Today’s digital marketing world has an overwhelming number of strategies to consider. Among all of them, there’s one marketing strategy that’s growing at a rapid pace: influencer marketing. This type of marketing enlists the help of influential sites and personalities within a specific niche or industry for promotional purposes. It quickly became an effective way for a company to generate big returns on social. Many B2C companies exposed the astounding results they got from influencer Marketing. And if this practice seems inconspicuous regarding the B2B sector, the trend is clearly moving. Sprout Content reports 72% of people look for recommendations and relevant content from industry peers in B2B segments.
The data shows how strategic it has become for companies, with $6.85 earned media value per $1 spent on influence marketing campaigns according to an Infographic published by Upfluence. Influencer marketing is primed and ready for B2B usage, whether you become the influencer, or use existing ones for native advertising and brand awareness.
Why B2B Companies Need to Have an Influencer Strategy
B2B Influencer marketing is more than connecting with relevant influencers, it’s becoming one in your own right. Your organization benefits from the brand authority you generate by positioning yourself as an influencer. If you already focus on thought leadership within your industry, influencer marketing complements this strategy well.
It is known that influencer marketing is all about engagement and unlocks brand awareness. But in the case of B2B, it is more about brand authority! By partnering with influencers in your industry, your company will grow a brand expertise and recognition that help to attract quality leads, as well as the attention of other opinion leaders.
One of your ambitions should be the creation of relationships with industry experts to ease your influencer’s position and supplement your branding. Invite them to your user conferences and events to turn them from partners to brand advocates. Your industry knowledge will benefits from this collaboration.
Furthermore, having existing influencers talk about your brand will give you opportunities to enter new markets and attract leads you didn’t have access to through regular channels.
On the other side of the coin, investing in influencer marketing provides higher ROI than PR campaigns. You have no guaranteed result from a typical PR campaign, so you might invest tens of thousands of dollars and have no trackable results or published articles. An influencer campaign provides you with guaranteed placement on the influencer’s site, in a format that mimics non-sponsored content. Since native advertising connects with readers from a trusted source, your content gets a better reception than a piece coming directly from your brand. It’s perceived as an endorsement. Shareaholic reports that readers are spending a similar amount of time on native advertising content and editorial content.branding
In the B2C market, Sprout Social reports that 74% of consumers look for social brand and product recommendations as an integral part of their customer journey. Influencers in B2C are already well established as part of the buying process. The B2B isn’t quite there yet, so there’s a good chance you’ll be the first mover in your industry, which is a tremendous opportunity. Companies benefit greatly from trusted voices to make their way through the often overwhelming B2B products and services market.
How to Use Influencer Marketing in B2B
Build your brand’s authority by positioning yourself as an expert. You don’t need to invest substantial amounts of time into this process.
- Become the expert: Look at the data your organization is already collecting and collaborate with influencers on the best way to package this information in an interesting way. Keep up on interesting industry news, newly released research, and other influential happenings for collaboration material. .The Executive Board reports B2B buyers don’t reach out to sales until they are 57% of the way through their purchase decision process. Use influencer marketing to build up their trust levels before they speak to you directly.
- Seek out industry opinion leaders through blogs, forums, social media channels, LinkedIn groups, conferences, and other venues. You can also use influencers search engines such as reachr.io. Engage with them through interviews or encourage them to submit guest articles to your publications. These relationships are valuable for seeing what other industry thought leaders are doing, and the demographics they service. You should prepare rewards for influencers who agree to talk about your brand: exclusive interviews, invitations, paid articles, etc.
- Team up with influencers from other industries. Sometimes, looking outside your own industry provides the best results. Look for the influencers of complementary industries to team up with. It may be an industry which heavily influences your own, or provides products and services that go hand in hand with your own offerings. You get a unique perspective for your content, additional data sources, and referrals not already picked-over within your industry.
It also gives you a communication platform that your competitors are probably not using yet.
- Control the quality of the content produced by influencers but let them speak in their own voice. An influencer’s audience trusts his/her voice, not yours.
Influencer marketing has a firm grip on the B2C market, and B2B marketing strategies need to catch up. Whether you position yourself as an influencer or want to generate quality leads, you need to incorporate influencer marketing into your overall business strategy.
B2B influencer marketing is a bit trickier than B2C. Professionals are usually harsher when it comes to comments online. But they will surely love to debate with you and provide their insights..
Collaborating with opinion leader might be a challenge too. Your brand’s reputation is at stake so don’t miss the chance to make a good impression when contacting them. You need to consider them as partners, not distribution channels. Listen to their advice, and let them produce the content they feel will best match their audience’s interest. Consider the right rewards to compensate your industry’s opinion leaders for their work, you know best what’s valuable for them.
If you need any help to identify relevant Influencers in your industry and set up your campaign, we can help! contact Upfluence today and we’ll be happy to advise you.