How Influencer Marketing Works

Online Marketing

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Marketing strategies are always very beautiful on paper but implementing them can be much more complicated and getting the expected results is a great heroism. So I’ll start with the theory of influencer marketing and then tell you about our experience.

The Influencer Marketing

A brand is no longer what we tell the consumers it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is – Scott Cook, co-founder Intuit.

Consumers now look to other consumers or influential people to make a purchasing decision. Basically, influencer marketing is about getting opinion leaders to talk about your brand naturally and clearly in order to reach a wider potential audience.

Influencers network
With a network of influencers, your potential customer reach is much greater.

But why would you need other people when you have PR or marketing agencies that are capable of doing a great job in advertising? Zuckerberg has the answer:

People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message.– Mark Zuckerberg

Other studies, such as the one conducted by McKinsey a couple of years ago, conclude that social recommendations account for an average of 26 percent of purchases in all product categories. They studied 30 product categories and approximately two-thirds of the impact was direct. That is, social media recommendations played a critical role at the point of sale. The remaining third was indirect: social media had an effect on previous contact points for decision making, for example, when a recommendation created initial awareness of a product or interactions with friends or other influential people helped consumers compare a product to other alternatives.

So you see that influencer marketing is important. So now it’s all about getting opinion leaders to talk about you. Which is simple, right? I mean, it better should be… But how do you get them to help you? Let’s see what strategy you should follow:

Influencer Marketing Strategy

Influencer marketing is often used to launch a new product, service, or brand, to promote an existing one, or to promote a new event. The steps to follow are:

#1 Define Your Goals

Like any other marketing strategy, the first thing you need to define is what you need your influencers for, what you want to achieve with them, what your goals are. The more specific you are at this point, the easier it will be for you to reach your influencers, get your message to them, and the easier it will be for them to talk about you. Otherwise, you won’t know how to do any of the subsequent steps.

#2 Define Actions and Content

After defining the objectives, the next step is to prepare all the material you will need so that your influencers can talk about you and pass on the message you want to your potential customers. If we’re talking about launching a new product, you may have to create a promotional video, but if it’s the edition of a new event, you’ll have to have not only all the content of the website ready, but also all the information you provide when you talk about the event.

But not only that, you’ll also have to define whether you want to pay them or offer them a gift for the promotional action they carry out or whether you are going to propose a barter or a win-win relationship.

#3 Identify Your Influencers

The next step is to identify which influencers are relevant to your campaign and should talk about it. Maybe you’re thinking about celebrities and youtubers—they have a large number of followers and the reach can be brutal, can’t it? But while it’s true that they do reach a very large audience, it doesn’t make much sense for you to contact certain celebrities to promote your new WordPress plugin 🤷

For these cases, bloggers or tweeters of recognized prestige in an area can have great credibility. For example, if you are looking for a product where your priority is the best value for money, you will have consulted blogs or tweets from experts that compare different products and explain the pros and cons of each one of them.

#4 Contact Influencers

For someone to talk about you, they have to know you first. And  this may be the most critical and thorny point of influencer marketing. How do you get a “celebrity” to know you and talk about you? How do you contact them? I’ll tell you some alternatives.

Contact Form

Some influencers are professionals who offer product promotion services on their own websites.

WP Mayor offers services to promote WordPress plugins.
WP Mayor offers services to promote WordPress plugins.

In these cases, it’s as simple as selecting the option that best fits your pocket and filling out the form.

Send Them a Direct E-mail

Another alternative is the one explained in Social Triggers to contact influencers: send a direct mail. It’s that simple! In order not to be so cold, they first suggests that you let yourself be seen on social networks and influence blogs through tweets, re-tweets or comments for them to know you. And then you send them an email asking for help but involving people first.

Please note that with the new GDPR, if you contact someone directly who has not provided you with their e-mail address before, you may encounter an unpleasant response or even a complaint. 😱

Mention Them On Twitter

An easy way for your influencers to mention you on their social networks is to mention them directly on them. If they like your mention and it makes sense, it’s not going to be that hard to get a re-tweet.

Remember that if you use Nelio Content as a tool to promote your posts on social networks, this feature is already included. On the one hand, when you write a post, Nelio Content detects all the links to external sources that you have added and determines (in most cases) their title, their author, and if any, the Twitter handler of that author. Taking advantage of this information, our plugin is able to create tweets with explicit mentions to the authors you have linked to in your posts.

Messages created with Social Automations
Messages created automatically with Nelio Content

As you can see in the image above, the third message is a tweet that includes information about a reference by Neil Patel and explicitly mentions it with @neilpatel.

Contact Speakers At An Event

As I’ve already told you, the better an influencer knows you, the easier it will be for them to talk about you in any context. It’s a matter of trust. Events like WordCamps (by the way, have you already signed up for the next WordCamp Barcelona?) or marketing events or meetups are a great opportunity to contact potential customers and influencers. Some speakers are great professionals with a lot of followers on social networks.

If your influencer is a speaker, take advantage of the breaks to contact them, congratulate them on their presentation, tell them that you would be interested in looking for a way to collaborate or that you would like to offer them your free product for them to try. The great advantage of the events is that they are much less cold than an email and we all know such events are a great place for networking, so any contact during that time is way more natural. And if you are also a speaker at the same event, it’s still much easier for you to chat more calmly with the others (so don’t be shy 😉).

Contact Your Suppliers Directly

Remember, it’s about gaining the trust of your potential influencers. And who could be as interested as you in making your business work for you? Well, possibly your suppliers. For example, you probably use third-party software that helps you in the day-to-day running of your business. Not only do you worry about opening a support ticket to complain when something doesn’t work, but also about participating in their improvement surveys, reading and sifting through their news and even making suggestions for improvement.

In the end, it’s naturally much easier than if you have talked about them, they’re willing to talk about you.

Contact Your Customers Directly

When looking for influencers, don’t forget your customers. There is no better influencer than a customer who’s happy with your product. Maybe it is a micro-influencer but remember that the credibility and ability to influence a friend is much greater than that of any celebrity. Don’t be in any doubt that you’ll get more loyal customers.

How to contact them? Take advantage of occasions when you give them impeccable service to ask them to review your service or product. Offer them affiliate programs. Offer them an interview to promote them. If they’re delighted with your service, they’ll be the first to want to put in a good word for you on their blogs and social networks.

#5 Measure Results And Improve Your Campaigns

As with any marketing campaign, look at what’s working for you and what isn’t. Similar campaigns can work very differently in a different context. And even if someone tells you that it works very well to contact customers and offer them a gift, maybe that doesn’t apply to you.

How to measure it? If you have an affiliate program, it is very easy to measure how many customers have come through an affiliate link as it is provided by the program itself. If we are talking about mentions in social networks of your own posts, you have the information of how many times it has been shared in the social networks themselves.

Nelio Content Analytics
Social Media analytics with Nelio Content show you which posts have received the most visits and which have been shared the most on social networks.

With Google Analytics you can find out more details about where the visitors of your website come from. But the truth is that sometimes it can be a lot more complicated to know the impact of a marketing campaign, especially with offline events.

Our Experience

Our experience with influencer marketing is that it’s indeed a marketing strategy that works well and delivers good results. But they’re not always what you expected.

For example, we’ve done a few campaigns where we ordered (paid for) the revision of one of our products. In some cases, we’ve been successful with the right reviewer, as has been the case with WP Mayor, and in other cases, we felt that the achieved impact has been minimal.

As far as sending direct e-mails is concerned, we did a pretty elaborate campaign when we launched Nelio Content on the market. We achieved results below our expectations. Our perception is that we probably lacked more previous work to get to know each other better before we contacted the influencers via e-mail. An email that may seem commercial is counterproductive and even more so, as I have already mentioned, with the new GDPR.

For our products, we use FastSpring as our payment platform. We have been working with them for some time now and we have even interviewed Hamilton Kiah III. They’re now using our products too and, if you think about it, they’re one of the first to benefit from our business doing well, so it comes as no surprise that they’re extremely helpful and glad to spread the word about Nelio. In this case, the influence has worked.

Getting your customers to talk about you shouldn’t be too difficult if you offer them a product that solves their problems and they feel that you treat them above their expectations. This is what has happened to us with more than one client, such as Dave Baker who published the article The Best Editorial Calendar for Multi-Author Blogs (And It’s Not CoSchedule) or Jeannie Ruesch who published: Your Secret Weapon to Product Adoption: A Nelio Content Case Study.

And as far as offline events are concerned, it works very well to get to know and share experiences with other professionals in your area. For example, thanks to a meetup we attended in Barcelona, we met Gennaro Cuofano from WordLift. This has allowed the two of us to talk about the services the other offers to our customers and we can continually have a relationship of mutual collaboration that benefits both of us.

My humble conclusion is that, if you want someone to speak well of you, first make sure that you appreciate their work and get to know them. If they aren’t too arrogant, they’ll surely appreciate that you value what they do and, if your product or brand deserves it, they’ll easily speak well of what you do too. Once you get a good relationship with a supplier, customer, or other professional, make sure it doesn’t get too cold if you want to keep them talking about you.

Featured image by Jan Střecha in Unsplash.

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Ruth obtained her PhD in Software Engineering at UPC and did a Master of Information Systems at DePaul University (Chicago). She has professional experience in the business world and at the University. Ruth has been University Lecturer at UPC, Vice-Dean for Corporate Relations of the Barcelona School of Informatics, and Associate Lecturer at ESADE. She specializes in software engineering and information systems management. She is also certified in Inboud Marketing.

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