Too often, B2B companies are quick to dismiss Influencer Marketing as an impractical strategy because they’re accustomed to seeing it used exclusively for B2C business. Though Influencer Marketing first emerged in the B2C market, there are innovative ways for B2B companies to effectively utilize the strategy.
What is B2B Influencer Marketing?
In the B2B industry, Influencer Marketing takes the form of a mutually beneficial marketing relationship, where two brands (or a brand and an individual/group) partner to promote awareness and generate leads. Instead of paying or asking consumers to promote a given brand, influencer marketing dictates reaching out to relevant figures within an industry to forge mutually beneficial, co-marketing relationships.
Why is B2B Influencer Marketing Effective?
It’s no secret that inbound marketing has the highest ROI. People don’t trust outbound marketing, they trust other people — that's why Influencer Marketing should be a key component of your inbound strategy. When thought leaders promote a brand, they infuse that brand with authenticity and authority and improve its social reach. The more wary consumers' attitudes towards traditional marketing methods become, the more crucial Influencer Marketing tactics become.
B2B consumers are often highly involved in the inbound buying process (because their buying decisions are likely to affect their entire company) and are more cautious in their purchasing habits. B2B purchasing anxiety can be alleviated, in part, by Influencer Marketing. By forming brand associations with respected thought-leaders in a given industry, it's possible to garner brand authority and urge cautious B2B consumers down the funnel.
Proven B2B Influencer Marketing Strategies
Ideally, you want your co-marketing partner to be a thought-leader or respected name within your industry. They can be another business or a specific person, depending on the type of audience you'd like to reach. Once you have determined a viable partner to act as your “influencer,” you can begin to draft a marketing strategy that works best for both parties. When it comes to B2B influencer marketing, the time commitment and engagement level required of participant vary by strategy.
Examples of influencer marketing tactics that are low-involvement when it comes to commitment and engagement level are mutual content sharing and backlinking. These tactics are great for starting out a new co-marketing relationship.
Once you have established your co-marketing relationship with those low-involvement exchanges, you can move onto higher-involvement opportunities. Guest blogging/featuring are medium-involvement and would be an excellent next step in your co-marketing relationship.
Lastly, content co-creation and webinar/event co-hosting have the highest involvement level. These strategies take a great deal of coordination and preparation from participant and should be used only once you have established a comfortable co-marketing relationship.
When done right, Influencer Marketing can be an effective strategy for B2B companies to generate leads, build brand equity and establish valuable networking relationships within their industry.