The holy grail of marketing – ‘right place, right time, right person, right message’ – exists not in a singular moment, but in the cumulative micro-moments a consumer experiences to come to a purchase decision. Increasingly, these micro-moments are interactions based on another consumers’ brand experiences, who are within your target customers’ circle of influence. From the Instagram post that leads to product discovery to ratings and reviews sought out moments before the point-of-purchase, impacting consumers’ purchase journey requires not one creative execution – but several; not one platform – but omni-channel; through not one mega-influencer – but thousands of influencers, advocates, referrers and loyalists who work together in concert to create, amplify or submit branded content reflective of their unique experiences across those channels.
But as it stands, influence remains a significant blind spot in journey mapping practices. Integrated strategies (i.e. CX or journey maps), as well as planning tools and agencies, do not account for influencers’ impact at every touchpoint, nor do they include influencer insights and data that can validate and enhance the existing customer experience. Accounting for how influence impacts your customer decision journey requires revisiting your current CX or customer journey map, and diagramming the many ways the dimensions of influence, including who that influencer is, and what they’re thinking, feeling, and doing in that moment to impact your consumers’ behavior at that touchpoint.
How to Create an Influence-Augmented Customer Journey Map
1. Understand Your Influencers at Every Touchpoint
Highlight the influencer, advocate, referrer and loyalist personas and influencer/user-generated content that already documented as touchpoints within your existing journey map. Then, align your current Influencer Marketing & Relations strategies and tactics with your current journey map.
If you’re working with influencers, advocates, or referrers already, also map the current state of your influencer-brand relationships:
2. Priority Channels Should be Prioritized for Influencer Discovery & Activation.
Use the target audience, touchpoint, and trigger to identify influencers at each touchpoint for recruitment and/or activation. Determine which influencers, advocates, referrers and loyalists can deliver the right content to your consumers and the composition of your ideal influencer marketing mix by using quantitative and qualitative data to understand who and what influences consumers’ experience in each moment.
3. Seek Common Targets, Touchpoints, and Triggers to Help find Efficiencies and Scale
Increase scale and frequency by repurposing high-performing influencer- and user-generated content at priority touchpoints that can accelerate the path-to-purchase, as well as deliver a more cohesive experience. We’ve found that repurposing high-engaging micro-influencer Instagram content on a brand.com can drive 7x higher on-page engagement and conversion rates for the products featured.
4. Create an Influence Experience Layer to your Journey Map
With Share of Influencer Voice an indicator of share of consumer attention– especially in a saturated industry – marketers should treat Influencers as a net new persona, with their own unique needs as a target audience to generate awareness, brand affinity and loyalty. In an expanded customer journey map, detail your influencer experience to identify which channels and touchpoints are ideal for influencer engagement and relationship building.
If you’re working with influencers, advocates, or referrers already: Identify recurring signals and indicators that can be used to determine the best data sources and attributes in order to identify similar influencers using other methods and resources.
5. Validate Your Customer Journey Map with an Influencer Advisory Board
Form a board of Influencers sourced from your existing customer base to validate and add insight to your current journey map and influencer experience, including who and what influenced them at each stage and touchpoint.
[Cheat Sheet] What is Your Consumer’s Circle of Influence at Each Touchpoint?
In turn, influencer marketing success is rooted in its proactive alignment with your overall brand strategy and customer experience – rather than influencer reach and credibility. As it stands, these two trends are growing in silos.
Yet, marketers’ biggest Influencer Marketing & Relations (IMR) challenges can be mitigated with alignment between influencer marketing campaign strategy and tactical execution, easily fixed when addressed early in the strategy and planning stages: inability to find the right influencers indicates a need to revisit your data identification strategy at key touchpoints; influencer-brand dissonance indicates a need to identify key influencers at high-priority touchpoints earlier in campaign development (i.e. now) to gain insight and align on the proper content strategy for that audience, at that touchpoint.
Bringing IMR and the Influencer Experience to your strategy and planning process also functions to identify untapped channel opportunities – where influencers have a distinct advantage. Even today’s most modern planning tools and agencies do not consider emerging channels until paid media functionality emerges. Emerging channels and trends will always be influencer-led, as they drive audience growth and feature adoption, often in occasions where paid media is not yet an option.