While influencer marketing has been a driving force in the B2C market for some time now, it is becoming increasingly important in the B2B space as well. This guide will define what influencer marketing looks like for B2B companies, the benefits your organization can expect to gain, and strategies for how to do it effectively.
Influencer marketing refers to the practice of brands partnering with influencers (individuals with a strong social media following) to promote products or services on their platforms. Influencer marketing leverages not only the influencer’s extensive audience, but also the trust they have built with that audience through the production of authentic and engaging content. The 2023 Hubspot industry trends report identifies influencer marketing as one of the most impactful strategies marketers can invest in this year. Influencer marketing achieves the sense of trust that is generated through word of mouth and personal referrals, while leveraging the audience and broad appeal of a celebrity spokesperson.
Unlike traditional B2C influencer marketing, where the focus is often on consumer products and lifestyle, B2B influencer marketing focuses on industry-specific expertise, professional insights, and business-related topics. B2B influencers may include industry experts, consultants, authors, speakers, executives, or recognized professionals who have established themselves as thought leaders in their respective fields.
The primary objective of B2B influencer marketing is to tap into the influencer's credibility and authority to drive brand recognition, establish trust, and generate leads within the B2B market. Influencers are seen as trusted sources of information, and their endorsements and recommendations can carry significant weight in the decision-making process for B2B buyers.
Influencer marketing works. Search Engine Journal reports that the vast majority - 86% - of B2B marketers who use influencer marketing find it to be effective. The same report indicates that 70% of B2B marketers say influencer marketing improved brand awareness; 56% say it helped generate new leads; and 33% say it directly generated revenue.
Consider these benefits of B2B influencer marketing:
So, who qualifies as a B2B influencer in your industry? It’s not enough that your influencer be merely well-known; they must be a credible voice in the space you occupy. Consumer-based marketing has long relied on tactics like celebrity endorsements and, more recently, social media stars to promote their products and services. Modern B2B influencer marketing looks to industry experts and thought leaders.
A thought leader is an individual or organization that is recognized as an authority and expert in a particular field or industry. Thought leaders possess deep knowledge, insights, and innovative ideas within their area of expertise. They are often sought after for their expertise and are influential figures within their respective industries.
Thought leaders are distinguished by their ability to provide unique perspectives, forward-thinking ideas, and valuable insights that shape the industry and influence others. They are known for their vision, thought-provoking content, and the ability to anticipate trends and changes in their field. These are the people your influencer marketing strategy should include.
Identifying and engaging potential influencer partners requires a strategic approach to ensure alignment with your brand, target audience, and marketing goals. Here are some strategies to help you identify and engage potential influencer partners effectively:
Once you have identified influencers who are a good fit for your organization, you can begin to foster a relationship with them. Start by engaging with their content - commenting on their posts and sharing their content. Share valuable insights, ask questions, and initiate conversations to establish a rapport and demonstrate your interest in their work. Craft personalized and genuine outreach messages when approaching potential influencers. Clearly explain why you are interested in collaborating with them and how their expertise aligns with your brand. Highlight mutual benefits and value propositions to grab their attention. Invest in building this relationship, and take the time to determine whether you are a good fit for one another before launching an extensive campaign.
Mutually beneficial collaboration provides value to both your brand and the influencer. Examples include guest blog posts, co-creating content, interviews, or hosting webinars together. Tailor the collaboration to showcase their expertise while aligning with your marketing goals.
The exact format and content of your campaign will be unique to your industry and your organization's value proposition. However, impactful influencer marketing campaigns will be authentic, address diverse audiences, and invest in video. Some examples of successful B2B influencer campaigns include...
Salesforce, a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, collaborated with Tiffani Bova, a respected industry analyst and influencer. Tiffani Bova created content, participated in interviews, and spoke at Salesforce events, emphasizing the importance of customer-centric strategies and the role of technology in driving business growth. The collaboration amplified Salesforce's thought leadership and positioned the brand as a trusted advisor for B2B companies seeking CRM solutions.
IBM, a multinational technology company, collaborated with Neil Patel, a well-known marketing expert and influencer. Neil Patel created content and hosted webinars in partnership with IBM, focusing on digital marketing strategies, analytics, and customer experience. The collaboration showcased IBM's expertise in the field and attracted B2B professionals seeking insights and solutions in the marketing space.
To measure the effectiveness of your influencer marketing campaigns, define what success looks like for you. Identify key performance indicators for evaluating influencer marketing success . These might include signals of increased brand awareness like clicks, impressions, and website visits, or drivers of new business like conversions, leads, and sales. Use analytics to continually improve and refine your B2B influencer marketing strategy. To better track the effectiveness of specific marketing campaigns or content, use designated landing pages or tracking codes.
There are some legal and ethical guidelines to consider when running an influencer campaign. Ensure transparency by clearly disclosing influencer partnerships and sponsored content. Follow the guidelines set by regulatory bodies, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States. Require influencers to disclose their relationship with your brand in their content, such as using hashtags like #ad or #sponsored. Vet potential influencers thoroughly before partnering with them. Consider factors such as their credibility, authenticity, and past collaborations. Ensure they have a genuine and engaged audience, and review their content to verify that it aligns with your brand's values. Clearly communicate your objectives, campaign goals, and expectations to influencers. Align on the content, messaging, and timeline to ensure that the influencer's work meets your brand's standards and serves the intended purpose of the campaign. And, of course, provide fair and reasonable compensation to influencers for their work.
Partnering with influential experts and thought leaders in your industry expands your brand's reach and exposes it to a wider audience. Collaborating with respected influencers helps build credibility and trust for your brand. Their endorsements and recommendations carry weight with their audience, and their association with your brand enhances its reputation and authority within the industry. Influencer collaborations provide an opportunity for authentic advocacy. Influencers who genuinely believe in your brand become ambassadors and advocates, showcasing your products or services in an authentic and relatable manner. This authentic advocacy resonates with their audience, leading to increased trust and consideration. More organizations are expected to invest in B2B influencer marketing in the coming months as this impactful form of marketing proves profitable.