When we talk about influencers, we usually think of B2C marketing and not B2B marketing. However, a growing number of influencers are now catering to B2B companies as we’re becoming more and more tech-savvy and willing to try new marketing techniques.
In this article, we’ll talk about B2B influencer marketing, including its benefits and how you can find B2B influencers.
Introduction to B2B Influencer Marketing
B2B influencer marketing involves using marketers to reach other businesses. It’s a type of influencer marketing where a business hires the services of an influencer who can help them reach other businesses.
B2B influencer marketing differs from traditional or B2C influencer marketing as the audience isn’t the end consumer but other businesses.
In simple words, B2B influencer marketing is the process of promoting your brand, business, services, and products through collaboration with influencers. It involves using the power of influencers to reach a wider audience and get them to take your desired action.
Influencer marketing works because there’s no better marketing than recommendations from peers. This applies to both B2B and B2C companies. However, B2B influencer marketing isn’t as big as B2C influencer marketing since most influencers appear to be concentrating on the end consumer, and very few cater to other businesses. However, we have seen a rise in B2B influencer marketing in recent years.
About 87 percent of buyers, including B2B consumers, look online before they make a purchase. However, unlike B2C consumers, B2B buyers don’t always look for reviews and recommendations. Instead, they focus on product demos and whitepapers.
Influencer marketing mainly makes use of social media, however, B2B influencer marketing involves other elements as well. Conversely, at the end of the day, the approach is technically similar, but it is important that marketers find new and innovative ways to target potential buyers.
B2B businesses usually try to reach CEOs, managers, CFOs, and directors. Such people aren’t on the web watching video reviews or reading comparison articles. Influencers have to come up with unique ways to tap into business-to-business conversations.
Why Use B2B Influencer Marketing
Now that we have covered B2B influencer marketing, let’s talk about the benefits of B2B influencer marketing. Before moving ahead, we’ll have a look at some stats:
- About 86 percent of B2B marketers are working with influencers.
- About 33 percent of B2B marketers say that influencer marketing has helped them win new clients.
- Nearly 72 percent of B2B marketers say that influencer marketing helps boost company image.
- Over 70 percent of B2B marketers say that influencer marketing is good for brand awareness.
- About 65 percent of B2B businesses use influencer marketing to generate new leads.
A growing number of companies are working with B2B influencers to generate leads, improve business image, and increase brand awareness.
Influencer marketing offers even some indirect advantages. For example, it builds credibility and allows a business to reach a wider audience. Moreover, it can be a great way to boost SEO.
Companies spend thousands on SEO to rank well on search engines. B2B influencer marketing can make it easy to generate high-quality backlinks and dethrone competition. In addition, it can be a great way to get valuable market insights.
Influencers are experts in their fields. If you choose the right B2B influencer, you’ll be able to know a lot about your industry, including the latest trends and what your competitors are up to. This information can be used to improve your marketing efforts and make an impression.
In addition, B2B influencer marketing can be a great way to create compelling content. Many businesses develop a community of influencers to work with so they can have a constant flow of high-quality content. Lastly, B2B influencer marketing can help improve the overall customer experience by offering content that solves problems a business may have.
Influencers offer a unique perspective and add their creativity to content. Plus, they offer businesses invaluable professional contacts that can otherwise be hard to reach.
How Does B2B Influencer Marketing Work?
We’ve already talked about the benefits of B2B influencer marketing, let’s now have a look at how it works.
Technically speaking, B2B marketing and B2C marketing are very similar. They do the same job, i.e.: help individuals or businesses reach a wider audience and help potential clients connect with a brand. The main difference lies in how they approach clients and who you choose to work with. B2B influencers have different credentials and they typically use unique tactics to attract people.
B2C influencer marketing mainly caters to influencers with a good reach. Businesses don’t usually pay attention to other factors as they’re only interested in reaching more people. However, things differ when it comes to B2B influencer marketing. Businesses have to look at other factors as well.
They typically look for influencers who don’t only have a good reach but also a deep understanding of the industry they cater to. Ideally, one should look for industry experts with a good reach. This is of huge importance since most businesses target people who already have a good knowledge of the industry. You need to work with an influencer who knows what they are talking about.
You’ll be reaching decision-makers, heads of businesses, and powerful individuals who make operational and buying decisions. The person you choose should have access to these people.
B2B marketing doesn’t only involve working with social media stars but other names as well. It’s all about thinking out of the box.
Here are a few tactics businesses use for B2B influencer marketing:
Social Media Stars
This is an obvious one since social media and influencer marketing goes together. Some experts argue that CEOs and leaders are not on social media, hence it may not be the best place to spend your B2B influencer marketing budget on. However, we believe that it is all about choosing the right social media platform.
LinkedIn, for example, has proven to be a great platform for B2B influencer marketing campaigns. There are more than 144,000 LinkedIn users with the word ‘creator’ in their job title and over 11 million users have the creator mode activated on their LinkedIn profiles. Moreover, there are more than 12,000 CEOs on LinkedIn with more than 50 employees. Similarly, you will find businesses on Twitter as well. Even the likes of Elon Musk and Donald Trump are on Twitter.
Both Twitter and LinkedIn can be great social media platforms to find entrepreneurs, CEOs, and business leaders with a good reach. Brands can work with them to publish sponsored content, posts, and more. Moreover, other platforms may also prove to be beneficial, based on your industry and the product or service you wish to promote.
Join Afluencer to get access to thousands of B2B influencers. You’ll be able to find influencers in your niche and approach them with your requirements.
Podcasts can be a great way to reach businesses as about 37 percent of very small business owners listen to podcasts. The number goes to 60 percent for small business owners. Moreover, nearly 71 percent of people with a medium business listen to podcasts. The number is high for large business owners as well but they’re typically more selective.
Even the frequency is very high. Nearly 41 percent of all business owners listen to a podcast almost daily and about 80 percent of current listeners plan to keep the same frequency. Hence, it makes sense to work with podcasters.
One of your representatives can appear on a podcast show to talk about your business or you can run ads and sponsored segments. There are several other ways to reach more people through podcasts. Find someone who understands your audience and can help you reach more people.
Don’t let the world fool you, books are still in demand. In fact, the average CEO reads about 50 books a year. Bill Gates is known to read two books a week and David Rubenstein completes about four books per week. This is why authors make great B2B influencers.
But, the real question is: how can authors help promote your business? Most people think of hiring top writers to write written material but that may not be the best way to utilize a well-known author. Consider making use of their reach by having them promote your business through endorsements and posts. Moreover, they can include you or your business in their books to boost your company image.
We know entrepreneurs love websites like CNN, Forbes, and Entrepreneur. They check these platforms for news, reviews, op-eds, and more. Hence, it makes sense to post marketing content on these sites as you’re highly likely to come across big guns, who may show interest in what you have to offer.
Getting published on such top sites can be very difficult if you have no connections. The best option is to find an influencer with a contributor account so they can write on your behalf and promote what you have to offer. They can post an article talking about your business, your achievements, or what you have to offer. Once the article gets read by your target audience, they may approach you with offers.
Organizations and Researchers
Believe it or not, influencers can help you make connections and form a partnership with other organizations. The key lies in finding an influencer who has good contacts and signing a deal where they promote your business so you can attract more eyeballs.
A great way to do this is to work with an influencer who holds a good position in an organization. You can use their influence or power to promote your name. For example, you can appear as a sponsor. Names like Red Bull and Pepsi use this trick. They look for organizations with a strong influence and then partner with them. Similarly, you can work with an influencer who works in research.
They can mention you in business journals that cater to your niche. Some examples include the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of International Business Studies, and Academy of Management Review. In addition, it might be a good idea to create a case study that highlights your success. Case studies are very effective and can help you win new clients.
Managers who read what you have done for other businesses might be curious to know what you can do for them. They can be used to generate leads and improve your goodwill.
Thought Leaders and Keynote Speakers
Lastly, businesses can work with thought leaders and keynote speakers. They are well-known people who get invited to seminars, chat shows, and events. The key lies in finding an influencer who is large enough to get invites and intelligent enough to plug your business naturally.
It works just like a TV commercial. You have a speaker getting interviewed and they casually drop your name resulting in you getting mainstream attention. Look at Elon Musk, he has on several occasions used his influence to help other businesses by mentioning stocks he’s interested in or companies he believes in.
He may not be charging money for a plug but someone as big as him can be a great choice for companies looking for a B2B influencer. We’ve got some very talented individuals, so sign up for an account and get access to thousands of influencers, including thought leaders and keynote speakers.
Building a B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guide
Ready to start a B2B influencer marketing campaign? Here’s how to get started:
#1 Finalize Your Budget and Goal
Your goal should be very clearly defined. Know why you want to hire influencers and what you wish to achieve through collaborations. The key lies in understanding KPIs that are important to you. Success can be measured in a variety of ways such as the number of impressions a campaign gets; however, it will not be much of a success if your aim is to find clients. Hence, clearly define KPIs that are of importance to you and work on a results-driven campaign.
In addition, work on your budget and calculate the amount you can spend on B2B influencer marketing. It’s normally a flat fee that you will pay the influencer to promote your business. However, in some cases, there may be additional charges.
#2 Find an Influencer
The next step is to find a suitable B2B influencer for your campaign. Look for someone knowledgeable and recognized in your industry. Don’t blindly go for the number of followers one has. Make sure to examine their credentials and understand what they bring to the table.
We will talk more about how to find a B2B influencer later in this guide and also provide tips on identifying reliable B2B influencers.
#3 Do Your Research
Do not solely count on the influencer to work on your behalf. Have your marketing department do their own research. For example, find out what your target audience is more likely to be interested in.
According to reports, webinars are very popular among B2B marketers. About 81 percent of B2B businesses prefer them. It goes down to 74 percent for social media and 71 percent for blog posts, including guest blogs.
Videos, including live videos, interviews, and interactive content, are also very popular. On the other hand, infographics do not perform well for B2B campaigns and only 17 percent of marketers prefer graphics. Your marketing team should look at factors such as your target audience and then decide on the right route.
#4 Build Relationships
In the business world, it is all about relationships. B2B influencer marketing campaigns are not usually one-off jobs. They typically continue for weeks and months, hence it may be a good idea to nurture relationships and treat influencers as partners.
Influencers can make or break a business. Refer to how a single tweet from Kylie Jenner cost Snapchat $1.3 billion. Building relationships with influencers can prove to be very beneficial in the long run, even if you do not have a deal in place.
Treat influencers as advocates and provide a positive experience to them so they continue to say good things about your business even after the end of a collab.
#5 Expectations and Setting Guidelines
The best way to avoid issues is to ensure clarity in communication. Start by setting clear guidelines and expectations. This will allow your influencers to create content that provides your desired results. Again, do not leave it completely up to the influencer and have your research or marketing department provide input. You and the influencer need to be on the same page, otherwise, there will be issues.
It doesn’t matter how popular or well-read an influencer is, they may know the industry but they do not know your business or your target audience. Communicate this information to them and work on written contracts to avoid issues. The contract should cover everything from remuneration to expected results. However, make sure to ask the influencer to provide some input and how they intend to provide your desired results.
#6 Work Like a Team
As mentioned earlier, it is important that you educate your influencers and share all relevant information related to your business and target audience. You can use tools like Zoom and Skype to maintain clear communication and hold digital meetings.
Explain your agenda and what you think is the best way to connect with your audiences. In return, ask how they can help achieve your goals. Do not make the mistake of dictating your influencers as it may put them off and also ruin the partnership. It is very important to allow influencers to be creative while being true to their audience.
Influencers should know what makes your business, product, or service unique. Only then they’ll be able to convince others to give it a try. This becomes even more important if you are using the influencer as an ambassador and expect them to talk about your business on other platforms.
#7 Give It Some Time
Influencer marketing is no magic. It takes time for results to show, hence make sure to be patient. Concentrate on building relationships and give a relationship some time to flourish.
Consistent partnerships tend to perform better than solo campaigns. Remember that B2B influencer marketing requires long-term planning. Be in it for the long haul.
#8 Keep An Eye on the Numbers
Keep an eye on the numbers such as how much attention a specific collaboration brings you. The best way to calculate your ROI is to pay attention to the KPIs that are of importance to you.
Since ads or sponsored content will run on a third-party platform, such as the influencer’s profile or another site, it can be hard for you to access numbers. Hence, make it a point to request the influencer to provide data such as engagement rate, reach, and clicks. Moreover, you might be able to collect some on your own. For example, if you have paid for a post in a business magazine, see how many clients they refer to you. It will help you calculate the cost of acquisition, which can be an important metric.
Unfortunately, numbers may not always be immediately available and it can often take days or weeks for data to reach you. You should continue to work on your relationship till you have a decent amount of data to compare and comprehend. Do not call off a campaign just because it doesn’t start on a promising note. It can take a while for the dust to settle and a campaign to begin to provide results.
How to Find B2B Influencers
Let’s now talk about finding B2B influencers. While B2C influencers are easy to find, B2B influencers can be hard to find.
Remember that the success of a B2B influencer marketing campaign depends as much on the influencer as it depends on the content that you share. Hence, spend a good amount of time finding and comparing influencers.
Start with creating a B2B buyer persona, i.e.: a detailed profile of your target audience. Next, look at businesses that best fit your target audience and understand what they look for online.
It might be a good idea to find this information:
- The social media platforms they are on.
- The websites they most commonly visit.
- Trade organizations they work with or are a member of.
- Individuals they follow or interact with on LinkedIn.
Don’t just focus on the business but also on the people who run it, including CEOs and CFOs. Collecting this information will help you find the right B2B influencer.
Next, create a list that covers the qualities your influencer must have. For example:
- The social media they need to be on.
- The industry they cater to.
- Their age bracket.
In addition, look for these:
- Subject matter expertise
- Values and how they align with the brand
- Content quality
- Audience size
- Professional credentials
Once you are sure of what you need, start looking for an influencer. Platforms like Afluencer can be a great place to start. We house thousands of influencers, including B2B influencers, who belong to different industries and work with all kinds of businesses.
Why Use Afluencer
Afluencer is designed for both brands and influencers and works as a bridge between the two sides. Sign up for an account and get immediate access to our platform. You will be able to search through our growing database and find suitable influencers in no time.
Select filters such as interests, channels, age, location, gender, and audience size. Moreover, you can search for influencers by using keywords to find B2B influencers in your field. Similarly, you will be able to view relevant information, including the social media platforms they are available on, audience size, engagement rate, etc.
Furthermore, Afluencer even allows businesses to post collaborations for influencers to view. You can post your requirements and interested candidates will apply for the position. You will have the option to accept or decline offers.
At Afluencer, we aim to be a one-stop solution and even allow brands and influencers to communicate through our easy-to-use platform.
Three Best B2B Influencer Marketing Examples
Ready to start your first B2B influencer marketing campaign? Here are three B2B influencer marketing examples to get you started:
VideoFruit had a very successful B2B influencer marketing campaign. The company published a guest post on OKDork, but without the help of an influencer. The founder, Bryan Harris, contributed to the site to reach a wider audience and the results were very impressive.
VideoFruit received 500 percent more page views on the day the article was published. Moreover, the number of ‘unique’ visitors jumped by 600 percent and the average time spent by a user on the site also increased by around 8 percent.
VideoFruit was able to get these numbers without hiring a B2B influencer, however, it can be very hard to get published on a site like OKDork if you do not have connections. The process is lengthy and complicated. You can make it easier by finding an influencer with a contributor account on such sites. Hire their services and they will talk about you or your business on the platform and you could enjoy similar results.
Afluencer gives businesses access to influencers with accounts on top sites like Forbes, CNN, and Yahoo. Sign up for an account to talk to our top B2B influencers.
SAP tried B2B influencer marketing to promote the 2016 SAPPHIRE NOW conference. The company needed B2B marketing as the conference was designed for businesspersons and the company had to attract the right audience to fill seats.
It joined hands with a number of influential industry leaders and invited them as keynote speakers to speak at the event via video. Being able to attend from home proved to be a major benefit and SAP managed to fetch some big names to be a part of the event.
Influencers shared their skills and knowledge through videos and connected with the listeners. The event proved to be a major hit as it managed to attract over 80,000 viewers. You can also try similar tactics as conferences and webinars have proven to be very beneficial.
Get influencers to be a part of your event and use their reach to attract more listeners and potential clients. Afluencer houses some industry leaders who have experience speaking at local and international events and can be great candidates for any business. Sign up for an account to get access to our influencers.
Maybelline doesn’t usually look at B2B marketing as it mainly caters to the end consumer. However, it tried B2B influencer marketing to branch out to new businesses and sign big deals.
The company used its own Fashion Week 2016 as a promotional tool to market its products to not just businesses but also to the end consumer. It is considered one of the best examples of influencer marketing as the company was able to not only target the end buyer but also other businesses.
Maybelline joined hands with 15 makeup artists from around the world to produce content, including tutorials and guides to coincide with the fashion week. This content didn’t only help the brand sell more but also promoted the event, resulting in a reach of more than 13.9 million businesses and consumers. The campaign managed to collect over 3.9 million likes worldwide.
Challenges of B2B Influencer Marketing
Businesses have to face a variety of challenges when approaching influencers or creating an influencer marketing campaign. Here are some of the most common B2B influencer marketing challenges and their solutions.
Finding an Influencer
B2B companies often have a difficult time finding B2B influencers as most influencers concentrate on B2C companies and very few cater to B2B companies.
The solution lies in knowing what you want and looking for influencers in the right place, such as an influencer marketing platform like Afluencer. It can take a company months to find an influencer without the assistance of an influencer marketing network. Moreover, it might be a good idea to join hands with multiple influencers and keep an eye on the numbers to identify the most profitable collaboration.
Calculating a Budget
Businesses often find it difficult to set a budget for B2B influencer marketing campaigns as they don’t always know what to expect out of a collaboration. Some experts suggest keeping at least 15 percent of your marketing budget for B2B influencer marketing; however, this doesn’t apply to all businesses.
Influencer marketing costs as low as $100 per post to as high as $1 million per post based on the popularity of your influencer and other such factors. This massive price range challenges companies as they are not always able to find the right budget. Also, B2B marketing is different from B2C marketing since B2B companies don’t typically pay per post. They form long-term relationships and often sign long-term contracts with influencers.
The solution lies in negotiating with your influencer and insisting on a written contract. It should clearly mention the duties of the influencer, such as the number of times he or she will post, if he or she will attend any events, physical or virtual, etc. Moreover, the budget should be clearly mentioned as well to avoid issues. Furthermore, you should mention the timeline, i.e.: when the payment will be made.
Measuring success can be difficult because not all measures are quantifiable. Businesses need to understand KPIs that matter to them and concentrate more on qualitative measures.
The most important factor is ‘sales’ but there seems to be a lack of correlation between increased sales and influencer messages.
B2B buyers take months to make a purchase decision, which results in a lag between marketing activities and the sales that they inspire. Hence, it can make it difficult for a company to know if a campaign has resulted in increased sales.
A campaign that ends in January could cause a boost in December. The lead time can be long, making it harder for B2B companies to calculate success. In fact, some influencer marketing campaigns prove to be successful long after they’ve ended.
Top B2B Influencers to Collab With
Let’s make it easy for you to find an influencer for your B2B marketing campaign. We have covered some of the best B2B influencers for you to choose from.
Anna Anisin is a Russian-American entrepreneur with a growing social media reach. Called ‘Tech Industry Insider’ by CNN thrice in a row, Anna has been associated with a number of companies including 4Sync and 4Shared. She worked as 4Sync’s CEO for years and stepped down to co-found her own startup, Passare, one of the best-known collaboration tools in the funeral industry.
She tasted success with Passare and eventually exited the startup to join the founding team at Domino Data Lab to create the world’s best enterprise data science management platform.
Anna can be a great B2B influencer as she has worked as a CEO and VP in a number of companies and has an impressive reach. The star currently runs Dot by, a B2B marketing firm that caters to different industries. She is a Forbes contributor and can help you get published on Forbes.com. The star mainly focuses on marketing and data science.
Get in touch with Anna to know more about how she can help your business.
Bree Noble is one of a kind. She’s more than just a B2B influencer. She runs her own podcast called Female Entrepreneur Musician Podcast and can be a great pick for brands looking for other businesses in the field of music.
Bree quit her job as a Director of Finance at a US top 15 Opera Company to concentrate on music. She has been in the business for close to a decade and has several awards and successful albums under her belt. Moreover, she has appeared in front of 60,000 people for a rendition of the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium.
She now concentrates on her music career and podcasts that are listened to by thousands of people, including businesses. A collaboration with her can prove to be very fruitful as she’s known for being professional and passionate about music.
Jason R Rich
Rich is an incredibly popular B2B marketing influencer with an interest in photography. He’s a well-known author and has contributed in a number of fields. Plus, he writes for several magazines, popular websites, and newspapers. Joining hands with Rich can be a great option as he can get your brand featured in papers that are read by other businesses and also help you get published on websites.
In addition to photography, he serves as a lecturer aboard cruise ships and teaches at a number of adult education programs throughout New England. Get in touch with Rich to know more about how he can help your business as a B2B influencer marketer.
Kate is not just stunning but also extremely popular and talented. She is an emcee, writer, commercial model, and on-camera host. Mainly interested in health, beauty, and fashion, the B2B star competed in the Miss America pageant in 2007 after winning the Miss District of Columbia award.
She currently works as a professional lifestyle spokesperson and model and has walked the runway for top names like Zac Posen and Oscar de la Renta. Moreover, she has made it to some popular magazines and TV stations, including Fox, NBC, BBC World News, and Elle Magazine. Plus, she also made an appearance on ‘The Real Cities’ series.
A collaboration with Kate can prove to be very beneficial due to her immense popularity and huge reach. She serves as an editor for websites like K Street Magazine and Pursuitist and contributes to a number of sites like Women’s Health. Moreover, she regularly appears on BestBuy, which is popular among businesses and can help you get more eyeballs.
All Ages of Geek
Here’s a name that caters to other businesses and can be a great pick for businesses looking for a B2B influencer. All Ages of Geek is a multimedia company with a focus on producing videos, articles, interviews, podcasts, and live events about gaming, VTubers, and geek culture.
They enjoy over 141,000 YouTube subscribers and can help businesses find new clients through unique influencer marketing strategies. Get in touch with the team to discuss possible collaborations, including partnerships with other companies in your field so you can reach a wider audience and promote your offerings to more businesses.
B2B influencer marketing is growing and is also considered a powerful tool. The world has changed and people don’t look for plastic promises anymore, they want to hear from real people.
If you haven’t already tried influencer marketing then sign up for an account today and get access to thousands of B2B influencers to know more about how they can help you.