Today’s customers are increasingly taking charge of their purchase journey by proactively researching brands and products. They evaluate products and brands through internet reviews, in-store interactions and word of mouth recommendations or reach out via social media to poll their networks about their own experiences and suggestions. In other words, they are “pulling” information helpful to their purchase decisions and relying less and less on traditional “push-style” communications. This has shifted the importance of the outreach of consumers to marketers above marketers’ outreach to consumers.
Every day, consumers are constantly forming impressions of brands from the barrage of touch points that surround us all. News reports, advertisements of all types, social media, product experiences and conversations with family and friends are all shaping consumers’ mental and functional associations with a wide variety of brands—consciously or not.
Pop quiz: Are you more likely to respond to an advertisement or a recommendation from a friend, family member or colleague? If you’re like most people, advice from someone you trust is much more likely to sway your opinion. In fact, 92% of consumers consider a referral from people they know to be the most important factor when considering a purchase1.
How, then, can marketers inject the human element into their communications? Why, by reaching out to humans, of course. Some of your best brand supporters—your influencers—are humans who can be current or potential buyers, or third parties, who have already made a name for themselves in a niche, like bloggers, public speakers or journalists.
Influencers can help provide the word-of-mouth human touch so many consumers crave. This white paper focuses on using data science to identify and activate influencers to help you drive brand awareness, consumer reach, impressions and engagement.
Using Text Analysis to Understand Your Audience
Acquiring a deep understanding of your audience is key to learning about who you can identify as an influencer. But traditional methods of audience identification result in traditional audience segments, and spray and pray just doesn’t cut it any longer.
The most obvious target audience can be reasonably simple to find, but using modern data science to learn more about what your audience is actually discussing can reveal never-before considered customer purchase intentions and behaviors. However, the amount of data on the internet is overwhelming; it can be extremely difficult to determine what is relevant to your brand.
Modern data science can analyze what people say or post, providing a granular look at the landscape for a particular product or brand. Using natural language processing and semi-supervised machine-learned classifiers to stitch unstructured (social media profiles and conversations) and structured (CRM, customer loyalty, transactional) data can help marketers predict interests, demographics and digital behaviors.
Once you have a basic text analysis, data science methods can further distill staggering numbers of social posts into semantically related word groupings. Predictive analytics builds larger semantic themes across a wider audience discussion. The image below depicts some examples of interest keywords validated during a text analysis. In the example, we are looking at keywords used by an audience of dog lovers.
As you can see, there are some crossover keywords in travel as well as major sports. So a pet product company might benefit from knowing their customers also enjoy traveling, baseball, hockey, and so forth. This information could be leveraged to ensure that company offers a variety of products for people who travel with their dogs, or sports-themed products for dogs.
Insights into other common keywords your audience is using can not only help you better understand your current audience, but also identify new segments of your desired audience.
Identifying personas can help determine the people who you can approach to serve as your influencers. Modern analytics groups similar consumers into unique personas that can drive personalized marketing campaigns. Establishing personas based on people’s actual posts and conversations rather than a traditional target segment can drive more intelligent and reliable marketing and content decisions. By validating a number of personas that are a good fit with your brand, you can find individuals that have influence over potential buyers.
In the example illustrated below, we’ll continue with the imaginary pet product company theme. The company is thinking about stocking a variety of sports-themed dog accessories—so we look first for people between the ages of 35 and 44 who are dog lovers and sports fans. This search has returned 424 portraits that meet those criteria.
Using persona insights to find the right influencers for your brand can provide additional reach in your niche, since they are creating related content and have already established relationships with at least part of your target audience. An influencer has high recognition, from web-only to celebrity status, and are trusted authorities on purchase decisions. You will likely find a variety of individuals who are potential influencers, and you’ll want to ensure they are a good fit for your brand.
We have already found a list of potential influencers, and now we’re ready to learn more about them. In the example below, we’ll look more closely at Dave Spiven, whom we identified in our search for dog lovers who also are sports lovers.
We can see quite a bit of helpful information about Dave; for instance, he has 853 Twitter followers and follows 887 accounts. He enjoys major sports as well as casual sports, and has many pages of tweets you can review to help determine whether he might be a good influencer for your brand.
Delivering content that consumers value requires a genuine, accessible voice with the experience and reputation your audience can trust. The shifting trends in consumer decision making means that marketers should adjust their strategies to expand into influencer marketing.
With benefits like acquiring new audience segments and extending reach into new and desired audiences, influencers can enhance your marketing campaigns’ ability to be in the right place at the right time. Your customers—existing and future—will appreciate the information and encouragement they need in making their purchase decisions.
After all, your influencers can serve as yet another way to provide your customers the ability to communicate with a “real person.”
People Pattern is a Software as a Service platform that supplies meaningful Audience Insights to the world’s biggest brands. Via semi-supervised machine-learned algorithms and natural language processing, People Pattern turns vast, messy public expression into actionable persona sets, helping brands gain an edge in the race to win, retain and serve customers.