B2B Influencer Marketing 101

b2b influencer marketingIf you’re reading this post, you already know it’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of marketing for new, innovative tactics. One such tactic? B2B influencer marketing.

Proven to increase brand awareness and drive lead generation, influencer marketing has become a vital marketing tactic for many B2C brands. Yet, its popularity has been slow to catch on in the B2B community. In fact, according to one recent report, only 15% of B2B brands are running ongoing influencer programs (source).

However, in a world where 72% of B2B buyers look to industry peers to research purchase decisions (source), it’s a mistake to ignore influencer marketing as a viable tactic. So, why aren’t more B2B companies jumping on the influencer bandwagon? To put it simply, most B2B marketers aren’t sure how to make influencer marketing work for them.

In today’s post, we remedy this issue. Continue reading for answers to your most pressing questions about B2B influencer marketing.

What is B2B influencer marketing?

This type of marketing is a strategy that requires brands to enlist the help of influencers to achieve vital business goals. These industry experts and thought leaders often have large, active social networks and are recognizable among a specific audience.

Through years of self-branding, influencers are some of the best and brightest professionals in their respective fields. Better yet, they’re seen as authority figures in the eyes of your customers.

In short, an influencer’s community trusts their opinions and advice. If an influencer asks their audience to take action, the audience will respond enthusiastically. Rather than target an entire market as a whole, B2B influencer marketing leverages the pull of influencers in smaller, more niche demographics to achieve key marketing goals.

When aligned with the right influencers, this innate ability to persuade an audience can have a huge impact on your company’s marketing efforts.

What are some benefits of B2B influencer marketing?

Position your brand as an industry authority.

Influencers have achieved their status by becoming experts in their fields. They’re looked to as trustworthy sources of news, information, and advice. Through B2B influencer marketing, your brand can establish more credibility among your target audience.

Improve content quality.

According to a recent study, 80% of B2B marketers already employing influencer marketing, report that influencers have had the greatest impact on improving content marketing campaigns (source).

Now, more than ever, B2B customers don’t want to feel as if they are being sold to. If your organization still relies on directly promotional content, you aren’t going to see the results you are looking for.

Influencers on the other hand, aren’t looking to make a sale through the interactions with their fan base. Their goals are more focused on educating or inspiring thought within their followers.

Influencers provide companies with high-quality content, that side steps promotion in favor of providing the audience with a valuable experience. An industry expert can also help to inspire your marketing team to develop new, creative ideas to put a fresh spin on your current content strategy.

Expand your reach.

Your company can produce the best content around, but if no one interacts with it, you won’t achieve the results you’re looking for. The solution? Expand your reach.

Influencers come with a ready-built fan base. With their help, you can put your brand in front of a larger audience, expanding the reach of your content.

Increase sales and customer retention.

In essence, B2B influencer marketing is just word-of-mouth marketing, amplified; its one individual referring or recommending another brand to an audience. Word of mouth recommendation still ranks as one of the most trusted sources of advertising, and as a result, is able to generate nearly 2x the amount of sales as traditional paid advertising (source).

Additionally, retention rates are often higher for customers obtained through word of mouth marketing – specifically, 37% higher than any other form of marketing (source). Ultimately, influencer marketing doesn’t just generate more customers, but more loyal customers.

What are some examples of successful B2B influencer marketing?

Check out some of these examples of B2B organizations who have successfully incorporated this tactic into their campaigns:

TopRank and Content Marketing Institute

One example of B2B influencer marketing comes from TopRank and Content Marketing Institute (CMI). In 2014 these two brands enlisted the help of 40 influencers from renowned brands such as LinkedIn, MarketingProfs, and Facebook, to promote the 2014 Content Marketing World Conference.

Influencers were simply asked to provide advice they would give marketers interested in content marketing. These blurbs were then used to create a 4 different ebooks about content marketing used to promote the event. They generate 200,000 views, 200+ event referrals, 4,000+ PDF downloads and nearly 1,000 leads, all by the end of December 2014 (source).

HubSpot

When it comes to killer content marketing, Hubspot takes the top spot –with a blog filled with valuable material, accompanied by a social strategy that is equally as entertaining as it is engaging, it’s no wonder.

If that wasn’t enough, Hubspot has also enlisted the help of micro-influencers with digital marketing and sales backgrounds, to aid in their content marketing efforts – specifically, by asking for contributions to their blog. Not only is this fresh content a welcome relief to the Hubspot content team, but the organization also benefits from the added authority of these influencers.

PointBlank SEO

Another example comes from Point Blank SEO, a link building blog run by author, Jon Cooper. In 2011, Cooper composed a simple, yet informative guest blog on link building techniques, which was first shared on YouMoz, then their main blog Moz.

Within just 24 hours of his post appearing on Moz, Point Blank SEO saw an increase of 400 page views from the referral. To this day, this guest post still sends a steady stream of traffic to Cooper’s blog (source).

The bottom line

In this online era it can be difficult to capture the attention of your prospects.  If you fail to recognize the potential of B2B influencer marketing, you could be missing out on an easy way to reach your target audience.

Whether you’re trying to increase awareness or drive more sales, enlisting the help of an influencer can make a huge impact. Next time you’re having trouble accomplishing your primary B2B marketing goals, try asking for a little help from the experts!

For more information about everything B2B sales and marketing, join us at the 2017 Growth Acceleration Summit.  A two-day conference where B2B professionals come to network, learn, and obtain the tools needed to successfully grow and reach new heights. Use promo code BLOG2017 for a 10% discount. 

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