TopRank Marketing’s Ashley Zeckman Shares How to Build Consumer Trust with Influencers #DSMPLS

Ashley Zeckman Speaking at Digital Summit

In a world of consumer distrust, especially when it comes to marketing messages, it can sometimes feel like you’re living in the “Upside Down.” Everything that you thought was true about marketing and how you engage with customers and buyers is now different. In fact, sometimes nothing seems to make sense anymore.

In fact, Edelman found that less than 50% of U.S. consumers trust brands. In her Stranger Things-themed presentation at Digital Summit Minneapolis, TopRank Marketing’s Ashley Zeckman addressed the current state of marketing affairs and offered insight into ways that brands can improve trust and connect with their buying audience.

What’s her advice on changing the narrative and winning back the hearts and minds of customers? Partner with influencers to create credible content that can change the day and save the world. Stranger Things have happened, right?

Enter the Age of Influencer Marketing

Even though trust in brands is falling, there’s still hope. Demand Gen Report discovered that 68% of buyers prefer credible content from industry influencers. And yet, only 24% of marketers are partnering with others to expand their reach (MarketingProfs & CMI). This means that NOW is the time to find your influencer partners to better reach your audience. How? Here are some key considerations.

Defining Topical Focus

In every industry, there will be recognizable experts who are sought after by many. But there are two questions that you should ask yourself before digging into who you want to partner with:

  • What topics are most important to my buying audience?
  • Which of these topics align best with the expertise of my organization?

Ultimately, you’ll want to partner with influencers whose expertise and published content aligns with your answers to the questions above. 

Identifying the Best Influencer Fit

But what types of influencers does it make the most sense to collaborate with to achieve your goals? Below are examples of five main influencer archetypes. As Ashley explained, each influencer category represents a different benefit or need to map to your content objectives:

  • Brandividual: A recognizable individual with a large reach
  • Up-and-comer: An individual gaining momentum as a recognized industry expert and someone who is very motivated to collaborate
  • Niche Expert: A knowledgeable expert on the topic with good relevant content for the audience
  • Internal Expert: An internal thought leader within your brand or company
  • Customer: Someone who fits the ideal customer profile and can help both themselves and brands in the content

Influencer Alignment

The next step is to determine what qualities you are looking for most in influencer partners. Every brand will have slightly different influencer qualities that matter most, based on what they’re looking to achieve. Some of the common qualities that we find our customers look for most include:

  • Real-life experience
  • Reputable
  • Knowledgeable
  • Network size
  • Good on camera
  • Practical advice

Matching the Objective

The objective of your campaign drives the types of influencers you will most want to engage. For example, if your campaign is looking to attract new prospects, brandividuals and internal experts often fit the bill.

For engagement-based objectives, a mix of types of influencers will be your best option to bring in the audience, but then dive deeper into the content than an attraction campaign.

A conversion campaign or program demands more expertise, so the niche expert and the customer will be able to speak to the audience and engage them to consider action.

The Influencer Experience

Being thoughtful about how you want to interact and nurture influencers is key, Ashley said. She reminded the audience that a series of ongoing touchpoints designed to offer value to the influencer. An  ongoing approach to influencer nurturing will build a solid foundation over time that provides both the brand and the influencer with a meaningful reward.

Examples of Influencer Marketing in Action

But what does successful influencer marketing look like in real life? Below are a couple of examples Ashley shared in her presentation featuring a couple of the programs our team has developed for clients.

Co-Creating Content Based on Customer Demand

For our client Prophix, the TopRank Marketing team conducted extensive keyword research to identify the biggest need in the marketplace. What this research showed was that finance executives are searching for ways to looking for ways to up the value of their presentations create more compelling experiences using real-time data.

This campaign included a tactical mix of long-form blog content, an SEO-driven anchor landing page, social media promotion and influencer activation.

Explore the experience here:

High-Level Program Results

  • 54% above industry video views benchmark
  • 150% above conversion benchmark
  • 261,000 reach from influencers

Connecting with a Niche Audience

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) not only wanted to build brand awareness within the IT network and IT communications space, but also nurture relationships with new and potential prospects. This led to the development of the IT Vanguard Awards, aimed at highlighting the amazing work that IT leaders were doing to improve business outcomes and the customer experience.

This was designed as a two-phase campaign. Phase 1 began with architecting the awards program and launching the nominations window. This phase featured an expert judges panel, who helped to promote the awards. Additionally, there was a paid social effort and internal ALE champions promoted the awards and nominated IT professionals. 

For Phase 2, after judges review, 11 honorees were announced within an interactive experience, highlighting their contributions, lessons learned, and advice to other IT pros. The experience was supported with additional blog content, and was coupled with an off-line experience in which honorees were hand-delivered awards certificates.

ALE IT Vanguard Award Results:

  • 446% above pageview benchmark
  • 15 conversions to learn more
  • $3 million in estimated pipeline

So, What Would Eleven Do?

When you are faced with content hurdles, how can you turn them upside down to become influencer opportunities? Consider the impact you could have on your content and overall brand campaigns.

Influencer marketing can elevate your campaigns to a completely new level. You might think the cost would be too much, but consider the cost of not utilizing influencers? That’s a true Upside Down world.

For more marketing tricks and tips, stay tuned here for updates from Digital Summit Minneapolis (#DSMPLS). 

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