B2B influencer marketing is by no means a cake walk. A typical B2B buyer is well-informed and shrewd and follows a well-researched journey before making a decision. According to Forrester Research, 74% of B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online even before meeting the vendor.
B2B firms have a prolonged purchase cycle (refer to the image below) of three to nine months with prospective buyers researching the firm, reading online reviews, and verifying product specifications.
Most B2B purchases are based on word-of-mouth recommendations. Research reveals, a whopping 91 percent of B2B purchases are influenced by genuine recommendations and referrals.
The fierce competition in the B2B digital marketing domain has led to a drastic increase in the cost of paid advertising. Consequently, several marketers are leveraging B2B influencer marketing to enrich their brand image and generate leads. A solid influencer marketing strategy allows B2B marketers to tap into the authority of the influencer, connecting them with an audience they may otherwise struggle to reach. No wonder, over 39% of B2B marketers are willing to increase their influencer marketing budgets.
If you are craving for a credible recognition in your domain, the effective tips shared in this post will help you create a killer B2B influencer marketing strategy, putting your business on the fast track to success.
1. Set Clear Expectations
Determining what you want to achieve is the first step towards building a strong influencer marketing strategy. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Do you expect your campaign to generate leads, attract traffic, or boost sales? The answers to these questions will help you have a clear idea of the outcomes you desire from your influencer marketing campaigns.
An ideal influencer marketing strategy focuses on key goals, namely brand awareness, traffic, sales and lead generation, and social engagement.
2. Choose the Right Influencer
The success of your influencer marketing strategy depends on the type of influencer you choose. Here are a few basic factors to consider when choosing the most suitable influencer for your business:
Reach primarily defines the volume and type of audience your influencer has a hold on. For instance, the number of social media followers, blog or video channels subscribers, and the traffic to the influencer’s website or blog are an effective indicator or his/her reach.
However, reach alone means nothing. Your influencer should be relevant to your industry domain and recognized as a domain expert by a majority of his/her followers.
Authority in the Domain
Look for influencers who have a thought-leader reputation in the industry. That way, you can use your influencer’s authority to connect with and influence his/her followers.
Rand Fishkin, for instance, is an authority in the SEO domain. He helps newbies and digital marketing professionals make the most of their influencer marketing efforts.
Having a large number of followers is different from having a high engagement rate. Make sure you go through your influencer’s social media profiles, website, and blog to assess how he/she interacts with the audience.
The wide prevalence of social bots and fake engagement strategies is making it tough for businesses to identify fake followers and influencers. A recent article by AdAge shares that even the most popular brands have been exposed to fake followers through their influencer campaigns.
The use of artificial intelligence in B2B influencer marketing campaigns has not only automated the process of working with influencers but also proven effective in identifying fake engagements. AI-powered influencer marketing is enabling marketers to identify the most appropriate influencers for their business. Make sure you leverage the power of AI when putting together an effective influencer marketing strategy.
3. Collaborate with Influencers on Content
Influencer marketing is not just another form of paid advertising. It is an opportunity to build a genuine relationship with the most authoritative people in your domain. The best influencers are the ones who take time to understand your offerings and partner with you in increasing your brand visibility while creating content that enhances their own reputation.
Your influencer may not always want to go with a content strategy created by your team. He/she knows their audience best. Therefore, it is wise to collaborate with your influencer to create blog posts, podcasts, or webinars that appeal to his/her audience and advocate your business.
For instance, software solutions provider, SAP, used the joint content strategy to promote its Sapphire conference. They teamed up with influencers across various industry domains to create solid content for this event, thereby engaging nearly 80 thousand domain influencers.
Similarly, Video Fruit’s founder Bryan Harris discovered the power of influencer content marketing when he wrote a guest post for Okdork, an influential blog for new businesses.
Guest blogging not only improved Video Fruit’s site traffic and subscriber count but also reduced its bounce rate.
4. Remember: Customer Isn’t Just the King, but a Key Influencer
Your existing customers are your biggest resource. Don’t underestimate their potential to offer you valuable insights with respect to the industry. They can offer you critical domain information, enabling you to gain a better understanding of your segment.
Strive to procure the following information for your customers.
- The influencers they follow and interact with on social media and other platforms
- The blogs or channels they subscribe to
- The pain points or need gaps in the domain
- The hashtags they follow
Further, use testimonials from satisfied customers as social proof, encouraging prospects to visit your site and know about your offerings. A benchmark report published by Influitive reveals that 90 percent of the B2B purchase decisions are affected by client testimonials. Make sure you include your client’s reviews, testimonials, and case studies on your site, positively influencing your prospects’ purchase decisions.
Notice how Ogilvy, a New York City-based advertising firm, has dedicated an entire page to share client case studies. Such content will encourage prospects to get in touch with them for their brand campaigns.
5. Measure Success
A great client testimonial or an impressive guest blog post on an influencer’s website looks awesome. But what if it’s not generating the desired impact? Therefore, it is important to measure the impact of these initiatives.
Since your influencers have direct access to your target audience, they can help you improve the awareness of your product. This makes awareness one of the most important metrics to be tracked.
Check out the blog posts or social media posts that your influencer has made on your behalf. If they show signs of active engagement you can be assured that he/she is leading your prospective customers through the B2B marketing funnel.
Customer engagement data can be measured by looking at the number of visitors, clickthroughs, likes, comments, shares, and SEO metrics for your business page or a specific post.
You can also take note of the number of brand mentions using Google Alerts. In fact, some influencers promote or endorse a product in a less formal setting, like a face-to-face interaction with clients seeking advice. Though there’s no quantitative method to measure them, such recommendations play a big role in influencing purchase decisions.
Connect with Your B2B Audience Now!
Influencer marketing is the cornerstone of a winning B2B marketing strategy. An effective influencer marketing strategy can significantly improve your firm’s professional credibility and customer reach. All this ultimately translates into customer conversions and profits. No wonder, an increasing number of B2B marketers are riding on the influencer marketing bandwagon to build a strong partnership between their brand and the key industry influencers.
Heed the advice shared in this post to enhance your brand’s visibility in the competitive B2B marketplace.