Today’s consumers are smarter and savvier than ever. Increasingly, they’re becoming ad-blind and turned off by self-promotion directly from the brand. As a result, many B2B brands are turning to influencer marketing to earn third party endorsements.

Traditionally, influencer marketing is thought to be most effective for B2C brands. However, I’m here to tell you that it’s truly effective for B2B brands as well.

Where Consumers Look for Information About Brands

Consumers crave authenticity and want to learn about brands from third parties, rather than from brands themselves. This is the secret as to why influencer marketing is so effective: influencers provide those third-party recommendations to their loyal audiences.

The price point of the products tends to be higher with B2B influencer marketing than with B2C. However, these expensive product decisions are always thoroughly researched, all while consumers engage with influencers through different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Educational content: This type of content is great for brand awareness and to demonstrate product utility during the initial stages of the buyer’s journey. Influencers are great at teaching and can incorporate brands into their educational content.
Product reviews: Product reviews are great for consumers who are “self-seekers” and choose to research brands before making a buying decision. This type of content is best for the later decision-making stage of the buyer’s journey.
Thought leadership: B2B influencers are so effective because they are leaders in their industry. If brands give influencers the freedom to organically weave a product into their daily lives and create thought leadership content, the authenticity value is clear, and can truly move the needle on ROI. Thought leadership pieces are effective in advancing consumers through all stages of the buyer’s journey.

Word of mouth endorsements: Influencers create the word of mouth endorsements that consumers and brands crave, especially when it comes to brand awareness. This can be done in a blog post or on LinkedIn. Most influencers will share that they are going to try a new B2B product on LinkedIn to get their audience excited for the product review that will follow.

Storytelling: Storytelling from influencers is key especially when addressing pain points that a B2B product or service solves. Influencers will develop a story about how the product enriched their business or daily lives, making it great content for the mid-stages of the buyer’s journey; moving consumers from awareness to consideration or even decision can occur in the storytelling phase.

Discounts: Ever feel like it’s difficult to move consumers from consideration to making a purchase decision? When influencers offer discount codes to their audience, it motivates consumers to convert or purchase quickly. Also, keep in mind that unique discount codes are the best way to track influencer marketing ROI.

Build Dynamic Relationships

Research shows that when an influencer mentions a brand more than three times, that recommendation is trusted more and leads to more conversions. So, finding a way to work with influencers on an ongoing basis is the key. Here are a few scenarios to consider:

  • Sign a contract with influencers to work with your brand for the entire year and write about your brand on their blogs at least once per quarter.
  • Have influencers write teaser content about how they’re going to use your product or service, and introduce a series of blog posts documenting their experience on all their social channels.
  • Enlist influencers to create a variety of media (videos, blog posts and social content), so that you cover all of the places where consumers might want to learn more about your brand.

Embrace the Lead Generation Cycle

Compared to B2C influencer marketing, B2B influencer marketing follows a very different cycle. Often used to generate leads, B2B influencer marketing campaigns last longer, and understandably takes more time to get results. The optimal metric to measure results is considering how long it takes a lead to convert into a client.

While influencer marketing is a great strategy to generate leads, these leads may need weeks or even months to go through the whole sales process. So, take this cycle into consideration and don’t measure the sales you get from your influencer marketing efforts until you’ve given your leads time to go through the whole process.

Remember how I mentioned that consumers crave third party endorsements while they’re making a purchase decision? You can cater to this by dripping influencer-generated content to your leads to assist them in the buyer’s journey. Influencer content incorporated in the right email marketing program is one of the best ways to convert leads into sales.

Power Your Brand with the Right Channels

Get to know your buyer personas and determine the channels that they want to hear about brands on. In order to cover all of your bases, work with influencers to thoughtfully produce blog and social posts. The longform content from an earned blog post can show up in search results for years to come, while the social posts create quick brand awareness.

Additionally, be sure to share influencer generated content on your brand’s channels. Content from influencers can be leveraged several ways:

  • Be sure to share influencer content on your brand’s social channels
  • Quotes from blog posts that influencers produce are great for the testimonials section on your site
  • Images of influencers using your product and links to their posts can round out your homepage
  • Links to influencer content make great content for your email marketing campaigns
  • Images and quotes work well on marketing materials

Tap into Your Client Base

Influencers don’t need to be online superstars. In fact, your existing clients can be activated as influencers.

Incentivizing your clients to post their experience with your brand on social media with gift cards or discounts on your product can go a long way. Your clients have already had authentic experiences with your brand, which lends authenticity and social proof to their post.

Partner with your customer service team, identify your happiest clients, then make a plan to activate them to spread the word about your brand. You can even take it a step further and offer them commission for all the leads they throw your brand’s way that might convert into clients.

Be sure to treat client generated content the same way you would with influencer content, and make the most out of this earned media like I outlined above.

Content Fit Over Reach

Prioritizing contextual relevance over reach is key to a functioning influencer marketing program. Even with mid-sized audiences, the right content fit will lead to a positive ROI for your brand.

Think about it this way: an influencer’s audience follows them to learn about topics relevant to their content niche, so they are going to be really receptive to your brand’s recommendation. An influencer who is willing to work with your brand for the money and has a high social reach but lacks the contextual fit will honestly not produce the results for your brand.

When a content fit is prioritized, no matter the reach, you’ll earn the relevant earned media that can move the needle in the right direction for your brand.

Don’t Focus on Scaling

While B2C influencer marketing campaigns can typically work at scale, a B2B influencer marketing campaign isn’t relatively scalable. However, that doesn’t mean that a few influencers can’t produce results, because they certainly can. The amount of sales one influencer can bring in can even be higher in the B2B realm, as these types of products tend to be more expensive.

The average number of influencers that I’ve seen for B2B campaigns is 10 influencers per quarter. You can continually identify and recruit influencers using an influencer identification tool like GroupHigh or setting your Google Alerts to relevant topics. This way, you can work with 40 influencers per year and get great results.

Seed Your Influencers with the Right Assets

Equipping your influencers with the right products and information about your brand will help them be successful and educated when posting about your brand. Be mindful about your goals and be sure to align your influencers with these goals. The assets you seed them with and the direction that you point them in makes all the difference.

Your influencer campaign should consist of the following items that you equip your influencers with:

  • Product or services from your brand that you’re wanting to promote
  • Hashtags and links to your brand’s social channels so that you can track your earned media from social
  • Educational content about your brand and product
  • A theme for their blog posts that aligns with your marketing goals and helps the influencers create engaging content
  • Monetary compensation in addition to product (depending on the price point of your product)
  • A discount code that the influencers can give their audience to cause actionable consumer behavior
  • High resolution images that the influencers can use in their blog posts

In Summation…

While B2B brands have been slower to join the influencer marketing bandwagon like their B2C counterparts, this type of marketing is highly effective. With consumers wanting third party brand recommendations, you can give consumers what they want through working with influencers.

Do you have any questions about influencer marketing in the B2B world? Ask me anything in the comments section below

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