Guest post by Marina S. Kellner
The new year is progressing quickly and most marketers will have already set out their most promising strategy to reach their marketing goals in 2021. But what do you need in 2021 in order to succeed? Depending on whether you already have a mature set of tested measures at hand or you are still testing for the best formats and channels, this article can give you some inspiration and insight to consider when planning your marketing.
Roughly summarized marketers usually have two main objectives:
- Driving more conversions by leading the customer through the funnel – goal oriented and quickly
- Constantly building a bigger audience that is aware of the brand and persuaded by its characteristics
Of course the strategy to reach these objectives always depends to a large extent on your specific target audience. But you might also consider the monetary value of your product or service USPs within the market. E.g. If you sell birthday decorations or small priced items for daily use, paid advertising with emphasis on the pricing might already do the trick. But the higher the price or the longer the estimated decision time for a purchase, the more proof is needed to confirm the quality of your product or service.
So what are the golden measures to successfully spread the word, make it heard and let it echo?
Of course it all starts with great content. Original, appealing and useful content is key for getting your messages out there and attracting the attention of your target groups.
Taking great effort to produce high quality content has some hard-to-beat advantages and can be a viable strategy on its own. But as more and more market participants go after the same people, you might need to take it up a notch and build up some external advocacy in order to increase reach, create brand awareness and drive conversions. The currently most popular way to achieve this is to combine forces of great messages with the right influencers.
Content Marketing or Influencers? What can help you better to reach your goals?
Let’s take a look at where Content Marketing scores and where its limitations have to be taken into account.
First of all, great content should always consider the needs of the respective target group along the complete funnel. What do they need to be attracted to, to be supported in their decision making and most of all how can they be led bullet-proof and barrier-free through their purchase.
Classic content distribution, taking into account all of the above, can be divided into three categories.
1. Content distribution on Owned Media like your website or Social Media Profiles
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2. Content distribution via Paid Media like Search Engine Advertising or Social Media Ads
3. Content distribution by customers and other stakeholders like mentions, customer reviews, likes & shares
If you have the resources you can greatly support your authority by creating Webinars, Live presentations, Whitepaper or free of charge Tools. Anything is possible as long as your audience finds it useful.
Example of free courses and lessons at Hubspot
If all of this is considered, Content Marketing has some clear advantages:
- A good brand positioning on the market
Good and original content makes your brand stand out and count on the market.
- A strong brand credibility
Unique and useful content demonstrates authority, transparently shows the brand’s purpose and makes it easy for its values to be perceived.
- Good customer relationships
If prospects and customers easily find what they are looking for on the brands channels, it helps to nurture their trust and feeds into their loyalty.
- A solid worth of mouth marketing & viral effects
If content is fresh, unique and exciting, the respective targets might share it. The sharper the content is targeted to specific needs of the target group the more helpful and relevant it is. With a little CTA here and there people might spread their excitement across their channels and help the brand get inexpensive coverage.
- An elevated perception within the industry
Like within any social or economical structure, demonstrated authority and thought leadership can be very beneficial for setting the tone and being able to set industry standards.
But despite the comprehensive advantages of putting great effort into a top notch and sustainable content strategie, using content marketing as a basis is not suitable for every company. E.g. companies that need quick turnover in sales might find it obstructive instead of useful.
The most obvious disadvantages of basing your strategy on Content Marketing are:
● Long-term investment
An elaborate content marketing strategy is long-winded and designed to pay off sustainable and consistent, but long-term. It mostly takes some time before the results can be seen. So if companies rely heavily on immediate sales, this might not be the right way to go.
- Resource intensive
The content always needs to be adapted to the specific target groups. It is not a one-time effort, but an ongoing challenge to continuously develop and provide unique, fresh and useful content. So especially for small start-ups or companies, that are carefully testing out their value, it might not be feasible to put time and money into long-term content strategies.
- Entry Barriers
You can have the best content at hand, be the best in class when it comes to providing useful insight and help to the prospect and customer – these are lost endeavors if you cannot get it out there. With every content strategy comes the need to spread the word, continuously seek the contact to and communication with your specific audiences.
And this is exactly where Influencer Marketing can make a powerful contribution. Also as a viable strategy on its own, it can help both, new brands that need a powerful introduction to their audiences, and established brands that want to spice up and elevate their messages to gain reach and market domination for their products and services. So in general, Influencer Marketing can be quite useful along the complete funnel.
Let’s take a look on where and how Influencer Marketing can put you one step ahead of your competitors.
The most obvious advantages of collaborating with Influencers are:
- Building brand authority and awareness
Influencers enjoy a good portion of authority and credibility for their respective field among their followers. They function as peers for their followers, engage in real conversation with the group and often share their experiences with a product or service in great detail. As they do this on the basis of their daily use cases, they can help raise awareness of a brand, its strengths and weaknesses and if positively convinced about their experience can boost the perception of the brand into the right direction within the targeted group.
- Increase brand reach among the target groups
If a trusted relationship between a brand and an Influencer is not based on a one-time-payment only, but based on a good foundation of an honest commitment of the brand and the strong belief of the Influencer, it can have a viral effect that continues to work for the brand. Long-term commitments usually work well for both parties and the longer it lasts, the wider the marketing messages are spread. Influencers are often active on more than one channel, are sometimes interviewed by journalists, appear on industry events, so a lasting relationship will continuously help to widen the brands reach and acceptance among the target group.
- Strengthen the brands credibility and trust
They not only talk about items that interest them, but show pictures and videos to support their evaluations. This way the followers get a real story behind a message and the social proof whether the proclaimed marketing messages are true. This social proof can attract prospects that had no need for that product or service and lead them to consider a purchase anyway. And it can also help undecided individuals to make a confident decision.
- Boosts the brands organic reach
Being introduced to a wider audience by an Influencer can have a real boost on SEO. Once the Influencer has made his reference groups keen on knowing more about the product or service, people will likely click on the provided link or search for the specific product, service or brand. So any retweet, any recommendation or conversation about the product or service can have strong effects on the website’s SERPs results.
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But as Marketing is never a ‘one size fits all’ solution, there are also some disadvantages to consider when thinking about engaging in Influencer Marketing.
Disadvantages to consider when implementing Influencer Marketing:
- Cost intensive
As the majority of high impact brands have turned to Influencers and build up Collaborations over the past few years, the costs have skyrocketed. Influencers know their market value and are business-savvy and experienced when negotiating the conditions.
- Demands for transparency
Consumers have already learned that Influencer Marketing is a business sector, so if the messaging is over-exaggerated, it can have the contrary effect. For inexperienced marketers, that try to engage with an Influencer for a one-time-only action or are not able to honestly persuade with their product or service, this can mean a communication disaster.
- Moneymakers with too many followers
If an Influencer is not chosen carefully, the effect of Influencer Marketing can be equal to none. With a growing number of anonymous followers, it gets harder for Influencers to engage in a meaningful way with their respective target group. But with less engagement often enough there is less conversation with the group, a smaller peer-effect of the Influencer himself and as a consequence less influence on the perception and buying decisions of the followers.
- Image hurdles or damages
Influencers are real people with real opinions. So if an influencer encounters problems or causes controversy, he can easily hurt the companies image along the way.
- Complicated measurement of success
As for sales or the rise of the website’s SEO, the success of a cooperation with an influencer can be quantified and measured. But especially with the quality items, such as brand awareness and credibility, measurements are more complicated.
Finding the right influencer for your brand, establish a trustful relationship, and keep him engaged with his followers over your matters is time-consuming.
So what is the resolution then? If both strategies are not suited to be the reliable golden grail, where is the marketing investment more promising?
As we have seen in the evaluation above, both marketing strategies hold great potential to help marketers to build up strong brands, sustainable relationships with customers and are therefore both suited for reaching your marketing objectives of driving conversions and building a bigger audience. But it is essential to have a good understanding of what your target groups expect from you and how the described advantages and disadvantages of the two strategies weigh in respective to these expectations.
Depending on your single goals and the variety of your marketing mix, an integration of both, content marketing and influencer marketing, might help jump-start the journey in 2021.
Great content across your own channels, a competitive product or service, reliable marketing messages, and a clear view of your stakeholders are the must-haves in order to feed off influencer marketing. Without any single one of these items, you will most likely not be able to attract an industry expert influencer. But if you already have a good set of marketing measures up and running, useful and appealing content, and a clear statement about your brand, experimenting with influencer marketing might bring your branding and prospecting to the next level.
Regardless if you target B2B or B2C personas, choose carefully who you engage to advocate your products or services. Don’t go for the one with the biggest group of followers. Put time and research into finding the expert that fits your company and that engages well with his community. Again, a close knit relationship and good conversation with the community is key in order to have an impact on a buyer’s perception and decision making. If you plan on engaging in influencer marketing for the first time or if you are unsure how to find the best person for building this up with you, consult with an expert.
Influencer marketing experts know the scene, know the niches, and have an eye on the industry buzz around all social media platforms. They will help you get started and avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes.
Marina Kellner is a Social Media Expert and the Founder of Social Media Agency ‘MSK + Partners’. Connect with Marina on LinkedIn.