Influencer Marketing is being leveraged by businesses all over the world as one of the most cost-effective and time-efficient, yet impactful B2B marketing strategies. Associating with influencers can deliver a dramatic boost to the credibility and authority of your brand in the eyes of the buyers. But first, let us understand what influencer marketing is for the B2B sector.
Introducing B2B Influencer Marketing
When you integrate people of influence into your marketing strategy in a specified way, what you are doing is termed as influencer marketing. From merely increasing the number of visitors on your website and the number of “likes,” “follows,” and “shares” on social media platforms to establishing trust, awareness, thought leadership, and authority, influencer marketing is an effective strategy gaining momentum on the tracks of B2B marketing.
Marketing and Influencer Marketing Funnel in Unison
The funnel above explains the stages of marketing and influencer marketing. When you start with marketing your content on various platforms, a lot of people will become aware of your existence. This is the first stage of the funnel from top. With awareness comes trust, a large chunk of the people start trusting you. Out of these some people will consider you as a thought leader (TL), and a smaller portion will start regarding you as an authority. Marketing through other channels and influencer marketing might go in parallel. We have shown the two in succession to stress upon engagement which is vital for any business.
Now for the influencer marketing funnel, the starting phase is when people with authority engage with your business. Due to them a lot of the people start considering you a thought leader giving rise to an audience who trust you and finally your target community has increased who are now aware of the existence of your brand.
Influencer marketing is aimed at achieving measurable business goals with the practice of engaging industry experts and thought leaders with active social presence. The voice of these individuals helps in making your brand message reach out to your audience on your behalf.
The Clarity in Your Goals will Determine the Impact
On the course of your influencer marketing campaign, objectives may sometimes result in ambiguity, especially if you look at the business from a quantitative aspect rather than a qualitative aspect with revenue and ROI always at the back of your mind. There’s nothing wrong with looking to gain reach and visibility with targeted audiences. Influencer marketing, however, is not only about being easily visible in the crowd by virtue of your position in the crowd i.e., being in the front row. It is more about being identified in the crowd as an outstanding player by virtue of your associations with key influencers in the market.
The graph below suggests the top 10 goals of influencer marketing. It clearly shows that improving brand advocacy and expanding the brand awareness is among the top goals of most of the businesses. If we club together these two goals, what we comprehend is that branding by trust is the most significant objective of influencer marketing.
The buyer community today is distrustful to marketing ads and messages more than ever because some people have gone much farther than they should have in bloating their campaigns. In such a scenario, it gives you a competitive advantage to have trusted voices vouching for you and delivering messages with expertise and credibility.
The Impact of Having a Strong Influencer for Your B2B Marketing
A strong influencer comes with an already built up trust equity with your audience. They possess the knowledge and can persuade the populace on topics that align closely with your business. With a robust reputation in their industry or niche, their opinions hold the weight that makes people follow them and, in turn, follow you.
There isn’t the dearth of data in any industry that shows how an increasing number of B2B buyers trust content from influencers more than content that comes from the brands themselves. It is, therefore, imperative for every business to build trust with the audience, and B2B marketers must realize the fact that it is this branding by trust that will take them miles ahead of their competitors in the long run.
The following graph simply showcases how much B2B and B2C brands are going to leverage influencer marketing on one of the social media platforms like the Instagram. The growth as you can see is consistently higher from 2014 to 2020. This is just a small snapshot of how an influencer can have significant implications on marketing.
As human beings, we learn most of the things in life from others’ experiences. Therefore, we present three examples of successful B2B influencer marketing from the experience of robust brands. These examples may serve you an understanding of how you should go about reviewing and implementing your own influencer marketing strategy.
When SAP Leveraged Video Marketing to Promote its B2B Sapphire Conference
Marketers today are leveraging video marketing to attract and retain customers in an engaging way. If the video you are promoting features an influential figure, then you are sure to attract audiences in huge numbers.
SAP also focuses on B2B solutions and applications for Finance, Logistics, and Human Resources. In 2016, they leveraged influencer video marketing to promote its Sapphire Conference. Advertising this event that attracts more than 20,000 attendees, SAP utilized live video content created with industry influencers who shared their insights and gave valuable information on relevant topics. On sharing the video content on the SAP blog, the result was terrific with four times more attendees, i.e., 80,000 guests attending the event.
When Microsoft Linked with National Geographic on Women’s Day to Create an Instagram Campaign
When it comes to promoting photography, almost every business, B2B or B2C or both, prefer Instagram as it is rich with features and possibilities, apart from having an easy-to-use interface.
Not every company, however, possesses the photography skills, and the best thing in such circumstances is to partner with an industry expert. Microsoft did the same and coupled with National Geographic on the eve of Women’s Day 2017 to create an Instagram campaign called “Make What’s Next.”
The results of this association were remarkable. With a series of 30 themed pictures (3 shown above) around National Geographic’s Instagram Channels, the campaign achieved more than 3.5 million “likes” with more than 1,000 people uploading their own on Instagram.
This is how Microsoft leveraged the eminence of National Geography and its photographers and gained wider recognition and trust.
When Video Fruit Leveraged Guest Blogging with OkDork to Reform their Conversion Rate
Video Fruit provides e-learning solutions to enable businesses to build formidable email lists to SMEs operating educational websites. Writing a guest post for OkDork, he wrote another for his own website a few days after the former was published. On these two days, the numbers about his website traffic were eye-opening.
Guest Blogging Traffic Growth. Source: Videofruit
From 285 visitors on an average, the number went on to 1086 when the guest post was published on OkDork. Page views increased by almost 500% (523.26% shown in the figure). 73% of these visits amounted to new users. The percentage of unique page views was about 600%. The number of visitors on the day of the post being published on his website was 686. The numbers are just numbers! The real value achieved in these two days was 12% of the conversion rate when 215 new users subscribed to his website.
You cannot always afford to run an out-of-the-box campaign. A simple strategy with the right influencer can sometimes give you the results much more than what you had anticipated. Guest blogging is another simple yet effective influencer marketing strategy used extensively by B2B marketers. An industry expert writing and sharing useful insights and valuable information on your website is going to influence your audience any day positively. People also write guest blogs for established blogs.
Summing it up
One cannot deny the importance of B2B influencer marketing for businesses, especially after going through the aforementioned case studies. From guest blogs and video marketing to social media channels like Instagram and YouTube, quality content of influencers on your website and also your content as an influencer on other’s websites can result in generating high-quality leads and enhancing the traffic on your website significantly.