B2B Influencer Marketing: Everything you need to know

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“Influence marketing is an art and science. The art is the crafting and creating of content that adds value to people’s lives, personally or for their business. The science is the tactics and tools of building tribes and followers on the big social networks.”- Jeff Bullas
(CEO, Jeffbullas.com Pty Ltd.)

A lip-smacking food served on a platter?

A fitness enthusiast giving a glimpse of his mantra?

An Instagrammer with millions of followers?

Do you conjure up these images as you think of influencer marketing?

Do you believe this to be a strategy curated for B2C and D2C businesses only?

Well, that’s not the case at all. With the popularity of this strategy attaining dizzying heights, it’s growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s trickling in the B2B arena as well. But who are B2B influencers, and how does it have a multifaceted effect on the three parties involved?

Let’s find out.

Contents:

1. Who Are B2B Influencers?

Influencer using a tablet, headset and other gadgets to leverage the power of B2B influencer marketing

There are no specific criteria to qualify as a B2B influencer.

Anyone who has garnered a certain amount of trust from the customers with their expertise could don the hat of a B2B influencer. It could be anybody from industry experts to opinion leaders who could guide the customer as they make their purchase decision. B2B marketing requires industry leaders to endorse your product or service. Influencers in the same niche as that of your brand. Influencers through their content can pump up the content strategy for your brand and can help you reach your target audience.

2. Why Is B2B Influencer Marketing Important?

Now, as life trickles in the post-covid era, it becomes a challenge for B2B marketers to function in this changing market. With reduced marketing budgets and an increased responsibility on the marketer to develop more with less, it is high time that businesses add influencers in the B2B marketing mix as this would help to find balance within this multidimensional relationship of the company, influencer, and the customer. In fact, 63% of marketers agree that B2B marketing shall yield better results if influencer marketing is a part of the mix.

As we know, more than 70% of buyers don’t go for sales messages to make purchase decisions. They look for credible sources of information. What could be a better place than a person they trust telling them this?

Influencer marketing campaigns lead to more engagements and better messaging as the customers believe it, seeing it coming from a respected source. Moreover, since every influencer has a niche audience, they would know what works for them and what doesn’t, and they can curate their messages keeping that in mind.

From creative collaborations to webinars, everything and anything could be tried to grab the attention of the consumer.

4. Why Would Customers Prefer Influencer Marketing?

Well, for a customer, it’s a no-brainer that through this form of marketing, they can get insights and opinions from a trusted source.

With most live shows now streaming, more than 50% of marketing leaders believe that now with programs centred around the right theme streaming online and an increase in webinars, information is available to a wider audience. In this era where customers are the focal point of most businesses, influencer marketing provides customers with perspectives from a source they find credible. 

Now that you know what’s the stake for everyone and how it works, let’s have a look at some tips and tricks to craft the perfect B2B influencer marketing campaign

However, when you build your B2B influencer strategy, there could be several setbacks, especially for companies new to this domain. It has to go through the regular trial and error method before these companies start to see a positive outcome.

5. 9 Powerful Tips To Create An Effective B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy

1. Go For The Long Haul

Time is something you need to have when you are keen on developing B2B influencer relationships. It shouldn’t and can’t be approached as you would approach a sales discussion. When planning a strategy, you need to envision the scope of the relationship that you are forming with the influencers and how to leverage it. They need to consider that engagements with influencers of your industry would need time to develop, and only then you can expect a return.

While you can go for short-term solutions like buying a post from an influencer, they would be similar to your typical PPC. So, it would be a smarter move for the company to invest in the long run.

2. Find Influencers Who Know About Your Brand

A B2B Brand representative working with the influencer to market their product and attract audiences and responses

When B2B brands start their search for the right influencer, they often try to diversify and go outside known networks in a bid to increase their reach. However, in a lot of these cases, this very step backfires as the relationship that form seems to have far less meaning and looks curated only for business.

When Influencers know your brand, they already know about your offerings and hence can speak of the solutions in a more nuanced way. If they believe in your product, it would be easier for them to make other people believe in it. Examine your existing fans and advocates and your influencer targets who already know about your product which would make it easier to forge a relationship. Not every influencer would be interested in working too, as they themselves have a brand to protect. If they don’t believe in the product, chances are they won’t advocate it. So, it would be a better idea to go with influencers already familiar with your niche. Besides finding influencers based on your niche, it is important to analyse key influencer metrics to make the right choice.

3. Your Customer Is Your Ultimate Asset

It is imperative to use listening tools to seek out accounts that speak about your industry. It helps you gain some insight into where to look for recommendations, but customer input should be the driving factor for your influencer marketing plans.

“Who are your customers following on social media?

What kinds of influencers are they regularly interacting with?

Who are they listening to?

Who are they engaging with? 

What are the platforms they are the most active on?”

The chances are that you will land customers beyond your current lot as the influencers themselves must have customers who will have the same interests as your current circle, and that’s the best way to diversify.

4. Look For Engagement And Not Followers

Successful B2B influencer marketing campaign driving positive social engagements

Are you looking for followers when searching for influencers? 

Sure, reach is one of the important metrics to determine the success of your influencer marketing campaign, but it should not be the only factor when searching for the right influencer to forge a relationship ahead. Brands need to focus on acquiring leads instead of gaining reach from influencer marketing campaigns, as leads are beneficial in the long run.

Engagement should be added to the mix to figure out the influencers to partner with. According to a study, more than 80% of influencers use engagement as their success measurement metric. Even if you have a small but engaged group of followers, it would have the same effect as a large group of disengaged people. 

It’s important to study the relationship that your influencer has with their audience. 

It would help to find the right influencer to pair up with.

Also, you can tap into other influential personalities besides the powerful social media influencers. This could be anyone from nano influencers, and public speakers to podcasters with whom your target audience associates. They may not have millions of followers or subscribers, but their small,  engaged group of followers could be fruitful too. They would also probably look for your inquiries which could give you a better outcome.

5. Profiling Your Prospects

B2B brand figuring different influencers’ profiles before collaborating with them

Understanding the influencer, and their target audience is an important step in curating a B2B influencer marketing strategy. You need to know about the things they care about so that you can craft a compelling, personalized message.

Some of the essential things to look for while collaborating with an influencer are:

  • Social presence.
  • Engagement statistics
  • Their best performing posts.
  • Relationship with their audience
  • Their previous brand collaborations, etc

The more you know the influencer, the better will it be for you to cater to their needs and lead to powerful messaging. The more powerful it will be, the more it will attract influencers.

Also, it makes you look like you do care about them. Remember, influencer marketing is about catering to the softer instincts of humans, and there isn’t any hard and fast rule to follow. You just need to be honest and sincere in your approach, and it will show throughout the whole collaboration. This leaves you, the customer, and above all, the influencer happy and satisfied, and that’s how you know you have created something successful.

So, thoroughly profile your targeted influencers as well as customers.

6. Get On Their Radar

While opting for this type of marketing, remember every influencer with a considerable reach gets bombarded with messages from brands. The sheer volume of the messages means it’s a difficult game to stand out and get noticed by the influencers.

Research shows that less than 30% of influencers accept a majority of the offers they receive. It is just important to craft a compelling, valuable offer for influencers. Influencer marketing is based on a give-and-take relationship. The more value you provide to the influencers, the better returns you can expect.  

7. Educate Them

When you are just starting with an influencer, they might have no idea about your product or service or brand as a whole. However, it is critical if you want the messaging to be accurate. Both you and the influencer would want to get the facts right before crafting a message, and knowledge about the product is critical to achieving that.

This is often overlooked by companies in their enthusiasm to bring in a new influencer. However, setting aside some time to let them know more about you also helps to forge strong relationships. The influencers should be passionate about your industry, and this knowledge would help to deepen the relationship.

8. Focus On Co-Creating Rather Than Parroting

Influencers can give you a mention through their tweets or through their other social media handles, but they can do more than that.

Influencers are in the same business of content creation—they can do more than give you a social media mention. An influencer would know his/her audience inside out and would know what works for your brand. Co-creation is the ultimate way to create meaningful messages. Co-creating content with them would lead to a product that would be beneficial to both of you.

9. Focus On Relationships

Happy and satisfied connection between B2B Brand and the Influencer

What makes this form of marketing different from paid advertising avenues?

It’s the human connection, trust, and loyalty involved.

It’s about building honest relationships with people and exercising a subtle form of influence over your target audience. The focus should be on the connection rather than the business. Business should rather be a by-product of that connection.

To have this connection, you need to study your influencer and gain a deeper insight into their audience and their tastes. Compile a detailed profile of each influencer that you want to work with. This will make it easier for you to craft personalized messages.

To top it all, don’t just stick to the common social media platforms. Look beyond them to build meaningful relationships that ultimately translate to work.

Conclusion

The B2B digital marketing arena has witnessed a slew of changes. From increased competition to increased costs of paid advertising and a decrease in effectiveness, a flurry of activities has taken place. This has resulted in these companies going for creative and innovative ways of marketing, leading to influencer marketing becoming a popular tactic to win over customers.

Customers can’t be swayed by sales and marketing gimmicks. They search for human connections and look for a humane approach to marketing. They look for credible sources to share their own experiences with them. More than they trust their communication with brands, they trust their communication with popular industry figures. 

Turning these advocates into your ambassadors could be your best bet to gain that traction and influence people’s purchase decisions in the B2B sector.

Being a leading global influencer marketing agency, we, at Confluencr, have closely studied the influencer marketing industry and have helped a wide array of brands to craft content-driven influencer marketing campaigns. With a striking 15000+ influencer network and 500+ content-driven brand campaigns, we have worked for 200+ leading brands across India. Being old players of this game, we can help you craft an effective influencer marketing strategy for your brand. Got questions? Reach out to us at [email protected] and we shall get right back to you!

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