Engaging the online influencers among your customers

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Engaging the online influencers among your customers
Engaging the online influencers among your customers

In this era of the social web, where earned media is the newly sought after goal in marketing initiatives, many marketers are trying to identify those consumers who can spread their message most broadly across the web. These consumers are recognized as “influencers” who can generate awareness and impact for a brand like never before.

Today, consumers have many different ways of connecting and sharing their interests, opinions and wants online across blogs, forums, and social networks. It's a lifestyle that is becoming more common and more people are relying on the shared experiences of strangers to drive their purchase decisions. The chance that a new customer will find you through a traditional channel grows less likely each day. Consumers are online and influencers are one of the new gateways to them.

Marketers pay a lot of money looking for these influencers. What they fail to realize is that they have thousands of them right under their nose. Identifying the influencers who are already brand loyal and likely to spread the word is a sure bet. They've already bought your product. Now all you have to do is get them to tell their community about you. But first, you have to identify them. That's the challenge.

We're operating in a new frontier of digital marketing where consumers can do some of the work for you.  When examining your customer list to identify influencers, we suggest looking beyond the typical recency, frequency, and monetary value of the customer. Explore the impact they have on others' behavior. Things like their social identity, breadth of digital footprint, size and strength of their online community, and their contextual influence. These components are rolled into three overall measurements:

Reach. Reach determines how connected a person is to other people. To measure this it's important to look at relationships and the influencers' strength between people across the web.

Relevance. It's essential to find out how relevant a person is to a particular category, which requires the exploration of consumer generated content in context.

Impact. This measure reveals how much engagement a consumers' content generates within their personal connections network (e.g., retweets, shares, comments, “likes,” etc.).

Reach, relevance, and impact are important customer and content attributes to explore, and when combined with traditional loyalty measurements can result in a segment of extremely powerful influencers for your brand.

It's possible to use these influencers as an extension of your marketing initiatives to generate earned media and new customer acquisition, as a result of the reach and impact of this segment.

An approach of this nature meets the demands of today's direct marketers by enabling a strategy that optimizes three vital components of successful marketing efforts:

Scalable. Influencer discovery among your customers enables outreach through multiple methods: email, display, and direct mail. Because you're able to identify the social influencers within your email database, you have the ability to activate those influencers at scale, versus individual influencer outreach through a social network or listening platform.

Relevant. Performing influencer discovery driven by specific categories or context gives you the ability to find the right customers in your database: those most likely to spread your promotion or message far and wide.

Actionable. The beauty of this approach is that it begins from the inside. You have identified influencers from your customer list. This allows your marketing team to promote to them directly through channels that have proven to be successful in the past.

In a world saturated with marketing and advertising messages, brands are required to innovate. Tapping into the influencers on your customer list has the power to drive new customer acquisition, earned media, and increased lift for your marketing campaign.

Ed Messman is CEO of


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