If you’ve spent any time on my blog, you know that I’m a huge proponent of influencer marketing. While it gets a love of love in the B2C space, it seems to get less recognition in B2B.
However, I’m here to tell you that B2B influencer marketing is an excellent opportunity for businesses of all types and sizes. So, whether you’re hoping to learn how to use influencer marketing for professional services or products, you’ve come to the right place.
But first, what is B2B influencer marketing?
B2B influencer marketing is the promotion of products and services through collaboration with industry leaders. In this post, I’ll tell you why it’s important, plus share B2B influencer marketing success stories. I’ll also show you how to find influencers for your own B2B marketing campaigns.
Let’s dive in!
Top Tips for B2B Influencer Marketing
- There are many unique aspects of B2B influencer marketing, including content and messaging.
- The benefits can include trust and credibility, enhanced visibility, and brand authority.
- A well-planned B2B influencer campaign can result in millions of views and impressions and hundreds, or even thousands, of conversions.
- When you select the right influencer for your audience, B2B influencer marketing can be an effective way to drive conversions and increase revenue.
- You can work with a digital marketing agency to find B2B influencers, or you can find them within your own network.
- The best types of influencer content will educate and engage the audience simultaneously, such as webinars, live events, expert interviews, and social media takeovers.
What Makes B2B Influencer Marketing Unique?
When compared to B2C marketing, there are many factors that make B2B influencer marketing unique. These include:
- Target audience: Whereas B2C influencers target individual consumers, B2B influencers market to businesses and their shareholders.
- Purchase decision cycle: While B2C influencers may capture thoughtful consumers, they are also known to influence impulse buying behavior. On the other hand, B2B influencers are targeting shareholders with a much longer decision-making process.
- Channel selection: It’s true that both B2C and B2B marketers can be successful on popular channels like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. However, B2B marketers may also find success on platforms like LinkedIn, Medium, and other business hangouts.
Perhaps the most unique factors of B2B influencer marketing, though, are content/messaging and relationships. Let me explain.
When it comes to B2B content and messaging, businesses expect to see more in-depth and educational content. This is in contrast to B2C marketing, where entertaining or emotional content is the main focus.
B2B influencers, then, focus largely on thought leadership and industry insights in their content. The end goal is to provide valuable information to help businesses make informed decisions.
Take this B2B influencer marketing example from Dell:
Dell wanted to create a podcast that speaks to their B2B audience: tech innovators. What did they do to give it a trusted and authoritative voice? They tapped Walter Isaacson—former CNN CEO and author of the 2011 Steve Jobs biography, Steve Jobs—to be their host.
Now part of that content and messaging relies heavily on relationships. After all, why would businesses trust B2B influencers’ recommendations if they didn’t have a relationship?
For B2C influencers, relationships are more transactional. For B2B influencers, they must build longer-term relationships with their audience. This is done through thought leadership as mentioned above, but also participation in industry events and establishment as a trusted industry expert.
Benefits of Influencer Marketing for B2B
For B2B businesses and agencies, leveraging influencers can offer unique advantages. To name a few:
- Trust and credibility: Aligning with reputable industry influencers can help your brand build trust and credibility among business decision-makers.
- Enhanced visibility: Do you want to reach a broader audience? Leveraging influencers will broaden your brand’s visibility among target B2B audiences.
- Expedited decision-making: We know that businesses take longer to make buying decisions than consumers. However, a recommendation from a trusted source, like an industry influencer, can expedite the decision-making process for B2B buyers.
- Relationship building: It takes months to build trusting relationships with business stakeholders. However, you can manufacture some goodwill through the use of industry influencers who have well-established relationships with their audience.
- Brand authority: If you want to build brand authority in the professional sphere without taking years to do so, then influencer marketing can help. An endorsement from a handful of industry thought leaders can go a long way in establishing your brand in the market.
Overall, adding influencer marketing to your B2B strategies deck can help build brand authority, foster relationships, and drive business growth.
B2B Influencer Marketing Success Stories
Are you not sold on the idea of influencer marketing for B2B? Not to worry! We have three B2B influencer marketing examples that just might change your mind.
Before we dive in, though, let me introduce you to my digital marketing agency: NP Digital. We’re a global digital marketing agency offering solutions to businesses small and large. We have millions of software users and over 500 active clients spanning industries and verticals.
Why do I tell you all of this?
Because we’ve helped businesses looking to target other businesses in their marketing strategy. One way we’ve done this is through B2B influencer marketing.
Here are a few of our clients and the outcomes of the B2B influencer marketing strategies we put into place for them.
Client A | Advertising Technology
First up is an advertising technology and software company based in the United States. They create advertising software for both advertisers and retailers, as well as an omnichannel data and analytics platform.
The goal for Client A was to drive overall interest in their technology and software. More importantly, though, they wanted to drive B2B traffic to their merchant pages. This included targeting Gen Z and Millennial audiences specifically.
With that direction from Client A, NP Digital activated TikTok and Instagram influencers, one with 725K+ followers and the other with 260K+ followers. Their aim was to get their audience to visit the landing pages that Client A had outlined as their target.
What was the result?
These two influencers had a combined 1.5M+ impressions, a reach of 1M+, and 3.2K signups.
Client B | Point of Sale and Commerce
Next up is Client B, a point of sale (POS) and commerce platform for retail and hospitality businesses.
The client created a free, robust resource guide for people looking to open a restaurant or cut costs on their current venture. They wanted to promote it to their target clientele, but they didn’t quite have the social media reach to do so.
NP Digital activated an industry influencer—a former chef and current food and beverage marketer—with over 400K followers on Instagram. He was asked to direct his audience to the client’s blog post.
The result of the influencer’s campaign was a 7.8 percent engagement rate with 33K+ views and 35K+ engagements.
Client C | Digital Marketing and Advertising
The last client we’ll look at is a digital marketing and advertising platform based in the United States. They offer numerous solutions, including audience segmenting, marketing automation, and a retargeting platform.
Client C created three blog posts on keywords with high competition. As such, they wanted to utilize influencer marketing to drive traffic to the assets to build momentum.
As there were multiple blog posts the client wanted to promote, NP Digital enlisted the help of seven advertising/marketing influencers across TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. These influencers had a range of followers, including two with more than 50K.
The influencer marketing campaign results in 26.5K+ impressions, 491+ clicks, and 51+ conversions.
How to Find B2B Influencers to Work With
When you work with a digital marketing agency like NP Digital, you can leverage their network of influencers. When you’re on your own, the process can be a little trickier, but not impossible.
First, make a list of potential influencers.
You can start by identifying thought leaders within your industry through social media, industry publications, and conferences. If you’re active in the space, you may even have a few influencers pop into mind immediately.
You may also want to leverage tools like Traackr, BuzzSumo, or LinkedIn to identify influencers with a large and engaged following.
Second, narrow down your list by evaluating each influencer for content quality, relevance, and engagement levels. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do they produce content of the caliber that I’d be happy to have my brand associated with?
- Do they produce the types of content (e.g., videos, infographics, quizzes, guest blog posts) that I’m looking to utilize?
- How relevant is their content to my brand’s product or services?
- Is their content too broad or too specific to be relevant to my audience?
- How many views, likes, and comments do they get on their content?
- Does the influencer interact with their followers in meaningful ways by responding to comments or answering Q&As?
Third, test the waters to see if there is mutual interest in a partnership.
Begin to like and comment on their posts, engage in meaningful conversations, and share their content to your brand’s social media. They will likely be vetting potential brands as much as you are potential influencers, so put your best foot forward.
Finally, contact a shortlist of influencers. Here are a few guidelines to follow when you reach out:
- Check if they have a preferred contact method. Most influencers will have a dedicated email address for collaboration inquiries.
- Be warm and personalize your message. Let them know how much you enjoy their content and why you think they specifically would be a good fit for your marketing campaign.
- Be upfront about compensation. While you may not know their rates or how much you would like to spend on a particular campaign, you can be up-front about the type of compensation (e.g., free product versus paid). You can then leave the door open for them to provide their rates or further negotiate the terms.
If you’ve reached out to influencers in your space and they’re not interested either because your brand is too new or your budget is too low, consider working with micro-influencers. These are influencers with a smaller, but more engaged follower base. They can also be a great way to get your feet wet when you’re first getting started.
Qualities of An Effective Influencer
As you narrow down your list of influencers, you may find a few qualities that you naturally gravitate towards. Feel free to create your own list of important qualities, but also consider adding the following three to your list: authenticity, credibility, and engagement.
- An authentic influencer aligns their content genuinely with their values and the interests of their audience. They would never promote a product or service they didn’t believe in. This creates an authentic experience for viewers, and it even comes across in their paid campaigns.
- A credible influencer demonstrates expertise in their niche. They can speak intelligently about the topic in a way that the average person can understand without sounding like they’re “dumbing” it down. This fosters trust among followers.
- An engaged influencer responds to comments, interacts regularly with followers, and believes in building a strong sense of community.
All in all, a successful influencer combines authenticity, credibility, and engagement to build and maintain a loyal and impactful following.
Best Types of Influencer Content for B2B
In B2B influencer marketing, crafting impactful content is crucial for success. Several types of influencer content resonate well within the professional landscape. These range from influencer-led (e.g., product demonstrations, product reviews) all the way to full-on brand and influencer collaboration (e.g., expert interviews, educational webinars). Let’s look at some of the top ways your B2B brand can utilize influencer marketing.
Expert Interviews and Spotlights
Conducting interviews with industry experts positions your brand as a thought leader. Influencers engaging in insightful conversations provide valuable perspectives, enhancing the brand’s credibility.
When Microsoft wanted to encourage young girls’ interest in STEM careers (and therefore, target a future B2B audience), they partnered with National Geographic photographers for the #MakeWhatsNext campaign:
They shared the inspiring stories of women in STEM careers, while also hosting in-store events and in-the-field Q&A sessions.
The campaign garnered 150M+ digital impressions, 4M+ social engagements, and 6.4M video views.
Collaborating with influencers to host webinars on industry trends, best practices, or emerging technologies allows for in-depth discussions. This format not only educates but also showcases the influencer’s expertise and builds more personal relationships with the audience.
Case Studies and Success Stories
Influencers can share real-world success stories involving your brand’s products or services. The tangible evidence of positive outcomes helps build trust and credibility.
Guest Blog Posts
Influencers contributing guest blog posts to the brand’s platform or vice versa provide diverse perspectives. This cross-pollination of content enriches both parties’ audiences and establishes a collaborative, authoritative image.
Social Media Takeovers
Allowing influencers to temporarily take over your brand’s social media accounts injects freshness and diversity into the content. It also provides a behind-the-scenes look that humanizes your brand and improves relatability.
Let’s take another look at Microsoft’s #MakeWhatsNext campaign.
The campaign kicked off on International Women’s Day with Microsoft “taking over” five of National Geographic’s Instagram channels and four of National Geographic’s Facebook channels. This included 30 photos and ten posts across the campaign.
The social takeover resulted in 67M+ social impressions, 3.5M+ likes, and 1K+ uses of the #MakeWhatsNext hashtag.
Quizzes, polls, or interactive Q&A sessions led by influencers engage the audience actively. This involvement fosters a sense of community and increases interaction with your brand.
Product Demonstrations and Reviews
Influencers showcasing the practical applications of B2B products or providing authentic reviews can significantly influence potential buyers. This type of content aids in decision-making and boosts product credibility.
We can see an example of this is Cisco’s Champion campaign, leveraging top experts in IT to write in-depth blog posts on a specific Cisco product:
By incorporating a mix of these content types, B2B brands can create a compelling narrative that resonates with their target audience and maximizes the impact of influencer partnerships.
There are many differences between B2B and B2C influencer marketing strategies. However, the most important differences lie in messaging and relationships. B2B influencers must provide clear and professional messaging while also building long-lasting relationships with their audience. This differs from B2C where entertaining content and transactional relationships are the norm.
When selecting B2B influencers, businesses should keep three criteria in mind: authenticity, credibility, and engagement. These three qualities are the driving force of a good influencer with a trusting follower base. You should also consider adding other criteria to your list that align with your brand voice, such as the types of content they regularly create and the versatility of their messaging.
There are numerous examples of successful B2B influencer marketing campaigns. The two that stick out are Dell’s innovative technology podcast, Trailblazers, and Microsoft’s collaboration with National Geographic.
There are many benefits to adding B2B influencer marketing to your digital marketing strategy. From enhanced visibility to brand authority to increased engagement and leads, you’re leaving a lot on the table if you ignore this marketing avenue.
Fortunately, getting started doesn’t have to be hard. You can work with digital marketing agencies like my own, NP Digital, to find the perfect influencer for your needs. Or you can follow the steps we outlined—make a list of potential influencers, narrow down the list by content quality and relevance, engage with the influencers, reach out to your shortened list of prospects—to make your own connections.
Do you have questions about B2B influencer marketing? Drop a comment down below!
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