4 Ways to Drive Sales With Influencer Marketing
When I think about the purchases consumers make, I often recall a book I read more than a decade ago, “Why We Buy” by Paco Underhill. The psychology of purchase behavior has always fascinated me. And it’s not just why we buy, it’s how we buy and the decisions we make along the way.
As the saying goes, people love to buy but they hate to be sold. This phrase captures the essence of why we've seen consumers increasingly ignore and actively avoid traditional advertising. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that advertising is dead — no clickbait here — but what I am saying is that consumers, for the first time, have a loud and clear voice along the path to purchase, and they're looking for meaningful, relevant content that addresses their needs.
Through social media and blogs, consumers are more empowered than ever to share their experiences and insights with audiences that are larger than those of brands and more engaged because they have actively sought out the content they're consuming.
A new entrepreneurial industry has arisen around these empowered consumers: the influence economy. Influencers now play a significant role in the path to purchase because they're a trusted “just like me” voice that consumers seek out while researching purchases. They're relatable, trustworthy and authentic in how they talk about a product, service or experience.
Many retailers are still learning how to incorporate influencers into their marketing mix. The process isn't as difficult as it may first appear; here are four tips for retailers that want to engage with influencers effectively:
1. Make sure the product is available in their local market. You love their content, they have an engaged following, you reach out, negotiate and agree on a campaign, and then they can’t locate the product in-market. It’s tough for an influencer to showcase your product in a natural way when they can’t find it anywhere. Yes, I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but it happens. When you start looking for influencers, you typically figure out if they're right for your audience by looking at their content and reach. Just don’t forget to ensure they're based in your region.
2. Do you know where their audience is located? Much like the first tip, even if an influencer is in your area, you must ensure that their followers are in your area as well. A great campaign can deliver lackluster results if the audience your influencers are reaching can’t see and touch the product for themselves. In a world of short attention spans, convenience is paramount. Consumers may love the way a product looks or how it’s described, but if they can’t get a hold of it easily, either online or in-store, they’ll find a suitable alternative that works just as well, and your hard work drove a customer to a competitor.
3. Make sure the content is actionable. Influencers create meaningful, genuine content that speaks to a lot of people — it’s how they built their followings. However, when you look at it through a retail lens, you have to provide them with the right tools to encourage their audiences to easily take action. When you think about your own purchases, what hurdles do you see along the way that may encourage you to change your mind? As you think through the path from a consumer’s point of view, see where you can remove obstacles to purchase. For example, ask them to include store-locator information or provide coupons. The product may be featured beautifully, but if there isn’t urgency to act built in, you won’t see the sales lift you forecasted.
4. Tie the offline experience to the online content that drove them in-store. A campaign doesn’t have to end with influencer posts. Featuring influencers' content in-store — even something as simple as an “As Seen on Pinterest” photo on end caps featuring use cases that tie the products to real-life examples — can drive increased purchase intent. “Showrooming” is nothing new, and consumers are already searching for information while they're in-store, so let visitors know where they can find compelling stories.
It’s no secret that consumers control the buyer's journey. Smart brands and retailers are embracing this evolution and providing consumers with the information they want. If you’re continuing to “push” brand messaging, beware as it can do more harm than good. Influencers provide an amazing opportunity not only to engage consumers, but to keep up with them and their ever-changing buying behaviors. The psychology is no longer about interrupting them, it’s about becoming a natural part of their lives.
Todd Cameron is the head of content and strategy at TapInfluence, an influencer marketing automation solution for brands.
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