Interview with Joseph Cole, Head of Growth at TapInfluence

1. Could you tell me a little about your background and how you came to be the Head of Growth at TapInfluence?

I started my career, interning, at Paramount Pictures in a creative / design capacity. I was intrigued by the creative that agencies would pitch to help promote big movie campaigns and moved into TV advertising in the agency world. This naturally evolved into digital where I had the opportunity work on global campaigns for Microsoft and various tech giants. Agencies are fun but I felt like I didn’t get to own the product or vision end-to-end. I transitioned to the tech start-up space working at Bunchball where I spearheaded global digital strategy and gamification programs for the likes of SAP, Salesforce, Coke, Jive and few others. More recently (just before TAP) I was the Head of Marketing for (a New Zealand based company) where I built the marketing organization from the ground up, rumor is they’re listing in October. I decided I liked this and that’s how / why I came to TapInfluence. The opportunity to grow a marketing organization in an emerging category where I get to market to marketers is something I find intrinsically motivating. I love growth and creating movements.

2. What is the core marketing technology capability of TapInfluence that you bring to a marketer? Where does your product fit in vis-a- vis the customer life cycle?

When I think about the customer lifecycle, influencer marketing is key to creating the connection that brands don’t get to create — it’s because they’re not people and when you advertise (unless your product is truly, truly unique) you’re just creating noise and worse it’s not authentic. Influencers create an authentic relationship with customers and humanize brands. Influencers help accelerate a customer’s decision on whether they want a product and actually fits in at awareness all the way through to decision time and through customer delight / advocacy / loyalty.

TapInfluence provides the industry’s only marketing software that automates the creation, management and measurement of online influencer marketing programs. Marketers use TapInfluence to access a marketplace of digital influencers to help scale the creation and distribution of social content. Social influencers with key audiences on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, and SnapChat leverage the power of TapInfluence to connect with relevant brands and generate revenue from their content. This is the next evolution in marketing — scaling influence.

3. How would you suggest marketers go about scaling their influencer marketing initiatives? From your experience at TapInfluence, what are the specific strategies of building an influencer network that you could share as best practices for our readers?

You need the exact same things to start building your Influencer Marketing practice as you need for any other marketing program; budget, goals, competitive offerings, and resources. Once you determine Influencer Marketing is a good fit for your organization, you need scale by optimizing against what works and having a solid handle on your analytics and which influencers best speak to your brand. The best way to do this is to understand your persona, understand what problems they’re trying to solve, look for influencers to answer their questions.

To do Influencer Marketing well, you need scale, in the form of the access to the best (most engaged) influencers. You need quality and assurance that everything will be properly disclosed and timelines well managed. And you need to be able to measure performance, down to ROI, specific influencers and channel.

Building a network is all about providing value to influencers — what are you giving them that others are not how do you create preference. It’s also about authenticity and respect. As Influencer Marketing increases in popularity more networks, influencer services, etc. appear and all of them claim to be the next big thing for influencers. Be respectful of their time and realize that they get pitched all the time, but also try to make an authentic connection — do you want to work with someone who has never heard of you and is reaching out blindly? I don’t think I would. It’s almost like you’re interviewing for a job.

4. How can enterprises know and engage with their influencers?

The trick, like anything in marketing, is understanding your persona and matching the right influencer to your brand’s goals and end user and or customer needs. You need to look at reach and engagement together, not in isolation. You’ll find celebrity influencers, yes they’ll have a significant reach, but do they align to your persona and brand and do they have the right level of engagement. You’ll find some influencers don’t have a high engagement level.

5. From a technology perspective, what are some of the biggest challenges that your marketing team faces today?

There’s an amazing amount of technology designed to solve almost any need. Sometimes very specific needs. The team sometimes sees this as an opportunity to make their job easier, often it does, but sometimes it doesn’t. If you can prove the ROI of the tool, I have no issue in investing in it. The challenge is actually using the tool. The biggest challenge I see is that we already have too many tools at our disposal and don’t realize that some of them solve the problems a new tech solution already does and we’re not using the tool to its complete capability.

6. How can sales teams be aligned with influencer marketing campaigns, so they can action the prospects coming in through these channels for successful conversions? How can businesses measure the ROI of such advocacy campaigns?

Similar to any marketing initiative, it’s about communication. Informing the sales team of what influencer marketing campaigns are about to hit is the first step. Letting them know who the influencers are and the content the influencers are creating is hugely important so that they feel equipped to have a conversation with a prospect who came through the influencer channel. Supply the sales team with the influencer content can also be used as basic enrichment / enablement. For new campaigns that we run a TAP, we provide our sales team with a campaign summary doc that details the strategy, tactics, and access to all the creative.

Measuring ROI for an Influencer Marketing campaign. The easiest way is to use our platform. Alternatively ensure that on anything your influencers post on your behalf that you have a tracking URL or a UTM that is specific to the campaign and / or the Influencer that way to can prove traffic and leads that resulted from the influencer channel. You can then tie the sale based on the UTM in your CRM.

7. Do you foresee a majority of B2B marketing going the social selling route in the immediate future? As such, how can companies identify the DNA of such effective social sales personnel?

I think social selling is the way of the future. LinkedIn has made huge investments in social selling. I’ve met with Jill Rowley a few times on the subject (she’s a big social selling thought leader). Similar to my perspective on Influencer Marketing — influencers are people and that’s why it’s so successful — people don’t want ads, they want value and they get value from influencers. Social selling / Social media is much more like email vs. mass advertising like television — you’re having a conversation with people like you and you have a connection. That makes for greater relevance and authenticity.

To simplify the DNA question — salespeople who are good at social selling have a marketing / revenue mindset. They understand technology and have a handle of social media. Have a sizable twitter and LinkedIn following. On top of new marketing technology. Know how to use marketing automation in addition to the CRM they “may” use.

8. Could you share for our readers, an infographic or description depicting your marketing stack (various marketing software products or platforms your team uses or subscribes to)?

Hubspot, SEMrush, Sprout Social, BuzzSumo, AdStage, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Salesforce, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, AirPR, TapInfluence / TapFire, Google Docs, Evernote, Wordpress, Wistia, Optimizly, On24, BrightTALK, CrazyEgg, Vimeo, SnapChat, EventBright, PRnewswire, YouTube, Vide, Periscope, PR week, Alexa, Limus, Google+, SurveyMonkey

9. Can you share a screenshot of the homepage of your smartphone (iOS/Android/other)? It would be interesting to see some of the apps you personally use on a daily basis to get things done and stay on top of your day.

Connect with Joseph

This article was originally published on MarTech Advisor