brand mission. By dedicating yourself to a customer-centric mission, you’ll be able to dust off that old mission statement and start anew.
48% of the most effective marketers have a documented editorial mission statement as a part of their content strategy – Content Marketing Institute
4. Ride With the Rising Stars
“Stay away from big names that don’t have time and focus on a middle-tier that are trying to become rock stars, and then involve those special few in every content opportunity you have - events, eBooks, research, blogs, podcasts, etc. These influencers then become a true extension of your marketing team.”
Identifying rising stars is no easy task. Software (ours!) can do most of this legwork for you. Beyond that, the most important task is getting behind your influencers, and sticking with it! In our latest eBook, Joe argues that developing relationships with mid-tier influencers who match up with your brand will pay off in a big way over the course of several months. Better yet, grow your influencer relationships over a few years and you’ll find them to be a true extension of your organization.
5. Push Past Vanity Metrics
“The instinct is for brands is to focus on vanity metrics, but trust and expertise come from more than just a big following. It comes from the depth and value of the content and the influencers’ ability to connect with a specific audience that they have and that the brand aspires to earn.”
Oh marketers, how we love our impressions. Do you remember the last time a marketing “impression” actually made an impression on you? Yeah, we haven’t seen any stellar banner ads lately either. We need to be willing to admit what is preventing success. And we need to be willing to get rid of what isn’t working. All too often, we cling to our vanity metrics because we’re afraid to admit something is broken.
6. Sharing is King
“The key to marketing success is not producing more - or even better - content, but a focus on a path to get that content to be shared by the trusted people who are most influential in our customer communities.”
Content marketers, advertising folks and social media professionals create more content every day, than is possible to consume. But until we push a blog post, ad, or campaign out into the world, do we really know if our audience will share it? Measuring, predicting and ensuring your target audience will share content about your brand is a challenge. As Mark points out, the path to sharing lies with influencers. They can tell you what content you need to create, what your audience is sharing, and weigh in on the pulse of the community. Read Mark’s section of the eBook for more on this.
76% of marketers fail to use behavioral data in targeting execution – Adobe & Razorfish
7. Everyone is an Influencer
“Brands shouldn’t focus on one type, but instead should consider a varied approach to their influencer marketing that includes a mix of employees, fans, and outsiders.”
The biggest mistake marketers make when developing an influencer program is not recognizing that everyone is influential about something. Recognizing influencer potential among employees, friends, colleagues and online advocates means many more opportunities for promotion. In step 7 of our eBook, we discuss how to identify all the people who can further your brand’s mission.
8. Start Small, Plan Big
“While it’s easy to get caught up in just one campaign, influencer marketers should plan and map out the big picture. If you only have capacity for a single campaign, start by leveraging a smaller group of influencers to engage, say 5-10.”
Influencer marketing takes time. Many marketers new to the art of influencer engagement give up way too soon. Which is why it’s crucial to start small, demonstrate a few “wins” and build upon a solid foundation. Just because your first few influencers might be mid-tier, or just plain don’t work out, doesn’t mean you won’t get a shot at working with the biggest names in the biz. Keep your eye on the prize. In time, you’ll get there.
9. Help Them Rise and So Shall You
“Identify rising rock stars in your industry. These are people who might not have name recognition, but who have a unique point of view and a voice you align with. Help them gain visibility. Because you have helped them, they will help you.”
The most common advice top influencers give is to identify and nurture rising rock stars. In this section of the eBook we discuss how important it is to follow the “platinum” rule. In order to work with rising stars, we need to make an impression and keep them coming back.
10. Look Past the Usual Subjects
“Right now there are plenty of influencers in every industry to go around, but it’s important to look beyond the usual suspects. I would start by finding the up-and-comers. Get on their radars, and start building those relationships early on.”
Jason is quick to point out that having a unique point of view can be just as powerful as having tons of followers. As you embark on an influencer marketing adventure, look for influencers who demonstrate deeper thinking, and unique skills. These folks will rise to the top in time, and you’ll want to be on their radar.
11. Keep It Simple
“It’s simple: sustainable influencer marketing does not exist without strong relationships.”
At the end of the day, this is about building relationships. If your influencer relationships are strong, your customer connections will also get better. Keep your influencer marketing simple by remembering this.
According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends, family and peers above all other types of advertising. Despite this fact, our marketing automation machines show no signs of slowing. In An Influencer Marketing Intervention we offer a 12-step program to help marketers develop meaningful relationship with their customers through strategic influencer initiatives.
Download the full eBook to unlock additional insights from top marketers and Traackr.