B2B industry has recently started implementing & experimenting with the expanding & increasing trajectory of ‘Influencer Marketing’, after comprehending its importance, particularly on social media platforms.
‘Influencer Marketing’ is the 4th most important trend that B2B marketers are looking to opt for in 2019 & almost 48% of them plan to make it an integral part of their marketing strategy (Source: Marketingcharts.com).
B2B Influencer Marketing is important as it saves the huge expense on paid advertising. The referrals & positive word-of-mouth interactions are imperative to the success of B2B marketers.
In a research report, Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing, published by Altimeter Group’s Brian Solis, it was stated that only 11% of B2B companies are having an ongoing influencer marketing program.
According to a study conducted by Traaackr & TopRank Marketing, almost half of the B2B brands are still experimenting with influencer marketing.
Gradually B2B brands are becoming more aware of the benefits of aligning influencers with their businesses which help them create & promote their marketing content amongst influential people, who in-turn, act as brand advocates & help in expanding the reach of the content to their followers and to a larger audience base, belonging to a particular niche.
Influencers instill in potential buyers a sense of trust which in-turn helps the brands in achieving their goal of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Some B2B brands such as SAP & GE, who have used influencer marketing in an impactful way, have started with customer research & have added an external expert’s advice in a way that has proved to be beneficial both for the brand & their audience.
Influencer marketing works on the comprehensive principles of neuromarketing & inbound marketing, wherein, the brands shift their marketing approaches radically from talking all about themselves to marketing approaches that involve collaboration between the brands & internal & external influencers to promote the brands.
Influencer marketing works both on “micro” & “macro” levels. At a time when the social media giant Facebook has updated its algorithm to consolidate privacy issues for its users – thereby making targeted marketing more difficult than ever – and Google paid searches that are employed to improve organic rankings are very expensive; the B2B marketers have realized that trends may come and go but influencer marketing is a mainstay.
Customers learn to hear from credible people before they trust a brand to make a purchase. Positive word-of-mouth does wonders if it comes from people who are experts in the field where the solution to the problems of the prospects lies, in the form of products or services.
How to get the most out of B2B Influencer Marketing:
1. Using a Combination of Account Based Marketing (ABM) & Influencer Marketing:
Using ABM in conjunction with Influencer Marketing fetches optimized revenue for B2B brands from their marketing endeavors. Expecting instant gratification from Influencer Marketing is not justifiable, owing to the fact that the traditional B2B sales cycles are long & need to attract & engage customers across the omnichannel before they are eventually converted.
Moreover, reaching out to the key decision makers within a company takes quite some time; therefore, integrating ABM with influencer marketing delivers the best results for B2B businesses. Reaping benefits from an influencer marketing program typically is possible the only post six months of its implementation.
2. Exploring the Influencer Personas With Proven Affinity:
Choosing relevant influencer persona is an important pre-requisite when it comes to implementing influencer marketing as these are the people who will be in-charge of effectively delivering marketing messages to buying prospects.
Marketers can start with analyzing their existing customers, business partners, fans & employees to evaluate their credibility for brand advocacy & influence.
Tools like Cision & FollowerWonk can be used to examine the relative social influence of the followers of a brand on Twitter. These tools help in deriving meaningful insights in a vibrant social space where the marketers don’t realize when & by-whom their brands are being talked about unless they track it.
Using social listening tools like Agorapulse, TweetDeck & Brandwatch may prove to be beneficial.
3. Use Demographic, Psychographic, Technographic & Firmographic data of Prospects To Analyze what they are listening to, reading & watching:
Analyzing psychographic, demographic, technographic & firmographic data of the prospects gives precognitive insights about their buying behavior. Accordingly, it can be figured-out whether or not the content strategy of a brand is relevant enough for prospects.
Additionally, the brands can also find out which types of content the audiences are indulging with & who is creating those pieces of content. Discovering the sites that the prospects visit the most, in order to seek the answers to their questions & finding the podcasts that they listen can give additional insights into their explicit & implicit buying behavior.
Prospects can be surveyed about their reading, watching & listening habits using a platform such as Typeform. Software such as Affinio can also be used to determine people who influence the prospects of a brand.
4. Look beyond Social Media:
Oftentimes influencers aren’t just confined to social media platforms but can be respectable authors, podcasters, industry stalwarts with negligible social media indulgence but who still are respected by the buyer persona. So exploring beyond social footprints & getting in touch with influencers outside social media on promotional events & other social gatherings is also important.
5. Mapping the Influencer Databases:
For each of the probable influencers the marketers should prepare a list encompassing:
- The social channels they are active on
- Their ratio of engagement
- Topics covered
- Hashtags that they use
- Their geography
- Their best performing posts & pieces of content
- Their history & relationships within the industry
- Any wary signals from their history that can backfire
- Non-social influence platforms like books, speaking & podcasts
- Media coverage
- Their relevancy with respect to the buying prospects
Preparing a record of potential influencers helps in altering content strategy to best engage with them & employing the best ones as brand advocates.
6. Knowing & Respecting Boundaries:
At times the influencers can’t engage with the promotional strategies of a brand as desired. This can be due to previous commitments, job-duties, etc.. Under such circumstances, the marketers should respect the decision of influencers & build a flexible & symbiotic relationship.
7. Engage With An Array Of Potential Influencers On A Brand-Led Podcast:
Opinions matter & amalgamating multiple opinions from many experts at a time can help marketers frame best content strategies.
Podcasting is a way to engage with influencers & prospects at the same time. Even if not podcasting brands can always think about engaging with multiple influencers on different platforms.
8. Educating Influencers:
Before influencers can act as brand advocates & help in building brand equity, it is imperative for brands to educate influencers about their core values & marketing etiquettes. Influencers & marketers can together create more conversion oriented campaigns before influencers start promoting them across omnichannel.
9. Leverage Creativity & Humor:
Engage with influencers in a humorous way while podcasting & create influential pieces of content that are interesting to read. This way, marketers can optimize their conversions by engaging more number of prospects & making a long-lasting impact.
10. Allow influencers to solely advocate business ideas:
It’s not necessary that every-time marketers need to personally prepare their promotional content & reach out to the influencer. Influencers should be given some autonomy for promotions as well.
11. Attracting Influencers to Brand:
This is one of the most important influencer marketing strategies. Organizing events that have influenced people from the industry talking about the brands’ products & services & hosting informative & innovative webinars are impactful ways of attracting not only the potential customers but also the industry influencers.
To Sum Up
The market share of influencer marketing will be worth $8 billion until 2020 (Source: cdn2.hubspot.net).
Discovering influencers from the industry & leveraging them is important because people trust a positive word of mouth & prefer buying from people and not companies. Influencers can be found from the following networks:
- Traditional publications, journalists & analyst
- Industry experts like bloggers, thinkers & subject matter experts (SMEs)
- Academic & market research & universities
- Business leaders & people from senior management
- Decision makers from B2B dominion
- Developers, millennial & students with a good wealth of industry-specific knowledge
- Political people & celebrities
We, at Valasys Media, increase the market-reach of our customers leveraging services such as content syndication, lead generation & nurturing & Account-Based Marketing (ABM) & by becoming brand advocates. We engage influencers across omnichannel to help marketers optimize their Return on Investment (ROI). For more information on our services feel free to contact us.