As marketing trends continue to cycle, the importance of consumer trust remains constant. However, the rise of influencer marketing and social media has changed the dynamic between consumer and brand trust. With immediate access to product reviews, promotional codes and influencer testimonials, it’s easier than ever for consumers to learn about new brands and products.
Over the years, marketers have witnessed the relationship between B2C companies and influencers flourish, so much so that influencer marketing is expected to surpass $34 billion this year. Though the influencer market remains largely untapped by B2B companies, the value it can provide is clear. Influencers have the ability to become authentic and trustworthy brand ambassadors while garnering trends and data on the buyer journey. In 2024, savvy B2B marketers will be ready to unleash the potential of influencers.
Mapping Out Your Audience
Similar to traditional marketing strategies, the key to achieving success is understanding and effectively engaging with your intended audience. When building an influencer campaign, the first step is to identify influencers within the space and ensure their target audience aligns with your brand awareness and engagement goals.
Social media is a great place to start. Influencers are looking to build awareness of their own platform and are likely to be very active on social media channels – even in the B2B space. This can be in the form of trusted product reviews, engaging discussions with thought leaders, participating in live Q&A sessions and more. Events are another channel available to marketers looking to get better acquainted with industry influencers. Looking at speakers and guest lists from past events can help build a vetted influencer network more efficiently.
Program goals and objectives also play a key role in the decision-making process. Each marketing program requires a different approach and drives different results, impacting who marketers partner with. For example, if the overall program goals are to increase visibility and reach within a certain market, it’s likely better to leverage mega influencers as they tend to have broader reach. On the other hand, if the program goals are more specific such as expanding community engagements or driving leads, micro influencers would be a better fit, as they have smaller networks but stronger influence within their very targeted audiences.
Collaborating with influencers is more than a transactional business deal and needs to be authentic. The relationship developed and maintained between brand and influencer is critical to the success of an influencer program, allowing brands to gain access to valuable insights and perspectives that elevate the program and drive greater success. Cultivating these strong relationships also establishes a solid foundation for sustainable growth, as well as long-term and organic brand loyalty beyond the partnership.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to an influencer campaign. One of the most common partnerships between brands and influencers is through events. Whether that is hosting a panel discussion, leading a keynote session or kick-starting a product demonstration, events are an essential channel for the brand and influencer as they provide access to a larger network of buyers and users. However, brand partnerships can and should expand beyond events. Additional partnership ideas may include guest blog posts, videos embedded into larger email campaigns or social media cameos.
Exclusivity is also an important element of a successful influencer campaign. Offering an early look at an upcoming launch, VIP access to executives or events or sneak peeks of what’s next can go a long way. Allowing a behind-the-scenes look at the brand fosters a relationship that is authentic and transparent where both parties can rely on each other for timely information.
The Future of Influencer Marketing
Aligning metrics to prove ROI is essential to an influencer marketing campaign. To measure the success of programs and the partnership value, marketing teams should consider KPIs such as engagement rates, referral codes and urchin tracking module (UTM) codes, which are snippets of code attached to the end of a URL to pinpoint specific sources of traffic to a website.
As marketers see from B2C influencers, the power that a successful influencer relationship holds is unparalleled. Consumers trust influencers and are actively seeking their recommendations. Buyers crave meaningful connections and relationships when purchasing products, tools, goods or services, and in an increasingly digital world, influencers can bridge the online gap and increase trust.