Influencer marketing is on the top of marketers’ minds these days, and for good reason. According to a recent poll from Grapevine, more than 80% of brands polled plan on increasing their influencer marketing budgets, and more than 50% plan to increase these  budgets significantly. Integrating influencers into your overall marketing mix appears to be a no brainer, but are marketers overlooking  their consumers’ voice in the process?

I recently attended Bazaarvoice’s Inspire Chicago event, where I was reminded that the actual users  of your products and services have more influence on purchasing decisions than the best planned influencer-marketing campaign. According to their recent study, 82% of consumers were likely to follow the recommendations of these so-called micro-influencers, as compared to 74% who followed recommendations made by influencers. While some may argue that influencer marketing is more about awareness than conversions, influencer campaigns are usually restrained by time and budget, limiting how much awareness they can raise.  

Consumers of your products are 24/7 word-of-mouth ambassadors. Though this old-school approach may not be as sexy as influencer marketing, leveraging your customers’ input is an opportunity to amplify the voice of your most trusted brand advocates.

So what does this really mean? Don’t table  the long-term value of your consumer’s voice in exchange for the shorter-term gains of influencer marketing.  Below are effective channels in which marketers can take advantage of the user generated content goldmine, both online and offline.


1. Display ads

This type of ad allows you to broadcast authentic customer content beyond the product page to new and prospective customers. By featuring your best review snippets, you can to create effective ads that increase brand consideration. You can also optimize content relevance to drive shoppers to a brand site or to the retail environment.


2. Curated ads

Leveraging the voice of fans who have taken the time to post about your brand can make for more engaging ads with more engaging visuals than standard banner ads. Plus, they’re also a good way to target consumers based on their shopping behavior.


3. Print Ads

While marketing often sways towards digital, print is still a trusted source of  consumers. Adding consumer-generated content to print ads not only increases trust, but makes for great copy. You can also use print ads to encourage customers to see more reviews on your website for more validation of your product.


4. Social media

Consider asking people to rate and review your products directly on your social media channels. You can use these reviews in a ‘review of the month’ feature or add the Facebook App to showcase content.


5. Direct Marketing

Customer-created content in direct marketing can help back up brand product claims. For example, Discover constantly changes headlines, text placement, and inserts in its direct mail campaign. Recent versions included a “Customers Have Spoken” headline with Discover’s average ratings and prominent quotes on the right side of the letter.

Remember, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. You might as well make the most of them.

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