Why B2B companies should invest in Influencer Marketing strategies

Jenny Heinrich, Finn Partners Senior Consultant, Digital + Influencer Strategy

15 Sep 2020 · 5 min read

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This post was created in partnership with Finn Partners, one of the fastest-growing, proudly independent global marketing communications firms in the world.

In today’s ever-increasingly digital economy, influencer marketing provides one of the highest-possible ROIs for businesses, brands, and agencies...so why aren’t more B2B marketers taking advantage?

Traditionally, influencer marketing has been thought of as a tool for B2C companies. But as more business than ever is being done almost exclusively online, the value of tapping into respected thought leaders in every industry is impossible to ignore.

At Finn Partners, we encourage clients to harness the potential that influencer marketing strategies have to reach key decision-makers at target enterprises. Engaging in strategic online partnerships with respected thought leaders allows B2B companies to develop valuable relationships, grow brand awareness, increase reach, and cultivate trust- on and off line.

Re-defining the term ‘Influencer’ for 2020 & Beyond

Influencer Marketing as an industry has matured considerably over the last few years, and with that growth and maturity comes the need for clarification of even the most basic of terms and ideas. The term ‘influencer’, for example, is used to describe such a wide variety of individuals - from mega celebrities, to small niche creators, to thought leaders, and beyond- the impact of the word ‘influencer’ has been all but lost.

So who are ‘influencers’ in today’s digital marketplace? How do we strategize which influencers to work with for our target audience and industry? And how do we partner with them for the best possible ROI?

Simply put, influencers are creators who have knowledge and expertise over specific topics and have a trusted relationship with an audience who is eager to learn about their thoughts and recommendations. The word ‘influencer’ isn’t limited to “social media superstars”. It can encompass any individual, brand, or entity that holds ‘influence’ over a particular audience.

Expanding our idea of ‘Influencers’ to reach a B2B audience

It becomes interesting when the audience you’re trying to reach is other businesses and professionals; in effect, the decision-makers at target companies. Many B2B enterprises don’t believe they can, or even should, invest in influencer marketing simply because they may not have a tangible consumer product to sell.

In fact, the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report from TopRank states: “Only 19 percent of B2B marketers are running ongoing influencer engagement programs. Without a persistent effort to build relationships, brands are at a disadvantage. 74 percent of B2B marketers agree that influencer marketing improves customer experience with the brand, yet only 19 percent are running ongoing programs.”

But the reality is that B2B marketers who aren’t taking advantage of the huge impact of digital marketing through trusted influencers are leaving a lot of unrealized potential for growth on the table.

Building professional trust with ‘Reputational Influencers’

For business-related matters, or for the promotion of B2B products and services, a sense of professional trust is not often evoked by creators with millions of followers on Instagram or YouTube. But, B2B audiences will trust a recommendation from a top business professional who has a proven and unique point of view on the latest frontier of their field of expertise.

‘Reputational Influencers’ in the B2B space often fall in the “micro” or “nano” category, meaning the creator has an audience of between 5-25K followers. But just because a creator has fewer than 10K followers on their channels doesn’t mean they aren’t viable. In fact, it may be that every one of those 10K followers are in the precise audience demographic you want to reach.

In cases where an expert recommendation is needed to make an important business decision, ‘Reputational’ influencers are an excellent addition to your communications program. This is because creators in this category can influence other business decision-makers in their purchases and investments.

How to find B2B influencers manually

While working with reputational influencers has always been beneficial, it’s especially relevant right now with many traditional B2B marketing tactics like trade shows, field marketing, events, and conferences no longer possible due to the pandemic.

B2B influencer discovery can be done without a platform, though whether it should be done in that way is another issue. It’s a manual process, one that takes a formula and perhaps more importantly, some patience! If you’re hoping to discover B2B creators without a platform, here are some tips on how to go about it:

Seamless B2B influencer discovery on Tagger's data-driven platform

As we’ve shown, the manual process for B2B influencer discovery can be done without a platform, though we don’t recommend it. Besides being a tedious process, there’s a large margin of error in absence of a robust, data-driven platform.

And it’s not just our opinion; according to The 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report from TopRank, 39% of marketers say their top challenge with influencer marketing is that the process is too manual. As a new discipline for many, processes are not refined, and 41% of marketers are not using any technology to identify and manage influencers which creates efficiency, quality and impact challenges.

Most use subjective sources like their own networks or recommendations from others without data validation. Only 35 percent are using software, however, twice as many of the most successful influencer marketers use software to identify influencers, compared to the least successful.

We at Finn chose Tagger as our influencer marketing platform because of their focus on accurate data, ease of use, ability to track and measure ROI, among other qualities. Here’s how we’ve used Tagger’s influencer Marketing and social listening platform for seamless and successful B2B influencer discovery:

As the digital economy grows, marketers continue to adapt

Though traditionally thought of as a B2C enterprise strategy, influencer marketing provides B2B companies with a wealth of new and exciting possibilities.

By aligning themselves with highly-regarded experts online, B2B brands have the potential to exponentially expand awareness, reach previously untapped audiences, uncover competitive insights, and establish themselves as trusted leaders.

Finn Partners is one of the fastest-growing, proudly independent global marketing communications firms in the world. Learn more about their work here.

If you’d like to know more about how Tagger’s powerful, data-driven platform can help you with your influencer marketing strategies, click here to set up a free demo.

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