Does Influencer Marketing Work for B2B Companies?
Modern social media marketing is rife with influencer marketing campaigns. The authentic persona of influencers paired with genuine partnerships with brands is a recipe for success on social media. According to the Rakuten Marketing 2019 Influencer Marketing Report, “88% of consumers surveyed have been inspired to purchase based on what they saw from an influencer.” However, it appears that the success of influencer marketing is most apparent in the B2C sphere. Can influencer marketing be successful in B2B marketing? How do B2B influencer marketing campaigns perform on social media?
In this article, we aim to examine the benefits and use cases for influencer marketing for B2B companies.
The benefits of influencer marketing
Many benefits of influencer marketing can be applied to all types of businesses, regardless of B2B or B2C. The main benefits of influencer marketing include reaching new and wider audiences, tapping into influencers’ engaged audiences, gaining unique perspectives on your brand and product, and building trust and credibility.
Reaching wider audiences
Influencer campaigns help you reach wider audiences that you otherwise may not have access to or influence over. For reach and impression-focused campaigns, working with influencers of mid (50k-500k followers), macro (500k-1m followers), or mega (1m+ followers) size helps to get your brand in front of new people that you may not be able to reach through your own channels.
When working with influencers, keep in mind their actual demographics and audience data – don’t fall into the trap of assumption. For example, if you want to run a campaign for your company’s IT solutions and reach out to a tech influencer on the assumption that their audience is 80% IT specialists, but it’s actually only 20% IT specialists, you may not reach as many members of your target audience as you could with other influencers that you’ve overlooked. An influencer marketing platform will help you compare influencers within your industry and see details about their demographics, making it easier to choose an influencer for your campaign.
Working with influencers allows you to tap into their engaged audiences. From your influencer research, you’ll have a good idea of the typical engagement rates for influencers in your industry. Working with an influencer with high engagement rates will, in turn, benefit your influencer marketing efforts with higher engagement, potentially gaining new customers and building connections. Influencers have, namely, ‘influence’ over their audiences, so it makes sense that their engaged audiences are likely to buy from brands that the creator advertises. In a B2B setting, an influencer’s engaged audience can help build connections and relationships with those in your industry/interested in your B2B product or service.
Building trust and credibility
Working with influencers draws upon the timeless word-of-mouth marketing practice. A whopping 92% of consumers say they trust online word-of-mouth recommendations. Influencers, having built this trust with their audience, typically don’t want to lose this trust and will only work with brands where they have personally tested/used the product or service. This works in your favour as a business, as building trust with influencers ultimately builds trust with their audience, too.
Influencers bring fresh, unique perspectives on your brand, product/service, and content. If you take the time to build a working relationship with influencers in your industry, feedback from campaigns and in general can massively contribute towards improving your business offerings and presentation. In the B2B sector, influencers are likely to be industry experts and key players with a wealth of knowledge and expertise – having a good working relationship with them can drastically help your chances of success in your marketing campaigns.
The challenges of B2B influencer marketing
Longer timeframes for campaigns and results
B2B influencer marketing campaigns will likely be longer-term and more educational and informative than B2C influencer campaigns. Engaging audiences in the B2B sphere is all about education and problem solving, and partnering with influential experts in your industry is the perfect way to achieve this goal.
However, this comes with a downside – one of the biggest challenges that marketers face with influencer marketing is measuring the success and ROI of the campaigns. Since “most B2B purchases involve multiple decision-makers,” B2B influencer marketing campaigns can take longer to see quality results and leads. Convince & Convert estimates a minimum window of 6 months before you start to see results in your influencer marketing campaigns for B2B. This is vastly different from B2C influencer campaigns which can see results in as little as 30 days.
Difficult to measure success/ROI
Surveys have found that the top problem B2B marketers face with influencer marketing is measuring ROI, followed by finding appropriate influencers. The long timeframes of the B2B customer journey and the more complicated process with multiple decision-makers involved also make it difficult to measure the success or ROI of a campaign.
Jeff Meade recommends “tracking your budget outlay and comparing before and after influencer campaign results” to “gain valuable insights into influencer program success.” Using this data, you’ll have a decent idea of how the influencer marketing campaign fared up to your goals.
Tracking brand awareness goals with B2B influencer marketing campaigns can also be challenging; Meade recommends “embed[ding] a tracking pixel on your influencer’s page to see what portion of your traffic comes from your influencer.” It may be more difficult to keep track of referrals from within/between social media channels, so aim to include a call-to-action (CTA) which takes the user to your/the influencer’s website (e.g. newsletter signups, ebook downloads, etc).
To summarise, we believe that influencer marketing can be the right option for B2B brands when carried out efficiently, using relevant influencers with whom you have a good working relationship. If you need help getting started with B2B influencer marketing, get in touch with Giraffe today!