Is influencer marketing still relevant moving into 2020? And more importantly, is it a viable strategy for B2B event marketers?
Influencer marketing isn’t going away anytime soon, and in fact, remains a smart investment for B2B brands looking to connect with new audiences.
However; it’s important to note that you need to be strategic about who you team up with and how you want them to use their influence on your behalf.
Here, we’ll discuss the benefits of working with the right industry insiders, consider whether it makes sense to go after big names vs. micro-influencers, and cover a few different strategies for establishing a partnership that drives ROI.
Benefits of Influencer Marketing for B2B Events
Joining forces with an influencer comes with a range of benefits. They help brands reach a wider audience by tapping into their existing, loyal fan bases to offer a more “authentic” alternative to traditional advertising.
Not convinced? Here are some stats that prove leveraging influencers is worth looking into:
- B2B influencer content delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional types of digital marketing.
- According to HBR, 90% of B2B decision-makers say that they research opinions from industry experts and read customer reviews while researching new solutions.
- According to research from Tomoson, B2B influencer marketing returns an average of $6.50 per every dollar spent.
- 51% of marketers say they get better customers from their influencer campaigns than other efforts.
That said, in order to unlock those benefits, you’ll need to A: find the right influencer, and B: set up a strategy that defines goals and the metrics that measure them, research, outreach, and what you want this person to do. And then, you’ll also need to set a budget.
While it sounds like a lot (and it is) influencer marketing can have a big impact on your event’s success and the success of future events, promotions, and sales moving forward.
Challenges with Events vs. General Brand Partnerships
As with anything event-marketing-related, building a marketing strategy exclusively around the event means a missed opportunity for continued growth. Our recommendation—with influencer marketing, social media, or anything else you do, is to make sure the event strategy fits in with the broader marketing strategy.
For instance, you might look toward Siege Media’s ongoing series of interviews with digital marketing influencers. This type of episodic content works year round, but could easily tie into events when it comes time to start the promotion cycle:
Or, you might try something like Dell’s Luminaries podcast, a half-hour show that focuses on digital transformation in IT. The hosts interview the “brightest minds in tech” and talk research, trends, and what’s next for the industry.
Influencers are also a great resource for creating content year-round, not just during that final push.
A one-off promotion ahead of the big event might drive some traffic to your site and net you a few extra attendees, but you’ll get the most value from this investment if you can establish a long-term partnership.
Goals & KPIs
With B2B influencer marketing, you’ll need to develop a strategy around your products and services. The overarching goal here is to show your audience that you are an industry expert with unique solutions and deep product knowledge.
Traditionally, brands used a combination of white papers, blog posts, webinars, and events to promote themselves and establish some industry cred. Influencers can extend those efforts by promoting your brand as the industry go-to or as a respected partner in the industry.
Instead of asking influencers to post pictures with pre-approved hashtags, you might consider working on a joint project that helps position your brand as a thought leader–like this cybersecurity intelligence report from Dyn and Oracle.
Still, you’ll need to establish some campaign goals before diving in. A few examples:
- Lead Generation
- Customer Retention
- SEO Boost
In B2B influencer marketing, success isn’t measured in the same way that it is in B2C. Reach and follower count still matter, but you can’t compare these numbers to the big names in the B2C space.
To determine the success of your influencer campaign, it’s essential to revisit the goals you set before the collaboration began. If your goal was to increase awareness, you’ll want to look at metrics related to visibility like brand mentions, impressions, and views. Engagement is measured by things like likes, comments, and shares.
Additionally, you’ll want to look at the following questions to measure the financial impact on event performance:
- Did the campaign increase registrations?
- Did it help attract more registrations from a specific segment?
- Did your website receive a bump in traffic?
- Did increases in traffic impact metrics like bounce rate or conversion rates?
- What was the impact on your pipeline velocity?
What Do You Want Your Influencers to Do?B2B influencer marketing is less about paid posts and more about leveraging your partners in a way that offers something valuable to your audience. Click To Tweet
B2B influencer marketing is less about paid posts and more about leveraging your partners in a way that offers something valuable to your audience.
A few strategies you might try:
- Add VIP experiences to your live event. Present this as an opportunity for guests to pay a bit extra to network with influencers and other industry insiders.
- Online events. Ask influencers to host live webinars or Q&A sessions on topics related to the event content.
- Ask influencers to contribute content to closed group discussions. Registered attendees can join closed LinkedIn or Facebook Groups to network with other attendees. You can promote influencer participation as a perk to drive signups.
- Collaborate on original research projects. Think case studies, comprehensive surveys, or working together to build a useful tool for your audience–like a calculator or interactive map. Or, you might try something like Backlinko and Buzzsumo did here, a joint analysis of 912M blog posts.
The lesson learned from many of the influencer scams and such is—you need some checks and balances to ensure you’re working with someone legit.
We’ve heard horror stories of brands getting duped by influencers with inflated numbers and although this is more specific to the B2C space, fake sponcon has become something of a trend among wannabe influencers.
- Assess Influencer Reach—Look at influencers’ follower counts to get a sense of their potential reach. Check out the demographic breakdown to ensure that followers match up with the audience you’re hoping to reach.
- Check Out Audience Engagement—Keep in mind, follower numbers don’t paint the full picture. An influencer with fewer followers, but more likes, shares, and comments, is likely a better bet.
- Be Mindful About Channels—It seems like a no-brainer, but you want to make sure that your influencer uses the same channels as your brand and your customers. If an influencer’s biggest platform is Instagram, but your audience isn’t there, it’s a wasted effort. Instead, you might team up with someone who focuses on LinkedIn thought leadership or has a popular YouTube channel related to your niche.
- Past Collaborations—This is important for a couple of reasons. For one, past collaborations will give you a sense of whether or not this person knows how to get the results you’re looking for. A modern day reference check, of sorts. Second, you’ll want to make sure the influencer hasn’t already joined forces with a competitor and that the content they post matches your current marketing strategy.
Identifying Potential Partners
Don’t reach out before doing your research. Once you’ve targeted some influencers, get to know what their channels are all about. Learn more about who their audience is and how they engage with their followers.
Here are some ways you might approach the research process:
Look for Existing Advocates
Don’t be so quick to break out of your existing circles to find yourself an influencer. Often, companies already have brand advocates with sizable followings. What’s more–these people already know about your brand, so you’re skipping over the part where you need to get them up to speed.
Once you have some goals for your influencer campaign, look at your fans, customers, partners, sponsors, or even employees for potential candidates.
A tool like Moz’s Link Explorer can help you identify niche-specific influencers who have linked to your content in the past, while FollowerWonk can help you quickly assess the reach of your current followers.
ID the People Who Influence Your Audience
If your existing pool of fans won’t make the cut, find the influencers that already have an “in” with your audience. Tools like BuzzSumo and Pitchbox help brands find relevant influencers within their niche market.
As you uncover some potential partners, jot down some ideas for how they might help you connect with your audience. Do you want to interview them? Ask them to contribute content to your site? Host event sessions? Consider where their skills would be most effective.
Build a Relationship
You should start building a relationship with key influencers, interacting with them in an authentic, organic way. Think “liking” posts, sharing their content with your audience, and commenting when it makes sense.
Keep in mind; these “social” interactions are not the place for your pitch. You want to show genuine interest and build up some familiarity.
You might be hesitant to launch an influencer campaign to promote your next event, but done right, influencer partnerships can help you form relationships with new audiences and help you lock down more registrations, too.
Need help with your marketing strategy? Whether you’re considering adding influencer marketing to your event marketing plan or revamping your entire strategy, Echelon Design can help. Not only do we design and build custom exhibitions and experiences, we also build event marketing plans to support them. To learn more about how we can make your next event a success, contact us today.