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B2B influencer marketing: the anything but basic guide

November 29, 2021

Influencer marketing has skyrocketed in B2C.

But can it offer the same benefits to B2B?

The answer is yes! 

Omnichannel marketing is a must if you want to connect with the right people, and one of today’s trending strategies is influencer marketing.

Many organisations are turning to influencers to add value, drive awareness and connect with their audience.

And you can do the same.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about influencers and B2B marketing, including 👇

What is influencer marketing? | What can B2B learn from B2C influencer marketing? | What are the benefits of B2B influencer marketing? | Tips on making influencer marketing work in B2B | How do you measure the success of B2B influencer marketing? | Closing thoughts | On-trend topics straight to your inbox

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What is influencer marketing? 🤔

Have you ever been scrolling through one of your feeds and seen someone using one of those blue light teeth whiteners? 

B2B influencer marketing is a lot like that. 

Only, instead of paying someone with a lot of followers on social media to use a product, it's more about driving a key message.

Or mentioning your brand in a way that seems natural.

It’s a B2B tactic that’s typically reserved for platforms like LinkedIn, but can take the form of a recommendation on an influencer’s website, blog or podcast. 

But really, your brand can reach wherever your chosen influencers’ followers go.

Think, events, webinars, YouTube videos and more.

To put it simply:

B2B influencer marketing is hiring or paying an industry leader to promote one of your offerings, recommend your brand or push your brand's message to their audience.

If you want your campaign to be a success (and who doesn’t?), you'll need to take a page out of the B2C influencing book:

  • Find an influencer with a deep industry connection and knowledge that your audience trusts and finds engaging.
  • Find innovative ways for your influencer to target your total addressable market.

Once you've found an influencer with a proven track record in reaching the buyers you're after, you're one step closer to adding another revenue-generating channel to your stack.

What can B2B learn from B2C influencer marketing? 👨‍🏫

The main learnings you can gather from consumer influencer marketing can be found in approaching the right influencer for your brand.

Starting with: 

Finding the industry experts

B2C sports brands look to sports superstars to sell their products, and it should be the same with B2B.

Look for experts in your industry who have a good following on social media. It's likely you'll find them on LinkedIn.

Check out their posts to make sure they represent the values of your brand. You don't want to reach out to someone who doesn't believe in what you do. 

Why?

It won't build trust with your audience and you’ll get a bad brand reputation if they speak up for something you're against.

Look inside your business

With personal branding on the rise, you might be surprised to find that some of your existing employees are perfect candidates to be an influencer for your brand.

Some of the biggest B2C brands have influencers within their own organisations. A lot of them are only being discovered now because of TikTok! 

Find out who your customers follow

Unlike B2C marketers, who know they can onboard a huge celeb and make millions of sales as a result, the B2B industry’s influencers aren’t quite that famous. 

So you need to consider who you approach very seriously.

Do some research. Investigate who your TAM follows and engages with.

Those are the people you want to be speaking to.

Disregard followers

As we said before, the number of followers a B2B influencer has won’t ever be as massive as the B2C market. 

And, at the same time, the number of followers a B2B influencer has might not be the best factor to go on when choosing them for your brand. 

So what should you look for? 

The ideal is to find people who are experts in their field and have consistent high engagement on their posts.

In fact, you might not even find your perfect influencer on social!

A lot of the bigwigs in B2B have social media that's run by third parties. Instead, you might want to be looking further afield - popular podcast hosts or regular speakers at industry events.

It might be harder to get them on board, but it’s worth a shot.

And, while there's a lot that you can learn from B2C influencer marketing, there are a few things you need to do differently, too.

Like the time it takes...

B2B sales take a lot longer to finalise than B2C; reason being, there are a lot of decision-makers involved in every purchase.

So you can't stick to the same almost immediate timeline of B2C influencer marketing when it comes to B2B. 

Rather, you're looking at over six months for your influencer marketing to yield results. 

It's a long game, but it's worth the awareness, relationship building and increased revenue. 

What are the benefits of B2B influencer marketing? 🎤

91% of B2B transactions are influenced by word of mouth.

So, how better to get your buyers interested in your product or service than with an influencer?

Here’s how your company/influencer relationship can benefit your marketing strategy long-term:

Trust

When hiring an influencer to push your brand, you resonate with your target audience through an individual they trust.

The outcome? Your brand gains trust.

Connections

Not only can an influencer connect you with excellent contacts you might not have been able to reach otherwise, but they offer an original spin on what you’re selling.

This can lead to deeper conversations that uplift your brand, opening even more doors for you.

Demand generation

Since the influencer has made such a great connection with your target audience, they’re likely to have a deep understanding of their pain points.

Which will make selling your solution to them so much easier.

And more desirable, depending on how well-liked your chosen influencer is.

An SEO push

Often overlooked is the effect an influencer can have on your SEO.

Think about it…

They’ll be tagging, sharing and linking to your brand.

Creating powerful backlinks to your web pages.

Plus, the social interest won’t hurt your reach either!

Tips on making influencer marketing work in B2B 💡 

The success of influencer marketing all comes down to the influencer you choose.

Start by looking at how many followers they have.

Then, look at how relevant they are.

If they aren't posting every day and their followers look like they could be bought or, worse, bots, then don't engage!

Have a look at their posts and compare their engagement to their followers.

If a high percentage of their followers engage with what they’re doing, then that’s a good sign. They're an influencer you want on your side. 

Next, make a list of all the influencers who match your criteria.

But before you reach out to them, make sure the influencers you've chosen don't have conflicting agreements with other brands. 

For instance, if you work for a SaaS sales company that sells a sales enablement tool, don't contact any influencers who appear to support or talk about your competitor. They’ll likely have an agreement with them.

Once you've signed the contracts, you'll have to sit down with your influencer and work on a strategy. 

Here are a few tips to help build this relationship: 

  1. Spend some time discussing your brand and the approach you’d like to take.
  2. Set some ground rules and agree on some brand guidelines.
  3. Have a brainstorming session to come up with some ‘influencer thoughts’ you can both use.
  4. Start influencing as soon as possible - introduce them to your audience on your podcast (if you have one).

Most importantly, remember your chosen influencer won’t know as much about your brand as you do. It's up to you to educate them. 

To help them out and not overwhelm them, book in some time to co-create content.

Once the initial probation is complete, and you’ve seen whether or not your relationship is boosting your company’s lead generation, you can let them have a bit more free reign.

But keep in mind, they have a voice their audience already loves, so don’t try and change it too much! Don’t expect them to do anything that goes against their brand - you wouldn't want someone doing that to yours.

How do you measure the success of B2B influencer marketing? 📊

Tracking influencer marketing is a lot like tracking demand marketing

In that, it can be a challenge!

A lot of your marketing and sales data comes from places you can’t track, like the dark funnel.

That said, there are some good options for tracking how well your influencer strategy is going. Start by asking your influencer if they can share statistics from the posts they’ve done on your behalf.

Take note of engagement metrics like comments, replies, clicks, views and likes.

Or, if they’ve shared a link to your gated content, look under the hood and see how many people filled in forms to access it.

Top tip #1

Give your influencer a special tracking link. This will ensure gated content downloads can be measured correctly.

Top tip #2

However, if those links are being shared through dark social, you might not be able to track the true reach of your marketing.

What you can do, and what works well, is add a section to your website form asking how your prospects first heard about you. 

Closing thoughts 💭

While influencer marketing seems a bit “out there” compared to our normal practices and strategies, it’s definitely worth trying.

Not only will your brand awareness grow, but you’ll develop some valuable relationships throughout the journey. 

So choose who you want to work with carefully. Put special measures into place to ensure your brand is represented the way you want it to be and respect their ideas and voice.

After all, there’s a reason why they’re social media influencers.

Our last piece of advice is simply: have fun with it!

B2B doesn’t have to be boring; just like B2C, we can have fun with our brands, and we’ll probably attract more buyers as a result.

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