Influence is something that’s currently being underutilised by many marketers.
In this post I’ll outline how we can utilise influencer marketing correctly to build our personal or brand’s online presence in the right way.
Introduction to leveraging influence
Currently influencer marketing is a very simple process, we use tools like buzzstream, buzzsumo and even just Google to find potential influencers in our markets. We then reach out to them and ask them to feature our brand’s product or service. They usually come back with a price, we say yes or no and the post/link/video is live.
That’s the very basic sequence of how influencer marketing is currently done. The issue is we aren’t building relationships and we aren’t considering secondary benefits and potentially leaving a lot of money on the table!
Start with you
Before starting any brand presence campaign you need to start with your profile. Building a strong online presence starts with you and your brand (as you probably already know). It’s useless growing traffic and revenue if you are throwing away most of this with poor conversions, low converting funnels and just an overall lack of refinement on your site/product itself.
We see this all the time, eCommerce stores come to us looking to get their products onto Amazon. But what they don’t know is that their products either aren't very appealing, too generic or aren’t positioned correctly. All this means is that it's going to cost a lot of money to be successful through Amazon and you’ll likely never get the full passive benefit of an Amazon business that most are looking for. There's 2 great books on this topic in general. One is called Blue Ocean Strategy, the other is called Positioning.
Before getting started on Amazon, or marketing in general, start by what happens when a lead or visitor comes to your site / product page. Whatever the goal is, ensure every specific method is in place to get them to complete this action. Once you’ve sorted your primary goal for a visitor on your site you can move onto traffic generation and marketing.
The quickest way to double revenue for an entire website is to improve its conversions and not drive double the traffic. Simple conversion techniques can be all it takes to double or even triple revenue.
I like to relate every potential customer back to one core offering. “We do X-Y-Z service” or “We sell X-Y-Z product” and not over complicate things by asking them what they want or need. Chances are if they are on your website then they already they want this, so just give it to them.
Be the best in a specific field
One of the biggest mistakes in my industry (digital marketing) is that people try to do everything. If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you probably have made this mistake as well - trying to solve everyone’s problem all of the time. Trying to do everything leads to you ending up doing nothing effectively. Become the very best in one very specific area of your industry and become the go-to guy for this. For our business we are looking to be the go-to guy for Amazon optimisation and improving organic rankings. How you actually provide your core offering is of course down to your business’s systems and processes.
Every new lead should go through the exact same sales process and should convert the same way. Of course they will have different objections but these should be addressed in the sales copy of the content as to automate your sales process as much as possible. If this is in relation to a product business, then your product should solve an EXACT need for a specific customer. If someone types a keyword into Google or Amazon they are looking for a solution to that query. Solve the query and you will make the sale.
I couldn’t write a post about building an online presence without a note on social. But it’s not going to be your generic “be super active on social media” – instead I recommend the following. Choose one medium and be all in on that. Whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, even email. Go all in on this and become the go-to guy for that medium! I’m not going to dwell on social as I want to get onto influence and talk about how you can leverage this.
Influencer marketing – there’s a better way
At the start of the post I talked about how influencer marketing is done at the moment, how most people in the industry simply look for the biggest following in a very specific broad medium and through 1 or 2 verticals (usually Instagram and YouTube) and then simply reach out to them essentially saying “we will pay you to feature our product.”
I don’t love this approach for a few reasons. The first is because they can play the “I’m not for sale card” – Which is fine….The second is because they can play the “I’m worth XYZ” – Which again is their decision. The third is we are coming from a place of weakness and just opening stating what we need them to do. They know that they are in control and hence can quote us potentially 10X what we really want to pay.
Below are 2 techniques I’ve used on dozens of clients' accounts to reduce the initial cost of outreach and even put the cost down to £0 in official influencer outreach costs. Resulting in 12 links, 29 mentions and a shade under £40,000 in sales within the first month of launch (through Amazon) – I’ll get onto why this was so important in the second money section.
Method 1 - Cross vertical influence
Let’s say we have a product in the food and drink space. A tasty snack that’s also healthy. Doesn’t matter what the product is but it’s just in the food space.
What most marketing agencies or outreach agencies will try to do is contact the largest food and drink blogs and influencers and simply ask them to feature the product. What is a lot better is to go through cross verticals and get creative. Instead of contacting specific individuals in the food and drink niche, we need to contact people in the fitness space, or the parenting space or even the business / entrepreneurial space.
Why? Because these people are not approached with these types of products everyday like the other influencers are. As a result the conversions are so much higher. The responses are more positive too. We can also be more personal, because we can target people we actually like/know/trust.
Let’s say I read a ton of business blogs and listen to a bunch of entrepreneurial influencers (which I do) – when I state I’m starting a company in the food space and “would love to get your opinion on this” as you are a huge fan of theirs – which you can actually physically prove (blog comments for example) it positions you so much better.
Don’t you think they are more likely to say “yes no problem send one over and I’ll have a look.” They are and they do. Below are the stats from our most recent influencer marketing campaign (initial outreach to around 50 prospects)
- 70% response rate (after follow up via email and Twitter)
- 24% send-out rate (paid and free)
- 12% mention rate
- 8% link rate - this metric is tracked as this client came through our backlink generation agency, Ghost Marketing
Method 2 – “Market research”
Method 1 involves reaching out to individuals (whether in the same or a different vertical) and instead of asking them to feature the product, we instead ask them to “give us some advice” as they are an expert in the field. This strokes the ego but more than that it positions our business so much better.
This has 3 core advantages over generic traditional influencer marketing:
- We build the relationship from a non-commercial point of view.
- We can send them a free product as a thank you for their time!
- We get really good feedback from industry experts
So we’ve now managed to get some feedback, build a relationship and still have our product in the hands of influencers for free - not a bad approach.
Think carefully about add-on value / second money / additional benefits
We get a lot of individuals coming to us looking for influencer marketing services. The majority of these clients understand the basics of the value exchange but don’t know the secondary value that is very common in influencer marketing campaigns, and if done correctly we can have some crazy second value elements.
When I say second value I assume that the primary value is to get in front of your potential audience to sell more of your product or service by utilising the audience of an influencer who already has this attention.
Let’s assume we pay X amount to influencers, we would be looking for at least a 5x in return – that’s the primary benefit, but there are some enormous potential secondary benefits that I’ll run through now.
- Building connections with influencers – This is an obvious one, when you pay someone to feature your product you will have a valuable connection with that person, even though you are paying them, they still most like likely believe in what you are offering otherwise they wouldn’t have “sold-out” for it in the first place.
- Amazon Spiking Best Seller Rank – This is our core service and the core second money element we look for. The reason behind spiking best seller rank is to improve organic rankings inside Amazon, higher organic rankings = more sales = more revenue. If you can time your influencer marketing campaigns correctly, you can go from an unknown seller all the way through to generating 100s of sales a day on Amazon in a couple of weeks. The best part, you only need to rank your products once!
- Subscribers – The classic second advantage. Influencers add a layer of trust (that’s why we pay them to feature our products in the first place.) A key second money element is generating more subscribers for our email list. This can also be adding followers to social media accounts too.
Building connections with influencers positions your product in such a way that your customers trust what the influencer is saying. Meaning if you can build connections with multiple influencers you can build and scale a business quickly by simply utilising their strong online presence and slowly transferring some of that to yourself or your own brand.
About the author
Tom Buckland is an Amazon optimisation and outreach marketing expert specialising in scaling Ecommerce businesses through highly optimised influencer and blogger outreach. The results of his efforts are white hat backlinks, mentions and increased revenue through Amazon and Shopify.