Influencer Marketing: 5 Questions With Traackr’s Kirk Crenshaw


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The business of influencer marketing is growing up. While it got its start as little more than paid endorsements for a new millennium, with celebrities swapping cash for posts hocking a product or brand, it’s evolved into a more scientific approach to building relationships between brands and the people their target audiences listen to.

Influencer marketing platform Traackr is advancing marketers’ ability to connect with influencers via their Audience Insights technology, which enables them to not only measure the activity of the influencers they engage with, but also provides key insights into the people on their networks.

Partnering with Demographics Pro, they can provide demographic and psychographic insights around an influencer’s audience that enables brands to prioritize influencers whose audiences align with their ideal customers. Using data science and analytics paired with demographic info, influencer marketing is delivering a far higher level of optimization than simple pay-to-play endorsements.

To tell us more about what’s new in influencer marketing, we spoke with Traackr CMO Kirk Crenshaw for the latest in social platforms, technology and strategy for working with influencers.

Traackr-CMO-Kirk-Crenshaw-500Kirk, what problems are you solving for brands?

Our core mission is to empower organizations to break through the noise. Looking at things like Netflix and ad blockers, people are now actively trying to avoid ads. Our mission is to help brands break through and build trust and a brand customers love.

The way we’re doing that is by building influencer relationship management technology that enables both B2C and B2B brands to effectively manage, measure and scale their influencer strategies. This gives CMOs and their teams the ability to align influencers along the customer journey and impact buying decisions at every moment of truth.

We have a number of major brands who use our product, companies like L’Oréal, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Intel, SAP, Merck, Roche, Capital One and more. We’re providing a structured environment that replaces manual processes and keeps track of interactions, providing visibility and measurement.

Why does influencer marketing still matter, and how’s it working for B2B brands?

When it comes to reaching audiences, the older “shotgun method” of broadcast advertising is in the past. To reach these targets, brands have turned to influencer marketing, and they see it as a way to reach these targets through a trusted sources. They’re seeing a lot more buyers turning to these experts to shape their decisions, whether it’s software or makeup. For brands now, it’s becoming more and more important to have those relationships with influencers, no matter what you do.

The early adopters of this tend to be B2C companies, but we see B2B companies accelerating quickly. We’ve been surprised at times by the kinds of companies approaching us with influencer strategies, but we’ve seen it be an effective strategy from both an ROI and cost perspective.

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How do you make sure that you’re targeting the right people with the right reputation and clout within a particular sector?

There are some core pieces to the methodology. First of all, we start with reach: How many people do they “hit” with every message? Do they have 10,000 followers or 100,000? The second is relevance. When I’m looking for an influencer, do they talk about what’s important, and do we have a shared set of values?

At the end of the day, one of the biggest things is resonance. Do the things they say get any actual activity? An influencer with 10,000 followers who gets people talking and interacting is always more valuable than an influencer with one million followers who doesn’t elicit any reaction.

We just released a new feature in our product called Audience Insights. We partner with a company called Demographics Pro, and this gives you deeper insight into an influencer’s audience’s demographic and psychographic data, their interests, who they follow, their brand affinity.

You can do a high-level search based on topics, to exactly who’s listening and responding to them, whether it’s a male audience who likes cooking and cars and has an affinity for your brand or for your competitor’s. As a marketer, it gives you a better idea of how tightly aligned you are, and how tightly they’re aligned with the audience you want to get to.

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Any examples of brands that get it?

We actually just did a presentation at the Festival of Marketing on Nissan, and how they’re taking influencer marketing and the relationship to the customer journey from those that are deciding that they want to buy a car, to the point that they’re making up their mind to buy a Nissan.

This case has a couple of the core characteristics we preach at Traackr. They’re taking a long-term view, it’s a longer-term relationship with the influencer and they continue to collaborate with them over time. They’ve integrated the influencer experience with the customer journey. They do programs to move customers along every decision point they’ve discovered, from a test drive event to working with influencers on YouTube. And finally, it’s an integrated strategy that’s embedded in the organization. It’s not just something the PR or events group does. The company has taken it on as a core strategy for driving new business.

For so long influencers were seen as just a paid endorsement, without any real relationship—it feels totally unnatural. But Nissan has done it in a way that is very natural, and they’ve seen a connection between their brand and the influencers they work with.

We’re starting to see other brands do this as well. Intel is doing the same thing with developers, SAP has been doing a lot of work with events around their influencers, Microsoft is going deep with developer communities and including it their education group. The influencer programs that tend to be super successful tend to have those kind of core characteristics.

What platforms are you seeing attract the greatest presence for influencers and their followers?

It’s totally dependent on the company and the product they sell. We monitor across a number of platforms, from just blogging to YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or even GitHub or StackOverflow if you’re a developer. It depends on your focus. A B2B software company would be super-interested in GitHub, but maybe not as interested in Twitter and Facebook, and a beauty brand would see a lot of activity around Instagram and YouTube.

Instagram seems to be growing quickly in terms of the interaction and visibility. I’ve even noticed in my personal day-to-day, Instagram is just really taking off. But it’s totally dependent on who you are, who you’re selling to and what’s important to you.

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