Influencer marketing is the future!
A Twitter study found that 49% of consumers rely on product recommendations shared by influencers for their purchases.
Similarly, LinkedIn’s global study aggregated responses from more than 6,000 B2B marketers and buyers. They found that expert opinions were considered to be the second most influential factor before they engaged with the vendor.
Unfortunately, only 15% of B2B companies are implementing influencer marketing campaigns.
Why is influencer marketing such a hit? Its commonalities with native advertising make it one of the most ideal ways to promote your business.
What Do Native Advertising and Influencer Marketing Have In Common?
Native advertising and influencer marketing both target specific audiences.
They aim to reach out to influencers or create branded content that resonates with target customers. Since it uses a customer-centric approach, the content created aligns with the brand’s personality, boosts credibility and sends the right message.
Brands like American Express use native advertising and influencer marketing. The brand’s sponsored Instagram post features celebrities like Rachel Brosnahan for its holiday hosting campaigns.
But how do you find the right influencers and launch a successful campaign? Here’s what you need to know:
Picking the Right Influencer
Most B2B influencers can be classified into three categories:
This category includes megastars like Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, and other household names. They have the fanbase to garner thousands of likes and shares in social media, but working with them comes at a hefty price tag. Plus, they don’t have the time to engage with individual followers.
Opinion Makers / Experts
This is where you find experts in your industry with large followings. They don’t have to be artists—instead they could include people with a large following thanks to their blog posts, advice or an impressive network in your industry. While they’re not as popular as big celebrities, their advice could persuade a lot of people to make buying decisions.
The last group consists of brand advocates or influencers who already love your brand. They don’t have to be Youtubers but they could be promoting your product on Reddit, social media sites, blogs, and other online media.
Most B2B companies think that no one is actively talking about their products – but no matter how niche your solutions are there will be customers who will take about it.
Sometimes you might not consider people in this group as the typical influencer. However, connecting with them can help you attract the interest of potential customers and future brand advocates in their network.
How Will You Use Influencers?
Now that you have an idea of the type of influencers you’ll target, what are the types of content that you would produce? Here are some ideas to help you get started:
Customer testimonials are powerful.
A study from Hawkeye found that 71% of B2B buyers in the awareness stage and 77% in the evaluation stage cited case studies and testimonials as the most influential types of content. Another study from Influitive found that around 90% of potential customers are influenced by customer testimonials in their purchasing decisions.
Testimonials achieve the greatest impact when given by the right influencers. For example, an endorsement by Oprah Winfrey, has turned relatively small businesses into multi-million dollar empires.
Neil Patel also uses a testimonial from Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, for social proof and credibility. He also added Michael’s picture beside the testimonial since studies found that this can significantly boost its impact.
B2B product or not, we often rely on product reviews from relevant users to make purchase decisions. We check out blogs, reviews, and videos of influencers to get unfiltered feedback and expert insights.
In fact, a study by Forrester found that 59 percent of B2B buyers prefer to conduct online research and read product reviews instead of contacting sales representatives.
When finding influencers for product reviews, don’t focus on reach. Instead, think about whether their expertise and knowledge will help them make an insightful assessment about your product. You can start by checking out top reviewers in B2B review sites or bloggers.
You can send interview questions via email and publish them in a blog post. However, in-person video interviews are a lot more effective in convincing customers to buy from your brand. The interaction is a lot more personal and unfiltered – unlike words which can easily be edited.
You can add expert interviews to your product page or use it to create a video series. For example, Adobe created a “Learning From The Experts” series that features industry-leading professionals. Each video discusses how these experts leverage the latest features and capabilities of Creative Cloud for their creative tasks.
Invite experts and industry professionals to submit a guest post on your blog. Find out the topics that interest them and collaborate in brainstorming ideas.
Successful B2B Influencer Examples
Now that you know what to create, what are examples of successful B2B influencer campaigns? Here are a few that caught our attention:
SAP Live Videos
On the 2016 Sapphire conference, SAP used Facebook Live to chat with influencers onsite. These live chats allowed customers to experience and get an insider view of the conference—even if they weren’t present at the event. They also gave some people in the online audience the chance to get their questions answered.
After the conference, they used some of their interviews for blog post content. In addition, influencers were able to expand their network and share their content with SAP’s customers.
American Express collaborated with popular bloggers to reach small B2B businesses. The campaign named “Love My Store” aimed to motivate B2B businesses to use Amex credit cards.
It featured Grace Bonney, the blogger behind Design Sponge. She created a series of Amex decals for the campaign. In addition, designer blogger and influencer Emily Henderson posted tips on how to position the decals to get the most visibility and attract customers.
The results? A whopping 5 million social media impressions and more than 400,000 decals distributed!
OkDork is a blog by Noah Kagan, the head of AppSumo.com which targets entrepreneurs. In 2014, Bryan Harris, founder of Videofruit published a guest post on OkDork. Videofruit helps companies boost their email list so their ideal target audience were readers of OkDork too.
The result? A few days after the guest post was published, Harris published the results. His site got 215 new subscribers and 1,086 visitors (compared to the usual daily average of 285 visitors).
Ready to Use Influencer Marketing to Drive B2B Sales?
It’s no secret that influencer marketing can do wonders for your business.
Testimonials, interviews, product reviews and guest posts can significantly persuade customers to buy your products. But, don’t forget that you have to choose the right influencers in your niche or industry to create convincing campaigns.
How will you use influencer marketing to drive B2B sales? Let us know in the comments below.