What does it take to build B2B influencer marketing campaigns that deliver measurable marketing results? How can businesses get started partnering with influencers, and what kind of results can they expect? Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered here.
Our CEO Lee Odden joined Kathleen Booth, vice president of marketing at Attila Security, on her The Inbound Success Podcast, and together they took a look and explored the world of successful B2B influencer marketing.
Among the multitude of B2B influencer marketing gems Lee shared with Kathleen are the following five helpful take-aways to strengthen your own existing B2B influencer marketing program, or to assist as you begin an entirely new influencer pilot program.
So let’s get right to it, dig in, and take a look.
1 — Getting Started: Topics of Influence
One of the big challenges of our time in the marketing world is the growing distrust consumers have of brands. Influencer marketing is a great way to restore some of that lost trust. Lee explored this recently in “How B2B Marketers Can Enter the Circle of Trust,” sharing how B2B brand and influencer content collaborations can build brand trust, raise relevance, and boost credibility.
Successful influencer marketing is much more than just feeding influencers a message or treating them the same as an ad buy, however that’s often how the B2C world tends to operate when it comes to influencers. Smart influencer marketing programs genuinely try to help the influencers involved.
To get started with B2B influencer marketing, it is important to first identify and define what marketing problem the brand is trying to solve. What primary and secondary topics represent the solution to that problem? How do buyers think of those solutions? What terms, phrases and topics are most accurately associated with the problem/solution?
Once you identify the topics of influence, you’ll have a clear signal for finding those who are influential about those topics and the content you will co-create with them.
2 — Identifying The Right B2B Influencers
Finding and qualifying a B2B influencer involves finding a person who is credible around a topic, and who has an audience with which the content they share will resonate.
Pay attention to a potential influencer’s authentic voice, because then whatever they say is perfect because it’s real — and that’s what people are looking for.
Authenticity helps turn B2B influencer marketing into an experience that is good for the brand, the contributors, and the audience that we’re out there to attract and engage.
Focus on organic and authentic advocacy and engagement, which is quite different from just paying people who are willing to say something nice. Their voice and message needs to be legitimate and genuine.
To locate the right influencers for your brand, find and use data to look for evidence of people who may already be actively advocating for the brand and actively publishing, and who are respected in the industry.
One of the biggest failures that people make when identifying possible influencers is focusing only on popularity.
Once you have identified the key topics a brand is looking to address with influencer marketing, you can use a variety of approaches to brainstorm potential influencers — everything from interviewing people at the brand, to looking at customer relationship management (CRM) data and social media data.
It can be beneficial to use a platform that crawls the social web for data about potential influencers, such one of the platforms we use at TopRank Marketing, Traackr.
Next, look at data points including topical relevance, the degree to which that individual’s own content that they’re publishing is a match at a relevance level to the topic of influence that a brand is after.
Also look at the degree to which that topic of influence actually resonates with both the potential influencer’s first and second level network. Find out if they publish their own blog or on industry websites — do they speak at conferences, or are they a book author?
During this research phase, try to optimize and rank your list of potential influencers for findability and credibility.
Make sure that the type of content you have planned is a match for what potential influencers publish, so that YouTubers deal with video, bloggers for text, podcasters with audio, and so on.
3 — Engaging and Activating B2B Influencers
When you have the good fortune of finding the right combination of traits which point to someone being a possible good influencer match, then reach out to them and invite them to contribute or collaborate on content.
It’s important to have a reasonable expectation that one of the outcomes from that content you collaborate on is going to result in some sort of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) — usually in a B2B case, it’s a download, a trial or demo, or something similar.
It’s also important to keep in mind that influence is temporal. By nature It’s not permanent, and will go up and down over time. That means you will need to re-evaluate your influencers on a periodic basis.
There are different types of influencers including “brandividuals,” who are professional influencers that make it their business to be a thought leader in their industry. Engaging pro influencers is very different from engaging subject matter experts that have a strong network but do not actively self-promote or create content for brands.
B2B brands that are new to influencer marketing might try starting off by identifying people who are influential and already brand advocates and simply invite them to do something simple such as to share a quote or commentary about a report.
4 — Engaging B2B Influencers to Create and Promote Brand Content
The magic of B2B influencer content creation and promotion starts in the planning. Use search data to understand what topics are in demand. Use those topics as a guide for influencer selection and content creation. When search, social, influencers and content align topically, brands become “the best answer” for the questions buyers are looking for.
Also use additional data sources to get an idea of the questions people are asking around a topic that the brand wants to be known for. This topic was covered in detail in “10 Smart Question Research Tools for B2B Marketers.”
Any type of content B2B brands normally create for content marketing programs can incorporate influencers: blog posts, ebooks, videos, infographics, newsletters, reports, podcasts and so on.
For B2B influencer content promotion, create and share a graphic with a collage photo containing all of the influencers participating in the project. Provide this graphic along with a link and pre-written social share text. Many influencers are more motivated to share if the graphic shows other influencers than just themselves.
If you already have really great relationships and credibility with industry influencers, but you’re just not activating them in an effective way, you can see that in engagement data. Then you can architect an experience for them that will result in the outcome that you’re actually after.
5 — B2B Influencer Content Collaboration & Re-Purposing
Episodic content works very well for B2B influencer marketing, because it creates a platform for you to have a continuing series of guests. Our senior content strategist Nick Nelson explored this in “Hungry for More: What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Episodic Content,” a helpful resource to learn more.
Repurposing influencer content offers a great opportunity for B2B marketers because it extends the use of the original content and is a way of showing love to your influencers long after their original contribution was published.
Developing A Smart B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy
Using the five tactics Lee has outlined here for finding relevant influencers, optimizing for credibility, building benchmarks and keeping track of influencer effectiveness, studying buyers, creating ongoing value, and empathizing with audiences, you can create a B2B influencer marketing program that will actually get results.
Following these tips will help you build a more successful B2B influencer marketing program. To gain an even deeper understanding of each of Lee’s expert insights on developing B2B influencer marketing success, listen to the complete podcast interview with Kathleen.