According to our recent consumer index survey, bloggers are the third most trusted source of information when it comes to purchasing decisions (after friends and family), surpassing celebrities, journalists, brands and (unsurprisingly) politicians. As consumers get bombarded with more and more online content, brands cannot ignore the power of these influencers if they wish to maintain one-to-one engagement with their customers.
If brands are looking to win over influencers and jump aboard this trend, taking a tailored approach to working with them allows you to have far more targeted conversations, by focusing on promotions and products that are most relevant to an individual influencer.
High-street retailer Debenhams has recognised the potential targeted reach that bloggers and social influencers can provide, and over the last 24 months has developed a dedicated blogger enrolment programme to engage them and their users. Pia Sharma, e-commerce marketing manager at Debenhams states: “Debenhams has recognised blog and content sites as key influencers of the customer journey. It is a great way to target specific audiences and drive brand awareness and engagement with our customers. It is a key part of our affiliate programme and an area we will continue to invest in.”
Most bloggers also have the ability to reach a larger audience by developing a strong social media presence, meaning that two out of three brands now want to work with social media influencers. Leading on from this, more and more influencers have taken the conversation away from the blogosphere, and now have the conversation with their followers solely through social networks like Twitter and Instagram. Brands need to recognise how they can work with these influencers in order to make the most out of their reach. Debenhams, for example, has capitalised on this by getting involved with video content that these influencers are publishing.
It is important to recognise the different consumer attitudes towards content/native advertising in order for retailers to work with them in the most effective way. According to a study carried out by the IAB, consumers make a conscious decision as to whether to engage in a content piece or not. This is based on relevancy of the content to them as an individual, whether they see value from it as they would with other editorial content from a publisher and finally (maybe most importantly) the trust in the author, publisher or brand associated with the marketing content.
Finally, all brands looking for partnerships with bloggers and influencers need to make sure that they are being upfront and honest with the users that they are reaching out to. If a commercial agreement is in place, or if a blogger has been sent a free sample in exchange for a review, this needs to be made clear. A user that feels as though they are being lied to or misled will not remain loyal for long – breaking their trust is beneficial for neither blogger nor advertiser. This is why the CMA guidelines have been bought in to bring guidance for both bloggers and brands to follow.
Brands that recognise the potential of working with bloggers and influencers stand to gain a valuable share of voice with their users, as long as they are willing to take the time to tailor their content and treat their readers with integrity. With the right approach, retailers will not only gain valuable sales, but will be able to develop valuable, longer-lasting relationships with users on a more personal level.
Written by Hannah Foxton, senior account executive, at UK affiliate marketing network affilinet. Hannah has worked across a wide range of clients on the affilinet network. As part of her role she manages the Debenhams blogger programme; introducing bloggers to the Debenhams programme and its opportunities.
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