Influencer marketing: what does it mean for B2B?
A hybrid of both old and new marketing techniques, influencer marketing is an approach that has taken the marketing world by storm in recent years. Combining the age-old idea of celebrity endorsements with modern day social media channels and content-driven marketing campaigns, influencer marketing can be seen across the internet by millions of people every day. With influencers able to increase a business’ brand awareness, boost conversions and help with product launches, it’s not surprising that brands are predicted to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022.
So, what exactly is an ‘influencer’?
A key differentiator between the modern idea of influencer marketing and ‘traditional’ celebrity recommendations is who these influencers actually are – essentially, they can be anyone. Influencers can be defined as individuals who have a loyal group of followers in a specific market or niche, and their opinions have a large impact on the beliefs and behaviours of these followers. Prevalent across a range of industries from food and nutrition to fitness and fashion, influencers are experts at selling their unique brand – and coupling your own brand with these types of influencers can result in extended reach for your business and products and, consequently, an increase in brand awareness and revenue.
A sub-category of influencers that has gained particular attention from marketing teams are ‘micro-influencers’. With a typical following of less than 30,000 people altogether, micro-influencers do not have the same high follower numbers as more mainstream influencers, but are usually easier for audiences to interact and converse with, while also being much more cost-effective. For B2B brands in particular, which typically have a much narrower target market than their B2C counterparts, micro-influencers can offer distinct advantages.
Can influencer marketing be B2B?
Many marketers believe that influencer marketing is a purely B2C concept – but this doesn’t have to be the case. B2B business is no longer relegated to office hours and your work computer: modern buyers want their browsing and buying experience in the B2B world to mirror the content-rich and more personalised experience they get in their personal lives – across the platforms they enjoy. B2B buyers are also relying less on traditional advertisements, and more on the reviews and opinions of their peers when making decisions – in fact, only 22% of buyers said B2B ads tend to move them further down the sales funnel. In comparison, up to 91% of B2B purchases are at least somewhat influenced by word of mouth.
In recent years, the B2B buying process has been completely transformed. Customers have access to a lot more information than their predecessors, and no longer talk with just one salesperson as they journey through the sales cycle – they interact with lots of different people throughout the process, across, for example, social media, emails and live chat. In today’s omni-channel, multi-touchpoint world, where a non-linear sales funnel is typical, influencer marketing can play a crucial role in introducing B2B buyers into the funnel at a much later stage, closer to the point of purchase.
Not only is B2B influencer marketing a great way to nurture prospects and boost brand awareness, it can also be incredibly profitable. On average, businesses who understand influencer marketing can gain a significant ROI of $18 in earned media for every dollar they spend on it. Plus, with 22% of marketers reporting that influencer marketing is their most cost-effective customer acquisition method, it’s understandable why it is fast becoming one of the most important online marketing channels for marketers.
Is influencer marketing the future?
Despite these benefits, only 15% of B2B brands have an integrated or ongoing influencer marketing programme in place. Influencer marketing can seem like a daunting process to implement into your marketing campaigns, but the results can be transformative for both your sales and marketing functions – whether you’re hoping to boost awareness for your brand, increase profits, or emerge as a thought leader in your industry.
Would you like to find out more about influencer marketing and how it can revolutionise your marketing approach? Download our guide today for actionable advice on how to introduce it into your marketing strategy, and discover how influencers can drive both revenue and brand engagement for your business.