The most important goal of any business is to sell. Every marketing effort is based on the hopes of increasing revenue. Without sales, it’s easy for a business to fade into irrelevance.
And in order to drive sales, you need to strengthen your relationship with your customers. After all, they are your lifeblood. Customers will be the ones to show interest in your products or services, do the research, and decide whether to buy or not.
Most of the time, customers are drawn to brands with messages that resonate with them. This is where the idea of influencer marketing comes in.
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For many, influencer marketing goes hand in hand with customer relationships. In order to understand the connection, it is important to dig deeper into how relationship building can be accomplished with the help of influencers.
Customer Relationships are Everything
For many businesses, developing and creating products is not the only yardstick of success. In fact, reaching out to your target customers and making a sale have more of an impact on the direction your business is heading.
The digital age has given consumers the means to communicate what they want and need. They have become more discerning when it comes to marketing noise. More often than not, they choose to listen to messages that resonate with them and help them find solutions, and they skip the ones they don’t care about. It is all too easy for them now to give instant feedback as well. One bad review can hurt your company for a long, long time.
That is why the drive is now focused on building customer relationships. One wrong has the power to make or break your reputation.
You want to give your customers the best experience in order to earn their trust and loyalty. As they say, it is more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
Loyal customers will not easily leave your side when the going gets tough. When you need to increase prices due to inflation, loyal customers will understand and continue to do business with you. Sometimes, they will even act as brand ambassadors, promoting your products or services to their friends and relatives without getting paid for it.
However, if you fail to take care of your customers, you will have a hard time convincing them to stay. At the first sign of trouble, they will leave and look for a more viable alternative.
They might even publish bad reviews about your products, leaving your brand reputation in tatters. When this happens, you will find it difficult to attract new leads, much less convert them into paying customers.
If you build stronger customer relationships, you can increase the lifetime value of your existing clients, leading to repeat purchases and higher revenues.
The Importance of Influencer Marketing
The word-of-mouth marketing method has been around since the very beginning of commerce. In the 20th century, this form of marketing became more developed and sophisticated, and it eventually gave birth to advertising.
Through advertising, some of the biggest brands in the world were built. Traditional advertising generally revolves around powerhouse celebrities who are acclaimed in their field. These celebrities can be singers, actors, athletes and beyond. Their influence was so great that companies would shell out millions of dollars just to get their endorsements.
However, the turn of the century gave way to technological advances far beyond our expectations. Computers, mobile devices, and the internet lay supreme. As a result, people from all walks of life have come to embrace the digital world.
Businesses have worked to establish a powerful online presence. Unlike in the old days, even small companies and startups can now compete with their bigger and richer counterparts.
As a matter of fact, it is relatively cheap and simple to build a brand online – even more so if you consider how consumers have become so discerning with the information they consume and the recommendations they trust. They like to hear from relatable and genuine individuals as opposed to conventional celebrities.
Content creators or influencers are individuals who managed to build a massive and loyal online following from the content they’ve created on one particular or several platforms, whether that is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. Their online content has the power to persuade customers to try a particular product or service.
In fact, 49% of customers prefer to hear recommendations from influencers before making a purchase. The influencer impact is so great that more and more companies are making it their goal to integrate this type of marketing campaign into their digital strategy.
Customer Relationships and Influencer Marketing
Strengthening your relationships with your customers is not something that can magically happen overnight. It is a long-term and consistent strategy that you need to work on every day. The same is true for influencer marketing.
Unlike trends and fads that can disappear after a week, an influencer marketing strategy must be given ample time, energy, and effort before you see results. Incorporating this marketing tactic into your strategy will not only benefit your business through sales and revenue but it will also help build and develop your customer relationships.
Both take time and require consistency.
An influencer marketing campaign is a strategy built on authenticity and credibility – making good customer relationships easier to achieve.
By combining the power of influencer marketing and relationship building, you will be able to achieve multiple things at once. Some of the benefits you will reap include increased trust, loyalty, and higher engagement, all of which can play a huge role in boosting your revenue and achieving your business goals in the long-run.
Influencer marketing has the power to:
1. Expand Reach and Boost Customer Engagement
It is true. There is an oversaturation of marketing messages across all online platforms. That is why more and more customers actively choose to ignore the noise and prefer to hear opinions and recommendations from someone they trust. The latter happens to be influencers.
Influencers make it easier for you to reach out to your target audience and get your message across. They have already established their following, setting themselves up as an authority figure in their field. If they belong to the same niche as your brand, chances are, your potential customers are among their thousands of followers.
Working with influencers means that you have access to their massive audience who are more likely to have an interest in your brand and in what you have to offer. When you run promotional campaigns with your influencer of choice, your audience is bound to expand. Their followers will see your brand and will not disregard it right away because it is being promoted by influencers whose opinions they trust.
But there is more to influencer-driven campaigns than just boosting your social traffic and increasing your follower count. You must also take the opportunity to create conversations around your brand and engage with potential customers.
Something as simple as answering their questions or acknowledging their comments can position your brand as accommodating and trustworthy. They will see the human behind the brand and it will be so much easier for them to give you their trust.
Influencers are really good at this. They often interact with their followers, give out recommendations, and exchange ideas. There are plenty of opportunities for you to take advantage of these skills. You can collaborate with influencers and host giveaways and contests, piquing your customers’ interest and putting your brand out there.
Working with them can strengthen your connection to your customers, opening a door of more intimate communication.
2. Gain Deeper Insight into Customer Needs and Wants
Since you have attracted a wider audience and engaged with them, you now have a better chance to get to know what they think and feel. Influencers are known to form a close relationship with their followers, allowing them to conclude the kind of content they prefer.
You can work with your chosen influencers to launch a campaign to get to know them better. It can be a poll that will make them choose between two products in different colors. This way, you can be sure which will suit their taste best before actually launching the whole product line.
The more your audience engages with your social posts, the more insight you will have regarding their preferences and inclinations. This will give way to a wealth of information at your disposal, including the ability to determine what they want and need.
Customer insight will help you understand their motivations and predict their behavior. With all of this knowledge, you can formulate marketing messages that will resonate with consumers and more effectively lead them down the sales funnel.
This also allows for more efficient nurturing, which can, in turn, forge a strong relationship between you and your customers.
3. Provide a More-Personalized Customer Experience
Another good way to strengthen your connection with customers is to provide a more-personalized customer experience. Most online users have short attention spans so they will be less likely to read a blog or post that has not tapped their interests.
By working with influencers, you will be able to develop a sound content strategy that takes your customers’ wants and needs into consideration. Influencers know what type of content will work best for their followers, so every post is personalized.
They can answer questions and address issues that most customers are complaining about. They can also demonstrate the best way to use your products – a practice that is very common in the beauty and cosmetics industries.
4. Cultivate Customer Trust and Brand Loyalty
Having thousands of followers does not always translate to more sales. The process can be painstakingly long as you try to guide them through every stage of the sales funnel. After establishing your brand and creating awareness, you will have to engage with them and try to convert them into paying customers.
However, generating leads and converting leads are two different processes. The latter requires trust from customers. Most customers tend to be skeptical until they are sure about your brand, what you stand for, and what you can offer them.
That is why most of them turn to influencers for recommendations and opinions. Influencers are people who understand their challenges.
If you and your chosen influencers work together towards a common goal, you need to consider nurturing your audience along the way. Addressing their concerns with the first-hand insights of influencers can earn you their trust and, eventually, their loyalty.
Loyal customers are valuable to any business. They provide free lip-service to their close friends and family members, promoting your brand, expanding your audience reach, and helping you solidify your brand’s reputation.
With trust and loyalty from your customers, you will be sure to build a stronger and more lasting relationship with them.
5. Nurture Customers and Improve Retention Rate
Customers who trust your brand will more likely stay with you through thick and thin. But this kind of trust can only be earned if you know how to nurture your customers.
Influencers can be the human face behind your brand. They are already trusted by their follower base so their word is easily heard and accepted.
With their help, you can reach out to your customers and find out what they need. You can work with influencers to provide them with the best possible experience. Even something as simple as a follow-up on a customer concern can go a long way in earning their loyalty. Your chosen influencer can take over your social media accounts and answer questions from your followers. They can also conduct a survey from their followers.
Customers care about little gestures like these. It lets them know that they are cared for, that you as a brand consider their preferences and strive to improve. It also increases your customer retention rate, a good indication of a good business-and-customer relationship.
Platforms and Tools to Find Influencers
Instead of manually searching for influencers, use the following tools to find top influencers for your campaigns. The following tools help you find, evaluate, and reach out to top bloggers, publishers, and social media influencers.
Here are the top free Influencer Marketing platforms and tools to find Influencers:
- Upfluence is a full-scale influencer platform, offering a well-rounded set of features. A pivotal part of influence, however, is its influencer search and discovery engine.
- Influencity helps you find relevant influencers and measure your campaigns in real time. Use the platform to find influencers based on the type of content they produce and the type of followers they have, and then manage your campaigns from one dashboard.
- Buzzsumo is very much a freemium product. You can use it for free, but the limited results shown by the free account quickly leaves you wishing you had a paid version.
- GroupHigh says it is “the World’s Largest Blogger Database”. It has information on over 50 million websites. Use the platform to find influencers and also manage your influencer relationships and guest blogging outreach.
- HypeAuditor You can use HypeAuditor to determine the top Instagram influencers ranking by the number of quality and engaged followers.
- Discover.ly is a Chrome plugin that helps you with your networking. You can use it to see your email recipients, LinkedIn and Facebook connections’ social accounts and updates in a sidebar.
- Tweetdeck is Twitter’s free social media dashboard to help you manage all your tweets. You can set it to display any of your Twitter timeline items, mentions, direct messages, lists, trends, favorites, search results, or hashtags. You can control up to 200 Twitter accounts via the Tweetdeck dashboard.
- BuzzStream is a tool that helps you “Build relationships. Build Buzz.” offers a browser extension that lets you research regular websites you find while browsing the web. BuzzStream also lets you use keywords to find influencers related to you and your niche.
- Alltop If you are looking for influential blogs, a Google search can be something of a hit or miss affair. It records all different types of websites in its results, and blogs are mixed in with everything else, from sales pages to forums. Alltop can help you here as it simply aggregates blog posts.
- Crowdfire is a freemium program. You can work with two social media accounts for free but you have to pay for more accounts. You can use it to target followers on Twitter and Instagram, although it’s Instagram capabilities were reduced this year (2017), due to changes in the Instagram API.
- Full Contact is not targeted at influencer marketing but it has features that will help you keep track of your influencers. It is technically a contact management solution. You are likely to build up a mix of possible influencers across blogs, podcasts, YouTube and social media. You may even know some of them in person. Full Contact helps you keep track of your influencers’ details.
- SEOquake is a free browser add-on you can use for quite a few SEO purposes. It includes the SEObar which you can use whenever you go to a website of a potential influencer.
- SimilarWeb can be particularly useful if you are trying to find out the demographics that relate particular bloggers. SimilarWeb provides extensive website, industry and app analysis.
- Keyhole Use it to follow topics relevant to your niche as well as find brands regularly covering your industry. Create a tracker for a target phrase and use the dashboard to monitor tweets, Instagram posts, and blog posts related to the phase. Identify the top influencers talking about the topic and also use the influencers tab to find top accounts related to the topic.
- Followerwonk Use it to find influencers on Twitter and then research their audience to decide if they are right for your campaigns. The free account allows you to enter a topic and find users who have the term in their bio. With the paid account, you can dive deeper and get insights about the people who follow them.
- Cision media database has information on 300,000 influencers, media outlets, and publishers. An account with Cision allows you to access the database and perform distribution tasks, monitor the reach of your campaigns, and use analytics to assign a value to your earned media and exposure.
- TapInfluence Marketplace connects content creators with marketers who want to leverage their reach. Use the platform to browse profiles of over 50,000 influencers, and search through unique profile categories to find the right person or brand for your influencing campaign.
- Pitchbox is an influencer outreach and research tool marketed towards SEO teams. While anyone can use it, that’s a good reminder that this one is best for blog outreach, rather than anything to do with social media.
- Dovetale brands itself as “Real-time analytics to grow your brand”. While not all of those analytics are focused on influencer research, Dovetale offers two neat ways to find influencers related to your brand.
The changing landscape of digital marketing calls for innovative ideas that can push your business forward.
In the present, forging a closer customer relationship with the help of influencer marketing is a sound tactic that you can no longer ignore. Combining these two concepts gives you a winning strategy.
By building your relationship with customers over time with the aid of influencers, you are ensured of a future where trust and loyalty reign. Customer retention follows. You will realize that customers are not, after all, a one-time deal that you can simply discard after closing a sale.
You strive not only to create awareness around your brand but also to engage your potential and existing customers in a way that fosters their trust and loyalty.
That is the magic formula if you want to build a long and lasting relationship with your customers.