In our rapidly evolving business world, it's become increasingly difficult for startups to differentiate themselves from the competition. While online marketing and social media have made it easier to reach consumers through various channels, they're constantly being bombarded by all sorts of marketing messages. Due to such an influx, it's hardly surprising that consumers have become so cynical regarding which brands to choose - meaning startups must work even harder to ensure their messages are received.
Building trust and credibility remains the number one way for brands to encourage consumers to act on their marketing messages. Regardless of how cynical consumers have become, it can be overcome with the right marketing techniques. Working with influencers to promote your startup is an excellent strategy. In fact, 74 percent of consumers rely on social media to influence their purchasing decisions. Even more telling is the fact that an astounding 90 percent of consumers trust recommendations from peers, while only 33 percent trust advertisements.
What Is Influencer Marketing and How Does it Work?
Word-of-mouth advertising has always been more popular and effective because consumers are naturally inclined to try a product or service recommended by someone they trust. This is the basis of influencer marketing, which involves encouraging influencers to discuss your products or services and recommend them. Brands have always relied on celebrities to promote their products, however, today, an influencer can be practically anyone - an influencer is someone who's established influence and credibility within your target audience. This could include journalists, bloggers, consultants, industry experts, or even other influential customers.
Develop an Understanding of Your Primary Influencers
Before you can embark on launching an influencer campaign, you must first identify your influencers. Keep in mind that the influencers who are relevant to your startup could be very different from influencers who are important to a company. The goal is to target influencers who have a blend of expertise and popularity. While identifying influencers can be challenging, tools are available to help, including Appinions and SocMetrics. Both tools give you the ability to surf social media and search for influencers based on demographics, category, and geography.
Build a Relationship First
Once you've identified a list of potential influencers, the next step is to form a relationship. Perhaps the biggest mistake that most startups make is bombarding influencers with emails right out of the gate - this almost always results in rejection. Instead, take the time to form relationships with the influencers you've identified. Spend some time reading their articles and posts to gain insight into their thoughts and what they have to say to your target audience. Begin interacting by liking their status updates, commenting on their blog posts, and replying their Tweets. Only after you have spent some time doing this should you then approach them with an email pitching your service or product.
Remember that the key to a successful influencer relationship is that it should be mutually beneficial, so be quick to point out precisely what it is that you want from the influencer and what's in it for them. Be honest and upfront.
After the influencer has agreed to promote your product or service, don't simply abandon him or her to fend for themselves. Provide them with the information they need to speak directly to your audience. The easier you make it for the influencer, the easier it will be for them to meaningfully promote your product or service in a way that will attract your audience. This could include providing him or her with relevant e-books, white papers, articles, interviews, press releases, or product samples.
Rather than being rigid in terms of how you would like the campaign to be structured, be flexible when working with the influencer to customize the nature of the campaign. The more authentic the influencer is in his or her recommendation of your product or service, the more likely that message will resonate with your target audience.
Track Influencer Efforts
Finally, don't forget to set up a system that'll enable you to track your efforts and the reach of your influencers. A great option for doing so is Streak, which allows you to track a number of metrics, including the influencer's name, contact dates, and publishing dates. This tool also integrates directly with Gmail for even more convenience.
Influencer marketing has received a tremendous amount of attention lately, largely because it can be incredibly effective. In order to make the most of influencer marketing, you must understand how to execute it properly. Startups with knowledge on how to deploy influencer marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy have unlimited growth potential.