How to integrate B2B influencer marketing into your strategy

Energy PR’s Sarah Evans on the ‘real world’ side of influencer marketing and how B2B organisations can harness the marketing power of their trusted industry experts.

The word ‘influencer’ has become synonymous with ex-Love Island stars and the Kardashians. In reality though, influencers are everywhere.

They’re in our school Whatsapp groups, on our Facebook feeds, in the magazines we read, and in our workplaces. Every industry has influential figures with ready-made engaged audiences.

But there’s more to influencer marketing than simply sending them a freebie – here’s my top tips on creating an influencer strategy that will genuinely help you meet your business goals.

Understand your audience

Don’t be tempted to start with the influencers and work backwards. Instead, begin with your audience. They’re the people you want to engage, so it’s crucial that you know what makes them tick before planning any activity.

To start to genuinely understand your target customers, ask yourself:

  • What are their pain points?
  • How do they consume information?
  • What platforms do they use?
  • Who are they following and engaging with?
  • Who influences their decisions at work and in their personal lives?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll be in a much better position to decide who’s best placed to help you communicate and connect with them.

Select your influencers

When it comes to choosing the right influencers for your B2B brand, bigger doesn’t always mean better. There are some huge advantages to working with influencers with a smaller following. In fact, niche, micro, and nano influencers (those with less than 100,000 followers) receive 60% higher audience engagement than bigger influencers. These influencers are generally considered more trustworthy, meaning their followers are more likely to be genuinely influenced by their opinions and recommendations.

Finding smaller influencers might seem like a challenge at first. There aren’t ready-made lists of smaller, niche influencers, and you won’t find them with a simple Google search. In reality, though, you shouldn’t need to look too far.

Your own customer base may well be teeming with ideal influencers who would be delighted to become more formal ambassadors for your brand. No one understands your audience better than your audience themselves and, with authenticity valued more than ever before, real endorsements from real people are extremely powerful for brands.

Whilst smaller influencers are incredibly powerful, and often a much lower-cost option, larger influencers have their place too, depending on your business goals. If you’re looking to target a new market, reach a new audience, or shift the perception of your brand, bigger influencers who benefit from mass reach can be incredibly effective. They’re great for getting lots of new eyes on your brand and can give your product extra kudos for being associated with a high-profile, well-respected figure.

Known as ‘macro influencers’, bigger influencers can be found in a range of places. They’re on the podcasts your audience is listening to. They’re in the magazines they’re reading. They’re on their LinkedIn feeds offering advice. They’re hosting panels and giving keynote speeches at industry events.

If you know your industry well, you can probably think of a handful right now.

Plan your activity

A successful influencer strategy isn’t just about working with the right people. For a partnership to genuinely help you reach your business goals, you need to consider how you will work together. There are many ways that you can leverage relationships with industry influencers to get the most out of the partnership, including:

  • Co-create content: B2B audiences want information, tips, and guides that help them do their jobs better. But the web is saturated with generic content. So, use your influencers’ industry expertise to help you create valuable resources that will genuinely resonate with your audience. This could take the form of short videos, LinkedIn posts, case studies, panel discussions, guest blogs, or even more detailed reports and guides.
  • Build an ongoing partnership: long-term partnerships are more beneficial for all parties. So, consider how you could make your influencer relationships meaningful for years to come. For example, could you offer them a Creative Director role?
  • Listen to their ideas on strategy: chances are, the industry influencers you choose to work with will come from the same world as your target audience. Use this first-hand insight to your advantage. Ask for their recommendations on how you can better connect with people like them.
  • Involve them in product testing: B2B influencers are often experts in their field, as well as potential customers. So, they could also be valuable in helping you to improve your product development process.

Measure the results

To determine whether an influencer campaign was a success, it’s important to measure the metrics that matter to you.

Think about the original objectives for the campaign and focus on the metrics that best demonstrate whether these were met. If you want to drive sales, focus on click-through rates and conversions. If you want to raise brand awareness, look at reach and engagement. If it’s a new audience you want to reach, take a deep-dive into the type of people who are engaging with your content.

A huge suite of stats can feel impressive when it comes to reporting, but unless the results really mean something to you, they’re just vanity metrics. Make sure you enter into the campaign with a clear idea of what success looks like for that specific activity, and forget the rest.

Sarah Evans

Head of Digital PR

Energy PR