Influencer marketing has been on the rise for several years now and it is not showing any signs of slowing down.
People trust people they follow, and it is true in both ecommerce and B2B sectors, although it is a bit different in the latter because marketers and sales people have larger decision making units to keep in mind when they sell to businesses.
There’s no impulse shopping in the B2B sector (or at least not as much as in retail), so influencer marketing has to rely on long-term relationships between influencers and their target customers.
How do you find the right influencers to help you sell your B2B product and how can you turn them into your brand ambassadors?
Step 1: Find the right pitch
Depending on the nature of your B2B product, you are likely to be after several types of influencers, including:
- Your target company’s employees
- Your (inactive and current) competitors’ promoters
- People who post or write on related topics (and may be unaware of solutions yet)
- Companies that sell matching products (possible partners), etc.
Obviously, you cannot use one generic pitch for all of them. “Hi there, I think you will find our product interesting” is not going to get anyone on board.
There are different ways to make your platform appealing for different types of influencers:
- Affiliate marketing (i.e., paying a commission to your influencer for each successful sale)
- Broken link fixing (offering your solution as an update to an article that lists broken or outdated solutions)
- Free tool access (inviting influencers to use your tool for free), etc.
Finding the right tools to make your pitch more appealing will help you onboard more influencers. Try utilizing your sales demos to demonstrate the power of your product.
Walnut is a great tool to include in your pitch as it helps you create reusable and interactive demos which can be easily customized for each pitch type or even influencer:
Here’s a great guide on how to utilize Walnut to target different types of influencers and decision makers.
Step 2: Focus on the right metrics
In B2B, marketers always know precisely what kind of an audience their product is made for: They know the narrow niche and even the size of the company that would need it.
In this type of laser targeting, finding the right influencers is not about the size of the following or even the amount of content they are producing. They need to find social media users who can influence those few people that can make a buying decision within their target company.
Those social media users may have 10 or 100 followers and even post as rarely as once a month but if their message reaches the right people, they are considered influencers.
Using the right tools to identify these micro-influencers is key.
Linkedin is a great platform to start. It shows you how you are connected to employees of your target company so you can reach out and get introduced to the right people:
Another great tool to use here is Buzzsumo which allows you to find people who tweet on a topic of your interest. Depending on the nature of your B2B business, you can play with smart metrics inside Buzzsumo to find Twitter users who engage with their followers:
Finally, Twitter bio search tools like Followerwonk and (again, Buzzsumo) should be used here as well as they will find you to find people who mention your target company in their bios (as they likely work there):
Step 3: Research your competitors’ promoters
Another great way to find the right influencers is to identify who is promoting your closest competitors (or, even better, your past competitors who closed their businesses).
This is where good old backlink research is useful. SEO SpyGlass is a great tool to use here as they allow you to clearly see how your competitors are acquiring their backlinks and quickly find backlink gap opportunities — websites that are linking to your competitors but not you.
Another useful tactic to use here is social media monitoring as it will let you stay on top of your active competitors’ influencer management tactics. Awario is a great tool here because it has a handy boolean search feature allowing to laser target your monitoring based on sources and purposes of your monitoring:
Step 4: Develop an effective outreach strategy
Once you have defined your pitches, start collecting your data for your outreach. It is a good idea to start a spreadsheet with your defined influencers, their target pitch, contact details (including their social media accounts) and any notes. There are all kinds of WordPress solutions to share this document with everyone inside your organization.
Hunter is a great way to find email addresses of your target influencers and website owners. They also have a handy Email Verifier for you to verify any contact details you manage to find. This will save you time and money enabling you to use valid email addresses:
Email verification is your first step to creating a high quality email marketing database.
Step 5: Value those connections
This is the most crucial step: Your influencer marketing is never actually complete. You need to keep in touch with those influencers who chose to reply whether they agreed to work with you or simply sent a generic reply.
Keep talking to them on social media. Send them updates on your product development. Share your achievements and milestones.
It is not about bombarding them with your emails and social media messages. Only send them important updates that they may really find interesting.
It is a good idea to create a separate brand to consolidate your (hopefully) ever-growing community of influencers. This may be as simple as setting up a private Facebook group or as advanced as creating a new community-driven website.
BeRush is a great example of the latter: SEMRush is using this site to keep in touch with the international community of their affiliates. It includes a Q&A inside, product updates, as well as all kinds of materials to help their affiliates to better position the product to their audience.
Unite your whole company (your marketing, customer support, sales, product development teams) around one common goal: Keeping in touch with your influencers. Tying SEO and sales is the only way to make your B2B outreach strategy work.
Find the Right Influencers and Soar!
Finding the right influencers to help you sell your B2B product is a great way to create a consistent stream of new sales that won’t depend on Google’s algorithm whims or your advertising budgets.
It is also very rewarding because you get a chance to turn those influencers into advocates who will remain loyal for years and help you build brand awareness and improve your product. Good luck!