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.

Not ready to talk? Sign up for our newsletter to get digital marketing tips and updates delivered to your inbox.

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!

How to Master Online Customer Service

As sales increasingly move online, it’s more vital than ever for your company to have stellar online customer service. Your web presence, including social media, online chat, and even forums, is your customers’ gateway into your brand. At Leverage Marketing, we know how necessary online customer support is, and have the online customer service tips you need for success. These brands go above and beyond when interacting with their clients, creating an accessible and fun web reputation.

Even just a decade or two ago, people would use BBB (the Better Business Bureau) and services like Angie’s List to find the best business for the job. Today, we use Facebook, Twitter, review sites like Yelp, and Google searches to find the best company. A brand with the best online customer service stands out and encourages using them time and time again.

Here are some of our tips for online customer service:

Why is Customer Service Important?

customerserviceattitude

You might be asking why customer service is important in the digital age. After all, we interact face-to-face less than ever before. Customer service is important because it can be a critical step on the way to purchase or as a way to resolve an issue with an order. First impressions are important, and you want to make sure to get it right. Well-educated customer service representatives can help potential customers problem-solve and avoid negative reactions to your company. Most importantly, online customer support provides an easy and convenient way for your customers to interact with you. It goes both ways—you learn from current and potential clients, and they can have their questions and concerns addressed.

How Should My Company Engage with Our Customers?

In today’s constantly-on environment, it’s important to have multiple avenues of customer service for your clients to engage with you. While the basics are important—phone, email, and web chat– going beyond those are essential for creating the best online customer service. Being accessible to your customers and engaging with them helps make your company feel relatable. Determine which social media networks are useful for communicating your brand message, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest. Twitter and Facebook are most commonly used for complaints (and positive reviews), so responding to customer comments can be a key part of your engagement strategy.

Social media is a key part of developing your brand voice: you can decide to be snarky, always positive, or have a specific sense of humor. Wendy’s Twitter account has been making waves with their hilarious and often mean @replies, which can work for some brands, but not for all. Developing your brand identity through social media is key because it’s often your customers’ first look into your product or service. Help make potential clients feel comfortable engaging by responding to comments, using emojis and GIFs to create a casual atmosphere.

Companies Known for Great Customer Service

Here at Leverage, we know about the best online customer service. We work with companies every day that utilize our online customer support tips to help their clients and develop better relationships with their customer base.  These are some outstanding examples of companies with great customer service:

jetblue customer service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JetBlue- While it’s certainly not the largest U.S. airline, JetBlue knows how to engage with its customers. Their customer service team realizes the importance of interacting not only with satisfied flyers but also with those who had bad experiences. They’re extremely active on Twitter, responding to @mentions as well as brand mentions. JetBlue’s commitment to customers is evident in its Customer Bill of Rights: “JetBlue Airways is dedicated to bringing humanity back to air travel. We strive to make every part of your experience a

s simple and as pleasant as possible.” With many forms of support, including phone, email, an online knowledge base, text updates, and a smartphone app, JetBlue has customer service covered. From in-person to online customer service, JetBlue takes care of its customers, leading to people using the airline again and again.

Zappos- Although Amazon now owns them, Zappos disrupted an industry (shoes) and has some of the best online customer service out there. They offer fast, free shipping and free returns for a year. Zappos puts their customers first—their company motto is that they’re a “service company that happens to sell shoes. And handbags. And more….” This attitude has helped Zappos succeed in a big way. The company puts its representatives through its School of WOW to inspire its leaders and teach them the best customer service philosophy. Most importantly, for an all-online company, Zappos puts its customers first. Whether a customer calls in, chats, or uses social media, Zappos is right there to help them whatever their concern.

How Can My Company Master Online Customer Support?

To become a company known for great customer service, you need to start with a customer-first philosophy. Leverage Marketing offers web design services and social media management services that support your customer service efforts. Contact us today to develop a strategy and get the tips you need for success.

Does B2B Influencer Marketing Make Sense?

Influencer marketing—the practice of partnering with influential individuals to communicate a brand message—is hardly a new concept for B2C companies. In fact, back in the 1760s, the pottery company founder Josiah Wedgwood was using endorsements from painters, architects, and even royalty to promote his products. There’s centuries’ worth of evidence that influencer marketing can be an effective tool for B2C brands, but what about B2B companies?

If you own a B2B company, you might be under the impression that because you’re targeting a narrower audience than your B2C peers, influencer marketing just isn’t worth it. However, B2B influencer marketing can be incredibly effective, as long as you’re working with the niche B2B influencers that your target buyers follow.

How Influencer Marketing Can Benefit B2B Brands

B2B influencer marketing example from American Express

Collaborating with niche influencers—including industry analysts, conference speakers, and other thought leaders—can help you:

Humanize Your Brand

While you may be selling your products or services to businesses, it’s important to remember that it’s still people who are doing the buying. And those people aren’t likely to connect with your brand if you hide behind dry industry jargon and generic lists of product features. B2B influencers give your brand a human face and inject personality into your message, helping you appeal to your target audience and stand out from competitors.

Capture the Attention of Difficult-to-Reach Leads

One of the biggest challenges in B2B marketing is capturing high-quality leads at the right time. Industry influencers who align with your brand can reach a highly-targeted audience at different stages of the buyer’s journey, and with the right message, they can nudge those audience members towards your business.

Build Trust

When you invest in influencer marketing for B2B, you’re making an investment in your brand’s reputation. B2B influencers have dedicated a lot of time and effort to build trust with their audience, and when they make a recommendation, their audience listens. If you find an influencer who believes in your product or services, you’ll earn the trust of their followers.

3 Standout B2B Influencer Marketing Examples

Hopefully, you’re starting to see how powerful B2B influencer marketing can be. If you’re still unconvinced, check out these examples of B2B influencer marketing campaigns that had a major impact:

GE’s Instagram Series Takes Flight

General Electric was ahead of the curb with B2B influencer marketing: way back in 2013, they invited six influential Instagram photographers to tour and document their newest aviation facility. The company also shared an Instagram post inviting six aviation fans to join them on the tour by posting a sentence about why they were the biggest GE #avgeek. In less than 24 hours, the post got over 1,000 likes and over 130 comments.

Since this initial campaign, GE has launched their #GEInstaWalk series on Instagram. They now regularly invite some of Instagram’s best photographers and biggest tech aficionados to tour and take pictures of their cutting-edge facilities.

American Express Shares Design Tips with SMBs

American Express wants to appeal to small business owners, and one way they do this is by teaming up with experts who can address the pain points small business owners often experience. As part of their Love My Store campaign, they partnered with HGTV Design Star winner Emily Henderson to make a series of videos about in-store design. In the videos, Henderson visited different stores and offered the owners advice on using design and signage to attract more customers. American Express also invited small business owners to post photos of their storefront with the hashtag #LoveMyStoreAmexContest for a chance to win a one-on-one consultation with Henderson.

SAP Captures an Online Audience with Influencer Interviews

SAP, an enterprise software company, decided to use B2B influencer marketing to get more mileage out of Sapphire, their annual user conference. The company identified authors, academics, and independent business consultants who could speak on topics that appealed to SAP product users, and then invited those influencers to participate in interviews at the Sapphire conference. SAP used Facebook Live to broadcast these interviews, extending their conference content to over 80,000 people who didn’t attend. In addition to sharing their videos on Facebook, they also leveraged the interviews to create blog content.

Ways Your Company Can Use Influencer Marketing

 

expert roundup influencer marketing example

Example of expert roundup blog post from American Webmasters Association

It’s not just big brands like American Express and GE that can benefit from using B2B influencer marketing. Here are a few ways B2B companies of any size can start working with niche influencers:

  • Collaborate on a whitepaper. You could ask an influencer to co-author a whitepaper or eBook, but if the influencer you want to work with doesn’t have the time for such an extensive project, they could simply contribute several “Expert Tips.”
  • Write an “expert round-up” blog post. These blog posts often pose one question (e.g. How has social media marketing changed your business?) and collect responses from several industry insiders. If you curate this type of piece, ask the experts who contribute to help extend the post’s reach by sharing it with their social networks.
  • Invite an influencer to co-host a webinar. Attract more participants to your next webinar by inviting an influencer your audience respects to co-host. Not only will working with an influencer boost your authority, it will also add an interesting perspective to the webinar that you might not have gotten otherwise.
  • Write a guest post for an influencer’s blog (or vice versa). In some cases, an influencer might be willing to write a guest post for your blog in exchange for you contributing a post to theirs.
  • Conduct an interview with an industry expert. You could conduct the interview over the phone or email if the expert is remote, but if they’re in the same city, see if you can do a video interview. This will give you visually appealing content to share on your site and social media.

Remember, there are many different ways you can work with B2B influencers, but none of these strategies will be fully effective if the influencer’s message doesn’t align with your brand. Do your research: instead of just chasing the influencers with the most fans or followers, look for micro-influencers who resonate with your target audience.

How to Use Instagram to Promote Your Brand

There’s no question that Instagram has become a juggernaut in the social media landscape. Since Facebook acquired the platform for almost $1 billion in 2012, Instagram has surged in popularity, skyrocketing in daily active users and monetizing itself through branded hashtags, integrated ads, and more. Using Instagram as a marketing tool can enhance your brand’s success, connect you with your fans, and bolster your online presence.

Why Instagram?

You may be asking, “Why use Instagram?” If your company or brand is already successful on Facebook or other social media channels, utilizing Instagram may seem redundant or unnecessary. But marketing on Instagram allows you to interact with an age group younger than Facebook and other platforms and provides a personalized experience for your audience. Marketing with Instagram can give your followers and fans a behind-the-scenes look at your business or brand, providing them with easy opportunities to engage.

However, only 36% of online marketers use Instagram, compared to 93% of whom who use Facebook. While Instagram isn’t right for every brand, it’s worth looking into whether using Instagram as a marketing tool could be beneficial for your business.

instagram marketing stats

It only takes a quick look at Instagram’s demographics to see why the service could be essential to your business. Over 25% of Internet users were using the platform in 2015, with over 50% using it in the key demographic of 18-29-year-old people. Instagram users engage with the platform in a way other social media platforms dream about—with 4.2 billion likes on posts daily, as well 95 million photos and videos shared daily. When you use Instagram for brand marketing, you can achieve engagement rates much higher than Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

While more women than men use Instagram, people of all genders like, share, and post on Instagram—from taking food photos to live videos. Marketing on Instagram means communicating with your followers and understanding what they want. By setting specific goals for your Instagram marketing, such as increasing follower count, improving your images and videos, or deriving additional revenue, you can leverage Instagram for success.

How Can I Succeed on Instagram?

instagram marketing

Using Instagram for marketing effectively requires using the tools available. With the right tools for success, your brand or company can leverage Instagram to increase sales, visibility, and your connection with customers. Here are some of the most crucial elements:

  • Consistency and Frequency- Publish often, but not too often. The rate will depend on your brand, but it may be daily, or even 2-3 times a day. Whatever frequency leads to optimal engagement is what you should aim for—and stick to that. Being consistent with your posting will help establish credibility and allow you to keep to a schedule.
  • Understanding Your Audience/Followers– Know who follows you. You want to develop the right content, be it Instagram Stories, photos, or videos, that appeals to your audience and shows that you get Specificity may require building out buyer personas for Instagram to understand better who your followers are and could be in the future.
  • A Strong Vision and Strategy- Develop a plan for how you want your company Instagram to feel. There should be a distinct vision for your posts—a clear goal for what you’re communicating to your followers, which can be aided by…
  • A Clear Visual Style- Everything from a consistent font to a color palette to filters used for your colors should be defined for your Instagram. Create a simple visual style guide for company images to help yourself and anyone else who manages the account—perhaps go through this process with an in-house graphic designer or consultant.

By using these tools, you’ll be on the right path to success with Instagram. Other useful tools include Instagram scheduling apps, repurposing content from other platforms, and utilizing contests and giveaways to engender additional interaction with your followers.

What Kind of Content Should I Post on Instagram?

So now that you understand why you should use Instagram and how you can succeed on the platform, you might be wondering, “What kind of content I should post?” The easy answer, especially for B2C companies, is to post photos of their product, but that simply won’t get the level of engagement you want. Instagram is all about engagement, so here are some techniques for driving followers to interact with your brand:

  • Behind-the-Scenes Content- Use videos or sets of photos to show your fans what it’s like at your company. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, this helps create trust with customers and can be a fun way to provide an inside look into how your business operates. Like Snapchat, Instagram videos don’t require professional polish—they should look clean but don’t need extensive editing.
  • User-Generated Content and Customer Stories– Utilizing content produced by people who love your product or company—who are as passionate about your brand as you are—can resonate with your audience. Use Instagram to ask for user-generated content, offering a reward in the form of a gift card or another prize.
  • Hashtag Strategy- Develop a hashtag strategy for your content. Use relevant and related hashtags to your company and content for your posts to connect with other Instagram accounts and gain followers. Using Instagram hashtags may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.
  • Be Fun, Light-Hearted, and Educational- Instagram is an exciting platform—there are so many ways to produce and edit content and reach your audience. Experimenting with different media and techniques with A/B testing and educating your followers about your brand will lead you to the right content to produce.

Marketing on Instagram for Your Brand

No matter what type of company you have, Instagram is a viable candidate for marketing today. Companies as diverse as Nike and Ben & Jerry’s have active Instagram presences, utilizing photos and videos to increase their brand visibility and connect with customers. By following Leverage’s Instagram marketing tips, you can develop a strategy for including it in your social media marketing.


Let the social media experts at Leverage help you get started marketing on Instagram today. Contact us to learn about our social media marketing services and what we can do for your company

How to Use Social Media for Ecommerce

For ecommerce businesses, social media is going to become and may already be one of the most formidable arenas for advertising to potential customers. If you’re an ecommerce business owner, you can take advantage of the reach of social media to find potential customers at any part of the sales funnel.

hands holding purple box toward customer for marketing on social mediaUse of social media as an advertising tool for ecommerce businesses is sneaking up on social network addicts as well as the businesses and marketers that advertise to them. The birth and rapid expansion of influencer marketing has also pushed shoppers to start their buyer’s journey on popular social websites like Instagram and Facebook.

In those same places, advertisers are dropping chunks of their advertising budgets on videos that demand viewer attention and get them interested in products about which they didn’t know. Ecommerce sites may still be able to generate significant revenue without social media presence, but they will be missing out on an enormous audience of potential buyers – an audience that their competition may already be targeting.

Not convinced? These facts and statistics about social media for ecommerce businesses may change your mind:

how to use social media for ecommerce facts and statistics infographic

 

Get into Social Media for Your Ecommerce Business Now

Building a social media presence doesn’t happen overnight. You can use social media as one of your main advertising channels for your products, but you have to build an audience first, and if you want to make money, it better be a large audience.

Plus, you’ll need to figure out where your branding fits into your social media persona. Grab your accounts now, and if you already have them, start posting as soon as possible with product descriptions, special offers, and quick graphics and advertisements.

Information and data provided in this article and in the attached infographic were assembled and revised from articles provided by experts at the following websites:

Entrepreneur
Statista
TechCrunch
The Telegraph


 

Your friendly Leverage Marketing team is already hard at work creating social media opportunities for ecommerce businesses. We know how to push product announcements, bring in customers for awesome sales, and find new audiences for your products. Talk to one of us today to learn more, and don’t forget to join our newsletter for invaluable marketing know-how you won’t find anywhere else!

Page 1 of 512345