What Shopping on Amazon Can Teach Us About “Influencer Marketing’


What Shopping on Amazon Can Teach Us About “Influencer Marketing’

 My husband recently suggested to me that I patent the algorithm I use to shop on Amazon. I have a very specific process when making online purchases for anything from toiletries to clothing to electronics. 

My first step is to find the category or product type I would like to buy. Then I filter the results based on average customer reviews, and then filter those results based on the price range I would like to spend. 
As I scroll through my results, I take notice of those products that are most reviewed with the highest customer satisfaction rating at the cheapest price. Then, and only then, I make my purchase. 
I am not detailing my purchasing process for you all to emulate. I am detailing the method to my madness to illustrate the power of “influencer marketing.” It focuses on using individuals or groups who have sway over your target market in regards to buying your products or services. The influencers in my Amazon shopping experience are the product reviewers.
While connecting with influencers is not a new marketing strategy – big brands have partnered with sports figures and celebrities for decades to promote their products – this type of marketing has exploded in the last few years, as consumers have become increasingly cynical about direct advertising and marketing efforts. 
Instead, consumers have come to trust the opinions of their favorite personalities and fellow consumers who communicate their products and services preferences on online outlets ranging from social media platforms to customer review sites and community forums. 
How this type of marketing can be used in the parking industry remains unclear to many. Even within the most niche communities, there are individuals or groups with close relationships to your target audience who can influence their behavior. Teaming up with these influencers can help your business raise brand awareness, boost web traffic or referrals, and even increase sales.
The greatest hurdle I see in understanding the enormous potential of influencer marketing in the parking industry is figuring out not what an influencer is, but rather who are your potential influencers and how to engage with them for both B2C and B2B parking industry companies and organizations.
B2C Influencer Marketing
Influencers for large consumer brands such as parking operators, online reservation platforms and on-demand services, tend to be more obvious to identify and see the benefits of including in your social media marketing strategy. These companies are often trying to reach particular demographics such as people of specific ages, geographies, income levels and life stage. These particular audience segments and the people or groups that are influential can be easily located and targeted specifically. 
For example, if you are targeting people who are going to be looking for parking for a specific event, you can target your engagement with social media influencers who are posting about the event. If you simply post to your own social media accounts, say, available parking options, you will miss out on a huge portion of individuals who might, in fact, be in need of your services. 
To engage relevant influencers in this case, you should post about topics that are relevant to the following of the influencer and the type of people who would be attending the event, who may potentially need parking. Share content such as interesting advice, information or promotions. Use appropriate hashtags, mentions or direct messages to ensure that you are connecting with your targeted influencer. Remember, getting the influencer to share and repost your social media content is key. 
Additional possible influencers for B2C parking companies include local personalities, news and media outlets, event or sporting venues, business and merchant associations, transportation authorities, municipalities, and visible satisfied customers.
B2B Influencer Marketing
B2B companies can also benefit from influencer marketing just as much with the right strategy, the right influencers and the right messages. The first step to influencer marketing in a B2B context is to understand not the influencer, but whom you are trying to influence. 
For example, is it your ultimate goal to reach the purchasing decision-maker of your product or service? Are you trying to reach the people who will actually be using the product or service? In a B2B context, these are generally separate groups that will be influenced by different people and different things.
While the decision-maker might be at the C-suite or executive management level, the actual users are below that organizational level. Targeting both is important. According to Google, 81% of non-C-suite individuals in a B2B business have a say in purchase decisions, and almost a quarter (24%) of them have final sign-off power.
Once you’ve determined whom you’re trying to influence, it will be easier to determine who can truly influence them. For B2B companies, influencers are anyone who can affect the sales cycle. They can include industry thought leaders, bloggers and media outlets. The most useful influencers will have a large following you would like to target to either purchase your products or services, or have a large following of other influencers who might also pass along your message, expertise or recommendation to their followers.
To be successful with gaining buy-in from such influencers, B2B companies must showcase their expertise and knowledge to these influencers, who can in turn vouch, demonstrate, share or evangelize the expertise or positive experience they have had working with your company. The impact this can have should never be undervalued. 
According to the 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Study conducted by Demand Gen Report, the leading drivers of influence for B2B purchases include reviews and references from industry peers (66%) and a company’s reputation as an industry thought leader (61%).
Final Thoughts
Influencer marketing is a work in progress – there will always be new people talking about your company. Your work is never done. Connecting with influencers takes time. Don’t expect a relationship to come from nothing, and don’t give up too easily. The key element is earning the attention and respect of influencers, and that takes work.
Kathleen Laney, President and Executive Search Consultant at Laney Solutions, is a Contributing Writer for Parking Today. Contact her at kathleen@laneysolutions.com.
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