Not all influencer marketing is aimed at the consumer. For some B2B brands, they may need to reach other businesses with their products and services, like through influencer marketing.
However, B2B brands are far behind in the influencer marketing space. 48% of B2C brands are consistently working with influencers, while only 11% of B2B brands are.
Does influencer marketing work for B2B brands? Yes! However, the influencers that you partner with need to reach businesses, instead of consumers.
These influencers look and feel different because their audience is different. Their audience is full of marketing managers, CEOs, associates, and other employees of the businesses that you are trying to reach with your products or services. These influencers help you to build trust with your audience of professionals.
That is why these influencers are so important to your advertising strategy. They can help you get the word out in a way that feels genuine and they can reach the exact decision makers within a company that you’ll need to succeed.
Which influencers reach businesses?
A B2B influencer is probably not posting the typical lifestyle shots on Instagram. These influencers are reaching businesspeople on the platforms that businesspeople look for information on.
With that in mind, these influencers are more likely to be bloggers, YouTubers, spokespeople, brand advocates, experts, thought leaders, gurus, and even CEOs. These influencers are thought leaders within industries, instead of thought leaders within more consumer-driven circles.
Types of Influencers for B2B
- Experts and gurus – These are individuals recognized as thought leaders within your target market. They have amassed an extensive network on several platforms by consulting or offering resources to businesses within your target groups.
- Employees – those working within your company may be the perfect ambassadors to recommend it. Employees have inside knowledge and extensive experience with your product and customers, so partnering with employees with some sort of reward system for new customers could take existing experts and empower them to share your products.
- Customers – in many cases, businesses who are already using your product may be able to recommend you to their friends. Including at the bottom of emails something like “recommend us to all your friends on Shopify” or “Click here to send a free trial to your friends” could help customers share about your products.
- Bloggers and YouTubers – these people are creating resources for those in your industry. Finding the right expert may be as simple as seeing what resources your employees are referencing when doing their research about the industry.
How the Customer’s Sales Journey Changes with B2B
The customer journey doesn’t change substantially compared to B2C experiences. Your brand is still trying to entice, educate, and convert these customers.
The chief difference is that instead of appealing to the consumer alone, you now need to appeal to the consumer and their business. The consumer needs to not only be excited about the products, but also able to justify the cost within the context of their company.
It is this context that B2B brands have to account for. One difference is the amount of people involved in the purchasing process. In B2B marketing, it’s not uncommon to have 3-4 decision makers involved in the process. That means that you need to have systems in place so that purchasers don’t fall through the cracks while they are waiting for approvals from another member of their team. It also means that you may need to have multiple points of contact before a brand converts.
Goals of Influencer Marketing for B2B Brands
Bring a human element to your brand story
Influencers help you bring a different perspective to your brand’s narrative. They may include details or information that your potential customers haven’t heard from your other marketing assets.
In working with an influencer who is also a customer, you are able to take your existing narrative and present it in a new way through the eyes of your customers.
Reach Your Target Customer
Influencer marketing, even for B2B, can help you reach your audience in new ways. Ad blockers and the decline of traditional advertising can all be counteracted by influencers, who reach their audiences in organic ways.
Without the help of an influencer, you may be able to reach only a fraction of your target market. With an influencer’s help, you’ll be able to reach a large segment of your target market, and the assets created through this partnership can also help engagement with your existing customers and audience.
Get to Know Your Customers
In addition to reaching your target customer, influencers can also help reveal information about your audience. Influencers typically have close relationships with their followers and can help to articulate the pain points and needs of your target customer.
Instead of working on a single promotion with an influencer, it’s important to create relationships with these influencers. Not only will you have an ambassador that shares about your company long after the promotion is over, you’ll also have a wealth of knowledge and a friend willing to share their expertise with you.
Influencers can provide outside validation of your brand’s position, or provide valuable insights on what future changes should look like.
Try sending an email that just asks for the influencer’s opinions about your new products, or asks if they have any recommendations for your products/services. It’s an easy way to reach out in a way that makes the influencer feel connected to and involved with your brand.
Influencer Marketing Collaborations for B2B
Guest Blog Posts
Writing posts for an influencer’s website can help you get backlinks and raise your domain authority, as well as reaching the influencer’s audience with your brand.
In addition to the SEO boost to your own website, you’re also creating a piece of content that will lead customers to your site for a long time to come. Blog content is longer lasting than other mediums like social media, so it can have a lasting impact on your growth.
Partnering with an influencer to create a YouTube video can help customers see your products in action. Not only can the influencer give their opinions, but you can also share, embed, and post the video at key points in the buyer’s journey to help convert potential customers.
Testimonials & Product Reviews
90% of potential customers are affected by testimonials. While testimonials and product reviews can appear in many formats, they help to convey your brand’s message with an additional layer of trust and authenticity.
Testimonials and product reviews can appear as:
- Blog posts
- YouTube videos
- Web content
- Sections of product pages
- Printed marketing materials
Influencer Marketing for B2B Brands
In the end, influencer marketing is actually not that different for B2B brands. Picking the right influencers to reach your target audience remains as the biggest hurdle for brands when starting their influencer marketing.
Thinking critically about who your influencers are and who they reach with their content is essential to creating a successful marketing strategy. In addition, collaborations with influencers should help your audience gain the knowledge that they need to make a purchasing decision. With this in mind, collaborations become very education-focused with B2B brands and influencers.
B2B influencer marketing doesn’t have to be a struggle and it’s a great way to set yourself apart from the rest of your B2B competitors.