Companies benefit greatly when they're able to find influencers in their target market, build relationships with them and later cultivate them into passionate brand advocates - a process called "influence marketing." Companies seem to be catching on, too. A recent survey by Sensei Marketing reported that 74% of companies plan to deploy influence marketing strategies (as part of their marketing mix) in the next 12 months. If you don't already have resources dedicated to this area of marketing, here are the top 10 reasons you may want to reconsider.
Influencers, once identified and cultivated into brand advocates, can be:
- More credible spokespeople for your company than employees. Invite them to serve as references for your analysts, to be interviewed by the Press and to speak at industry-related events on your behalf.
- Engaged in crowdsourcing to generate new content and ideas for your company.
- Involved in product feedback processes (like beta testing, user testing, surveys and executive conference calls). Activities like these will make your products or services more customer-centric, cut down on the number of product-related calls to customer service and decrease the amount of negative product feedback shared via social media.
- Instrumental in virally spreading the word about your company online. According to Social Media Today, brand advocates are 2x as likely to express their opinions via social media as non-advocates are.
- Documented in CRM systems to give sales teams better insights into your most powerful customers.
- Vehicles for offline "word of mouth" recommendations of your products or services. According to McKinsey, "word of mouth" recommendations drive 20-50% of all purchasing decisions.
- A powerful army for spreading awareness about your products or services exponentially. A study by Zuberance (via Forrester Peer Influence Analysis) found that the average brand advocate typically tells 150 people about a product or service they love and writes an average of four online reviews. That means an army of just 1,000 brand advocates can reach up to 600,000 people!
- Great help for generating online product reviews. Studies show approximately 1/3 of your brand advocates will write a product or service review for you when asked directly. These brand advocates are also likely to come to your defense if others write negative reviews.
- Boosts to your search engine optimization (SEO) scores when they blog, tweet, or post about your company, product or service using the right keywords and/or links back to your company's online assets.
- At the ready when you have big announcements and product/service launches to promote. Take your viral opportunities to the next level by providing these brand advocates with social media kits that contain trackable links, keyword-optimized content, relevant hashtag(s) and multi-media content associated with your announcement or launch.
Brand advocates feel empowered when they're recognized for their advocacy and loyalty - stronger long-term bonds with your customers will develop. Lastly, make sure you're also thinking about ways to make influence marketing a "win" the advocates you've cultivated - We'll cover this in more detail in a future post!
How do you feel about influence marketing? Any other benefits to companies we may have missed or thoughts to consider for our future blog post on how brand advocates benefit?