The benefits of influencer marketing in B2B
Influencer marketing is not a new trend or a buzzword that has just entered the marketing world. It has been an extremely successful strategy for B2C brands for some time now. The increased use of brand influencers is one of the most impactful strategies in content marketing. Plus, according to market research published by Forrester just 6.2% of key influencers are responsible for a whopping 80% of influence in social media. Today, B2B brands are recognising the resounding success these influencers can have on their marketing strategy and they want a piece of the action too.
Before we get into the nitty gritty and see how B2B brands can get involved and reap the benefits of influencer marketing, let’s take a look at what influencer marketing actually is.
Influencer marketing is the practice of engaging industry experts and thought leaders in a strong and active network within your target markets to help achieve measurable business goals for your brand. It is focusing your marketing activities around key individuals that have influence over your customers rather that targeting the market as a whole. To put it simply, when an influencer says something, their community i.e. your customers take action. If this is done well, it can be an incredibly powerful marketing strategy, since you are in effect recruiting industry experts that your customers trust.
Why should a B2B brand implement influencer marketing as part of their strategy?
Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising and when 84% of B2B buyers start the purchasing process with a referral, it is easy to see that your next customer is not going to find you without a lot of help from your advocates - the influencers. The B2B buying process can sometimes be incredibly complex, they can typically occur over a long period of time and up to 5 people can be involved in the process. Third-party endorsements and sources of information that are trusted and influential can create a huge advantage for B2B companies ranging from shortened sales cycles to larger deals and to an increase in leads and revenue.
Source: Lori Wizdo, Forrester – Myth Busting 101: Insights into the B2B Buyer Journey
How does influencer marketing work
Whether you are looking to engage with influencers for a particular campaign or just to introduce your brand to them, it is best to start targeting a good half a dozen influencers at a time and pitch them the concept. By doing so, you will get greater insights into how they operate, what topics and causes they are passionate about and how they like to engage with brands. As you start seeing success, then this is when you start to introduce other influencers to the mix.
Remember when it comes to your marketing content, always consider where you can best incorporate your influencers. These collaborations can be anything from interviews, blog posts, whitepapers, events or simply just providing tangible quotes. You should always have influencers at the back of your mind whenever you are creating new or re-purposing old content – just like you do when optimising your content for SEO purposes or thinking about the social or advertising channels it can be promoted on.
Identifying the right influencers
When it comes to identifying the right influencers, there is one very important thing to bear in mind – do not be distracted or lured in by the influencers who have the most fans and followers on social media. Instead, focus on identifying those who are influential amongst your customer base.
When compiling your list of influencers, note down all of the thought leaders, analysts, bloggers and regular contributors in your target magazines. Look at their online presence, who are they engaging with, what topics are they covering and who are they following – the latter is a good indication of the direction you should be heading when searching for new influencers.
In addition, if you want to broaden your horizon and find new influencers that are topically relevant, which you might not have come across before, it is worth looking to use a speciality software. There are many influencer marketing platforms in the market that allow you to search influencers using a specific topic, for example: BuzzSumo, Traackr and Followerwonk.
Engaging with key marketing influencers in your industry can be a differentiator between your brand and its competitors. It will increase your brand’s visibility, develop brand advocates and build trust –not only amongst your customers but also from those who are truly respected in your community.
Sylvia Laws, Managing Director, Technical Associates Group