A few weeks ago someone asked me about a pioneering influencer marketing program that we ran back in ’08.
It was pretty kick butt so I thought it a good idea to write up an updated case study about it.
The program was so successful that it caused:
- an 84% increase in sales for an HP product
- a 14% increase in overall web site traffic
- a 10% increase in overall consumer PC sales
It also lasted a substantial period of time: 31 days which meant a lasting lift for all the influencers involved as well as the brand.
It is nice when everybody benefits!
But before we dive into the details of the program, let’s understand where the market is at right now.
Since ’08 a lot has changed.
Many major brands are starting to get in on influencer marketing.
Perhaps its obvious, but they are doing this for a number of reasons: driving consideration for a brand or product, increased social presence, displacing the competition and driving sales.
But it gets better:
Infuencer marketing is also very cost effective especially when compared to advertising -which is not overly effective or trusted.
Most importantly, influencer endorsements lend credibility that brands can’t find anywhere else.
And brands are not overly trusted these days.
But as more brands embrace influencer marketing, we’re seeing how much influencers can help a brand, and how much brands can help influencers.
As we have written about recently, influencer marketing is gaining traction and we see 2016 as being a big year.
The question you have to ask yourself is this:
Are you going to get involved?
Here’s an overview of the campaign, its impact, and what digital marketers can learn from this type of unique collaboration.
This 5-Step Influencer Marketing Case Study = More Sales, Traffic and Social Shares
If you are serious about getting results from your influencer marketing, there are five steps you need to know:
Step #1: Have a good product or service to work with.
Step#2: Work very closely with your client to clearly understand their goals and objectives.
Step #3: Identify and recruit your influencers carefully and understand their motivations for participating.
Step #4: Communication: Speak to the influencers not at them
Step #5: Timing your project
Let’s break it down:
Step One: The Product and Making Sure it is Compelling
Having an enticing product or is very important for an infuencer program.
It can also be a service, but determine ahead of time if it is something compelling for the influencers you want to work with as well as the target audience.
In this case, we had a slick, new product to work with.
It was innovative and cool looking …
As part of the campaign, HP offered 31 of its HDX Dragon systems (a computer package valued over $5,5500) to 31 independent influencers.
(By independent I mean they were not paid by a media company and they were not journalists).
Working with HP, we secured thirty one computer packages so each blogger could give one away to their audience during the 31 days of May.
The program took place right before HP’s largest annual product launch (more on that later).
There were no restrictions on how influencers could run their individual promotions which allowed them to tailor them to the needs of their respective audiences.
This encouraged them to be creative about how they communicated to their audience members and how they set up their promotions.
Step Two: Defining the Objectives
We worked with HP to develop the campaign by figuring out the results they wanted and working backwards to make it happen.
Important to note that the objectives were not just about the product.
Our client was also interested in establishing and building relationships with influencers who had target audiences comprised of the company’s customers.
Pretty straight forward.
Step Three: Getting the Right Mix of Influencers
Be sure to put together a complementary group of influencers.
We carefully selected the influencers who would have the right coverage and penetration for HP’s target markets.
Focusing on the biggest blogs out there, or text only blogs would limit the campaign’s reach.
We wanted a mix of influencers who covered technology products but also appealed to differing audiences. In this way we structured the program to reach as many customers as possible.
Therefore, we came up with the following mix:
Just so you know, some of these influencers have moved on and are no longer blogging.
But I digress.
The influencers were eager about having the freedom to design their own giveaways.
Many developed unique and creative components to personalize the contest.
But it gets event better:
All contest pages consistently mentioned and positioned HDX systems and and as a bonus, our company Ivy Wordwide.
I have to admit, I liked that the influencers felt so positive about the program that they mentioned our firm!
This is exactly the kind of exposure marketers are looking for:
But that’s not all:
It was not just the product or the program or the fact that the influencers had freedom to design their own promotions.
Much of it had to do with our attitude in dealing with them.
Which leads me to step #4.
Step Four: Be Mindful of How You Communicate with Your Influencers
All too often agencies and brands forget that influencer marketing is a dialogue.
It is not about telling the influencers what to do. It is not about speaking at them.
Traditional advertising is this way.
Instead, influencer marketing is about a meaningful communication between two parties.
Ever been cornered by someone at a cocktail party who talks about nothing but himself?
Did you enjoy it?
Of course not. And its no different here.
Also, it makes more sense to communicate carefully with your influencers since they are in contact with your customers.
Moreover, they probably have insights into the marketplace that you would probably like to know about.
Wouldn’t you like to learn those insights?
Because its only possible with a dialogue.
And once you embrace this concept, you can get added benefits like these:
Step 5: Timing of Your Influencer Marketing Program
Let’s face it:
Timing can mean everything.
Be sure to think carefully about when you plan to run your influencer program.
Are you planning to run the program during a time frame such as back-to-school, the holidays or during a major conference for your industry?
These are all questions you need to ask.
In some cases your influencers may have other projects scheduled or they may be out of town attending a conference.
Its a good idea to find out.
In the case of the HDX Dragon program, we decided to time the program to coincide with a major HP announcement:
So What About The Program Results?
Over the 31 days of the program, the influencers created content about HP and HDX with their third-party endorsements.
The results were outstanding and the influencers were really pleased if not a little surprised.
Yet, of all the results, the sales lift was the most important goal and outcome.
Our purpose was to generate a sales dividend via HP’s investment but the associated results were also kick butt:
The 31 participating influencers garnered:
● Over 50 million impressions
● Reach in more than 125 countries and 40 languages
● Average traffic to the blogs increased by 150% (up to 5000%) during the campaign
● Permanent traffic increased 50% on average
Blog readers and contest entrants were enthusiastic about the campaign:
● More than 380,000 links surfaced on Google discussing the giveaways
● 25,000 entries were received
● Influencers outside the 31 selected to participate began reaching out to HP for collaboration
● Websites posted commentary and reviews of HDX Dragon from the winners
The Power of Consumer Generated Content
No one could predict how much the audience would engage with the program and the influencer contests.
Many participants created video entries, and one influencer contest even had them creating their own commercials for HDX Dragon.
Videos to thank HP, celebrate winning the contest and review videos piled up as well.
Together, they were watched by more than 10 million people.
Pirillo’s efforts are just one example of the marketing power of influencer marketing.
As an influencer marketing campaign, 31 Days of the Dragon was the first of its kind.
Its strengths and success are something every digital marketer can learn from.
Here are some key takeaways about the HDX influencer marketing program:
1. Giving control to the influencers is a benefit, not a risk
● Promoting the product and HP were in the influencers’ best interests
● Giving them control eliminated the need for many legal and internal approvals
● The fluencers did better than HP at viral marketing
● HP learned new tactics to drive traffic from the influencers
2. Influencer marketing is about conversation, not news
● HDX Dragon had already been shipping for 9 months before the campaign
● The program had no new messages or products, just encouraged discussion
3. An integrated marketing program is a cross-departmental function
● HP took the program beyond public relations >This was a marketing program
● Sales programs, affiliate offers and other marketing tools were leveraged to improve the campaign
4. A holistic program pushes competitors to react to your marketing
● Competitors couldn’t copy the campaign once it was finished
● Other companies reacted to the campaign instead of focusing on their own strategies
● Influencers covering HP had less time to endorse competitors
The Real Meat is in the Sales Lift
HPShopping.com reported the sales results below:
While not every brand can replicate and benefit from this campaign strategy in the same way, they can learn from its success.
31 Days of the Dragon is a perfect example of a mutually beneficial influencer relationship that paid off.
Now I Want to Hear from You
Have you run an influencer program with great results you want to share?
Got any questions? I’d really like to hear them.
All images are via Pulse Point Group on Slide Share