In 2017, 86% of marketers leveraged influencer marketing. If that isn’t a big enough number for you, listen up: 92% of them were successful. Influencer marketing continues to grow in popularity with every passing day. While B2C companies were the first to adopt it, B2B brands are starting to consider the potential benefit.
LinkedIn conducted a global study involving more than 6,000 B2B marketers and buyers, focusing on B2B sales and buying processes. According to the report, expert opinions are the second most influential factor for B2B buyers before engaging with a vendor. That means buyers want to see other people spreading love for your brand.
It might seem like an obvious quick win, but only 15% of B2B companies today are implementing influencer marketing campaigns. Undoubtedly, there is a lot of scope and opportunity for B2B companies in this space. This post will talk about a few effective ways of leveraging influencers for a B2B brand.
1. Work with People Who Influence Your Target Audience
Finding the right influencer for your marketing campaign a prerequisite for a successful campaign. There are two things to keep in mind when looking for a suitable influencer:
- Subject matter knowledge
- Number of followers
Your potential influencer should be a subject matter expert so they can become a relevant voice for your brand. They should also have a decent number of followers so you can get the desired results. Don’t forget to check if your values align with those of your influencers. If they do, then authenticity, originality, and relevance will reflect in the content developed by the influencer.
However, all of this is easier said than done. It is quite difficult to find a suitable influencer manually.
To really get a solid influencer list, you’ll likely need to turn to technology. Platforms like Insightpool, BuzzSumo, and Grin can help you find influencers by category, reach, engagement, etc. They can help you run your campaigns, track them, and even measure your returns in real-time.
2. Get Experts to Review Your Product
As mentioned above, for most B2B buyers, expert reviews are an important factor to consider before making any purchase decision. Reviews from relevant and authentic influencers can convince potential buyers. Expert reviews can also help to generate more traffic to your website when they link to you.
However, you need to ensure that the influencer is an expert in your niche or subject. Share your product or services with them, and ask them to write an honest review. Display the reviews on all of your social media profiles as well as on your own website.
When an authoritative voice says good things about your product or services, it accelerates funnel velocity. Their voices instill trust among your potential buyers, leading to an increase in sales.
Drift is a Boston-based company, founded by Elias Torres and David Cancel. It is one of the leading conversational sales and marketing platforms. It helps businesses multiply their sales and increase qualified leads.
In the example below, Joshua Stenhouse, a technologist and blogger, has reviewed this platform and shared his experience of using Drift. He has shared the link to his review on his LinkedIn page as well. When such reviews are shared by the company on their social networks, it boosts trust and increases conversions.
3. Collect Testimonials from Influential Customers
A study from Influitive found that around 90% of potential customers are affected by customer testimonials in their purchasing decisions. And more than 60% of B2B marketers prefer using testimonials in their marketing strategy.
Customer testimonials are a reliable and trustworthy source for potential custoemrs because they come from actual people who have used your services or products and who are sharing their first-hand experiences—not a marketer trying to sell something.
For example, LinkedIn teamed up with influencers to promote their business-oriented services. There were a total of 10 social media and digital experts who created a guide to using LinkedIn for marketing.
In the guide, these experts spoke about their experiences with using the various business solutions of LinkedIn. Check it out:
4. Invite Industry Experts for Interviews
You can ask a relevant influencer for an interview. If the influencer is located in a different city, consider sending a list of interview questions via email. You can even call them and arrange for a telephone interview at their convenience. However, if at all possible, organize an in-person interview that you can record.
Now—share soon and share often! Schedule the video on your social profiles to allure and attract potential buyers. Also, don’t forget to add the video to your website or the product page. And add a link from the video to your website to further encourage people to visit your website.
Interviews not only improve a brand’s reputation and credibility but also help attract new customers. Make sure to produce an informative, valuable, and useful interview video with your influencers.
For example, one of the world’s largest technology companies, IBM, is known for their innovations which are useful to the world. For one such creation, IBM Watson, they have a section of expert interviews on their website.
The expert interviews were conducted with leaders and experts from various industries. They talk about the implications of IBM Watson to different industries. These type of interviews help your prospects understand your products better and make purchase decisions.
5. Invite Industry Experts to Submit Guest Posts
Inviting influencers to write a guest blog is increasing in popularity—and for good reason. Once you’ve done your due diligence to ensure that the influencers are experts from the same industry as yours, it’s your turn to prove yourself. Demonstrate to them that your interests and target audiences are similar and explain how it can benefit both of you.
Now that you have a pool of influencers (see Step 1), discuss what topic interests them. Ask them to write a clearly-explained and detailed post that will be useful to your audiences. Once the guest post is ready, upload it to your website and share it on all your social profiles.
To expand the reach, invite the influencer to share the guest post on their social profiles.
The credit card company, American Express, collaborated with popular bloggers Grace Bonney and Emily Henderson for a campaign. Their core goal was to reach small B2B businesses and they named the campaign, “Love My Store.”
The objective was to promote Amex cards by motivating small B2B business to accept Amex credit cards. The campaign turned out to be successful, as almost 400K Amex cards were distributed.
For B2B brands, it may be difficult to find ways to collaborate with influencers, but not impossible. You need to design ways which can benefit both the influencer and your brand. Add value for both parties and you’re sure to gain traction.
Give influencers space and encourage them to get involved as much as possible. Ask them to write guest blog posts and reviews for your brand. But don’t forget—for all this to work, you need to find and partner with relevant influencers form your industry.