Influencer Marketing in numbers
It’s a fact: B2B marketers are lagging behind when it comes to influencer marketing. In 2017, 48% of B2C marketers reported running ongoing influencer programs compared to only 11% of B2B marketers. However, 49% of B2B marketers surveyed showed to be “experimenting” with the strategy. Is 2018 the year B2Bs will finally take the leap?
The chances seem high as 71% of marketers defined influencer marketing as a ‘strategic or highly strategic’ strategy and 57% of marketers surveyed said they would integrate influencer marketing into their strategy within the next 3 years. B2B marketers know that content is crucial for marketing any product or service which explains these findings. Despite the growing notoriety of influencer marketing, only 10% of current marketing budgets are dedicated to such programs and many B2Bs have not yet developed their influencer strategy.
1. Why is Influencer marketing a push marketing alternative in the B2B industry?
- Challenges in the market today
Organic content is king! Running PCP ads is no longer efficient as 47% of online consumers use adblock, what’s more: they don’t want to see, nor do they trust those types of ads. As buyers become increasingly wary of intrusive push marketing tactics, their overall trust in industry experts and influencers only grows stronger.
An influencer relationship means sustaining and developing a relation with people who are perceived as having an impact on a determined audience. In the B2B industry, those influencers can be bloggers, industrial analysts, or even consultants. The list is limitless!
Influencer marketing provides B2Bs with a unique opportunity to focus on the end customers, a targeting strategy that stands out among typical industry posts and promotional business news. It pays to be customer-centric: not only are you gaining exposure, you’re showing you understand the needs of your client’s clients, a missing link in many B2B operations.
- Influencer marketing as a content creation opportunity
Content marketing should not be underestimated as it is a way to communicate with your client, generate new leads, and produce engagement. Post-campaign, 80% of marketers cited the “biggest impact from their influencer collaboration” as the creation of content.
What’s more, the content that is produced and shared by influencers is deemed helpful instead of promotional since it’s coming from an external source. Carefully crafted by industry experts, influencers can produce media for your business that is perceived as more relevant and credible to audiences. There is a tremendous opportunity for B2Bs to take advantage of this strategy if they know how to find relevant influencers.
2. How to implement a relevant influencer marketing strategy ?
Define your goals & work with influential people
As with any marketing strategy, defining campaign goals is crucial for success. Common objectives are to attract, engage & convert. In influencer marketing, KPIs that measure these goals (such as CPC, CPM, and CPE) complement existing metrics like acquisition, conversion, retention.
Once you’ve defined your engagement goals, you can define your target audience. Knowing who your target market is and what channels are best to reach them will be key for picking out the right influencers.
A common mistake when it comes to influencer selection is focusing on famous rather than influential people: the size of a community does not mean the ability to inspire of affect the thinking of buyers! It’s not popularity alone that will drive conversion but their position of authority in a specific topic. The approach in B2B must be different than in B2C, where brands are looking for cultural figures and massive followings, some of which composed of fake followers.
In B2B, the authenticity of the network is way more important which is why influencers need to have a deeper understanding of their market and its stakeholders. You can then identify influencers to work with and think about how to onboard them. While paying for content creation is one strategy, companies can also recruit influencers with offers such as insider news or exclusive partnership status.
Influencer marketing in a long-term strategy
When we talk about influencer marketing strategy in the B2B industry there is a term that must be discarded: short-term. A collaboration with an influencer should not be something implemented randomly without any effort to maintain a relationship. Here are 3 benefits of a long term approach:
Implementing a B2B influencer marketing strategy does not necessarily need to be costly. You can first integrate micro content from influencers into your campaign and if it works out, pursue bigger projects. This approach can help companies to better understand the process of such collaborations and to better determine future objectives.
Running a long-term campaign can educate your community and bring them unanticipated value. Using a strategically planned content strategy, companies often guide influencers by providing narrative directions throughout long, strategic, content series. By the end of these expert campaigns, companies benefit from the status of being a “thought-leader” in their industry.
Last but not least, relations like these are not built overnight. It takes time to cultivate professional and constructive partnerships. Ideally, you and your influencers should have similar values and community objectives. Working with an influencer in the B2B world is more akin to building a relationship with a PR professional, not paying for a cheap shoutout.
Many B2Bs consider influencer marketing strategic but (too) few campaigns are actually being run. We have seen that consumer trust is evolving alongside online advertising and coincidentally, the need for content has never been so high.
A well-structured, influencer marketing program can add incredible value to content production. Such strategies only have an impact though if they are long-term oriented, scalable, and composed of relevant, carefully-matched partnerships. Technology designed to facilitate all of these aspects has finally made it possible for B2B’s to move out of the “experimenting” phase and begin running, and realizing the benefits of, influencer campaigns.