Influencers can smell a leech a mile away. If you launch into influencer marketing with the wrong tactics, you won't get a second chance.
Many B2B marketers use a templated style of outreach through email or LinkedIn message which sounds something like this.
"Hi, I love your article on ___. Would you be interested in ____?"
In your industry, the leading influencers are familiar with this approach. They may even receive over a dozen of these impersonal “influencer marketing tactic” emails each day.
Don't rush relationships to get a quick return.
At Integrate, we’ve done B2B influencer marketing successfully for several years. We know it’s ultimately about relationships. The following guidelines are designed to help marketing organizations create real relationships and leave templated emails behind.
B2B Influencer Marketing: How To Do It Right
“Influencers are not marketing campaigns. They are human beings and should be treated as such.
If you aren’t careful with your outreach efforts or partnerships, you can burn the wrong people – quickly.”
Focus on creating original introductions and authentic engagement during early influencer outreach. Don't make it about yourself. Instead, focus on delivering value to the influencer.
To learn more, we recommend The Beginner’s Guide to Influencer Marketing.
1. Create Authentic and Engaging Outreach
Many B2B brands initiate influencer outreach by writing a blog post that mentions someone else's work. Once the article goes live, they'll send a Tweet or an email with a link to the post. While sending an influencer a link to a blog is a step above template-based outreach, it's still not authentic or engaging.
The key is to build genuine relationships. Show B2B influencers that you value their opinion and thought leadership. Reach out and ask for their input as a subject matter expert in your niche.
- Introduce yourself and explain that you're writing an article on a topic within their area of expertise.
- Mention that you’ve read several of their blogs on related topics.
- Ask 1-2 unique and engaging questions on your topic.
Not only will you get new information, but you've also created an authentic and unique introduction. You've built rapport by demonstrating familiarity with the influencer's work. Before you propose partnerships with industry influencers, you want to create a baseline for future conversations.
2. Add Disproportionate Value
Influencer marketing must be a partnership. Early discussions with influencers should never be about your brand or your needs.
- Offer to help with projects.
- Ask to feature influencer content on your website.
- Position yourself and your brand as a willing resource.
Gary Vaynerchuk emphasizes that "the person that brings the most value wins." While this concept isn't a specific reference to B2B influencer marketing, it's directly relevant:
Vaynerchuk gets right to the heart of why 80% of the marketers reading this article won't take a value-driven approach to influencer outreach and will stick with the "templated influencer marketing" tactics everyone else is using. It's easier. Not adding value is the more accessible route.
It's simple to regurgitate email templates hoping to eventually get a response than it is to add value to an influencer. But, that means there's a lot more opportunity for the B2B marketing organizations that are willing to bring some serious value to the conversation.
3. Pace Yourself
B2B marketing organizations are eager to move from influencer acquaintances to formal relationships. According to McKinsey, customers converted by influencer campaigns achieve, on average, a 37% increase in retention. While your organization may be to create a formal partnership, don’t rush relationships before they’re ready.
Continue to provide value to influencers. Let the relationship form naturally. Avoid rushing to propose anything until you’ve built genuine rapport and familiarity.
Don't overuse someone or an organization. It’s not valuable for your audience and it’s likely to bother influencers. It can also diminish your brand’s own efforts to build thought leadership.
Succeeding at B2B Influencer Outreach
There's definite value in effective influencer partnerships. According to the Content Marketing Institute, marketing campaigns that include influencers show a 10x increase in conversion rates. However, most B2B marketing organizations fail to capture this enormous value by falling flat with influencer outreach.
You only have one chance to make a positive introduction to influencers. The key to success is to ditch the templates and lazy mentions on Twitter. Start adding value and doing the serious legwork necessary to build authentic relationships.
To see an example of influencer marketing in action, check out the B2B Game Changers Spotlight – Integrate's annual recognition program that honors top B2B marketers who are paving the way for others to follow. You can find a compilation of advice and strategies from the 2018 B2B Game Changers in this eBook: Real Revenue Marketing Strategies to Advance Your Game.