In today's fast-paced digital world, the average consumer or corporate decision maker is more savvy, demanding and discerning than ever.
So, what does this mean? Well, in a nutshell, it means that people are no longer susceptible to plastic digital advertising and the one size fits all marketing strategies of yesteryear. In fact, 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands or businesses.
When you consider that so many people trust the opinions of their peers, it's little wonder why influencer marketing is so popular - and effective.
Summary: Quick Jump Menu
What is B2B influencer marketing, exactly?
Before we delve any deeper, let's consider what influencer marketing is and what it means in the realms of B2B.
Essentially, influencer marketing is a field of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive or showcase a brand message to the larger market. Rather than selling directly to a big group, instead, you can inspire, hire or even pay market influencers to promote what you have to offer.
As we said, people are far more likely to take action based on the recommendations of their peers - and in the B2B world, this notion is no exception.
Most influencer marketing campaigns employ active elements of social media as well as content marketing. Why? This is because, in today's world, content is everything and to enjoy success, you'll need to create content to engage with the influencers you're targeting.
In the B2C world, influencer marketing yields great results. MediaPost recently reported a healthy ROI of $6.50 returns for every dollar invested - not bad at all.
In the B2C world, consumers tend to rely on two main factors: empathy and detail. Now, in the B2B world, buyers often shape their decisions based on experiences with industry influencers in their personal lives - and they're looking for the same level of convenience and connection in their professional lives.
For a B2B influencer marketing campaign to be successful, those in the driver seat must adopt a similar approach to B2C marketers, but it's essential to find innovative ways to target those with deep industry knowledge; the kind of individuals that can influence corporate buyers and seamlessly tap into key business-to-business conversations.
The benefits of using influencers in your B2B marketing strategy
Okay, so we've talked about what influencer marketing is and how it applies to the B2B landscape. Now, let's take a glance at the benefits of using influencers as a core part of your B2B marketing strategy.
- A unique point of view that has the power to resonate with your target B2B audience.
- Original thought leadership. The kind that can shine a light on your existing content and in turn, help make your brand more visible as well as more desirable by proxy.
- Give you access to invaluable networks and professional contacts you otherwise wouldn't be able to reach.
- Authentic professional credibility that can help provide answers to the pain points of your target audience.
Shining examples of B2B influencer marketing campaigns
To give you a better insight into the power of B2B influencer marketing, here are two shining examples for your reading pleasure.
One of the most traditional and potent forms of B2B influencer marketing is guest blogging. By encouraging market influencers to publish original, informative and engaging industry insights on your publication, you stand to increase your reach and hugely boost your credibility. And this notion works both ways…
Bryan Harris, founder of marketing agency VideoFruit, produced an article for the OkDork blog, a niche digital marketing publication with a healthy B2B following, and by offering a fresh tone of voice, coupled with valuable industry information, the results were rather incredible.
On the same day the post was published, VideoFruit's page views increased by over 500%; unique page views rose by a whopping 600%; the average visitor time went up by more than 8% and last, but certainly not least, the bounce rate fell by around 6%.
By using its internal talent to influence a large targeted B2B audience, VideoFruit reaped great rewards, increasing conversions and boosting brand awareness in a big way.
As a high street makeup giant, Maybelline is a brand with a fairly sizable amount of street cred, to say the least.
Now, to reach a host of new consumers in a relatively short space of time, Maybelline used the power of social media marketing to implement an incredibly successful B2B campaign. By using its very own Fashion Week 2016 as a promotional platform, Maybelline utilized a host of its corporate partners, as well as notable beauty experts affiliated with them to branch out to new consumers and businesses.
The brand used 15 makeup experts from 15 different countries to roll out videos, tips and tutorials (chiefly through Instagram) during the course of the week, resulting in a monumental reach of 13.9 million businesses plus consumers in addition to a grand total of 3.9 million likes worldwide.
By using the credibility of other influential brands, businesses and industry experts to your advantage, it’s possible to expand your reach and connect with exciting new prospects; get the timing right, and you’ll enjoy maximum B2B influencer success.
Finding influencers for your campaign
Regardless of the approach you plan to take when setting up your B2B influencer marketing campaign, if you don't find the right influencers, you won't be able to reach the right business audience.
By understanding the B2B buyers you're looking to target, you'll stand the greatest chance of success. To do so, you should create a B2B buyer persona - an in-depth profile of your target buyer.
Once you've created a comprehensive profile, research the businesses you feel best fits the mould regarding the services you offer and look at which websites they visit, which trade organisations they're a member of, who they interact with on Linkedin and who they follow on social media.
By collecting this data and using your newfound knowledge to paint a detailed picture, you'll be able to understand the kind of content you'll need to create to engage with them, as well as which industry influencers to use to your advantage. At this point, you’ll have a decent idea of the influencers that are worth branching out to, but if you need a helping hand sourcing the best people for the job, these tools will help:
Create yourself a comprehensive buyer persona, conduct your market research, use the above tools to find the most valuable influencers for your marketing efforts and you’ll be able to forge new business relationships in no time.
Once you've sourced your influencers, you'll want to execute your strategy. There are three additional components to an effective B2B influencer marketing strategy...
- Create a content campaign directed at the influencers you're targeting.
- Put together a secondary marketing campaign for the influencers to drive greater awareness to a larger set of target buyers.
- Track key metrics relating to reach, sales and brand awareness to measure the ongoing success of your campaign.
Influencer marketing is one of the most potent tools available to any B2B marketer. It offers the freedom to engage with other businesses on a personal level using those who are making real waves in your chosen industry.
In today’s world, people don’t want to be sold plastic promises, they want real insights from real people - those who understand the market and know their stuff - and that is what B2B influencer marketing is all about. Focus on influencer marketing, forge relationships with the right people and you’ll enjoy amazing success both this year, and beyond.