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Why the Future of Influencer Marketing will be Organic Influencers

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Influence has long been at the core of marketing – seeking it, amassing it, then effectively wielding it to achieve your goals. It’s also, uncoincidentally, what gave rise to the influencer marketing industry. 

But after riding high on the growing ubiquity of social platforms and the democratization of celebrity over the past decade, it seems influencer marketing – in the traditional sense – is in the midst of an irreversible fail from grace. 

As Casey Ferrell, Vice President and Head of U.S. Monitor (owned by Kantar) said in a recent Media Post interview:

“We are at peak influencer, and it’s beginning to run its course”

And if you’ve been paying attention to the news at all this past year, it’s easy to see why.

The (Lack of) Trust Factor

As an industry, influencer marketing has become over-saturated and beleaguered by a heavy barrage of high-profile scandals and rampant reports of fraud.

We’ve seen everything from reality TV stars accidentally posting brand instructions into their promotional posts, to a beloved social influencer admitting she’s actually a CGI robot, to brands like Payless fooling influencers into paying $640 for $20 shoes and not one but two documentaries on the absolute dumpster fire that was (or wasn’t) the Fyre Festival. 

And that’s not to mention the numerous reports of influencers paying for fake followers or inflating engagement rates. In fact, CNBC has reported that fake followers will cost brands $1.3 billion in influencer campaigns this year alone. 

Naturally, all of this has led to a dramatic loss in consumer confidence, with only 4% of people now trusting what influencers say online. Since trust is essential to establishing credibility, which is foundational to cultivating influence, you can see why there is cause for alarm.

Real People = Real Influence

While traditional influencers may have been able to deliver the initial eyeballs brands have sought, impressions don’t equal purchases – and ‘influencers’ are far from the most influential people online. 

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A recent Stackla study found that people are 9.8x more likely to make a purchase after seeing a peer’s social post, as opposed to that of a traditional social media influencer.

That’s right, 79% of people say that user-generated content (UGC) highly impacts their purchasing decisions, while only 8% say influencer-created content would do the same.

Traditional influencers also fall short when it comes to engagement metrics – studies show that the greater the number of followers someone has, the lower their average engagement rates tend to be. Conversely, posts from everyday consumers tend to garner greater engagement, are seen as more authentic and more significantly influence others’ buying decisions.

Looking at all of these converging trends, I believe the influencer industry is undergoing a major shift towards not just micro-influencers, but organic influencers.

Organic influencers are the real people who already buy your products and services and create content about your brand – they’re your genuine brand advocates. They may have 5,000 Instagram followers, or they may have 50, but the size of their social followings aren’t as important as their passion, authenticity and collective influence. 

By re-imagining your existing influencer programs with organic influencers instead, your brand can bypass the risk of mistrust that a growing majority of consumers feel towards paid influencers, while building loyal communities and rich libraries of impactful visuals that can really move the needle for your brand.

The Quality of Content You Want with the Quantity of Content You Need

One of the reasons why influencer marketing has become so popular with marketers is that they need content. But not just any content, they need high-quality content that fits within their brand aesthetic, while also looking authentic, and social media influencers were a great way to get it. 

Except that the minute you pay someone for content, it becomes inherently inauthentic. And influencers typically only create and share a small amount of photos per campaign.

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With organic influencers, the content is earned, not paid, so you never lose that authenticity factor. However, your advocates don’t always naturally create the exact type of content your brand may be seeking. By inviting your advocates into an organic influencer community, you can not only cultivate a 1:1 connection with them, but you can also open the lines of communication to help guide the types of content that they post about your brand. 

For example, you could ask your organic influencers to post some winter-themed images in advance of a holiday campaign you may be preparing to launch. Want them to feature a specific product or take a selfie vs a scenic shot? Just ask, and provide examples of the types of images you want. 

Many of your advocates will be excited to have direct interactions with their favorite brand, and you’ll have authentic, high-quality content to leverage in your marketing – just remember to get the rights to that content first. Plus, Stackla’s research shows that over half of consumers would be more likely to continue engaging with and/or purchasing from a brand if it shared their photos in its marketing. 

By developing a passionate and engaged community of organic advocates, you can get the quality and the quantity of visuals you need for all your marketing channels — not just social profiles.

Amplify Influence Beyond Social

An often ignored but critical fact of influencer marketing is that your brand doesn’t own the influencer content. 

Unless it’s explicitly agreed to during contract negotiations, brands don’t have the right to the content they just paid an influencer to create – and they can’t use it outside of the third-party platform the influencer originally posted it in. Typically, if a brand wants to use the influencer’s content outside of simply regramming or reposting it on their social channels, they need to license or purchase the copyright for that content from the influencer at an additional cost.

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In today’s omnichannel marketing environment, where 63% of marketers feel pressure to continually produce greater amounts of content at higher frequencies, this is not a sustainable marketing strategy. Since modern marketers are already operating at a content deficit – every new channel, medium and niche audience requires a new set of relevant and compelling visuals – the scalability and reusability of content has become an increasingly important factor of long-term success. 

Instead of paying for just one post from a traditional influencer that can only live on Instagram, tapping into your brand’s organic influencers can help you continually generate and gain the rights to a multitude of assets from a larger pool of authentic creators. Once you have permission to use your organic influencers’ content, you can exponentially increase the reach and impact of that content by featuring it across all your marketing channels.

And by putting that influential content to work at every point in the buyer’s journey, you can improve all your conversion metrics, not just at the point of inspiration.

Achieving 2020 Success with Organic Influencers

For too long, influencer marketing has been focused on the wrong influencers. Today’s largest group of consumers – Millennials and Gen Z – prioritize authenticity above all else when choosing which brands they support, and their trust in traditional influencers is at an all-time low. 

Smartphones and social networks have made your brand’s advocates the greatest content creators the world has ever seen. Brands that adopt an organic influencer strategy as part of their 2020 plans will be able to build loyal communities, while also creating scalable, authentic content experiences that deliver a real return on investment. 

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MARKETING

What should you focus on in 2022?

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What should you focus on in 2022?


Happy New Year! Somebody asked me what my predictions for 2022 would be, and I answered, “I don’t know what you can predict because there’s something crazy happening all the time.”

Take 2021, the year we thought everything would start getting back to normal. I even suggested dusting off your 2020 marketing plan and updating it. Then the Delta variant threw everything into flux again, followed by Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, inventory shortages, the Great Resignation, and Omicron. Who knows what’s next?

Many companies had to file away the grand innovation plans they developed in 2020 and concentrate on getting through 2021. After diving deep into their data storehouse, others took what they learned, moving to agile marketing and finding new ways to use marketing technology more effectively to stay ahead of covid-driven uncertainty.

One thing that has stayed the same — it’s January, and marketers are looking at 2022 and evaluating what they can do given the continued business uncertainties. 

Friends, we have plenty of opportunities to use what we have learned over the last two years to create an effective marketing plan for 2022. But first, let me caution you with an anecdote from my own work life.

A few years ago, I was on the verge of starting a new job, and I was full of ideas about the things I would accomplish in my first 100 days. A friend listened to me as I went through my list, and he laughed.

“Why are you over-promising when you know you’ll under-deliver?” he asked. 

Whether you just stepped into a new position or you’re solidifying your budget and marketing plan for 2022, the best place to start is to identify the biggest gap in your program. This will help you set concrete goals to address it.  

1. Examine how your email programs are performing now and find ways to fix them quickly

Follow these three steps to discover what to focus on first.

Audit your email program

  • Look at your program as if you had never seen it before. Look at the foundational items first. These include your acquisition strategy, welcome/onboarding, promotional emails, marketing automation for transactional and triggered messaging, and your opt-out process. They’re the keys to any email program. 
  • Review how these programs performed according to your KPIs. Does each part have its own set of stats? Are they trending up or down? Did they deliver as expected, such as a steady influx of valuable email addresses or meaningful and relevant messaging that attracts and retains customers and moves them to act?  
  • Look at what makes money in your email program. Is your creative content up to date? Does every email align with your brand? Do they reflect current conditions because of COVID or supply problems?
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Create a hit list

As you go through your audit, put together a hit list of things you need to do to fix gaps, errors or inconsistencies in these programs. Sort them into three groups: 

  • Quick wins: Housekeeping items you can do quickly, like fix typos, broken or incorrect links, or outdated store hours or contact information and company policies.
  • Short-term goals: These will take a little more time, maybe a month or so. They can include tech or database requests, design updates, anything that requires approval. 
  • Long-term goals: These are year-long plans that will take major lifts to accomplish, like new integrations, changes in data, lots of approvals and sign-offs, meetings, turf battles, RFPs and the like. Pick one you can knock out of the park.

Put everything in a slide deck

Why a deck instead of a spreadsheet or document? Because it will help you organize your thinking. In a slide deck, every slide is a new thought. You can progress through them in an orderly and systematic process. This objective method also helps you anticipate what’s coming next.

2. Send that deck to an agency

When you do that, whether you have an agency partner now or you’re vetting new agencies, you can get their feedback. What could they do to help you? You’ll also save a lot of discovery time by doing the legwork upfront. Your agency can see your issues, your priorities and what you envision for both short-term and long-term goals. 

You’ll benefit from accelerated innovation through partner enablement. You don’t have to commit at this initial phase; you’re just kicking tires to see how much it would cost and what they could do for you. 

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If you see a net gain in revenue over your investment, you can present your plan to your boss. Your agency can help you here, too. Give them an opportunity to help you sell your plan inside your company.

3. Review and update your KPIs

When working with clients or prospects, I ask to see their dashboards. Often, they’re fairly simple. Every once in a while, I’m impressed to see a spreadsheet like the one I would create, with 12 to 16 tabs Excel sheets with every stat you could dream of. 

I often find a lot of aggregate reporting in client dashboards, where every statistic is thrown into a single report. Don’t do this. 

Each foundational program should have its own KPIs, tracking and review process so you can see results over time. This division of results can reveal a decrease in one program offset by increases elsewhere.  Aggregate reports might not reveal that weak area.

Develop a new approach

I was working with a client that was dealing with a blocklist problem. We changed a step in the process, and the next day, the client was asking to see results. That was too soon.

You can’t rush through changes and expect to see an immediate impact. That’s why you review your KPIs over time. Upload new stats every week or even every day. Watch for performance fluctuations. You might fail one day and succeed the next.

  • Adopt a new metric.  Look for a metric you’ve always wanted to measure and haven’t yet. Maybe you’re trying to find out whether Apple’s MPP is affecting your performance to the degree where you can measure it. Is this change being reflected at a program level? 
  • Review your KPIs. Take time beginning this month to review your KPIs, update your tracking and analysis, and start measuring more things that matter.
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Read next: How email marketing is changing and what marketers should do about it

Wrapping up

January is supposed to mark a fresh start for those of us whose marketing year follows the calendar. But I’m just as exhausted in this first month as you. We’re all just trying to get through the day and find a win when we can. 

One thing we’ve learned over the last couple of years is that no matter what life throws us, we can handle it if we work together systematically and lean on our team members.

In 2022, try to find something that improves your program and helps you take your mind off the never-ending crazy train.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

As the co-founder of RPEOrigin.com, Ryan Phelan’s two decades of global marketing leadership has resulted in innovative strategies for high-growth SaaS and Fortune 250 companies. His experience and history in digital marketing have shaped his perspective on creating innovative orchestrations of data, technology and customer activation for Adestra, Acxiom, Responsys, Sears & Kmart, BlueHornet and infoUSA. Working with peers to advance digital marketing and mentoring young marketers and entrepreneurs are two of Ryan’s passions. Ryan is the Chairman Emeritus of the Email Experience Council Advisory Board and a member of numerous business community groups. He is also an in-demand keynote speaker and thought leader on digital marketing.



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15 Content Marketing Metrics Your Platform Must Track

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11 B2B Content Ideas to Fuel your Marketing (with Examples)


You’ve probably read a million articles about content marketing by now, but with 88 percent of B2B marketers using the process every day and another 76 percent planning to in the future, you’d better start taking content marketing seriously. Your competitors are using it, and you don’t want to fall behind.

But it’s not enough to use content marketing. You have to use it properly.

Otherwise, what’s the point? But using it properly requires you to measure your content marketing’s success in a meaningful way.

Tracking the success of your content marketing not only measures how effective it is but tells you what you need to improve. But by what metrics do you measure the success of your marketing?

More than 60% of marketers surveyed ranked “leads” as the most important KPI for measuring the success of their content marketing program. However, while leads are important, they don’t always give you the specific data you need to make your campaigns better.

The key is to find metrics that will lead to actual results and improve your ROI. The more ROI you get from your marketing efforts, the more successful you will be as you get more out of doing less.

Let your marketing drive your traffic and sales!

This guide will look at metrics that will measure the success of your content marketing. We will specifically be looking for metrics that give you data-driven methods to improve and increase your ROI.

Social shares

Social media is a significant hub for content marketing, and how often your content is shared is an excellent way to keep track of how engaged your audience is with your content. Most social media platforms have analytics that give you much of this information, but you may want to dive deeper.

A tool like BuzzSumo can help you identify which topics and articles are being shared the most, giving context to what is being shared and why. Of course, what tools you use and what data you gather depends on the goals of your content marketing campaign but what content is being shared is a fast way to estimate your success on the platform.

Assisted conversions

Assisted conversions can be found in Google Analytics and give you an idea of which channels a prospective client used before taking whatever action you want them to take. The closer to zero the analytic is, the better.

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You are looking for someone consuming the least amount of your content while still performing the wanted action. This metric shows that the piece of content they consumed, specifically, drove them to your site to give you a better sense of how your marketing is working.

SERP ranking

SERP stands for social engines research page and measures how well Google thinks your content responds to a customer’s search question. This ranking is, of course, vitally important as most people are not going to be looking specifically for your content when they search Google for something.

Your SERP ranking can be broken down into several specific categories depending on your marketing goals and give you an idea of what content is driving the top of your funnel. In addition, because this metric tracks the connection between a potential client’s query and your content, it gives you a better idea of what your customers are searching for.

Pageviews

A pageview is a basic but valuable metric that tells you how often your page has been viewed. Although it does not tell you what action the customer took after viewing the page, it does give you some measure of how engaging the content is.

You can look at how often your page was viewed or the average time people spend viewing your content. Either way, it gives you a place to start when wondering about the effectiveness of your content marketing.

Unique pageviews

Like pageviews, this is a fundamental metric to understand how often your content is being engaged; however, unlike ordinary pageviews, this tells you only when you are attracting new visitors. So, although customer retention is more important, you still want to find out when you get unique views.

Presumably, an increase in unique pageviews means your new content marketing project is engaging. As new people visit your content, you have a hope of converting them into regular customers.

Customer retention

While you always want to be adding new customers, it is even more important to keep your old ones coming back. Retaining old customers is much cheaper than getting new ones, so to get a good ROI, you want as high of a customer retention rate as you can get.

By looking at this metric, you’ll get an idea of how often a customer visits your content and how much time passes before they return. This information will help you decide when to add new content to keep your old customer coming back.

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Sales cycle velocity

It stands to reason that if your content marketing is working the way it is supposed to, you should see a reduction in your “time to sale.” But, again, you can use analytics to track this or have your sales team catalog when first contact happens to when a sale occurs and compare that to your average “time to sale.”

Pages per session

Pages per session track how many pages a viewer looks at in a given session. By looking at this number over time, you can understand how enraging your content is.

If your pages per session stay high, your content is being successful at engaging customers. If low, it might be time to switch up your content marketing campaign.

CTR (click-through-rate)

CTR lets you know how your keywords and meta descriptions get people to click on your content. After all, your content marketing can’t succeed if no one can find it.

Creating meta titles and engaging descriptions is a skillet all on its own. If your CTR is low, you need to find someone who is better at getting people invested in your product.

Customer sentiment

The most accurate test of how people feel about you is what they’re saying about your product on social media. Many apps can find any mention of your brand’s name and alert you to what is said.

A true test of how well your content marketing is working is if it’s actually changing your audience’s perspective. If you can see your audience’s esteem grow in real-time, you’ll know your project has your desired effect.

Traffic sources

Traffic sources let you know where the traffic to your website is coming from, whether it’s referrals, direct, or from searches. Traffic sources ignore any traffic you are getting from paid ads so that you better understand how your content marketing is driving traffic.

The analytic also give you an idea of what channel people are taking to your website. Whether they’re fending you by word of mouth or keywords are good enough that people are finding you through a Google search.

Bounce rate

Looking at the negatives gives you as much information as the positives. For example, bounce rate lets you know how many people left your site without interacting.

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Your engagement may be high, but if your bounce rate is also high, people are coming to your site but not following through. When this happens, you need to retool your marketing measure to take what action you’d like people to take more straightforward.

Post engagements

How and if a person reacts to your content reveals how successful your marketing campaign is. Comments let you know that your customer cared enough about what you created to say something.

What your customers say helps you redefine what your marketing campaign will look like. Similarly, a lack of comment may mean that your content isn’t creating enough of an impression to be commented on.

Pipeline contributions

It’s great to have people at the top of your funnel, but at some point, you want them to come down the pipeline and become customers. Looking at pipeline contributions metrics helps you know how your webinars and EBooks drive traffic to your site.

The whole purpose of content marketing is to drive traffic to your site, but if you aren’t converting them, you need to rethink your strategy. Knowing how well your pipeline contribution works lets you know if you need to rework your marketing efforts.

Page depth

Page depth lets you know how many pages people visited on a trip to your site. It also gives you an exciting way of analyzing the engagement produced by your content marketing.

Although, ultimately, you want your customer to buy your product or service, a high page depth can give you an indication that your content is creating curiosity about your product. Then you need to figure out how to convert that curiosity into sales.

How Welcome can help

Now that you’ve analyzed the metrics of your content marketing project, how do you take the next step? If you want to leverage‌ ‌real-time‌ ‌search‌ ‌data‌ ‌and‌ ‌recommendations‌ ‌that‌ ‌help‌ ‌inform‌ ‌your‌ ‌content‌ ‌strategy,‌ ‌optimize‌ ‌content‌ ‌so‌ ‌that‌ ‌it‌ ‌ranks‌ ‌well‌ ‌for‌ ‌search,‌ ‌and‌ ‌ensure‌ ‌it‌ ‌resonates‌ ‌with‌ ‌your‌ ‌audience, Welcome can help.‌‌‌ 

Ready to take your content marketing to the next level? Get started with a free Welcome account today!

 



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Everything You Need To Know About Performance Appraisals

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Everything You Need To Know About Performance Appraisals


As a manager, your ability to inform your teams about the successful high-impact behaviors they exhibit or skills that need further development is a critical practice in determining your business’ overall ability to reach its goals and find success.

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