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Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast Digital Marketing Podcast Hosted by Greg Bray and Kevin Weitzel

146 Influencer Marketing Strategies - Ryan Hilliard

This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Ryan Hilliard of HypeAuditor joins Greg and Kevin to discuss creating successful influencer marketing strategies based on strong purposes and goals.

An influencer is a person with sway over your target audience. Ryan says, “You sort of trust this person, and so when they talk about something, there's that inherent, they're endorsing this for a reason and I like what they have to say, and so I can put my trust into what they're recommending.”

Influencer marketing is a platform that continues to grow. Ryan explains that for home builders, “It will be a huge part of that strategy in a couple of years. We've seen it with everything. With paid social, with Instagram. Like, all of that strategy at one point was like laughable. You don't do that. It's a waste of money.”

Home builders should embrace influencer marketing now. Ryan says, “And so the people that adopt early. They have got valid hypotheses and they try to adopt early. Like, there's ground to be had. Especially if somebody's really regionally focused. Like making a presence known, it's easier now than it will be in a couple of years. Waiting until everybody's in on it, it's not like it'll be too late, but it'll be like it is in paid ads these days. It's more expensive, more competition. It's just tougher. It's still a valid channel, but right now it's sort of ripe for the taking. Especially if you're an industry or a sub-vertical that is a little bit slower to adoption. Those brands, I think, could see really significant returns off of those much smaller investments than those if they waited two years.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about developing influencer marketing campaigns with clear objectives.

About the Guest:

Ryan is the GM of North America at HypeAuditor, an influencer marketing platform for brands and agencies. Prior to joining HypeAuditor, Ryan was the VP of Marketing for LifeOmic, where he led marketing for a suite of solutions ranging from direct-to-consumer mobile apps to corporate wellness tools and enterprise healthcare solutions. While at LifeOmic, Ryan also led the go-to-market and demand generation efforts for JupiterOne, which was acquired by Bain Capital Ventures in April 2020. Before LifeOmic, Ryan was the Head of Growth at ROI Revolution, a digital marketing agency in Raleigh, managing teams and brands.


Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everybody and welcome to today's episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse.

Greg Bray: And we are excited today to welcome to the show, Ryan Hilliard, who is the General Manager of North America at HypeAuditor. Welcome, Ryan. Thanks for joining us today.

Ryan Hilliard: Yeah. It's great to be welcomed to the show, Greg and Kevin.

Greg Bray: Well, Ryan let's start out and just get to know you a little bit, give us some background information and tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ryan Hilliard: Yeah, absolutely. So, I joined [00:01:00] HypeAuditor as the GM of North America back in July. My role is really to oversee the growth when it comes to sales and marketing in the region.

Prior to that, I actually worked at a company called LifeOmic that sold software that was in the healthcare space. Everywhere from a mobile app to consumers and actually enterprise-level software for providers. It's actually fun fact, right, where I met Steve, who is your brother Greg. We worked together for several years.

My role at LifeOmic was VP of Marketing, and then before that, I actually worked at an advertising agency, a digital agency, for about eight years. So, definitely a background in performance marketing, marketing analytics, and then I've parried that over to more of a full-funnel sales and marketing side of things.

Kevin Weitzel: That's too much business, brother. So, here's what I need. I need something personal about you, that is not work-related, that our audience will learn about you today.

Ryan Hilliard: Maybe the question that I thought about the most ahead of [00:02:00] this was, what secrets do I reveal, and at the risk of this going so viral will I be okay with the exposure? So, so I am gonna share something that I don't normally share. Like an actual, fun fact. I'm putting myself out there and being vulnerable right now.

One of the things that I grew up being really into was pretty heavy music. So like, metal and hardcore music, and I was actually in a band, as a vocalist for the better part of two years. And we traveled and did maybe 60 shows or something like that. So, so that's something that is not well-known about myself. I've sort of put that life a bit behind me.

And also to my benefit is at one point, maybe 10 years ago, MySpace did a major migration of their system and they lost about a third of all artists' music, and ours, fortunately, or unfortunately, was lost in that shuffle. So, there's no recordings anymore [00:03:00] either. But yeah, that was something I did. I enjoyed it, but I don't regularly share it 'cause it was, you know, my teens and early twenties.

Kevin Weitzel: Dude, number one, traveling with music is always awesome. So, we're talking about metal, we're talking about Lamb of God. Like, you know, that kinda stuff?

Ryan Hilliard: Yeah. Yeah. Maybe not quite as metal as uh, Lamb of God, but yeah, in that sort of same vein.

Kevin Weitzel: Love it. Love it.

Greg Bray: And was your hair longer then?

Ryan Hilliard: No. So, back at that time, you know, the very common thing was black hair and people would use straighteners and be like across their face. I had basically the same haircut because I cut my own hair. Maybe that should have been my fun fact is at that time I was cutting my own hair.

Kevin Weitzel: Fun fact, I don't let anybody put clippers in my head.

Ryan Hilliard: I do now, but at the time, you know, it was easiest.

Greg Bray: But do you go Christmas caroling still, in your neighborhood, and sing to your neighbors?

Ryan Hilliard: We do occasionally, and that's more of a traditional musical format. We don't play with that at all, so.

Greg Bray: Okay. Awesome. Well, now all your coworkers or at least the ones that you get to listen to this are [00:04:00] gonna know that about you and, and who knows where that could go in future opportunities. You know, now that you've come out with that history. So, so Ryan, tell us how did you decide you wanted to be in marketing as well as combining that with software? 'Cause, you're kinda doing both. So, how did you kind of go through that journey?

Ryan Hilliard: Yeah, so when I went to college at NC State, I started off in accounting. I was pretty clear like I wanna do something with numbers. I went through about a year and was like, Nope, I don't wanna do this anymore. I think I remember walking out of one of the weed-out classes after the introduction and walked straight across the bookstore and returned my book.

I shifted over into marketing after just seeing a high-level course, and I really liked it, but I think it was mostly the professor that I just really enjoyed. So, I made that change and then, actually was able to get a job in basically pay-per-click advertising at that agency soon after college. I had a brief stint in financial services sales. I tell people like, I really enjoy talking to people, but I didn't like that my [00:05:00] friends no longer wanted to talk to me. So, I made the shift over into working at an agency.

Back in 2010, I guess, paid ads were there, but it was early enough where you could still bid 25 cents and get a lot of traffic and convert leads, and have a nine-to-one return. It wasn't easy, but it was easier to see a lot of success. That's where I started out and just progressed from there. I worked with some software clients through the years upon joining, and they saw really successful results, some of 'em. But most of 'em actually had pretty big buyouts, notable buyouts, and I always thought, you know, I would love to be on like that side of the business. Not just on the agency side where we get too big and then they bring everything in-house. I made a connection through one of my clients and we worked together several times and eventually, I was able to join him on the software side at LifeOmic, and that was great.

Greg Bray: Well, tell us a little bit about HypeAuditor, the product, and services that you guys are providing today.

Ryan Hilliard: Yeah. So, HypeAuditor is an all-in-one influencer [00:06:00] marketing platform, so we try to provide the tools for agencies or brands to manage their own network of influencers, find new influencers, manage that whole campaign and recruitment process, and then track the results. So, our goal is really to make it faster and more efficient for folks, as well as bring really powerful analytics that aren't really available on the market, to understand the quality of the influencers that you're finding. How authentic is their audience? How easy is it to understand what content of theirs works and what doesn't work?

So, it's all at a user's fingertips and a UI that I actually think is really, really logical for marketers to pick up. It's just sort of structured in a way that makes a lot of sense. Those are the tools that we provide. Definitely on the software side though, we do have the ability to help folks get started if they need it. But most of our customers, they know what they wanna do. They know they wanna find some influencers, and so we make it really, really simple to find influencers.

Kevin Weitzel: [00:07:00] So, I got a question for you. Me being that, I'm 51, I'm just gonna put it out there. I'm getting older. In my brain, I only think of influencers as people with a ton of followers and they say, Hey, these shoes are really cool. Check out these new shoes and they're feeding that young audience. Do I have a misconception of what an influencer is? Could you help us define what a marketing influencer is?

Ryan Hilliard: Yeah. I think a little bit. Like, I think, this has happened a lot. It happened with paid social. It happened with Twitter. Most of the time, direct-to-consumer or B2C brands lead with some new way of connecting with their audience, and it's something that makes it personable. And then a couple of years later on the higher ticket price side, these people come and follow. It ends up being that this becomes a huge core to a B2B marketing operation.

So, I think you're right in that it does seem like it caters well to visual goods, right? Things that people can just see a picture of. Like a solo stove, which I have, and I'm sure you have, and you've seen it on online and you just [00:08:00] go buy it. If we were to think a little bit further back, like really what a creator is, is somebody you just trust what their voice is. Similar to how people listen to this show. Where people used to watch TV shows like Seinfeld. You sort of trust this person, and so when they talk about something, there's that inherent, they're endorsing this for a reason and I like what they have to say, and so I can put my trust into what they're recommending.

And I think you'll see the results regardless of industry if there's a lot of relevance. If you've got some influencer that you know, they just post photos of their pets, and then all of a sudden there's an ad for men's wallets and accessories. Like that's so out of place that they probably won't see any performance from that because it's just not very aligned or attuned with the message and what people are following them for. But if it is right, if you find the right folks, then you can see results.

I was talking with somebody at IBM a few months ago and they've seen tremendous success working with influencers. Mostly people that have blogs or podcasts like with huge [00:09:00] followings, technical followings. So not TikTioks, right? These aren't dances, but it's the same idea. Some creator, with a trusted voice, with a huge platform, and working directly with them in a way that's like, how can you endorse what we're doing here? Because your audience is exactly who I want to talk to.

Kevin Weitzel: You know, it's funny that you mentioned Seinfeld because I actually know a little factoid about that one.

The green bicycle in the background. Is actually Michael Kramer's Klein. It was actually the brand Klein Bicycles, which is now defunct. But Cannondale actually paid to get their bike changed out to be on the show for two episodes, and Michael Richards was an influencer, if you will, and said, No, that bike will go back to a Klein, and the Cannondale contract was severed.

Ryan Hilliard: Interesting. Yeah. I've told people, I mean, we see new networks, right? And it's much easier for really small businesses to get in on this because it's inexpensive and you just post it to the cloud essentially. Right? You just post it to Instagram and you're able to get out there.

But [00:10:00] this idea of its not so much celebrity endorsement, but it sort of is, has been around for decades. There's always, in sort of like economies there, that you have to balance it. You can't overinvest in it because it might just not be profitable, the number of people that they're reaching, the product that you're selling. But if you can find the right mix of like, who am I talking to? How much does this cost? Is my experience, the ability to buy this pretty easy?

I think you can look back and see the success of this for years and years and years. Now, it's just becomes very self-service. Our tool, we try to make it easy. Where it's like you can use data that's out there to find these people much more easily than scrolling through Instagram and hoping you come across somebody interesting.

Greg Bray: Well, Ryan, you mentioned the idea of celebrity endorsement. Where would the line be between celebrity endorsement versus influencer marketing? For someone who maybe hasn't done either one of those and they're trying to understand the nuance there. Is that something that you can break apart?

Ryan Hilliard: Yeah. So, we tend to think of anything [00:11:00] celebrities is typically when they've got a million followers. They've got a huge platform. More specifically, they charge a lot of money for very little. You're paying for their face, their voice, essentially. You're not really gonna harp up. You're not gonna create this relationship where they're just regularly posting content that's relevant to your audience, and sometimes it's paid, sometimes it's not. You're just not gonna see that in a celebrity setting unless maybe it becomes a more formal partnership.

For most brands, that's just not the avenue that's gonna make a lot of sense. Unless there's some sort of prior relationship with this celebrity where you think, we're really aligned, we think that we can do something with this partnership. Because if you're just going to pay somebody one time, a lot, to do one post, or one story, or one reel, you're probably not gonna see the results like you could with something that's on the smaller scale, working with influencers that are maybe ten to 200,000. Where you can more quickly iterate, you can make those adjustments. They're still, more so, people. They're [00:12:00] motivated by making this work really well because their livelihood is built off of this.

On the celebrity side, this is almost a side hustle, right? And so that's the way you have to think about the investment of time on their end, is they're not needing this to make their day 'cause they have money from other things that they're doing that's probably much more substantial. That's how I would probably break it apart.

If you were thinking about it, again, just from a, how many followers they have. Probably over a million, they become celebrity status, and on the smaller scale, there's different tiers within there. And then it's just how much can you invest into an influencer and then based off of the quality of their audience, engagement with their audience, how much can you potentially get back? And that could be anywhere from, they've got 1200 really loyal followers to maybe they've got 50,000, and half of them are super engaged.

Kevin Weitzel: All right? So, it's no secret that the home building industry is a little bit slow to tech. So, let's just use a socioeconomic group. Let's take the Amish. [00:13:00] Okay. So, if we take the Amish and they wanna influence more people to grow those crazy-looking Amish jawbone beards. What's the process like for them to utilize your services to source that influencer to get more people out of the internet that they don't even use, by the way, to get them to grow those Amish jawbone beards?

Greg Bray: This is the example you come up with?

Kevin Weitzel: There's nobody more tech unsavvy than the Amish. So, I'm gonna say that the Amish are our home building industry. They want to get people to grow these crazy beards. What do they do? How do they approach Ryan and say, Ryan, we need help with this?

Ryan Hilliard: Yeah, so I think the typical sequence of events that we have with somebody that's not doing this at all, that wants to find a way to grow that reach. What we typically see is they know I wanna do influence marketing and they have some reason. They saw some guy with a million followers that had a close to Amish beard. And if he just trimmed the front a little bit, like he really could represent the group well. I don't know how they find this person, [00:14:00] Kevin, 'cause they're not using the internet.

But typically brands, even if it's a home builder, they say, you know, I saw something that just seemed like there's potential here for us. We have a notable person that bought a house from us, right? How can we make use of this? And so if you're able to whittle it down to like, I've seen this person once before, then it's actually really easy to say, how can I find similar people? What type of content are they putting out? Oh, they're also talking about home decor and decorations. Maybe they moved themselves to a new location. I can find other people just like that with a following, and this could also be really, really relevant. Maybe the Amish one is a bit of a stretch, right? How can you grow that one?

For industries that are a little bit slower to adapt, or if they're thinking no one clicks an ad and buys a $600,000 house. That's probably true, but you can probably find people that are speaking about their own moving experience, their own renovations, the things that they've done to a new house that they've moved into and say, Hey, if we can connect with this [00:15:00] person. They just moved. Their audience is very engaged with them. There's probably a natural relationship here where we can say like, Hey, if we can find some way to partner with them. Ideally, maybe they bought a house from us at one point, or they were considering it or something, right? Then it's easy to influence those people that are following them and going, Hey, you know, maybe it's, we've talked about blowing out that wall and expanding the kitchen, but maybe it's actually just gonna be easier to go work with so and so builder. They've got a neighborhood in our general vicinity that we were looking at. Something like that.

Kevin Weitzel: I was assuming that you were gonna drop into with the whole Amish beard thing that you were gonna use, like maybe a modest Yahoo versus a Post Malone. I thought that was the direction that conversation was gonna go, but it went more into the actual practicality of it. So, being that we're in the practicality of it, you can truly drill down these different nuances versus just looking at it from a budgetary standpoint?

Ryan Hilliard: Yeah. So, so one of the things that I like to encourage brands to do is typically they're thinking, I wanna find somebody that has this many followers and they talk about us specifically. [00:16:00] And you might find influencers that way, but you can also look at it the other way around. You can say, I wanna find people that are just actively posting organic content about this topic. DIY or like just moved into a new house and decorating.

I just wanna find people posting about that and then I can actually sort those people that are posting by the number of engaged followers that they have. If they're posting organic content, and they've got a pretty large engage group, I'll just reach out to them and see if it makes sense to connect. It might not make sense. They might not respond. It's really about building a large enough list that you can whittle it down to, like how many people do I think I wanna talk to?

Maybe I want four influencers. Probably need to reach out to 15. Maybe in home building, it might need to be 20 because there's maybe more filters there to prove out how relevant it would be for some promotion. But yeah, you can focus on like, how do I find them using a hashtag? How can I find them maybe with mentions of another brand that I think is really relevant, but maybe not [00:17:00] competitive? If you're a home builder, maybe you would like to talk to people that are influencers for like Kohler or other like material brands that seem to resonate really well. You know, it's the same type of furnishing we're putting into a house. We should partner up with them because they're speaking to the same person potentially, right?

A lot of times people that are buying new appliances or buying new sinks, they might be living a house or they might have moved into a house, right? And so it's about finding those points of when would they have the most interest and you can easily then drill in from there on the type of content that they're putting out the people that they're following, and all of that.

Greg Bray: So, Ryan, I got a couple of questions. First of all, I just, I gotta give you kudos for taking the Amish thing and swinging for it. So, well done.

Kevin Weitzel: He swung that back with reckless abandonment. He was ready to rock and roll. I thought I was gonna stump him, Greg.

Greg Bray: Yeah. You tried. You tried.

Kevin Weitzel: I did.

Greg Bray: And he handled it. He handled it. So, well done. So, first question. How big of an audience does an influencer really need to have to even be worth working with? What's that minimum [00:18:00] threshold before we, it's too small to matter?

Ryan Hilliard: So, I think I would flip that question a little bit on its head in that I would go to a brand. It's like, what are you trying to get out of this? Is this a test? You wanna see if like, can we get any sort of interest? Maybe people are requesting some more information about the homes that we build in certain areas. Can we just get some interest from people? Then I would say you wanna find, you could probably find an influencer that has 10,000 followers that's actively engaged and you should be able to see a lift. And the benefit there, at that size, is that you're probably talking about a very, very small exchange of money. Probably 500 bucks or 300 bucks, right? It could be something very reasonable.

Now, if you said, my goal is I wanna make a million dollars in new home interest for sales, right? Whatever that equates to in terms of lead volume. Then you probably need to be thinking, how can I realistically earn that, right? If every lead is worth a thousand bucks, I need this [00:19:00] many leads. So, I'm gonna have to go bigger. I could focus on one really big influencer with 50 or a hundred thousand followers and hope that works out well. Your investments are gonna go way up. You're probably talking more about 5,000 bucks, 10,000 bucks, depending on the size. Or you could work with a bunch of small ones, but I think it really is gonna tie into the goal.

If we went back a little bit to that idea that home builders maybe are gonna be newer to this than more experienced. You probably just wanna see can we get any sort of lift and interest in any KPI that is of interest to us besides selling a home, right? These people don't see an ad click and just buy a home. And so in that case, you wanna find how can I get enough reach. If I got 1% of these people to click through, would I notice that many clicks to my website?

Cause if the answer's no, then it's probably not enough. And so it's probably gonna vary based off of the home builder and how much traffic they're already getting and in those goals. I dunno if that was a bit of a cop-out answer, but that is the way that I would approach it.

You can very easily spend 20K on a really notable influencer and get [00:20:00] zero from it. It's not impossible if there's not really good alignment and your goals aren't clear, and so you have to be a little bit wary. Sometimes folks assume, I'll certainly get some results from this. And I'm sure you guys will say this to clients all the time. When it's a test, like you have to assume, you get nothing and so what are we okay with spending getting nothing back? It's not the ideal scenario, but like it is a possibility and so aiming on that smaller side.

Greg Bray: Now, if you spend nothing and get nothing, is that an infinite return?

Ryan Hilliard: Undefined.

Greg Bray: So, connected to that, Ryan. I think what you said there makes a lot of sense. That you've gotta have strategy behind it. You gotta have goals and purpose before you just say, I want an influencer. We need to have a plan. What are we trying to accomplish? Who are we trying to reach? And then we start to find the channel, if you will, to reach them. Would you say though that is influencer marketing more about brand awareness campaigns versus immediate response campaigns, or can it be both of those?

Ryan Hilliard: It could [00:21:00] certainly be either of them. I think you are unlikely to be able to do both initiatives at one time, right? If you're partnering with an influencer for brand awareness, you wanna be thinking about how can I reach as many unique people as possible. Whereas on the flip side, if you're thinking, I want direct response, I would treat it more like retargeting campaigns. We need people to see this multiple times over a span of time that is maybe shorter in duration, so that repetition helps lead to an ultimate sale.

And then obviously the messaging and the positioning. If you were an Ecommerce company and you were focused on brand awareness, you probably would land them on your homepage. How can we show everything that we have? We want as many eyeballs to see everything that we have because then we have a pretty good chance of maybe selling something in the future. If you're direct response, you wanna be much more narrow. I'm gonna show you a specific product. When you click on that sponsored post, you're gonna land on the page for that specific product and I want you to take action.

And you're probably gonna see retargeting ads from us using this exact same content on the same social network for [00:22:00] the next few days also. Because I want you to continue to see it to make that purchase decision. So, that's the way that I would treat it is, it's like a reach versus frequency type of thing.

You don't have to partner with the same influencer over and over again if you want to focus on frequency. You can also find influencers with a good overlapping audience. They're talking to the same people, but it's two different voices. That's another way to have the same message out there in front of those people.

Going back to that idea about Seinfeld, right? If we think about the people that would buy commercial TV spots in between television shows. We're speaking to the same audience, but just from two different perspectives. This is how we can get our exposure there. And so that's the way that you would want to approach it. I think brand awareness is really valuable, but it's a long game. You have to be willing to put in continuously and expect results in the future, right?

If you invest $10,000 in a brand awareness campaign and you only do it one time. You just basically send a blast to a million people. I don't think you're gonna see a whole lot of [00:23:00] results from that. And so you're probably better off doing something very focused on direct response. So, that was a little bit more detailed maybe, Greg, but like, to answer your question, you could do both. But the way that you execute it becomes very different in order to see that result.

Kevin Weitzel: Using the Seinfeld reference, there was actually a three to four x cost to the advertiser to have a product placement versus having a conventional ad on the show. Which is incredible. So, you know, when Julie Louise Dreyfus or Elaine turns around and asks if they want Snapple, you know, and she pops the cap and it's just that easy to twist the cap. That cost them millions of dollars to have that on. It was actually written in the show because of it.

Ryan Hilliard: The ability to charge more is because the impact is there, right? Like, initially it's probably like, oh, this is kind of funny. We'll put Wheaties in the background. This is funny. Oh, wait, Wheaties is seeing a significant increase in sales. Wheaties, if you wanna stay in the background, you kind of have to pay to stay in the background. Because we know the value is there, right?

At the end of the day, for most things, influence marketing, it [00:24:00] applies as well. The costs are there because there is value there. Now the execution though has to be good. And so like what you said, Greg before, like you have to know what you're trying to accomplish, and then it has to be some logical hypothesis. Can we measure this through this? If the answer is yes, then like it's a worthwhile test.

But if you're kind of squinting at the hypothesis going I don't know if this is gonna ever play out this way. Like, how are we gonna know? Then that's where you stop and go. We can't invest in an influencer right now until we know can we actually see this outcome logically take place. Then it's a valid hypothesis.

Greg Bray: So, when you deal with an influencer, one route is maybe they're doing a YouTube video or they're doing something on Instagram or whatever, and you have an ad that you put into that video or gets into their normal posting rhythm or whatever. The other way though is more about the product placement concept like you were just talking about.

You know, I've heard, for example, it's, Hey, let's get a celebrity chef to come do [00:25:00] their cooking show in our model home kitchen, and so our home is now the background of the cooking show, right? And so that's a little bit of a different kind of more the product placement. Or let's have a golf pro come teach their class on our golf course, and film their little golf lesson video that they do every week, but do it on our golf course and get a little thank you to such and such homes for letting us use the golf course. Where do you feel most folks go first? Do they go more for run the ads or do they go more for the, Hey, let's find a way we can just help you with your, you know, creation process?

Ryan Hilliard: For most folks, it makes sense to start with, let's be very direct about what we have and like how can a consumer consume this. I think one of the benefits on product placement with large brands is people they know. I know how to go get this good. If I saw something pop up on Instagram that looked like a really cool place and it was just casually mentioned, I might not know where this place is or that it has anything to do with that, right?

The subtle [00:26:00] thank you. It feels, in a lot of cases, like we'll still attract attention, but if your brand isn't known enough, it might not prompt that. And I think even for like the builder audience, there's gonna be larger builders. Like a Lennar or a Toll Brothers, where it's like people know them enough where like if there was a mention of that they would understand, maybe I should dive a little bit deeper. If the brand isn't known, if the builders new and up and coming, or they're very, very regional, the risk is, it's like, well, that just goes over people's heads.

An example like that was pretty close to home. I had a client that did online backup at my agency. They're called Backblaze and they decide, Hey, we wanna sponsor an Ellen Giveaway. We will sponsor giving iPads, and they'll get a free subscription to Backblaze. There's a video of it on YouTube still. But like when Ellen says everybody gets an iPad. Everybody screams, you don't hear anything about Backblaze. They had to pay all of those shows. You know, they're so generous. It's like, no, the brand's paid to put all of those products in people's hands. And so it was [00:27:00] a significant investment and probably too subtle for like where are we reaching them, right?

These people are gonna be loud. They're gonna be excited. Do we really think we can tack on one year of free online backup from Backblaze after we say you get an iPad, right? And so it's really breaking that down and trying to understand well, people don't know what Backblaze is anyway. So, maybe it will help with some awareness, but it's too unknown to reach them.

And so that's where it's like you really need to be much more direct and hit them in the face with it. At least to start. In that case, we were very, very direct and we saw nothing. Okay, we can learn from that. If you weren't direct and you saw nothing. Was it because we weren't direct? Like, you don't know anything anymore. It's now you've squandered a chance of a test, but you've still had to spend the money.

Greg Bray: So, what do we do to track some of these campaigns? What are the tools? What should we be looking for to measure that effectiveness?

Ryan Hilliard: Most folks will say engagement rate, right? Engagement rate is really, really valuable. If you think, I wanna understand like, how is my audience responding to [00:28:00] this? It's actually really, really easy. Like a tool like ours. We'll just aggregate all of the statistics on a campaign that you run with a particular influencer over a date range, and we'll say, in aggregate, this is how many clicks, and how many views, and how many likes that you got from these different posts. Here's what it looked like over time. Here are the spikes of when they went live. Here's an aggregate. Here's it across all of your influencers, right? We try to make it really simple to do that.

For Ecommerce companies, they can even track direct sales with integrations. There's more and more integrations these days with shopping tools. And so you can actually say, Hey, using this link, if somebody clicks through, I could actually see if a sale happened if revenue happened, and that's how you can also automate payouts of more like affiliate relationships with influencers.

For somebody like a home builder, there probably would need to be some tie back to like, how are we compensating this person? If it's just cash, then maybe it's, we want as much engagement as possible. Maybe we want some of our downstream. Do we get any lead forms? What kind of traffic do we get to our site that we can throw people into our [00:29:00] newsletters? Or we can throw people into our retargeting and so we'll get them back that way. What's importanct is gonna tie back to, how are you paying them.

And so if it's a fixed amount, most people would just say, I just wanna see some engagement. We try to make it very easy to see authentic engagement. We'll tell you if, yeah, there's lots of likes and comments here, but they all seem to happen around the same time from a really small group of people, and this looks a little suspicious. So, you want good quality engagement, not just lots of engagement, and so that's the way that you would typically track it.

Greg Bray: Well, Ryan, we appreciate your time. Just a couple more thoughts. Do you have any recommendations of places to learn more about influencer marketing and strategies for those who are new to the idea and haven't really done much of it yet? Any recommendations there?

Ryan Hilliard: Shamelessly, like I would point people back to hypeauditor.com because we actually put out a lot of content and videos just for the method in general. Right. It's more about like how you can do it. Sure. We make it very [00:30:00] easy to implement this method, but like we want people to be educated on, how you reach out to different types of influencers, what's effective, what are different approaches for compensating influencers. And then there's lots of resources just generally available online. I know that we put out a lot of good content. We do webinars and whatnot regularly. So, that's where I would start.

I would not be afraid if I was a listener to reach out to different companies to try to absorb how they think about prioritizing the different workflows in the process. Most of the time it's how do I find an influencer, but the sort of logistical management of that influencer, paying them, managing their content, approving their content, getting rights to their content, all of that takes up a lot of time.

And so making sure that you also understand, it's not just saying Hey, will you post this, and I'll give you money? It's a lot of management on the back end, and so I wouldn't be afraid to reach out to companies. Sometimes people don't like to be sold to, but that's just a great way to understand how would I imagine myself in this [00:31:00] process. How would I go about doing it and can I effectively do it?

Greg Bray: Any last words of advice you wanted to share today before we wrap up?

Ryan Hilliard: The obvious thing that I see just being in digital marketing for a really, really long time, influencer marketing feels like this is just for direct-to-consumer packaged goods. This is not a home builder thing. It's not lead gen. It will be a huge part of that strategy in a couple of years. We've seen it with everything. With paid social, with Instagram. Like, all of that strategy at one point was like laughable. You don't do that. It's a waste of money.

And so the people that adopt early. They have got valid hypotheses and they try to adopt early. Like, there's ground to be had. Especially if somebody's really regionally focused. Like making a presence known, it's easier now than it will be in a couple of years. Waiting until everybody's in on it, it's not like it'll be too late, but it'll be like it is in paid ads these days. It's more expensive, more competition. It's just tougher. It's still a valid [00:32:00] channel, but right now it's sort of a ripe for the taking. Especially if you're an industry or a sub-vertical that is a little bit slower to adoption. Those brands, I think, could see really significant returns off of those much smaller investments than those if they waited two years.

Greg Bray: Well, Ryan, if somebody wants to learn more about HypeAuditor, what's the best way for them to get in touch?

Ryan Hilliard: Obviously, you could submit a form@hypeauditor.com. I'll share my email if it feels a little bit easier. It's just hilliard@hypeauditor.com, H I L L I A R D @hypeauditor.com. And I'm happy just to answer questions. I think I have the benefit of being a marketer, being a buyer of influencer marketing previously. We invested a lot in it at LifeOmic, so I get the perspective, I get the workflow, and can share, Hey, yeah, this is something that you should really invest in. Or, Hey, this is something you should be thinking about, and so I'm happy to help answer questions as well.

Greg Bray: Well, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts today. It was great to get into a topic that I don't think we've had on the [00:33:00] show before. So, I think it should be a lot of interest for folks who are starting to learn about this and interested in trying it out. Thank you everybody for listening today to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse. Thank you.

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