As more and more brands go digital, seeing the obvious benefit, the competition is becoming fierce. At the same time consumers are being inundated with ads/marketing messages and frankly, they are annoyed by it. Most people ignore banner ads, 26% (and rising) are using ad blocking software, and others are opting out of ads with paid subscriptions (i.e. Youtube Red or Spotify Premium). Recently Facebook announced that it will limit brand posts in users’ news feeds and focus on friends and family again. Businesses will be relegated to a new section, and you can be sure Instagram is soon to follow (as well as Twitter, LinkedIn, and more).
Tell me if this sounds familiar: “we used to get more traffic and leads but they’ve started to slow down” or “our CPA has increased in the last few years.”
If so, you’re not alone!
At Site-Seeker, we’ve developed a number of ways to stay ahead of the game to increase leads and decrease CPA (cost-per-acquisition). This post will show you one tactic we use to get around these alarming trends; to engage with your audience in a less intrusive way, while converting better, and delighting customers.
Influencer marketing is a hot topic these days, but what is it exactly? And how can it help your business?
An influencer is anyone who has an audience and, more specifically, the trust and engagement of that audience. You can think of it as a form of “word of mouth” business mixed with native advertising. Only, the person spreading the word is online and thus works on a larger scale than the pre-internet days.
And, as we all know, word of mouth is possibly the most effective form of advertising that exists. People trust the recommendations of others. Oftentimes influencers are thought leaders in their field or niche, with a following that closely resembles their own interests and lifestyle.
Influencer marketing, then, is the art of getting influencers to promote your product/service/brand to their audience.
(Note: you may also see the mention of terms influencers and micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are simply those with a smaller audience. Some brands find that it’s better business to recruit a large number of micro-influencers that add up to the same audience size as 1-2 big influencers, as the costs may be lower and the engagement/conversion rate may be higher.)
Simply put, influencers can break through the noise and get better engagement than traditional ads or self-serving posts. Their audience is more likely to listen to what they have to say while ignoring the ads or brand posts around their content. There is a degree of trust with their followers (so make sure your offering is truly helpful) and their content can’t be hidden by ad blockers or behind a “pay to play” wall.
Influencer marketing has been a CORE component of CoreLife Eatery’s (pun intended) digital marketing strategy. We’ve been able to achieve rapid growth and lines out the door at each grand opening using this tactic (as well as others which you can read about here). We primarily utilize a strategy in which we reach out to micro-influencers, that we identify with a method we’ve developed in-house, and offer them a VIP experience in which they then end up spreading the word on social media, leaving positive reviews before the official store opening, and the micro-influencers themselves feel special for being chosen and also end up being loyal customers. This is one example and, of course, we customize this process to best fit other clients’ business types.
How Do I Find/Hire/Gain/Get Influencers?
The first step in this, and any marketing activity, is to define your Buyer Personas. These profiles of your target market will help you understand their demographics, interests, media and consumption habits, and pain points. With this information in mind you can look for influencers with a similar audience or that fit the Persona themselves. From there you can find and hire (or create) influencers in these more specific ways:
The first most obvious method is to hire influencers to promote your product or service to their audience. This usually means paying social media ‘stars’ (Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc) or bloggers a set fee that you negotiate (but can also include celebrities and regular users with a large enough following). You can search organically or use a tool.
Another way you can incentivize influencers (usually micro-influencers) to promote your business is through product giveaways. As mentioned above, Core Life Eatery sends “VIP coupons” for free meals to local fitness professionals when they enter a new market. These people usually have a large following and will post about their experience on networks like Instagram. If you have a product you can send it to bloggers/micro-influencers for free so that they will review or post about it on their website or social networks.
If you’re a small business then focusing on micro-influencers can actually be more beneficial:
Micro-influencers are 10x more likely to drive purchase intent than celebrities.
30% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity influencer. Consumers relate to them & value their opinions more than a celebrity.[via @CollectiveBias]
— Daniel Weber (@DanielWeberMktg) May 29, 2018
Create Brand Advocates
You can also create your own micro-influencers, organically!
A comprehensive marketing strategy should focus not only on making people aware of your business and then making sales, but also in enhancing the relationship with your already existing customers.
By delighting your customers with content, building a community or engaging them socially (showing off your well-developed brand personality), or having a mission that is larger than your business you will create brand advocates: People who WANT to talk about your company because they love it! Think of ways you can get people to naturally share your product, service, or content.
Elon Musk has done this brilliantly. People want to promote his companies because of their overarching mission (clean energy), creative/silly campaigns (i.e. sending a Tesla into space), and through his unique personality or outside the box thinking.
As mentioned in the statistics above, online reviews are very influential to people, even if they don’t know the reviewer. You can generate reviews for your service business or product as a way to secure trust and generate more business. You can generate reviews by giving away products, asking past customers to leave feedback on your service, and by ensuring that you’re visible on 3rd party review sites like Yelp or Google My Business. Yelp itself has its own community of micro-influencers called Yelp Elite, this is a great audience to reach out to when opening a new restaurant or bar.
Finally, another way to use the power of influencers is to set up a referral or affiliate program for your business. By doing this you incentivize anybody to promote your brand to their network of friends or followers with rewards (discounts, money, or free goods/services).
Many motivated bloggers, for example, will seek out opportunities to promote quality products or services to their audience where they can be rewarded in turn.
One reason Amazon grew so quickly was their easy to use affiliate program. It incentivized bloggers to link to Amazon product pages instead of competitors by giving them a commission for any sales that resulted from clicks on those links. On the referral side of things, AirBnB experienced tremendous growth from their referral program.
Today there are maps that make it easy for any business to leverage these strategies to grow.
So there you have it, it’s pretty clear that influencer marketing should be a part of every marketing strategy in 2018 and if it’s not, you’re missing out.