When was the last time you made a purchase without reading multiple reviews, asking your friends for recommendations or relying on an endorsement from someone that you know and trust? The likely response is: “I can’t even remember that far back.”
While trusting the insights of others to inform our purchasing decisions has become second-nature for both personal and business purchases, influencer marketing for B2B organizations is still fairly new. In fact, only 24% of marketers are currently partnering with influencers to expand their reach (CMI & MarketingProfs).
Last week at MarketingProfs B2B Forum, seasoned influencer marketing leaders Konstanze Alex and Janine Wegner from Dell* and Amisha Gandhi from SAP* teamed up to share tales from the trenches of influencer marketing at their respective organizations. Below is just a sampling of the insights they shared that can help guide your approach for your brand.
#1 – Understanding Influence
Influencer marketing is often pegged as a tactic rooted in paying celebrities or brandividuals with large social followings to push your product or service. But influence isn’t defined by popularity or number of followers. As our own CEO Lee Odden has shared time and again: “Influencer marketing is the practice of engaging internal and industry experts with active networks to help achieve measurable business goals.”
For Konstanze, Janine and Amisha, putting this definition into practice and creating effective partnerships means identifying individuals who align with your company values, priority topics and already have influence with your target audience. Additionally, successful influencer marketing serves the community on a larger scale to bring new ideas that help advance the knowledge of everyone involved.
Successful influencer marketing is really about the community. @
A critical step toward creating a successful and scalable influencer marketing program is to clearly define your business goals. From awareness to purchase, there are a multitude of different goals and KPIs that organizations can track to show program success, our veteran panel stated.
If you don’t tie your influencer marketing to business objectives, you can quickly lose track of what you’re trying to accomplish. @KonstanzeCLICK TO TWEET
When it comes KPIs, here are a few that the TopRank Marketing team tracks to show influencer marketing success:
Estimated Reach via Influencers
Estimated Impressions via Influencers
Influencer Referrals (Total & New)
Influencer Editorial Mentions
Influencer Share Clicks
Brand Mentions by Influencers (SOV)
Conversions via Influencers
An effective program will also serve multiple departments or business units within your organization. An example Amisha provided was that of an integrated campaign that not only supported her direct team, but was translated into multiple languages and even broke down into more snackable content to support sales enablement.
We want to partner with influencers to create an experience that takes people on an engaging journey that encourages them to want to work with your brand.
The issue with many influencer marketing programs is that they aren’t built to last. Often, brands will implement one-off programs that lead to one-off interactions with target influencers.
Instead, brands should identify how their influencer relations efforts integrate with larger marketing efforts to effectively support the aforementioned business objectives.
According to Konstanze, Janine and Amisha, one of the most important but often overlooked pieces to a successful influencer program is nurturing influencer relationships. And we couldn’t agree more. Once you’ve identified influencers that align with your brand, the next step is to begin growing the relationship. That relationship development can include connecting via social media or in real-life, honoring them in content and getting to the core of what they care about most.
To be successful at influencer marketing, you can’t engage an influencer one day and then drop them the next. It requires a multi-year effort.
#4 – Creating Value for All
For a partnership with influencers to work, there has to be value for all; value for the audience, value for the influencer and value your brand. But keep in mind that not every partnership will be the same.
Some thought leaders want to bolster or grow their influence, while others simply want to create something their proud of (or their bosses can take pride in). For example, for certain programs influencers will see value in the exposure they’ll get from partnering with large brands (like SAP and Dell).
However, it’s also important to note that when you’re asking something substantial of an influencer (e.g. attending an event, hosting a podcast, etc.), it’s appropriate to compensate them for their efforts