In today’s digital-driven world, consumers are turning towards one another to ensure the product/service they want to purchase is the right one for them and are doing this across multiple channels such as social media, product review websites and online forums. Because of this shift in consumer-influenced purchasing behavior, identifying and engaging with the key influencers in your industry is quickly becoming a critical component of a B2B organization’s marketing strategy. If done correctly, influencer marketing can lead to rapid growth in sales, raise brand awareness and establish a strong brand equity.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
In simple terms, influencer marketing can be defined as “the action of promoting and selling products or services through people (influencers) who have the capacity to have an effect on the character or brand.” Take Amazon, for example, how many times have you searched for a product and immediately looked at the customer reviews to ensure you are getting the best option for the product you are wanting to purchase? To take it one step further, how many times have you gone to the “Top Customer Reviews” which are ranked according to the number of users that found that review useful (i.e. influential)?
While influencer marketing has been around for several years, it has recently picked up traction in the last few months, and has become an important piece of businesses’ marketing strategies. In fact, engaging with influencers via social media is still considered to be a top marketing trend for marketers.
Why Is It Important?
With the power of social media, and the ability for anyone with a smart phone and internet connection to pump out viral content, those that post the most interesting content are rising to the top of influencers’ awareness in their field. Because of this, B2B marketers must research their buyers and develop personas, identify the influencers in their respective industry and generate ways to engage with them without asking too much from them up front (Remember, when it comes to your influencers, they need to know the WIIFM – what’s in it for me).
How to Get Started with Influencer Marketing Efforts
Getting started with B2B influencer marketing will take a little bit of research and patience, but here are a few steps you can start taking to get the ball rolling on your influencer marketing campaign:
- Before you do anything, develop the goals you want to achieve such as raising brand awareness, generating leads or creating a customer advocacy program to build your own army of influencers.
- Research your buyers and determine what marketing channels your audience spends most of their time on.
- Identify the influencers in your space and where do they engage the most with their audience.
- Build a relationship with targeted influencers by providing thoughtful, relevant content (or curate 3rd party content) that resonates with your influencers and participate in conversations they are also engaged in (Twitter Chats, LinkedIn Groups, Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything”, etc.)
- Develop of a process of reaching out to your targeted influencers (introductory email, social media outreach, phone call, etc.)
- Don’t ask for too much up front when engaging with influencers. Think about the incentives you want to provide if an influencer agrees to give a shout out to your product/service through their social media channel or feature a piece of your content on their website.
- Measure results against goals and look for areas you can improve on.
By understanding the impact influencer marketing can have on your business and using the steps listed above, your organization can take the appropriate actions to take powerfully drive your marketing strategy forward by leveraging the power of influencers.