Social media influencers are a relatively new and very useful addition to the marketer’s toolbelt. They can help in all stages of the marketing funnel, from converting qualified leads into sales, growing brand awareness, to even getting your business more reviews.
Getting the most out of your influencers is not easy, though. Like every other part of your marketing strategy, a marketing campaign using a social media influencer needs to be strategic and thought out. Each post or video an influencer makes needs to clearly fit into a marketing funnel stage, also known as the buyer’s journey. Failure to do this can lead to ineffective influencer posts, missed lead generation, and not having a clear call to action for potential consumers. Knowing best practices for each stage in your marketing funnel is essential to seeing success.
Growing Your Awareness Stage of the Marketing Funnel with Influencers
The awareness funnel stage is all about a person realizing they have a problem they need to be fixed. It starts with experiencing the symptoms of a problem, which leads to them looking to diagnose the problem. For example, a person who is sneezing and coughing a lot wants to figure out why. Is it a cold or allergies or something else?
Either they start researching to figure out the real problem, or they ignore it and move on. An influencer can help with both those who are researching and those who want the answer presented to them. Influencers can discuss those symptoms and problems that can be a natural introduction to the top of the funnel.
For example, let’s say your business sells high-end vacuums. Your homestyle influencer could talk about how much dirt, hair, and dander hides in carpets cleaned by cheap vacuums and how that could contribute to allergies or gross looking carpets. Then, the influencer’s call to action is to research potential solutions for cleaner carpets and link to your website talking about it.
Making Sure You Are Noticed During the Consideration Stage
At the end of the awareness stage, consumers now have a clear idea what their problem is and are now looking at potential solutions. They likely aren’t ready to start considering specific brands and products but are more looking at solutions to their problem as a whole. Harkening back to the above example of dirty carpets, a consumer won’t jump immediately to what brand of high-end vacuum to get. They’ll instead look at multiple solutions for cleaner carpets, including high-end vacuums, wet vacuums, professional cleaners, fixing or improving their current vacuum, and more.
At this stage, your marketing team and your influencer’s goals are to encourage pursuing the type of solution you provide. Branded mentions of your products can be good but should not be the focus of your influencer’s posts.
One of the most common and effective methods influencers help with in the consideration stage are comparisons of multiple solutions and giving their thoughts on each. They do the work of trying out each method for their followers and telling them which ones worked and didn’t. Just be sure they don’t mislead or lie to their followers, as that could hurt both their reputation and yours. Let the results speak for themselves and let the influencer explain the benefits towards your solution over others.
Decision Stage: Influencers with a Glowing Recommendation
Once consumers reach the end of the consideration stage, they know what solution they want and now need to decide on an exact provider/brand and where to buy it from. With our dirty carpet example, the consumer knows they want a high-end vacuum, but is unsure what brand to purchase.
Your influencer’s job here is to make sure your product and brand is the one their followers pick. That means giving a positive review or recommendation of it, comparing your exact product to your competitors, or giving a discount code to their followers.
The key to pulling this off is making sure your influencer doesn’t come across as an ad, but as somebody actually trying to help their followers with a good product. It helps if the influencer uses and enjoys the product in their own life.
The end of the decision stage is the consumer making a purchase, hopefully from your business. From there, you can transform new customers into a promoter or try to make them a returning customer through great customer service and a great product experience.
Analyzing Your Campaigns, Using Your Influencers at The Best Stages
Especially for smaller businesses or if you’re just starting out, you won’t be using an influencer at every stage of your marketing funnel. Influencer marketing can get very expensive, so you’ll want to make sure you get the most out of it consistently in the right amount of time.
Start by looking at your marketing metrics and identifying which sections of your marketing efforts need help. Are you not getting enough attention during the awareness phase, or struggling with your conversion rate in the decision stage? Especially when starting out, find the areas you need to boost with influencers.
Then, as you work with influencers, find ways to measure results and analyze how they impact your customer’s experience. Are customers who purchased because of an influencer’s recommendation more likely to be satisfied with their purchase? Did the influencer create an unmet expectation of the product? As you gather data and insights, you can tweak how your influencers interact with your brand and what part of the marketing strategy they fit into.
Influencer marketing can be a powerful asset to your marketing team, just be sure their work matches what your funnel needs. Get as much benefit from your influencer as you can and cooperate closely with them to make sure your needs, and those of their followers, are being met.