Influencer Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Wed, 17 Jan 2018 11:30:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 7 Influencer Marketing Trends That Will Rule 2018 http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/influencer-marketing-trends-2018/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/influencer-marketing-trends-2018/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 11:30:13 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23672 Influencer Marketing Trends 2018

Influencer Marketing Trends 2018

While influencer marketing boomed in 2017, it's been on the rise for a full decade. In fact, we first posted about it in 2008 after we attended a session at SES San Jose on social media analysis and tracking. Ten years later and influencer marketing has evolved from a rising trend into a proven marketing strategy, causing more and more B2C and B2B companies to start influencer programs of their own.

As influencer marketing has gained steam, it’s earned a more dedicated spot in the digital marketing mix and become more approachable in the eyes of marketers. As our own CEO Lee Odden, a longtime advocate for influencer marketing, regularly says:

Everyone is influential about something.”

But as marketers dive deeper into the influencer marketing waters, they wonder how the tide will change and ultimately force them in a different direction.

Having executed influencer marketing programs for both B2B and B2C brands for the past several years, we’ve had a front row seat to the evolution of influencer marketing. To give you a glimpse into where influencer marketing is already heading and help you stay on top of your influencer game, here are seven influencer marketing trends that are taking over 2018.

#1 - Full steam ahead for influencer marketing programs.

We touched on it briefly earlier, but as influencer marketing becomes more approachable with tools like Onalytica, Traackr, BuzzSumo, and others, it will also become more popular. For 2018, this means that more and more brands will come online with influencer marketing programs, including both B2C and B2B brands.

But what does this mean for your influencer marketing strategy?

It means your competition could soon be doing their own influencer marketing campaigns, making it all the more important that your campaign sets itself apart from the rest. Through unique influencer relationships, helpful insights, and new media types, you could take your influencer campaign from “first” to “best.” Or both. Both is good.

Read: 20 Inspiring & Actionable Influencer Marketing Tips for The Modern Marketer

#2 - Brands are looking to be bold, loud, and different.

With more B2B and B2C brands amping up their influencer marketing, brands are thinking of new and innovative ways to differentiate their campaigns. With great content serving as the foundation for any campaign, brands are hoping to stand out by offering unique, bold, and intuitive user experiences, generating an added level of excitement and further engaging audiences.

To level up our own influencer marketing user experience, we created an interactive infographic featuring 15 quotes from digital marketing influencers to generate awareness of our agency prior to the Digital Marketing Summit in Minneapolis this past summer.

This not only helped engagement with our audience, but it also helped us create something that our influencers were proud to contribute to and share.

Interactive Influencer eBook Example

#3 - Brand focus on business results.

At the beginning of its time, influencer marketing was all about reach and awareness. By tapping into an influencer and leveraging that relationship, you could gain the ear of an entirely new audience. Multiply that affect with the number of influencers you work with, and you have a rapidly growing audience.

Influencer marketing is no longer just about audience growth, though. Brands are and will turn to influencer programs to drive conversions and engagement, too. What will that look like? From our vantage point, you’ll see an influx of influencer and brand hosted webinars, live stream Q&A’s, endorsements, and other bottom of funnel influencer content.

[bctt tweet="#InfluencerMarketing is no longer just about audience growth - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

#4 - Influencers turned brand ambassadors.

What’s one thing brands are missing when it comes to influencers and their relationships? Oftentimes, it’s exclusivity. Having an influential thought leader all to yourself is a promising premise as it means you are their sole partner in your industry. Well, brands are realizing that this opportunity exists and are getting ready to establish more long-term relationships with influencers.

No longer seen as a one-off campaign strategy, brands will start to reach out to influencers for more long-term partnerships. This will result in influencers adopting the role of “brand ambassador” and serve almost as an extension of your internal marketing team.

To do this within your own influencer programs, you need to develop your relationships with influencers instead of just reaching out when there’s a need. For example, you can create a VIP program or hub where your influencers can come together and collaborate, share ideas, and become a bigger part of your brand. With this continued nurturing and collaboration, influencers will become more like spokespeople, representing the brand at events, in videos, and through their own content.

[bctt tweet="#Influencers will adopt the role of brand ambassador and become an extension of your internal #marketing team - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

#5 - Campaigns with more money, more capabilities.

Remember when we said that influencer marketing is popular, forcing brands to up their influencer marketing game? One surefire way brands can try and elevate their campaigns is through an increased influencer marketing budget. In fact, you can bet on it. In our Influencer 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing research report, 55% of marketers reported in that they plan to increase their influencer marketing budget in the coming year.

With deeper pockets, brands can invest more into developing their influencer relationships and in creating more high-quality content. For example, brands have more freedom to offer gifts to their influencers in an effort to strengthen their relationships. Plus, an increased budget allows brands to create more “expensive” content like a video series, interactive eBooks, motion graphics, and more.

Read: 5 Examples of Influencer Marketing in Action Across the Full Customer Journey

#6 - Influencers are being strategic with their own brand.

As the influencer marketing bandwagon continues to roll, influencers have the ability to be more strategic in aligning themselves with different B2B and B2C brands. With more brands approaching them for their contributions, they can be more thoughtful with the partners they choose to work with and how the partnership will help them grow their personal brand and network.

Because of this, your programs will need to be custom-made for the influencers you want to work with. For example, one of our clients was looking to target C-suite leaders at law firms, which lead to the creation of a customized influencer eBook campaign that featured influencers in the legal profession, and delivered extremely thoughtful and relevant to our audience.

Niche Influencer eBook Examaple

If there isn’t a perfect fit or relevant value that you’re bringing to the table, your ideal influencers will move on to another brand that does. The influencer has the power of choice in this scenario, so make sure to research your influencers beforehand to create a campaign they can’t say “no” to.

#7 - Influence transcends platforms.

Now that influencer marketing programs are beginning to expand in size, budget, and tone, brands are also looking to expand their programs onto new platforms and channels. This helps extend the reach of their influencer marketing programs, enabling brands to engage new audiences that were otherwise lost to them.

What kinds of channels are we talking about? Periscope, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and others come to mind as it can be challenging for brands to build up audiences on them — especially if your brand voice is more sophisticated.

Become Influencer Marketing Royalty

As you head off to execute your influencer marketing programs using the trends above, take advantage of these top influencer marketing tools to track your influencer relationships, performance, and more.

The post 7 Influencer Marketing Trends That Will Rule 2018 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
Influencer Marketing Trends 2018

Influencer Marketing Trends 2018 While influencer marketing boomed in 2017, it's been on the rise for a full decade. In fact, we first posted about it in 2008 after we attended a session at SES San Jose on social media analysis and tracking. Ten years later and influencer marketing has evolved from a rising trend into a proven marketing strategy, causing more and more B2C and B2B companies to start influencer programs of their own. As influencer marketing has gained steam, it’s earned a more dedicated spot in the digital marketing mix and become more approachable in the eyes of marketers. As our own CEO Lee Odden, a longtime advocate for influencer marketing, regularly says:
Everyone is influential about something.”
But as marketers dive deeper into the influencer marketing waters, they wonder how the tide will change and ultimately force them in a different direction. Having executed influencer marketing programs for both B2B and B2C brands for the past several years, we’ve had a front row seat to the evolution of influencer marketing. To give you a glimpse into where influencer marketing is already heading and help you stay on top of your influencer game, here are seven influencer marketing trends that are taking over 2018.

#1 - Full steam ahead for influencer marketing programs.

We touched on it briefly earlier, but as influencer marketing becomes more approachable with tools like Onalytica, Traackr, BuzzSumo, and others, it will also become more popular. For 2018, this means that more and more brands will come online with influencer marketing programs, including both B2C and B2B brands. But what does this mean for your influencer marketing strategy? It means your competition could soon be doing their own influencer marketing campaigns, making it all the more important that your campaign sets itself apart from the rest. Through unique influencer relationships, helpful insights, and new media types, you could take your influencer campaign from “first” to “best.” Or both. Both is good. Read: 20 Inspiring & Actionable Influencer Marketing Tips for The Modern Marketer

#2 - Brands are looking to be bold, loud, and different.

With more B2B and B2C brands amping up their influencer marketing, brands are thinking of new and innovative ways to differentiate their campaigns. With great content serving as the foundation for any campaign, brands are hoping to stand out by offering unique, bold, and intuitive user experiences, generating an added level of excitement and further engaging audiences. To level up our own influencer marketing user experience, we created an interactive infographic featuring 15 quotes from digital marketing influencers to generate awareness of our agency prior to the Digital Marketing Summit in Minneapolis this past summer. This not only helped engagement with our audience, but it also helped us create something that our influencers were proud to contribute to and share. Interactive Influencer eBook Example

#3 - Brand focus on business results.

At the beginning of its time, influencer marketing was all about reach and awareness. By tapping into an influencer and leveraging that relationship, you could gain the ear of an entirely new audience. Multiply that affect with the number of influencers you work with, and you have a rapidly growing audience. Influencer marketing is no longer just about audience growth, though. Brands are and will turn to influencer programs to drive conversions and engagement, too. What will that look like? From our vantage point, you’ll see an influx of influencer and brand hosted webinars, live stream Q&A’s, endorsements, and other bottom of funnel influencer content. [bctt tweet="#InfluencerMarketing is no longer just about audience growth - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

#4 - Influencers turned brand ambassadors.

What’s one thing brands are missing when it comes to influencers and their relationships? Oftentimes, it’s exclusivity. Having an influential thought leader all to yourself is a promising premise as it means you are their sole partner in your industry. Well, brands are realizing that this opportunity exists and are getting ready to establish more long-term relationships with influencers. No longer seen as a one-off campaign strategy, brands will start to reach out to influencers for more long-term partnerships. This will result in influencers adopting the role of “brand ambassador” and serve almost as an extension of your internal marketing team. To do this within your own influencer programs, you need to develop your relationships with influencers instead of just reaching out when there’s a need. For example, you can create a VIP program or hub where your influencers can come together and collaborate, share ideas, and become a bigger part of your brand. With this continued nurturing and collaboration, influencers will become more like spokespeople, representing the brand at events, in videos, and through their own content. [bctt tweet="#Influencers will adopt the role of brand ambassador and become an extension of your internal #marketing team - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

#5 - Campaigns with more money, more capabilities.

Remember when we said that influencer marketing is popular, forcing brands to up their influencer marketing game? One surefire way brands can try and elevate their campaigns is through an increased influencer marketing budget. In fact, you can bet on it. In our Influencer 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing research report, 55% of marketers reported in that they plan to increase their influencer marketing budget in the coming year. With deeper pockets, brands can invest more into developing their influencer relationships and in creating more high-quality content. For example, brands have more freedom to offer gifts to their influencers in an effort to strengthen their relationships. Plus, an increased budget allows brands to create more “expensive” content like a video series, interactive eBooks, motion graphics, and more. Read: 5 Examples of Influencer Marketing in Action Across the Full Customer Journey

#6 - Influencers are being strategic with their own brand.

As the influencer marketing bandwagon continues to roll, influencers have the ability to be more strategic in aligning themselves with different B2B and B2C brands. With more brands approaching them for their contributions, they can be more thoughtful with the partners they choose to work with and how the partnership will help them grow their personal brand and network. Because of this, your programs will need to be custom-made for the influencers you want to work with. For example, one of our clients was looking to target C-suite leaders at law firms, which lead to the creation of a customized influencer eBook campaign that featured influencers in the legal profession, and delivered extremely thoughtful and relevant to our audience. Niche Influencer eBook Examaple If there isn’t a perfect fit or relevant value that you’re bringing to the table, your ideal influencers will move on to another brand that does. The influencer has the power of choice in this scenario, so make sure to research your influencers beforehand to create a campaign they can’t say “no” to.

#7 - Influence transcends platforms.

Now that influencer marketing programs are beginning to expand in size, budget, and tone, brands are also looking to expand their programs onto new platforms and channels. This helps extend the reach of their influencer marketing programs, enabling brands to engage new audiences that were otherwise lost to them. What kinds of channels are we talking about? Periscope, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and others come to mind as it can be challenging for brands to build up audiences on them — especially if your brand voice is more sophisticated.

Become Influencer Marketing Royalty

As you head off to execute your influencer marketing programs using the trends above, take advantage of these top influencer marketing tools to track your influencer relationships, performance, and more.

The post 7 Influencer Marketing Trends That Will Rule 2018 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2017 Plus Thoughts on 2018 http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/top-influencer-marketing-posts-2017/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/top-influencer-marketing-posts-2017/#respond Mon, 01 Jan 2018 11:00:14 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23610 This year demonstrated an explosion of interest in influencer marketing bringing with it a sharp increase in attention as well as implementation successes and failures. The mixed bag of advice for any shiny new object of marketing attention like working with influencers brings uncertainties, especially with rapid innovation, increased competition and self serving “influencer marketing [...]

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Top Influencer Marketing Posts

This year demonstrated an explosion of interest in influencer marketing bringing with it a sharp increase in attention as well as implementation successes and failures.

The mixed bag of advice for any shiny new object of marketing attention like working with influencers brings uncertainties, especially with rapid innovation, increased competition and self serving “influencer marketing experts” popping up on every digital corner.

As long time influencer content marketing practitioners, my team at TopRank Marketing has to anticipate the key questions marketers have around influencer marketing. Not only do we understand the questions, but we have delivered many of the answers in over 40 posts on the topic including B2B influencer marketing strategy, technology, influencer research and recruiting, influencer content collaboration, integration with SEO and social, influencer content promotion and performance measurement.

Working with influencers on content collaboration is something we do every day and not just for clients, but for ourselves. As a result, designing influencer content collaboration programs has become central to our B2B marketing solutions, right along with SEO, online advertising and CRO.

A BIG thanks to Ashley Zeckman, Josh Nite and Caitlin Burgess for their work on advocating best practices through their blog posts on this relatively new field for the B2B marketing industry.

Through actual experience, experiments and research, our team has advanced our approach to influencer marketing strategy, process, use of technology, measurement and best practices significantly over the past 5 years. In particular, the past 12 months has been like an accelerated Masters Degree as we’ve implemented programs for multiple Fortune 500 companies that were integrated with content marketing, SEO, social media and online advertising.

To help you ask and answer some of the important questions around influencer marketing for 2018, here’s a collection of some of our most popular blog posts on the topic.

Most popular influencer marketing posts in 2017:

influencer marketing 2.0
Influence 2.0 – The Future of Influencer Marketing Research Report 2017 – Lee Odden
To help marketers understand the major trends in influencer marketing, we partnered with influencer marketing platform Traackr to connect with enterprise level marketers and tap their experiences with influencer marketing budgeting, operations, and forecasts for the future. Brian Solis of Altimeter translated that research into an excellent guide called Influence 2.0.

Future Marketing Influential
5 Essential Insights on Influence and the Future of Customer Engagement – Lee Odden
This post distills the key messages from the Influence 2.0 report focusing on influencer marketing maturity, impact, goals, digital transformation, and integration. Expert quotes are also provided by Amanda Duncan of Microsoft, Dr. Konstanze Alex-Brown of Dell (client) and Amisha Gandhi of SAP (client).


20 Inspiring & Actionable Influencer Marketing Tips for The Modern Marketer – Ashley Zeckman
Strategy is great but most readers want tactics. That’s why this post focusing on 20 specific and actionable tips ranging from how to find influencers to how to recruit them to how to inspire them to promote the content your brand and the influencer collaborated on.


6 Influencer Marketing Lessons Marketers Can Learn from Journalists – Caitlin Burgess
In this post Caitlin draws on her experience as a Journalist to showcase the parallels to working with influencers. The advice in this post is very actionable and steps outside the usual list of tips for influencer engagement and collaboration.


Influencer Marketing: The Next Evolution – Josh Nite
This post is a liveblog by Josh of my presentation at Social Media Marketing World where I talked about what NOT to do as well as insights around the state of influencer marketing funding, the differences between B2C and B2B influencer marketing, what goals are possible when working with influencers and what areas of business are most impacted by influencer marketing.


2017 Trends for CMOs: Ignite Content Performance with Influencers
 – Lee Odden
As a hot topic that is also challenging for marketers to implement consistently with impact, content marketing is an area where many CMOs are looking for improvement. Enter the intersection of content and influence. This post outlines three fundamental influencer content engagement models to help senior marketing executives understand where they can have the most impact.

B2B Influencer Marketing Catch Up
B2B Marketers Are Way Behind on Influencer Marketing and Here’s the Solution – Lee Odden
One of the key insights from the Influence 2.0 study we did with Traackr and Brian Solis was the disconnect between B2B and B2C influencer marketing integration and maturity. This post outlines steps for B2B marketers to take so they can close that gap and realize the incredible potential of ongoing, integrated influencer marketing programs.

No BS Influencer Marketing
The No BS Approach to Influencer Marketing – Lee Odden
When Ann Handley asks you to do a webinar about influencer marketing for MarketingProfs, you say yes! This post outlines some of the BIG B.S. that’s being promoted around influencer marketing as well as best practices and advice based in actual experience and practice. When it comes to B2B influencer marketing, watch where you step.

Unlock Influencer Marketing ROI
The Key To Unlocking the ROI of Enterprise Influencer Marketing – Lee Odden
One of the benefits of writing for CMO.com is cross posting those articles to our own blog. This article outlines some of the strategic findings from the Influence 2.0 report we produced with Traackr and Brian Solis. Nothing gets a CMOs attention like a clear cut explanation around ROI. This post pulls out the ROI discussion from the Influence 2.0 report and highlights key insights.


Cracking the Code: 3 Steps to Building Influence with Content Marketing
 – Ashley Zeckman
For any company, big or small, that wants to create immediate value from working with influencers, the answer is almost always content. This post is a guidebook for a customer-focused approach to content that emphasizes collaboration with industry influencers and how to build promotable content. This post includes many of the influencer content best practices we use for our own influencer content projects at TopRank Marketing.

You many be interested to know that our overall most popular posts around influencer marketing were actually lists of influencers. Much effort is put into these types of posts and our community clearly finds them useful.

As trends go, influencer marketing or “influence marketing” isn’t going anywhere in 2018. The practice of influence in the marketing mix is only going to grow, mature and integrate. Some of the upcoming trends and changes to look forward to with influencer marketing in the coming year include:

  • Influencer marketing platform consolidation
  • Paid influencer marketplace(s) for B2B influencers
  • Increasing use of AI to improve qualitative insights about influencers, communities & forecasting performance
  • Increased platform level integration between influence platforms, content platforms and hopefully SEO data
  • Much better process and capability amongst sophisticated practitioners to tie influencer engagement with KPIs across the buyer journey including ROI
  • Growth of participation marketing – democratization of marketing content through a combination of employee advocacy, social community management, audience development, and working with internal/external influencers across the spectrum
  • Tighter guidelines from the FTC
  • Y2K level hysteria and subsequent underwhelming impact from GDPR compliance in the EU
  • More opportunists jumping on the bandwagon of influencer marketplaces with suspect popularity

For any kind of content a business creates and publishes to the world, there is an opportunity for collaboration with credible voices that have active networks interested in what those voices have to say. In many cases, far more interested than in what the brand has to say.  Greater and more relevant attention and engagement are core to the value brands can realize with ongoing influencer engagement.

What we need in the influencer marketing world is for the hype to give way to more examples of what actually works in terms of influencer engagement strategies, identification, communications, promotions and measurement. There’s not enough “walk the talk” amongst prominent voices, especially when it comes to best practices ongoing influencer relationship management.

Another major need is for faster and more qualitative tech innovation amongst the influencer marketing platforms. I for one would love to see AI used to connect the dots between public community and influencer social data and a brand’s dark data, web analytics, advertising and PR metrics to surface more effective prompts to engage influencers / communities in ways that will deliver on business results.

Influencer marketing platforms need to integrate with content marketing platforms to make workflow and influencer collaboration one with influencer CRM and reporting.  There is no greater intersection than content and influence (confluence) for brands to realize the value of influencer relationships in a way that delivers impact to the business. Platform integration will help make that combination even more powerful and scalable.

When it comes to influencer marketing and 2018, we are just getting started!

A HUGE THANK YOU to some of our top marketing and technology industry influencers that we’ve worked with in 2017!

  • Tamara McCleary
  • Shep Hyken

As we kick off 2018, the team at TopRank Marketing wishes you a very Happy New Year!


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2018. | Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2017 Plus Thoughts on 2018 | http://www.toprankblog.com

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5 Examples of Influencer Marketing in Action Across the Full Customer Journey http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/influencer-marketing-customer-lifecycle/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/influencer-marketing-customer-lifecycle/#respond Wed, 06 Dec 2017 11:05:46 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23354 Much of what we hear about influencer marketing is centered around reach and engagement objectives. This is not unlike the early days of social media marketing programs where platform capabilities and user behaviors created a perfect storm for connection and interaction. Fast forward to today and we’ve certainly learned that social media is not a [...]

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Influencer Marketing Customer Lifecycle

Much of what we hear about influencer marketing is centered around reach and engagement objectives. This is not unlike the early days of social media marketing programs where platform capabilities and user behaviors created a perfect storm for connection and interaction.

Fast forward to today and we’ve certainly learned that social media is not a silo of communication, but more of a universal truth when it comes to where people spend their time to discover, consume and interact with content.

Influence brings that same universal truth in terms of something that affects us all. From a marketing context, influence is the ability to affect action and since virtually every person with a phone is empowered to publish, everyone has some degree of influence.

So where does that broader view lead us when developing an influencer content marketing strategy that’s optimized to attract, engage and convert? To help answer that question and extend optimization to retention and advocacy, here are 5 states during the customer journey and how influencer marketing can play a part for better results.


“The opportunity for consumer engagement spans the entire journey and influencers can play an important role in each moment of truth.” @BrianSolis
Click To Tweet


Attract

Contribution inspires promotion. The obvious value here is that working with influencers on content can inspire promotion of the content collaborated on. Reaching the audience of an influencer with content that is relevant and credible can be incredibly valuable for brands that want to attract hard-to-reach customers.

Follow the leader advocacy. Influencers that are advocates often inspire other influencers and customers to advocate for the brand as well. This can be architected with contests where the content with the most social engagement wins, but basic follow the leader behavior in an organic way is effective too.

Retargeting influencer interest. When followers of an influencer that the brand co-created content with match a customer profile, marketers can retarget those followers who have interacted with the influencer content with more context than a buyer simply visiting random websites.

blockchain influencers SAP
A great B2B example of an Attract approach to influencer co-creation is this interactive experience for SAP Leonardo (client).  32 influencers contributing their expertise on topics ranging from artificial intelligence to blockchain technologies. With over 1.8 million impressions and 100% influencer share rate, this content collaboration project exceeded reach expectations.

Engage

Creator talent drives interaction. In the B2C world, creators are plentiful and by creators I mean people will great media creation skills AND the charisma to attract an engaged audience. Creators can bring unique talent to the planning, creation and promotion of content that brings a fresh perspective and higher engagement to an otherwise tired marketing mix.

Authenticity drives engagement. When microinfluencers also represent the customer that a brand is working to engage, the authenticity and voice of the customer that they bring to content collaboration can result in more content interaction and sharing.

Relevance is essential in all things marketing and when the influencer’s audience and the brand channel for promotion match well, then engagement is more likely to be high.

Tom's of Maine - Mavrck
An impressive B2C Engage example would have to be Tom’s of Maine that focused on micro-influencers to create and amplify content on social channels. Results per 1,000 micro-influencers activated: 6,496 likes, shares and comments; 1.7 million friends reached, 4,270 survey responses captured. You can read the full case study on the Mavrck site.

Convert

Trust motivates. Few things motivate conversion more than trust and the essence of what makes someone influential is that their community trusts them. Therefore, trusted influencers who are involved with brand content that is mid to end of funnel focused can help increase conversions.

Familiarity brings confidence. Another thing about relevance is that influencers that have a reputation for recommending products and services have developed familiarity with their audience for that behavior. Working with a new brand and talking about a topic or a product / service (with appropriate ad disclaimers) can inspire transaction.

Credibility is believability. The more credible a brand’s content is, the more likely it is to persuade and inspire action. Influencers can bring that credibility.

Modern Digital Commerce
A B2B pilot project we implemented for Oracle included a formidable 68 page ebook called the Executive’s Handbook to Modern Digital Commerce which featured influencers including Brian Solis, Stephen Monaco, Ed Cleary, Stewart Rogers and other B2B digital experts. The credibility of this ebook produced in combination with industry experts resulted in exceeding the conversion rate goal by 260%.

Retain

Bring utility to the community. Expanding the scope of who is influential to customers and community, brands can engage with influencers to participate in their community on everything from general best practices or tips to how to get the most out of the brands’ product/service.

Employees are influential too and showcasing staff in brand content can help humanize the brand with customers.

Infotain customers to stay. Engaging creators to develop useful content that is also entertaining for customers can go a long way towards retaining those customers. These can be routine communications to announcements or updates.


I think a great B2C example of Retain focused influencer content is the recent British Airways safety video featuring famous celebrities including Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson), Gordon Ramsay, Gillian Anderson (yes, she’s British), Thandie Newton, Sir Ian McKellen and a few more. I flew BA multiple times in a short period recently and this video was definitely a watchable part of the experience for me as a customer.

Advocate

Activate advocates. Bringing it back to reach through brand advocacy, brands can expand their view of influence to customers and activate those who show brand love to support sharing the good news.

Influential customer stories are powerful. Customer testimonials alone are great. Testimonials with customers that are influential, either personally or the brand, can go a long way towards supporting advocacy efforts.

Incentivize the good news. Incentives for referrals amongst influencers can inspire advocacy, but there must be an ad disclosure if compensation has been, or could be paid for that promotion effort.


For this one, I’ll use a personal example. I am a customer of BuzzSumo and I’m also an influencer who advocates for the brand. Most of this I do organically in presentations all over the world, in articles like this, in interviews and by sharing Steve Rayson and BuzzSumo’s content through my social channels on Twitter and LinkedIn. Steve reaches out to me from time to time for quotes, to do a webinar or speak at one of his events.  I was also one of the first to cover the Brandwatch acquisition of BuzzSumo. I can’t say how much value BuzzSumo has gained from my influencer advocacy, but I’m guessing it’s very much in the black 🙂

So, instead of thinking about influencers on the day you publish that amazing content you’ve worked so hard on, consider a more strategic approach that puts influencers in a partnership position to collaborate from the start. When you map out the stages of your customer journey and the content needed to help buyers make that journey, think about how working with influencers, experts and advocates can add that special sauce to your marketing mix.

Think about how the addition of credible experts with active audience engagement can add valuable perspective, inspiration, promotion and trust for conversion to your marketing content – across the entire customer lifecycle: attract, engage, convert, retain, advocate.

Of course if you would like to explore the true benefits of when the Content Marketing World and Influencer Marketing World intersect, well, that’s what we do at TopRank Marketing. We focus mostly on B2B influencer content programs but would be happy to chat about any projects you have in mind and then point you in the right direction.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | 5 Examples of Influencer Marketing in Action Across the Full Customer Journey | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Be the Best Answer: 5 Steps to Grow Influence for Your Brand http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/be-the-best-answer-grow-brand-influence/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/be-the-best-answer-grow-brand-influence/#respond Mon, 30 Oct 2017 10:00:12 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22981 “Be the Best Answer” is an expression my team and I have used many times in client strategy planning, training, presentations, webinars, blogging, and in my book Optimize about the intersection of search with owned, earned, paid and shared media. Being present in a relevant, credible and useful way on all the channels where buyers are looking is [...]

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Be the Best Answer Grow Influence
“Be the Best Answer” is an expression my team and I have used many times in client strategy planning, training, presentations, webinars, blogging, and in my book Optimize about the intersection of search with owned, earned, paid and shared media.

Being present in a relevant, credible and useful way on all the channels where buyers are looking is a powerful (but often difficult to execute) way to provide the kinds of customer experiences that greatly differentiate one brand from another.


Influence plays an important role in a “Best Answer” marketing strategy.
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Influence plays an important role in a “Best Answer” marketing strategy as buyers pay less attention to ads and brand content, and more time listening to peers and industry subject matter experts.

While many companies are experiencing increased competition and waning interest in their marketing, brands that infuse influencers into their marketing initiatives do not suffer this decline of attention.

For example, Adidas maintains command of customer attention by boosting credibility with advocates via dark social. Our client SAP grows their influence and reach in specific areas of interest by co-creating content with industry experts in a variety of formats including video, blog posts, ebooks and interactive experiences.

Both of these brands build their own influence with audiences they’re trying to reach and engage by partnering on content with influencers that already have customer attention.


Brands can build influence by co-creating content within influencers that customers already trust.
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So how can your company take advantage of growing brand influence by working with industry influencers?  Here are 5 guidelines for building brand influence you can follow:

1. Audit your brand’s influence, advocates and influencers

Establishing a benchmark for your brand’s current level of influence is essential. But you must first ask, what are you trying to be influential about? Whatever idea pops into your mind needs to be reconciled with what customers actually care about.

Assess your brand’s share of voice for the topics you want to be influential about on social channels, in search and anywhere else customers discover, consume and engage with solutions content. These are the places where you’ll be co-creating content with experts to be the best answer and build your brand’s influence, as well as grow leads and sales.

Identify the gap between the quantity, quality and sentiment of conversations happening around your brand and the topic currently and where you want to be. Closing that gap will be a key driver for your brand influence program.

Determine who is already advocating for your brand in relation to the topics you have in mind. Whether those fans are customers, partners or users, they can be activated to be advocates. They can also help define an advocate persona for recruiting more advocates.

Who are the best influencers for your topics? For your industry? For your brand? Identifying potential influencers to collaborate with takes time, technology and expertise. Leaving it to anyone with an opinion about who is an influencer could create some major mis-steps. Influential experts are not the same thing as influencers, for example.

It can seem overwhelming, but there’s good news: there are specialty influencer marketing tools and platforms you can use for auditing your share of voice, identifying advocates and finding influencers – just like there are experts (like TopRank Marketing) who can be your guide.

2. Identify internal influencer candidates

Growing brand influence from the inside is often forgotten with campaign driven influencer marketing. Besides industry influencers, customers and community members, one of the most significant and powerful sources of growing brand influence can come from within. Everyone has some degree of influence from the CEO to front line employees interacting with customers on a daily basis. Especially front line employees.


Someone with expertise is not automatically an influencer. Influence is the ability to affect action.
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Influence is the ability to affect action. Many internal subject matter experts can have credibility and respect but not have any idea or interest in “behaving like an influencer”. Developing SMEs into influencers takes time, but it can be well worth it.

Some companies already have internal influencers to work with. Being an influencer means creating and sharing content amongst an interested network that engages and takes action. Brands that can effectively connect to relevant internal influencers can create a symbiotic relationship and value exchange of exposure.

Internal subject matter experts and established influencers are valuable. Both need to be approached differently. Together, they can amplify brand influence in meaningful ways at scale.

3. Map topics of influence to content marketing and communications plans

Content is what closes the influence gap using the right topics, resources and industry/internal influencers. Once the influence topics are identified, they can be incorporated into content marketing plans.

A best answer strategy maps a connection between influence topics and content for PR and media relations as well as marketing tactics like content, social, SEO, advertising and influencers. Information hungry customers interact with numerous touch-points, ignoring overly salesy content and advertising, so including credible voices in marketing and PR communications increases reach and engagement.

By mapping the internal and external voices to collaborate with in marketing and PR content, you can facilitate the credibility of your brand as the best answer for the topics of focus.

4. Build executive influence with content and influencers

Executives are not automatically influential – at least not in a useful way. It is often assumed that company executives are influential by the nature of their position. To some degree that is true, but those senior business executives that create content and engage with industry influencers become far more influential. That influence can be leveraged for more significant media coverage, more credible engagement with customers and employees.

Operationalizing influence best practices amongst brand executives can be very rewarding for all. Recently I’ve observed companies make organized efforts towards building their executives’ profiles through content, social and events as well as by interacting with industry influencers. The boost in credibility and top of mind consideration as a result is impressive.

5. Build influence of internet subject matter experts through brand channels

Investing in influence can be more powerful than renting it through association. Besides identifying external influencers and advocates for content collaboration and building executive influence, there is an opportunity for brands to grow influence in a way that is almost counterintuitive.

Brands associating with known industry influencers gain influence themselves. It is also very powerful for the brand to help up and coming influencers grow. When brands can help their niche subject matter experts transition from simply possessing influence to learning how to behave as an influencer, the resulting content, reach and engagement can outperform the effect of external celebrity influencers, or “brandividiuals”.

Our client LinkedIn Marketing Solutions does a great job of showcasing their employees in marketing materials as well as co-creating content with their internal subject matter experts. By doing so, LinkedIn provides more credible content and builds the credibility of their team members at the same time. More credibility can translate to more reach, engagement and sales.

By incorporating these 5 steps your brand can begin to benefit from being a source of content that customers actually want to consume and from the people they trust and want to hear from. In the process, your brand will earn credibility and trust points that can extend influence to the brand, but only if the brand learns from why customers favor creators and adapts those practices itself. At the same time building internal influencers while helping external micro-influencers build their influence will result in even more influence for the brand.

Are you ready to get started?

Be sure to check out the influencer marketing services we provide at TopRank Marketing. Hey, that’s what makes this blog possible and if we can help your brand become more influential, everybody wins!

Of course we’re also hiring talented influencer marketing professionals with community management, content marketing and social media experience. So, be sure to check out our careers page as well.

Upcoming Influencer Marketing Speaking Events:

Nov 7: Dreamforce, San Francisco
The Confluence Equation: How Content & Influencers Drive B2B Marketing Success

Nov 9: Pubcon, Las Vegas
Participation Marketing: The New World of Content Co-Creation, Influencers and Integration for PR

Nov 15: SMXL, Milan
Content Marketing & Influence Integration


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | Be the Best Answer: 5 Steps to Grow Influence for Your Brand | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Why to ROI: Proving the Value of B2B Influencer Marketing with Lee Odden http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/influencer-marketing-roi/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/influencer-marketing-roi/#comments Mon, 09 Oct 2017 10:30:16 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23042 Last week at Marketing Profs B2B Forum it was pretty clear B2B marketers are more interested in influencer marketing than ever before. Lee Odden’s session – Why to ROI: B2B Marketing Case Studies for Success– promises to deliver not only why influencer marketing is something we should all be talking about, but also how to [...]

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Last week at Marketing Profs B2B Forum it was pretty clear B2B marketers are more interested in influencer marketing than ever before.

Lee Odden’s session – Why to ROI: B2B Marketing Case Studies for Success– promises to deliver not only why influencer marketing is something we should all be talking about, but also how to use ongoing influencer marketing to deliver ROI to your business.

Some of us may still be thinking about influencer marketing as a B2C tactic. A Kardashian on Instagram touting the newest vitamin.

This isn’t exactly relevant to those of us in the B2B space.

Except, what if we think about influence more holistically. Lee points that you don’t have to be a Kardashian to be influential. From singing the praises of the battery life on your new iPhone8 or telling your coworker about the new software you’re testing in your department, we’re all influencing each other.

This holistic view of influencer marketing, thinking beyond the brandividual, is what will help you drive ROI within your influencer marketing.

5 Steps to Driving ROI with B2B Influencer Marketing

Step 1: Determine Why or Why Not

Spoiler alert – Lee thinks you should be doing influencer marketing if you’re a B2B marketer. And a lot of you are. 43% of marketers are experimenting with B2B marketing. But we’re still in the early days. Only 11% of B2B companies are running ongoing programs, compared to 48% of B2C companies.

So why are so many B2B marketers experimenting with influencer marketing? Largely, we believe that influencer marketing can help us with lead gen. 67% of marketers cited lead gen as a goal for influencer marketing. In fact, influencers can help us at each stage of the buying cycle, from awareness to purchase to advocacy.

So even though we’re just getting started. You believe in the why, and are very optimistic. 57% of marketers say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities in the next 3 years.

In order to achieve true integration, and keep our budgets and resources growing for more influencer marketing, we need to drive ROI from those programs.

Step 2: Find ROI Opportunities

Lee shares several examples of B2B influencer campaigns generating major ROI. He highlights several opportunities to drive value for your brand and influencers.

  • Simple Content: Influencer co-created content doesn’t have to be complicated. Find 10 influencers, ask them one question and compile and their responses in an asset with 90% influencer contributed content. Gating the asset with an easy to fill out form, can drive big results in terms of MQLs.
  • Influencer Integrated Content: Influencer content can take multiple forms. In the previous example, it was 90% influencer created and gated. Influencer content can also be incorporated into an asset as seasoning, providing support or color for brand generated content.
  • Repurposing Content for ROI: You can drive more ROI by getting the most out of your influencer content with repurposing. Once you’ve done all the work of getting influencer contributions, use the full contributions in a guide, include preview snippets in a blog post, round up some key ideas with stats into an infographic, or leverage important topics for an influencer webinar. Content repurposing not only helps you get more mileage out of your content, it will help drive additional amplification to your core assets, creating opportunity for ROI.
  • Interactive Content: Interactive content is intrinsically more engaging. If the visitor has to act in order to consume the content, they are already activated to take the next steps to share, click or download.

Now that we talked about all the great opportunities for ROI, Lee shares sometimes when influencer marketing is not an opportunity, including:

  • Magic sales expectations: This is an outdated perception that mean treating influencer marketing like an ad buy, instead of an opportunity to create organic experience. This works for B2C, but not for B2B.
  • Lack of consensus on the strategy: In order to be successful, you must have agreement on who your influencers are and how you are leveraging them . If there is a disconnect between PR and marketing, it can dilute ROI and create a less than awesome experience for your influencers.
  • Lack of resources to commit: Influencer marketing isn’t something you want to throw an intern at. You need people and resources that can perform at a very high level.
  • Disregard for FTC compliance: Enough said.
  • Unable to measure inputs, outputs and performance: In order to show value and continue to grow budgets, you must be prepared to report on the results.

Step 3: Create profitable relationships & content

Once you have identified your opportunities, start putting together a plan to show ROI, including these critical considerations:

  • What will it cost to implement?
  • What will it cost you if you don’t secure relationships with the top influencers in your industry and the competition does?
  • What influencer engagement models should we start with?

Planning ahead for these considerations, will ensure your team is starting your influencer program with appropriate goals in order to show ROI.

Step 4: Leverage an Integrated Approach

We already know that influencer marketing doesn’t work when there is a lack of consensus on your influencer strategy. In order to truly maximize ROI, you should consider influencer programs across your organization. In a cross functional model you’ll be able to tap into all types of influencers, including journalists, affiliates and customers, illustrated in the model from Traackr below.

Step 5: Start with Best Practices for Measurement

For best practice measurement, first you need to align your goals with influencer specific measurement. You want to look beyond your typical content KPIs, like views and time on page, and include:

  1. Metrics for influencer performance, for example referral traffic, downloads, subscribers from a specific influencer
  2. Metrics for influencer community performance, for example number of conversations around your brand or campaign within the larger influencer community

Now Take it to the Next Level

Regardless if you are just starting to experiment with influencer marketing or  you already have an ongoing program, there is an opportunity to take it to the next level.

Think about where you might fit into the spectrum of influencer marketing maturity progression Lee shared.

Then consider how you can optimize your approach. Here are 3 ways to start moving:

Get Expert Help:

An expert may be an agency that specializes in influencer marketing or a consultant you bring in to help you get started. An expert may be able to help you with these things:

  • Research the market
  • Who are your influencers?
  • Develop a Strategy
  • Create a playbook and plan\

Invest in Tech:

The right technology can help you quickly and efficiently assess and improve your influencer marketing tactics, for example:

  • ID needs and specifications
  • Create a pilog
  • Identify, qualify and recruit
  • Measure & optimize

Activate:

Accelerate your influencer marketing efforts by activating your existing community and focusing efforts on what works best.

  • Start with employees, client and community
  • Invite co-creation
  • Scale what works

What is one way you are planning to take your influencer marketing to the next level this year?

For more insights into enterprise influencer marketing, check out our interactive infographic showcasing key insights from the Influence 2.0 report.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | Why to ROI: Proving the Value of B2B Influencer Marketing with Lee Odden | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Learn Influencer Marketing 5 Ways http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/09/learn-influencer-marketing-5-ways/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/09/learn-influencer-marketing-5-ways/#respond Mon, 25 Sep 2017 10:30:09 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22973 A quick look at Google Trends comparing Influencer Marketing to other marketing disciplines shows a near hockey stick growth trend. Since my team consults and I advocate, write and speak about influencer marketing so often, people often ask me: “Is influencer marketing a real trend?”. Looking back on my experience in digital marketing over the [...]

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Learn Influencer Marketing 5 Ways

A quick look at Google Trends comparing Influencer Marketing to other marketing disciplines shows a near hockey stick growth trend. Since my team consults and I advocate, write and speak about influencer marketing so often, people often ask me: “Is influencer marketing a real trend?”.

Google Trends Influencer Marketing

Looking back on my experience in digital marketing over the past 20 years with the advent of disciplines like SEO, social media and content marketing, I’d say the momentum around influencer marketing has many of the same characteristics. It’s here, it’s still early and will continue to grow.

While working with influencers isn’t all that new, my experience talking about influencer marketing with B2B brands (and many agencies) has taught me that many B2B marketers are not fully aware or confident about where working with influencers fits in their marketing mix.

The good news is that we’ve been in the thick of B2B influencer marketing and content marketing for the last 6-7 years. Starting with experiments, we evolved our offering by practicing what we preach and introducing best practices and process to our clients. Today we’re delivering influencer content marketing services to major B2B and B2C brands including SAP, LinkedIn, State Farm and 3M.

To learn what we’ve learned, I invite you to check out the following 5 events where I will be talking about influencer marketing from essentially 5 different perspectives. From New York to San Francisco to Milan, there’s something for everyone.

Learn Influencer Marketing for Influencer Marketers

Sept 26: New York
Influencer Marketing Days #InfluencerDays
Keynote: B2B Influencer Marketing: Top Trends, Examples & Opportunities
The irony of this presentation is that I will be in New York as an influencer for IBM and while there, giving a presentation on influencer marketing at an influencer marketing conference! It’s like influencer marketing inception!

Learn B2B Influencer Marketing

Oct 4: Boston
MarketingProfs B2B Forum #MPB2B
Solo: From Why to ROI: B2B Influencer Marketing Case Studies for Success
One of my all-time favorite conferences of the year, B2B Forum is where I get to truly geek out on B2B influencer marketing with some of the smartest B2B marketers in the world. And there’s Ann Handley too – who would want to miss hanging out with her? No one!

Learn About ABM & Influencer Marketing

Nov 7: San Francisco
Dreamforce #Dreamforce17
Solo: The ABCs of Influencer Content for ABM
Salesforce event staff have told me I will have a room that can seat 800, which might not seem like much for a conference with 90,000+ attendees, but I’ll take it. Companies that use marketing software are definitely great potential clients for TopRank Marketing.

Learn About SEO & Influencer Marketing

Nov 9: Las Vegas
Pubcon #pubcon
Keynote: In Search of Influence
Brett Tabke gave me a shot at speaking early on in my career and because of a longstanding client conference date that conflicted with Pubcon, I haven’t been able to attend in many years. Now I’ll be giving a keynote to the community where I got my start in marketing and I can’t tell you how much that means to me. My hope is that the presentation will mean something to the amazing search community.

Learn About Content & Influencer Marketing

Nov 15: Milan
SMXL #smxlmilan
Masterclass: Content Marketing & Influence Integration
I will be back in Milan to talk about content marketing with an influencer marketing flavor to the hungry Italian marketers converging on Milan. This event will also give me the opportunity to connect with my European search marketing pals.

5 Steps to Influencer Marketing Awesome

I know it’s possible you might not be able to attend the conferences listed above. So I’ll share a few tips to provide some direction for those just getting started with the idea of incorporating influencer collaboration with their marketing. Broadly, there are some universal truths to influencer marketing where content is the marketable asset produced. Here are 5 worth paying attention to:

1. Be specific. When setting goals for what’s possible, define your topic of influence specifically. Focus topics drive influencer identification as well as influencer content, SEO and social media themes.

2. Be the best answer. Map focus topics to your normal content, SEO, advertising and media relations plans.To be the best answer wherever customers are looking and influenced, it’s more effective if there is continuity of message across channels where buyers discover and consume solutions content.

3. Give to get. Brandividuals that play the game of influence will respond to compensation early, but most niche and brand influencers require romance. Start recruiting through social engagement long before you ask influencers to collaborate.

4. Collaborate to create. Invite influencers to make something together that drives the influencer’s objectives while at the same time, fuels brand objectives. At a minimum, influencer engagement results in content co-creation that can be repurposed by the brand for demand gen programs. Also consider the power of pride. When influencers invest in creating something that makes them look good, they will be inspired to share and help your brand reach new audiences.

5. Measure smart. Inputs, outputs and outcomes of influencers and their communities relative to your content collaboration is essential. When content is part of your influencer collaboration, then you’ll have all the measurement opportunities with any other content marketing program as well. The key is to map KPIs of working with influencers to business goals for your brand.

Whether you are in New York for Advertising Week, Boston for Marketing Profs B2B Forum, San Francisco for Dreamforce, Las Vegas for Pubcon or Milan for SMXL, I hope to see you so we can connect and learn from each other about the amazing world of influencer marketing.

Tim Washer Interview

Do you have proven community management, content and influencer engagement skills? Work with TopRank Marketing! If you are an experienced influencer marketing professional and would like to join a team that is fast tracking growth and working with some amazing brands, then be sure to check out our careers page or contact me directly: lodden at toprankmarketing .dot com.


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Lee Odden Shares 5 Best Practices for Enterprise Influencer Marketing #CMWorld http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/09/5-best-practices-for-enterprise-influencer-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/09/5-best-practices-for-enterprise-influencer-marketing/#respond Thu, 07 Sep 2017 15:03:59 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22897

It was all aboard the Content Marketing World Enterprise Wednesday morning, as TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden took marketers to the not-so-final frontier of marketing: influencer marketing.

Lee’s session, “Big Brand Influencer Marketing: Trends & Best Practices,” had the flight deck packed with eager marketers from brands big and small as well as agencies, all looking for insight to define, refine or inspire their influencer marketing journey.

While Lee covered enterprise influencer marketing trends, tools and interesting B2B and B2C case studies, much of the presentation focused on five best practices for creating a dynamic influencer marketing program with the perfect balance of great content and strong influencer relationships.

What are those five best practices? Read on to find out.

#1 - Goal Setting

Goal setting is part of a responsible marketer’s DNA. Your objectives are the foundation of your marketing strategy, guiding every decision and tactic that comes next. When it comes to goal setting for influencer marketing, Lee believes that means thinking about all of the possibilities and then drilling down into specific, measurable goals. Most large brands view influencer marketing simply as an advertising channel and like the Universe, there is so much more possible. That means understanding the role that influencer marketing can play in reaching marketing and PR goals as well as talent acquisition, customer support and many other corporate communications objectives.

#2 - Smart Influencer Engagement

As Lee said: “There are a lot of cowboys out there. … A lot of people are just shooting from the hip when it comes to influencer marketing.” When it comes to engaging with the influencers you want to create relationships with, you should absolutely be a little wild and free to pique interest, but at the right times.

Lee told the story of his first influencer content project, in which he reached out to about marketing influencers with several questions for them to answer, and not necessarily tailored to their expertise. As you can imagine, the response wasn’t great. He then walked the room through what he called the “Confluence Romance,” a kind of framework that helps you make connections, get on the radar, build and maintain relationships with influencers. The “steps” he outlined were:

  1. Follow and interact with influencers on social channels
  2. Recognize influencers on a featured list or blog post
  3. Invite influencers to share a quote or a one-on-one interview
  4. Use that interview or quote content as modular content to repurpose and continue to share
  5. Engage with influencers in the real world
  6. Invite them to become a VIP influencer

Of course, these steps are a bit nuanced and not one-size-fits-all, and need to be tailored to your brand, objectives and resources. But either way, it can serve as a helpful guide.

#3 - Co-Creation

Lee is an avid fan of co-creating content with influencers. As he’s been known to say: “If you want your content to be great, ask influencers to participate.” Influencers add perspective, insight and credibility, and in return you get to create an awesome piece of content that makes them look great.

For co-creation magic, Lee’s top tips were picking a very specific topic so you can easily match the best-fit influencers, and weaving influencers into your content planning.

“You always make sure that your content is accountable to targeted keywords, so why not also make your content accountable to influencers?” Lee asked rhetorically.

#4 - Amplification

At the end of the day, most marketers hope their influencer relationships and the content they’ve built with influencers is seen. And that’s where amplification comes in.

As for some best practices for this best practice, Lee offered up several. My favorite was openly sharing your content and marketing objective with the influencer. While some marketers may hesitate to do something like that, Lee believes that cluing influencers in on the purpose will give them the opportunity to be more effective.

#5 - Measurement

Marketers know that measurement is key to understanding how your marketing efforts are performing, as well as if you’ve reached your objectives. When it comes to influencer marketing, Lee suggested three different metrics to pay attention to:

  • Influencer performance
  • Influencer community performance
  • Overall content performance

Be sure to check out Lee's full presentation below and boldly go where few marketers have gone before!

 

You Can Get Aboard the Enterprise, Too

Even if you were unable to attend CMWorld, you can still get insight and inspiration from Lee’s session. His presentation is available on SlideShare.

Stay tuned for more #CMWorld coverage and insights on the TopRank Marketing Blog. In addition, follow myself and the rest of our on-the-ground team members on Twitter at: @CaitlinMBurgess, @Tiffani_Allen, @leeodden, @knutesands, @NiteWrites, @amywhiggins and @azeckman.

The post Lee Odden Shares 5 Best Practices for Enterprise Influencer Marketing #CMWorld appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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It was all aboard the Content Marketing World Enterprise Wednesday morning, as TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden took marketers to the not-so-final frontier of marketing: influencer marketing. Lee’s session, “Big Brand Influencer Marketing: Trends & Best Practices,” had the flight deck packed with eager marketers from brands big and small as well as agencies, all looking for insight to define, refine or inspire their influencer marketing journey. While Lee covered enterprise influencer marketing trends, tools and interesting B2B and B2C case studies, much of the presentation focused on five best practices for creating a dynamic influencer marketing program with the perfect balance of great content and strong influencer relationships. What are those five best practices? Read on to find out.

#1 - Goal Setting

Goal setting is part of a responsible marketer’s DNA. Your objectives are the foundation of your marketing strategy, guiding every decision and tactic that comes next. When it comes to goal setting for influencer marketing, Lee believes that means thinking about all of the possibilities and then drilling down into specific, measurable goals. Most large brands view influencer marketing simply as an advertising channel and like the Universe, there is so much more possible. That means understanding the role that influencer marketing can play in reaching marketing and PR goals as well as talent acquisition, customer support and many other corporate communications objectives.

#2 - Smart Influencer Engagement

As Lee said: “There are a lot of cowboys out there. … A lot of people are just shooting from the hip when it comes to influencer marketing.” When it comes to engaging with the influencers you want to create relationships with, you should absolutely be a little wild and free to pique interest, but at the right times. Lee told the story of his first influencer content project, in which he reached out to about marketing influencers with several questions for them to answer, and not necessarily tailored to their expertise. As you can imagine, the response wasn’t great. He then walked the room through what he called the “Confluence Romance,” a kind of framework that helps you make connections, get on the radar, build and maintain relationships with influencers. The “steps” he outlined were:
  1. Follow and interact with influencers on social channels
  2. Recognize influencers on a featured list or blog post
  3. Invite influencers to share a quote or a one-on-one interview
  4. Use that interview or quote content as modular content to repurpose and continue to share
  5. Engage with influencers in the real world
  6. Invite them to become a VIP influencer
Of course, these steps are a bit nuanced and not one-size-fits-all, and need to be tailored to your brand, objectives and resources. But either way, it can serve as a helpful guide.

#3 - Co-Creation

Lee is an avid fan of co-creating content with influencers. As he’s been known to say: “If you want your content to be great, ask influencers to participate.” Influencers add perspective, insight and credibility, and in return you get to create an awesome piece of content that makes them look great. For co-creation magic, Lee’s top tips were picking a very specific topic so you can easily match the best-fit influencers, and weaving influencers into your content planning. “You always make sure that your content is accountable to targeted keywords, so why not also make your content accountable to influencers?” Lee asked rhetorically.

#4 - Amplification

At the end of the day, most marketers hope their influencer relationships and the content they’ve built with influencers is seen. And that’s where amplification comes in. As for some best practices for this best practice, Lee offered up several. My favorite was openly sharing your content and marketing objective with the influencer. While some marketers may hesitate to do something like that, Lee believes that cluing influencers in on the purpose will give them the opportunity to be more effective.

#5 - Measurement

Marketers know that measurement is key to understanding how your marketing efforts are performing, as well as if you’ve reached your objectives. When it comes to influencer marketing, Lee suggested three different metrics to pay attention to:
  • Influencer performance
  • Influencer community performance
  • Overall content performance
Be sure to check out Lee's full presentation below and boldly go where few marketers have gone before!  

You Can Get Aboard the Enterprise, Too

Even if you were unable to attend CMWorld, you can still get insight and inspiration from Lee’s session. His presentation is available on SlideShare. Stay tuned for more #CMWorld coverage and insights on the TopRank Marketing Blog. In addition, follow myself and the rest of our on-the-ground team members on Twitter at: @CaitlinMBurgess, @Tiffani_Allen, @leeodden, @knutesands, @NiteWrites, @amywhiggins and @azeckman.

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Give Influencer Content Programs a Promotional Edge with Digital Advertising http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/influencer-content-digital-advertising/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/influencer-content-digital-advertising/#respond Thu, 31 Aug 2017 10:30:30 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22859 It happens almost every single time. I’m finally settling in to stream a few episodes before I go to bed for the day. I fire up the old Netflix machine and there it is… options… lots of them. There are shows I’ve seen before that I might want to watch again. Genres that I’m interested [...]

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It happens almost every single time. I’m finally settling in to stream a few episodes before I go to bed for the day. I fire up the old Netflix machine and there it is… options… lots of them.

There are shows I’ve seen before that I might want to watch again. Genres that I’m interested in. Highly rated shows. Maybe I watch one of those trending shows that everyone is talking about? I mean I’ve never seen that Making a Murderer show… did I miss out on that one? My mind continues to jump around with the unlimited options in front of me.

When you have virtually unlimited options in front of you it’s almost impossible to make a choice. This is probably why I’ve watched the American version of the Office about one million times (either that or it’s a really good show).

As marketers we consistently run into situations like this. We are asked to promote a product or a service or a piece of content and when we sit down at our desk we are hit with so many options. We have to choose the right channel, the right audience, the right messaging, the right offer, the right image, the right… Anyone else getting cold sweats just thinking about this?

I want to help you with this problem. Specifically as it relates to influencer content (because that presents a whole new set of challenges that need to be addressed).

Promoting Influencer Content With Digital Advertising

Why focus on influencer marketing? In my opinion influencer marketing is one of the most challenging thing to promote with paid digital advertising. Many people look at influencer marketing and content marketing in general as some magical piece of content that, when published, turns prospects into customers in a completely organic way.

In reality, simply creating great influencer content is not enough. Right now, as I write this, there are over one billion websites (in fact the number grew by about 500 in the time it took me to finish that sentence).

So what does that mean? In very broad and simple terms you aren’t the only one that has to make a lot of choices. So when it comes to influencer content you have to help your audience find it and help them choose it.

5 Steps to Promoting Influence Content with Digital Advertising

The 5 steps below will help you successfully promote your influencer content with digital advertising in a way that attracts and entices your target audience.

Step 1. Change How You Think About Influencer Content

Often marketers don’t change their approach to promotion when deploying an influencer driven content campaign. Instead of thinking of your influencer content as a part of your standard marketing mix think of it as a product.

This is really important. You are not promoting content, you’re not boosting a post, you are selling influencer content. That is your job.

Step 2. Know Your Audience

It seems simple, but is often overlooked. But did you know that now you can really know your audience. For example, if you are using Twitter you can gather awesome insights with Twitter Analytics.

I mean… take a look at this.

The top lifestyle type in my organic audience is “Online Buyers.” I can make assumptions from this. For example, one thing that is often debated is how much info do I ask a prospect to give in exchange for a gated asset? Well an online buyer is comfortable giving over name, phone number, address, credit card info, and more in exchange for goods.

This information can help you determine what to “charge” or how much information you should ask for in exchange for content.

You can gather similar information using tools such as  Google Analytics Demographics and Interests and the Facebook Audience Insights tool.

Step 3. Segment Your Audience

Knowing your audience is important. Segmenting your audience is even more essential.

Don’t make the mistake of lumping everyone together into one audience when promoting your influencer driven content. While this tactic may be necessary if you are working with a really small audience, a larger audience that you can segment will allow you to tailor your message to a smaller, specific group of people.

For example, let’s say that you have created influencer content to target HR professionals. It’s possible that you could segment that audience by tenure in the HR industry.

With an audience like this you could tailor your call to action like so.

  • Tenure of 0-5 years – Jumpstart your HR career with….
  • Tenure of 5-15 years – Bring your HR career to the next level with…
  • Tenure of 15+ years – Learn from the top HR professionals…

Segmenting your audience can help you tailor your sales pitch. Remember, you are selling your content not promoting it.

Step 4. Challenge Your Assumptions

What’s the one thing I have heard more than anything else when it comes to promoting B2B influencer content with digital media? Give up? It’s this, “we are a B2B company so we only want to promote this on LinkedIn.

Well first of all, we are selling the content not promoting it. Second of all, you don’t think those same professionals have a Facebook account?

Facebook is on pace to hit 2 billion users. I’m willing to guess that some of those 2 billion users are in the market for B2B goods and services.

Challenging your assumptions has it’s rewards. Currently I am running a campaign for a B2B company and the results look like this…

Challenging assumptions and running a campaign on Twitter was a great bet!

Step 5. Don’t Fall in Love With Your Bets

It’s bound to happen. You’ll do all of the tips above. You’ll create a segmented audience on a social network that sits outside of your assumptions. You’ll create tailored calls to action and you’ll fall in love.

Then it happens… nothing happens… it fails.

When it fails, one of two things normally happen.

  1. Marketers ignore the failure in disbelief
  2. Marketers say, “just give it more time. One more conversion will make this look better.”

Neither of these are going to change anything. In this situation only one thing will work.

Make some changes.

Change your ad copy. Broaden your audience. Change your bids. Try to identify why it isn’t working and fix it.

The Keys to Promoting Influencer Content With Paid Digital Advertising

So there you have it, 5 keys to promoting content with digital advertising. Below is a quick recap that you can use of a checklist of sorts to begin guiding your influencer content and digital advertising journey:

  1. Remember you’re selling your content not promoting it.
  2. Know your audience. Use tools to understand their online behavior.
  3. Segment your audience. Tailor your message in a way that speaks to the individuals in your audience.
  4. Challenge your assumptions. Try something new. Run tests.
  5. Don’t fall in love. Make changes quickly and don’t wait for a campaign to turn into what you want it to be.

I know you have over a billion options to choose from when it comes to internet content. Thanks for choosing this piece. I’d love to hear about any time you challenged an assumption and won or when you fell in love with a campaign. Feel free to share your insights in the comments below.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | Give Influencer Content Programs a Promotional Edge with Digital Advertising | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Lee Odden Shares How to Supercharge Your Content with Influencer Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/lee-odden-influencer-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/lee-odden-influencer-marketing/#comments Thu, 17 Aug 2017 15:06:29 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22795 Sitting across the aisle from a renowned digital marketing strategist and speaker on a daily basis has tendency to allow you to take for granted the knowledge stockpile that is just a few feet away. Tuesday was a good reminder of that. When Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing, promised the crowd at the 2017 [...]

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Sitting across the aisle from a renowned digital marketing strategist and speaker on a daily basis has tendency to allow you to take for granted the knowledge stockpile that is just a few feet away. Tuesday was a good reminder of that.

When Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing, promised the crowd at the 2017 Digital Summit Minneapolis 45 minutes of content in his 25-minute closing keynote, he was not joking.

Eloquently arranged into this 25-minute time frame, Odden opened eyes of marketers to the still-in-it’s-infancy-field of influencer marketing, and how influence can literally supercharge marketing programs. But, don’t take the summary from just me, his desk neighbor. Audience members let me wrangle them on the way into post-conference happy hour to share their favorite parts of the presentation too.

Why Influence?

In 1900, cars zoomed down the road at a blistering 45 MPH. Within 8 years, a car could travel 100 MPH. How? The supercharger: a seemingly magical collaboration between oxygen and the automotive engine causing unheard of increases in horsepower and torque.

How do you supercharge your marketing? By adding your own supercharged–influencers. Influencers provide valuable, trustworthy content and incredible amplification opportunities you couldn’t otherwise realize.

How much added “horsepower” can you see from influencer marketing?

  • $9.60 in earned media value for every $1 spent (Burst Media)
  • 10x increase in conversion rate (Content Marketing Institute)
  • 37% higher retention rate (McKinsey)

These stats alone are fantastic! But what kept many audience members on their toes throughout the presentation, was that influencer marketing is still a relatively new form of marketing, and taking what they learned, they could help their organization “still get in while it’s hot.”

And, let’s just say, it IS still hot. Odden also shared data from Altimeter, Traackr and TopRank Marketing’s recent research report, Influence 2.0. Our research found influencer marketing was the number one underfunded area of marketing today, with less than 10% of budgets allocated toward it. Of those influencer marketers surveyed:

  • 50% of marketers spent less than $100k per year on influencer marketing
  • Yet, looking ahead, 55% of marketers plan to increase their spend on influencer tactics next year

What is Influence?

When you think of influence, if you think of Kim Kardashian holding a product, think again.

Odden explained:


Influence isn’t about popularity. It is the ability to affect action. @leeodden
Click To Tweet


What got the #DSMPLS audience excited was that everyone and anyone can be an influencer. As you’re selecting the right influencers for your situation, hone in on Odden’s definition: 

Influencer marketing is developing relationship with internal and industry experts with active networks to co-create content that helps drive measurable business goals.”

What are the basic steps to implement influencer marketing?

The audience members I spoke with also appreciated Odden’s sneak peek into three steps for implementing influencer marketing.

  1. Activation: Start the conversation and build relationships. Listen to influencers and align on what you have in common.
  2. Co-creation: Develop content together. Compose a goal and make it fun and easy for influencers to participate.
  3. Amplify: Provide influencers with ammo to share your content. Make it easy and show them how it benefits them.

Lee also added ongoing influencer nurturing is the like the rinse and repeat of this three-step shampoo bottle.

B2B or B2C?

Influencer marketing has proven to be successful in both B2B and B2C situations. The Influence 2.0 research showed that of those with influencer marketing programs, B2C brands were ahead of B2B in maturity:

  • 55% B2C brands have ongoing or integrated programs
  • 15% of B2B brands have ongoing or integrated programs
  • 49% of B2B brands are still experimenting

If you’re in B2B, don’t let maturity of use in the industry intimidate you. Start creating your influencer marketing strategy today to get ahead of the curve.

Is this a pay-to-play space?

Brands large and small, deploying successful influencer marketing programs have seen success using completely paid, completely organic and a mix of paid and organic efforts with their influencer programs. The best choice will be dependent on your business goals and the value your influencers will receive.

Types of Organic Influencer Engagements

In my pre-happy hour prowling, I also learned the audience loved hearing about the three types of influencer engagements and the powerful examples of each Odden shared.

  • Microcontent: Short-form quotes, tips or insights from individual influencers added to brand content.
  • Campaigns: Longer-form content contributed by individual influencers often as a part of a larger campaign.
  • Community: A dedicated group of influencers that contribute a variety of short- and long-form content for brand communications.

Let’s dive in.

Microcontent: Influencer Marketing is Like Dating

Microcontent can be quickly produced by asking influencers questions centered around keywords. Wa-laah, just like that, you have a keyword-centered answer ready to gain rankings.


Influencer marketing is like dating. You should ease into it. @leeodden
Click To Tweet


Microcontent can show up in many formats as an ingredient to a bigger piece: from influencer roundup blogs and SlideShares to adding snippets within a brand-developed piece of content.

Campaigns

Once you’re “dating” your influencers – okay that doesn’t sound right – once you’ve nurtured your influencers and grown the relationships, you can begin to engage them in campaigns.

Within a campaign, you’ll want to map content against the stages of a purchase journey. Think about the genuine questions your target audience is asking. What’s keeping them up at night? Then decide from whom each answer should come: your brand or an influencer.

It’s important to select influencers who are aligned with your message so both parties gain the full value of an influencer campaign. If you aren’t on the same page, the brand won’t relay the correct message and the piece won’t be as valuable to the influencer which will likely decrease their amplification and deter future collaboration.

Influencer integrated campaigns are where you really see that supercharge in action. In one impressive B2B example Odden shared, with the use of gated assets, long-form interview blogs and social promotion, a brand drove 200,00 views, 4,000 downloads and over 1,000 leads!

Or try another B2B brand who with the help of just one – but impressive – influencer, Shep Hyken, drove $570,000 in qualified sales leads and $1.5 million in projected pipeline revenue in 30 days!

Catch your breath. I know, that blew me away too, and I sit next to the team who designed and executed the latter example.

Community

A structured formal influencer community is a sign of a mature influencer program. In this situation, influencers know (and are likely proud) they are part of the brand’s influencer community. Influencers are asked to contribute to short- and long-form content for brand communications at a regular cadence.

There may or may not be a paid component to being a part of a structured influencer community. But even if there reimbursement, it’s not like what Lebron pockets from Nike, or one-off tweet (an estimated $185k).

Influencers become and stay a part of a brand’s community because their beliefs and values align with the brand’s. And because participating provides them with value.

Odden cited the Adidas Tango Squad as an effective example of a B2C influencer community. Squads of 100-250 youth ages 16-19 in 15 cities worldwide are looped into exclusive content and new product releases before it goes live elsewhere. Adidas stands by their investment arguing content is far more authentic if you give it to 500 kids with 2,000 followers compared to a global influencer with a million followers.

Community’s also work strikingly well for B2B: think employees, execs, clients, industry thought leaders, media and analysts.

Operationalize Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is not a task or even a project. To fully gain the value of the supercharger, integrate influencer marketing in every step of your marketing planning, execution, measurement and optimization.

Ready to supercharge your marketing but not sure where to start? We’d love to help. Learn more about our influencer marketing services or reach out, today.


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25 Influencer Marketing Platforms & Marketplaces http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/07/influencer-marketing-platforms/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/07/influencer-marketing-platforms/#comments Wed, 12 Jul 2017 10:30:54 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22557 Marketers around the world are searching for ways to better connect with their audiences and it’s become very clear that consumers place more trust in consumers than brands. That means, the true power lies with the customer, which means many brands have had to adapt their marketing strategies to create better experiences for their audience. [...]

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Marketers around the world are searching for ways to better connect with their audiences and it’s become very clear that consumers place more trust in consumers than brands. That means, the true power lies with the customer, which means many brands have had to adapt their marketing strategies to create better experiences for their audience.

One way to do so is by incorporating influencer driven content into the digital marketing mix.

For B2C brands, incorporating influencers is already a well-established practice. But for B2B brands, the concept is much newer. In a recent report that we developed with Altimeter Group and Traackr, we found that only 11% of B2B companies are running an ongoing influencer marketing program, yet 80% of these marketers rate content marketing most impacted by influencer marketing.

One of the essential ingredients to a successful influencer marketing program is having the right tools in your toolkit. To help remove some of the mystery, we have developed a list of 25 influencer marketing tools (free and paid) that can help you along your journey to leveling up influencer marketing within your organization. Please note that these tools are not ranked in a specific order based on preference or recommended use, so we encourage you to dig into all 25!

25 Influencer Marketing Tools

#1 – Onalytica

Onalytica provides influencer relationship management software and supporting professional services to brands. Specialties include influencer identification, influencer relationship management and measuring influence to better automate and streamline influencing activity and identify engagement opportunities.

Type: Paid with free trial

#2 – BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is designed to support your influencer outreach by finding heavily shared content, identifying influencers in your topic area and filter by location, reach, authority and engagement, following and engaging with influencers with social media integration and finding authoritative sites in the niche for your brand’s content.

Type: Paid with free trial

#3 – BuzzStream

BuzzStream is an influencer outreach platform that uncovers influencer information including contact, social profiles and site metrics. You can track all of your conversations including emails and tweets, and even set reminders to follow-up. You can also keep all the information organized in a centralized database, collaborate with teammates and share notes.

Type: Paid

#4 – GroupHigh

GroupHigh offers a software-as-a-service marketing application that allows teams to build, evaluate and manage marketing relationships, with features including web and social data, blog and social search, relationship ranking and scoring and post tracking. You can identify new influencers, organize existing relationships, vet influencers, nurture influencer relationships and report and track earned media from blogs and social media.

Type: Paid

#5 – Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a social media management platform that helps streamline and enhance conversations to let brands easily engage with people and build lasting relationships. Keep track of social conversations, customize the way your team uses the platform to facilitate ongoing collaboration, manage publishing calendars and build presentation-ready reports.

Type: Paid with free trial

#6 – Traackr

Traackr is an influencer relationship management platform where you can manage, expand, validate and scale your global influencer marketing. Organize your influencer data in one place, foster team collaboration by assigning ownership, track conversations and benchmark your brand’s influence in the market.

Type: Paid

#7 – Followerwonk (by Moz)

Followerwonk is an app that helps you dig deeper into Twitter Analytics. You can search bios and connect, compare Twitter accounts, segment your followers, compare your relationships with competitors and friends and match your activities to your followers to give them what they like the most.

Type: Free and paid

#8 – Content BLVD

Content BLVD is a YouTube influencer marketplace that makes communication fast and efficient, while helping you choose the right YouTube influencers for your products. You have access to a dashboard to keep track of everything in one place.

Type: Free

#9 – Blogmint

Blogmint is Asia’s first automated platform that connects brands and influencers by identifying targeted influencers to create powerful social and video content. You can create campaigns, invite influencers, review and approve blog posts and get in-depth analytics in real-time.

Type: Paid

#10 – Zoomph

Zoomph is an influencer marketing platform with over 200M+ social identities in the database. You can locate prospects across social media, engage in 1-1 interactions and publish web experiences that elevate your content with many designer-made templates. You also have access to tools for automation data discovery, content moderation and outreach.

Type: Paid with free trial

#11 – Find Your Influence

Find Your Influence is a SaaS (Software as a Service) influencer marketing platform that helps marketers make deeper, more authentic connections with their customers. You can assign a complete campaign budget, pick influencers at the price you want to pay and manage your campaign from start to finish through a centralized dashboard.

Type: Paid

#12 – Markerly

Markerly connects brands with real people to deliver authentic and successful brand affiliations. You can create your own marketing network with campaign management and influencer CRM tools, while the influencer marketing solution spans multiple networks to help you identify and recruit the right influencers.

Type: Paid

#13 – Webfluential

Webfluential is an influencer marketing platform that gives marketers a lot of the tools needed to manage influencer marketing campaigns. You can search costs, crowdsource campaign ideas, build a community of influencers, collaborate and communicate with influencers, get valuable insights and have access to artificial intelligence matching from brands and influencers.

Type: Paid

#14 – Ninja Outreach

Ninja Outreach is an influencer and blogger outreach CRM software that offers many solutions for marketers. You can search the database which contains over 25 million websites to find the right influencers, pinpoint Twitter and Instagram influencers, track all communications, organize your campaigns and clients and have access to over 25 metrics.

Type: Paid with free trial

#15 – Izea

IZEA is an influencer marketing platform that automates influencer and content marketing programs by streamlining workflow, eliminating time-consuming processes and provides many features for high volume execution. The platform covers all aspects of content production and distribution through influencers and includes the ability to securely manage payments.

Type: Paid

#16 – Little Bird

Little Bird is an influencer identification and marketing platform that was acquired by Sprinklr in 2016. This platform helps brands build like-minded communities and create relevant content with top influencers across social media. You’ll create more connected experiences for customers by leveraging segmentation and social analysis based on an influencer’s reputation.

Type: Paid

#17 – Pitchbox

Pitchbox is an influencer outreach and content marketing platform that allows marketers to find bloggers, publishers and influencers using a keyword search. You can customize outreach emails and automatically follow up with non-respondents and track each step of the process for better organization and efficiency.

Type: Paid

#18 – Klear

Klear allows you to search for influencers, get insight into their social profiles for added focus, manage and measure your influencer program with a CRM system and monitor your brand, competitors and keywords to make more informed marketing decisions.

Type: Free and paid

#19 – Influence.co

Influence.co is an influencer marketing platform for brands and influencers. You can find social network information, published content and demographical information, as well as contact information so you can reach out to influencers quickly.

Type: Free and paid

#20 – Outreachr

Outreachr provides an easy way to streamline your marketing and PR efforts by allowing you to find quick and relevant influencers. You can search for influencers based on website content, share content with influencers and pull social reporting, including key metrics.

Type: Paid

#21 – Social Crawlytics

Social Crawlytics is tool that helps you identify influencers, and uncover your competitor’s most shared content. You can gain access to social metrics, authors and scheduled monitoring.

Type: Free

#22 – TapInfluence

TapInfluence is an influencer-generated content engine where you can find influencers, build and execute influencer marketing programs, get multi-channel tracking and amplify your best content.

Type: Paid

#23 – FameBit

FameBit is a  influencer marketing tool that helps brands connect with YouTubers, and vice versa. You can launch a campaign, find the right influencers, review and approve content and manage your campaign all in one place. You can set your own budget and with campaign targeting, you can filter to find influencers that are right for your brand.

Type: Free and paid

#24 – BrandBacker

BrandBacker is a platform that connects influencers to brands. Influence Teams work regularly with you to create content, give you feedback and promote your brand. You can find who is creating content about your brand, industry and competitors, and measure your content performance and trends.

Type:  Paid

#25 – Influitive

Influitive is an advocacy platform that helps brands spark, build and sustain movement with the participation of their customers. This platform is designed to create amazing experiences for your brand’s advocates and fosters a sense of community and a direct connection with your brand. You have access to thousands of advocates and data, segmentation and personalization is powered through this platform.

Type: Paid

What is Your Favorite Influencer Marketing Tool?

Tools are only one piece of developing an effective influencer marketing program but are essential to success. 

Which influencer marketing tools are your favorite? Why?


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Declare Independence from B2B Influencer Marketing Blunders: 5 Tips for Success http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/07/influencer-marketing-blunders/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/07/influencer-marketing-blunders/#respond Tue, 04 Jul 2017 10:30:05 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22511 Today marks the birth of American independence. While it took collaboration, respect and strategic thinking to persuade Continental Congress to formally adopt the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago, the impact and importance will forever be remembered throughout history. This is a lot like influencer marketing (although, Congress will not be involved). Just like the [...]

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Today marks the birth of American independence. While it took collaboration, respect and strategic thinking to persuade Continental Congress to formally adopt the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago, the impact and importance will forever be remembered throughout history. This is a lot like influencer marketing (although, Congress will not be involved).

Just like the Declaration of Independence, it has taken a long time and a lot of work (on the part of marketers and journalists) to get influencer marketing where it is today. In a recent report conducted by Traackr, Altimeter Group and TopRank Marketing, data shows that only 15% of B2B brands are running ongoing influencer programs, which opens up huge opportunities for the future of B2B brands and influencer marketing.

With primary objectives like increased brand awareness and reach and driving lead generation, influencer marketing is a highly strategic marketing tactic that is rising in the ranks for B2B many brands.

It’s a known fact that influencer marketing should be implemented, but how can you successfully execute ongoing influencer relationships?

Identify the right influencers and nurture long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial for your brand and your influencers to captivate your audience and bring them value. To help you achieve this, below you’ll find 5 common influencer marketing missteps, tips to get it right and advice from top influencer marketing experts to declare independence and implement successful influencer marketing campaigns to achieve your brand goals:

#1 – Don’t Just Look for Influencers with Large Social Followings

The first misstep is very common and proves to be misleading for many brands because often times, influence is equated with the number of followers, fans, and likes an influencer has. It’s tempting to look to celebrities and other popular figures to increase reach and awareness, but this isn’t always the most effective option.

TIP: Identify influencers whose brand goals and objectives align with yours. Micro-influencers, those who have a smaller following, but are more focused on a specific topic, can be very powerful collaborators who can make strong connections with your audience.


Reaching out with poor design using a Gmail address doesn't motivate engagement @leeodden
Click To Tweet


#2 – Guest Blogging isn’t the Only Option

One way to implement an influencer marketing campaign is to ask for a contribution via a guest blog post. While technically this is seen as influencer marketing, you probably won’t get the results you desire. A guest post alone won’t help educate and inspire your audience, you must do more.

TIP: Use an integrated approach to the content campaign with your influencer. Give them guidelines and ask them questions. Use their answers, in their own words, and employ social media to amplify the co-created content.


Influencers are likely to add commentary if there's an existing relationship @JoePulizzi
Click To Tweet


#3 – Money Shouldn’t Drive Your Influencer Relationships

This touches on a much larger topic that influencer marketing is transactional. I hate to break it to you, but the money driven, pay-to-play approach isn’t a scalable model. Often times, influencers are turned off by this type of interaction.

TIP: Instead of putting a price on the influencer engagement, think of it as a long-term relationship. With each interaction, social mention, personalized email and in-person contact, you are strengthening that relationship and helping it grow. It could be as simple sharing content to your network that the influencer has created previous to your partnership.


Reach out directly and make it personal. Do NOT delegate this critical step @heidicohen
Click To Tweet


#4 – Your Brand Must Give Up Some Control

For many of your marketing efforts, your brand will have complete control. However, having the ultimate cosmic power will likely get you trapped in a little genie bottle where you’ll be stuck on a lonely island with no influencer contributions.

TIP: Let loose the reins a little bit and set guidelines and clear expectations for the influencer, but give them some control over the messaging and design. The influencer has a committed following who is familiar with their brand, don’t confuse the audience by imposing.


Don't tell me your story, let me tell my story. LESS fabrication, MORE facilitation @TedRubin
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#5 – Don’t Stop Communication After the Campaign is Over

Stopping the communication after the close of a campaign will make more future work. It’s common for B2B brands to end communication with the influencer after the campaign. The time and energy you spent nurturing the influencer will be wasted if this happens. It’s the “one and done” mentality, and no one likes the feeling of being used, and neither does your influencer network.

TIP: Keep the communication channel open and use an ongoing approach to your influencer marketing program. Share the co-created content and send pre-written messages to your influencer so they can share it with their networks on various platforms including social media. Thank your influencer for their contribution and continue to nurture the relationship, even after the campaign is over.


Influencers are indeed interested in seeing the fruits of their labors @lieblink
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You May Have Won the Battle…

Influencer marketing is an essential component of any successful B2B marketing strategy. To stand out amongst the competition, it’s important to approach influencers with tact and respect. Heeding the advice of these 5 marketing experts and influencers, and focusing on the relationship, rather than the result will help your brand thrive in the B2B marketplace.

Need Help Incorporating Influencer Marketing?

We’re here for you. Contact TopRank Marketing for help declaring your independence from bad influencer marketing.

 


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What Brands Need to Know About Instagram’s New ‘Paid Partnership’ Feature http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/06/instagram-paid-partnership/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/06/instagram-paid-partnership/#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 10:30:10 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22463 Influencer marketing is booming—and it’s not hard to see why. Influencers lend authority and credibility to your brand and content, help connect you with new audiences, and typically deliver more ROI than traditional digital marketing tactics. As a result, brands large and small are forming both paid and unpaid partnerships with influencers—and using social platforms to spread [...]

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Influencer marketing is booming—and it’s not hard to see why. Influencers lend authority and credibility to your brand and content, help connect you with new audiences, and typically deliver more ROI than traditional digital marketing tactics. As a result, brands large and small are forming both paid and unpaid partnerships with influencers—and using social platforms to spread their message.

For those brands and marketers engaging in paid partnerships with influencers on Instagram, a change is on the horizon. Last week, Instagram officially announced it would soon roll out its new “paid partnership with” tag for posts and stories.

“The relationships people form on Instagram are what makes our 700M+ community so unique,” Instagram said in its announcement. “It’s here where the world comes together to discover and connect to their passions. Because of this, creators (influencers & publishers) and businesses often join forces to tap into Instagram’s passionate communities with branded content. As more and more partnerships form on Instagram, it’s important to ensure the community is able to easily recognize when someone they follow is paid to post content.”

According to SocialMediaToday, Instagram began testing the partner tag feature—which is similar to what parent-company, Facebook, implemented last year—back in March. And while there’s no official deadline, Instagram said the rollout will be happening slowly over the next few weeks.

So, what do brands and marketers need to know about the new feature? Below are a few key takeaways from the announcement.

#1 – The new feature will enhance transparency—and credibility.

Enhancing influencer marketing transparency is at the core of Instagram’s decision to launch the new tagging option. Not only does the company want to ensure followers can easily recognize sponsored content, but they want to make it easy for influencers and businesses to provide that clarity. In fact, according to TechCrunch, Instagram’s Creative Programs Director Charles Porch said businesses are “looking for ways to be super transparent with their followers when they have a partnership.”

The good news is that brands can use this new level of transparency to their advantage. Simply put, influencers help brands make authentic and meaningful connections with their audience, as well as build brand awareness and credibility. And more transparency means more credibility and authenticity—something modern consumers crave and respect.

In addition, this enhanced transparency will help brands better comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclosure policies. Back in April, the FTC reported that it had sent out more than 90 letters to marketers and influencers “reminding” them to clearly disclose their relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products on social media.

#2 – You’ll get access to new data and insights.

Perhaps the most attractive perk brands and marketers will enjoy with the new tagging feature is access to data on influencers’ posts.

“When the partners use this tag, they will both have access to Insights to track exactly how their branded content posts and stories are performing,” Instagram explained. “Creators will continue to see metrics in their Instagram Insights, and business partners will see shared reach and engagement metrics in their Facebook Page Insights.”

As you can imagine, having this data will give you insight into the real impact of your influencer marketing efforts, and help you make informed decisions on where to go next.

#3 – Adding the tag will be quick and easy.

As you can see from the sample photo below, the tag will be prominently, yet simply, displayed at the top of each post. As far as the mechanics of tagging a partner go, an “Add Partner” option will reportedly be nested under the “Tag People” selection—making it incredibly easy to add to any post.

#4 – An official policy and enforcement procedure is in the works.

At this point, Instagram has not announced it’s official policy on tagging paid partnerships, nor how it plans to actually enforce it. But, according to last week’s announcements, it’s in the works and is expected to be announced in the next few months.

Are Paid Influencer Marketing Tactics Right for Your Brand?

As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden often says: “Everyone is influential about something.” As a result, nearly every brand could benefit from adding influencers into their marketing mix. Whether paid tactics are the right course, there’s no one-size-fits all answer. Like any other marketing tactic, you need to consider your industry, business objectives, budget, current marketing mix, target audience and types of influencers you want to work with to make an informed decision. (Of course, if you need help crafting a plan, we’d love to help!)

What’s your reaction to the new Instagram partner tag? Tell us in the comments section below.


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The Secret to Creating Scalable, Quality Content and Better CX – Infographic http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/05/secret-to-content-quality-scale/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/05/secret-to-content-quality-scale/#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 10:30:44 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22270 A woman walks into a retail store and looks around, not finding what she’s there for. She approaches a sales associate and asks, “Excuse me, can you show me where the top of the funnel is? I need to be confronted by every touchpoint of your predetermined sales process before I can purchase something”. Not [...]

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Content Experience Influence

A woman walks into a retail store and looks around, not finding what she’s there for. She approaches a sales associate and asks, “Excuse me, can you show me where the top of the funnel is? I need to be confronted by every touchpoint of your predetermined sales process before I can purchase something”.

Not one of your customers is doing this.

So why do brands continue to drive content marketing programs based on a linear, sequential buying journey? With so many consumers numb to brand messaging and increasingly blocking advertising, how can marketers do a better job of connecting with and engaging customers with content?

One of the first admissions recovering funnel marketers need to make is that the funnel is dead. The customer buying experience is more like a tangled mix of omnidirectional customer journeys driven by myriad factors, many of which brands no longer have control over. Considering all of those possible influences can be overwhelming, especially when expectations of content performance are higher than ever.

The good news is that content marketers can achieve quality content at scale while creating much better experiences for customers with that content by making influencer collaboration part of the strategy.

Content drives all aspects of the customer journey from discovering content to education and inspiration to taking action. There are many influences when it comes to customers and content including other people who are influential.

In fact, there are some very important trends happening in the influencer marketing world that were surfaced in our research with influencer relationship platform, Traackr. What is working, what is not? What are the differences between B2B and B2C? How are companies budgeting and what are the best practices and case studies to learn from?

For a preview of these top Influencer Marketing trends and more, be sure to see this excellent interactive infographic created by our friends at the interactive content marketing platform Ceros of the Influence 2.0 Report by Brian Solis (in partnership with Traackr and my agency, TopRank Marketing).

Lucky 13 considerations for an integrated approach to influencer generated content:

1. Thinking about customer insight as it relates to information discovery, consumption and acton through the lens of influence opens up some very interesting doors of opportunity. In fact, when marketers integrate influencer marketing at the content marketing strategy level, it becomes a compelling and long term opportunity that most overlook.

2. For example, consider content discovery: A study by Augure reports that 93% of marketers implementing influencer marketing say it is effective to build brand awareness. And Burst Media reports that marketers are getting nearly a 10 to 1 return on earned media value from working with influencers on content.

3. Why hire a PR firm for media relations when you could work with influencers to create editorial placements that get ten times the reach?  Actually, I think “working with PR” should be an “also” not an “instead of”. Media Relations and advertising investments with influencer content is a winning combination, not an either/or.

4. Content is King and customers are everything else. When it comes to content engagement, you have to decide what kind of content your customers prefer with considerations for topics, format, length, media type and even what devices they use.

5. Influencers lead and buyers follow. In his research, Dr. Jonah Berger of the Wharton School, reports that 82% of consumers follow expert recommendations. Twitter reports that 49% of consumers rely on influencers for product suggestions. Those are compelling stats relevant to how brands can work with influencers that can guide the kind of content to engage your customers in more effective ways.

6. Build it and they will come doesn’t work and neither does build and promoted the heck out of it and they will buy. It might, but there are no guarantees. According to research by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, marketers are not overwhelmingly confident about the effectiveness of their content.

7. Content effectiveness goes up with influencer collaboration. Content Marketing Institute has reported a 10X boost in conversion rates when influencers are involved. Even more compelling is that influencer marketing was found to have 11X better annual ROI over traditional marketing, according to a study by Tapinfluence, White Wave and Nielsen.

8. What good is acquiring customers if they don’t stay customers? A study from McKinsey reports a 37% higher retention rate with customers acquired through influencer content.

9. The solution to better content discovery, engagement and action is the integration of content and working with influencers. The study that we partnered with Traackr and Brian Solis of Altimeter on agrees: 80% of marketers surveyed reported the area of business most impacted by working with influencers was content marketing.

10. This is why my definition of influencer marketing is focused on content:

“Influencer Marketing develops relationships with internal and industry experts with active networks to co-create content that helps drive measurable business goals.“

11. Funnel myth and the influencer warm up. With a relationship and content-focused approach to influencer marketing, customers aren’t looking for a mythical funnel as they visit their favorite online or neighborhood store. Instead, the business warms the buying journey with product recommendations from people that buyers already trust to make recommendations.

12. Pick and choose your influencers wisely. For some customers that might be a famous actor, athlete or champion of business. For other customers it might be a famous or niche social influencer. Discounting either famous or micro-influencers is to discount sources your customers actually trust.

13. It pays to dig in to better understand customers in terms of their content preferences including who influences them and about what, relative to your brand’s products and services. Instead of speculating about topics, keywords and stories, why not actually talk to your customers and find out: What triggers them to look for solutions? What is their pain? What questions do they have that your brand and influencer content can answer? Creating utility for buyers through brand and influencer generated content can be instrumental for creating more findable and meaningful content experiences.

How to jumpstart an influencer generated content program:

1 – Get expert help. Do you know who the top influencers are for your customers relevant to your industry? Do you already have relationships with those influencers? Does your competition?

Research the market, find out who your customers influencers are, big and small. Then make a plan that identifies how collaborating with those influencers on content can be tied to business goals..

2 – Invest in technology. Sure, you could use Twitter search or Followerwonk and a spreadsheet to create a list of influencers, but you could also bring a spatula to a gun fight – if you get what I mean.

Influencer marketing technology will help you intelligently identify, qualify, and engage with influencers as well as to manage communications and measure performance of your work together. There are highly useful, fundamental tools like BuzzSumo or specialty platforms like GroupHigh or Upfluence for bloggers, LittleBird for Twitter or more enterprise focused solutions like Traackr and Onalytica. There are also marketplaces like TapInfluence, Collective Bias or Linqia where you can “shop” for influencers to engage like advertising.

3 – Activate customers. Advocacy is powerful so you should start by activating those who are already expressing positive sentiment towards your brand and the things your brand and customers care about.

Benchmark the metrics you plan on affecting with influencer collaboration and start with those who are already advocate. That might mean people who follow your brand on social networks, employees and especially current customers. Invite advocate customers with reach, relevance and resonance amongst their communities to collaborate on content. Build out the processes that will make your content marketing more successful when you collaborate with trusted experts and people who have earned the trust of your potential customers.

If you would like to learn more about influencer generated content, best practices and how it can be integrated with your marketing strategy, be sure to check out our agency site, TopRank Marketing.

I’m also going to be speaking on content and influencer marketing topics at several upcoming conferences:

June 2, Chicago: 2017 Masters of B2B Marketing
Influencer Marketing: Hype or Hope for B2B

June 19 London: Digital Marketing World Forum
Influence + Content = Digital Marketing Success in 2017

June 22 London: B2B Ignite
Influence: Mighty Hype or Great Hope for B2B

I hope to see you there!


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5 Essential Insights on Influence and the Future of Customer Engagement http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/05/marketing-engagement-influential/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/05/marketing-engagement-influential/#respond Tue, 16 May 2017 10:30:52 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21991 When planning for 2017 and into 2018, many marketers have placed a high priority on customer experience and the content that helps make the best customer engagement happen. At the same time, companies are challenged to create a variety of engaging content on a consistent basis coupled by the fact that consumers are less trusting [...]

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Future Marketing Influential

When planning for 2017 and into 2018, many marketers have placed a high priority on customer experience and the content that helps make the best customer engagement happen.

At the same time, companies are challenged to create a variety of engaging content on a consistent basis coupled by the fact that consumers are less trusting of brand communications and advertising.

There are many suggested solutions to the challenges of creating consistent, high quality experiences for customers that range from integrated technology platforms to cognitive marketing applications incorporating big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning. This is one of the key roles that a savvy agency can play for brands: to help develop a digital marketing strategy and corresponding technologies needed.

It’s tempting to focus singularly on technology for solving marketing problems, but the solution to better customer experience and engagement is more about being human than the latest martech solution. In particular, understanding how relationships, influence and content deliver more relevant and engaging customer experiences is essential for differentiation and driving better marketing ROI.

This is where the next evolution of influencer marketing comes in: Influence 2.0.

The field of influencer marketing has grown fast and while some approach the practice transactionally, not unlike advertising, an increasing number of brands are focusing on the long term value of relationships with influencers and the kind of content collaboration that inspires better engagement across the customer lifecycle.

A more human approach to marketing means attention to empathy and a focus on customer experience. Influencers are credible, trusted individuals with active networks and the value exchange of their engagement with the community is where influence originates. Brands can tap into that influence to expand brand reach, create better customer engagement and even improve specific marketing goals like lead generation and increased sales conversions.

According to Influence 2.0, a new research report by Brian Solis of Altimeter Group sponsored by Traackr and my agency TopRank Marketing, 63% of marketers want to improve customer satisfaction through the use of influencer marketing. “The opportunity for consumer engagement spans the entire journey and influencers can play an important role in each moment of truth”, says Solis.

Modern marketers understand that customers don’t move linearly through decisions anymore. Eloqua helped visualize the way to view this new customer journey as an infinity loop, illustrating important moments of truth and opportunities for customer engagement. By plotting the infinity loops across your own customer touch points during the customer journey, you can set the stage for a new model of customer experience management.

Customer Experience Lifecycle

To connect with customers in a more meaningful way, it is more important than ever for companies to identify, qualify and develop relationships with relevant influencers of all types to collaborate, co-create and instigate advocacy. I can think of no better focus for these collaborations than through content.

Integrated Influencer Marketing Model - Traackr

Image: Traackr

In order for marketers to maximize customer experience and business growth opportunities with a more modern approach to influence, here are 5 key insights from the Influence 2.0 report:

MATURITY

43% of marketers are experimenting with influencer marketing. It is still early for influencer marketing for many companies, but given the relationship focus on the best influencer marketing programs, there’s plenty of opportunity. Only 28% of marketers are focused on campaigns and just 24% are implementing ongoing programs. As brands mature their approach, skills and relationships with influencers, companies implementing always on, ongoing influencer marketing programs will increase substantially.

IMPACT

80% of marketers rate content marketing as most impacted by influencer marketing. In discussions about the ROI of brand relationships with influencers, there’s simply no better match than content collaboration for creating measurable, impactful business outcomes. Influence 2.0 supports this with content being rated highest in impact from influencer marketing along with social media marketing and media relations.

GOALS

67% of marketers want to drive lead generation through the use of influencer marketing. Beyond improving brand advocacy, awareness and reaching new audiences, the majority of marketers are also focused on improving leads and sales conversion (74%) through working with industry influencers. Influence plays a role throughout the customer lifecycle and in all relationship-driven brand communications.

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

34% of marketers report that CMOs are leading marketing digital transformation initiatives. Companies are prioritizing investments in both customer and employee experience. With CMOs leading the way, it opens many doors for innovation in the humanization of technology. As Solis says in the report, “…the more human marketing becomes, the more digital transformation can also become human.”

INTEGRATION

57% of marketers say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities in the next 3 years. While only 5% of marketers currently rate the maturity of their influencer marketing program as integrated, the forward looking optimism for the next 3 years towards integration should be a strong signal for the direction that influencer marketing is going. 30% of marketers say Influencer marketing will become a primary area of digital marketing investment in the next 3 years.

Building relationships with influencers through content collaboration delivers mutual value for brands and participating influencers as well as the community that will consume the content. As it is tempting to use technology to solve marketing problems, it has also been tempting for brands to take a transactional and advertising focused approach to working with influencers.

Successful marketers at major brands do not agree with a transactional approach to influencer relationships:

Amanda Duncan
“Focus on a long-term approach rooted in a two-way dialogue”, says Amanda Duncan of Microsoft, “It’s often the phases between campaigns and events that allow you to have in-depth conversations, get valuable feedback and really gain a deeper understanding around what matters to your influencers. Investing this time and valuable resources builds credibility. This credibility and trust with an influencer is key to ongoing success.”

Konnie Brown
While a relationship based focus takes time, it’s a worthwhile investment according to Dr. Konstanze Alex-Brown of Dell, “Long-term, trust based relationships with shared value creation take time and effort to build and investment to sustain. While results will be measured digitally in reach, impressions, online engagement, there is no shortcut for getting there.”

Amisha Gandhi
Moving beyond a singular focus on the brand, value creation can extend to all involved. “When you treat your influencers like clients, as SAP does, it leaves people with a positive feeling and they are going to want to engage with you time and time again”, says Amisha Gandhi of SAP. “When the relationship is mutually beneficial, both parties are going to get the best results out of the engagement with the brand.”

Too often, brands and agencies approach influencer marketing as a short term transaction without realizing there is much more to be gained for everyone involved. The concept of Influence 2.0 that influencer relationship platform, Traackr and our digital marketing agency, TopRank Marketing have adopted, is to help marketers understand an approach to influencer marketing that aligns with the objectives of business, influencers, and customers simultaneously. Influencer Marketing is a relationship business!

By understanding customers, designing programs that matter to them, and then using platforms to partner with trusted influencers, brands can steer buyer impressions, decisions, and behaviors in more useful, productive, and mutually beneficial ways. Make no mistake, the future of marketing and customer engagement involves technology, but to be successful in the short and long term, marketers need to understand the multiplying effect of relationships, influence and content.

A version of this post originally appeared in Brand Quarterly Magazine.

Influencer 2.0 Cover

To tap into the full array of research insights, trends, case studies, tactics and a framework for Influence 2.0, download the full report. Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing.  Connect with our agency influencer marketing services for help with strategy, influencer content programs and performance optimization.


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Squashing the Influencer Marketing Buzz(words): What You Really Need to Know http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/04/influencer-marketing-buzz/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/04/influencer-marketing-buzz/#comments Thu, 27 Apr 2017 10:30:28 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22225 On Google, there are more than 14 million results for the phrase “influencer marketing”. And within those result, most of what you’ll find are “What is Influencer Marketing?” posts (P.S. you can find one from us here). But the problem is that most of these posts have a different variation of what influencer marketing is, [...]

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On Google, there are more than 14 million results for the phrase “influencer marketing”. And within those result, most of what you’ll find are “What is Influencer Marketing?” posts (P.S. you can find one from us here). But the problem is that most of these posts have a different variation of what influencer marketing is, who needs it and what you should do. Talk about confusing!

Some of the types of definitions you’ll find include:

  • Using influencers to spread your message on your behalf.
  • A form of marketing that focuses on specific individuals.
  • Promoting services through influencers that can have an effect.
  • Incorporating influencers with a large social reach into marketing.

And while some of those definitions do describe the essence of influencer marketing, our CEO Lee Odden describes it as follows:

“Influencer Marketing is the practice of engaging internal and industry experts with active networks to help achieve measurable business goals.”

So here’s the truth: Expecting that you can simply tap the shoulder or fill the bank account of an “influencer” will not help you meet your business goals. In order to truly have an IMPACT with an influencer marketing program, it’s important to sift through the buzz and develop a program that has real intent.

Influencer marketing isn’t for everyone. If we’re being honest, influencer marketing may not be a fit for every company. While it’s true that there are experts in every field, your audience may not be particularly motivated by expert content.

Working with popular people does not make your brand popular. When starting your search for industry experts, it’s essential to align with influencers that can become an extension of your brand message and whose outlook already aligns with yours. A good mix of well-known experts or “popular influencers”, internal experts, up-and-comers and other expert types make for a well-rounded program to delight your audience.

Influencer marketing should not = compensation only. The real goal should be to develop mutually beneficial relationships with experts to co-create content that works for your audience, their audience and your mutual audience to build credibility. While it’s true that you may have to pay some influencers from time-to-time, a 100% pay-to-play model is not sustainable.

There’s more to influencer marketing than awareness. Many brands are investing hundreds, thousands or even millions of dollars into influencer driven marketing programs that are simply focused on building awareness. Now don’t get me wrong, brand awareness is essential, but expert content has a place deeper in the funnel as well. While the rules differ slightly between B2B and B2C, an integrated marketing strategy that includes influencers can be used to actually generate revenue.

Putting all the pieces together isn’t always easy. Access to influencer marketing tools and marketplaces absolutely make the process much easier. However, all the tools in the world are not a replacement for a sound strategy to incorporate influencers into your digital marketing mix. Your best chances for success are to have a dedicated team or agency help you build a strategy that is based on measurable business objectives.

My team at TopRank Marketing has actively been engaging experts to co-create content for own marketing and our client’s marketing for years. We know that the road to influencer marketing success isn’t always easy, but it is attainable and if executed strategically can create many benefits for your customers, your brand and your influencers.


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20 Inspiring & Actionable Influencer Marketing Tips for The Modern Marketer http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/04/influencer-marketing-tips/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/04/influencer-marketing-tips/#comments Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:30:45 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22135 The heat is on for marketers to incorporate influencers into their marketing strategy. The problem is, the sheer amount of bad advice about influencer marketing can make it difficult to separate the good from the bad. While the pursuit for influencer marketing success doesn’t appear to be slowing down, many marketers are unsure which direction [...]

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The heat is on for marketers to incorporate influencers into their marketing strategy. The problem is, the sheer amount of bad advice about influencer marketing can make it difficult to separate the good from the bad.

While the pursuit for influencer marketing success doesn’t appear to be slowing down, many marketers are unsure which direction to go. In fact, the new Influence 2.0 report that we developed in partnership with Altimeter Group and Traackr, 48% of marketers are still experimenting with incorporating influencers into their marketing.

The way that different organizations define influencer marketing vary greatly. However, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden describes influencer marketing as:

“Developing relationships with internal and industry experts with active networks, to co-create content that helps drive measurable business goals.” 

So if you’d like the opportunity to co-create content with industry experts but are facing some roadblocks, use the actionable tips below to help guide your approach.

Not Sure What Types of Influencers to Include?


Everyone is influential about something. @leeodden #InfluencerMarketing
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Don’t rely on just one source. Utilize multiple platforms and tools like Buzzsumo, Traackr, Onalytica and GroupHigh to find the right influencers for your brand.

Explore the use of marketplaces. Some situations may require paying influencers to participate. Consider influencer marketplaces like TapInfluence or Fango for augmenting with paid influencers.

Audience appeal. Success in co-creating content with influencers is that they are actually influential to your target audience.

Utilize a mix of influencer types. Instead of just focusing on the ever popular brandividual, include internal experts, micro-influencers, niche experts prospects and customers in your influencer marketing mix.

Look for influencer alignment. Focus on identifying influencers whose message aligns with your brand.

How Can You Create Value for Influencers?


Influencers are not just there to sell your product. @AmishaGandhi #InfluencerMarketing
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Create a great experience. To stand out in a sea of requests, aim to create a great experience for every influencer you work with.

Be empathetic to influencer’s busy schedules. Chances are, most experts you want to work with have a full-time job, and receive co-create requests constantly. Be understanding a provide adequate turn-around times.

Personalize your approach. If you don’t take the time to get to know insights about your influencers, don’t expect them to take the time to respond.

Be transparent. It’s essential that you are always up-front and honest with the influencers you collaborate with. Don’t ever pull a bait-and-switch.

Increase exposure. Individual influencers will have different objectives but increased exposure for an expert is a win-win situation for everyone.

What Are Some Ways to Inspire Co-Creation & Amplification?


Influencers help validate your own good content & helps promotes influencers. @JasonMillerCA
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Warm up the relationship. Your chances of success with an influencer greatly improve if you send out signals of credibility to them prior to asking them to co-create.

Make it easy for influencers to participate. Clearly outline exactly what you’re looking for in your outreach and give experts a couple options for collaboration.

Repurpose influencer contributions. Influencer contributions are pure gold. Instead of using them just once, find ways to repurpose and reuse the content they create with your brand.

Provide pre-written social messages. Again, influencers are busy people. Take a few moments to pre-write social messages that influencers can easily copy, paste, edit and publish into their social queues.

Share content success with influencers. A coordinated promotion effort will often lead to increased shareability of a piece of content. By alerting influencers of the content performance you can help inspire additional amplification.

What Makes for a Good Influencer & Brand Relationship?


Influencer marketing is about developing relationships to have influencers market w/ you. @amandamaks
Click To Tweet


Keep in touch. Many brands will only communicate with influencers when they need their help. Make a point to nurture the relationship by reaching out on a consistent basis.

Build an influencer community. A mature influencer marketing program will likely focus on a core set of influencers that are aware they are part of a community and have developed loyalty to the brand.

Build brand advocates. Ultimately, you want to create such a great experience for influencers that they are inspired to advocate on behalf of your brand.

Be thoughtful. While many experts will not require payment for co-creation (if the relationship is solid), consider sending small, thoughtful gifts to show your appreciation.

Get feedback from influencers. Want to know if influencers enjoy co-creating content with your brand? Ask them what is working and what some opportunities for improving the experience might be.

Keep This List Close

It doesn’t matter if you’re just exploring influencer marketing or have seen some success already, these 20 tips should be top of mind for any influencer program, large or small.

What have you found to be one of the most critical elements for influencer co-creation success for your brand?


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | 20 Inspiring & Actionable Influencer Marketing Tips for The Modern Marketer | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Behind the Marketing Curtain: An Interview with Influencer Marketing Wiz Amisha Gandhi, SAP http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/03/behind-curtain-amisha-gandhi/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/03/behind-curtain-amisha-gandhi/#comments Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:30:20 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22079 From emerging social media channels to the rise of artificial intelligence, the exciting cyclone of change often drops us marketers into unfamiliar territory—and we have to find our way home. Thankfully, the marketing industry is flush with talented marketers leading the way, and we often look to them for tactical insights to navigate the winding [...]

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From emerging social media channels to the rise of artificial intelligence, the exciting cyclone of change often drops us marketers into unfamiliar territory—and we have to find our way home.

Thankfully, the marketing industry is flush with talented marketers leading the way, and we often look to them for tactical insights to navigate the winding road and avoid fields of deceiving poppies. However, in our thirst more knowledge, we often don’t get to see who these leaders are in full living color.

To bridge the gap between person and marketer, we’re kicking off an exciting new “Behind the Curtain” interview series—which, if you haven’t guessed, is inspired by Dorothy Gale and the classic film, The Wizard of Oz.

In this series, we’ll take a peek behind the curtain to get know some marketing industry wizards on a more personal level, as well as gain insights that can help other marketers use their brains, hearts, courage and creativity to improve their marketing efforts and drive business value in the changing digital landscape.

Our first featured marketer is the brilliant and incredibly nice Amisha Gandhi, Head of Influencer Marketing at SAP.

Enjoy!

The Woman Behind the Curtain

Amisha was born in Bombay, India, grew up in New York, and now lives in San Francisco.

“New York is my Kansas,” Amisha said. “I’m definitely a New Yorker at heart—which is probably where most of my personality comes from.”

But Amisha didn’t always plan on being a marketer. Actually, Amisha studied both theater and biology/pre-med.

“One [degree] was for me and the other was for my parents,” she said. “I’ve always loved theater, and I think that’s where I honed the artistic part of my brain … which I definitely get to bring into marketing, especially influencer marketing.”

Amisha is also a working mom and avid traveler.

“I love to travel,” she said. “But wherever I go, I like to be a local—to be immersed in a different world and see it from a local perspective. When my son is older, I want to go to the Galapagos Islands.”

She’s also a huge Sci-Fi fan. Among some of her favorite films and TV shows are Blade Runner, Star Wars (leaving out Episodes 1, 2 and 3, of course), and Battlestar Galactica.

Battlestar Galactica is an all-time favorite,” she said. “It’s such a great story.”

Some of her other favorite flicks are Casablanca and anything by Alfred Hitchcock.

Following Her Yellow Brick Road

Amisha has had an interesting career path, starting her professional career working in a research lab for a pharmaceutical company.

“I really didn’t like it, so I quit my job and actually got a temp job as a data entry clerk at MCI,” she said.

Since then, Amisha has worked at startups, PR agencies such as Burson-Marsteller, and been a consultant to companies such as Accenture, Google, Merrill Lynch, GAP, HP and Time-Warner. Today, she’s well-known for bringing her mix of social media, communications and marketing skills together for creative campaigns and elevating executives profiles such as former CIO of SAP, Oliver Bussmann. She joined SAP team in 2010.

What was your Twister event? What moment or event put you on a path to a career in marketing?

While I working at a company that produced local market books, CitySearch.com—an online city guide and community—wanted a partnership. And I thought that was a really cool concept, and just in passing I mentioned that I’d love to work there, and ended up getting an interview.

After the interview, I showed up constantly. I brought the sales team doughnuts one day. Another day I stopped by with thank you notes. Finally, they just said “OK. Come on in and join our team. The other guy wants this job, but you want it more.”

It was a startup at the time, and when you work at a startup you wear many hats. I had a variety of jobs there and learned about marketing, sales operations, advertising, editorial, even movie promotions—you name it. But that’s how I got my start.

Dorothy found dear friends in the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Tinman on her journey down the yellow brick road. Who are some of the people who’ve helped or inspired you during your career?

I have been so fortunate in my career to have worked managers, mentors and clients who’ve pushed me, guided me and inspired me.

While working at a political PR firm, I worked with an incredible PR executive named Barbara French, who taught me so much about storytelling.

Barbara was always pushing me to find that “so what” story. To this day, I still think about that. How do you tell stories that really excite and engage people? How do you find that really compelling, juicy story that people want to know about, read about or even care about? What’s the so what?

Also, one of my clients while working there was Kamala Harris—who is now Sen. Kamala Harris. Back then she was working in the city attorney’s office. She was trying to change the world, and it was so inspiring to watch.

Some others that I have to mention are Jim Dever and Penny Delgadillo Valencia here at SAP, who are great leaders and without whose support I would not have been able to build out the influencer marketing program.

It takes a community to help you build your career. I believe in nurturing talent and I’ve found it fulfilling to give back, especially to those who are early in their careers here at SAP.


It takes a community to help you build your career. I believe in nurturing talent. - @AmishaGandhi
Click To Tweet


Meeting the Wizard

At TopRank Marketing we believe in taking a smart, creative and results-focused approach in everything we do for our clients, as well as our own personal growth. Amisha is someone who certainly exemplifies these qualities in her work as an influencer marketing wizard, being a source of insight and inspiration in the field.

Good witch or bad witch? What’s a bad influencer outreach habit marketers should drop?

I think one of the worst habits is approaching influencers with a “What can you do for me?” attitude. Instead you should be approaching them with a “What can I do for you?” mentality.

If they’re a good influencer, everyone is hitting them up. So you have to be coming from a place that offers real value—and I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about personal and business value.

Influencers are trying to raise issues. They’re working to bring awareness around topics that are important to them. They’re not just there to sell your product. I’m interested in building mutually beneficial relationships for the long-term.


Influencers are not just there to sell your product. - @AmishaGandhi #influencermarketing
Click To Tweet


The Wicked Witch was defeated with a just pail of water. What’s one effective influencer marketing tactic that marketers often overlook?

I think that marketers often overlook the fact that you’re building something together with influencers. Collaboration is key, so I collaborate a lot.

Pick their brain. Ask them what value they see. Ask them what they think their audience wants to see. Ask them if they’ll help you build something amazing. When you treat them as a partner, rather than a participant, you’ll be able to create something more effective and meaningful.


Treat influencers like partners, not participants. - @AmishaGandhi #influencermarketing
Click To Tweet


Dorothy’s ruby slippers were the key to achieving her end goal of returning home. What are a few tools you believe are key for influencer marketing success?

You should absolutely have a good influencer identification tool; it’s worth the investment. We use Traackr, and that not only helps with identification, but also tracking and measurement—which is important for seeing your results beyond social media activity.

We also use VoiceStorm for the employee advocacy, and Sprinklr for social media amplification. Of course, not everyone has the resources to invest in these tools, but there are some good free tools like FollowerWonk, Klout and Hootsuite.

In the end, it’s all about being able to tie all your efforts together to show success and how that contributed to real business value—which is kind of like clicking your heels and getting you home.

What’s one thing you would ask the all-powerful marketing wizard for? (More budget, more resources, better data?)

I’m always looking for ways to drive and find better data. The better the marketing insights we have, the better our results will be. So, I’d ask the marketing wizard for a tool that can bring together influencer data, insights, identification, tracking and measurement linking it back to sales—something that can bring all the external tools together.


The better the #marketing insights we have, the better our results will be. - @AmishaGandhi
Click To Tweet


We’re Off to Meet More Wizards

I’d like to sincerely thank Amisha for taking the time to open up about who she is, where she comes from and how she approaches influencer marketing. Thank you, Amisha.

Of course, TopRank Marketing’s journey to Emerald City is just getting started. In the coming weeks, we’ll be bringing you more exclusive interviews and insights from industry wizards to add some smarts, heart and nerve to your marketing efforts.

Stay tuned for our next installment!

What would you ask the all-powerful marketing wizard for? Tell us in the comments section below.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | Behind the Marketing Curtain: An Interview with Influencer Marketing Wiz Amisha Gandhi, SAP | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Supercharge Your Marketing at Digital Summit Los Angeles #DSLA http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/03/digital-summit-la-2017/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/03/digital-summit-la-2017/#respond Tue, 28 Mar 2017 10:00:09 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22088 DSLA 2017

DSLA 2017

Coming off the supercharged sun, surf and sand themed social media extravaganza of SMMW17 in San Diego last week, I am now literally sitting on a beach.

Beach Costa Rica

Here on the West coast of Costa Rica, with the waves crashing, birds singing their songs in the trees and the distant sounds of kids laughing as they play in the sand, it's a great time to reflect and look forward.

Before I completely check out of the digital world for the week, except for an occasional photo on Instagram of course, I wanted to share some of the things I'm looking forward to most at my next conference April 4-5: Digital Summit Los Angeles.

Last month was my first Digital Summit experience in Phoenix. DSPHX was an event of firsts for me: meeting the force of nature that is Beverly Jackson plus the legend and co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak. I also had a chance to see several really impressive speakers for the first time including Mack Fogelson and Eric Yale. I was impressed!

I can imagine Digital Summit Los Angeles being a great experience too.

DSLA Keynote Speakers

The speaker list for DSLA is an amazing collection of thought leaders including Woz and Beverly, industry experts like Michael King, Jim Boykin and Michael Barber and a huge group brand and publisher speakers from companies that include: Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Adobe, Forbes, IBM, The Economist, BET Network, Inc Magazine, Wells Fargo, GE Digital, BMC Software, BusinessWire and MIT.

Over more than 40 sessions, the topics covered include everything from data informed marketing to visual storytelling and purpose driven marketing to content marketing with influencers.

Of course, I'm a fan of that last topic since it is what the focus of my closing keynote presentation will be about: How to Supercharge Your Content with Influencer Marketing.

Supercharge Your Content with Influencer Marketing

Confluence rules. Content Marketing with Influencers is an area of deep focus for me that I've been experimenting with for many years and that our agency has been implementing for clients that range from a $180Bn Fortune 5 company to mid-market companies like ClickSoftware to small companies like Pandora Mall of America.

The fundamental message of my keynote presentation is that marketing with content is harder than ever and if your company doesn't do something to break through information overload and distrust of brand content, you'll lose the ability to attract and engage customers.

The solution is a content marketing framework for strategically engaging with influencers to increase content quality, quantity, reach and engagement across the customer journey. At the same time, I'll talk about how to build relationships with internal, industry and community influencers to increase advocacy.

Influencer 2.0 Cover

To back up the best practices, I'll share trends and insights our influencer marketing research that we partnered with Influencer Relationships Marketing platform, Traackr, on. Brian Solis of Altimeter analyzed the findings and wrote up an impressive research report, Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing that attendees will be able to see.

The Influence 2.0 report delivers crucial findings and covers important insights about the maturity of influencer marketing within large enterprise companies, budgets, top goals and areas within the organization that are most impacted. Brian also shares the intersection of influencer relations with customer experience and digital transformation. If that wasn't enough, he includes a 10 step framework for implementing an influence 2.0 approach.

My keynotes are "inspractical" = Inspiration + Tactical. Overall, I'll touch on the best parts of the research report, include trends, best practices and share successful B2B and B2C examples of influencer driven programs to inspire attendees going forward.

If you're a marketer in Southern California, this is a can't miss event!

Skirball Cultural Center Los Angeles

Event Details:
Digital Summit Los Angeles
April 4-5, 2017
Skirball Cultural Center
Registration, Agenda, Speakers and full conference information here.

The post Supercharge Your Marketing at Digital Summit Los Angeles #DSLA appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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DSLA 2017

DSLA 2017 Coming off the supercharged sun, surf and sand themed social media extravaganza of SMMW17 in San Diego last week, I am now literally sitting on a beach. Beach Costa Rica Here on the West coast of Costa Rica, with the waves crashing, birds singing their songs in the trees and the distant sounds of kids laughing as they play in the sand, it's a great time to reflect and look forward. Before I completely check out of the digital world for the week, except for an occasional photo on Instagram of course, I wanted to share some of the things I'm looking forward to most at my next conference April 4-5: Digital Summit Los Angeles. Last month was my first Digital Summit experience in Phoenix. DSPHX was an event of firsts for me: meeting the force of nature that is Beverly Jackson plus the legend and co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak. I also had a chance to see several really impressive speakers for the first time including Mack Fogelson and Eric Yale. I was impressed! I can imagine Digital Summit Los Angeles being a great experience too. DSLA Keynote Speakers The speaker list for DSLA is an amazing collection of thought leaders including Woz and Beverly, industry experts like Michael King, Jim Boykin and Michael Barber and a huge group brand and publisher speakers from companies that include: Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Adobe, Forbes, IBM, The Economist, BET Network, Inc Magazine, Wells Fargo, GE Digital, BMC Software, BusinessWire and MIT. Over more than 40 sessions, the topics covered include everything from data informed marketing to visual storytelling and purpose driven marketing to content marketing with influencers. Of course, I'm a fan of that last topic since it is what the focus of my closing keynote presentation will be about: How to Supercharge Your Content with Influencer Marketing. Supercharge Your Content with Influencer Marketing Confluence rules. Content Marketing with Influencers is an area of deep focus for me that I've been experimenting with for many years and that our agency has been implementing for clients that range from a $180Bn Fortune 5 company to mid-market companies like ClickSoftware to small companies like Pandora Mall of America. The fundamental message of my keynote presentation is that marketing with content is harder than ever and if your company doesn't do something to break through information overload and distrust of brand content, you'll lose the ability to attract and engage customers. The solution is a content marketing framework for strategically engaging with influencers to increase content quality, quantity, reach and engagement across the customer journey. At the same time, I'll talk about how to build relationships with internal, industry and community influencers to increase advocacy. Influencer 2.0 Cover To back up the best practices, I'll share trends and insights our influencer marketing research that we partnered with Influencer Relationships Marketing platform, Traackr, on. Brian Solis of Altimeter analyzed the findings and wrote up an impressive research report, Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing that attendees will be able to see. The Influence 2.0 report delivers crucial findings and covers important insights about the maturity of influencer marketing within large enterprise companies, budgets, top goals and areas within the organization that are most impacted. Brian also shares the intersection of influencer relations with customer experience and digital transformation. If that wasn't enough, he includes a 10 step framework for implementing an influence 2.0 approach. My keynotes are "inspractical" = Inspiration + Tactical. Overall, I'll touch on the best parts of the research report, include trends, best practices and share successful B2B and B2C examples of influencer driven programs to inspire attendees going forward. If you're a marketer in Southern California, this is a can't miss event! Skirball Cultural Center Los Angeles Event Details: Digital Summit Los Angeles April 4-5, 2017 Skirball Cultural Center Registration, Agenda, Speakers and full conference information here.

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The Next Evolution of Influencer Marketing: 4 Key Insights And What They Mean http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/03/influencer-marketing-smmw17/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/03/influencer-marketing-smmw17/#respond Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:30:26 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22083 We marketers love to chase shiny objects. It’s part of the constant drive to experiment, optimize, and improve. Any new tactic that looks promising is going to attract our attention. During his presentation last week at Social Media Marketing World, Lee Odden offered proof of just how shiny influencer marketing is: It can potentially return [...]

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We marketers love to chase shiny objects. It’s part of the constant drive to experiment, optimize, and improve. Any new tactic that looks promising is going to attract our attention.

During his presentation last week at Social Media Marketing World, Lee Odden offered proof of just how shiny influencer marketing is: It can potentially return $9.60 for every dollar invested. Campaigns that include influencers have shown a 10x increase in conversion rates. And those customers who convert stick around–influencer campaigns tend to achieve a 37% increase in retention.

Clearly, influencer marketing deserves the buzz it’s been getting. But most marketers are just getting started. There’s plenty of activity, but not much strategy. It takes a concentrated, strategic, sustained effort to fully realize the benefits.

Earlier this year, Toprank Marketing released Influencer 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing. Lee offered four key insights from the report, and what each means for marketers looking to take their influencer marketing to the next level.

What Is Influence? What Is Influencer Marketing?

Before we get into insights and best practices, it’s important to define terms. Lee defines influence like this:


Influence is the ability to effect action. Fans, friends, and followers are meaningless unless the audience actually does something. @leeodden
Click To Tweet


That definition alone should change the way you approach influencer marketing. It’s not about chasing the most famous person…it’s about the person who best can move their audience.

Here’s how Lee defines influencer marketing:

“Influencer marketing develops relationships with internal and industry experts with active networks to co-create content that helps drive mutual value and measurable business goals.

There’s a lot to unpack in that sentence. First, influencer marketing means developing relationships, not isolated pieces of content or campaigns. Second, look for influencers in your company as well as outside of it. Third, you’re looking to create mutual value, value beyond compensation. Finally, influencer marketing can and should serve measurable business goals.

What Not to Do for Effective Influencer Marketing

Based on the definition above, avoid the following five missteps to greatly increase your effectiveness:

  1. One-Off Campaigns: Don’t activate influencers, have them contribute, then abandon them and start all over next time. Aim for sustainable relationships.
  2. Focusing on Celebrities: They may have a huge audience, but celebrities are hard to reach, expensive to activate, and their audience may not be the most relevant for you.
  3. Using Influencer Marketing for Ads Only: Our agency co-creates content with influencers–eBooks, blog posts, video. This type of content lets influencers go beyond endorsing your product or service to create something of real value.
  4. Only Doing Pay-to-Play: We’re not saying “never pay influencers.” But when you’re building relationships and co-creating cool stuff, you can have genuine mutual value without exchanging cash.
  5. Only Measuring Social Metrics: You can measure the business value of influencer marketing, not just engagement and brand lift. Start your program with these goals in mind and build tracking in.

Four Key Influencer Marketing Insights (And What to Do with Them)

Influence 2.0 draws on the expertise of noted industry analyst Brian Solis, as well as over 100 experts from brands like Microsoft, Adobe, and SAP. Lee dove deep into the data to present these insights and the best practices they suggest.

Insight #1: Influencer Marketing Is Underfunded

On average, companies have just 10% of their marketing budget allocated to influencer marketing. Half of the companies analyzed are investing less than $100,000 per year–which is a small slice of the pie for enterprise-level organizations.

As interest in influencer marketing grows, however, the budgets are starting to grow. 55% plan on spending more money in the coming year. 70% of companies who already have an influencer marketing platform in place plan to increase their budgets.

What to Do: It’s important to understand the opportunity for return on investment, Lee said. Think of what it will cost to implement a program versus the cost of losing access to the top influencers in your industry when the competition gets their first.

Think about implementing programs, not projects. Long-term relationships create the most value for your spend.

Insight #2: B2B is behind B2C

Fifty-five percent of B2C companies have an ongoing and integrated influencer marketing program. Only 15% of B2B marketers could say the same. Overall, 49% of B2B marketers say they’re still in the experimentation phase.

What to do: B2B influencer marketing is a different animal than B2C. You’re not likely to get ahead by paying Youtube stars to pose with your cloud-based network solution.

Start by engaging expert help to research the market, identify influencers, and develop a plan tied to ROI.

It also makes sense to invest in technology. It’s hard to start a sustainable program with a spreadsheet. Influencer marketing platforms can help you identify, qualify, and engage with influencers, as well as help with measurement and optimization.

To kick off your program, start by activating your clients. Start with people who already advocate for your company, invite them to co-create content, and scale up the content that performs best.

Insight 3: The Top Influencer Marketing Goals

Brand advocacy and awareness were at the top of respondents’ minds, with 94% and 92% respectively saying these were the top goals. 88% said reaching new audience was a top goal as well.

Sales conversion and lead generation were still in the top ten, but trailed with 74% and 67%. These results demonstrate that any marketers aren’t aware of influencer marketing’s potential for lower-funnel goals.

What to Do: Keep ROI-proving business goals in mind when designing your program. Make sure to align brand and influencer goals, too–when you have alignment with influencers, it’s easier to inspire organic participation.

Insight #4: Areas Most Impacted by Influencer Marketing

When we asked in which areas has influencer marketing made the biggest difference for marketers, 80% of respondents said content marketing, and 75% said social media marketing. These two are definitely the biggest opportunities; in fact, Lee said companies who aren’t using influencers in these areas are at a disadvantage.

What to Do: Social media and content marketing are the baseline. Beyond that, make your program more sophisticated by integrating it across the organization. Look for internal influencers in your marketing, PR, customer success, community management, and HR departments. Externally, look to industry thought leaders, your own customers, and journalists to round out your program.

Three Levels of Influencer Engagement

It’s easy to get started with influencer marketing. From the first stage, you can gradually grow your efforts to a sustained long-term program built on strong relationships. Lee identified three levels of influencer engagement. These are additive, not exclusive–we currently use all three at TopRank Marketing.

  1. Microcontent: Short-form content used as a “seasoning” for brand-created content. Think quotes, tips, and insights from influencers added to your brand assets. Microcontent can include influencer outreach or simply be curated from external sources.
  2. Campaigns: A campaign includes longer-form contributions directly from the influencer, like an interview for an eBook. You’re asking the influencer to co-create content, which you can repurpose–eBook to blog post to social media images with quotes, for example.
  3. Community: The ultimate goal for a sustainable program is a dedicated group of influencers that contribute a variety of short and long form content for brand communications. These are people who have relationships with your brand and your people, who co-create content motivated by shared goals to realize mutual value.

Everyone Is Influential

As Lee says, everyone is influential about something. Regardless of your industry, it’s high time to find and activate the people who can make a difference with your audience. Make an investment, make a commitment, and start building relationships that can lead to a long-lasting program.

For the full report from TopRank Marketing, Traackr, and Altimeter Group, read Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing.


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B2B Marketers Are Way Behind on Influencer Marketing and Here’s the Solution http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/03/b2b-marketers-behind-influence/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/03/b2b-marketers-behind-influence/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:01:02 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21859 Influencer Marketing is a hot topic, but what is really working, what isn’t and what are the future trends for marketers? Those are the questions we set out to answer in the research report: Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing. With analysis from Brian Solis of Altimeter and a research partnership between Traackr and my [...]

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B2B Influencer Marketing Catch Up

Influencer Marketing is a hot topic, but what is really working, what isn’t and what are the future trends for marketers? Those are the questions we set out to answer in the research report: Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing.

With analysis from Brian Solis of Altimeter and a research partnership between Traackr and my agency TopRank Marketing, enterprise marketers in North America and Europe were asked about the role of influence including ranking their influencer marketing maturity level.

31% of B2C marketers reported that they are experimenting with influencer marketing and 48% are running ongoing programs. This is in contrast to B2B marketers where a greater number (49%) were still experimenting and only 11% were running ongoing influencer programs.

Why does this mean B2B marketers are behind?

Within B2B marketing, the role of content during the customer journey is clear. Self directed business buyers are pulling themselves through most of the sales journey before ever contacting sales.

How are they doing it? With content.

While content continues to drive customer attraction, engagement and conversion, buyers have become numb to brand messages and advertising, going so far as to install ad blocking software at an increasing rate. Information overload and distrust of push marketing has buyers relying on peers, experts and industry influencers more than ever.

When B2B brands collaborate on content with credible outside voices that have active networks, it results in information with greater relevance, credibility and reach.

The connection between influence and content is very strong amongst enterprise marketers we surveyed. According to the study, 80% of marketers cited the biggest impact from working with influencers as content marketing. With the demand and usefulness of content marketing within B2B, there is tremendous opportunity for B2B marketers to improve their ability to integrate influence more strategically.

While most B2B marketers appreciate the opportunity with content and influencers, many are too inwardly focused. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs offers this advice:

“Make Your Customer The Hero of Your Story. Paradoxically, your “story” is not about you—it’s about what you do for others. That’s a subtle shift, but an important one, because it installs your customer at the very heart of your marketing. It’s customer-centric versus corporate-centric.” @annhandley

Customer centricity is essential for effective B2B content marketing and working with industry influencers to co-create content adds a customer voice and authenticity that many marketers miss.

What is holding B2B marketers back from achieving more success working with influencers? There are three key issues:

1. Working with famous and friends, not influential people.

Social network size and self appointed influencer status does not equal the ability to affect a change of thinking or inspire action amongst buyers. Many B2B marketers are swayed by brandividuals into thinking that popularity alone will move the needle on buying cycle marketing metrics. Awareness is great, but without engagement and conversion as well, what is the point?

2. Viewing influencers as advertising.

People understand new things in terms of what they already know and this is no different in how many B2B marketers approach working with influencers. Advertising is a familiar model and B2B marketers that expect influencer collaboration to produce the same performance at the same consistency as an advertising channel, will inevitably be disappointed.

3. Short term, commoditized, disconnected collaboration.

The most significant disconnect of all is the “one off” approach where marketers engage influencers at random without any effort to maintain a relationship or understand what the influencer wants out of the the collaboration.

To take full advantage of a more strategic approach to influencer content, there are three engagement scenarios B2B marketers should consider:

Influencer Microcontent

Short form content is easier for influencers to contribute and serves as a nice appetizer for the brand community in advance of more substantial collaborations. Pull quotes, tips and social message-length comments are also great moments of opportunity to establish influencer relationships and to maintain positive interactions in between larger projects.

Influencer Campaigns

Strategically planned, implemented and connected influencer content campaigns provide participating influencers an opportunity to make more substantial contributions of their expertise and thought leadership to the shared brand and influencer community. The key to influencer content campaigns is that there is a guiding narrative and directive for relationship growth that provides direction for continued and evolved influencer engagement, not one-off or stand alone projects with only short term goals.

Influencer Community

A dedicated group of influencers as part of a brand VIP program provides advocates and industry experts a platform for collaboration in a variety of ways. A more formal engagement with influencers helps identify their affinity for shared values with the brand as well as what the common interests and goals of their mutual communities.

Many B2B marketers still experimenting with influencer marketing may touch on these three engagement scenarios, but are not often implementing strategically or long term. To do so, requires both a strategy and technology.

In the Influence 2.0 report, 71% of enterprise marketers view their influencer marketing as strategic or highly strategic and yet, only 24% of overall marketers are running ongoing influencer programs allocating just 10% of overall marketing budget. The awareness of a bigger picture view and integration exists with most enterprise level marketers, they just need to invest in a strategy and resources, including technology, so they can realize the benefits of an approach that is long term and scaleable.

When it comes to technology that supports more scalable, long term and integrated influencer marketing, Jason Miller, Global Content Marketing Leader at LinkedIn agrees: “I am a major advocate for making all of our jobs easier as marketers and it’s time we put the technology to work for us. Having a tool such as Traackr in your arsenal can help tie influencer marketing back to overall business goals and prove the marketing value to your CMO; that’s a very good thing.”

What is the Future of Influence for Enterprise organizations?
57% of marketers in our study say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities in the next 3 years compared to only 5% claiming full integration today. As more B2B marketers evolve from influencer marketing experimentation to a more strategic approach that emphasizes relationships, common goals and the ability to manage and scale with technology, the more they will realize the benefits of integration across all marketing functions.

Influencer 2.0 Cover

You can download the full report, Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing here: http://influencermarketingreport.com

Of course you can get help with influencer content strategies from the some of the best in the business at TopRank Marketing.

A version of this article originally appeared on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog.


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