The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing


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Is your company harnessing the power of online influence?

It’s no secret that influence plays a significant role in business. Entrepreneurs are often influenced by the mentors they’ve worked under. Employees are influenced by their company’s culture. And perhaps most importantly, buyers are influenced by the ones they trust when it comes to making critical purchasing decisions.

Building that kind of trust takes time, of course. Fortunately, chances are there’s already a group of people out there who’ve earned the respect of many of your potential customers. The question is, how can you take advantage of that influence to increase brand awareness and boost revenue?

The answer: through a carefully planned and thought-out influencer marketing strategy!

This eBook takes you through every step of the influencer marketing process, arming you with all the tools needed to not only engage with industry thought leaders, but to become one yourself! Inside you’ll find insights and ideas from top influencer specialists like Nick Hayes of Influencer50, Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute, Eloqua’s Joe Chernov and more!

Topics covered include:

- An introduction to the basics of influencer marketing
- Tips for developing a customized influencer marketing strategy
- Top metrics for reviewing your progress
- Common challenges and pitfalls to watch out for
- Additional resources, including quick start guides and checklists for the key roles involved

Published in: Business, Career

The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing

  1. 1. The Ultimate Guide toInfluence Marketing
  2. 2. Foreword................................................................................................ 1Introduction to Influence Marketing .......................................................... 3 Influence Marketing Defined ............................................................... 4Business Benefits of Influence Marketing .................................................. 5Developing an Influence Marketing Strategy .............................................. 7Top Metrics for Reviewing Progress ........................................................... 8Common Challenges of Influence Marketing ............................................ 10Getting Started with Influence Marketing ................................................ 12 Influence Marketing Checklist for the CEO/Executive Team ................. 13 Influence Marketing Checklist for the Senior Sponsor ......................... 14 Influence Marketing Checklist for the Influencer Relations Specialist ...... 15Additional Resources ............................................................................ 16Quickstart Guide for the Senior Sponsor.................................................. 17Quickstart Guide for the Influencer Relations Specialist ........................... 30
  3. 3. “We need to understand how the prospects we do have make their decisions.”If there’s one type of marketing that senior executives intuitively understand, it’s influence marketing. It’s just never had aname before. Most senior executives have spent a lifetime in front of prospects and customers, and they intrinsically know theimportance of influencers. They also listen to their salespeople, who routinely tell them about the people behind the sceneswho are continually shaping and reshaping the purchase decision.Yet these people have always been beyond the reach of sales forces, which in turn often leads to frustration with the marketingdepartment for not having access to them either. As a result, the chasm between the sales and marketing teams is reinforced.It’s ironic then that marketers have often been the most resistant to adopting influence marketing. They’re already over-stretched, they’re concentrating on their prospect databases, and these days they’re trying to figure out whether online or offlineoutreach will provide the greatest return on investment each quarter. They don’t need another set of shadowy figures with dis-parate job titles to try to target — especially since those figures won’t likely ever buy anything directly. That’s why until recently,influencers have been too “fuzzy” to concentrate on.But there’s good news here. As marketing departments need to deliver more and more (often for less spend), more innovativethinking is being introduced. We often hear about the search for greater “sales and marketing alignment.” There’s widespreadskepticism around simply buying more and more lists of database names to e-mail. Public relations and accounts receivableteams are increasingly expected to show the impact of their work on the company’s bottom line, and that too is leading themto broaden their reach. Yet time and again, the executive-level conversation comes down not to “We need to reach out to evenmore people,” but instead to “We need to better understand how the prospects we do have make their decisions.” The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influence Marketing | 1
  4. 4. It’s astonishing that so little knowledge has been acquired to address this question. We’ve always said that if those in marketingdepartments would spend more time understanding how their prospects’ purchasing decisions are made, they would immedi-ately change more than 50 percent of the marketing they currently initiate. All too often, vendors speak a different languagethan their prospects. They fail to explain how their products solve the prospects’ pain points, and those vendors who are short-listed then misunderstand who’s important in the presentation room (and who’s not).We talk about marketing to, through, and with our selected influencers. They can most likely offer a level of credibility, trust,and expertise to prospects that are currently missing from your outreach activities. They can also offer your company new routesto market. Critically, they can act as a guiding hand throughout the purchase decision process. For that alone, they are worthidentifying and engaging with.Practice influence marketing throughout your company’s outreach process, and the results will be obvious (and very persuasive).You’ll have no problem securing the support of your executive sales function.If you truly want sales and marketing alignment, it’s hard to beat influence marketing. This eBook offers a useful step-by-stepchecklist for getting started. I wish you luck. Nick Hayes Principal, Influencer50 Inc. Co-author, Influencer Marketing: Who Really Influences Your Customers? The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influence Marketing | 2
  5. 5. Introduction to Influence MarketingInfluence plays an important role in business. Entrepreneurs are often influ-enced by the mentors they’ve learned from. Employees are influenced by theculture they work in. And buyers are influenced by the ones they trust whenit comes down to making critical purchasing decisions.Building that kind of trust takes time, of course. Fortunately, chances are thatthere’s already a group of people out there who have earned the respect ofmany of your potential customers. Whether they’re speakers, authors, entre-preneurs, or regular Joes who blog in their spare time, their words carry weightwith your target market. That’s where influence marketing comes into play.Influence marketing is a practice geared toward targeting and building rela-tionships with key individuals who have influence over your target segment— and ideally your target buyers. Influence marketingThat might include writers for major publications, industry analysts, indus- can be a valuabletry thought leaders, and senior managers of key organizations. In suchinstances, contact is made by phone or in person, requiring significant & cost-effectivesenior management time. Contact with other target influencers (e.g., blog- way to:gers and trade journal writers) can often take place through e-mail and » Increase brand awarenesssocial media channels, requiring less senior management time. » Establish and/or enhance yourInfluence marketing is typically the responsibility of a senior sponsor — thought leadership positionoften the senior most person in the organization responsible for market-ing, such as the marketing VP. For earlier stage companies, this role is » Drive more traffic to your websitefrequently filled by the CEO. The senior sponsor then appoints one or more » Generate more sales leadspeople to serve as influencer relations specialist to develop the program andmanage the daily and weekly activities. In many cases, the influencer rela- » Increase your deal close rate andtions specialist can be a part-time role or part of another employee’s overall reduce sales cycle timeresponsibilities. » Ultimately impact the bottom line The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influence Marketing | 3
  6. 6. To get started with influence » Develops a list of influencers A Quick Example: Exinda Networksmarketing, the specialist: » Develops influencer personas to identify the best Problem Exinda was an expansion-stage companyDevelops ways to communicate with influencer segments » Prioritizes the names into a narrow set of targets with a great product offering and very little brand& Adjusts awareness in its target market. CEO Michael » Begins reaching out to build relationships, deliver Sharma said it was a little like trying to shout from your messages, and get insights from the influencers the mountaintop without a voice. » Adjusts and improves the program over time Solution OpenView proposed an influence market- Most of the activities are free, requiring little more than time. The invest- ing program. Rather than blow its budget on a ment is small compared to the reach that can be achieved through the massive advertising or PR campaign that might not influencers’ “influence.” affect its target markets anyway, Exinda would go for the word-of-mouth approach and try to develop The overarching goal for the program is to get people who influence your relationships with key influencers in its target target buyers to write and talk about you in a way that generates buyer markets. OpenView and Exinda worked together to interest and enthusiasm for your products and services. increase the company’s brand awareness within the market by identifying the target influencers, and then contacted each influencer to begin building Influence Marketing Defined relationships. Influence marketing is an updated approach to marketing and public relations Results Exinda is getting more traffic to its website, where you target the people your prospects turn to for information. These influ- and more keywords are driving traffic to the site encers help generate awareness and sway the purchasing decisions of those from search engines. The result has been inbound who seek out and value their expertise, read their blogs, converse with them in leads that are more likely to turn into sales. discussion forums, attend their presentations at industry events, and so on. “ The influence marketing program was highly Marketing to influencers essentially means building relationships and pitch- targeted in the education sector, and the results ing your stories to the influencers in a proactive, outbound fashion. Many speak for themselves. We can track the results and influencers are eager for ideas and content to speak or write about. we’ve seen a measurable increase in sales in this sector, and I think If they’re interested in your message, they will begin talking about your we’ll continue to see that.” company, its leaders, and/or products and services. Influence marketing builds credibility for you in the eyes of your prospects because influencers Kevin Suitor VP of Customer Advocacy, Exinda are often trusted resources. The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influence Marketing | 4
  7. 7. Business Benefits of Influence MarketingInfluence marketing offers significant benefits to your customer development efforts. Specifically, it enables you to: Raise awareness of your brand within your industry/space. When you build relationships with key influencers, sooner or later you will probably benefit from getting some kind of “ink.” Perhaps they will share one of your customer success stories, review one of your products, mention your company in a case study, or write a company overview. These mentions essentially create another mark of your com- pany on the Internet, acting as free advertising for your business. Your prospects will see this information and become introduced to or reacquainted with your company’s brand. Increase your Web traffic. When an influencer mentions your company, it may cause his or her audience to seek out more information, usually by going to your website. Test your messaging and value proposition. More often than not, your influencers are on the pulse of trends within your industry. If you can’t sell them on your company’s competitive advantage and offerings, you may experience the same friction when selling to your prospects. Influence marketing provides a feedback loop with people who live and breathe within your space. Generate inbound leads or inquiries about your company. Influence marketing gives you the opportunity to communicate your value proposition, offerings, and company back- ground to prospects you may not otherwise have engaged with. Doing so will result in more people visiting your website, participating in webinars, reading your blog, etc. — some of whom will eventually turn into qualified leads. Build credibility/overcome objections/close more sales — faster. When an influencer has given your company his or her “seal of approval,” the people who look to the influencer trust that person’s word. Your salespeople won’t have to spend as much time selling your value proposition when the influ- encer has already helped communicate your message. The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influence Marketing | 5
  8. 8. Social Media Spurs Influence MarketingInfluence marketing is nothing new. Companies have targeted influencers for years in order to help gettheir story told or get coverage in the media. The difference today is mainly twofold: 1) the influencers inyour target market include a whole new set of businesses and individuals, and 2) you have direct access tothese people through social media. To the first point, these “new” influencers are very important to a varietyof your marketing goals. To the second point, it’s not just the tools that matter — it’s what goes in them.Making this happen takes a plan:Become the leading expert. There is no better way to influence the influ- This eBook breaks down step-by-stepencers than by becoming a leading expert and voice in your industry. How how to identify and interact with influ-do you do that? By being the “publisher” for your industry niche. If you encers, but the real key is to take thecreate and curate the leading thinking in your area (i.e., solutions to prob- steps to become an influencer yourself.lems that no one else is covering), then influencers will take notice. This Social media can get you there, but notmeans that you need to develop a content strategy that focuses on true unless you’re incredibly interesting andthought leadership and solving the problems of your customers and pros- helpful first. Think about a refrigeratorpects. From the beginning, integrate influencers into your content produc- with no food inside. Not good. Not in-tion. They’ll be much more willing to share your information if you do. teresting. Let’s stockpile that fridge with the best food your industry has to offer.The Content Hub. Think “one-to-many” here. You need a home for all When that happens, everyone will wantyour great content. That may be a blog or an article repository. American to come and partake at your house.Express has AMEX OPEN Forum. OpenView has OpenView Labs. CMI Focus on a core area to begin the influ- Now that’s what I call influenceence. marketing. Joe PulizziYour content must be shareable. Once you have the strategy and the Founder, Content Marketingplatform, make sure that sharing from your platform is incredibly easy. Institute, Junta 42; co-author,Tweets, Facebook likes, and LinkedIn shares should all be seamless. It’s Managing Content Marketingalso social proof of your expertise. When an influencer goes to one of yourposts with over 100 tweets, that says something about how effective yourcontent (and your own influence) is. The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influence Marketing | 6
  9. 9. Developing an Influence Marketing StrategyAs with any practice that requires resources and coordination across the company, influence marketing takes time, planning,and established processes to be executed successfully. It also requires the CEO and executive team to:» Buy in to the long-term value of the effort » Approve the target influencer list as a marketing initiative » Commit to participating in interviews and other activities» Assign a senior sponsor that will likely transpire as a result of the influence marketing program» Approve the budget to put the necessary resources in place » Participate in quarterly retrospective meetings to continually» Develop long-term goals for the program monitor the programGenerally, there are three main rolesfor expansion-stage companies: &The CEO and executive team, who set the priorities and goalsfor the effort, approve the appropriate resources for the practice, CEOapprove the influencer target list, and commit to being available for Executive Teaminterviews and other opportunities that the practice will generate.The senior sponsor (generally the senior person in marketing),who approves the plan, manages the influencer relations specialist,reports on the goals, and supports the marketing efforts. Senior SponsorThe influencer relations specialist, who builds and carries outthe plan, identifies and prioritizes the target list of influencers, Influencerdevelops relationships with the influencers, makes adjustments to Relations Specialistimprove the practice, and delivers tangible results from the program(e.g., mentions in industry reports and articles, keynote presenta-tions at your user conferences, case examples that include yourcompany in presentations, blog mentions, etc.). The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influence Marketing | 7
  10. 10. Top Metrics for Reviewing Progress Why Influencers MatterMetrics are extremely helpful for keeping track of progressand impact. They will help you gain insights into your Every quarter I present to my executive team on the impactstrategy, allowing for better planning as time goes on. of content marketing, which includes communications and influencer relations. This process requires heavy analysisThe metrics for influence marketing fall under from premium tools like Vocus and Sysomos that visualizethree broad categories: data into pretty charts that executives like.1. Program goals and an approved target list of influencers. We’d just embarked on an influence marketing initiative, so I was eager to dig into the data. I went right to the2. Activity metrics, which measure the inputs to your Social Media Mentions dashboard and generated the cov- influence marketing efforts, such as: eted graph. I admired the massive spike in buzz to start » The number of activities taking place (e-mails, calls, the quarter. It was majestic. The Everest of awareness. meetings, demos, etc.) Then panic struck: the peak did not correspond to any mar- » The number of daily and weekly conversations your keting, communications, or product campaign. Moreover, the influencer relations specialist is having with your rogue spike happened during the Fourth of July holiday – target influencers precisely the last time anyone would expect a surge in dis- » The coverage level of your target influencers cussion about a business-to-business SaaS company. How would I explain to my CEO that the quarter’s most success-3. Result metrics, which measure the impact the practice ful communications program wasn’t a program at all? is having, such as: » The number of opportunities (e.g., interviews, speaking Eventually we solved the mystery. engagements) the influencer relations specialist has What happened? Scott Monty happened, that’s what. Ford’s set up head of social media cheered our content on his personal » The number of mentions in blogs, feature articles, etc. blog, and the post started a groundswell of discussion that rang louder than any concerted effort we’d orchestrated. » Increased awareness and clearer perception in the One guy, one blog post, and a holiday weekend. I’m always market (if you are doing perception research) reminded of this story when I think about » Website traffic generated from the mentions the importance of influencer relations. » Sales leads/sales generated from the mentions Joe Chernov » Closed sales generated from the mentions Former VP of Content Marketing, Eloqua The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influence Marketing | 8
  11. 11. Based on your goals for the practice, you may want to track traffic (number of unique visitors to your blog or website), audi-ence engagement (number of pageviews and time on site), conversion metrics (number of click-throughs, webinar participation,newsletter signups, etc.), or various social media metrics (number of followers, fans, etc.).For example, an effort with increased Web traffic but low conversions may be considered a success if your goal is to increaseawareness. On the other hand, if you’re looking to increase your number of short-term leads, you’ll want to work to achieve ahigher conversation rate.To be clear, many of the essential metrics of the practice depend heavily on the goals you set for the program. It’s up to youto determine the appropriate measures of success. “Influence marketing is a great strategy to incorporate into your overall marketing mix. But how do you know your efforts are really paying off? By setting SMART goals and tracking the key metrics, you’ll be able to determine a return on objective for your influence marketing program. Metrics can be tracked in a simple spreadsheet or complex database such as Over time the metrics will help you determine what’s working and what’s not, so that you can then determine where to focus your efforts overall.” Kevin Cain Director of Content Strategy OpenView Venture Partners The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influence Marketing | 9
  12. 12. Common Challenges of Influence MarketingSome of the issues you might face when initiating an influence marketing program include the following: Lack of buy-in and/or commitment from your CEO or executive team. Before initiating the practice, make sure all of the company’s top leaders are willing to participate in activities with influencers. Lack of clear, measurable goals. Work as a team to identify and set the goals ahead of time. Adjust the goals as necessary over time. Lack of valuable content. Without quality content, it will be difficult to tell your company’s story to influencers. Make sure you have enough con- tent to share before you make the initial contact. Make sure you also have a program in place for continuously develop- ing content so that you can provide your influencers with fresh material on a regular basis. Lack of customer participation. Influencers don’t want to hear how great you are straight from the horse’s mouth — they want to hear from your cus- tomers or end users. Before getting your influence marketing practice off the ground, make sure you have identified a few customers who are willing to help tell your company’s story. You need to be able to share your customers’ suc- cesses with influencers, who are often interested in learning how companies solve their problems. Not focusing on the right influencers. Influence marketing can have a great impact, but only if you are targeting the right people, at the right time, with the right message. This is one of the areas where your influencer relations specialist will prove especially useful. Part of his or her job is to make sure you’ve identified the right people to target; the influencer relations specialist does this by spending time monitoring the influencers’ activities. Delivering the same content, in the same fashion, across the board to all influencers. It’s important to develop influencer personas, as different sets of influencers have different sets of needs, goals, and preferred methods of communication. For example, you’ll probably have to approach technical bloggers differently than you will industry analysts. Reporters will require yet another approach. Understanding your influencer personas will help your team craft and deliver targeted, effective pitches based on each segment’s needs. The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influence Marketing | 10