Over the last few years, influencer marketing has become one of the most successful marketing strategies to create brand awareness, increase sales and engage with consumers. However, influencer marketing is more well known in the B2C space than in the B2B space. Until now.
Rooted in authenticity, influencer marketing is so powerful because consumers prefer to learn about brands from their peers. Other forms of paid advertising come across as forced and salesy while influencers can organically recommend product solutions.
There are a few distinguishing factors that separate B2B influencer marketing strategies from B2C tactics.
I’ve run many B2B influencer programs and can speak to the power of this strategy. Having gotten started in B2C influencer marketing, I’ve learned some crucial strategies over the years that make B2B influencer marketing successful. Check out the 10 pillars that I’ve identified over the course of my career and get ready to breathe some new life into your marketing program.
Identify Influencer Personas
It’s likely you have buyer personas but if you don’t, take the time to create them now and I love this template.
Influencer personas take buyer personas a step further and help marketers identify the influencers who are going to have an impact for their brand. Here is a worksheet I created for GroupHigh that helps marketers identify their influencer personas.
The following questions are designed to get you started with your own influencer personas.
- What is the most common pain point that your product or service solves?
- What topics do your buyer personas seek information about?
- Who do your buyer personas follow to keep up to date on strategies for their brands?
- Which channels do your consumers spend time on?
- Assume that your buyer personas have Google Alerts. What keywords do they monitor for?
- What are 2 common interests that your consumers have?
- What is the brand experience that you want to convey through your influencers?
Look to Existing Advocates
As is the case with any marketing strategy, first look to the low hanging fruits. Using an influencer marketing tool or even a simple Google search, identify advocates that your brand already has.
Empower your advocates to keep talking about your brand and amplify their content. Empowerment strategies include acknowledging brand recommendations, offering incentives for more mentions and sharing advocate generated content on your brand’s social channels, just to name a few.
Existing advocates are a great place to start and their content is easy enough to find. You will probably also find that you can use their content to entice other influencers who are new to your brand to post.
Don’t Get Hung Up on Scalability
Compared to B2C influencer marketing, B2B influencer marketing is just as effective but it’s usually not super scalable. The good news is that a few influencers will go a long way.
My rule of thumb is to run campaigns with 5 influencers at a time. This amount will move the needle while allowing you to keep a pulse on all of your relationships.
Avoid getting hung up on numbers and instead focus on great content and authentic relationships.
Choose KPIs Early and Design Your Campaign Accordingly
Defining your KPIs at the very beginning will allow you to create an influencer marketing strategy that can be measured.
For example, if you want to measure sales, you can give each influencer a unique discount code to offer their followers who can enter that code at checkout to get a discount on their purchase. Or maybe you want to track brand awareness. This can be done by consulting Google Analytics and tracking traffic from your influencer generated content. The bottom line is that knowing your KPIs early will allow you to equip your influencers with the information/guidelines that allow you to track their efforts.
Craft Personalized Pitches
I know individualized pitches take more time to craft. However, a little personalization goes a long way and leads to more influencers.
You don’t need to spend a ton of time on each pitch. Craft the meat of the pitch that outlines the give and the ask and reuse that chunk for all of your emails. With each pitch, reference a piece of content that made you want to reach out to them and mention why you think they would be a good fit for your brand. You can find a lot of good details to use in your pitches by reading the influencers’ bios.
Lengthen Your Timeline
Compared to B2C influencer marketing campaigns, B2B campaigns operate on a much larger timeline.
Once an earned post is live, give it 6 months before attributing metrics to it.
The buying cycle needs to be taken into account. With B2B purchases, there is usually more thought and research that goes into those decisions.
Allow Creative Freedom
Influencers are always going to know more about their audience than you do. So trust them.
Give them some talking points and link strategies but allow them the freedom to authentically talk about your brand.
The whole goal of an influencer strategy is to earn organic media and if you give your influencers the flexibility to craft their angles to what they know will work with their audience, the results will be sure to please you.
Thoroughly Educate Your Influencers
I just mentioned creative freedom. But, it’s also important to educate your influencers about your brand. It’s a delicate balance of giving influencers crucial information while allowing them to speak about your brand in their own voice.
Here are some things to consider when “seeding” your influencers with your brand story:
- The anchor text when linking to your brand from a blog post
- Links to your social profiles so the influencers can tag you
- Hashtags for social tracking
- 3 talking points about your brand
- A timeline for posting
- Any campaign themes that you’re implementing
- A coupon code if you’re using one
Create an Ongoing Engagement Plan
Research shows that when an influencer mentions a brand 3 or more times, the conversion rates sky rocket. Their followers find ongoing mentions more trustworthy.
So, don’t do a “one and done” campaign. Instead, create a yearly plan for your influencer partnerships. I see a lot of companies working with influencers to post once per quarter.
Change up the campaign themes each quarter and brainstorm how to get great content throughout the year. Working with the same influencers throughout the year is a better use of budget and time.
Leverage Earned Media From Influencers
With all of the brain power and time that goes into influencer marketing, you want to make the most out of your earned media. Don’t just rely on the influencers’ channels to amplify their brand recommendation.
Here are the most common ways that I’ve leveraged earned media from influencers for my clients:
- Share earned media on all social channels
- Use your paid social budget to put money behind influencer generated posts
- Use quotes from earned blog posts in a testimonials section on your site
- Implement earned photos and quotes on your homepage
- Integrate influencer generated content into your email strategy
The main thing to remember is that consumers want to hear about your brand from a third party, not your brand itself. So, make this third party content easy to find.
Are there any strategies when it comes to B2B influencer marketing that you would like to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!