Influencer marketing isn’t just for B2Cs – B2B companies stand to reap lots of benefits with the right influencers. B2B influencer marketing can help you establish a powerful, authentic connection with your audience.
This digital marketing strategy is not about celebrity endorsements or fleeting social media trends. Instead, it’s about leveraging the expertise and trust of industry leaders to resonate with your audience, amplify your brand message, and build relationships. B2B influencer marketing provides a golden opportunity to increase brand awareness, reach new markets, and foster meaningful relationships through word of mouth.
Within B2B influencer marketing campaigns, the power of authenticity, credibility, and industry expertise come together to create a marketing strategy that truly makes a difference. Here’s everything you need to start B2B influencer campaigns of your own.
What is B2B influencer marketing?
B2B influencer marketing refers to a strategic approach where B2B brands collaborate with influential people – like industry experts and authorities – to promote products or services. Unlike traditional advertising, influencer marketing leverages the established trust, credibility, and relationships that these influencers have with their audience to achieve marketing objectives.
In an era where digital noise is at an all-time high, B2B influencer marketing offers a much-needed human touch, adding authenticity and personal engagement to the B2B buyer’s journey. These influencers can be thought leaders, industry experts, or professionals who have a strong following and high engagement within a specific business sector.
Benefits of B2B influencers
The use of B2B influencers can bring significant benefits to a business. Among the top benefits include:
Increased brand awareness
Influencers have an established following who trust and value their opinions. By collaborating with these influencers, businesses can tap into their audience, extending their reach and increasing overall brand awareness.
Ability to reach new audiences
Influencers’ advocacy can help businesses penetrate new markets or audience segments that may otherwise be difficult to reach. Because each influencer has a unique audience, businesses can diversify their reach and find new customers by working with different influencers.
Building trust and credibility
Influencers are trusted by their followers because of their knowledge, authenticity, and credibility. When influencers endorse a product or service, their endorsement is viewed as a trustworthy recommendation by their followers. This trust is transferred to the brand, boosting its credibility.
Nurturing of leads through trust
Business-to-business buying cycles are often longer and more complex than B2C buying cycles. As such, nurturing leads is a vital aspect of the B2B business sales process. By leveraging the trust influencers have with their followers, businesses can use influencers to nurture leads, guiding them down the sales funnel and ultimately converting them into customers.
Gain loyal customers
Loyalty in business-to-business sectors goes a long way, as it often leads to long-term, high-value contracts. Influencer followers are typically loyal and highly engaged. When influencers endorse a brand, their followers are more likely to become loyal customers of that brand. This loyalty is particularly valuable in B2B sectors, where customer relationships are often long-term and hold high lifetime value.
B2C vs B2B influencer marketing
B2B influencer marketing works much differently from B2C influencer marketing. While B2C influencers are often social media celebrities or public figures with large followings, B2B influencers are typically industry experts, decision-makers, and niche-specific content creators with a reasonable, highly engaged following.
Their expertise is crucial in B2B marketing due to the complex and often longer sales process inherent in B2B transactions. The targeted audience, which mainly consists of other businesses and stakeholders, conducts more extensive research before making purchasing decisions. Thus, the influencer’s knowledge, credibility, and reputation within the industry become key factors in establishing trust and influence.
Types of B2B influencers
B2B influencers come in several forms, each with its unique strengths and audience types. Here are some of the most common types of B2B influencers:
Industry experts and thought leaders
These individuals are recognized authorities in their fields, often contributing to professional publications, speaking at conferences, and sharing their knowledge across various platforms. Their opinions and insights can sway decision-making within their industry.
Executives and decision-makers
Executives and decision-makers are influential because of their roles and the strategic decisions they make for their companies. They often have a network of other high-level professionals, making them valuable for reaching key decision-makers in other businesses.
Niche bloggers and content creators
Niche bloggers and content creators, like podcasters or YouTube channel owners, often have a loyal following of industry professionals seeking their unique insights or advice. They are skilled at creating engaging content around specific industry topics and can be powerful influencers within their niche.
Social media influencers with industry-specific followings
While not typically celebrities, these influencers have built a substantial social media following within a specific industry or professional field. Their posts and insights can shape opinions and influence behaviors among their followers, many of whom are industry professionals themselves.
LinkedIn is a great place to find this type of B2B influencer.
Developing a B2B influencer marketing strategy
Creating an effective B2B influencer marketing strategy is a systematic process that requires clear planning and execution. A well-crafted strategy can help increase brand awareness, reach new audiences, and bolster overall credibility. The three fundamental components of building such a strategy involve identifying the right influencers, setting clear goals and KPIs, and crafting a compelling narrative.
Identify the right influencers
Choosing the right influencers is crucial for the success of your B2B influencer marketing strategy. Here are some criteria to consider when screening potential influencers:
Relevance to your target audience: It’s essential to collaborate with influencers who are relevant to your niche and are followed by your target audience. Their content marketing should resonate with your potential customers’ interests and needs.
Authenticity and credibility: Choose influencers who have built a reputation for their expertise and authentic engagement with their followers. They should be seen as trustworthy and reliable sources of information in your industry.
Size and engagement rate of their audience: While the size of an influencer’s following is important, the engagement rate is equally crucial. Micro-influencers, who have highly engaged followers, can often drive more meaningful interactions and results than those with larger, but less engaged, audiences.
Alignment with your brand values: Influencers should embody your brand values and ethos. A disconnect between your brand and the influencer can lead to a lack of authenticity and credibility in the eyes of your audience.
Previous experience and case studies: Look for influencers who have successfully collaborated with other businesses in the past and can showcase positive case studies.
Set clear goals and KPIs
Establishing specific, measurable, and time-bound goals is key to determining the success of your influencer marketing campaign. Your goals should include metrics related to:
Brand awareness and reach: Measure how your brand’s visibility improves as a result of the influencer collaboration.
Lead generation and conversions: Track how many leads and conversions are generated directly from the influencer marketing campaign.
Thought leadership and credibility: Assess how the campaign enhances your brand’s reputation and authority within your industry.
Content creation and amplification: Evaluate the quality and quantity of the content produced and the extent of its reach and engagement.
Building long-term relationships with influencers: Plan for long-term collaboration with influencers, as continuous partnerships often yield better results.
Craft a compelling narrative
A successful B2B influencer marketing strategy goes beyond simple promotion. It’s about crafting a compelling narrative that aligns with your brand’s message and resonates with your target audience. This involves several key steps:
Identifying key messages and themes: The first step in crafting a compelling narrative is to identify your key messages and themes. These should align with your brand’s core values and resonate with your target audience. Think about what makes your product or service unique and why your audience should care.
Collaborating with influencers on content creation: Influencers know their audience best. Collaborate with them to create content that is both compelling and relevant to their followers. This could involve brainstorming sessions, content planning, and reviewing drafts together. By involving influencers in the content creation process, you ensure that the content is tailored to their unique voice and audience.
Ensuring a consistent and authentic voice: Consistency is key in the best influencer marketing. Ensure that all content created aligns with your brand positioning and is authentic to the influencer’s style. An authentic voice helps build trust with the audience and improves the overall effectiveness of the campaign.
Highlighting your unique value proposition: Your narrative should highlight the unique value proposition of your product or service. Why should customers choose your product over others? Industry influencers can help communicate this value proposition in a way that is easy for their audience to understand and relate to.
Integrating storytelling with data: Finally, a compelling narrative seamlessly integrates storytelling with data-driven insights. While storytelling helps to engage the audience emotionally, data-driven insights add credibility and validation to the story. By combining these two elements, you create a powerful narrative that both captivates the audience and convinces them of your product’s value.
Remember, a compelling narrative is at the heart of successful influencer marketing. It’s the story that will captivate the audience, build trust, and ultimately lead to conversions.
Decide on types of influencer campaigns
Choosing the right type of influencer campaign is crucial for your marketing strategy’s success. The types of campaigns you decide on should not only resonate with your audience but should also align with the strengths of your chosen influencers.
Here are a few examples:
Sponsored content and product reviews: In this type of campaign, influencers create content featuring your product or service. This could be a blog post, a video review, a podcast episode, or a social media post. The influencer’s unique perspective on your offering can provide valuable insights to potential customers.
Co-created content and guest posts: Co-created content involves the brand and influencer working together to produce content that is shared on either or both platforms – say, a guest blog. This collaboration can result in unique and engaging content that showcases the strengths of both parties.
Webinars and live events: Influencers can host or participate in webinars and live events, where they discuss your product or service, demonstrate its use, or simply engage with the audience in real-time, adding a personal touch to your marketing efforts.
Social media takeovers and collaborations: In a social media takeover, an influencer manages your company’s social media account for a specified period, creating content and engaging with the audience. Collaborations could involve live discussions, Q&A sessions, or joint creation of content.
Influencer-led case studies and testimonials: Having influencers share their personal experiences or success stories using your product or service can be incredibly compelling. These influencer-led case studies or testimonials are often perceived as more trustworthy and relatable by the audience.
Establishing clear expectations and guidelines
To ensure the success of your influencer marketing efforts, it’s crucial to establish clear expectations and guidelines. Here are some key points to consider:
Defining roles and responsibilities for all parties: Clearly outline who is responsible for what. This could include content creation, approvals, posting schedules, engagement with followers, and more.
Outlining specific campaign deliverables and timelines: Be clear about what you expect in terms of campaign deliverables, such as the number of posts, types of content, and campaign duration. Also, ensure you agree on a timeline for when each deliverable should be completed.
Ensuring alignment on brand messaging and guidelines: Influencers should understand and align with your brand messaging and guidelines. Provide them with clear guidelines about your brand’s tone, style, key messaging, and any specific do’s and don’ts.
Providing a clear brief to influencers: Give your influencers a comprehensive brief for content creation. This should include information about the campaign goals, target market, key messages, and any other relevant information that will help them create content that aligns with your brand and resonates with their audience.
Briefing influencers on disclosure rules: Outline the rules for disclosing sponsored content and partnerships that influencers must follow. Generally, this means disclosing a sponsorship at the beginning of the content, before users need to read more, scroll down, or listen extensively. This will ensure that influencers comply with FTC guidelines.
Monitoring and tracking influencer performance
One of the key components of a successful influencer campaign is continuous monitoring and tracking of influencer performance. Here’s how to go about it:
Setting up tracking tools and analytics for campaign measurement: There are several platforms and social media analytics tools that you can use to track the performance of your influencer campaigns. These tools can provide insights into reach, engagement, conversions, and other key metrics.
Regularly reviewing influencer content and engagement metrics: Regularly review the content influencers are producing for your campaign and how it’s performing in terms of engagement. This includes likes, shares, comments, and other forms of audience interaction.
Analyzing the impact of influencer activities on overall marketing goals: Assess how influencer activities are contributing to your broader campaign goals. For instance, if one of your goals is to generate leads, track how many leads are coming from influencer content.
Identifying potential issues or concerns early for prompt resolution: Stay vigilant for any potential issues or concerns, such as a decrease in engagement, negative feedback, or misaligned messaging. Identifying these early allows for quick resolution.
Maintaining open communication and feedback loops
Maintaining open communication with your influencers throughout the campaign is essential. Here are a few strategies to consider:
Establishing regular check-ins and updates: Set up a schedule for regular check-ins to discuss the campaign performance, address any issues, share pertinent updates on the brand, and make necessary adjustments.
Encouraging open dialogue and collaboration: Promote a collaborative atmosphere where influencers feel comfortable sharing their ideas, feedback, and concerns.
Providing constructive feedback: Provide regular feedback to influencers on their content and performance, celebrating wins, and offering constructive advice on areas of improvement.
Nurturing a long-term relationship with influencers: Think beyond a single campaign. Aim to build long-term relationships with influencers for future collaborations.
Analyzing and optimizing campaign results
As the campaign progresses, analyze the results and use them to optimize both present and future initiatives:
- Use campaign analytics to identify what worked well and where there’s room for improvement.
- Use the data and insights gathered during the campaign to inform future campaign strategies and decisions.
- Evaluate the ROI of the campaign and adjust your budgets and resources accordingly for future campaigns.
- Create a system for continuous feedback and learning, allowing you to continually refine your influencer marketing strategy.
- Incorporate what you’ve learned from your influencer campaigns into your broader marketing strategy. This will help to create a more cohesive and effective overall approach.
Why you should recruit B2B influencers as affiliates
With all B2B marketing campaigns, it’s vital to measure the impact of the strategy on your bottom line. How many conversions the strategy drives is the leading indicator of success.
Unfortunately, traditional influencer campaigns are only trackable in terms of measuring reach and engagement. It’s usually very difficult to measure the sales B2B influencers bring in.
But there’s a way to upgrade influencer marketing and accurately record the sales influencers motivate – recruit B2B influencers as affiliates, and give them trackable affiliate links. These are links to your website, created with affiliate software, that are unique to each influencer.
Use affiliate marketing software to create these essential links, then have the influencers add the trackable links to their own channels. The links will track the affiliate-influencer responsible for motivating each sale thanks to the unique identifier inside, and then instantly award the affiliate with a commission on the sale. As a result, you’ll have real-time visibility on how your B2B affiliate campaign is performing. And with the prospect of sales-based commissions, influencer-affiliates will be motivated to keep promoting you in the long term.
Don’t leave yourself in the dark about the impact of your B2B influencer marketing. Use Referral Rock affiliate software to create affiliate links for your promoters, and accurately track your B2B influencers’ efforts.
B2B influencer marketing has become an essential tool in recent years offering a unique avenue to enhance brand awareness, build trust, and reach new audiences. It provides a platform for companies to connect with industry leaders who can share their message in an authentic and impactful way.
Key takeaways for a successful B2B influencer marketing strategy include:
- Selecting the right influencers: Choose those who align with your brand and have the respect of your target audience.
- Crafting a narrative: Work with influencers to create engaging, brand-aligned content that tells a compelling story.
- Establishing clear expectations: Define roles, deliverables, and ensure alignment with your brand message.
- Choosing appropriate campaign types: Align the campaign type with your influencer’s strengths and audience’s preferences.
- Monitoring performance: Use analytics tools to track campaign effectiveness and adjust as necessary.
- Maintaining open communication: Regular check-ins, open dialogue, and constructive feedback help build long-term influencer relationships.
- Optimizing results: Use campaign data to identify areas of improvement and inform future strategies.
- Using affiliate software: Leveraging affiliate marketing software, like Referral Rock, will make B2B influencer campaigns fully trackable.