Are influencers really worth their salt? How are the relationships between brands and influencers evolving over time?
B2B influencer marketing is often effective because consumers trust influential figures and believe they speak from experience. With more and more businesses investing in influencer marketing, you must understand what makes the most successful influencer programs so you can replicate that success.
In this post, we’ll cover the definition and benefits of influencer marketing, the risks involved, and a strategy for creating a profitable B2B influencer marketing program.
Let’s get started!
What is B2B Influencer Marketing
B2B influencer marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on building relationships and partnering with known individuals outside your company who can influence the purchase decisions of others in their industry or field.
Unlike traditional advertising, which can be pushy or interruptive, influencer marketing relies on relationships with these individuals and providing them with valuable content they can share with their followers. Influencers have large followings on social media or are respected experts in their field. Winning them means gaining their audiences.
The Benefits of B2B Influencer Marketing
A B2B influencer marketing campaign can help you reach more prospects, generate leads, and close more sales if managed effectively. Here’s a closer look at some of the key benefits of B2B influencer marketing.
When you partner with influencers who already have a large following on social media platforms, you gain instant access to their audience. This increased reach can help you expand your brand’s presence online and connect with more prospects. In addition, when influencers share your content with their followers, it can boost your SEO rankings and help you attract even more organic website visitors.
Greater Content Credibility and Quality
Because prospective buyers are bombarded with marketing messages daily, they’re increasingly hesitant to engage with content that looks like an advertisement. However, they’re much more likely to listen to recommendations from people they know and trust—which is where influencers can help. When you partner with credible industry leaders, you can tap into their expertise and use their thought leadership to create high-quality content that will resonate with your target audience.
Because these influencers already have established credibility within your industry, their endorsement can help lend your brand additional credibility—especially if you’re a new company or launching a new product.
Improved Sales Enablement
B2B influencer marketing can also support your sales team’s efforts by providing them access to important decision-makers within target organizations. For instance, if you’re trying to break into a new market or sell to a larger company, partnering with an influencer with connections at that organization can help open doors that would otherwise be difficult to get through.
In other words, leveraging the relationships, these thought leaders have already built within your target market can shorten the sales cycle and close deals faster.
Better Industry Insights
There’s no doubt that having access to powerful industry insights can give you a competitive advantage. Understanding your target market is essential for creating content, products, and services that they will want to consume.
One of the main reasons why B2B influencer marketing can be so effective is because influencers have their finger on the pulse of the industry. They are always up-to-date with the latest trends and developments and know what issues are top of mind for their audience.
How to Use Influencer Insights
Once you’ve tapped into the valuable insights that B2B influencers have, you must know how to use this information. One way to do this is by using it to inform your content marketing strategy. For example, if you know what topics are top of mind for your target market, you can produce blog posts, whitepapers, and eBooks that address these issues. You can also use insights from B2B influencers to inform your product development strategy. By understanding what problems your target market is trying to solve, you can develop products and services that address these needs.
Another great benefit of B2B influencer marketing is that it can help improve your SEO. By featuring influencers on your website or blog, you can attract more high-quality backlinks to your site. This will help improve your website’s authority and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs), which can drive more traffic and leads to your site.
As you can see, incorporating B2B influencer marketing into your overall strategy has numerous benefits. But before reaching out to potential partners, be sure you’re partnering with the right people.
Qualities of an Effective B2B Influencer
When looking for B2B influencers to partner with, it’s important to consider more than just their reach. Although having a large audience is important, it’s not the only factor you should consider. Several other qualities make an influencer effective.
An effective B2B influencer is a forward thinker. They see the potential in new ideas and technologies and always look for ways to improve their business. It means that they are always on the lookout for new trends and developments and are quick to adopt new approaches that could benefit their company. Forward thinkers always seek ways to add value to their products and services. They search for new ways to make their customers’ lives easier and more efficient.
Great at Relationships
B2B influencers are also great at building relationships. They have strong networks and are always working on growing them. So, they are genuine, authentic, and transparent. They are also responsive and proactive in their communication. It’s because they know that their relationships are key to their success. Strong relationships allow them to get their foot in the door with new clients and customers and open up opportunities for business partnerships.
Among the most important identifiers is being niche-focused. Businesses need to consider an influencer focused on their specific industry so they can create the most value out of the strategic partnership. An influencer who specializes in a particular industry is more likely to have relevant expertise and a targeted following that will be interested in what your business has to offer. It will, in turn, generate higher engagement rates.
A strong network allows you to respond rapidly to changes in the marketplace and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly. It also allows you to reach a wider range of prospective markets and partners, giving you a competitive advantage in the B2B. Furthermore, a strong network gives influencers access to industry leaders and decision-makers, allowing them to get your products and services in front of the right people.
Risks to Avoid
Getting the most out of B2B influencer marketing means preparing to avoid common risks. One such risk is blindly trusting an influencer without doing your due diligence. Let’s talk about other risks to beware of.
An influencer conflict occurs when an influencer promotes a competitor’s product or service while promoting the product or service of the contracting business. For example, an influencer has a contract with Company A to promote their new line of skincare products. However, the influencer also decides to promote a competing skincare line from Company B on their social media channels.
The best way to avoid influencer conflicts is to have clear guidelines regarding what types of promotions are allowed and what are off-limits. By being upfront about what you expect from your influencers, you can help prevent conflict before it arises.
Inauthentic engagement is when someone—usually a robotic user or an actual person being paid to do so—likes, comments, or shares an influencer’s post to artificially inflate the post’s engagement numbers. While this might not seem a big deal at first glance, inauthentic engagement can negatively affect businesses.
Inauthentic engagement makes it difficult to assess an influencer marketing campaign’s true reach and impact. If you’re trying to gauge the effectiveness of your campaign by looking at the number of likes, comments, and shares an influencer’s post receives, you could be getting skewed data if a significant portion of that engagement is inauthentic. It could lead you to misjudge the true results of your campaign and make decisions accordingly.
In addition, inauthentic engagement can also damage the relationship between an influencer and their followers. Imagine scrolling through Instagram and coming across an influencer’s post with hundreds or even thousands of likes and comments. But upon closer inspection, you realize that many of those likes and comments are from users with suspicious-looking profiles whom all joined Instagram within the last month. That would probably make you question the authenticity of the post and the influencers themselves, which is not something any business wants.
Hence the need to partner with influencers with strong relationships with their followers. Influencers who are transparent about their work with brands. When evaluating potential partners, pay close attention to comments quality, follower growth rate, and overall engagement levels.
Prioritizing Reach Over Content
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that an influencer with a large following is automatically the best option for your campaign. Just because someone has a lot of followers doesn’t mean they’re going to generate high-quality content or be well-received by your target audience.
A large reach is meaningless if an influencer’s content doesn’t offer value to your market. A small but engaged following can be more valuable than a large but unengaged one.
How to Create the Perfect Influencer Marketing Program
You need five elements to craft an effective influencer marketing strategy: research, budget, negotiation, contract, and launching. You must carefully make each step of these elements right to achieve what you hope for.
Before developing an influencer marketing program, research is critical to understand your target audience, the right platform, and what type of influencer will have the most impact. It will enable you to create content that resonates, avoid legal risks, and set measurable goals.
You must pay attention to the audience, the legalities, and your goals in this step.
When considering your target audience, ask yourself what demographic you are trying to reach and what message you want to deliver. And depending on your product or service, you will want to consider whether a micro-influencer or macro-influencer would have more impact. Micro-influencers typically have a smaller following but are considered more relatable and trustworthy by their followers. Conversely, macro-influencers have a larger following but may be less engaged with their followers.
It’s also important to know the legal risks associated with influencer marketing. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that influencers disclose their relationship with a brand when promoting a product or service. If an influencer is paid or given free products in exchange for a post, they must clearly state this in the post. Furthermore, the FTC strongly discourages influencers from making false claims about products or services.
Finally, set measurable goals for your influencer marketing program so that you can track its success. Some common metrics include impressions (the number of times an influencer’s post is seen), reach (the number of unique users who see an influencer’s post), engagement (likes, comments, and shares), and click-through rate (the number of people who click on a link in an influencer’s post). By setting and tracking these goals, you can ensure that your influencer marketing program delivers results.
Budgeting is one of the most important parts of an influencer marketing program. You need to set a budget that will cover the costs of influencer fees, product costs, shipping, and other associated expenses. Additionally, you should consider how much you’re willing to spend on each post. For example, if you’re working with a micro-influencer with a smaller but more engaged following, you may be willing to pay more per post than you would for a macro-influencer with a large but unengaged following.
Once you’ve researched and budgeted for your program, it’s time to reach out to potential influencers. Where and how can you find them?
- Identify which platforms your target audience is most active on. Once you’ve done that, you can start reaching out to influencers who align with your brand and have a following on those platforms.
- Consider the type of content that your target audience is interested in. For example, if you’re selling a complex product or service, you’ll want to look for influencers who can explain things simply and concisely.
- Use social media and search engines.
When negotiating, you must not only focus on what you can get but also on what you can give. Ask what they are looking for in a partnership. What kind of return are they expecting? Then, make your pitch. If you demonstrate that your partnership will be mutually beneficial, you will likely get a yes.
Once you’ve selected your influencers and negotiated a fee, it’s important to put everything in writing. A contract should outline the scope of work, deadlines, deliverables, and payment terms.
Here are important details to clarify before sealing the deal.
What are the deliverables?
The first question you should ask is what, exactly, the influencer will be delivering. The answer to this question will vary depending on the campaign you’re running and the scope of work you’re willing to pay for. For example, will the influencer be required to create original content? And if so, how often? Will they simply be sharing your content with their followers? It’s important to be clear about your expectations from the outset so that there’s no confusion down the line.
Who owns the content?
This is another important question, especially if the influencer creates original content for your campaign. You need to determine who will own the rights to that content—you or the influencer. In most cases, it’s best to retain ownership and use the content as you see fit long after the campaign ends. However, there may be instances where it makes more sense for the influencer to retain ownership (for example, if they’re planning to use it in their portfolio). Make sure you discuss this upfront and reach an agreement that works for both parties.
What are the payment terms?
Finally, you’ll need to decide how and when to pay the influencer. Will they be paid per post? Per month? Per follower gained? It’s important to agree on a payment structure before work begins, so there are no surprises later. Once you’ve ironed out all of these details, you’ll be ready to create a contract that outlines everything in writing—including any additional clauses or stipulations that may be relevant to your situation.
Now that you know how to create a B2B influencer marketing strategy, it’s time to implement your plan. Remember, this is just the beginning. As with any marketing initiative, your work doesn’t stop once the influencer campaign goes live—it’s important to monitor and optimize your efforts over time.
Start by tracking your progress and measuring your results. Which influencers are driving the most traffic to your website? Which ones are generating the most leads? Use this data to inform your decisions going forward and adjust your strategy as needed.
It’s also important to watch your competition. What are they doing right? What could they be doing better? Use this information to improve your program and stay one step ahead of the competition.
Following these tips, you can start integrating influencer marketing into your overall strategy to realize better results and help you attain your business goals.
Creating a B2B Influencer Marketing Program can be highly profitable for boosting brand awareness and massive business growth. But it’s not without risks. So, before launching your campaign, research, set a budget, and find the perfect influencer who meshes with your business. Once you have found them, reach out and negotiate. After launching the program, get feedback to improve it moving forward.
Here are questions about influencer marketing that may be helpful in your study.
A B2B influencer is someone who has a large following or influence within the business world and who can sway the opinions and decisions of others with their expert knowledge or insights.
B2B influencers can be bloggers, journalists, thought leaders, or even everyday employees within a company who have a lot of credibility and influence among their colleagues. They can be extremely valuable assets to brands looking to build trust and credibility with other businesses.
It depends on your business and what type of influencers you are looking for. If you want to work with celebrities or other high-profile individuals, a platform like FameBit might be a good fit. If you are looking for micro-influencers in specific niches, something like TapInfluence or Tribe might be a better option.
The most important thing is to find a platform that allows you to target your ideal audience and connect with the right type of influencers. You also want to ensure that the platform has good analytics to track the performance of your marketing campaigns and measure ROI.