Three Forms of Influencer Marketing Tools to Know

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As the Internet has democratized the media world—effectively making anyone with specific subject-matter knowledge, the desire, and a keyboard into a “publisher”—traditional public relations (PR) has arguably morphed into the broader practice of influencer relations.

To be sure, PR remains a vibrant profession. Though its tools and methods have evolved with digital technology, its practitioners still produce news releases, build relationships with key journalists and editors, and work to procure industry, business, and (often) local news coverage.

But it is also increasingly viewed as a key component of earned media exposure, along with analyst relations, influencer marketing, and even partner marketing through industry trade groups and associations. To the extent it helps build high-quality links, PR (and more broadly, influencer marketing) also supports SEO efforts.

Influencer marketing is one of the four key channels in the POSE model for content distribution and promotion, along with search optimization of content (owned media), social media marketing (shared media), and online advertising (paid media).

As with those channels, influencer marketing has its own unique set of tools to help expand capabilities and automate repetitive tasks. Here are three vital types of tools to assist with influencer marketing efforts.

Content Distribution and Amplification Tools

You’ve just written an awesome blog post—a carefully researched, insightful piece of writing, complemented with compelling and relevant images, that addresses a hot topic. Great! Now what?

Producing high-quality content is only half the battle. That blog post, article, video, or infographic won’t produce results that provide a positive return on effort without promotion. Certainly, if it’s optimized for popular keywords, if should draw some organic search traffic. And sharing it across your social media accounts will drive some additional visits.

But that’s not the end of the story; much more can be done to gain exposure and readership for your content. Here are four specific types of content distribution and amplification tools that get your text and visual content in front of a larger audience.

Content Publishing Tools: LinkedIn Pulse and Medium enable you to publish original or previously published (e.g., on your company blog) posts in order to reach a wider audience.

Content Distribution Tools: There are several different types of tools within this group. Some enable to you to expose content in specific formats to a wider audience, including SlideShare for presentations and Vimeo for videos. Triberr and Dlvr.it help you build networks of content producers and encourage co-sharing of topical posts. Paper.li and Tumblr are social content curation tools.

Content Amplification Tools: Outbrain and Taboola increase exposure to your blog posts by positioning them as similar or “you may also like…” content on high-traffic media sites. Zemanta and inPowered programmatically distribute native advertising content.

Social Sharing Tools: Start A Fire enables you to promote your own content each time you share a link on social networks, while Flare connects to your Google Analytics account to provide visibility of where your content is being shared.

Influencer Marketing (Outreach) Tools

Influencer marketing tools typically offer a core set of features for finding and connecting with industry influencers, including the ability to:

  • identify influencers by topic, industry, or subject matter expertise;
  • rate or rank influencers by their level of influence;
  • manage outreach activities; and
  • monitor engagement and results.

There are dozens of tools that provide these core features. Among the most popular alternatives are Klout, Buzzstream, Kred, Little Bird, Onalytica, ContentMarketer.io, and InkyBee.

The stndard in influencer marketing - Klear

There are also a number of tools that put a bit of a different spin on influencer marketing. For example, tools that focus mainly on connecting marketing and PR professionals with journalists, and journalists with expert sources. In the U.S., this group includes Muck Rack, HARO, and Cision. In the UK, options are Gorkana, Journalisted, and JournoRequests.

Influencer relationship management (IRM) platforms are pretty much what they sound like: CRM-like platforms designed specifically for managing relationships with industry influencers. Popular IRM tools include FullContact, Contactually, Prezly, and Traackr.

Among popular apps for connecting brands with paid influencers are Izea, Influence.co, and Grin. Tools like Social Crawlytics and Klear add competitive analysis to standard influencer marketing functions. And InfluencerDB is an Instagram-specific influencer marketing app.

Reputation Management, RSS, and Social Search Tools

While the key goal of influencer marketing is getting others to talk about you, it’s also imperative to understand what people are already saying about your company, brand, products, competitors, and hot topics in your industry.

Here are four types of tools that can help you monitor the pulse of your industry and jump in where and when necessary.

  • Reputation management tools: Sites like Reputation.com and BrandYourself enable you to monitor brand mentions, encourage advocacy, and fight back against negative comments and content.
  • Topic monitoring tools: Set up TalkWalker Alerts or Google Alerts to receive periodic updates of the latest online news or content based on your search parameters.
  • RSS readers: Use Feedly, Digg, or Feedspot to create a curated stream of news and posts from any sites that produce an RSS feed, including publications, blogs, and YouTube channels.
  • Social search tools: When periodic alerts aren’t timely enough, try a tool like Social Mention, Whos Talkin, or Social Searcher to conduct real-time searches for topics or brand names across blogs, social bookmarking sites, online forums, and social networks.

Long gone are the days when your brand image relied on a what a few key publishers and analysts wrote about it. Today, marketers have direct access to a wide range of journalists, analysts, bloggers, social media influencers, and trade association partners each with a distinct voice and (overlapping) following.

Track your brand on social media - Social Searcher

Influencer marketing tools help you find and reach those voices. Content distribution and amplification platforms, meanwhile, extend exposure to your brand’s content. Together, they help you maximize your “earned media” coverage across the web.

This is the sixth post in the Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing Tools series.

#1: The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing Tools: Introduction

#2: Three Types of Tools to Use for Content Strategy and Planning

#3: Seven Kinds of Tools to Help Develop Better Marketing Content

#4: Seven Groups of Tools for Designing and Optimizing Websites

#5: Seven Key Categories of Social Media Marketing Tools

#6: Three Forms of Influencer Marketing Tools to Know

Marketing Technology Isn’t a Stack—It’s a Matrix

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A version of this post originally appeared on the V3*Broadsuite blog.

The universe of marketing technology tools and apps is exploding. The number of marketing technology vendors tracked by Scott Brinker, a.k.a. @chiefmartec on Twitter, has surged from 150 to nearly 5,400 in the past six years.

Though the flood of new entrants has significantly outpaced consolidation activity so far, merger and acquisition activity is picking up. Specifically, four large tech vendors—Oracle, Salesforce.com, Adobe, and IBM—hope to dominate the market by gobbling up small suppliers and rebranding the acquired products into all-encompassing suites.

The logic behind these moves, according to TFM Insights, is that buyers confused and bewildered by this fragmented landscape will flock to single-source solutions: “Thus the big software companies, alongside a number of smaller competitors, have seized the opportunity to sell their customers more complete marketing suites. In theory, this takes some of the hassle out of building a bespoke, marketing stack.”

Only time will tell how successful these vendors are. Industries do generally, of course, consolidate over time. Think of the American auto industry, which collapsed from hundreds of manufacturers in the early 1900s to just three main players by mid-century. Or the cable TV sector, which telescoped from 42 companies to four major providers in just 20 years.

Yes, but…Software is Different

But software industry consolidation is less linear. Even in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) segment, where a steep drop-off in new purchases after Y2K-fed consolidation—Infor alone acquired 16 companies between 2005 and 2016, and had snapped up several before then—there remain “hundreds of vendors offering best-of-breed (i.e., stand alone) ERP applications or integrated ERP software suites” according to Software Advice.

Software sectors are resistant to consolidation due to the low barriers to entry. It takes huge amounts of capital to build up an auto maker or build out a cable network. But it takes only an original idea, a couple of talented programmers, and modest quantities of pizza and Mountain Dew to start a software company. (Okay, that might be a slight over-simplification.)

The marketing technology segment may be particularly difficult to reduce to a handful, or less, of “suites,” given how diverse the landscape is. Brinker’s Marketing Technology Supergraphic organizes its 4,891 vendors into 49 functional groups across six major areas. Given the diversity, marketing technology applications don’t fall neatly into a “stack,” and “cloud” isn’t much more descriptive. The different functional areas actually resemble a large, complex matrix.

What’s a “Marketing Stack” Anyway?

The term “marketing stack” began getting traction in late 2015, as shown by the jump in Google searches:

Martech chart

Image source: Google Trends

The phrase was a play on the term “technology stack”—which is logical. That came out of the software programming world, where it generally described an operating system, database, web server, and programming language designed to work together to provide a development environment.

For example, LAMP is a technology stack combining the Linux OS with the Apache web server, MySQL database, and Perl, PHP pr Python scripting language, while the WINS stack consists of the Windows Server, IIS web server, .NET software framework, and SQL Server database.

A “marketing technology stack,” on the other hand, has no clear definition. This post alone highlights 21 different variations. The reason is clear: Unlike a programming environment, marketing technology isn’t so much a series of layers as it is a fluid matrix of different categories of tools, which can be mixed and matched to meet the specific needs of an organization’s overall marketing strategy, and even change within that organization over time.

Where to Start?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear “base” of the stack to begin with. Some organizations start with their contact database. Others start with tools that work at the top—or left side depending on your perspective—of the sales funnel, with tools that build awareness. Other models start with content at the base.

Regardless of the starting point, analytics are often at the top, or end,  of the “stack,” as that is where results are measured and decisions made about what to do the same or differently.

It’s the middle layer is where the functions, vendors, and tools involved get really muddled. CRM, marketing automation, and analytics are common needs, but what about social media campaign management? A tool specifically for Facebook advertising? Or content ideation, or influencer outreach, or video editing, or project management, or online surveys, or. . .

Across the “middle layer” of tools, the answer to which tools are needed is—it depends. The answers will depend on whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer; in a large, midsized, or small company; whether your sales are low volume/high dollar or high volume/low dollar; and most of all on your marketing strategy.

But in any case, the notion of a “marketing technology stack” is problematic. Viewing marketing technology as a matrix helps broaden perspective and avoid gaps and overlaps in key functionality.

Suites Can Be Sweet (Or Not)

The diversity of marketing needs and tool categories make it extremely unlikely any vendor will be able to build or acquire enough tools to serve as a single source. But what about the range of tools the suite providers do offer; should companies limit their purchasing focus at least within those functions?

Not necessarily. Though the tools within a single vendor’s “cloud” are (presumably) well integrated, many third-party tools integrate with the applications nearly as well. For example, while Salesforce.com has acquired ExactTarget for marketing automation and Radian6 for social media monitoring, it also lists more than 3,000 third-party technology partners on its AppExchange.

The best approach for companies that own at least two applications within one of the big four marketing clouds (and are happy with the functionality of and support for those apps) is to include additional tools from those vendors in relevant evaluation sets, by default. But consider tools from other vendors as well. Effective marketing technology matrixes are frequently a mix of best-of-breed and suite-based tools.

Ultimately, marketing technology tool selections should be driven by a firm’s marketing strategy mapped to functional needs. Individual tools should be evaluated both on their functional fit for the company’s needs as well as their technical fit with other applications already in place. Making smart decisions about marketing tool choices will increasingly contribute to competitive advantage. But these choices won’t fit into a nice, neat “stack.”

B2BMarketing.Technology: What’s All This About?

Spending on marketing technology (martech) is exploding. According to IDC data reported in Forbes, CMOs and other marketing leaders will spend nearly $30 billion on martech applications in 2017, and more than $32 billion in 2018.

Using Gartner data, Scott Brinker breaks that down in a bit more detail. At the enterprise level:

  • 12% of total revenue will be allocated to marketing.
  • 27% of marketing budgets will be spent on technology.
  • About 40% of that figure will be spent on SaaS marketing software and analytics applications.

That’s a huge investment. And yet, much of that money won’t be spent strategically. Marketing leaders often don’t have a simple framework to operate from  The Forbes article includes this technology map from IDC, which helps with categorization—but doesn’t show how the pieces fit together.

IDC Marketing Technology Taxonomy Map

 

The B2BMarketing.Technology model is designed to do just that, particularly for small to midsized B2B companies. Content gets created, distributed through defined channels, then measured.

B2B Marketing Technology Framework

 

Using this model helps CMOs and marketing directors make strategic—as opposed to siloed—martech purchasing decisions. Making decisions based on a bigger picture helps:

  • Minimize gaps and overlaps in functionality;
  • Choose between a best-of-breed or all-in-one suite approach to tool selection;
  • Make optimal purchasing choices among specific application types based on overall marketing process flow needs, rather than just specific sub-function needs; and
  • Plan properly for implementation and integration services needs to maximize value obtained from the technology investments.

All of that, in turn, helps B2B marketing teams align their technology investments with their marketing processes in order to achieve the ultimate goal of optimizing the end-to-end customer experience. Which helps them win more business and increase top-line revenue while keeping marketing spending under control.

That’s what this site is all about.