Marketing has evolved. Companies of all shapes and sizes are desperately trying to be innovative and creative with their campaigns, while not blowing entire budgets. Influencer marketing has emerged as a solution to increased advertising costs and decreased effectiveness.
This made perfect sense because people trust their peers far more than their brands, which is more true than ever today. After all, 76% of people say they’re more likely to trust content shared by “normal” people than that shared by brands. Finding a person to carry that marketing flame for you increases awareness and persuasiveness while avoiding costly strategies. But when online businesses get 60% of their sales thanks to referrals from advocates and brand ‘super fans’, it’s clear that B2B influencers should not be overlooked.
Lead Generation Through Recommendations Is Always Successful
Although influencers are well and truly ingrained into consumer-focused marketing, they take a different form in the B2B space. B2B brands can’t exactly create a video with an Instagram star using their latest Software as a Service product, and even if they did, they might not be hitting the right audience anyway. But because B2B influencer marketing is still in its infancy, there is more room to be creative.
B2B buyers are sophisticated and well educated, and those in the tech space, in particular, are skeptical about marketing. So research is critical. Your target influencer needs to be well respected in your industry but also have a significant following online – for any long-term lead generation, trade shows won’t cut it here.
Identifying influencers may be trickier, thanks to industry experts opting for closed LinkedIn profiles rather than public platforms like Instagram, but they do exist. And they’re keen to share their expertise. Perhaps even create an employee advocacy strategy to support your influencer efforts.
We asked B2C and B2B brands, as well as some influencers, what they thought about B2B influencer marketing.
Choosing the Right Social Platform for Your Influencer Marketing Is Critical
Choosing the right social platform to find influencers is critical in B2B. Here’s what the experts had to say:
Sizwe Simelane, Head of Digital Marketing at brand storytelling specialists Idea Hive, said:
“B2B Influencer Marketing brings about a new way of Influencer Marketing. You become the human voice – the face of the business, similar to an ambassador. This is the space most influencers currently want to engage in. However, it does take longer to see results in a B2B campaign. Give yourself 6 months.”
Yacine Amor, Managing Director, Artisan Olive Oil Company, distribution and wholesale of organic Mediterranean fine foods said:
“Influencers can be equally impactful in B2B as in B2C. They can offer detailed market feedback on our products often with a high degree of knowledge and experience in a particular field.
“The vast diversity of backgrounds of the influencer community provides a wealth of points of view which helps us better understand the end consumers, which is extremely valuable in B2B discussions. For instance, we can gather very precise feedback on all aspects of a product from the label to the taste and ingredients.”
Matt Stevens, President, and Co-founder of Alleva, a company that provides substance abuse treatment software said:
“Our industry is B2B EMR (electronic medical records) software so it typically takes longer for a purchase to be made. As a result, we have to catch people when they’re just looking for information and when they’re ready to purchase.
“As a result, we’ve adopted an influencer marketing strategy through SEO, blog posts, and videos. With the buying process being longer, we believe we can capture the attention of potential clients and gain them as loyal followers throughout their buying journey. That’s the hope and so far we’re happy with it.”
Beau Ushay, Owned Media and Content Specialist at Ushay Consulting Group, said:
“The key to B2B marketing in this sense comes down to finding people with their own significant sphere of influence who are genuine fans of what you do. Then, make it as easy as possible for them to be promoters. Not easy, but if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. And if you don’t have big fans of your business? Then you need to work on your product.”
William Grou, the Co-founder of creative agency Willow and Hive, said:
“B2B campaigns are trickier because the average business buyer is much more rational and grounded into numbers. The usual strategy is to step away form traditional influencers and look at the phenomena of influence as a whole.
“The idea is to leverage the companies customer feedback as the influence device, so we use positive feedback obtained through previous or ongoing customers of our clients and advertise these positive buying opinions to prospects and leads through content creation.”
Lucy Kuper, Managing Director of Biologi, a cosmetics company offering 100% active natural plant serum, said:
“Influencer marketing plays a role in B2B by further enhancing the credibility of your brand. Having a strong following that is built on a network of great influencers often appeals to business stakeholders, not just consumers.
“For our stockists it means that they know it’s not just us who are regularly promoting our brand, but a wide range of influencers across the world who have their own networks to promote to.”
Kimberley Maunder, CEO and Founder of Strive Activewear said:
“Look into affiliate marketing instead of paying-per-post. For the 10 influencers I started with, only 1 generated a sale. Instead of offering to pay-per-post I’d recommend looking into affiliate marketing instead. That way you only pay your influencers if they make a sale. This will encourage them to keep sharing your product with their followers instead of paying $150 for 1 poor quality image that gets lost in their sea of other product features.”
Your Checklist for Success
- Give yourself a decent time frame – don’t expect results all at once
- Measure everything you do
- Consider affiliate marketing if influencers aren’t working
- Consider establishing yourself as an influencer and thought leader