If you’re a businessperson, then you have undoubtedly depended on content to market your products and services. Whether the quality of your content is good or bad is another question. When we view content from the SEO perspective, things change a bit. Google uses algorithms to weed out websites based on their content to form their search engine ranking. If you’re not adhering to ethical SEO practices, you can expect a penalty. Google Penguin penalizes websites that use black-hat linking or spam tactics, whereas Google Panda degrades sites displaying low-quality content.Gone are the days when publishing a huge amount of content rich with keywords regardless of its quality level was acceptable. About.com and Ezine.com are perfect examples for this. How often do you find these websites appearing in your search results today? Compare them to the authenticated, genuine information displayed on Wikipedia and you’ll see the difference. In simple words, creating engaging and useful content that readers want now reigns supreme. It’s best to refrain from playing games and manipulating the search engines to avoid being hit.
Doing Content Distribution Right
When you make quality content a top priority and follow Google’s guidelines to the letter, can you rest assured that your site will rank well? The answer is no unless people find your content interesting enough to click. This is where content distribution comes into play. You wouldn’t want to target members of PETA to market content about crossbows in hunting season, would you? So, good distribution is clearly essential.
Content distribution can be done through traditional as well as digital means. If you’re wondering which of these is better, you must know that they’re just about equal. However, in the digital medium, SEO becomes important to target the right audience for your content. This is done by using keywords that draw in the right demographics from the right geographical location. One aspect that most content distributors ignore is influencer marketing though.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Every business has a specific market. There are always experts in each market that influence the perfection of the entire group. Influencer marketing is all about targeting these key people for your own benefit. It involves identifying these industry giants and turning them into paying customers or even brand promoters. These people already have a huge fan following that you can capitalize on yourself. An influencer can be anyone from a journalist to a businessman or industry analyst. The most vital and often challenging step is identifying your influencer.
Benefits of Influencer Marketing Programs
A lot of your company’s advertising and marketing efforts will be nothing without content distribution. You need to either blatantly market your products and services through print, digital, and traditional media or impart information about them. There’s a limit to how much you can impact potential buyers through these avenues though. Having influencers in your arsenal will take your marketing campaigns to the next level. This is mainly because people in your market are more receptive to their public opinions. Here are a few specific reasons why you should give due consideration to influencer marketing:
Building a Shining Reputation
Endorsement of your company’s brand by a reliable influencer in the field can significantly boost your reputation. According to a report from Deloitte, one out of every three people checks out a brand based on industry recommendations. It’s also mentioned that custom retention rates are 37 percent higher when a customer follows a referral. Just imagine the buzz created if an influencer simply tweets about your brand to their thousands of followers. People will automatically look at you in a positive light.
Reaching Potential Customers Beyond Media
Think of all the brand bombardment we’re subjected to daily. From TV commercials to emails, promotions are everywhere. How many of these actually make an impact on your buying habits? Probably little to none. However, a word through an influencer can go beyond traditional modes of brand communication. Customers are more likely to pay attention when you’re supported by a well-known name. You’ll indirectly start connecting with a larger audience that follows your influencer and converting them into sales.Going with the Modern Marketing Tide
Marketing today is all about “keeping it real.” An article in Social Media Today says that it’s vital to have industry influencers so that you can build social following through them. The article also points out that 74 percent of marketers believe that Facebook is a major aspect of their marketing strategy. By combining these two statements, you’ll see that most organizations recognize the importance of social media. Now, whose statement is more reliable on social media – yours or the influencers? You know the answer. Make certain you’re riding the tide of this new and highly effective marketing trend.
Meeting Marketing Goals
Marketing plans are mere bridges that connect your products and your goals. If you don’t have a proper plan, the bridge will lead to a dead end. It’s essential that you set marketing goals before you begin strategizing. Setting the right objectives for brand awareness, engagement, lead generation, sales, and customer retention will take your strategy a long way. Influencer marketing is a great pathway to draw in the website traffic that turns goals into realities.
Improving Brand Awareness
The most obvious benefit that comes from influencer marketing strategies is better brand awareness. Without brand recognition, all of your other advertising efforts will go in vain. Let your brand be readily apparent with each communication through your influencer. Influencers will attract more attention to your brand and make sure it registers well in the minds of potential buyers.
Generating and Maintaining Leads
Last but certainly not least, lead generation is another advantage of using influencer marketing tactics. Influencers are useful for sparking interest in buyers who otherwise may not have been interested in your products or services. But, you must follow a few steps to measure the leads. Queries about products could be mistaken for leads, but brand influencers must nurture the leads to the next level. This can only be achieved by engaging, maintaining interest, and keeping the brand on the buyer’s mind.
Measuring ROI for Influencer Marketing
Like all marketing channels, influencer marketing usually comes at a price too. Your goal is to maintain positive return on investment (ROI) through this effort. Put scales in place that can measure the sales generated specifically from your brand influencer. Take into consideration customer retention rates and on-going sales when you measure ROI. Up-selling and cross-selling should also be taken into account.
Tools for Finding Top Influencers
We’ve spoken enough about what influencers can do for you, but you’re probably still a bit foggy on how to find an influencer. Since the most effective interactions can be held through social media, here’s a few tools created to identify influencers.
- BuzzSumo – This tool allows you to find authors on a particular subject who’ve been shared and backlinked the most.
- FollowerWonk – Using Twitter analytics, this Moz app enables you to connect with new influencers in your niche by finding the most influential handles in cyberspace.
- Topsy – As a social analytics monitoring tool, Topsy is helpful for determining the influencer who originally shared a particular piece of epic content.
- PeerIndex – This tool goes a step ahead to establish the authority of influencers on particular subjects to avoid promoting your brand to an unrelated market.
Case Study to Drive Home the Point
The electronics giant, Royal Philips, was in a particular situation a couple years ago when there was a steady decline in traditional marketing results. Television commercials, print ads, and trade shows weren’t working. Here’s the case study that delineates how the company got out of this lurch. Damien Cummings entered the scene as CEO. Having working for tech companies like Dell and Samsung, he understood the importance of social engagement.
Damien immediately looked at influencer marketing. He set up an infrastructure comprised of product advocates and influencers. All of these groups worked in tandem for programmed interactions. Royal Philips ensured an on-going relationship with top media houses too. The influencers became featured in documentary-like pieces focused on Philips products. Then, there was shorter content published in quick videos and slides.
Snippets on social media channels like Twitter also helped influencers engage with potential customers too. This influencer marketing strategy was so successful that Philips now plans to implement it globally. The company set a target for 2016 to place all of its marketing activities in digital platforms. At the present time, the strategy has only been implemented in ASEAN region.
Every marketer should look at influencer marketing as a channel to increase sales conversions and branding awareness. Influencer marketing is cost-effective compared to other means and more convenient for tracking the ROI. Most importantly, it creates brand loyalty for retaining customers, bringing referrals, and having repeat sales. Have more questions and comments on influencer marketing? Tell me in the comments section below.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.