Let me be the first (not the first, but definitely a voice) in saying I hate marketing buzz terms. Why? Buzz terms were created as a stop gap between knowledge and time – meaning, they buy more time for those searching for the answer.
There is this term circulating marketing circles and being pounced on by marketers. It’s called “influencers.”
But people, get real. Influencers are nothing new. In fact, you are probably more of an expert in influencers than some marketing company suggesting that their “database” of “strategic” “influencers” can greatly “impact” your “KPIs”, “sales” and “blah, blah, blah.”
What’s an influencer?
An influencer is anyone who can convince someone else that their opinions are true and motivational. What is messed up with influencers? They are paid to “believe” in products they don’t “believe” in. What happens then? Nothing. Why? People want what they want. An influencer is simply an educator. With an audience, you have the ability to educate them on what products/services exist. Why is this nothing new? Well, let me explain.
Newspapers used to be a great form of advertising. Why? They were influencers. They are, still, through the intersection of editorial content and advertising. Nothing has changed in the philosophy of getting people to tell other people that they should look into product X.
What happens when product X sucks? The influencer’s cred decreases. What happens when a newspaper tells a story that doesn’t come true? Influence and circulation decrease.
Influencers have been in your community forever, too. They are at your church and your kid’s baseball game; at your schools and at your local restaurant. When you ask a waiter what is good, they list off the things they like. When you ask them what is bad, sometimes they struggle with this and simply say, “everything is good.” When you go to that baseball game and a parent gives an awesome snack after – they’re an influencer. When you are at church and someone wears a dress you like, and you ask what type of dress they have on – that’s an influencer, too.
But, something has changed with today’s influencer. And, if they use this change properly, then they can quantify the value of their influence. That’s data. Data is amazing today, especially with Bitly links, conversion tracking and cross-domain tracking. Why is this important? Well, today, you can track more value over time. The last data type – cross-domain tracking – is the most important to me, and here’s why.
When you bought an ad in a newspaper that offered a free bagel, your judgment of success fell into two categories – your gut and the coupons redeemed. In many forms of sales, we have been trained to watch the second data point. A+B = C. But, for all buyers, this is not true. The buying process is unique to the individual, thus, cross-domain tracking is so important to today’s influencer because it can track customer behavior over a longer period of time. Meaning, the influence may have happened in January, and then in December, it will show that user went around the web, gained validation and then finally (maybe after seeing a supporting ad or being remarketed to), acted.
If you bought that ad in the newspaper, you typically only track what happens in the immediate moment. In today’s smarter data world, the data lasts much longer and doesn’t immediately discount something as not working.
So, when your agency suggests the use of influencers, tell them it has been around forever. It’s called PR. But, with the right data behind it, and your feeling that A+B+G-T/R = purchase, tell them that you think it should be a part of your marketing mix.