Influencer marketing is continuing to grow. In 2019, the total spent on influencer marketing globally was $5.24 billion.
Even with the impact of the pandemic on the global economy, that spend hasn’t dropped below $5 billion in 2020.
The UK government even used paid influencer marketing to promote the COVID Test & Trace system.
The consumer influencer industry suffer somewhat of a PR crisis, when many influencers headed for holidays in the sun during lockdown, using a loophole designed for those travelling for work.
While most people think of B2C brands when they think of influencer marketing, it also provides a valuable marketing platform for B2B businesses too. Though the scale and approach are different, the ultimate goal is the same.
You’re still selling to people
Even though you’re B2B- there’s still a person at the other end of the buying journey.
They might have different priorities and decision making powers, but they are people and it is them that you need to think about when marketing. They’re more than just a job title or company.
Reaching the people behind the job titles is the key to successfully marketing to them.
They will follow industry experts and commentators that they respect. Targeting these influencers can boost the credibility of your brand in a way advertising can’t.
Find out who they are listening to and where. Do they follow social media profiles or get their news from LinkedIn or Club House? It changes slightly from industry to industry so don’t make any assumptions, do the research.
LinkedIn commissioned a global survey that focused on the B2B marketing and buying decisions of over 6000 people. The results were very interesting, with expert opinion and endorsement being listed as the second most important factor when it comes to buying a product or service.
Influencer marketing can work for virtually all B2B. From Saas, to professional services and branded products from this company that would make good content in an influencer campaign.
Choosing the right influencers
Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to choosing your influencers. Don’t be fooled by followers alone.
Smaller influencers with a target audience that matches your own, will give you a lot more bang for your buck when it comes to ROI.
Rather than simply using follower numbers, look at frequency of posts and engagement rates.
Of course your influencer has to be knowledgable and resected in your target market.
Make sure that you research your influencers fully to ensure that their values match with that of your brand. If they have previous content that conflicts with your you brand values, or are likely to post it again in the future, you are better off looking for someone else.
The PR damage could be substantial.
How to find influencers for your B2B campaign
So once you’ve decided that influencer marketing is the way to go, how do you go about finding them?
There’s the good old fashioned way of creating your influencer list manually, by going through social media and key publications.
There are a number of specialist influencer platforms that your can use to produce your shortlist. These include BuzzSumo and Insightpool.
You can also engage with a specialist influencer marketing agency, who are experts at finding and working with influencers of all sizes. They will be able to take the hard work out of running your influencer campaign for you.
Make your product available
You want your influencer campaign to be a true reflection of your product or service.
In order to get a good grasp of it, you’re going to need to make it available for influencers to review. You can then use these reviews to drive traffic to your website of sales pages.
An honest review from an expert is a fantastic way to increase exposure and build engagement (and sales).
Leverage your existing customer networks
Collecting opinions and testimonials from your customer base is a great way of using their influence to generate business too.
Ask them for permission to use their reviews and testimonials on your website and social media.
Encourage them to share any communications to widen the number of people seeing your product.
Interview experts and allow guest posts
Not all influencer marketing needs to be about selling a specific product. You can also use it to drive traffic to your site and raise brand awareness.
Ask a number of influencers if they would agree to be interviewed for your company blog, whitepaper or podcast. Most will be happy to do it, especially if you make it really easy for them by emailing over questions.
People are very busy so might not have the time for a meeting or phonecall, but can usually put some thoughts down in an email.
Once you’ve drafted your article, get it out there and share it on every platform and forum you can. The influencer will also share on their social channels and drive traffic to your site and into your sales funnel.
Ensure that your content isn’t just a sales pitch, but is a well researched, though out piece of content.
Also, allow guest posts on your site and publicise this. Share the guest posts in the same way you would your own. Don’t just let anyone guest post on your site, do the same checks as you would on any other influencer so that you know they are a fit for your brand values.
Learn to tell a story
B2B influencer marketing is a lot more subtle than B2C.
The buying cycles are much longer, so constant hard sales messages will drive people away quite quickly. Instead learn how to focus on brand story, valuable content and educational materials.
Influencer marketing may look a little different for B2B than B2C, but it is still a valuable marketing channel to explore.
You need to be a little more creative about how making it beneficial for everyone involved. Influencers get approached often so think of ways to make it an appealing proposition to them.
Buying cycles in B2B are often much longer, so you need to have your campaign tracking enabled to track traffic and inbound inquired through your funnel.