Trust is an ever-present factor in marketing practices. In the eyes of the customer, you are either a credible source of useful industry information or a bullhorn for your products and services. For marketers who are struggling to build thought leadership credibility in today’s marketplace, influencer marketing has arisen to help. Leveraging outside influencers in content allows brands to collect a true understanding of their customers – and how to gain their trust.
We’ve enlisted the help of Mark Schaefer, Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, to help start this path toward influencer marketing proficiency. Schaefer is a college educator, marketing consultant, keynote speaker and best-selling author of five marketing books, including The Content Code.
Schaefer is a big proponent of building trust for long-term relationships, aligning content (and influencers) with the right customer base, and teaching teams to identify what content is needed at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
We were fortunate enough ask Mark some questions and tap into his influencer marketing expertise to help brands (like yours) better understand how to create a successful influencer marketing strategy.
#1 - What is one way that you think brands can incorporate influencers to build trust with their audience?
A primary way is when a brand is in urgent need to build awareness but does not have time to build an engaged audience of their own. In this case, a common strategy is to “borrow” the trust of an influencer's audience, whether through a paid engagement or through the identification of those who are authentic advocates.
#2 - What are 3 best practices that marketers should follow as part of a long-term plan to build trust and credibility with target customers?
- Treat people online like you would treat them offline, especially when it comes to privacy and interruptive ads
- Create a corporate mindset of “help help help” instead of "sell sell sell"
- Combine old-school methods like discussion and surveys with online data to learn about customer wants and needs
#3 - How can creating influencer-driven content help build trust with an audience?
One of my students recently told me, "I hate ads, but I love watching videos from people that I trust." I think that sums it up. People love hearing from those they know and trust. They don't trust brand messaging.
#4 - What is the biggest mistake marketers make when trying to map their customers' journey?
Underestimating the complexity. Today, the customer journey is a tangled mess.
One customer told me their research shows that from the time a customer clicked on their site to purchase, it was nine months. What happens in that nine months? Ads? PR? Word of mouth? Social media? Probably all of those.
Technology is improving to help us track this but the journey is becoming more complex, not less.
#5 - How much should marketers focus on creating content for every step of their customers' journey?
I think this activity is determined by a number of factors. What are the competitors doing and what is your opportunity for leverage? Where should a company best focus their resources?
For example, an end of aisle display may work better than an investment in content. There is no cookie-cutter answer. You have to have a keen sense of your ideal marketing investment based on your best opportunity to maneuver in your marketplace.
Continuing the Training
Schaefer’s answers point to an ever-increasing need for education on trust, especially when it comes to influencer and content marketing. Through the Academy of Influencer Marketing, we’ve aimed to provide the exercises and team trainings that can help professionals build audience trust by aligning content and influencers to a specific buyer or customer need.
We thank Schaefer for his contributions, and you can read more of his thoughts in our recent eBook, Influencer Marketing Intervention.
Next Step: Coming to the Crossroads
Check back next week to hear from Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi on the crossroads of influencer and content.
Discover how to strengthen the connections between your content and influencers with the second course of Traackr’s Academy of Influencer Marketing: Confluence.