Like most people, we held an opinion that influencer marketing was better suited for B2C businesses and boy, were we wrong. As long as your product/service has customers and people who are super-fans of your brand then chances are you can include influencer marketing as part of your growth strategy for your B2B enterprise.
How B2B Is Different
Expertise of Influencers
Mostly B2B companies sell software or technology solutions which aren’t things that technology and business influencers can just take a picture to drive sales any time soon! It just doesn’t happen that way. What works for an influencer or a Key Opinion Leader (KOL) is their credibility and though not impossible, it is not easy to find influencers who have an extensive background in IT themselves. And no, it is not a great idea to hire someone known for fashion to do a campaign for your B2B product, it will ring unauthentic alienating your customers and his/her followers too. Most B2B influencers are Key Opinion Leaders, niche-topic experts, influential members of the community, industry-facilitated authorities, expert journalists, and consultants.
Interactions with Audience
Also, the buying funnel for B2B customers differs from B2C in the way that the former doesn’t typically get impressed by an Instagram post on saas, go to a corporate website and purchase the software. Although a post may bring brand awareness, they buying cycle starts by checking the authenticity of the product, reading reviews, making price comparisons and checking for features. As you can see, it isn’t an on-the-spot purchase as compared to buying a bag.
Longer Buying Cycle
B2B enterprises usually have long buying cycles of about 3- 6 months and it is said that customers would not prefer to not contact vendor until their two-thirds of the way through the decision-making process. This is where influencer marketing comes into play as research shows that influencer recommendations can accelerate the buying cycle.
Furthermore, while these short-term benchmarks can help measure the initial reception of the engagement, B2B sales strategies are typically built on longer-term relationships and sales cycles, and many of the most important KPIs will emerge months after the campaign has ended.
Research has foaund that 87% of B2B buyers give more credence to content created by influencers in their industry.
How To Do B2B Influencer Marketing Right
We’ve identified three broad ways of implementing an influencer program.
1) Short-term campaigns:
Ideal when launching a new product and increasing awareness about a product, this kind of program may require you to work with industry leaders or macro-influencers to drive your brand’s message to a larger market.
Consider American Express’ Love My Store campaign where they aimed to increase the placement of AmEx signage on storefront windows nationwide. First, they partnered with Grace Bonney (known for her blog Design*Sponge) to create 6 beautiful storefront decals and that reflected the values of the store to potential customers while making it clear that AmEx card shoppers were accepted.
At the same time, they also worked with HGTV’s Emily Henderson on a series of videos that taught store owners design tips, placement of AmEx signage and merchandising to attract customers.
2) Building Long-Term Customer Relations:
Perhaps you want to retain existing customers or rebrand your business to build long-term brand loyalty, this kind of campaign will depend on micro-influencers who have a high-engagement rate with their followers. For example, an email marketing expert might discuss top trends for the coming year, best practices and so on. Once signed up with an Email Marketing platform, he/she might start talking about how the partner firm can make the process easier.
HubSpot is great at this kind of marketing as it invests heavily in updating their blogs with content from micro-influencers who have digital marketing and sales backgrounds. Not only does HubSpot benefit from fresh perspectives on their website but also its partners also gain from Hubspot’s exposure.
3) Gaining Leads
This kind of campaign gets straight to the point and allows you to access the influencer’s audience for leads. Creating a custom discount code for every influencer you work with allows you to drive sales rather than just gain awareness. Plus having an ‘exclusive’ discount code for an influencer will spark more interest by giving the audience a feeling of being special.
Adding an influencer marketing program can measurable results as we’ve said before, but planning and launching one takes a lot of manual effort. Affable has helped multiple B2B’s launch impactful influencer programs and help them new audiences and leads from the right Instagram influencers. So if you’re thinking of setting up something similar for your business, try Affable.ai today and catch the influencer marketing wave before its too late.