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Lately, we’ve been hearing that influencer marketing programs and ambassadorships are a becoming big portion of many digital marketing activities (whether B2B or B2C). So what is this obsession with influencer marketing ? Why is it an integral part of so many marketing programs nowadays? 

Let’s take a step back, and examine how we got here.

 

In recent years, the buying process and media consumption have changed. Consumers, as well as business decision makers, have all the buying power and choice in their hands. 

Think of it, with the exception of live broadcasts like sports events or news, when was the last time you actually sat down and watched linear television?  These days, many of us have flocked to on-demand services, we nearly don’t watch commercials anymore, many of us get our news coverage from social networks or in some kind of short online recap. Heck, even online advertising is becoming less effective by the day (People literally have grown to overlook and disregard online ads, not to mention ad blocking).  

Now, consider the following stat by the folks at Digital Evolution: 

“…57% of the sales cycle is complete before a prospect reaches out to a sales rep”. (Digital Evolution, Conference Executive Board, 2012)

Consumers have essentially shut off the traditional world of marketing. Smart marketers understand that traditional marketing is becoming less  effective and that there must be a be a better way. Well, there is and it’s all about delivering exceptional value to a well-segmented audience that in turn will convert.

There are plenty of reasons marketers and company execs want to engage, influence or even build a community.  The biggest of which is that at the core of any good content marketing program lies a clearly well-defined audience. That audience, in turn, will enjoy a brand’s relevant, valuable content (that is tailored for that vertical and segment) and ultimately convert and drive profitable customer action. (Content Marketing Institute)

Let’s dive deeper. These influencers are in fact a part of an industry or vertical that is:  (1) well-defined and segmented and are either (2) potential clients or thought leaders that would be interested in our product offering.  Our job as marketers is to offer them tremendous value in the form of suitable quality content that will bring them value and ultimately convert them to either customers or brand advocates.

Research and segmentation methodology

There are 2 main methods to segment and research a potential audience.

The first and direct way to identify online personas is by explicitly searching based on their online bios and profiles using specific keywords match. This method is generally more useful and efficient when either working on a lead gen program (where one might have specific roles within an organization to target) or in cases where there’s enough content depth of influencers in that vertical.

A good example of such content vertical  is “customer experience”. A relatively broad topic with a substantial content depth where a variety of different personas’ characteristics can be found. Such personas in that vertical would be company executives who work on CX for their respective organisations, industry analysts, journalists and so on.

The second method for researching and identifying online influencers is based on one’s implicit behaviour online. Searching a target audience based on their online activity patterns. These actions and patterns can be anything from links they regularly share on social media, the amount of engagement and interactions, online discussions they have participated in and more.

This method is generally more useful when the research consists of data sets that are more complex with specific characteristics or user behaviours online. An additional scenario is in cases there’s not enough content depth in the vertical, meaning there are not a whole lot of clear distinct sets of influencers. 

In such cases, it is usually harder to “pinpoint” the key opinion leaders of the vertical. An example for such content vertical is “Agile Transformation”, where the ecosystem of influencers and key opinion leaders are broader and harder to distinguish strictly based on their online bios.

The next step in the research would be to find out what content appeal to the influencers and thought leaders in order to customize and tailor the most relevant suitable content for them.

Do you have an influencer marketing program in place? How did you pick and segment your audience?

Would love to read your feedback.