Today, there are a lot of different opinions in the marketing industry about what the best way to drive sales is.
I’m here to tell you it’s relationships.
For as long as the humankind has walked on this planet, relationships have played an important part in our evolution. First, the crucial relationships between clans in order to survive. And today, the relationships between friends, peers, family, and relatives.
The people who are closest to us are the ones we have built the strongest relationships with, after countless interactions and conversations. Accordingly, these are also the people that we trust and listen to the most. And therefore, they’re the people who impact us the most.
In fact, a survey of 1,470 women found that 86% of respondents wanted product recommendations from real individuals.
Furthermore, a Nielsen study found that 92% of people trust peer recommendations.
Everyone knows that brands have one agenda: to sell more. Accordingly, we as consumers understand that what brands say is said in order to support their goal of selling more. Therefore, we tend to trust messages from brands less than we trust what people we rely on tell us
Now, the misconception is that marketing should be done in the same way it has always been done. This means working according to the belief that the more ads and promotional messages you shove in your audience’s face, the more they’ll buy from you.
Today, however, everyone has become more skeptical towards advertising. The marketing landscape has also become more saturated, and this is not a recipe for success. As a result, marketers need new methods to cut through the noise and generate amazing marketing results.
And today, the answer lies in customer relationships.
Why Customer Relationships Are Everything
The psychology of human relationships is the same no matter who we interact with. This means that we humans can build relationships with other humans, and also with businesses. This is why you see mile long lines outside Apple stores during an iPhone launch.
But even though relationships have proven to have the greatest effect on us, brands continue to blast out promotional messages in the hopes that more people will trust them. This is not the case. Because what affects whether or not we trust a message is not how many times we hear it. It is who says it, and what relationship we have with that person.
With all of this in mind, it’s obvious that the way you can generate great marketing results isn’t by taking the traditional marketing approach. It is looking at how you can strengthen your relationships with your customers.
According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, loyal customers are on average worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
How Can You Strengthen Your Customer Relationships?
Influencer marketing has skyrocketed in popularity over the last couple of years as a result of the incredible ROI it can generate. As a result, today more brands than ever are leveraging it, and that number is only increasing.
Here’s the little secret that I’ve been looking forward to telling you about influencer marketing:
Most marketers are, while generating great results form influencer marketing, not reaching their full potential with their campaigns.
While you might have embraced a “modern marketing method” like influencer marketing, you might be using it based on old standards. In other words, a traditional way of thinking about marketing.
This just means leveraging influencer marketing to reach a larger audience. The only real difference from the traditional marketing is that you have influencers share promotional messages as opposed to you doing it yourself.
The solution is that you take a new approach to your future influencer marketing campaigns. This means that instead of using influencer marketing to promote your brand and products, you use it to strengthen your customer relationships.
Look at Dunkin’ Donuts’ partnership with Logan Paul. The purpose of the campaign isn’t to purely sell more, but instead, engage their audience and increase their loyalty.
The Huge Benefit of Influencers for Relationships
As a brand, it is harder to build relationships with people than as a person. But with the help of influencers, you can streamline this process.
The Nielsen study mentioned earlier also found that we trust recommendations even from peers we don’t know.
As consumers, we don’t trust brands. Why influencer marketing has increased in popularity so much is that we look up to the influencers and trust their words. All as a result of their established role as industry leaders.
Influencers are trusted individuals because they aren’t considered to have an agenda, as opposed to companies, which always have an agenda.
If a stranger approaches you on the street and asks you for a hundred bucks, you’re probably going to say no. In fact, most people would.
If you are asked by your best friend, however, the outcome will most likely be completely different. And there’s really only one major difference between these two scenarios: relationships.
This just goes to show the importance and impact of relationships on getting people to take action. The best part is that this principle can be applied to marketing as well.
How to Use Influencer Marketing to Strengthen Customer Relationships
1. Respond to the Individuals Commenting on the Influencer’s Post
Most brands don’t do this, but it is an easy fix. It might demand some time and effort, but the benefits are far greater than the time it takes.
In order to build a relationship with someone, consistent interaction is needed.
There’s no way you can build a strong relationship with someone after one interaction. But to build a relationship with your customer, it starts with one interaction.
And with a strong relationship comes trust. And in order for customers to buy from you, they need to trust you, your brand, and your product.
Just think about how many times you’ve interacted with your best friend. Realize how many interactions it has taken for your relationship to get to the point where it is now.
A reason why influencer marketing has proven to be so effective is that influencers build large followings of relevant individuals. In other words, people who are interested in their industry.
This translates to the fact that the people who leave comments on your influencer’s posts are relevant to your brand.
Responding to the people who leave comments on the influencer’s posts comes with a number of benefits.
First, it lets you take advantage of every opportunity to engage with your audience.
Second, the more times you engage and interact with someone, the stronger the relationship you’ll be able to build.
Further, although the influencer represents you, they don’t have the answers to all of the questions that might be asked. And therefore, they might end up giving faulty information.
Also, by taking the time to respond to the comments, you create tremendous opportunities. This is an opportunity to build your relationships, make a great first impression, and show that you care about them.
2. Personalize and Reach Out
To stand out from the crowd, you need to do the things that none of your competitors are doing.
Influencer campaigns help you reach a large audience. Sometimes much larger than you yourself are able to reach.
But the vast majority of people won’t convert after a single post. They don’t trust you yet, but that’s what relationship-building helps with.
Responding to the comments people leave on the influencer’s post is a great start. However, the fact is that only a fraction of people who saw the post will leave a comment on it.
What you want to do is identify all the people who showed some type of interest in the post of the influencer. Look at all the people who have liked the post, shared it, tagged their friends, and so on.
Depending on which platform your influencer marketing campaign is run on, the way you reach out to these individuals will vary. The most effective way, however, is to use the built-in chat features available, like Messenger and Instagram Direct Message.
The best way to make an impression and impact is by personalizing your message. This shows that you’ve paid attention. But it also helps make the message more relevant to them.
Today, people are sharing more information than ever on social media. And therefore, this is a perfect place to extract key information about them to personalize your message.
Remember, your outreach message doesn’t have to be super long, but rather, use that for your first approach to get the conversation started. The more you engage with them, the stronger your relationship will become, thus increasing their trust.
3. Value First
The traditional way of marketing was to promote as much as possible. But the recipe for success for marketing on social media looks a lot different than that.
Now, rather than being forced to watch a 10 second commercial on television, people have an option. They have the option to continue scrolling or stop following an account if they aren’t providing any value to them.
In your audience’s eyes, if you don’t have a value proposition, you have nothing. Remember, value doesn’t have to be actual monetary value. Value can more so be something that people find valuable.
This can be content that teaches them something or makes them laugh.
If your goal of influencer marketing is to just sell, you risk making the influencer campaign too promotional.
Accordingly, the campaign risks coming off as inauthentic. If it does, people’s first impression of your brand won’t be a positive one.
Therefore, through every single part of your influencer marketing campaign, don’t ask yourself how you can sell as much as possible.
Instead, ask how you can provide your audience as much value as possible. Doing this will make people actually want to engage with you. Which will lead to more people coming from the influencer and taking the first step.
4. Leverage the Influencer to Humanize Your Brand
Throughout history, corporations have been extremely secretive and far from transparent with their businesses. They have kept quiet about their factories, their employees, and shown close to nothing from their day-to-day activities to the public.
This is something that has changed dramatically over the years.
Now, many brands embrace transparency as part of their business strategy. This is because doing so has proven to have tremendously positive effects, especially on customer relationships.
Today, there are businesses sharing everything from their profit margins to their factories, to every single team member, to their day-to-day activities.
Transparency helps humanize, and being human as a brand is a strong foundation for building customer relationships and increasing loyalty.
It’s quite hard to build a relationship with a logo and a brand, right?
Therefore, as part of the process of strengthening your customer relationships, you also need to look at how you can humanize your brand.
Fortunately, this is exactly what influencer marketing can help you do.
Most influencer marketing campaigns look like this:
The influencer snaps a photo of your product, writes something about it, and then shares it with their audience.
Like you often see celebrity influencers like the Kardashians do:
But remember that influencers are trusted individuals – far more trusted than your brand. When you do, you understand that influencers can be leveraged in far more ways than just that.
An effective way to partner with influencers to humanize your brand is to have them take over your social media accounts and share behind-the-scenes content.
When the influencer then lets their audience know that they will be taking over your social media, many more people will be engaged in watching.
Also, when an influencer takes people around for a behind-the-scenes tour, it will come off as more authentic and genuine.
The most effective way to do this is to live stream the journey. For example, showing your premises, your team, and office.
Doing this will not only drive more people to your brand but also humanize your brand by being more transparent. It will also leverage a medium which allows you to interact and engage with your audience in real-time.
An example is when Jaguar and Formula E teamed up with supercar vlogger and influencer MJWW. The brand then had him go to interview the people working behind the scenes of the enormous event.
And lastly, the foundation for strengthening your customer relationships is interacting. Look at Facebook Live, as an example. Live videos generate an average of 600% more Facebook interactions compared to regular posts on the platform.
5. Use Influencer Marketing to Get People to Engage
Your goal is to engage with your audience as much as possible.
But taking the first step is always tricky. And even more so, knowing who to reach out to is even more challenging.
But the influencer has built a loyal audience of individuals who are passionate about the industry that your brand is operating in.
This means you can leverage influencer marketing campaigns to encourage people to take the first step of interacting with you.
The most effective way is to leverage an influencer marketing campaign to incentivize people to engage with you.
Your goal here is to really make people engage with your brand. So focus on asking questions that impact them deeply and really gets them going.
The best part is that you can do this while also getting help with your brand.
For example, let’s say that you need help with giving a name to a new product of yours. Using influencer marketing is, in that case, a tremendous way to engage your audience.
Accordingly, you can get them to engage with you, and get help with giving a name to your new product. And while doing all of this, strengthen your customer relationships.
The marketing landscape has undergone a huge shift in recent times. Which has impacted the way you drive great marketing results.
This shift has gone from previously creating and distributing as much promotional content. Now, more and more brands are starting to realize the immense benefit of building relationships with their customers. This is compared to seeing them as one-time use objects.
Furthermore, the internet and social media have revolutionized the ways we seek inspiration, advice, and expertise.
Now, more than ever, we tend to turn to and look up to, influencers, as opposed to traditional celebrities. And with the developed infrastructure of social media, it has become a commodity which has allowed brands in virtually any industry to turn to influencers.
Then, the trust and audience that they’ve built up with the help of social media.
Jens Wirdenius is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Veloce International online marketing blog and the influencer directory Veloce Network. He is a social media and marketing nut, sharing his passion for online marketing and business in his articles.