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Published in Content Marketing category on (04/14/2016)

What the Rise of Influencer Marketing Means for Data-Driven Marketers

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How to Harness the Power of Word-of-Mouth

Did you know that Google classifies the keyword “Influencer Marketing” as a breakout phrase, experiencing growth levels of over 5,000%? What does this mean and why should you care?

Influencer Marketing is a game-changer in both the content marketing and data-driven marketing landscape, enabling brands to grow their brand awareness, harness the power of word-of-mouth on social media, and to track, measure, and analyze their influence.

What is Influencer Marketing? Influencer Marketing is an effective way for brands to collaborate with industry leaders who typically have a large social media presence, and to use the influence of both the brand and the influencer to expand their audience and create content that intersects with the interests of their targeted demographics.

When finding an influencer to collaborate with, brands should keep the following in mind:

  1. Can the influencer expand their audience?
  2. Is the influencer a respected leader in their field?
  3. How will the influencer promote their collaboration to generate the greatest amount of traffic to the piece of content or event?
  4. How can a long-term relationship with the influencer be developed to create multi-stage campaigns for example, can you invite an influencer to do a guest blog post, then speak on a session panel, and eventually develop an asset out of the work that the brand and influencer have created together?

But what do I know? Recently, I was flattered to learn that I was listed as one of the top 50 Marketing Influencers, and the #2 content marketing influencer by Onalytica. This was a huge honor for me because I believe so strongly in the power of Influencer and Content Marketing.

I try to practice what I preach as the CEO of my own company, the Marketing Insider Group, and as mentioned on my blog, when working with an influencer, you want to set goals and agree on brand message, who you are trying to reach, and what is the call to action or desired reaction for audiences to take after reading or engaging with a piece of co-branded content. When trying to engage in a successful collaboration with an influencer, my advice is to create content that is smart:

Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound Key Takeaway.”

How you start a smart and successful influencer campaign is important, but any data-driven marketer wants to know, how will Influencer Marketing influence the buying decisions of prospects and leads? The power of word-of-mouth cannot be overstated when it comes to making buying decisions. 84% of consumers of global online consumers trust recommendations from people that they know and respect. But the power of word-of-mouth is not restricted to in-person interactions and recommendations, but oftentimes is powered by social media.  

According to a McKinsey study:

Social recommendations induced an average of 26 percent of purchases across all product categories, according to our data. That’s substantially higher than the 10 to 15 percent others have estimated. For the 30 product categories we studied, roughly two-thirds of the impact was direct; that is, recommendations played a critical role at the point of purchase. The remaining third was indirect: social media had an effect at earlier decision-journey touch points—for example, when a recommendation created initial awareness of a product or interactions with friends or other influencers helped consumers to compare product attributes or to evaluate higher-value features.

When making buying decisions, prospects are often weighing how much clout a brand has, who is recommending their services and product, and what industry leaders think of those brands. But recommendations of products and services aren’t limited to review sites or online magazines, but extend to the social media accounts and blogs of the influencers themselves.

According to the Social Media Examiner, “In a poll of 125 marketers conducted by online promotions firm Tomoson and reported in AdWeek, marketers rated Influencer Marketing as the fastest-growing online customer acquisition tactic, beating organic search, paid search and email marketing.”

Influencer Marketing is considered such an effective tactic, it beats out email marketing, once thought of as the most powerful form of B2B marketing tactics. So how can you take advantage of the benefits of Influencer Marketing for your brand?

Join me and our host, Certain, in our Twitter Chat on Thursday, April 21st (12 PM EDT and 9 AM PDT) on How to Influence People and Gain Authority: Michael Brenner on How Influencer Marketing Creates Conversions.

I will provide marketers with actionable tips on how to increase brand awareness, how marketers can effectively grow their social media channels, and which tactics can help create content that converts leads. We will discuss how marketers can gain influence and how to leverage that influence to ultimately increase your bottom line. Tune in, join the chat, and ask me your questions. See you there!

In the meantime, Certain and I wanted to give a sneak-peek into our Twitter Chat.

5 Questions and Answers To Get You Thinking About Influencer Marketing:

Question: What has led to the rise of Influencer Marketing and how can marketers stay ahead of this trend?

Michael: Interruption techniques, like banner ads, are becoming less and less effective. But we will always listen to our colleagues, friends, and those folks who are influential thought leaders in their fields. Influencer marketing has risen in importance as brands have realized that they need to tap into the authority and the audience’s that influencer’s have built in order to break through all the noise.

Question: Talk to me more about your “smart” rule when it comes to Influencer Marketing: Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound Key Takeaway?

Michael: All goals should be SMART. As I’m sure many of us have seen this before. But it is especially important when working with influencers. I’ve seen too many pitch letters that say something like “Hey, we want you to be an influencer for us.” With no details. So aside from making it easy for the influencer to participate, you also spell out why it’s meaningful and beneficial for them.

Question: I read that you tend to stay away from trying to “measure the ROI on every piece of content.” Can you talk about the philosophy behind this, and how you do evaluate if your Influencer Marketing was effective?

Michael: I have found that the Pareto principle applies to content marketing as it does for anything else. 20% of your activity will deliver 80% of your results. Some brands spend so much time developing, promoting, and then measuring a single piece of content. But what they should have been doing is developing 10. Because we know that for every 10 pieces, 8 will fail and 2 will be awesome. So get away from thinking about content marketing as individual pieces and think of your marketing programs as conversations, where some words have much more meaning and impact than others.

Question: When did you realize that you were an influencer, and how did it change the way you engaged with your audience?

Michael: I’m extremely humbled to even answer this question. But it was about 4 years ago when I was first listed as a Marketing influencer on someone’s list. And then that led to more lists and more requests for speaking and contributing. But it didn’t make me rich. My kids still think I’m a dork. The biggest insight for me is that I know I don’t have all the answers to the questions my audience is trying to answer. So I believe in reaching out to experts all the time and bringing their knowledge to my audience as often as I can.

Question: You wrote the book, The Content Formula. Do you think that there is a formula to effective Influencer Marketing, and if so, what would it be?

Michael: The Content Formula can be applied to any investment. Stop doing things that don’t work and start doing things that work and can be measured. I believe that content marketing allows you to reach, engage, and convert buyers you would have never reached without doing content marketing. The exact same thing applies to influencer marketing.

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