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Tips on how to build authentic relationships with local influencers, encouraging them to promote your business (without the monetary sum)

There has been a distinctive shift in the power of marketing away from businesses and brands and is now in the hands of influencers and people online (Berthon et al., 2012). Influence through eWOM has completely changed the way business-to-consumer (B2C) communication works (Cramer, 2015). It is mainly down to the sheer scale and accessibility of platforms such as Instagram and YouTube that allow for this shift in power to take place (Berthon et al., 2012). The proof is in the numbers as according to TapinInfluence (2016) influencer marketing results in 11x more ROI than traditional marketing. Read more influencer marketing statistics here.

Relevance is a key determinant when thinking about the use of influencers for marketing strategies. It is something that is very important to consider when attempting to find an appropriate influencer for your business. It is ultimately the main driver for a successful influencer campaign (Radey, 2015). During the process of finding an appropriate influencer it is therefore important to match the demographic of your brand to the influencer, if these do not match then the campaign will not be a success (Radey, 2015). Having the ability to link your product to the right target audience through an influencer is the key to endorsement marketing (Li, Lee & Lien, 2012).

Help on finding a relevant influencer for your brand

Source: Public relations and marketing (2015)

How do companies incentivise influencers to encourage positive WOM?

Building an authentic relationship with an influencer is usually not focused on a monetary price or payment and involves much more creative ways which will really show the influencer you are interested in them as a person, not just for their platform (Sideqik, 2015). This is great news for small businesses that perhaps do not have the money to pay influencers large sums of money in return for an endorsement.

It has been found that trust as well as satisfaction are key determinants when deciding to spread positive WOM about a brand and results in a very good ROI for brands who implement these factors well (Ranaweera & Prabhu, 2003). The next section will look at ways to engage in a relationship with an influencer by nurturing trust and satisfaction:

Step 1: Engage with them on social media

This is a very straightforward tactic and allows the influencer to know you are taking an interest in their content, as well as subtly reinforcing your brand name in the influencers mind. As shown in the example below, BBC Three responded to Jess’ post in order to keep the relationship developing. However, make sure the comment is relevant and engages with the content otherwise this could lead to a weakening of the relationship (Zhang et al., 2016). This is linked to the idea that to develop a dynamic relationship, repeated interactions are something that helps to build the association between your company and the influencer (Zhang et al., 2016), whether this is by following them or sharing their content.

Step 2: Invite the influencers to a company event/launch

The example below shows an influencer at a Bobby Brown event. By inviting the influencer, this is an effective way to show respect for what they do, as well as giving the chance for the business to talk to the influencer face to face and make a positive impression. In order to retain a long-term relationship with the influencer, Ranaweera & Prabhu (2003) emphasise trust as becoming a truly important factor in this process. An added bonus would be for the influencer to post on their social media accounts whilst there, already spreading WOM about the brand to their followers.

5 benefits of inviting influencers to your event 

Step 3: Send free samples or offer discounts

Perhaps the most important one of all is to encourage the influencer to try out your product/service either for free or at a discounted rate. Particularly if you are looking to seek a review from them, this is a great tactic to use as they are encouraged to physically try out the product and form opinions for themselves to share with their following. This encourages the beginning of the relationship through the ‘transactional state’ (Zhang et al., 2016). To develop the relationship further, Zhang et al., (2016) explains it will be important for companies to involve influencers with new products or services in order to increase the value of the firm to the influencer, resulting in positive WOM.

Read more on creative ways to incentivise your influencers here


The risk of using influencers to build eWOM is assuming that they will be spreading positive messages about your brand. Due to the nature of social media, negative eWOM can severely affect a brands image and could escalate to brand dilution (Balaji et al., 2015). Therefore these tips are essential in order to build a positive relationship with influencers first.


Balaji, M.S., Khong, K.W. & Chong, A.Y.L. (2016) Determinants of negative word-of-mouth communication using social networking sites, Information & Management, vol. 53, no. 4, pp. 528-540.

Barker, S., (2016) 4 creative ways to compensate influencers (that don’t involve money). Curatti, 24 October 2016. [online] <> [accessed 27 April 2017]

Berthon, P.R., Pitt, L.F., Plangger, K. & Shapiro, D. (2012) Marketing meets Web 2.0, social media, and creative consumers: Implications for international marketing strategy, ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, AMSTERDAM.

Cramer, T. (2015) Online Influencers: The New Word-of-Mouth, ONLINE INC, WILTON.

Li, Y., Lee, Y. & Lien, N. (2012) Online Social Advertising via Influential Endorsers, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 119-154.

Radey, T., (2015) Influencer Marketing: Why relevance is more important than vanity metrics. Public Relations & Marketing. 27 May 2015. [online] <> [accessed 28 April 2017]

Ranaweera, C. & Prabhu, J., (2003) On the relative importance of customer satisfaction and trust as determinants of customer retention and positive word of mouth. Journal of Targeting, Measurement and Analysis for marketing, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.82-90.

Sideqik (2015) The ultimate cheat sheet on how to incentivize influencers. Sideqik, 13 November 2015 [online] <> [accessed 28 April 2017]

Tapininfluence (2017) The ultimate list of influencer marketing statistics. Tapininfluence. [online] <> [accessed 25 April 2017]

Zhang, J.Z., Watson, G.F., Palmatier, R.W. & Dant, R.P. (2016) Dynamic relationship marketing, Journal of Marketing, vol. 80, no. 5, pp. 53-75.

How to effectively increase your permission based email marketing database for a small food business

Permission based email marketing

Permission based email marketing was introduced due to the increasing amount of ‘spam’ emails that were being received by customers (Ellis-Chadwick & Doherty, 2012). It is now the law in England to obtain the recipients’ permission before emailing their account (GOV.UK, 2017). Read the government rules on email marketing.

However, this has created an additional challenge for businesses. The task now is to be able to successfully persuade customers to ‘opt-in’ to receiving their emails, in order to target them directly. Once the ‘opt-in’ has been successful, email marketing allows a bigger return on investment (ROI) than any other online marketing tactic (Pavlov, Melville & Plice, 2008). This is perhaps because, unlike social media posts, an email has the ability to sit in a customer’s inbox until they are ready to engage with it.

Ellis-Chadwick & Doherty (2012) found that the main incentive consumers face when deciding whether to sign up, is if the company matches with their personal interests and is able to draw their attention. Krishnamurthy (2001) explain that the more interested a consumer is in what you have to say, the more they will contribute, therefore increasing your email marketing efforts dramatically. The idea that a ‘deal’ must be struck between you and the consumer is an important concept. Consumers are much more inclined to enter their email address if they are made aware that they will get something back in return (Godin, 1999), ultimately creating trust as well as a relationship with the customer.

It is crucial that the consumers’ interest is created through the relevance of the message, as well as the financial benefits. It is also important to avoid costs and excessive information entry (Krishnamurthy, 2001). These ‘relational mediators’ emphasise a number of factors which Palmatier (2006) argues are essential for a successful relationship with the consumer.

With these factors in mind, here are 4 tactics to increase your ‘opt-in’ rate:

  1. Offer the customer a discount code

This would be particularly straight forward for a small food business as it is a very commonly used tactic. It instantly creates an incentive for the customer to ‘opt-in’. Ask Italian’s example below grabs the customers attention with 25% off, enticing people to sign up through their website in return for money off their food bill. This effectively demonstrates the seller attempting to invest in the relationship (Palmatier, 2006).

This example also encourages the customer to repeat their email address. This helps eliminate incorrect email addresses from being entered. However, be cautious as this does create more work for the customer. Read advice on double entry forms.

2. Embed a sign up box on your website homepage

Morelli Zorelli (small pizzeria) demonstrates a great example where they have included a section on their website to sign up to their newsletter. They have let the customer know that they will receive a weekly email and what exactly it will include. This means customers are informed as to what exactly they are signing up for, highlighting the ‘interaction frequency’ factor which again adds to the effectiveness of building a customer relationship (Palmatier, 2006). It is also a very quick process as all that is required is an email address, which customers will value.

3. Add a pop-up to your website

This is a tactic which is often used by businesses to really focus the attention of the customer. The example below from Domino’s shows their pop-up taking up the majority of the screen in order to divert the customer to the sign up box. There is also an incentive being offered for doing so (25% off), persuading the customer to join.

However, pop up boxes can be seen as intrusive and if used incorrectly could damage the brand reputation (Unbounce, 2012). Therefore they need to be used with caution, read how to use pop ups effectively.

4. Add signup option to checkout page

This option is ideal for e-commerce businesses in the food sector. It gives customers the choice to ‘opt-in’ there and then. Customers that get to this stage will already be interested in the business, meaning they are more likely to sign up to receive news about the company. In order to incentivise further, the example below (Giggling Squid) could have stated that special deals will be made available to those who are signed up. This would enhance the customer relationship by emphasising the ‘relationship benefits’ of signing up (Palmatier, 2006).

Remember, when deciding how best to increase your ‘opt-in’ rate, evaluate whether it is the right decision for you and your company. What works for one company may not be right for another. Make sure the language you are using is friendly and engaging in order to create the relationship with the customer from the onset. For further tips click here.

If done successfully, the cooperation between buyer and seller will be beneficial to both parties (Palmatier, 2006) and the ROI of your email marketing campaign will reap the benefits.


Ellis-Chadwick, F. & Doherty, N.F., (2012) Web advertising: The role of e-mail marketing, Journal of Business Research, vol. 65, no. 6, pp. 843-848

Godin, S., (1999) Permission marketing: Turning strangers into friends and friends into customers. Simon and Schuster.

Gov.UK (2017) Marketing and Advertising: The Law [online] <> [accessed 5 April 2017]

Krishnamurthy, S., (2001) A comprehensive analysis of permission marketing. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.0-0.

Palmatier, R.W., Dant, R.P., Grewal, D. & Evans, K.R. 2006, “Factors Influencing the Effectiveness of Relationship Marketing: A Meta-Analysis”, Journal of Marketing, vol. 70, no. 4, pp. 136-153.

Pavlov, O.V., Melville, N. & Plice, R.K., (2008) Toward a sustainable email marketing infrastructure, Journal of Business Research, vol. 61, no. 11, pp. 1191-1199.

Unbounce (2012) Are email subscription pop-ups worth the risk? 18 December 2012 [online] <> [accessed 2 April 2017]

How to effectively spread Word of Mouth for your business using influencers on Instagram

Perhaps a quick scroll through your Instagram feed will uncover the growing number of sponsored advertisements and brand endorsements that companies are now using to advertise their products, particularly involving ‘influencers’ such as YouTubers.

According to Brandwatch (2016), consumer engagement with brands through Instagram is 10x higher than Facebook. It’s not surprising that the amount of brands found on Instagram is expected to rise to as high as 71% in 2017! Click here for more Instagram stats

Influencers have become a platform for companies to increase their Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) to potential new consumers, increasing their customer acquisition in arguably the most effective way. The reason it is so successful is due to people’s tendencies to really value a company or product referral, from what they deem a reliable source (Lee & Youn, 2009).

How do businesses find an appropriate influencer?

Endorsement marketing is all about finding the right person that links your product to your desired target market (Li, Lee & Lien, 2012). Without this, eWOM will not spread as effectively as it has the potential to and maybe even to the wrong audience. Research is a key element to success in order to find the right influencer for you and your brand.

Influencers are being bombarded with offers to endorse products. It is increasingly important for a relationship to be built with the influencer first (Cramer, 2015), so that they are more likely to accept your offer and also be convincing to their audience when reviewing it!

The main advantage of using influencers to spread eWOM is the fact that the ‘online community’ that companies often strive to achieve, has already been created by the influencer (Morton et al. 2015). Building a community through social media is in itself quite a tricky task and takes time, so it is easy to see why companies benefit so much from this shortcut strategy.

Perhaps the main thing to be aware of however, is the power and effect an influencer can have on your business if a negative review is posted. According to Balaji, Khong & Chong (2015) the spread of negative word of mouth can severely affect a brands image and could escalate to brand dilution.

There are many online resources which help companies to find appropriate influencers for their brand. Read the Top 15 Instagram Influencer Marketing Platforms to help with your search.

Creating the Instagram post – 3 top tips!

Once you have found an appropriate influencer to work with, here are three top tips that will help make your instagram post stand out.

  1. Use an engaging photo

As they say a picture is worth a thousand words, it is essential that yours gives the right message. In the example below, the product is clear for the audience to see and shows the influencers (Sacconejoly’s) connecting with the product. This will encourage consumers to like/comment on the post, helping to spread the image further through the social network site (Carah & Shaul, 2016) having a positive effect on engagement and brand awareness.

(Source: Instagram)

For more tips on selecting the right photo click here

2. Linking back to your brands Instagram account

This is important as it encourages consumers to click onto your Instagram account, increasing traffic to your profile and can be incorporated with a call-to-action e.g. with Maybelline’s example below. It encourages the response of the consumer to find out more about the product by clicking on the brand name. CTA’s are seen as successful if they cause conversion from the consumer (Smith, 2015).

(Source: Instagram)

3. Offering special discounts

A popular option for brands is to offer a discount that you can receive from quoting the influencers code when purchasing the product from the company’s website. This really helps to boost sales of a particular product and is a great opportunity to spread eWOM, by offering incentives to the consumer through a reliable source (Barker, 2016). See the example below where Mapiful took advantage of Valentine’s Day, by creating a discount to promote through Anna Saccone’s Instagram.

Paine (2011) emphasises the importance of measuring ROI in a social context, not just the volume of items sold. This therefore offers a huge advantage to the business, as it allows direct measurement of how many people used this unique code to purchase from, a really easy way to measure ROI.

(Source: Instagram)

Key takeaways

  • Instagram is a great platform for businesses to use influencers to market their products.
  • With the exception that negative eWOM can have a lasting effect on your business.
  • Make sure you do your research beforehand!
  • The Instagram post itself needs to be engaging and really capture people’s attention to achieve ROI.



Balaji, M.S., Khong, K.W. & Chong, A.Y.L. (2016) Determinants of negative word-of-mouth communication using social networking sites, Information & Management, vol. 53, no. 4, pp. 528-540.

Barker, S (2016) 4 Successful Influencer Campaigns You Can Model. Social Media Examiner. 25 July 2016. [online] <> [accessed 18 February 2017]

Brandwatch (2016) 37 Instagram Statistics for 2016. [online] <> [accessed 21 February 2017]

Carah, N. & Shaul, M., (2016) Brands and Instagram: Point, tap, swipe, glance. Mobile Media & Communication, Vol. 4, no. 1, pp.69-84.

Cramer, T. (2015) Online Influencers: The New Word-of-Mouth, ONLINE INC, WILTON.

Lee, M. and Youn, S., (2009) Electronic word of mouth (eWOM) How eWOM platforms influence consumer product judgement. International Journal of Advertising, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp.473-499.

Li, Y., Lee, Y. & Lien, N. (2012) Online Social Advertising via Influential Endorsers, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 119-154.

Morton, F., Treviño, T. & Sepúlveda, C. (2015) Let’s make them talk: An exploratory study on word of mouth and social media, Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 80-94.

Paine, K.D. (2011) Measuring the real ROI of social media, Communication World, [Online], vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 20.

Smith, J. (2015) The power of the Call to Action & how its strength boosts conversions. Marketing Land. 15 October 2015. [online] <> [accessed 18 February 2017]

Tips on how to create an email that customers want to open – A Topshop analysis

Emails are now a really important aspect of marketing company products and services. It is crucial that the email stands out to the consumer and grabs their attention, as there is a vast amount of other emails to compete with in a single person’s inbox alone.

The great thing about email marketing is that it has made it so much easier for firms (big or small) to communicate with their customers in a really affordable way. However, in order to reap the benefits of email marketing – it has to be done right! This therefore means companies have to carefully consider their methods and tactics, as after all, the main difficulty is getting the consumer to open and read your email.

Case Study: Topshop

In order to effectively explore what makes a successful email, I have chosen what I think is a good example from Topshop. As most of us are probably aware, Topshop are a leading high street fashion retailer, therefore they are already a very popular brand. I am going to examine their e-newsletter which I am signed up to receive in my mailbox.

Here is a screenshot of the email that I received:



Perhaps the most important aspect of an email is the subject line, as this is the first thing consumers are going to see. It’s from this subject line that they will decide whether to open the email or not (Chadwick, F. & Doherty, N., 2010).


Topshop’s subject matter is ‘The puffer is back’ with the email sender being ‘Topshop’. This instantly makes me want to open and read the email as I know straight away what the email is going to contain and who it is from (Chadwick, F. & Doherty, N., 2010). The preview line then goes on to say ‘shop this winter’s most-wanted jacket’ which is another really important aspect of an email, as it gives that extra bit of information to the receiver as a clue to what the email will contain.

I now know just from the subject line that this email is going to contain Topshop’s new puffer jackets and that they are going to be very popular this winter.

Get more tips on email subject lines


Once opened, the Topshop logo is clearly displayed at the top of the page which is a very common and important aspect of an email according to Chadwick, F. & Doherty, N. (2010), as it reinforces the brand to the reader.


I am then greeted with a large image of a model wearing one of the puffer jackets in the collection. Images help to make emails more visual and capture the attention of the customer much more than just some text on a page. In this instance, it gives me a quick preview of the puffer jackets on offer and I therefore want to click to see more.


The call-to-action of an email prompts the recipient to take direct action, by clicking on the email to a hyperlink, that will take them to the landing page of the website (Mohammadi, M. et al, 2013). The language that is used in a call-to-action is probably the most important aspect, as the aim is to improve the click-through rates.

Topshop’s call to action is ‘SHOP PUFFER JACKETS’ in a very bold box that is hard to miss. This is important as the call-to-action needs to be clear. Also, the use of the verb ‘shop’ leads me to believe that if I click on this link, it will direct me to a page on their website where I can browse and shop their puffer jacket collection right away.

The landing page can be shown below. As expected, it opens up a separate tab with the Topshop website. The important part here is that it takes the consumer to exactly where they expect to go, in this case puffer jackets. Too often companies link consumers to a landing page that is just the website homepage, which is not a useful hyperlink at all. Examples for an effective call-to-action



One aspect of Topshop’s email that I think could be improved is the absence of any personalisation in the email. In order to help build a customer relationship, the use of the customer’s name is often quite an effective tactic that results in a higher interaction rate (Mohammadi, M. et al, 2013).

A good example would be an email I received from Easyjet:


This instantly grabs my attention and makes me want to read it more than if my name was not featured in the subject line.


Ellis-Chadwick, F., & Doherty, N. F. (2012). Web advertising: The role of e-mail marketing. Journal of Business Research. Vol. 65, no. 6, pp. 843-848.

Mohammadi, M., Malekian, K., Nosrati, M., & Karimi, R. (2013). Email Marketing as a Popular Type of Small Business Advertisement: A Short Review. Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences. Vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 786-790.

Bring Down The King

Game of Thrones is currently a leading program in the world of TV. It’s popularity has become global with many different audiences engaging with it.

New Zealand are an example of a global audience that has really taken a shine to watching the programme. This is down to DDB helping to raise awareness of the programme by deciding to implement a digital marketing campaign. They decided to play on the fact that this program excites the audience and therefore wants to get the fans involved directly.

One example that they used was the known hatred for the character ‘Joffrey’ where they found many online engagements speaking about their collective hatred for this character.

DDB decided to use this to create an audience as well as conversations online so that New Zealand were added to the global scale of the countries that were G.O.T fans.


To be continued…