7 Tips to Build a Successful B2B Influencer Strategy
Lookout for a marketing strategy that checks off all your targets and can potentially produce a tremendous return on investment- B2B Influencer marketing fits the bill quite perfectly?
While influencers have traditionally dominated the B2C sector, influencer marketing is quickly becoming a game-changer for the B2B domain.
With 93% of B2B marketers claiming to have used this marketing tactic, it’s clear that influencer marketing now means a lot more than just an Instagram celebrity posing with a product. It’s a broader spectrum that includes B2B thought leaders and subject matter experts (SMEs) sharing their knowledge to build brand awareness and drive sales.
Take the multinational software company SAP as an example. The B2B software brand managed to share its story, cultivate brand recognition, and create demand for its services—all through the power of influencer marketing.
A well-planned influencer marketing strategy can do wonders for you. But the catch lies in strategizing these campaigns in an incredibly competitive B2B space.
Lay down your long-term influencer marketing goals clearly
Goal setting is a great starting point to create a results-driven influencer marketing campaign. Before you set out on your search for the most relevant influencers, ask yourself: how will an influencer help your brand?
Whether you want to attract more leads, maximize your traffic, or create brand authority, define your objectives before venturing out to build relationships with influencers.
A clear set of influencer marketing goals makes it easy to determine your KPIs and find the perfect influencers. These goals can also help you prepare a detailed roadmap—by attributing a specific strategy and metric to each goal—and drive optimal results. You can rely on this roadmap to set the right expectations when onboarding an influencer to your team.
2. Perform market research and identify current influencers in your space
Finding the best influencers for your brand is a lengthy process. Even with a massive pool of influencers to choose from, you must carefully assess each candidate based on their expertise, credibility, and circle of influence.
Use these tips to make your search more meaningful and less tedious:
- Focus on your goals: Your campaign objectives will directly impact your relationships with the influencers you hire. Make your recruitment efforts goal-centric and find individuals that align well with your targets.
- Rely on professional social networks: Platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter—known for their share of B2B audiences—offer a great avenue to search for your next brand advocate. Use the advanced search options with search filters on these professional networks to shortlist contacts for personalized outreach. LinkedIn Advance Search
- Use tried-and-tested tools: Finding the top voices in your niche is easy when you have tools to compile a list of potential influencers. These databases can offer a good headstart for your search and save you the struggle of identifying the best names to approach.
Remember to narrow down your search by looking at your goals and considering what your customers want to see.
3. Reach the influencer on the platform they’re most active and engage with them
Once you’ve shortlisted your influencers, it’s time to get on their radar and kickstart a conversation.
So, picture this: you want to reach out to a massive influencer with thousands of followers and an inbox flooded with emails and messages daily. How do you make the first contact and grab their attention while competing in such streams of messages?
With a simple two-step process:
- Identify a single platform that an influencer uses most actively
- Create a creative email or social media message to make your pitch
Make your message as intriguing as possible to spark their interest. Besides your standard outreach, you can also get creative and approach influencers through a blog post, a personalized video, or a tweet. Don’t be afraid to experiment and catch their eyes with a quirky gesture.
4. Prioritize fostering a relationship over selling
Put simply, B2B influencer strategy is all about nurturing meaningful partnerships that will ultimately take your brand closer to your targets.
B2B influencers are more than just celebrities posting about your business. They are influential individuals known for their ideas and expertise and are willing to become your brand advocate. So, approach your influencer marketing outreach from the lens of building a collaborative relationship with your influencers—show them the value this partnership can create for them.
Building long-term collaborations hold multiple benefits for you:
- You can present a more consistent and credible brand image to the world.
- You don’t have to bear the costs of sourcing and recruiting influencers repeatedly.
- You can win your audience’s trust by putting the same face on your brand.
5. Enable and educate the influencers you partner with for better results
B2B influencer marketing is more intricate and complex than B2C campaigns. Your chosen influencers probably aren’t aware of your selling points, target audience, and brand values. This explains why a crucial part of onboarding influencers is orienting them with your business.
Educating influencers about your brand is the first step in nurturing a positive relationship with them.
So, make sure that you tell them about your industry and walk them through your story—what motivated you to start this business, what you’ve achieved so far, and where you aspire to be in the future. Give them an immersive understanding of your business and communicate everything they should know about your industry.
This orientation process will help them understand your target audience’s pain points and strategize activities that hit all the right chords. It’s a piecemeal process of building their passion for your brand—which will ultimately reflect in their contributions.
6. Don’t restrict their creative freedom in the content creation process
When working with an influencer, your focus should be on co-creating with them instead of dictating all the terms. Boxing them into sales-y messaging can prove counterproductive and fail to deliver the same impact as their value-added content campaigns.
By restricting influencers to brand-centric narratives, you’re limiting their authenticity and creative potential.
Instead, let them take charge of your marketing—trust their process to develop meaningful ideas and create a flexible workflow. You can engage in brainstorming sessions to share your vision and communicate your understanding of the target audience.
Here’s how you can set the right context for co-creation with your influencers from the get-go:
- Narrow down your brand’s topical focus and recruit niche influencers that fit your focus.
- Create themes for your influencers to pursue and build topic alignment between their ideas and your community’s interests.
- Carefully analyze the content before approval. Once published, encourage your influencers to promote the content with their audience.
Remember: influencer marketing is essentially a collaboration between two brands. If you want to see tangible results, pursue it as a collaborative opportunity rather than just another paid marketing channel.
7. Let a range of KPIs to measure success that goes beyond follower count
No influencer marketing campaign is perfect. The easiest way to find your shortcomings and fill these gaps in your B2B influencer strategy is by tracking the correct KPIs. These metrics will give you a clear picture of your progress and pinpoint the areas of improvement.
When choosing your metrics, don’t restrict your analysis to the vanity numbers and track more meaningful KPIs. Circle back to your campaign goals and assign a metric to each goal to figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Here’s a list of some common B2B influencer marketing metrics you can consider:
- Audience engagement: Whether you’re hosting a podcast or publishing a blog with influencers, how well your audience receives your content is one of the biggest denominators of your success. Measure engagement through click-through rates, social shares, and similar metrics.
- Organic search and traffic: Working with an influencer helps spread the word about your business—building brand recognition. So, analyzing your organic search and website traffic is a natural solution to track the ROI.
- Share of voice: Influencer marketing is not just about driving more leads or maximizing conversions. The bigger picture establishes your brand as a credible resource and eventually a thought leader. This is where monitoring your share of voice—your visibility in the industry compared to your competitors—can give you accurate insights into your campaign’s success.
Deciding your KPIs while designing your campaign goals and strategy can effectively guide your choice of influencers. Besides, a comprehensive set of strategies, objectives, and metrics will also be a vital resource for your influencers to hit the expected targets.
Influencer marketing can easily be the most significant driving factor for your brand’s success—if you plan a fail-proof campaign. Planning such a campaign can be tricky, especially since the B2B space only has so much inspiration to offer.
With this start-to-finish guide on 7 best practices for B2B influencer strategy, you’re all set to plan your first or next campaign. Customize these tips to your needs and create a solid framework for collaborating with influencers in your industry. Once this framework is in place, you can get the ball rolling with your new influencer hires!