The Rise of Bot Marketing

Chatbots are taking over marketing. You may have not even noticed that you’re talking with a bot as they’re so seamless. These messenger bots have invaded Facebook messenger, platforms like Kik and WhatsApp, and are present on ecommerce websites across the Internet. Bot marketing saves companies and advertising agencies time and costs on their marketing efforts as they propagate across different marketing segments.

Despite the rapid growth of chatbots, there’s still some concern over their ubiquity. Bot messengers can certainly take over many tasks from humans, but for the moment, they only enhance and supplement traditional digital advertising. Ultimately, human interactions are a necessity for many online sales to occur and chatbots can only take you so far.

However, the future is coming fast, and chatbot marketing technology is constantly evolving. Smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo ecosystem, Apple’s Siri, and Google Voice are all informational chatbots that employ some marketing techniques, including allowing you to order food, call an Uber, and perform other functions. With some key tips, you can utilize existing chatbot technology to improve your marketing strategy and reduce stress on your team.

Customer Service

This is probably where you’ve most frequently seen chatbots. Even today, most businesses force you to wait on the phone and wait for a customer service representative while listening to incessant muzak. Many people are getting more impatient and want to be able to everything online. Whether it’s ordering food, banking, or online shopping, we want to do these tasks with speed.

Messenger bots make these chores easier—a chatbot can often answer your question in a short period, and a customer service agent doesn’t need to get involved. 24/7 customer service is now possible without paying someone to be there all hours of the day. If your customers do need additional help, chatbots can transfer them to a human.

chatbot image

Personalized Ad Creation

Ad agencies are always looking for ways to create more personalized creatives. Facebook and other messenger bots can greet customers, collect preliminary information, and then use that to generate customized ads. These personalizations can increase conversions and lead to future and repeat sales. It’s important that the bots appear to be as human as possible, or this technique won’t work. A quality chatbot will at least initially appear to be an actual customer service representative, while a bad one can damage your brand image and lower conversion rates.

Analyze Your Customers

Chatbots can do a whole lot more than talk to people. They can analyze consumer data and optimize your sales and marketing strategies with those conclusions. If you’re using chatbot marketing to sell a product, it can track purchasing patterns and monitor your clients’ data, giving you key insights to redevelop strategy.

By utilizing the processing powers of messenger bots, you can save on the costs of hiring an analyst and avoid the possibility of human error.

Customer Feedback and Surveys

If you want to grow your company and evolve your brand, you need genuine feedback from your customers. You can use survey responses to help design future business strategies and improve your customer relations. Bot marketing makes this process much easier than it has been in the past. Forget tired and expensive phone surveys that never get completed.

AI-powered chatbots can adapt conversations based on customer responses and get useful data. Wizu is a chatbot specifically for conversational surveys, helping you improve your customers’ experience and giving you valuable insights. Polly uses Slack for surveys, leveraging the power of the chat app itself to create perceptive questions.

The Future of Chatbots

male cyborg representing bot marketingAs chatbot technology grows, their versatility only increases. They are already an asset to marketing firms and businesses as they’re deployed for a myriad of uses. Bots will continue to be a marketing asset in the future, especially when used in voice assistants. You can use chatbots to handle many of your marketing needs to increase productivity, efficiency, and lower costs.

Used in the right fashion, chatbot marketing can revolutionize your business. You can learn more about your customers and increase your conversion rates with minimal cost and effort.


For the latest in chatbot technology, consult the experts at Leverage Marketing. We utilize the latest technology and can help your business grow to its fullest potential.

How to Run Influencer Marketing Campaigns on Facebook

Facebook announced in January that its latest algorithm update would be de-emphasizing updates from business pages in users’ News Feeds. At the time of the announcement, many social media marketers expressed concern that brands’ organic reach, which had already been hobbled by past algorithm updates, would become a thing of the past on Facebook.

decline of organic reach on Facebook

The latest News Feed algorithm update certainly seems to point to a future where brands of all sizes view Facebook as a pay-to-play advertising platform. But while “free” Facebook marketing opportunities are being firmly nailed into their coffin, brands are getting creative and looking for more authentic ways to connect with their audience on the social media site. Influencer marketing—a strategy that involves partnering with influential social media users—is becoming a promising path forward.

Facebook has already introduced several features to facilitate influencer marketing:

  • Branded Content tags have been around since 2016 and allow influencers to clearly label posts that they’ve created in partnership with a brand. This helps keep both influencers and brands in compliance with FTC guidelines for sponsored content.
  • Facebook Groups for Pages lets brands create Groups that are linked to their business page. These Groups give brands a space to engage with their community organically (for example, Instant Pot uses their Group as a recipe-sharing space).
  • A new boost feature lets brands pay to increase the reach of a post that an influencer has created for them. Brands can target a specific audience, and the audience will see the post as originating from the influencer rather than from the brand. Previously, marketers had to share an influencer’s post through a brand’s account before they could boost it.

How Does Influencer Marketing Work on Facebook?

The idea behind influencer marketing on Facebook is, fundamentally, the same as influencer marketing on any other online platform. It starts with a brand identifying a Facebook user with a medium-to-large (and highly-engaged) follower base that overlaps with the brand’s target audience. The brand then reaches out to the influential Facebook user to see if they’re interested in posting about the brand’s products.

Businesses that are new to influencer marketing should keep in mind that influencers expect to be compensated. While some micro-influencers may be willing to produce branded content in exchange for free products, most influencers charge a fee. Brands may negotiate the compensation with the influencer after discussing the collaboration.

online sharing iconOnce the brand and influencer have reached an agreement, the influencer will create a specified number of Facebook posts about the brand’s product. They might share an unboxing video or a picture of themselves using the product. Because the content is coming from an influencer rather than a brand, it has a better chance of getting in front of an audience that is interested in the product. And that audience is more likely to trust a product recommendation from an influencer than from the brand itself. In fact, 85% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family.

Influencer marketing on Facebook starting to sound appealing? Here’s how you can get started with your own Facebook influencer marketing campaigns.

Finding Influencers on Facebook

There are two basic routes you can take to find influencers on Facebook: manually searching your existing Facebook fan base or tapping into tools that will search the entire platform for you.

If you decide to start with the manual search approach, you’ll need to identify a pool of Facebook users who have already engaged with your brand, perhaps by sharing or commenting on your posts.

After identifying these potential influencers, you’ll need to vet them yourself by checking out their social media presence. Do they have a large enough follower base to make a potential collaboration worthwhile? Does the way they present themselves on social media fit with your brand? If you answer yes, you can reach out to them directly to see if they’re interested in working with your brand.

audience target conceptThe manual approach to identifying influencers can be labor-intensive and may not make sense for brands that don’t already have a large, highly-engaged audience on Facebook. The alternative approach is to use influencer identification tools that are essentially search databases of bloggers and social media influencers.

There are dozens of these tools available, with prices ranging from free to thousands of dollars a month. Most offer a free trial so that you can see how they work before committing to them.

Defining the Goals of Your Campaign

As you begin finding and reaching out to power users on Facebook, you should be thinking about the goals of your influencer marketing campaign. Be specific. For example, rather than just setting a goal to “increase brand awareness,” you might set a goal to “get at least 15k impressions” on an influencer’s post. You may also want to set goals related to:

  • Social media engagement (e., likes, shares, or comments)
  • Website traffic (e., how many visitors did an influencer’s post drive to your site?)
  • Conversions (e., how many sales or sign-ups resulted from the campaign?)
  • Revenue from the campaign

You’ll need to work with your influencers to tailor a campaign to your goals. The type of content an influencer produces should directly tie into your goals. For example, if you’re trying to drive traffic to a certain promo page on your website, the influencer will need to link to that page in their post.

Ideas for Influencer Marketing on Facebook

Facebook gives influencers a lot of flexibility in terms of the types of posts they can produce. Below are a few influencer marketing ideas to consider.

Videos

Video accounts for an estimated one-third of all online activity, and 45% of internet users spend more than an hour watching Facebook or YouTube videos per week. As video consumption increases, it makes sense for influencers to use native Facebook videos to catch the attention of their followers and encourage engagement.

Facebook Live

Still a relatively young format, Facebook Live gives brands and influencers an opportunity to create video content that feels authentic and in-the-moment. An influencer could use Facebook Live to broadcast themselves trying your brand’s product or attending a live event that your company is sponsoring.

Contests

Contests can be useful when you’re trying to increase social media engagement and drive Facebook users to your site. An influencer could post photos with a product you plan to give away along with a link to the contest page on your website.

Cross-Promotions

Most social media influencers are active on more than one platform and will likely be willing to run a campaign on several different channels. For example, an influencer might write a blog post about a product or use a food brand’s ingredient on a recipe on their site, then link to that content on Facebook and their other social media channels. This helps you reach a relevant audience at as many touchpoints as possible.


Looking for more ideas to use influencer marketing on Facebook? Need help setting influencer marketing goals and measuring the results? Leverage Marketing’s social media team is on it. Let’s start a conversation about how to succeed on Facebook as organic reach declines.

How Online Apparel Brands Succeed with Digital Marketing

Of all the consumer goods available online, the apparel category—including clothes, shoes, and accessories—has seen some of the biggest gains.

Revenue for online apparel in the U.S. reached $80.96 billion in 2017 and is projected to grow to over $123 billion by 2022.

Online sales are expected to account for 40% of the apparel and footwear market by the 2030s.

In the past few years, major fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Gucci have begun shifting marketing dollars from print ads to digital channels in response to the steadily growing popularity of online apparel shopping.

Apparel brands that focus on their ecommerce presence have opportunities for dramatic growth as shoppers move online. But the competition is stiff. Big brick-and-mortar retailers like Macy’s and Kohl’s have been investing significant resources in building their online stores, and Amazon is cutting into the apparel sales of traditional apparel retailers with its low prices and fast shipping.

Niche apparel brands can’t compete with Amazon and other major retailers on price and shipping, so they must carve out a unique selling proposition—and clearly communicate that proposition to their target audience—to succeed online.

How are small- and mid-sized apparel businesses standing out from the competition and connecting with online shoppers? We spoke with three business owners (and Leverage’s own Director of Strategy, Dan Valle), to find out what digital marketing strategies have worked best for them.

Foolies: Developing a Buyer Persona to Grow a Brand

Niche apparel brands can’t succeed in a crowded online space unless they have a clear understanding of who their ideal customers are. This was something that Alex “Nemo” Hanse, owner of the T-shirt company Foolies Limited Clothing, learned as he built his brand. “When I started seven years ago, I thought that my brand was for EVERYONE,” Hanse says. “Incorrect!”

Hanse realized that he needed to focus on a narrower audience, so he began building a profile of his ideal customer, including details like where she works, what her goals in life are, and how his brand would bring value to her. One thing he realized as he developed his buyer persona was that he should be focusing on marketing to women of color. He stresses that this doesn’t mean other women can’t buy his T-shirts. “It just means I know who I need to talk to [in order to] get my message across and help my brand grow.”

Developing customer profiles, or buyer personas, can help brands like Foolies make decisions about where to engage with their audience, what content formats to try, and what messaging to use. While a buyer persona may begin as a semi-fictional representation of an ideal customer, apparel brands should use customer surveys, interviews, and sales data to shape their personas as their company grows.

T.C. Elli’s: Creating Content That Stands Out in the Fashion Industry

Content marketing allows ecommerce apparel companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors, attract more organic website visitors to their site, and convince shoppers to buy from them. However, new ecommerce brands may discover that the data-driven and long-form content that’s dominating other industries isn’t as effective for them.

Tahnee Elliot, CEO and founder of the Texas-based fashion boutique T.C. Elli’s, is quick to make this distinction. “Fashion retailers are competing with top fashion bloggers, magazines, and other influencers in a space that can only be described as crowded,” she says. “Content for fashion brands must provide benefits for the customer, be visually and aesthetically pleasing, and meet the ‘first, better, or different’ principle.” T.C. Elli’s mix of content includes a visually-compelling blog and Instagram posts that highlight ways to wear the brand’s pieces. Elliot says that by regularly producing high-quality content, “we managed to increase traffic both online and in-store, boost organic rankings, and build brand awareness.”

One Tribe Apparel: Finding the Right Collaborators

Influencer marketing—a partnership between brands and consumers with a large or engaged online following—has become a key strategy for many ecommerce apparel businesses. As a visual platform with 500 million daily active users, Instagram is an obvious place for fashion brands to find relevant influencers. But some apparel brands have found success by looking beyond Instagram.

Ryan O’Connor’s company One Tribe Apparel, which sells handmade clothes and accessories from Thailand, has gotten the best results from collaborating with bloggers in the brand’s niche. “I chose bloggers specifically because we can have many points of exposure with them,” O’Connor explains. “Not only do we usually get a product review with a link for SEO value, but we get photos of them in our clothes that are usually shared on their social channels as well.” O’Connor adds that many bloggers also run product giveaways, which allows One Tribe Apparel to grow their audience by requesting that social media users follow their brand accounts to enter the contest.

For O’Connor and his team, working with bloggers has a bigger ripple effect than working with social media influencers alone. “If we work with just an Instagram influencer, we usually get one to three posts from them, whereas with a blogger we get the SEO benefit, social media benefit, and referral traffic from their site.”

Leverage Marketing: Identifying the Best Strategies for the Brand’s Stage

At Leverage Marketing, we recognize that there’s no silver bullet strategy that will work for every apparel brand. Whenever we take on an apparel client, we look at where they are in their brand lifecycle and identify the tactics with the most potential for the stage they’re in. Dan Valle, Director of Strategy at Leverage, points to two specific cases where tailoring our tactics to an apparel brand’s stage led to significant growth.

“One of our clients was an already-established brand with a good amount of brand awareness and a substantial set of current and past customers,” Valle says. “With their target audiences, most audience members had heard of the brand and had a positive affinity for it. We saw an opportunity to expand into new audiences while continuing to build lifetime value for current and past customers.” Leverage began pursuing newly targeted, non-branded search terms to reach new audiences and grow the brand’s customer base. At the same time, we prioritized email marketing to cross-sell and alert past and current customers about new products, leading to an increase in repeat purchasers.

Leverage also worked with an apparel brand that was in the introduction stage of their brand lifecycle and had a modest budget. “We committed to improving this client’s brand awareness through influencer marketing and content marketing,” Valle explains. Leverage also began building out search engine-optimized onsite content to work towards the longer-term goal of helping the client rank for keywords with a high volume of monthly searches.

Valle recommends that every apparel brand looking to grow takes stock of their current audience and stage in the brand lifecycle. “With this knowledge, you can make better decisions about the tactics that have the most potential now and in the near future,” he says.

Using Digital Marketing to Make an Impact in Online Apparel

As an apparel company, you don’t need the marketing budget of a Macy’s or a Nordstrom’s to succeed online. What you do need is the ability to identify your audience, tailor your content to them, and provide value that they can’t find elsewhere. Taking a customer-first approach will help you win over online shoppers and keep them coming back to your ecommerce store.


Not sure where to start? Leverage Marketing can help you target your ideal customers, develop campaigns to stand out from competitors, and measure your results. Contact us to learn about our full suite of digital marketing services for ecommerce apparel brands.

5 Ways Social Media Can Improve Your SEO

For many business owners new to the world of digital marketing, there is often a common misconception that SEO and social media are separate entities, each operating in their own world with distinct goals. SEO and organic social media marketing work together to create value and provide relevance for your audience. Any good digital marketing strategy should do its best to have both SEO and social media working together, in tandem. In this article, we will look at five ways that SEO works together with social media to bring more visitors to your site.

1.)  Social Media Allows for Content Promotion

social media amplifying SEOThe first way that social media can (indirectly) help your search engine ranking is through content promotion. We might write, film, or record tons of great quality, keyword-optimized content but still not get many eyes and ears consuming it. Social media allows you to take the quality content you have worked hard to produce and promote it on several channels.

Social media is the easiest and most effective way to push out your SEO-based content. While the incoming links from your social media shares don’t have the same impact as authentic links from high-quality sites, they can influence your bounce rate and time-on-site engagement. If your content is good and people stick around to read it, those engagement metrics communicate value to search engines. Your goal should be to turn your best organic content into social media content so you can then encourage engagement and drive traffic back to your site.

2.)  Social Media Encourages More Engagement

The second way that social media can improve your site’s SEO is through increased engagement. If somebody finds our content useful and shares it within a social media platform, this is not a ranking signal for Google or Bing. However, the good news is that engagement is!

If you take full advantage of social media to promote your top quality content, you want to keep in mind that engagement matters for SEO. Engagement helps to not only improve your online reputation but also to make connections and generate leads for your business. Content that gets tons of engagement on social media platforms will rank for the topics they cover. According to Moz, “to determine success, an algorithm looks at whether users engaged. If more people engage that’s a clear sign that their algorithm is showing this right content; if not, their systems will audition other content instead to find something that generates that interest.”

3.) Social Sharing Can Lead to Link Building

link building through social mediaSocial media can also lead to authentic, high-quality links from influential websites. Influencers use social media as much as (or even more than) anyone else. With your content out there on the same channels they’re on, there’s a good chance they’ll see it and link to it from their own websites or blogs. That kind of high-value link building from influencer marketing can be impossible to land at a high rate without social media.

Social media is also useful for SEO because it encourages more external sites to link to your content, and the more diverse external links you have, the more authority you’ll gain in Google’s eyes. The catch is that you have to have high-quality, authoritative content or you will have nothing of real value to attract links.

4.) Increased Brand Awareness Improves Your SEO Rankings

The fourth way that social media contributes to SEO is through increasing brand awareness. This may seem like more of a branding advantage than a specific SEO advantage, but the SEO benefit is huge! Increasing your reputation on social media, through increased engagement and publishing consistent, high-quality content, will lead to increased online brand presence. An ever-increasing brand presence will lead to more branded searches on Google over time. The more branded searches your brand receives, the higher it’s likely to rank for non-branded keywords.

5.) Google’s Partnership with Twitter

Twitter bird Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that Google has a partnership with Twitter. We do not know precisely what this means for the future of social and search marketing. However, we know it is common to see relevant tweets in the Google search results, for branded searches. Having your Twitter posts showing up in the search results does not impact your site’s SEO, but it can improve your brand awareness, authority, and lead to increased link building with other sites. According to the renowned marketer, Neil Patel, there are several ways one can take advantage of the Twitter/Google partnership with the most obvious one being to remember to tweet and to tweet often. As long as this partnership exists, user search will lead tweets (and Twitter hashtags) with similar keywords.

Wrapping Up…

Although social media often works to improve your website’s organic rank in Google, it has the ability to serve as an invaluable tool over time! Whether it’s through content promotions, boosted engagement, more link-building, increased brand awareness, or taking advantage of Google’s relationship with Twitter, you will leverage social media to increase your organic traffic and conversions via search.


Leverage Marketing’s SEO and social media marketing teams are ready to help you improve your site’s traffic and engagement. Contact Leverage today to learn more about our services.

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10 Influencer Identification Tools to Help You Find Brand Partners

After seeing how influencer marketing has helped other businesses increase their brand awareness and sales, you’ve decided it’s time to partner with bloggers and social media power users. But how do you find the people who most appeal to your target audience?

If you feel like finding social media influencers to work with is a bit like going on an elaborate internet scavenger hunt, you’re not alone. One survey from Econsultancy found that 73% of marketers rank finding the right influencers as the biggest challenge of influencer marketing.

Fortunately, a bevy of influencer identification tools has emerged to help marketers and influencers connect. These tools range from free social media monitoring platforms to robust search databases that cost thousands of dollars a month. To help you sort through the many options, I’m providing an overview of 10 widely-used tools to find influencers.

First, some quick caveats:

  1. Pricing in this post is based on the most recent data available at the time of publication.
  2. I’m not affiliated with any of these platforms, and I’m not recommending any one over the others. The best influencer identification tools for you will depend on your brand, business goals, and budget.
  3. There’s a whole cottage industry around influencer marketing, and this blog post is far from a definitive list of all the influencer research tools out there. I’ve tried to choose a representative sample of some of the most popular tools that reflect a range of price points, focuses, and models.

Here’s the quick TL;DR table version of the platforms I looked at:

Good for Finding Influencers On:
ToolFree Version?Price RangeBlogsTwitterInstagramFacebookYouTube
FollowerwonkX$X
Trendspottr$X
AuthoritySpy$X
BuzzsumoX$$XXXXX
KlearX$$XXXXX
Fresh Press Media$$XXXXX
Upfluence$$$XXXXX
GroupHigh$$$XXXXX
TapInfluence$$$XXXXX
HYPR$$$XXXXX

Followerwonk

Pricing:

Free for 1 Twitter profile

$29/mo for up to 3 profiles

$79/mo for up to 20 profiles

Followerwonk is a Moz tool designed to help with influencer identification on Twitter. You can search for keywords that are relevant to your product or service within Twitter users’ bios, and you can also identify influencers who are following your competitors but not you. Followerwonk has a useful Venn diagram feature that lets you compare followers of 2-3 users (say, your Twitter profile and the profile of your biggest competitor).

screenshot of Venn diagram from Followerwonk influencer identification tool

Source: Followerwonk

Other Good Stuff to Know

The free version of Followerwonk is a good starting point but has some limitations. You can’t analyze Twitter accounts with more than 25k followers, and you can only perform 50 Twitter profile searches per day. You also can’t download analytics reports, as you can with the paid plans.

Trendspottr

Pricing: $49/mo

Brands with visually appealing products may be well-served by Trendspottr, an influencer identification tool built for Instagram. One of the key benefits of Trendspottr is that it lets you find social media influencers associated with trending topics in real-time.

Other Good Stuff to Know

Trendspottr has applications that extend beyond influencer marketing. You can also use it to research emerging trends in your industry, discover Instagram posts that are resonating with your target audience, and monitor your brand’s social media reputation.

AuthoritySpy

Pricing:

$27 flat rate for Basic Plan

$47 flat rate for Pro Plan

$47 flat rate + $17/mo for Platinum Plan

Enter a search term related to your niche, and AuthoritySpy will identify the most influential people and blogs associated with that term. It will also show you social media metrics (such as number of Facebook followers and likes) to help you determine the reach of each blog and influencer.

As with most influencer identification platforms, AuthoritySpy lets you narrow your search using filters like region and language. One thing that makes AuthoritySpy a little more interesting is that it also lets you search for people working at a company; for example, you could use this tool to quickly pull together a list of editors at a site where you want to pitch a guest post.

Other Good Stuff to Know

AuthoritySpy is the one tool on this list that is software-based rather than cloud-based. It requires the Adobe AIR app, which runs on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS operating systems.

Buzzsumo

Pricing:

Free with limited features

$79/mo for Pro Plan

$139/mo for Plus Plan

$239/mo for Large Plan

$500+/mo for customizable Enterprise Plan

Buzzsumo lets you enter keywords to find the most-shared content on social media and see who has shared that content. One easy influencer identification strategy for Buzzsumo is to search for terms related to topics you’ve recently written on; this can help you uncover social media influencers who may be interested in sharing your content or promoting your product.

Buzzsumo most shared screenshot

Source: Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo’s paid plans help you refine your influencer discovery process by applying filters such as Influencer Type (e.g. journalist, blogger, company), reach, authority, influence, and engagement. Once you start finding influencers you’d like to work with, you can use the Amplification tool to start building outreach lists.

Other Good Stuff to Know

The free version of Buzzsumo can be frustrating due to its limitations. It only lets you search for the most-shared content in the past year (rather than adjusting your search range to the past 3 or 6 months, for example) and you can’t view the people who shared the content.

Klear

Pricing:

Free with limited features

$249+/mo for subscription

Klear boasts a database of 500 million influencer profiles across 60k categories. You can search for influencers by niche, such as “Yoga” or “Fashion,” and filter results by influencer level (Novice, Casual, Power Users, and Celebrities). Each influencer profile includes audience demographics to help you determine if the influencer is a good fit for your brand. When you find an influencer you want to work with, you can message them directly from Klear’s CRM.

Other Good Stuff to Know

In addition to using Klear to find social media influencers, you can use it to research your existing brand community. The platform includes demographic insights about the people who are talking about your brand on social media.

Fresh Press Media

Pricing:

Minimum spend of $250 to launch a campaign

Service fee (typically 20% of what advertiser pays the influencer)

Fresh Press Media is a marketplace where advertisers can connect with online influencers and content creators. Advertisers post opportunities to participate in a campaign and influencers bid on the project (i.e. tell the advertiser how much they want to be paid to promote their product or service).

Other Good Stuff to Know

This platform offers some flexibility in how you compensate influencers. For example, you could negotiate a flat placement fee to have an influencer feature your product on their blog or offer them a free product in exchange for a review.

Upfluence

Pricing:

Variable– must schedule a free demo to get pricing

Although its (relatively) high cost may be prohibitive for smaller businesses, Upfluence can be a valuable influencer identification tool for more established brands and agencies. Upfluence includes some robust search features, including the ability to combine multiple keywords or include negative keywords (i.e. words you want to exclude from your results). You can build influencer lists and use Upfluence’s CRM to email influencers (or export your lists so you can use your preferred email platform).

Upfluence search screenshot influencer identification

Source: Upfluence

Other Good Stuff to Know

Influencer profiles include details about reach and engagement across social platforms, but there isn’t a lot of information about the influencer’s audience. You’ll have to reach out to influencers directly (or combine Upfluence with other influencer research tools) to determine if they’re reaching your target audience.

GroupHigh

Pricing:

Variable—must schedule a free demo to get pricing

You’ll find a database of over 15 million blogs on GroupHigh. You can search for blogs and bloggers by niche topic, social presence, reach, location, and more. As with many of the other big influencer identification platforms, GroupHigh has its own CRM that you can use to track communication with bloggers. It also has reporting features that let you track the social engagement metrics of the posts you create with influencers, helping you to determine the ROI of each campaign.

Other Good Stuff to Know

GroupHigh has a lot of engagement tracking features and lets you collect all online content (tweets, Youtube videos, etc.) related to your influencer campaign. You can also integrate GroupHigh and Google Analytics to get a comprehensive traffic and conversion report.

TapInfluence

Pricing:

$1999/mo for Standard Plan

Custom pricing for Enterprise and Agency Plans

Like Fresh Press Media, TapInfluence bills itself as an influencer marketplace. Over 50k influencers have opted to be included in the TapInfluence database, making it a good place to find eager brand ambassadors. Advertisers can determine whether influencers align with their brand by using the Audience Intelligence feature, which includes audience information like interests, brand affinities, and income level.

TapInfluence featured influencer screenshot

Source: TapInfluence

Other Good Stuff to Know

One particularly interesting feature available on TapInfluence is the real-time Cost-per-Engagement report. Measuring ROI can be one of the biggest challenges of influencer marketing campaigns, and TapInfluence helps marketers get a better understanding of the cost vs. benefit of working with specific influencers.

HYPR

Pricing:

Undisclosed—must schedule a free demo to get pricing

HYPR’s influencer identification platform emphasizes audience demographics. You can search the database by audience demographics such as location, age, and interests. Each search will lead to a list of influencers whose audiences match the selected criteria. You can build lists of influencers you’re interested in working with and export them as PDFs.

Other Good Stuff to Know

HYPR doesn’t have a built-in messaging feature. However, you can access an influencer’s contact information on your exported lists.

Choosing Your Influencer Identification Tools

The best way to choose influencer research tools for your business is to try out a few that interest you. Most platforms offer a free trial so that you can get familiar with the features and interface before you make a commitment.

If you’re ready to launch an influencer marketing campaign but don’t have a lot of experience, you may be best served by working with a digital marketing agency. Agencies—including Leverage Marketing– typically have access to a range of influencer identification tools and can handle outreach and ongoing communication with influencers.


Contact Leverage to learn about influencer marketing and how it fits with our other services.

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6 Online Branding Strategies Your New Business Can Use Now

When you’ve been busy getting your business off the ground, marketing may not be your biggest priority. However, it’s never too early to start branding your business, and the sooner you adopt online branding strategies, the better.

Branding your business online will help you connect with your potential customers in the digital spaces where they spend time. A good branding strategy should give your audience a strong sense of what your company is all about and why they should choose you over a similar competitor. A well-developed brand will stick with consumers. Even if they’re not ready to buy from you right now, they’ll remember you when they need your products or services.

Let’s look at some of the online branding strategies you can start implementing now, even if your budget and resources are limited.

Expand Your About Us Page

Take a look at the About Us page on your website. Does it read like a laundry list of basic facts (e.g., founder’s name, year launched, location)? Is it a short paragraph that you told yourself would serve as a placeholder until you came up with something better? If so, it’s time to invest more energy in the content on this page.

The About page is your chance to introduce customers to your brand and show them what you stand for. This page needs to answer the questions:

Why does this business exist?

What does this business do better than anybody else?

Not everyone who lands on your site will visit your About page, but those who do will gain a better sense of what drives and defines your brand. And the act of developing content for your About page will help you and your team come up with the language that best describes your business, which you’ll continue to use in both offline and online branding strategies.

Document Your Buyer Personas

buyer persona icons for online branding strategiesBefore you can get rolling with your website branding strategies, you need to understand who you’re trying to reach. 74 percent of online consumers say they get frustrated when a website’s content is irrelevant to them, so it’s important to tailor your brand content to the right buyers.

You may already have an idea about the kind of person who will love your product or service, but do you have documented buyer personas? A buyer persona is a representation of your target audience based on market research and historical data. If you’re a new business, you may not have a lot of customer data to base your personas on. That’s okay: you can start with broad personas and add details as you learn more about your audience. For example, a company that sells beard grooming products might identify two primary audiences:

  1. Men with beards
  2. Women buying gifts for their bearded partners

As their business takes off, the beard care company can begin collecting demographic information from sources like Google Analytics, customer surveys, and interviews.

Once you learn more about (and document) your target buyers’ interests, pain points, and buying process, you’ll be better prepared to connect with them through your brand messaging.

Create a Brand Style Guide

No matter what branding strategies you use in your online marketing, your brand voice and visual style need to be consistent. Consistency helps your audience quickly recognize and identify with your brand, while inconsistency can confuse your audience and cause them to see your business as unprofessional. Your new business should take the time to create a brand style guide that includes:

  • Your brand’s mission/goals
  • Your brand story (e., the reason you exist)
  • Adjectives to describe the brand, as well as adjectives to describe what the brand is not
  • A description of your audience (e., your buyer personas)
  • Notes about language to avoid
  • Your brand color palette
  • Your brand typography (e., the fonts you’ll use)
  • Approved versions of your logo and descriptions of when to use each one
  • Best practices for visual content

Is that a lot of detail? Yes, but it’s worth it. Having a brand style guide that you can share with your employees and freelancers will keep everyone aligned with your brand voice. And that kind of consistency pays off: you’re three to four times more likely to enjoy brand visibility when you consistently present your brand, leading to an average revenue increase of 23 percent.

Develop a Customer Reward Plan

customer reward conceptBranding your business online isn’t just about attracting new customers—it’s about building brand loyalty.

One great way to improve your customer retention is to reward customers for every purchase. For example, you could:

  • include a personalized thank-you note whenever you ship an online purchase
  • send customers a discount code after they buy something or subscribe to your newsletter
  • let customers earn store credit every time they make a purchase.

Adopting a reward plan will help you become known as a company that truly cares about its customers. Additionally, if your company offers a type of reward plan that none of your competitors have, you can use it as a unique selling proposition. For example, the shoe company TOMS markets the fact that they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need every time a customer makes a purchase.

Encourage and Share User-Generated Content

One of the main goals of branding is to engage with potential customers so that they’ll choose to buy from your business. And one of the beauties of online branding is that you can directly connect with your audience on the digital platforms where they’re already spending their time.

Once you start building an audience online, encourage your followers to share brand content on your website and social media. User-generated content, which can be anything from product reviews to unboxing videos, builds your brand’s authenticity and provides social proof. When potential customers see real people using and enjoying your product, their confidence in your brand will increase.

So, how do you get your online followers to create and share content with your brand? Give them an incentive. For example, you could run a photo contest with a gift card prize or pledge to donate $1 to a charity every time followers post an Instagram photo using your branded hashtag.

Build an Influencer Network

influencer network concept of online branding strategiesA discussion of online branding strategies wouldn’t be complete without mentioning influencer marketing. Influencer marketing involves working with someone who has a dedicated base of online followers so that their followers can get to know your brand. This might include writing a branded guest post on an influencer’s blog, having an influencer share a photo of your product on Instagram, or teaming up with an influencer to host a webinar, just to name a few examples.

As a new business, you might not feel like you have the clout to work with an influential blogger or social media personality, but influencer marketing campaigns can work for companies of all sizes, as long as you’re willing to invest some time and effort.

The first step you’ll need to take is to identify online influencers who closely align with your brand and your customers’ interests. You can do this manually by performing Google searches for blogs that are relevant to your industry, or you can streamline the process by using an influencer database tool like Buzzsumo or Upfluence.

Once you’ve identified influencers you’d like to partner with, you’ll need to take the time to build a professional relationship. Subscribe to the influencer’s newsletter, comment on their blog, share their content on social media, and familiarize yourself with their brand. Influencers will be much more open to working with your brand if you’ve done your research and shown an interest in their content than if you abruptly ask them for a favor.


Need help implementing any of the online branding strategies above? The Leverage Marketing team specializes in building brands through digital channels, and we’d love to hear from you. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for your brand.

11 Essential Influencer Marketing Facts and Statistics

Influencer marketing is a phenomenon of modern marketing that places expert consumers in the role of consultants for buyers looking to make informed purchase decisions – and the power of influencers is growing every day.

Influencer marketing is the management of exchange relationships between service and product providers and trusted consumers with authority over a target audience.

Social media, one of the main mediums for influencers to flex their marketing muscle, has a white-knuckle grip on the youth of the early 2000s. Over the past 10 years, social media has built an entire digital world in which millennials socialize, create, and consume. The majority of their interactions and decisions happen online, and now they are reaching the age at which they are making and selling products and services. The wise marketer should pay attention to the growth rate of influencer marketing and track the statistics that can help craft a successful influencer marketing strategy and campaign.

To get you started and thinking about influencer campaigns and research, we’ve dug up some surprising influencer marketing statistics:

influencer marketing facts and statistics infographic

74% of people trust social networks to guide them to purchase decisions

Three out of every four customers trust the opinions on social media, including friends, family, and influencers, to help them make the right decision about a product or service. If you’re not working with influencers, you could be losing those customers to your competition.

49% of people rely on influencer recommendations

That’s nearly half of all potential customers. Influencers build trust by creating a memorable brand and creating useful and relevant content. When consumers feel safe with influencer recommendations, they follow them and purchase those products.

In 2016, influencer marketing surpassed print marketing

According to Google Trends, the following three marketing channels deserve your attention:

  • Video marketing is still the most promising marketing channel
  • Influencer marketing is moving in on video marketing
  • Print marketing is falling behind in effectiveness

“Influencer marketing was rated as the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel, beating organic search, paid search and email marketing.” – Tomoson

Customers are blocking ads

47% of customers have reported that they use ad-blocking technology when browsing. Only 14% of people can remember when they last saw an ad and what it promoted. The power is shifting to the influencers – real people with real opinions.

75% of marketers claim to have allocated money for influencer marketing

Unless you’re already actively enticing influencers to try your product or service, your competition has you beat. Marketers know that influencer marketing is a top contender for marketing channels – it’s time to hop on board with social networks and influencers.

Businesses make, on average, $6.50 for every $1.00 spent

Tomoson found data that backs a huge return-on-investment for marketers and companies who use influencer marketing. At an average of $6.50 in revenue for every single dollar spent, the risk is, at least for now, well worth the reward.

Marketers spent $25,000 – $50,000 per influencer marketing program in 2016

Linquia’s deeper research found that spending on influencers has increased, as well. Most budgets for influencer marketing fall within the $25,000 – $50,000 range, which matches the external marketing budgets of small-medium sized companies.

Instagram has 700 million users

And a majority of those users are in the 16-24 year age range. Connecting with youth through social media outlets like Instagram enables access to a wealth of consumers, most of whom are endlessly hungry for consumer goods.

40% of Twitter users made a purchase based on a tweet

At least one purchase based on a tweet at such a high percentage means influencers do, indeed, have the ability to affect the decision-making process for customers. Engagement with influencers over Twitter has the potential to drive sales for goods that have previously been unavailable.

64% of brands are on Snapchat

Plus, they are reaching 301 million active users per month. Though Snapchat requires more creative marketing than most social channels because of the nature of the application, it also yields instant influence in the hands of powerful influencers who market across channels.

67% of marketers promote content with the help of influencers

That 67% goes beyond the 75% of marketers who have just set aside a budget. 67% of marketers are actively engaging with influencers and striking deals to promote products and services using their hard-built trust.

If you haven’t started looking into influencer marketing, take the time to get familiar by logging into your social accounts and exploring the accounts of users with large followings. Observe their words, actions, and photos, then start imagining how they can use those tools to promote your or your client’s products and services.

It’s not too late to get on board and start an influencer marketing campaign. Develop a strategy that includes some of your industry’s top influencers, and show them how useful and valuable your product or service is. If you have questions, talk to the masters of marketing at Leverage Marketing, and check out our Guide to Planning Your Digital Marketing Budget eBook to make sure you’ve got room in your budget to sway those influencers today.

4 Big Social Media Marketing Trends for 2018

We’re well past the days when a business could create a Facebook Page and call it good. As new social platforms, algorithms, and advertising models have arisen, social media marketing has gotten a lot more complicated. Now, some of the latest trends in social media advertising involve using specialized tools and strategies to reach a highly relevant audience at the right time.

Since we’re approaching the end of 2017, we decided it would be a good time to take stock of some of the rising social media marketing trends for 2018.

Chatbots Get Smarter

Chatbots (those chat boxes that pop up online to ask if you need assistance) are already a common sight on business websites. It’s easy to see the appeal: chatbots can simulate human conversation and help website visitors find what they’re looking for without having to call or email a customer support agent.

57 percent of consumers already say they’re interested in chatbots because of their instantaneous responses. As chatbots become increasingly popular, they’ll also be finely tuned to better meet consumers’ needs. In 2018, we’re anticipating a couple of social media advertising trends related to chatbots:

  1. More chatbots will interact with users across multiple platforms.
  2. Chatbots will get better at using consumers’ data to make personalized recommendations.

We’ve already seen examples of these smarter chatbots this year. Facebook released their Customer Chat plugin, which lets businesses integrate Facebook’s Messenger platform with their own site so that customers can continue chatting with a business any time they’re online. The plugin is currently in closed beta, and several airlines are testing it out.

Meanwhile, Twitter has released a feature that lets users interact with a branded chatbot over their Direct Messages. The tequila brand Patron used this feature to run a “Bot-Tender” campaign where a chatbot gave users personalized recommendations for cocktails based on their answers to a series of questions.

Twitter chatbot example of social media marketing trend for 2018

We’re not going to see chatbots replacing human customer service reps anytime soon—chatbots are best-suited to simple queries and product recommendations. However, as chatbots become more sophisticated, we’ll see growing acceptance of chatbots as a means of communicating with brands on social media and beyond.

Dynamic Ads Get Personal

Chatbots aren’t the only thing getting personal. Marketers are getting better at tailoring their content to the interests of specific consumers, and social media platforms are making it easier for marketers to customize their ads. Dynamic ads are now one of the biggest emerging trends in social media advertising.

This fall, Facebook unveiled a new dynamic creative tool which will show different combinations of ad components (such as images, headlines, and calls to action) to audiences based on their preferences. This dynamic ad tool will put the ‘big’ in ‘big data.’ Advertisers can add up to certain assets to each ad, resulting in up to 6,250 unique combinations. Facebook will analyze which versions perform best with each audience, giving advertisers the insights they need to run more effective social ads.

YouTube also has a new tool, called Director Mix, that lets marketers generate thousands of different variations on one video ad. Marketers supply all the video ad components (including voiceovers, background, and text), and Director Mix puts together different versions to align with different audience segments.

Campbell’s Soup is one brand that has already benefited from YouTube’s Director Mix. They used the tool to directly relate their product to the content their viewers were about to watch. For example, someone who was watching a clip from the show Orange Is the New Black would be served an ad with the copy: “Does your cooking make prison food seem good? We’ve got a soup for that.” Appealing to their audience’s personal interests paid off for Campbell’s: the campaign netted them a 55 percent lift in Simply Soup sales.

Live Video Becomes a Must for Marketers

 

Branded video has been one of the fastest growing social media advertising trends of the last few years, and most businesses are using video marketing in some capacity. According to Hubspot, 85 percent of businesses have staff and resources to produce videos in-house. And even businesses with limited internal resources can benefit from live video streaming on Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms.

The less polished, more personal nature of live video makes it a good medium for sharing company events, clips of products being built, behind-the-scenes workplace footage, and quick news updates. Live video lets brands break down the typical formality of advertising and interact more authentically with their audience. And, as an added benefit, Facebook’s algorithm pushes live videos to the top of the Newsfeed, increasing a brand’s likelihood of being seen organically.

If your business decides to use live video next year, keep in mind that “less polished” doesn’t have to mean amateur. If you’re streaming a live interview, for example, you should still make sure you have good lighting, a camera on a tripod, and a company representative who is comfortable in front of the camera. If you’re streaming something a little less structured, like your team’s charity event, you should still have a clear understanding of the story you want to tell.

Pressure to Report on Influencer Marketing Increases

Interest in influencer marketing has grown dramatically in the past five years, as evidenced by Google Trends:

Google trends graph influencer marketing

In the (relatively) early days of online influencer marketing, brands with large marketing budgets would pay celebrities to endorse their products on social media. This allowed brands to get their products in front of a celebrity’s large social media following, and many brands saw this visibility alone as a win.

However, as influencer marketing matures, businesses of all sizes are realizing that they need to do a better job of measuring the results of their campaigns. This is especially important as brands increasingly seek to partner with micro-influencers who don’t have the reach of celebrities like Kim Kardashian or DJ Khaled, but who do have engaged followers in their niche and may deliver a higher ROI than bigger-name personalities.

Businesses may be able to get away with only tracking impressions if their sole goal is brand awareness. However, businesses who have engagement and conversion goals must measure:

  • Likes, comments, shares, retweets, and reactions
  • Growth of social media followers
  • Website traffic (businesses need to set up campaign URLs so that they can identify the traffic coming from an influencer campaign)
  • Sales (businesses can attribute sales to influencer campaigns by giving influencers a unique discount code to share with followers, or by using affiliate links and UTM tracking parameters)

Influencer marketing will continue to grow in 2018, but marketers must be able to measure their success to prove to the C-suite that this strategy is worthwhile.


Think we missed one of the biggest social media trends for businesses? Let us know in the comments. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more digital marketing news, tips, and predictions.

Biggest User Experience Problems with Ecommerce Sites

This post was originally published in early 2017, but we’ve updated it with new information to reflect current trends in ecommerce user experience design.

Designing an ecommerce user experience that pleases the customer is hard. Besides creating a gratifying ecommerce layout design, you need to craft a seamless experience from landing page to purchase. We’ve created a list some of the common failings ecommerce sites fall into–and your site should attempt to avoid. By focusing on your ecommerce UX and avoiding these pitfalls, you can succeed.

ux problems infographic 2

Limited and Missing Product Info

Website users want straightforward information. They want sufficient details that explain what your product is and how it can help them. Your ecommerce site should have multiple pictures of each of your products from various angles, presented excitingly. Don’t use stock images either; customers prefer images you’ve created or photographs that were taken expressly for your product. Follow this advice, and you can be successful on your site, and have images ready for Google’s Shopping Platform, newsletters, and more.

Lack of Mobile Optimization

It’s impossible to ignore mobile–it’s growing and becoming a larger segment of ecommerce activity each year. People shop from their phones and tablets a significant amount of the time, especially around the holidays. Your ecommerce website should be responsive and easy-to-use on mobile, with large buttons and a simple checkout process. Developing your site for mobile can lead to increased conversions and draw in new customers.

Long or Confusing Checkout Process

A quick check out process is integral to the success of your ecommerce site. If your check out takes too long and isn’t smooth, it can dissuade buyers and lead to abandoned carts. A one-page checkout, with multiple options for payment–including the option to sign in with Google, Amazon, or PayPal can increase your conversion–and success.

Bad Site Search

You hopefully already have a site search function for your ecommerce site–but how well does it work? It should include filters and advanced functionality to help your customers find what they need. Give them options to search by category or feature. Purchasing and enabling quality software will make the search process easy and functional for your customers.

Missing Contact Information

This piece of advice is simple–don’t hide your contact information. You should provide multiple forms of communication: phone, email, chat; the best methods for your ecommerce website. The more expensive the products you’re selling, the more easily reachable you should be. Place this information prominently in your header or footer and include easy links to a contact us page.

Engaging Content: Videos, Etc.

To create a successful ecommerce site, you need to engage your buyers. That means creating exciting content for them to watch or read, including videos, infographics, case studies, and original information about your products. Your content should enhance the user experience, explain your products, and reinforce why your company is the right choice for the customer.

Poor Social Sharing Buttons

Social media is a vital aspect of ecommerce and ignoring it can be the downfall of any ecommerce site. A successful ecommerce site allows customers to share items they wish to or have purchased. Social sharing can result in additional conversions, and by making this process easy, you can increase your web presence as well.

Creating a seamless user experience for your ecommerce customers is one of the keys to your success.  Avoiding these pitfalls and focusing on ecommerce UX design will ensure your product shines and customers return to your site and recommend you to others. By following these ecommerce UX best practices, you can see increased conversions and higher revenue over time.


If you’re looking for some help with the user experience on your ecommerce site, Leverage is here to help you. We have experience working with ecommerce businesses and can tailor an approach to your company. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you.

Enhance Your Ecommerce Marketing Strategy with Leverage Learning

95% of Americans make an online purchase at least once a year, and 80% have made at least one online purchase in the past month. And, as the Washington Post recently put it, about a third of consumers now buy something online at least as often as they take out the trash (once a week). As online shopping becomes increasingly popular, it may seem like there’s never been a better time to own an ecommerce business.

However, growth-focused ecommerce businesses still face plenty of challenges, especially when it comes to attracting shoppers (who may be inclined to start their search on Amazon) and converting those shoppers into paying customers.

Build Your Ecommerce Marketing Knowledge

At Leverage Marketing, we want to help online businesses address these challenges with actionable ecommerce marketing ideas. We’ve been doing this for years with our digital marketing services, and now we’re taking what we’ve learned and sharing it in a free educational email series called Leverage Learning: Ecommerce.

The goal of Leverage Learning: Ecommerce is to help online business owners find digital marketing ideas to reach more customers and increase sales. The series is broken into 11 lessons on the following subjects:

 

content marketing for ecommerce email preview

  1. Branding
  2. Search Engine Optimization
  3. UX Web Design
  4. Content Marketing
  5. Influencer Marketing
  6. Facebook and Instagram Marketing
  7. Paid Search Advertising
  8. Email Marketing
  9. Online Customer Service
  10. Mobile Marketing
  11. Measuring Success in Google Analytics

 

When you subscribe, you’ll receive a new email lesson twice a week until you’ve received the full series. The emails offer best practices for ecommerce marketing, quick tips that business owners can implement right away, and recommendations for free or low-cost tools to streamline marketing efforts.

If you’re ready to use digital marketing to drive sales for your ecommerce business, you can subscribe to our Leverage Learning: Ecommerce series by clicking here.

SEO for ecommerce email preview

And if you enjoy this series, stay tuned: we’ll be releasing our Leverage Learning: Content Marketing series next!


As always, we’d love for you to contact us if you have any questions about our Leverage Learning series or the digital marketing services we offer!

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