Influencer marketing seems to be the beginning of something big and, if the signs are right, we’re only at the tip of the iceberg. It’s advocates would have us believe that it’s set to alter the way that marketeers earn money, spend money and cater to their customers.
Originally marketing was all about the product – its sole purpose was to expose the product and make people aware of it. Then came the message. With the rise of mass media, brands could broadcast this message through various channels, including newspapers, advertising and the web. This has been the basis of marketing and still is important for most of us.
Of course, with the new technology we’re able to communicate, ask questions, share opinions, publish content and communicate with our friends globally and in real-time. This has changed the dynamics of how and when people pay attention to marketing.
The purchase cycle has also evolved with these changes. While before the customer journey was based around consumers seeing a product in a store (the first moment of truth), then experiencing it at home, after purchase (the second moment of truth), there is now an extra step that comes into play.
Consumers are able to ‘test’ products through the experiences of others by reading reviews, asking friends and engaging on social media. This is what Google calls the Zero Moment Of Truth, or ZMOT’. And the amazing thing is, this is where our decision-making is now happening.
Brands may help to create awareness, but customers now do the research themselves. Today’s consumer tends to know exactly what they want before they visit a store, because they have already conducted their research, checked reviews and asked their friends for advice. They know where to get the best value before they part with their money.
So, what does this mean for Marketeers?
Well, as we know, the focus has shifted and earned media is playing a much bigger role in marketing. 92% of consumers around the world trust earned media such as recommendations from friends – or even strangers – above other forms of advertising. The need to participate in the conversations about your brand has become extremely important.
Today, in addition to the product and the message, the marketer has another focus to worry about – the people who create and shape opinions that lead to purchasing decisions, says Evy Wilkins, VP Marketing at Traackr.
“People are now intimately involved in everything we decide from the shoes we wear to the shows we watch to the softwares we use at work. Which mean marketing need to help the organization create relationships with the people who are impacting their business.”
Welcome to the world of influencers and relationship marketing.
Influencer marketing can be defined as the process of developing relationships with people who can assist you in creating visibility for your product or service. Evidently, social media facilitates this on a global scale. Really good online influencer marketing involves a process of identifying, researching, engaging and supporting the people who create the conversations that most impact your brand, products or services. Given that just 3% of people engaging online create 90% of the impact, it’s obvious that some people will matter more to you than others. The context of your business will define who matters the most.
The process of identifying, engaging with and getting results from online influencers isn’t rocket science, but does require some planning and management. One of the more popular influencer grader tools, Traackr, has developed a framework for influencer marketing, which they’ve published as an infographic (below). If you’re just getting going with your influencer marketing strategy, it makes a great starting point.