Influencer marketing is no longer just a strategy for B2C marketing. Throughout 2019, we saw the dominant rise of B2C micro- and nano-influencers across social media platforms. With social media’s ever-growing prevalence and the consumer’s innate drive for connection, traditional B2B marketing is shifting. Looking for B2C influencer marketing? Use GROWL’s guide.

As we see B2C consumers placing higher trust in their peers (influencers) over brands, we are beginning to see B2B decision-makers do the same. DGR reports that 95% of decision-makers favor information from credible industry influencers. In 2020, we’ll see approximately 65% of multinational brands increase their influencer marketing budgets this year (World Federation of Advertisers).

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencers are individuals with the authority and ability to influence purchasing decisions. Typically, influencers enable their social media followings to showcase a product or niche knowledge that encourages purchases (read more about B2C influencer marketing). Influencers are paid; they aren’t always brand loyalists, they’re just experts with channel authority.

In B2B, influencers extend beyond a popular Instagrammer. B2B influencers are known, industry experts, typically found on LinkedIn and YouTube. They have the knowledge, experience, clout, and authority to guide OTHER BUSINESSES to make a purchase. It’s important to note here that industry influencers aren’t salesmen – like B2C influencers (not being loyalists), they aren’t always influencing their own products.

How do B2B Influencers Help?

In general, influencers are critical because they aren’t just another marketing channel. As real, authentic people who create and thrive off of human connection, these accounts drive relationship marketing. Which, in today’s world of marketing, CRM is irrefutable. In B2B scenarios, an industry leader or expert can be the difference between obtaining an account, and not.

2020 is the Year for Influencer Marketing

As B2B marketers, we know that impersonal, sales-driven communications (yes, we’re talking about LinkedIn DMs) aren’t working. And, Milkwhale predicts that influencer marketing is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the making. So why activate B2B industry influencers?

1. Anticipated to become a $5—$10 billion industry this year

2. Influencer content drives 11x higher ROI than traditional efforts

3. For every $1 spent on influencer marketing, businesses make $6.50 (on average)

4. 92% of consumers trust the recommendations from an expert they follow than any other form of advertising

5. Twitter might be losing relevance in traditional strategy; however, nearly 70% of marketers use it (and find it an essential channel) for influencer marketing

GROWL’s Top 5 B2B Influencer Marketing Trends

1. Keep it Niche

Today, fewer decision-makers (and consumers in general) define their purchasing behavior based on celebrities and macro-influencer accounts. They don’t want to be sold to; they want to relate and feel greater trust and connection with influencers. Finding niche, industry experts with authority will drive higher ROI. Remember, you can find influence in employees, community, groups/associations, etc.

2. Keep it Authentic

Influencers must be able to operate on their own accord by producing brand-ividualized content. If they typically reach their followers via YouTube, don’t force them to curate a blog.

3. Be Innovative

Although white pages, ebooks, and case studies hold value, when it comes to influence, the content needs to be engaging. Video (native to the platform or on YouTube), AR/VR, and new media forms are more impactful to decision-makers. Read more about innovating B2B.

4. Focus on the Story

Today, it’s more important than ever to convey a brand or product, story. Enabling influencers to convey their own experience while producing content that exposes their true feelings will result in higher ROI. The point of influencer marketing is to authentically showcase how excellent your product/service is, rather than forcing it. Bonus, as interactions increase and the demand for always-on marketing grows, we’ll see a rise in AI managing systems, generating MORE opportunities for one-on-one engagement.

5. Focus on the (Influencer) Experience

The key to today’s marketing, especially for influencers, is creating a community. Brands that take the time to establish relationships with their influencers will build true brand advocates and foster more effective influencer communications. Try learning about influencer goals, capabilities, preferences, and experiences. Then, foster an influencer community by allowing influencer-to-influencer networking and growth opportunities.

As you embark on your 2020 marketing plans, consider adding influencers to your budget. Ready to strategize? Contact GROWL today!

Don’t forget to share!