With 47 percent of B2B companies planning to spend more money on influencer marketing in 2020 (Spiceworks), combined with its growing strength during times of crisis.
Now is the time to implement a B2B influencer marketing plan, and here are the 10 top take-aways you need to know.
Our CEO Lee Odden sat down with longtime public relations industry leader Eric Schwartzman and together on Eric’s weekly PR Tech Wednesdays webinar they explored B2B influencer marketing insights for PR and marketing professionals.
Among the many B2B influencer marketing gems Lee shared with Eric are the following 10 top take-aways to help bolster your own existing B2B influencer marketing program, or to assist as you begin an entirely new influencer strategy.
What are some of the common misconceptions about influencer marketing for B2B brands, and what are the elements that combine to make a successful B2B influencer marketing strategy?
Let’s dig in and take a look.
1 – Successful Brands Optimize For Credibility
Successful brands optimize for credibility, through both internal and external influencers who are subject matter experts. These experts build up the influence of a brand, the influence of key opinion leaders, and executives within the brand. Combined, this creates experiences that stand out and differentiates a brand from others who may still be relying on traditional advertising or only paid and organic social media.
2 – Audit, Compare & Benchmark To Build Tactics
Use audits, comparisons, and benchmarking to build a set up recommended tactics. Take an initial hypothesis about a brand and use research to validate it, and in the process you’ll gain a greater understanding of the realities behind a particular brand, and can offer the most relevant tactical guidance based on and validated by data.
3 – Study Who A Brand’s Buyer Is
Who is a brand’s buyer — what qualities do they possess? Ask yourself what are their goals, their pain points, and what are they truly looking for. Having a current and factual view of a brand’s customer — including the questions at the top of their mind, the journey they’re on today, and especially what they expect when looking for solutions in the brand’s particular industry or category — can provide invaluable insight.
4 – B2B Influencer Marketing is Growing
A study by Spiceworks recently showed that 47 percent of B2B companies plan on spending more money on influencer marketing in 2020, an indication that the industry is growing. With the recent significant challenges presented by the pandemic, interest in influencer marketing has increased. With so many new to influencer marketing, however — especially in the B2B space — brands and marketers are looking for guidance and insight from trusted sources. This is why we have launched a first-of-its-kind B2B influencer marketing survey, to provide industry insights from over 100 major brands. The survey results will shed significant light on how B2B influencer marketing is being successfully utilized by major brands. Keep posted as we will be releasing the report data in the coming weeks.
5 – Create Value For B2B Influencers Before, During & After
We need to ask ourselves, “What can we do to empathize with the audience that we’re after?” We also need to find out what value we can create for them in advance. By the process of information exchange and co-creation, we’re creating an experience for influencers that results in a content asset for the brand to use both for default leadership or demand generation. For extra insight into beginning an B2B influencer marketing program, Lee’s helpful “Jumpstarting a Pilot B2B Influencer Marketing Program in 5 Steps” offers additional actionable tactics.
6 – Empathize With Audiences Looking For Reasons To Buy
Savvy B2B marketers will empathize with an audience that is looking for why they should buy something, instead of approaching from a “Why shouldn’t I buy something” stance. Even though everyone may want to hear why they shouldn’t buy something, they don’t necessarily expect a brand to lead with “Here’s why you shouldn’t buy our product,” even though that can be a clever marketing angle all by itself.
Humanizing a brand using B2B influencer marketing is covered in a Break Free B2B video interview we conducted with our client LinkedIn’s marketing manager Judy Tian — a helpful additional resource.
7 – Build Long-Term B2B Influencer Relationships
Brands are best served by fostering long-term and mutually beneficial B2B influencer relationships, going beyond seeing influencers as just another of many projects.
The loyalty an influencer will have towards your brand is largely dependent on building and maintaining ongoing relationships.
Influencers rely in part on their brand influencer marketing opportunities to give them exposure and to feed their personal brand and that of the brands they work for, however if they are treated solely as commodities — as just another transaction for a campaign — there’s little reason for an influencer to say yes to the brand the next time they’re needed.
When a brand provides long-term commitment to a partnership with an influencer, even when an influencer may not be actively involved in a campaign for the brand, the strength of the ongoing relationship will drive continued incentive for the influencer to be advocating for the brand. When a brand is showing no love, however, there’s no reason for that influencer to be advocating.
8 – Find Relevant B2B Influencers
The start of a successful influencer campaign starts with topic specificity. What is it that a brand wants to be influential about? It’s kind of like search engine optimization (SEO) — you can’t optimize content without knowing what a buyer is searching for. You need to know which topics are relevant for a brand and which do customers actually care about? Once you identify those specific topics of influence, you can use software such as Traackr along with a variety of research methodologies to identify potential influencers to consider.
Lee takes a helpful look at “5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers,” sharing how top B2B influencers also use proficiency, personality, publishing, and promotion to drive measurable business goals.
9 – Seek Influencers With High Degrees of Engagement
Look for potential influencers who have high degrees of engagement with their social media audiences. Whether they have a hundred followers, a thousand, or 10,000, high degrees of engagement are a key metric for finding influencers who can make a powerful impact for a brand.
We offer up an array of helpful B2B influencer marketing engagement tactics in “25 B2B Influencer Marketing Campaign & Engagement Ideas for 2020.”
10 – Track Influencer Effectiveness
Once you’ve found the most relevant influencers for your brand and they are actively advocating using a mutually beneficial campaign plan, it’s important to track the effectiveness of the influencer as they share your brand’s content. Setting up tracking URLs encoded specifically for each influencer is a helpful way to gauge engagement effectiveness over time. This can give you an idea of how effective the cohort of influencers who are part of a campaign have been.
Start with a benchmark measurement, of if you’re working with a cohort of influencers with anywhere from 10 to a hundred or more influencers, you’ll know at the starting point how often each of them are mentioning the brand in a positive way. You can take that measurement and work to increase the share of voice among that group of influencers, the frequency with which they are mentioning the brand machine as well as the context of the solution and the various sentiments.
Build Success Using A Smart B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy
By using these tactics for finding relevant influencers, optimizing for credibility, building benchmarks and tracking effectiveness, studying buyers, creating ongoing value, and empathizing with audiences, your B2B influencer marketing program will have significant advantages over less robust strategies.
Taken as a whole, these 10 tips can go a long way towards helping to build a more successful B2B influencer marketing strategy. To gain a deeper understanding of each of Lee’s take-aways, watch his complete video webinar with Eric, which is available here:
To learn more about B2B influencer marketing, especially during the global health crisis, catch Lee at the following virtual events:
- Content Marketing Conference 2020, Thursday, April 23 at 1:50 p.m. Eastern — How to Optimize Customer Experience with SEO and Influence
- Live with Search Engine Land, Friday, April 24 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern — COVID-19 and Marketing
- Google for Communicators Virtual Bootcamp, May 13th at 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eastern — State of Search During the Pandemic