What if the consumers who comprised research panels were selected and vetted with the same critical eye as your influencer marketing program?
The difference is in the details. Imagine, for a moment, that you’re leading consumer insights at a legacy beer brand. You’re watching your market share diminish away to any number of craft breweries, and you’re about to kick off new research ahead of your next planning cycle to determine opportunities to generate consumer demand. Given popular panel recruitment practices today, you may develop a panel of 21-35-year-old male consumers who drink 4-6 times per week, and who may, reportedly, have friends come to them for advice about what brands of beer to drink. You have no way of validating these behaviors in the moment, but you have any number of qualitative research methods planned down the line to verify that their survey answers are credible.
Now imagine, instead, that you went to your influencer marketing lead to identify influencers from your existing customer base. You set your demographic parameters and perhaps a few topics, as well; you want to understand the psychographic differences between influential beer drinkers who value food vs. fitness.
Because those influencers have already authenticated with their social profiles, you can validate in real time their proof of knowledge. How often do they post about beer? What other brands are they posting about? Which varieties? Do their audiences respond to and act on their recommendations?
Who would you rather have participated in research that will determine the trajectory of your next marketing campaign?
With increasing competition, winning in this environment will not be dependent on who has the most data, or even who can adapt the quickest, but rather on the one who has the most authentic consumer understanding and is able to deliver the most empathetic customer experience. It requires not just understanding knowledgeable consumers’ path-to-purchase, but who and what influences those consumers’ decisions at each touchpoint – and understanding their paths-to-purchase as well.
Customer Understanding Is Everyone’s Responsibility
Achieving customer understanding should not be the responsibility of consumer insights and research professionals alone, but it should be one that is embraced by the entire organization. Influencer marketing and relations professionals already have inherent access to qualified influential customers, data, and the processes in place to reveal behaviors and insights that self-reporting methods, focus groups, and interviews may miss.
As influencer marketing and relations evolves from a one-off campaign tactic to an always-on program, consumer insights and research professionals can help to solve the challenge of always-on programming by introducing their research projects. In turn, influencer marketing and relations practitioners can benefit from improved campaign alignment from insights, strategy and planning through to execution, as well as improved relationships and brand affinity from influencers in their programs. Including:
- Increased Speed, Quality, Intuitiveness, Alignment: Finding the right people with the right insights and ideas is an expensive process for influencer marketing professionals and researchers alike, as is community management and maintenance. Rather than duplicating efforts, consumer insights and research professionals have the opportunity to leverage the time and insights of influencer marketing professionals who have already invested in both, and have the capacity to do so.
- Higher Retention and Brand Affinity: Influencer marketing and relations professionals need programming apart from brand campaigns to keep influencers engaged and invested. With the help of the consumer insights and research teams, influencer marketing and relations professionals can bring influencers earlier into the marketing process, which also results in improved campaign alignment when it the time comes to create content for the subsequent campaign.
- Improved Response Rates and Reduced Response Error: In a recent survey of influencers, 95% of them responded that they are better at engaging people than marketers, and would be open to participating in research-related initiatives beyond creating content.
To date, influencer marketing and relations have largely been leveraged as campaign tactics. To take IMR from tactical to enterprise-level strategy requires a comprehensive, always-on program built on an intrinsic, sustaining foundation of authentic brand-influencer relationships that consistently deliver value for both sides.
In our latest 2018 influencer marketing playbook, How Collaborating with Influencers for Research & Insights can Inspire Better Customer Experiences, we share how to leverage your influencer marketing and relations practice to deliver more accurate consumer research and insights with your research team. In turn, doing so will enable more empathetic and trustworthy communications with consumers. Introducing IMR to the consumer research and insights practices also opens up their accessibility and value to uniquely benefit a matrixed marketing organization, creating opportunities to improve efficiencies, reduce friction, and better align the organization around larger business objectives.