If there were one new tactic to consider leveraging in your company’s marketing strategy this year, Ursula Ringham would say to try your hand at influencer marketing. And it’s not just because she’s the head of global influencer marketing at SAP – one of the world’s leading producers of software for business process management. Ursula’s all-in on it as a marketing tool. According to Ursula, B-to-B influencer marketing is the next evolution of digital.
If you’re not hip to what it is, influencer marketing incorporates the best of digital marketing content with a more human-to-human experience by pairing influencers and brands for mutually beneficial partnerships. Aligning a known, respected face or voice with your brand can catapult brand trust quickly, and often leads to more sales as a result. In fact, according to ZoomInfo, influencer marketing content can deliver up to 11x the ROI of a traditional digital campaign. Those are some pretty compelling numbers if you ask us.
“The number one thing with managing an influencer marketing program is the people. It is the trusted voices, these influencers’ voices, (that make the impact.)” – Ursula Ringham, Head of Influencer Marketing – SAP
If you’re looking at that data and thinking it might be time to create your own influencer strategy, Ursula would recommend that you be discerning in your search. The mainstream example of what influencer marketing looks like generally leaves us imagining celebrities showing off their “favorite” products, like clothing, jewelry, or makeup, on their social channels, which is terrific for B-to-C marketers. If you’re in B-to-B, however, for your influencer marketing strategy to be effective it needs to look different than having Matthew McConaughey say he loves your AI interface.
While the opportunity in B-to-C influencer marketing is to lean on the fame and notoriety of an influencer to sell product, in B-to-B, it’s much more subtle. According to Ursula, in a B-to-B strategy, it’s all about leveraging thought leadership and expertise. “You’re not being promotional, it’s not endorsing, it’s leveraging an influencer talking about a topic”, Ursula says. When your brand can align with a subject matter expert on a topic related to your products or services, and can leverage their expertise in front of your own audience and theirs, that’s the ultimate win.
Not all influencers are created equal
So now you may be asking yourself how you find the right influencer to align with your brand. Ursula recommends taking a tried and true approach. Create a shortlist and build relationships. And don’t forget to do your due diligence to determine if the people you’re looking at are actual influencers, or simply just terrific content creators. How do you identify true influence, you ask? Ursula recommends that you analyze their social channels carefully, watch how they interact, look at the engagement they get on their posts, and then be willing to actually get to know the person with a meeting or two to determine the right fit.
Yes, you can track effectiveness – and the numbers may surprise you
The question of the day here will always come down to the numbers. Is it possible to track effectiveness and ROI for an influencer marketing campaign? Ursula says absolutely. She adds that how you track results will depend on your campaign goals, but being specific with benchmarks for tracking from the beginning is a key to success here. Data you might track could include an increase in your followers, more robust engagement (i.e. likes and comments), or even direct sales. Ursula reminds you to be specific about the calls to action within your campaigns, and where you’re leading people in the full spectrum of the content journey.
And a final note worth mentioning; while influencer campaigns in B-to-C can yield results instantaneously by sending consumers directly to an offer, B-to-B campaigns are often a long game strategy due to their subtle nature. That said, Ursula shared a story about a partner who generated $600,000 in new business within three weeks of one influencer marketing campaign launching.
That sounds like reason enough for us to explore influencer marketing a little more deeply – don’t you think?