In the present digital age of information overload, where each brand is vying for the perfect piece of a prospect’s pie, the future of reaching your target audience is in peer-to-peer marketing.

Today, buyers aren’t persuaded by advertising or content shared by the brands. Instead, they rely more on the personal recommendations of their friends and family members.

Not convinced?

The Metrics don’t lie:

  • 92% of people stated that while making a purchase they are influenced by their peers. (pulpstrategy.com)
  • When shopping, more than 60% of consumers are influenced by a social media review or blog post shared by their peers. (Shane Barker)
  • Further, 1 in 5 respondents stated they are influenced by peer posts when creating their listings. (collectivebias.com)

Word-of-mouth recommendations or peer endorsements influence consumers to a great extent. Now, let’s dive into how you can use peer-to-peer marketing effectively to reach your audience.

1. Find your niche

To get started with your P2P marketing, the first thing you need to do is identify your main target audience. Audience attention spans are short, and media consumption habits also tend to change faster than ever.

This means, your target audience today will be more specific and segmented. And if you fail to accurately locate your desired target audience, your marketing efforts will be in vain.

Here are three quick steps that can help you find your niche audience:

  • Really understand your business: Make a list of core products or services you offer. Next, brainstorm the possible variations or specific uses for it.
    For instance, if your company provides packing & moving services, then variations can be moving for offices, college students, families, etc. Depending on your business model, this will help you find potential niches for your marketing.
  • Identify problems your product or service can solve: Figure out the problems your target audience is facing and then determine how your product or service can address these. This can help you relate pain points of your target audience, and how they can benefit from your particular product.
  • Research your competition: Every business has competitors, and you need to figure out who yours are. Look at the market segments they market to, and the language they use. Can you appeal to these groups as well?

Once you’ve found the niche(s) you want to target, it’s time to find the right people to deliver the message.

2. Create your ideal influencer profile

You can find plenty of social media influencers online who have a large following and established credibility. But the challenge here is to pick an effective influencer who makes a good fit for your brand.

To tailor the selection process, consider these 4 rules for finding the right influencer to work with:

  1. They should have a large & engaged following
  2. They should be relevant to your potential customers
  3. They need a tone and style that aligns with your brand’s personality
  4. They must actively posts updates, preferably related to your industry or competitors.One simple way to find brand influencers is to use hashtag search. Use relevant keywords in your social media searches to look for influencers who are already posting related to your industry.

For instance, let’s say you sell wedding gowns. Conduct a search using the hashtag #weddinggowns and shortlist influencers based on the search.

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Image source: socialmediaexaminer.com

Similarly, if you are looking for online logo generator tools then the relevant hashtag will be #logogenerator.

A little hashtag research can work like magic if used correctly.

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3. Pursue partnership with potential influencers

Once you’ve shortlisted influencers you’d like to work with, half the battle is won. The next step is to connect with these influencers to pursue partnerships.

And really, the best approach is simply to ask!

Reach out to influencers directly

Over 79% of social influencers prefer companies to contact them directly rather than relying on any agency. That’s a pretty overwhelming statistic.

Influencers tend to be more responsive when businesses contact them straight up. And the worst they can do is say no.

Conduct thorough research

To make the brand/influencer relationship mutually beneficial, it’s good to do  extensive research about the influencer and find out as much information as possible.

This exercise can result in a win-win situation for both. The more you know about your chosen influencer, the more you’re able to relate to them.

This can also help you prove to the influencer that the opportunity you are presenting is relevant to their audience as well. Because the best outcome is always going to be one that’s mutually beneficial to both parties.

4. Create an exclusive online community

Another key tip for a successful P2P marketing campaign is to give your customers an exclusive online space to engage and interact.

This online community serves many benefits and functions including acting as a virtual focus group for your brand. It gives your customers a platform to share valuable insights on everything right from product development to product marketing.

When building your online community, you can even gamify the experience. Gamified experiences are more fun, challenging, and keep the customers engaged.

But building a thriving online community is not an easy task and calls for a lot of creativity and inspiration.

So, take a look at the success story of Foursquare, a local search mobile app that has grown community members massively and manages to keep them engaged.

Foursquare added gamification elements by dividing customers into “power users” and “super users.” The company gave these community users special tools to connect with each other thus building community engagement.

Ever since then, the company has seen increased growth in their community, and today it boasts 40,000 super users.

The company invested in engaging their most avid users and kept coming up with products their consumers love at the same time. This ensures that as a company grows, the community played an active role in their success.

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5. Provide rewards

To keep your community members engaged and active, you can introduce reward programs. When you introduce a rewards program, it gives your users specific goals to achieve, which keeps the motivation and excitement alive.

Rewards can be in any form. This might mean gaining scores or points, badges, or special recognition within your community.

Many companies have introduced rewards programs for their community, and have successfully created higher levels of engagement for existing and prospective customers.

Marketo (a marketing automation platform) created a Rockstar Rewards Program for its community members and received a great response.

The program was a way to gamify and give rewards to customers when they achieved specific goals. Since the launch, the company has witnessed an almost 79% increase in the total monthly engagements.

Customers are engaging more than ever through by asking questions, posting frequently, voting on different ideas, and more.

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The beauty of building an online community is that all your customers get a good platform to network with their peers.

6. Turn your buyers into brand evangelists

According to Jamie Mackenzie, Director of Marketing, Sodexo, “brand loyalty overcomes any rational-based, price-based decision-making because you have a powerful emotional driver-you are not buying based on discount temptation.”

In the peer-to-peer marketing campaigns, buying decisions are driven more on recommendations than by price. You make customers a part of your brand not in a manipulative way, but rather in a mutually beneficial way.

Let’s take a look at some proven ways that help your customers to turn into brand evangelists:

  • Acting on the Feedback: By actively responding to the customers complaints and acting on the feedback, you can surely win your customers. This shows customers that company cares for them and pays attention to their concerns. This relationship building lays down the strong foundation of customers that gradually become brand ambassadors.
  • Develop Loyalty: To engage customers with your brand, you need to offer them something unique and something tailored for them so that that they feel privileged and stick to your brand.
    To develop loyalty, give first time shoppers some special discount on the next purchase, or give your biggest spending customers gift coupons or some customized deals. These things will help you build brand loyalty and gives your customers a reason to come back.

Over to you

If you are thinking of coming up with a P2P marketing campaign for your business, the above-listed tips will surely come handy and will give you a good start.

This leaves me with a question do you have any community success stories to share? Please share in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!

Alice Jackson is a business consultant, blogger, social media enthusiast, online market analyst, amateur designer and an avid author at Designhill. She has written on several topics including social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, graphic design, startup strategies and e-commerce. When she's not writing, she loves spending her time reading romantic novels. Connect with her on Twitter: @jackson_alice1

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