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Sourced from Forbes

Although influencer marketing is not a new phenomenon, it seems to evolve more quickly than other forms of marketing and advertising. As more and more creators enter the market, intent on becoming paid influencers, smart brands and the agencies they work with know that effectively partnering with an influencer takes more than just a large number of followers.

The key is to leverage the organic influence of the right people to create deeper engagement between their followers and your brand, and countless variables will affect your strategy. Here, 11 members of Forbes Agency Council look at some of the most original iterations of influencer marketing that brands can use to stand out to target audiences in unique and memorable ways.

1. Technical Subject Matter Experts As Influencers

For companies targeting technical audiences, influencers are smart, experienced engineers and other technical subject matter experts who routinely comment on industry trends and technical challenges with their unique points of view. Partner with these pundits, who are often found associated with industry groups or publications. Another option is to create your own influencer within company ranks. – Wendy Covey, TREW Marketing

2. Podcast Host Endorsements

Host endorsements on podcasts are a great form of influencer marketing. The most recent audience studies show that at least one in three Americans listened to a podcast in the month prior. Marketers and advertisers are taking notice of the host’s (influencer’s) unique ability to not only provide reach, but also connection and economic results. It’s an “opt-in” channel where show hosts have listeners’ undivided attention and trust. – Kurt Kaufer, Ad Results Media

3. Shoppable Influencer Content

Influencer marketing started as an awareness tactic, but the industry has truly matured. We’ve seen that influencers tell compelling stories that not only drive awareness, but can also generate purchase intent. And now, with click-to-cart companies such as SmartCommerce and new features in Instagram, influencer content can be shoppable, allowing consumers to go from interest to cart in just a single click. – Maria Sipka, Linqia

4. Influencer Marketing Efforts Tied To A Cause

Tie your influencer marketing efforts to a cause. Microsoft’s #MakeWhatsNext campaign, for example, encourages young girls to pursue careers in STEM. On International Women’s Day, the brand teamed up with National Geographic to feature photos of women scientists that generated millions of likes and spurred significant engagement. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

5. Influencer Content As Paid Social Ads

We’ve seen a huge rise in using influencer content as paid social ads for remarketing audiences in the last 30, 60 or 90 days. This allows companies to avoid ad fatigue and leverage unique influencer content to build credibility, trust and desire for the product or service. – Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint

6. Turning Employees Into Influencers

A highly original form of influencer marketing is taking someone that works for you and making that person an influencer. We have clients that sell beauty products. Instead of paying someone on the outside, they’ve showcased their own people using the products. As they acquire a following, the company has an in-house influencer already on payroll. Better still, this is a repeatable step. – Danny Star, Website Depot

7. Brand Ambassadors Programs

Brand ambassadors programs as a type of influencer marketing sound more impactful and authentic to audiences who look at brand ambassadors as people with an emotional attachment to the brand, and adore it to an extent that they are ready to promote it. With an emphasis on brand ambassadors programs, consumers feel like owners of the brand and become fully engaged with it. – Elissar Hajj Zarwi, Comma Hub

8. Invitation-Only Facebook Groups

An innovative form of influencer marketing consists of private and invitation-only online Facebook groups sponsored by the marketer to create the sense of a safe and exclusive space for members of a community united by a shared interest to bond with each other. You need to request and be approved by the marketer to join the group. Once inside, the influencers keep the conversation alive with questions and participation that inspire others to engage. – Abigail Hirschhorn, Human Intelligence | H.I.

9. The Rise Of TikTok Influencers

TikTok is the wild west of influencer marketing and a fertile ground for brands to test and learn with branded TikTok videos. Compared to other platforms, the number of brands activating TikTok campaigns is relatively low, so your brand may be the first in your category to become established on the platform. Now is a great time to take advantage of the light-hearted content native to the platform. – Corbett Drummey, Popular Pays

10. Influencer Marketing On Instagram

Influencer marketing on Instagram is what I see as the most undervalued, high-return investment a business or brand can make. Pairing with the right influencer for your brand can not only generate sales and new customers, but also exponentially grow your business. An Instagram influencer’s loyal community of followers will try any product or service the influencer pushes as long as it aligns. – Tony Pec, Y Not You Media

11. Influencer Takeovers Of Brands’ Social Media

Having an influencer take over a brand’s social media channel can be a powerful collaboration that gives a brand instant credibility and reaches a new market. From fashion labels having celebrity DJs livestream on their channels to a celebrity providing an online edit of a magazine’s feed, this form of marketing is becoming more impactful by the minute. – Adrian Falk, Believe Advertising & PR

Sourced from Forbes

Successful PR, media strategy, creative and advertising executives from Forbes Agency Council share trends and tips

By Goldie Chan.

How has influencer marketing radically changed in 2020?

In my continuing series of “State of Marketing 2020,” I run interviews on the changing landscape of 2020 with key leaders in different business and leadership areas. For influencer marketing, I tap Lindsay Fultz, SVP of Partnerships at Whalar and influencer marketing expert for over a decade.

Goldie Chan: You’ve been in influencer marketing for nearly a decade. You’re considered a veteran in the industry. After all this time, what gets you excited?

Lindsay Fultz: This industry is fast moving. So much has changed. From types of creators and redefining what the word “influence” actually means, platforms, features, how cultural trends are intertwined and what makes them go viral, ways content can be repurposed, algorithms, to accessible data and now influencer marketing during a global pandemic and influencer and brand activism during a long overdue social justice movement.

Some things that get me excited:

  • Shoppable features that enable us to create strategies that tie ROI to particular influencers and activations. My company, Whalar is the only global partner to five social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok which not only means rich first party data but also access to all the cool private beta features like TikTok’s creator shopping program — The ability to tie video views from a specific influencer to actual purchases — that’s huge and something we’re very excited to pilot with a brand for a case study.
  • Interactive survey features that can double as consumer surveys and coordinating influencer focus groups for brands. Since the pandemic, we’ve been doing a lot of this at Whalar.
  • Live-streamed shopping which for 2020 is projected to be a $129B revenue stream in China. Instagram quietly rolled out their Live Shopping Feature in private beta a few weeks ago which I’m very excited to pilot with a brand. Whoever gets this right in the U.S will unlock a gold mine in Influencer Marketing for both creators and brands.
  • Virtual events! Marc Jacobs recently leveraged Zoom for their new product launch and Fenty VR and livestreams for their virtual house party. Both were super interactive and attendees left with keepsakes and an incredible, unforgettable experience. And we’ve only just scratched the surface on the possible integrations.
  • Leveraging influencers as your in-house production arm. Since the pandemic we’ve been getting a lot of briefs about partnering with creators behind the lens to create a library of branded assets from still and dynamic images to short and long form video content. This is quite exciting.
  • Even though it’s all P2P, partnering with creators that hit a B2B audience. Keynote speakers, marketers, entrepreneurs, thought leaders — because they are practitioners and educators, they attract an audience composed of C-suite executives, decision makers, people that control large marketing budgets and people that aspire to be in those positions. They are regularly in front of large super targeted audiences that people pay to gain access to — albeit now virtually.
  • Influencer and Brand Activism. This has been exciting to watch unfold and I think it’s a good thing! It’s been incredible seeing brands take a stance, and influencers unafraid to lose brand deals by taking a stance. It adds an extra layer to the influencer vetting process but it’s a very important layer when partnering influencers with brands — to make sure both brand and influencer viewpoints are aligned.

 

Feature Image Credit: GETTY

By Goldie Chan.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

 

Sourced from Forbes

By Reena Rai.

How have brands such as Glossier and Telfar cultivated communities of brand ambassadors to build brand loyalty? Reena Rai, Pinterest’s Creator Lead explains.

Influencer marketing is one of the most innovative facets of the digital marketing mix. It has evolved at a phenomenal pace over the last decade and is expected to grow to be worth $9.7bn in 2020. The latest evolution, Ambassador Marketing, sees brands engaging customers to create content, provide reviews and suggest future product lines, all while putting the spotlight on authenticity.

The need for authenticity and relatability is reminiscent of the early days of blogging over a decade ago. The majority of bloggers started their foray into digital publishing as a passion project on Blogger or WordPress, before expanding to social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

Marketers saw an opportunity to enhance their traditional marketing strategies by working with influencers. Engaging real people with a social following adds a layer of authenticity, while also helping to reach new audiences. One-off collaborations have led to long-term partnerships, turning influencers into ambassadors.

Super-influencer Lorna Luxe has been working with fast fashion e-tailer ‘In The Style’ since February 2019. Her first collection was the most successful launch in the brand’s history, with 5,000 units sold out in under an hour.

Paid influencer collaborations have proven to be a very successful marketing tactic, but fans and followers have become sceptical of how authentic these partnerships and influencer reviews really are. In 2018, the industry faced a further crisis in confidence after several leading influencers were caught buying followers and using bots to overinflate their engagement metrics.

This is why I believe Ambassador Marketing is a necessary evolution. Influencers undoubtedly play an important role in digital marketing, but brands can benefit from engaging grassroots fans to create a 360° approach. Consumer purchase decisions are heavily influenced by peers and relatable micro-influencers: engagement rates are much higher for micro-influencers and a recent study stated that 70% of millennials are influenced by social content from their peers.

Here are two compelling examples that illustrate the importance of engaging superfans as both a source of inspiration and to help build grassroots buzz.

Case Study: Glossier
Beauty brand Glossier is estimated to be worth a cool $1.2bn and much of the company’s success is attributable to Ambassador Marketing. Interestingly, Glossier was founded by Emily Weiss in 2014 and, before launching her brand, Emily was a blogger at ‘Into The Gloss’ which launched four years prior.

From the beginning, Glossier has placed customers at the heart of their brand strategy, with early customers engaged as brand ambassadors. Not only were customers encouraged to share social media posts with their products and signature pink bubble wrap pouches, but Glossier also relied on their brand ambassadors to share product reviews and tips.

By treating each customer as an influencer, Glossier has amassed an impressive amount of User Generated Content (UGC). This social amplification has earned the brand a huge following across their channels, with their largest audiences being on Pinterest (over 10m monthly unique views) and Instagram (2.8m followers).

Taking the concept of Ambassador Marketing a step further, Glossier also has an exclusive Slack group with 100 ‘superfans’ who are happy to provide feedback on the existing line and share ideas for new products.

Case Study: Telfar
Launched in 2005 by Telfar Clemens in New York, Telfar is one of the most exciting luxury fashion brands in the zeitgeist. Steadily building a buzz within the Brooklyn party subculture, Clemens has been collaborating with brand ambassadors since the brand’s inception.

While large fashion brands scramble to prove that they value diversity, Telfar’s founding motto is “It’s not for you, it’s for everyone”. As a black-owned luxury fashion brand which is unisex and affordable, Telfar is effortlessly inclusive. Clemens dresses friends such as Kelela and Dev Hynes, who in turn become brand ambassadors, wearing Telfar pieces and performing at the brand’s shows.

Telfar’s first handbag was a runaway success and the limited monthly drops have resulted in a cult-like following. Dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin”, the handbag is a prized possession which unofficial brand ambassadors share across social media in high-quality, editorial-esque shoots.

By engaging superfans and high-profile cool kids spanning the art, fashion and music worlds, Telfar is able to reinforce their brand values, extend their social reach, lean on their community for content creation and create a grassroots buzz.

As brands and agencies look for new opportunities to extend their digital presence and build brand loyalty, the most innovative strategy they can adopt is cultivating a community of brand ambassadors. Engaging with influencers as thought leaders in their niche only goes halfway. The most powerful advocates for any organisation are existing customers and fans. Genuine advocacy from an ecosystem of influencers and fans will help you to engage customers, build loyalty, and drive incremental brand visibility.

By Reena Rai.

CREATOR LEAD, PINTEREST

Sourced from iab.uk

Sourced from yahoo finance.

Technology and new ideas often go hand in hand. The challenge is often to express new concepts clearly and eloquently. This is where effective marketing comes into play.

PR and Content Marketing

Getting professionally written editorial content for your brand is a key factor in your path to success.

PR is an ongoing effort throughout the lifecycle of a company. Before the launch, you need a strong, concerted PR and outreach effort to reach all the major crypto sites. But even after, you need to keep the community informed and engaged with interesting new developments, partnership announcements, background stories, and news.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is essential in blockchain. There is no better way to get to new users, investors and clients where you have the most of their attention: in their inbox.

Always track and measure your email marketing. Many companies claim to have hundreds of thousands of subscribers in their list, but if you look at their email open rates, they are often below 1%. On CryptoCoin.News, we have an average open rate of over 25% because our readers did sign up to receive interesting crypto news.

Video Marketing

In the digital age, content is king. Video content is particularly adept at building credibility and authority for your token sale.

Successful companies have typically two types of video:

  • Explainer animation to give some background of your industry and your solution.
  • Interviews with the founders and company presentations by third parties.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a hybrid of old and new marketing tools. It takes the idea of celebrity endorsement and places it into a modern-day content-driven marketing campaign. Influencer Marketing works because of the high amount of trust that influencers have built up with their following and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.

In blockchain marketing, trust and authority building is a key component. That’s why Influencer Marketing is an important option in the marketing mix. Getting endorsed by the top YouTube crypto influencers can strongly influence buying and investing decisions.

Trust the Leading Crypto Marketing Agency

The team behind CryptoCoin.News has been active in online marketing for over 10 years, with experience in blockchain marketing since 2016. Trusted by over 150 clients, they know exactly which channels work for blockchain marketing. Paired with efficient, reliable and fast execution, CryptoCoin.News can be your partner for all blockchain marketing needs. Get in touch to schedule a free consultation at https://cryptocoin.news/advertise-with-us/.

Sourced from yahoo finance

By Evan Varsamis,

This year has been quite a roller coaster for marketers so far, and it’s still unclear how things will go in the next few months. However, when it comes to designing a marketing funnel, you can’t stick to your traditional methods anymore. You have to start thinking outside the box and picking up new techniques that can enhance your brand’s presence on the web. Online competition has grown massively over the last few years. It’s not just about being present on the web anymore. It’s about sustaining an omnichannel presence.

What Is An Omnichannel Presence?

Years ago, we used to think of online marketing as finding the platform that works the best for you and prioritizing your activities there. Today, with so many different platforms having unique structures, it’s even more difficult to figure out what works the best for your brand. It’s not about finding your best platform anymore. It’s about learning how to be present on every channel and make the most of it.

What works on Facebook won’t work on Pinterest. You have to figure out how to be present on both channels with equal effectiveness.

Now that you’re familiar with an omnichannel presence, let’s take a look at trends and online marketing tips that will help you sustain your business in 2020.

Cobranded Content

Every individual is loyal to a certain number of brands. As a marketer, if you can leverage that engagement by combining two brands, there’s nothing like it.

Sophia Bernazzani explained this concept beautifully on HubSpot: “One of my own beloved childhood memories was a product of co-branding: Betty Crocker partnered with Hershey’s to include chocolate syrup in its signature brownie recipe. There’s something brilliant about that co-branded product: It’s a fun way to marry two classic brands into one delicious experience for fans of baking and chocolate alike.”

So, to make your 2020 marketing work, you can connect with brands that appeal to you and use that collaboration as a marketing campaign. You could choose to go for video advertising or even audio influencing through podcasts or webinars. Either way, cobranded content can help you soar high with the help of loyal followers.

Micro-Influencer Marketing

If you have experience with influencer marketing, you’ll know why micro-influencers are the near future. Reaching out to big-time influencers is difficult, and you can’t expect them to review free samples that easily. So brands that are tight on budget can opt for micro-influencers who cater to their product niche.

These influencers have enough popularity to still be influential, and they also tend to have better engagement rates with their followers because they are less overwhelmed with sponsorship offers, which gives them the bandwidth to keep in touch with their followers. A study (paywall) from HelloSociety suggests that micro-influencers with around 30,000 followers have 60% higher engagement and are about 6.7 times more cost effective than influencers with more followers.

Nontraditional Social Media Marketing

Ever since we started social media marketing, we’ve primarily used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. While these platforms continue to be the rulers in the industry, there are several others that are making their way up with the help of the younger generation. These platforms include Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit and Medium.

So when it comes to planning a successful marketing campaign, you need to think outside the box and come up with ways to work on every platform instead of sticking to just one or two. In fact, it may seem far-fetched, but TikTok could work for your brand, depending on what you are trying to promote.

Contextual Targeting

When you throw random ads at people, you can’t expect the click rate you desire. That’s because not everyone will want to see the product you are showing them. Instead, with contextual targeting, you can showcase your ads on pages with related information. People who see your ads will have a higher chance of clicking them because they are already interested in your product niche.

Programmatic Audio

With podcasts and audio streaming apps becoming more and more popular, they’ve turned into avenues for online promotion. The advantage of programmatic audio promotion is that it enables you to place ads in the audio content.

Depending on your preference, you can opt for ad formats such as companion, ad pods, or pre-roll and midroll ads. Currently, companies including Google, Rubicon Project, SoundCloud and the BBC offer audio advertising features.

Video Advertising

Every social network is focusing on video content. Many are even looking for ways to implement product shopping directly from videos.

Consider using traditional video advertising methods by placing your ads on YouTube. You can even work with brands on Facebook and Instagram to promote your products in videos.

Mobile-Friendly Emails

As more people switch to primarily using their smartphones, the entire email marketing industry will change. Email designs need to be mobile-friendly and minimal, and they must have the call to action (CTA) button in a place where the user can easily find it. Another crucial point is to avoid too much content in your email. You can always opt for a drip email campaign to send out information sequentially.

Augmented Reality (AR) And Virtual Reality (VR

If you are an e-commerce brand, chances are you’ve already heard of implementing AR and VR for better product discovery. By implementing these technologies in your marketing funnel, you may be able to draw the attention of people who hesitate to purchase online. Give them the opportunity to try out products virtually before purchasing them.

Having said that, it’s also crucial not to forget the tone of voice you use while implementing all your marketing campaigns. The world is going through a massive change in 2020, and it’s important to understand the emotion of your audience before you try to promote a product or service to them. An empathetic and genuine tone can always take your brand a long way.

Feature Image Credit: GETTY

By Evan Varsamis,

An entrepreneur and Founder/CEO at Gadget Flow, as well as an investor and marketing advisor at Qrator Ltd.

Sourced from Forbes

By Maura Smith

Throughout the past three months, with COVID-19 as a likely catalyst, influencers have been in trade publications frequently for perceived drama pertaining to seemingly abrupt changes to long-standing affiliate marketing programs. Journalists covering the space sought to understand the fallout between affiliate programs and influencers, campaign suspensions, and shifting compensation models. But as with everything in our space, understanding the truth is more dynamic than what may originally meets the eye. An evolution can be seen in retail marketers’ collective shift toward diversified programs and away from last-click overreliance. At the same time, influencers are responding to slashed upfront campaign fees by migrating to pay-for-outcome compensation models. These factors come together to seed a new relationship.

Over the last twenty years, affiliate marketing was heavily dominated by last-click coupon and loyalty publishers. But the affiliate marketing model made it too hard to assess the value of content creators and allocate compensation for their role in achieving a brand’s desired engagement—whether it be a registration or conversion. Affiliate technology was originally built to attribute compensation on last click. So for a long time, this system afforded no earning opportunity for influencers, simply because they were often the introducer touchpoint in the consumer journey.

As a result, the popular fixed fee monetization and commercial strategy around the creator marketplace was primarily developed as a defense mechanism.

For the dynamics between retail marketers and influencers to take hold, the affiliate industry needed to accelerate its evolution, to develop a way to prescribe value based on any given influencer’s explicit role in the consumer journey on the path to purchase, whether it be introduction or something more mid-funnel. The industry also needed to develop technology for precision influencer discovery, so that brands could find the right influencers based on specific attributes.

The welcome and collective move of brands and influencers toward pay-for-outcome models bodes well.

Now that affiliate technology is evolving beyond last-click publishers, there are opportunities for more sophisticated monetization. According to Pepperjam’s weekly indexing, over the last two months, content publishers, like influencers, have realized year-over-year gains not only in revenue performance but also in their percentage share of revenue across the affiliate pie. And brands are responding—by investing more on a variable compensation basis, upwards of 127% year-over-year. With measured and proven performance, affiliate tools are finally a real option for influencers—they present an opportunity for high-level compensation for playing a measurable role in the ultimate conversion.

Combined with other recent events like brands dumping their fixed-fee campaigns, this technology evolution within affiliate marketing has created an environment for influencers to readily embrace the pay-for-outcome model. Influencers certainly felt the impact of recent budget cuts, but there’s been a palpable realization that they can offset these losses with alternative revenue streams, like affiliate. This trend toward pay-for-performance models has persisted week over week, and we feel that this position as a primary sales and marketing channel will stick after the pandemic, having been put to the test during the most challenging of times.

This article was contributed and sponsored by Pepperjam.

By Maura Smith, CMO, Pepperjam

Sourced from eMarketers

Marketers came roaring into 2020 with plans to spend heavily on in-store experiences and brand activations such as pop-ups and parties. But with a large number of Americans still facing stay-at-home orders, industry experts are observing a shift to a different marketing approach: influencers on video platforms.

“Many small- to mid-size apparel brands are focusing in on three platforms: TikTok, YouTube and Instagram,” said Clayton Durant, founder and managing partner at consulting firm CAD Management. “Quarantine has bumped up the amount of time spent on these platforms.”

Influencer marketing is not new, but the financial strain felt by many consumers is changing the way brands approach it. Durant said traditional advertising campaigns are no longer deemed tasteful nor are they driving the meaningful engagement required to convert sales. Instead of glamorous, aspirational images, consumers want meaningful, authentic content from sources they trust. Increasingly, that means social media micro-influencers.

For many brands, partnering with a series of micro-influencers is becoming a more reliable source of marketing than traditional campaigns. These influencers usually have 50,000 to 2 million followers on social media, but speak to an engaged audience with more followers than many top celebrities. They are also less expensive to partner with.

“Many of these influencer deals give the brand the most amount of leverage in the transaction, allowing the brand to get a better ROI,” said Durant. “If you handle micro-influencer campaigns right there is more of a ‘partnership’ feel to these transactions; many micro-influencers are going above and beyond their deal points.”

Finding the most cost-effective marketing approach is more critical than ever, with many brands suffering from sales drops. But the disappearance of live marketing has also allowed for the redistribution of resources to social media, SEO and influencer campaigns. Durant believes that investing in these partnerships now could also pay off in the long term, as brands and consumers adjust to the new retail landscape.

“I expect brick-and-mortar foot traffic to take at least a year to get back to ‘normal,’” said Durant. “To make up for the loss of foot traffic, brands are going to turn to platforms like YouTube, TikTok or Twitch to create one-of-a-kind virtual shopping experiences that mimic walking in the store. That is where partnering with influencers to host digital store experiences could be quite powerful.”

TikTok, one of the pandemic’s success stories with 315 million app downloads this quarter, has also observed this shift. The platform has recently launched an ad format for influencers, enabling its more prominent users to include “shop now” links in their videos. For brands to capitalize on this feature, though, they will need to partner with that select group.

Feature Image Credit: Shutterstock

By Madeleine Streets

Sourced from FN

By Lee Odden.

We talk a lot here on Online Marketing Blog about influencer marketing and one of the benefits of incorporating the voices of influencers in brand content is not often covered: customer experience.

What’s the connection between CX and influence? A big part of customer experience is trust and many customers simply do not trust brands or advertising.

That’s where adding credible 3rd party voices to brand content comes into play. Brands that want to deliver the most relevant, engaging and actionable experience for their customers will often incorporate external experts that already have the attention of the audience that brands want to reach.

Partnering with relevant influencers to co-create content can open doors for brands trying to engage hard to reach and increasingly skeptical audiences. Those content collaborations can also help deliver an experience that is more credible and trusted than brand content alone.

Of course, simply including influencer quotes in brand content is not enough. In order to optimize brand content to be more trusted, influencer contributions must be genuine, authentic, and ultimately impactful.

The starting point for influencer collaboration success begins with brands identifying specific topics of influence. Those topics need to be aligned with what customers care about so that when the brand identifies and engages with influencers on those topics, they are authentic to customer interests. Influencers that understand firsthand what buyer goals, pain and interests are in the context of solutions the brand offers can be critical for content collaboration that is genuine and impactful.

Another part of influencer and brand authenticity is disclosure. If the influencer has been compensated in any way, they need to disclose the relationship as sponsored or as an advertisement. If the content is relevant and engaging, the disclosure will not be a distraction.

Boosting the credibility of B2B content with influence can be complemented with making sure that content is findable. That is where the intersection of SEO and influence come into play.

Search engines like Google have realized long ago that delivering the best search experience correlates with successful advertising engagement. That means the left side organic results and ads alike need to be the best answer for customers.

For brands, delivering a great user experience in search means understanding searcher intent and providing content that meets those expectations at the very moment of need. Modern SEO best practices do exactly that: provide highly specific, useful information that is relevant to the purpose of the customer in solving their problem or meeting their need.

For optimal SEO performance, those best answer content experiences should be delivered with relevant, fast loading pages that are mobile friendly and deemed credible by other websites that link to them. Even better, is when that content is optimized for trust with relevant 3rd party experts.

Effective Content Marketing is about delivering useful information where, when and in the formats that are most meaningful to buyers. Optimizing content for effective discovery, consumption and action according to buyer preferences relies on insights for each of those outcomes. How buyers discover solution content, their preferences for content format, device and topic and the triggers that will motivate action are all insights that can lead to corresponding metrics such as Attract, Engage, and Convert.

For example:
Attract: Organic visibility of target topic content with a high click through rate from Google search results to brand content
Engage: On-topic content consumption, interaction, engagement and low bounce or abandon rates
Convert: Visits that result in relevant action: Subscriptions, downloads, trials, demos, inquiries, sales, referrals

While the marketing world is focused on the many obvious approaches to improving customer experience, those that understand the value of content that is optimized for findability and credibility will realize even greater benefits.

By Lee Odden

Sourced from TopRank Marketing

By Lucas Miller.

More than a few companies have been burned by the wrong approach. Make sure yours isn’t one of them.

Influencer marketing is becoming a fundamental part of many e-commerce brands. In fact, in a recent survey, 92 percent of marketing agencies confirmed its effectiveness. So if nearly everyone agrees it’s important, what do e-commerce brands need to know about this hot topic so they can best take advantage?

1. Influencer marketing reaches further.

Traditional marketing channels have brought success to many companies for decades, but as times change, those channels do not reach as far as they use to. Influencer marketing is able to connect to customers on a deeper level than traditional marketing was ever able to. Even better, it’s capable of accomplishing this on a limited budget.

Customers are unlikely to pay attention to advertising that they believe to be inauthentic. They are much more likely to trust a real person over a brand. This trust is important to build, because many customers will leave a brand they believe is disingenuous.

The price tag for an influencer partnership can vary, but there are options for any budget. In the past, a company could spend millions of dollars to create an advertising campaign that connects with customers. Unless your influencer is a high-profile celebrity, you will not need that kind of cash. If you’re trying to keep costs down, there are many low-profile influencers that can be hired for a fraction of the cost of an ad campaign while still effectively bringing in customers. The ROI for influencer marketing is significantly higher than traditional marketing.

2. Influencers must be relevant.

When finding an influencer to partner with, you must find one with relevance in your industry. It doesn’t matter if a potential influencer has a million followers if their audience is not connected your products. Find someone that resonates with people who will also resonate with your brand.

One individual who certainly understands the principle of finding relevant influencers is Josh Elizetxe, founder and CEO of Snow. Elizetxe is an entrepreneur and internet advertising veteran, and during a recent email conversation about influencer marketing, he told me, “Finding the right partnership lets small companies take on big companies. It allows tiny startups to become lucrative, long-term businesses. It’s all about using the internet to your advantage.”

3. Micro-influencers reach targeted audiences.

The best strategy for using micro-influencers is to segment your customers and choose which segment you want to target, increasing the efficiency of your marketing efforts. Dunkin’ Donuts used the micro-influencer partnership strategy this past year. They also used nano-influencers, which are people with even smaller followings but high influence among that following. Dunkin’ was able to generate $300 million in coffee sales alone with this strategy by  capturing the attention of younger audiences and appearing more relatable to highly targeted groups.

4. Authenticity is key.

In influencer marketing, authenticity is the number-one priority. It’s important to find influencers that truly believe in your product. Customers can see through an influencer who’s promoting a product for a paycheck. This kind of promotion won’t drive sales, and it may even give your brand a bad name.

In 2016, Bootea, a weight loss-shake brand, partnered with Scott Disick, a reality star with a large Instagram following. Unfortunately, Disick copied and pasted the instructions from the brand into his post, and his followers immediately knew the promotion was sponsored. It’s important to find an influencer who will not only appear authentic, but also be authentic.

5. Platform choice is strategic.

There are many platform options for influencer marketing, but it’s imperative to choose one that’s right for your industry and your product. You must understand what platforms your target audience is using and which people on that platform they trust.

Most brands think of Instagram when talking about influencer marketing, but any platform where you can build a large following can be a good choice. Many influencers have gained large followings through YouTube, blogging, Pinterest and, more recently, TikTok.

The most popular platforms are not your only option, though. In fact, sometimes you can reach customers more effectively through less-popular outlets with less competition.

6. Quality matters.

Younger companies, especially new e-commerce brands with small budgets, are frequently tempted into partnering with the least-expensive influencer. Be cautious when doing this, however, because the quality of an influencer’s following matters. Newer influencers sometimes are not as influential as they seem.

Impostors are one of the biggest issues businesses have encountered when looking for low-cost influencers. It’s common for aspiring influencers to buy followers, which makes them appear to have a high level of influence when they don’t. To avoid this problem, read through potential influencers’s content. If engagement levels are lower than expected, some of the followers may be fake or simply unengaged. And in e-commerce, credibility and active engagement are, quite simply, everything.

Feature Image credit: supersizer | Getty Images 

By Lucas Miller

Founder of Echelon Copy LLC

Sourced from Entrepreneur Europe

By Kristina Monllos.

Influencer fraud continues to be a problem for marketers, particularly on Instagram, per a new report.

Despite the company’s efforts to rein in influencer engagement fraud, a report from influencer marketing measurement firm Instascreener has found that fake engagement on Instagram is on the rise again.

According to Instascreener’s data, initially in May after Instagram removed the likes and comments of users from third-party apps, fake influencer engagement rates declined from 1.7% to 1% on certain accounts with the least authentic audiences. But from September to December 2019, the fake engagement rate for those accounts increased from 1% to nearly 1.2% because some influencers who report fake engagement rates were able to figure out workarounds to circumvent Instagram’s methods.

According to agency executives and brand marketers, the problem results from the fact that engagement has been prioritized as the a top metric of success for influencer marketing. Some media buyers and brand marketers say, however, the engagement rate should be considered as only one of many metrics. They said they need to do deeper research to figure out if their influencer marketing practices are working. And marketers said they need to ask influencers to share more of their data directly with advertisers and agencies.

“You can’t necessarily count on Instagram to solve this fake follower program,” said Sean Spielberg, co-founder of Instascreener. “Fake followers and fake engagement is kind of like an arms race. When Instagram creates a new fancy algorithm to detect fraud, someone immediately begins working on ways to get around it,” he added. “Then fraud creeps up again. It won’t ever go to zero if brands and agencies wait for Instagram to solve the problem.”

Instagram did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Media buyers told Digiday they are not instructing their clients to pull back from using the platform or influencer marketing. That’s reflected in Instascreener’s report: In 2019 companies spent $1.9 billion on influencer marketing in the U.S. and Canada, with $1.4 billion of that going to influencer marketing on Instagram. Yet, as much as $255 million of the $1.4 billion spent on Instagram was lavished on accounts with fake followers, per Instascreener.

“Engagement fraud is definitely a concern amongst brands and agencies alike,” said a media buyer at a digital agency who requested anonymity. “That said, we have not recommended — nor do we typically see — brands shying away from influencer tactics solely because of engagement fraud concerns.”

Instead of shying away from influencer marketing, media buyers and brand marketers are deeming engagement just one factor in their decision to select influencers to work with rather than the sole reason. “We still use engagement rate as a metric of success,” said a marketer at a major consumer packaged goods company that uses influencers.

“All of us marketers are trying to figure out what is the right metric in the space,” she continued. “We look at likes and comments diagnostically, but we have much more advanced measurements that are closer linked to sales that we leverage as well.” This marketer declined to share which advanced measurements her company relies on to measure the success of influencer marketing.

“Engagement is still an important metric because we want to make sure that our influencer partners are driving conversations with their followers about our brands,” wrote Kristin Maverick, 360i’s vp of social and influencer marketing at 360i, in an email. “We dig into comments to see if the brand is resonating with an influencer’s audience and driving consideration and conversion.”

She added, “But, we also look at other metrics to tell the full story. We use a mix of tools such as tracking sales data from DCM tracking on our clients’ e-commerce sites, discount codes and paid social results.”

Vickie Segar, founder of influencer marketing shop Village Marketing, said the engagement rate is the wrong measurement for marketers to use in measuring  influencer marketing effectiveness. Instead, Segar said marketers should ask influencers to share story views and sticker taps. Segar’s clients also use affiliate codes, enablingmarketers to attribute sales data to influencer marketing.

“Influencer marketing is an industry where people are so confused by the scale,” Segar said. “It’s really hard to look at an influencer and understand what they are doing [for a client]. Marketers need to ask the right questions to fight fraud. Ask for screen grabs of past stories and [length of] story view averages. Ask for one from last week and a month ago.”

Other media buyers said that agencies and advertisers need to adjust how they think about influencer marketing altogether. Instead of using influencers’ on Instagram to realize a direct sale at a particular moment, companies should keep a more “long-term focus” and use influencers’ activity to understand more about their brands and what their consumers want, said Lauren Dubinsky, director of social media for The Variable. That’s something the Clorox Company might be trying to achieve right now as it develops an influencer advisory council.

Shifting their focus to analyze longer-term metrics could be critical for marketers. “In the world of influencer marketing, brand and creator relationships are still key,” said the media buyer. “If a brand can find an advocate who they know has a qualified, passionate audience, engaging in long-term relationships with that creator can lead to better content and confidence in knowing their dollars are not being wasted.”

By Kristina Monllos

Sourced from DIGIDAY