The following is a contributed article by Traackr Chief Marketing Officer Kirk Crenshaw.
Traditional means of marketing that just broadcast to consumers have become ineffective and even self-sabotaging, according to Accenture. The majority of U.S. consumers agreed that “most of advertising is way too annoying,” with many using means such as Adblock to circumvent the marketing efforts of countless enterprises across the world. CMOs and their teams are grappling with a new reality often described as the digital transformation, which has disrupted how organizations reach customers. At its heart, this transformation is about a shift in the way a brand creates connections and interacts with customers who demand more relevant, thoughtful and real experiences from businesses.
How do marketers reach consumers and build trust in an increasingly ad-free world? Driving enterprise growth and digital transformation means shunning tactics of old and opting for something more effective and authentic for digitally savvy consumers: influencer relationship marketing (IRM). By identifying, engaging and activating the people who influence your customers, you can connect with customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
How can IRM provide this big of an impact on businesses?
Influencer marketing is a core component of the new emerging sales and marketing best practice that emphasizes relationships, focus and intelligence over blind spending and spray and pray tactics, and is the “magic bullet” for using marketing to cost-effectively drive top line growth. We’ll block an ad, but we’ll happily subscribe to all the content from our favorite influencers. Company representatives have an agenda, but an influencer is a passionate, honest expert.
The influencers whom companies seek achieved their positions as influential because of their ability to transmit content and their expertise to an engaged community. Influencers have a personal connection with their audience that can give them significant sway over some of their purchasing decisions. The human relationship built between influencers and their audiences creates trust that makes brand recommendations feel more genuine and individualized—because they usually are.
Think about how much more sway an anonymous Amazon review has over a highway billboard or website banner on your purchasing decisions. Now think of how much more impact a close friend’s recommendation has over that. Influencer marketing comes with a layer of trust rarely seen in any other form of marketing because it can create a discussion.
Enhanced collaboration and compliance
As smart brands look to grow their influencer programs, technology will have a major role to play to help organizations optimize their processes, stimulate collaboration across geographies and departments, allocate resources, measure results and, above all, maximize the impact of their efforts.
It can also assist in creating one central point of governance for coordination and collaboration around influencer programs, especially with the GDPR deadline looming. Are your programs compliant with legislation, both globally and locally? Does your influencer marketing efficiently integrate with your systems and processes? Do your influencer programs have true multi-market cultural appeal to resonate with the right target market? Do you have one consistent voice across all programs, departments, product lines, and brands?
You can expect an IRM platform to enable efficiency and increased productivity; data-driven decision making; increased impact through prioritization on the most relevant content and people; cross functional and multi-user collaboration; support global influencer initiatives; and provide consistent measurement frameworks.
It’s this very point—IRM’s ability to divine and drive additional value creation and multiple operational efficiencies in big business—that is attracting a wave of hot new investment interest. Just recently IRM software company, Traackr, received $9 million in Series B funding from Workhorse Capital and You and Mr Jones, and the investment will specifically underpin further development of its IRM platform, which supports major Fortune 500 enterprise businesses across the world.
Technology reduces the time it takes to identify, classify and manage influencers, as well as, manage ongoing discovery to surface new influencers based on keywords and network connections. An IRM tool empowers brands to do away with disparate spreadsheets or systems containing personal data of influencers across multiple divisions of their business with varying security standards and little transparency. IRM platforms offer the benefits of one transparent system-of-record: a user-friendly, central repository for that influencer data.
The full embedding of IRM in a business goes far beyond simply implementing a new system; it demands a fundamental shift in how the company thinks about and addresses its end markets, thus facilitating the shaking up of the status quo for companies stuck in low growth mode. To implement IRM successfully and drive positive change in customer perception, a complete alignment between product, message, and potential advocates is an absolute necessity.
A lack of product quality or misleading messaging can lead to ruthless takedowns by the influencer community, as their credibility is at stake with every recommendation. If said alignment has not yet been achieved in your ongoing transformation, influencers will reveal where it’s lacking. Many brands may not be ready for this level of transparency or honesty, but it’s absolutely critical in building a brand that customers love and trust.
Amisha Gandhi from SAP explains, “You don’t want influencers to promote your brand or product. You want to create engagement, and those engagements will draw out meaningful topics and conversations that your audience will react to, engage with and follow. This creates authentic brand affinity with your influencer and their audience.”
IRM can also be integrated into all core parts of the business infrastructure – to source and vet influencers for each line of business. Enabling different teams to manage relationships and collaborate on influencer marketing initiatives provide all functions a view into the customer perspective.
IRM and its adoption into the fabric of a company can be transformative. B2C and B2B companies are using IRM not just as a more effective marketing and corporate communications platform, but also as a fundamental operating principle within their businesses. IRM is one of the most capital-efficient strategies a business can deploy to win the hearts and minds throughout the customer journey.