It’s no secret that social media has had a dramatic impact on traditional advertising. Streaming services and the use of mobile devices have inspired many companies to orient their influencer marketing strategy to move ahead of the evolving landscape.
B2B companies, in particular, can capitalize on the inclusion of digital influencers in their marketing strategy. Here are some of the impacts that influencer marketing has had on digital marketing as a whole.
Changing marketing expenses
One of the most significant impacts that influencer marketing has had in recent years is the change in marketing spending for many companies. These funds that were once allocated for paid advertising or print advertising have been reallocated for digital promotions. Starting in 2018, B2B companies were expected to increase their social spending by 89% for products and 58% for services by 2023. A Nielsen Catalina Solutions case study on the effectiveness of B2B influencer marketing showed an ROI 11 times higher than traditional marketing expenses.
For B2B companies that are still considering the merit of working with an influencer, these figures are a strong indication of the true value of this opportunity.
Giving up creative control
Traditionally, companies have followed one of two paths when developing a digital marketing strategy: they would manage the creative process internally or hire an external agency. With influencer marketing, both approaches are still in play, but with less creative control over the finished product.
The thing that makes digital influencers so successful is the authenticity and personal elements of the brand. Their audience doesn’t want to see something overworked or scripted. Instead of having a deleted ad that pushes the benefits of one social media planner over another, an influencer could write a post on the Instagram planner’s blog and highlight key points in a short video on social media while sitting in their office, drinking coffee.
This relinquishment of creative control means, in essence, that the brand elements of the influencer will dominate those of the product or service presented. Finding an influencer aligned with the brand and clear agreement with the guidelines is key to success
Better alignment of the audience
Another reason why it is so important to find the right influencer is the need to align the audience. A digital influencer knows what the audience wants to see and how they get involved in the content. For brands, an influencer acts as a translator or mediator, reducing the gap between your company and your demographic target. When an influencer shares content, people feel less likely to be advertised and more likely to receive advice from a friend.
B2B companies will have a unique challenge in finding the right influencers to create audience alignment. It is essential that you look for industry experts and influencers who can really use your product or service and have a number of followers who would be as well.
For example, working with an influencer who focuses on B2C content may not be ideal, even if they may personally benefit from your offer. On the contrary, an influencer who teaches other entrepreneurs with similar thoughts how to perfect their job would be a good fit.
Accelerated Sales Funnel Progression
One of the biggest benefits of an influencer’s role in digital marketing is an accelerated sales funnel process. By working with an influencer, your leads may progress from brand awareness to the decision phase within moments.
The reason behind this accelerated progression is the inherent trust and engagement between the influencer and their audience. If the influencer has managed to spark a genuine connection with their following, their following will trust said influencer’s recommendations.
One caveat to consider is finding an influencer who has nourished a trusting relationship with their audience. If an influencer is willing to sponsor a product or service with no demo or experience using your offering, there’s cause for concern.
Demand for Accountability
Influencers know that when they promote a product or service to their audience, they risk their personal reputation by being false or misleading. If an influencer pushes an offering that they haven’t properly vetted, they risk losing trust, followers, and future paid opportunities.
As such, this demand for accountability gets passed along to the hiring business. Expect to showcase your offering’s value to the influencer before they agree to share it with their audience. For example, if you offer a small business accounting app, plan on providing free access to the influencer with proactive customer support for an extended period before they agree to a sponsorship.
Changing legislation around transparency
The growth of influencer marketing has required certain changes in the legislation on transparency and authenticity in advertising. While many changes have been implemented since the internet became a household base, some jurisdictional gray areas still need to be addressed.
One of the most recent updates to the legalities of the Internet concerns the transparency of influencer marketing. In 2017, the FTC mandated that sponsored posts and influencing relationships be disclosed within the sponsored content. As such, both influencers and the employing party must comply with the guidelines or face severe monetary sanctions.
Usually, all you have to do is connect a paid partner and use #ad or sponsored post at the beginning of the content. However, it is important to understand the nuances of the FTC guidelines and make sure they are in effect when working with an influencer. If you have a respected industry leader who shares a testimony for your SaaS offer, he or she should disclose whether he or she has received payments or affiliated funds for their contribution.
Stay away from celebrity endorsements
Celebrity recommendations have long been one of the key elements in consumer advertising for both B2B and B2C marketing campaigns. It is one of the pillars of advertising learned in school. In the beginning, influencer marketing was the modern version of a celebrity recommendation. However, in recent years, companies have turned to micro and nano influencers.
Micro-influencers are vaguely defined as having less than 100,000 followers, while nano-influencers have less than 10,000. There are many advantages to working with smaller influencers. Those with a smaller audience tend to have higher engagement rates, creating more potential customers during the sponsorship. In addition, smaller influencers tend to have more affordable partnership rates.
Companies that work with micro and nano B2B influencers tend to have lower coverage but a higher conversion rate.
Influencer marketing has changed the landscape of digital marketing in the last decade. If your business has not taken advantage of this opportunity, now is the time.
To find success in influential B2B marketing, start with clearly defined goals around the process. Clarify your niche and determine what you hope to achieve – that is, better brand awareness, customer loyalty, conversions, and more. From there, take the time to discover trusted influencers who will appeal to your niche, opting for an industry leader or a person with notoriety and influence. Approach your influencer relationship as a partnership and work together to engage your common audience.
Finally, use analytics to measure your success over time.
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