Connect the DM Dots

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Connect the DM Dots
Connect the DM Dots

As a direct marketing executive, identifying the influencers that can—and are—driving public opinion on your latest direct marketing campaign can be a daunting task. An expanding universe of bloggers, online authors, and prominent (as well as not so prominent) social media contributors actively produce posts around the clock. Last month's advocates languish; yesterday's detractors loom large. These are the very people that can determine whether you hit your target performance on that latest outbound campaign…or help to sink it. Regardless of whether you target consumers or business professionals, the “influencers” will have more of an impact on your direct marketing campaign than your quirky creative or audacious offer—or even your convincing content.

Cutting through the clutter to find the key influencers of your latest DM campaign is mandatory.  Ignoring the influencers is lunacy. So what do you do?

Here are five easy steps to make outside influencer identification and engagement accurate and easy, and DM campaign metrics soar.

1. Focus the topics tracked for DM campaign influencers to ONLY one or two message points. Keep it narrow. If your campaign focused on your new tablet computers, don't look for influencers on “electronics” but instead on “handheld, tablet, or portable computers.” If it was about “perfume” don't focus on “beauty products.” This first step filters out authors that are only tangentially related to your industry and much less focused on the specific product highlighted in your campaign. It also saves considerable analysis effort as well as valuable time.

2. Focus monitoring on the regularly publishing outlets and authors for that specific topic. Quickly converge on a list of outlets covering the key topics of your specific DM campaign with some frequency and authority. Again, ensure writers and outlets are focused. For example, “consumer packaged goods” will be much broader, and perhaps less relevant, than “beauty products.” Take an honest look at what you're really marketing in that campaign, and concentrate analysis efforts on that. Those publications will most likely have the most relevant impact and reach, so concentrating efforts there will maximize results.

3. Develop an “influencer score” to rank the filtered set of authors. A simple, weighted score can help narrow your set of influencers to a top hit list. Based on factors that matter to your organization—such as the number of relevant articles written pertaining to the products in your latest campaign, potential reach, topical importance, past articles on your competitors' products, or past articles on your own, etc.—develop a simple framework for separating the top influencers from the rest. If your campaign promotes your company's new LED lights, Pool & Spa News may not be the place to spend time. A proliferation of magazines, newsletters, and online news sites dedicated to all things “LED” will likely yield better results. This approach to ranking maximizes the ROI of your outreach and relationship building efforts by ensuring that you engage the authors who matter most to that specific campaign.

4. Research what your top influencers have been writing about. Before reaching out to your top list, take the time to learn more about the backgrounds and article histories of the “influencers.” What did they write during the past few months? If your campaign discusses the merits of your new diet aid, research whether they've written about weight loss strategies lately.

5. Track your efforts to see big wins and concentrate on the remaining hit list. Track your results so that you can identify who positively responded to your engagement—and make sure to show the results to management. For example, did that blogger do a follow-up piece from a new angle? And, don't forget to keep your eye on the remaining key influencers who have yet to cover you.

As you effectively engage influencers, you may want, or need, high-quality data through which to measure and analyze your efforts. Several new technology tools can actually automate this process for you.

Eric Koefoot (left) and Chris Bolster are managing partners at PublicRelay.

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