The State of B2B Influence Marketing – Top 10 Insights for 2021

Lee Odden B2B Influencer Marketing

What does the state of B2B influencer marketing look like now and in the future? How can B2B brands start a successful influencer program? Why is it more important than ever to approach B2B influencer marketing with an always-on influencer strategy?

Many of these questions are answered in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report and yet we all know the complexity and opportunity combination of influencer marketing requires further exploration. Luckily Jason Falls connected with our CEO Lee Odden for a podcast interview to explore  the answers to these questions and more, along with his most recent B2B influencer marketing insight.

After listening to the podcast, I’ve pulled out 10 of the most compelling insights about the state of B2B influencer marketing to help inspire your success in 2021 and beyond.

1 – B2B Influencers Are Credible Voices Throughout The Customer Lifecycle

B2B purchases are a journey, and there is a long cycle of education and content consumption that occurs as brands or buyers educate themselves about possible solutions and how they might work for their company.

When you talk about end-of-funnel activities, where you’re looking for increasing purchase intent, increasing order volumes, and acceleration through the sales cycle — things like that — the explicit advocacy of a subject matter expert in the form of an industry influencer can definitely facilitate these.

The credible voices of B2B influencers play a role throughout the entire customer life cycle.

It’s important to identify the topics of influence that are representative of how the brand wants to be known — topics that customers actually care about — and find the people that can represent those ideas and values.

“The credible voices of B2B influencers play a role throughout the entire customer life cycle.” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

2 – Digital Influence Is Heightened During The Pandemic

The ability to influence doesn’t just exist in a digital world, but with the pandemic, for B2B it’s more digital now than it ever was before. There are opportunities now to connect with people who may be more offline influencers, however the bulk of digital marketing that’s occurring in the B2B space is online, and the signals of credibility that people are using to determine whether someone is relevant or interesting to them tend to be digital.

A holistic approach is important, including the use of tools, including Traackr, which is both a B2C and B2B platform. A tool is only as effective as the expertise of the person using it. It is up to the expertise of the users as much as it is about the platform, because the data is agnostic in terms of B2C or B2B — people are either publishing or they’re not.

The content they’re publishing is either topically relevant or it’s not, and the topics they are publishing are either resonating or not. These can be identified by engagement activities, and by whether messages are propagating and being shared or not.

“A tool is only as effective as the expertise of the person using it.” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

3 – Identify Core Characteristics Of Influence Around A Topic

We can identify core characteristics of what makes a person influential around a topic of influence, partially through the use of the appropriate software. There are however lots of other steps to consider — manual inspection of the content that influencers are publishing, the cadence of publishing, and certain background information that should be taken into consideration before recommending them to a client. They have to be doing what your brand is talking about to determine whether an influencer may work or not.

Influence is not permanent — it’s temporal. While at the moment of identification a person may be very influential about a topic, will they always be influential about it? Maybe, or maybe not, and on top of understanding the key performance indicators (KPIs) being delivered on for the campaign, or for the influencer engagement activity, you’ve also got to be able to report on the effectiveness of what is being done.

“Influence is not permanent — it’s temporal.” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

4 – Understand The Conversations Being Driven By Influencers

Are we moving the needle or not? Are we reaching those business outcomes that we’re after, and at the same time we have to identify — through tracking URLs and other metrics available via influencer marketing platforms and web analytics — whether or not, or the degree to which an individual is effective for a purpose.

You can certainly look at data from social media monitoring tools such as Brandwatch, Agorapulse and others, to monitor various topics and hashtags, and Keyhole is another useful tool for hashtag and handle tracking. They offer an on-demand way to understand the conversations being driven by influencers, as they share social messages and the content they help to make.

At the same time, you have to be accountable as in any campaign, and you’ve got to report upstream to the stakeholders in the organization things such as, “Okay —here’s our goal, and here’s what we achieved.” There are real-time metrics and things that help you optimize in an ongoing way. There are also campaign metrics that determine the effectiveness of a program, and that may ultimately help decide whether you keep someone or sunset them and replace them.

5 – Use The Right Influencer Ingredients For Your B2B Recipe

Everyone is influential about something, as Lee often points out, and all of us both influence other people and are influenced by others on a daily basis.

When we take this holistic view, it’s like we’re a chef in a kitchen with a recipe, and we have ingredients and there are different types of influencers that can make a very effective campaign. If you’re making a stew, you know that potatoes are one ingredient — and that’s your brandividual — the famous person you’re going to use to attract others.

However you’ll also want to go after reach influencers, internal subject matter experts at the brand and perhaps some of their customers, along with other niche experts that are out there in the field that are practicing in their particular area — people who their friends would go to if they needed help or if they needed advice. You want to bring all these different ingredient voices into a campaign and architect and build a recipe highly appropriate to what the audience will find delicious.

“Everyone is influential about something.” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

6 – Achieve Affinity & Elevate Brand Perception With Influencers

It’s so much more than just a tally of fans, friends and followers and whether a person is famous — there are different types of influence. This is something to consider as you become more sophisticated in B2B influencer marketing.

It’s more about what they are and how they are using influencers than merely what they’re good for. A lot of B2B marketing investment you think of as overwhelmingly focused on the end-of-sale-cycle type of activities. However, they’ll never get there if they don’t achieve affinity, if they don’t achieve connection and engagement before that. If they’re not ever considered, they’ll never make it to the sales conversation. A lot of the top and middle of funnel activity is where a great deal of demand generation activity is happening.

At the moment that’s where a lot of B2B marketers are investing in influencer marketing — to elevate brand perception, to warm the market and increase consideration. Ultimately they will also get to that point-of-sale conversation as well.

“A lot of the top and middle of funnel activity is where a great deal of demand generation activity is happening.” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

7 – Recognize B2B Influencer Marketing’s Sales-Generation Potential

B2B is different from B2C, in that with B2C it’s fine if you have a person explicitly advocating for a product — it’s often what people do — they hold up a bottle of soda or face cream or whatever it may be and ask people to buy it to look beautiful.

In the case of B2B, however, if you have someone explicitly endorsing a product like that — for something that can often take six months to two years as a sales cycle — and you have someone explicitly endorsing it, that can come across as not so believable.

To some degree that’s why there aren’t more B2B marketers using industry influencers specifically for sales generation. There are however quite a few interesting anomaly types of case studies where millions of dollars in revenue was generated by working with influencers, however this isn’t the norm just yet.

8 – Overcome The Fear Of Getting Started In B2B Influencer Marketing

In some ways there’s both so much and so little confidence in B2B influencer marketing at the same time. 96 percent of marketers believe that engaging influencers consider their programs to be successful, according to our recent groundbreaking 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report.

We have that on the one hand, yet the other hand, 60% say they don’t have the knowledge to execute or have the right skills in-house to implement ongoing influencer marketing programs.

This isn’t exactly an apples to apples comparison, however, because one is just broadly about influencer marketing, and the other has more to do specifically with ongoing, always-on efforts, which tend to be more successful.

9 – Benefit From The Advantages of Ongoing Influencer Programs

Only 19 percent of companies are implementing ongoing influencer marketing programs, however 60 percent of marketers who use always-on influencer marketing programs consider themselves very successful, versus only 5 percent who do traditional periodic campaigns.

This means that 12 times more marketers who use always-on say they’re very successful than those who just do periodic campaigns.

B2B influencer marketing is without a doubt a relationship business, and this means developing genuine relationships, where through the exchange and through the experience a brand is creating for the influencer, that influencer is getting value and getting exposure.

Sometimes they get paid, and all the while they’re also learning more about the brand and growing closer to the brand.

10 – Learn From Successful Influencer Marketing Programs

Our client Adobe has an influencer program called Adobe Insiders, and Lee is a member of the program.

He’s seen the program from the inside and found it to be incredibly effective with the relationships that Adobe has invested in and developed among their community of influencers.

Many, without even being asked, are publishing to business publications like Forbes, Inc., and other publications, just because they have this love for the Adobe brand.

There’s no doubt that it’s a very beloved brand anyway, but the fact that Rani Mani, the head of global influencer enablement at Adobe, is such a charismatic personality and pays so much close attention to personalized communications with the people that are part of this community and creates a platform for them to connect with each other has a great deal to do with its success and what a powerful community the Adobe Insiders have created.

Find out more about Rani and the B2B influencer marketing advantage in our recent Inside Influence video interview with Lee, in “Inside Influence: Rani Mani from Adobe on the B2B Influencer Marketing Advantage.”

Learn More About Ascending To B2B Influencer Marketing Success

via GIPHY

We hope these 10 B2B marketing insights and tips from Lee’s conversation with Jason on the Winfluence influencer marketing podcast have been helpful, and that they’ll inspire and bring newfound success to your own efforts.

You can listen to Lee and Jason’s complete interview on the Winfluence podcast here.

If you’re among the 60 percent of B2B marketers who feel they need help to execute an ongoing influencer marketing program, contact us to get started with B2B influencer marketing, and find out why brands from SAP, LinkedIn, AT&T Business,  and Adobe to IBM, Dell, Cherwell Software, monday.com and more have chosen TopRank Marketing.

The State of B2B Influence Marketing – Top 10 Insights for 2021

Lee Odden B2B Influencer Marketing

Lee Odden B2B Influencer Marketing

What does the state of B2B influencer marketing look like now and in the future? How can B2B brands start a successful influencer program? Why is it more important than ever to approach B2B influencer marketing with an always-on influencer strategy?

Many of these questions are answered in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report and yet we all know the complexity and opportunity combination of influencer marketing requires further exploration. Luckily Jason Falls connected with our CEO Lee Odden for a podcast interview to explore  the answers to these questions and more, along with his most recent B2B influencer marketing insight.

After listening to the podcast, I’ve pulled out 10 of the most compelling insights about the state of B2B influencer marketing to help inspire your success in 2021 and beyond.

1 – B2B Influencers Are Credible Voices Throughout The Customer Lifecycle

B2B purchases are a journey, and there is a long cycle of education and content consumption that occurs as brands or buyers educate themselves about possible solutions and how they might work for their company.

When you talk about end-of-funnel activities, where you’re looking for increasing purchase intent, increasing order volumes, and acceleration through the sales cycle — things like that — the explicit advocacy of a subject matter expert in the form of an industry influencer can definitely facilitate these.

The credible voices of B2B influencers play a role throughout the entire customer life cycle.

It’s important to identify the topics of influence that are representative of how the brand wants to be known — topics that customers actually care about — and find the people that can represent those ideas and values.

[bctt tweet=”“The credible voices of B2B influencers play a role throughout the entire customer life cycle.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

2 – Digital Influence Is Heightened During The Pandemic

The ability to influence doesn’t just exist in a digital world, but with the pandemic, for B2B it’s more digital now than it ever was before. There are opportunities now to connect with people who may be more offline influencers, however the bulk of digital marketing that’s occurring in the B2B space is online, and the signals of credibility that people are using to determine whether someone is relevant or interesting to them tend to be digital.

A holistic approach is important, including the use of tools, including Traackr, which is both a B2C and B2B platform. A tool is only as effective as the expertise of the person using it. It is up to the expertise of the users as much as it is about the platform, because the data is agnostic in terms of B2C or B2B — people are either publishing or they’re not.

The content they’re publishing is either topically relevant or it’s not, and the topics they are publishing are either resonating or not. These can be identified by engagement activities, and by whether messages are propagating and being shared or not.

[bctt tweet=”“A tool is only as effective as the expertise of the person using it.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

3 – Identify Core Characteristics Of Influence Around A Topic

We can identify core characteristics of what makes a person influential around a topic of influence, partially through the use of the appropriate software. There are however lots of other steps to consider — manual inspection of the content that influencers are publishing, the cadence of publishing, and certain background information that should be taken into consideration before recommending them to a client. They have to be doing what your brand is talking about to determine whether an influencer may work or not.

Influence is not permanent — it’s temporal. While at the moment of identification a person may be very influential about a topic, will they always be influential about it? Maybe, or maybe not, and on top of understanding the key performance indicators (KPIs) being delivered on for the campaign, or for the influencer engagement activity, you’ve also got to be able to report on the effectiveness of what is being done.

[bctt tweet=”“Influence is not permanent — it’s temporal.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

4 – Understand The Conversations Being Driven By Influencers

Are we moving the needle or not? Are we reaching those business outcomes that we’re after, and at the same time we have to identify — through tracking URLs and other metrics available via influencer marketing platforms and web analytics — whether or not, or the degree to which an individual is effective for a purpose.

You can certainly look at data from social media monitoring tools such as Brandwatch, Agorapulse and others, to monitor various topics and hashtags, and Keyhole is another useful tool for hashtag and handle tracking. They offer an on-demand way to understand the conversations being driven by influencers, as they share social messages and the content they help to make.

At the same time, you have to be accountable as in any campaign, and you’ve got to report upstream to the stakeholders in the organization things such as, “Okay —here’s our goal, and here’s what we achieved.” There are real-time metrics and things that help you optimize in an ongoing way. There are also campaign metrics that determine the effectiveness of a program, and that may ultimately help decide whether you keep someone or sunset them and replace them.

5 – Use The Right Influencer Ingredients For Your B2B Recipe

Everyone is influential about something, as Lee often points out, and all of us both influence other people and are influenced by others on a daily basis.

When we take this holistic view, it’s like we’re a chef in a kitchen with a recipe, and we have ingredients and there are different types of influencers that can make a very effective campaign. If you’re making a stew, you know that potatoes are one ingredient — and that’s your brandividual — the famous person you’re going to use to attract others.

However you’ll also want to go after reach influencers, internal subject matter experts at the brand and perhaps some of their customers, along with other niche experts that are out there in the field that are practicing in their particular area — people who their friends would go to if they needed help or if they needed advice. You want to bring all these different ingredient voices into a campaign and architect and build a recipe highly appropriate to what the audience will find delicious.

[bctt tweet=”“Everyone is influential about something.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

6 – Achieve Affinity & Elevate Brand Perception With Influencers

It’s so much more than just a tally of fans, friends and followers and whether a person is famous — there are different types of influence. This is something to consider as you become more sophisticated in B2B influencer marketing.

It’s more about what they are and how they are using influencers than merely what they’re good for. A lot of B2B marketing investment you think of as overwhelmingly focused on the end-of-sale-cycle type of activities. However, they’ll never get there if they don’t achieve affinity, if they don’t achieve connection and engagement before that. If they’re not ever considered, they’ll never make it to the sales conversation. A lot of the top and middle of funnel activity is where a great deal of demand generation activity is happening.

At the moment that’s where a lot of B2B marketers are investing in influencer marketing — to elevate brand perception, to warm the market and increase consideration. Ultimately they will also get to that point-of-sale conversation as well.

[bctt tweet=”“A lot of the top and middle of funnel activity is where a great deal of demand generation activity is happening.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

7 – Recognize B2B Influencer Marketing’s Sales-Generation Potential

B2B is different from B2C, in that with B2C it’s fine if you have a person explicitly advocating for a product — it’s often what people do — they hold up a bottle of soda or face cream or whatever it may be and ask people to buy it to look beautiful.

In the case of B2B, however, if you have someone explicitly endorsing a product like that — for something that can often take six months to two years as a sales cycle — and you have someone explicitly endorsing it, that can come across as not so believable.

To some degree that’s why there aren’t more B2B marketers using industry influencers specifically for sales generation. There are however quite a few interesting anomaly types of case studies where millions of dollars in revenue was generated by working with influencers, however this isn’t the norm just yet.

8 – Overcome The Fear Of Getting Started In B2B Influencer Marketing

In some ways there’s both so much and so little confidence in B2B influencer marketing at the same time. 96 percent of marketers believe that engaging influencers consider their programs to be successful, according to our recent groundbreaking 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report.

We have that on the one hand, yet the other hand, 60% say they don’t have the knowledge to execute or have the right skills in-house to implement ongoing influencer marketing programs.

This isn’t exactly an apples to apples comparison, however, because one is just broadly about influencer marketing, and the other has more to do specifically with ongoing, always-on efforts, which tend to be more successful.

9 – Benefit From The Advantages of Ongoing Influencer Programs

Only 19 percent of companies are implementing ongoing influencer marketing programs, however 60 percent of marketers who use always-on influencer marketing programs consider themselves very successful, versus only 5 percent who do traditional periodic campaigns.

This means that 12 times more marketers who use always-on say they’re very successful than those who just do periodic campaigns.

B2B influencer marketing is without a doubt a relationship business, and this means developing genuine relationships, where through the exchange and through the experience a brand is creating for the influencer, that influencer is getting value and getting exposure.

Sometimes they get paid, and all the while they’re also learning more about the brand and growing closer to the brand.

10 – Learn From Successful Influencer Marketing Programs

Our client Adobe has an influencer program called Adobe Insiders, and Lee is a member of the program.

He’s seen the program from the inside and found it to be incredibly effective with the relationships that Adobe has invested in and developed among their community of influencers.

Many, without even being asked, are publishing to business publications like Forbes, Inc., and other publications, just because they have this love for the Adobe brand.

There’s no doubt that it’s a very beloved brand anyway, but the fact that Rani Mani, the head of global influencer enablement at Adobe, is such a charismatic personality and pays so much close attention to personalized communications with the people that are part of this community and creates a platform for them to connect with each other has a great deal to do with its success and what a powerful community the Adobe Insiders have created.

Find out more about Rani and the B2B influencer marketing advantage in our recent Inside Influence video interview with Lee, in “Inside Influence: Rani Mani from Adobe on the B2B Influencer Marketing Advantage.”

Learn More About Ascending To B2B Influencer Marketing Success

via GIPHY

We hope these 10 B2B marketing insights and tips from Lee’s conversation with Jason on the Winfluence influencer marketing podcast have been helpful, and that they’ll inspire and bring newfound success to your own efforts.

You can listen to Lee and Jason’s complete interview on the Winfluence podcast here.

If you’re among the 60 percent of B2B marketers who feel they need help to execute an ongoing influencer marketing program, contact us to get started with B2B influencer marketing, and find out why brands from SAP, LinkedIn, AT&T Business,  and Adobe to IBM, Dell, Cherwell Software, monday.com and more have chosen TopRank Marketing.

The post The State of B2B Influence Marketing – Top 10 Insights for 2021 appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

How To Move From A Pilot B2B Influencer Marketing Program to Always-On Success

Light Bulb Turned On

It sure is a good thing that the internet turns off at 10:00 PM every night, and doesn’t flip back on until 8:00 in the morning. And thankfully, business buyers completely tune out after they finish work, which is always at 5 o’clock sharp in this world of reliable and universally consistent routine.

Marketers and brands would really have their hands full if these things weren’t true.

Wait, what’s that? None of them are remotely true?

Welcome to the World of Always-On

There is no off-switch. The internet is open for business 24 hours a day. Buyers and decision makers are engaging with content in unpredictable patterns, thrown further askew by the pandemic-driven disruption of workday archetypes. An increasingly lengthy and complex buyer’s journey challenges B2B marketing strategies to be more versatile, agile, and perpetually present than ever before.

“There is no off-switch. The internet is open for business 24 hours a day. Buyers and decision makers are engaging with content in unpredictable patterns.” @NickNelsonMN #AlwaysOn #B2Bmarketing Click To Tweet

Earlier this month, Howard J. Sewell wrote at Business 2 Community about marketing success and the accident of timing.

“For more companies than not, marketing success is rarely about convincing a given individual, on a given day, to buy what it is you’re selling,” he argues. “Rather, it’s a question of being the company that the buyer finds, or thinks of first, when the relevant need occurs.”

This essentially makes the case for adopting always-on marketing programs, which are gaining traction as more organizations see the value. It’s a convention that can apply to many different elements of a strategy, including (and especially) influencer marketing.

Today we’ll explore taking the step from pilot B2B influencer marketing program to always-on success — why and how?

Taking B2B Influencer Marketing from Pilot to Autopilot

Running a pilot program is a great way to get a feel for influencer marketing and validate it as a smart tactic for your organization. Earlier this year I shared tips for jumpstarting a pilot B2B influencer marketing program in five steps, which included:

  1. Get buy-in throughout the organization
  2. Compile a list of influencers who align with your brand
  3. Start priming influencer relationships
  4. Integrate B2B influencer marketing into your strategy
  5. Co-create a piece of content with one or more influencers

The key here is not to treat influencer engagements as one-off, transactional encounters. As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden put it during an interview for the Social Media Marketing Live Streaming Show over the summer, “If you only have one interaction with an influencer and then you don’t ever see that person until the next time you need them, that leaves the influencer feeling very transactional, and not very special.”

Running a pilot program doesn’t need to entail a long-term commitment to influencer marketing in your strategy, but it should always be built on a long-term, relationship-building mindset.

This sets you up to take the next step: from pilot to autopilot, where your always-on influencer program becomes a self-sustaining community of genuine brand advocacy and affinity. That’s not to say it’ll become completely hands-off — maintaining and nurturing influencer relationships takes work, as do the collaborative efforts with these influencers that drive business results — but once you’ve laid proper groundwork and set a clear vision, much of the heavy lifting is done.

Lee makes this point in explaining why always-on influence costs less and provides better ROI. Some things he recommends keeping in mind:

  • Pay-to-play doesn’t always pay off: Organic relationship-building can take a little more time and effort up front, but tends to be far less expensive than one-off, paid influencer campaigns, with much greater all-around value.
  • Old friends know the brand ropes: Deeper ongoing engagements with influencers leads to better mutual understanding of needs and guidelines, with less hand-holding required.
  • Return on relationships: Building authentic relationships with influential experts in your industry yields word-of-mouth and proactive advocacy benefits that money can’t buy.
  • Repurpose with a purpose: Always-on programs bring new efficiencies in terms of repurposing and refreshing co-created content in ways that support the brand, influencer, and audience.
  • Advocacy at scale: Developing and strengthening relationships over time leads to compounding benefits, as trust grows and new contacts enter the fold.

When considering these advantages, it comes as no real shock that — according to the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Reportonly 5% marketers who do periodic campaigns are very successful vs. 60% of marketers who implement always-on influencer marketing programs. That is a sizable chasm.

“Being ‘always-on’ has allowed our team to build meaningful relationships with influencers,” says Garnor Morantes, Group Marketing Manager for LinkedIn (a TopRank Marketing client) in the report. “This approach means that the relationship ceases to be ‘transactional’ (what can you do for us) when we’re in a state of ongoing activity. Because of this foundation, we are in a situation where, when urgency strikes, we’ve been able to immediately activate influencers, whether it be for private, direct, unfiltered feedback and consult, or for external, public-facing advocacy and amplification.”

““Being ‘always-on’ has allowed our team to build meaningful relationships with influencers.” Garnor Morantes of @LinkedIn #InfluencerMarketing #AlwaysOn Click To Tweet

That’s the kind of marketing engine built for our modern-day environment, where buyers and decision makers are essentially active and consuming content round-the-clock, seven days a week. An always-on influencer strategy allows brands to be reactive, nimble, and responsive to change. You can learn more about LinkedIn’s successful program in our case study.

LinkedIn Case Study Image

Take the Next Step with Always-On Influence

The good news is that a properly executed pilot influencer marketing program — one focused on relationship-building and brand synergy — helps facilitate the transition to an always-on program that can become a pillar of your marketing strategy. At TopRank Marketing, we’re happy to help out with whichever stage of the journey you’re in.

Check out the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report to learn more about always-on influence, why it makes sense, and how to make it work. Reach out to us if you’re ready to get rolling.

How To Move From A Pilot B2B Influencer Marketing Program to Always-On Success

Light Bulb Turned On

Light Bulb Turned On

It sure is a good thing that the internet turns off at 10:00 PM every night, and doesn’t flip back on until 8:00 in the morning. And thankfully, business buyers completely tune out after they finish work, which is always at 5 o’clock sharp in this world of reliable and universally consistent routine.

Marketers and brands would really have their hands full if these things weren’t true.

Wait, what’s that? None of them are remotely true?

Welcome to the World of Always-On

There is no off-switch. The internet is open for business 24 hours a day. Buyers and decision makers are engaging with content in unpredictable patterns, thrown further askew by the pandemic-driven disruption of workday archetypes. An increasingly lengthy and complex buyer’s journey challenges B2B marketing strategies to be more versatile, agile, and perpetually present than ever before.

[bctt tweet=”“There is no off-switch. The internet is open for business 24 hours a day. Buyers and decision makers are engaging with content in unpredictable patterns.” @NickNelsonMN #AlwaysOn #B2Bmarketing” username=”toprank”]

Earlier this month, Howard J. Sewell wrote at Business 2 Community about marketing success and the accident of timing.

“For more companies than not, marketing success is rarely about convincing a given individual, on a given day, to buy what it is you’re selling,” he argues. “Rather, it’s a question of being the company that the buyer finds, or thinks of first, when the relevant need occurs.”

This essentially makes the case for adopting always-on marketing programs, which are gaining traction as more organizations see the value. It’s a convention that can apply to many different elements of a strategy, including (and especially) influencer marketing.

Today we’ll explore taking the step from pilot B2B influencer marketing program to always-on success — why and how?

Taking B2B Influencer Marketing from Pilot to Autopilot

Running a pilot program is a great way to get a feel for influencer marketing and validate it as a smart tactic for your organization. Earlier this year I shared tips for jumpstarting a pilot B2B influencer marketing program in five steps, which included:

  1. Get buy-in throughout the organization
  2. Compile a list of influencers who align with your brand
  3. Start priming influencer relationships
  4. Integrate B2B influencer marketing into your strategy
  5. Co-create a piece of content with one or more influencers

The key here is not to treat influencer engagements as one-off, transactional encounters. As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden put it during an interview for the Social Media Marketing Live Streaming Show over the summer, “If you only have one interaction with an influencer and then you don’t ever see that person until the next time you need them, that leaves the influencer feeling very transactional, and not very special.”

Running a pilot program doesn’t need to entail a long-term commitment to influencer marketing in your strategy, but it should always be built on a long-term, relationship-building mindset.

This sets you up to take the next step: from pilot to autopilot, where your always-on influencer program becomes a self-sustaining community of genuine brand advocacy and affinity. That’s not to say it’ll become completely hands-off — maintaining and nurturing influencer relationships takes work, as do the collaborative efforts with these influencers that drive business results — but once you’ve laid proper groundwork and set a clear vision, much of the heavy lifting is done.

Lee makes this point in explaining why always-on influence costs less and provides better ROI. Some things he recommends keeping in mind:

  • Pay-to-play doesn’t always pay off: Organic relationship-building can take a little more time and effort up front, but tends to be far less expensive than one-off, paid influencer campaigns, with much greater all-around value.
  • Old friends know the brand ropes: Deeper ongoing engagements with influencers leads to better mutual understanding of needs and guidelines, with less hand-holding required.
  • Return on relationships: Building authentic relationships with influential experts in your industry yields word-of-mouth and proactive advocacy benefits that money can’t buy.
  • Repurpose with a purpose: Always-on programs bring new efficiencies in terms of repurposing and refreshing co-created content in ways that support the brand, influencer, and audience.
  • Advocacy at scale: Developing and strengthening relationships over time leads to compounding benefits, as trust grows and new contacts enter the fold.

When considering these advantages, it comes as no real shock that — according to the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Reportonly 5% marketers who do periodic campaigns are very successful vs. 60% of marketers who implement always-on influencer marketing programs. That is a sizable chasm.

“Being ‘always-on’ has allowed our team to build meaningful relationships with influencers,” says Garnor Morantes, Group Marketing Manager for LinkedIn (a TopRank Marketing client) in the report. “This approach means that the relationship ceases to be ‘transactional’ (what can you do for us) when we’re in a state of ongoing activity. Because of this foundation, we are in a situation where, when urgency strikes, we’ve been able to immediately activate influencers, whether it be for private, direct, unfiltered feedback and consult, or for external, public-facing advocacy and amplification.”

[bctt tweet=”““Being ‘always-on’ has allowed our team to build meaningful relationships with influencers.” Garnor Morantes of @LinkedIn #InfluencerMarketing #AlwaysOn” username=”toprank”]

That’s the kind of marketing engine built for our modern-day environment, where buyers and decision makers are essentially active and consuming content round-the-clock, seven days a week. An always-on influencer strategy allows brands to be reactive, nimble, and responsive to change. You can learn more about LinkedIn’s successful program in our case study.

LinkedIn Case Study Image

Take the Next Step with Always-On Influence

The good news is that a properly executed pilot influencer marketing program — one focused on relationship-building and brand synergy — helps facilitate the transition to an always-on program that can become a pillar of your marketing strategy. At TopRank Marketing, we’re happy to help out with whichever stage of the journey you’re in.

Check out the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report to learn more about always-on influence, why it makes sense, and how to make it work. Reach out to us if you’re ready to get rolling.

The post How To Move From A Pilot B2B Influencer Marketing Program to Always-On Success appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Inside Influence: Janine Wegner from Dell on Thought Leadership and Influencer Relations

Janine Wegner Interview

Today marks the 4th installment in the Inside Influencer series. I want to thank everyone who has viewed the interviews, made comments and shared with their networks. This week we’re continuing our search to find out what’s working and what’s not within the world of B2B influencer marketing as well as further insights from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

Episode 4 of Inside Influence features guest insider, Janine Wegner, Global Thought Leadership Program and Activation Manager at Dell Technologies who our agency TopRank Marketing has the pleasure of working with on influencer content marketing programs like The Zettabyte World – Securing our Data-Rich Future.

Janine and I were able to dig into a topic that I think represents a huge opportunity for influencer integration: the intersection of thought leadership.

Our conversation covered many of the most important topics in B2B influencer marketing including: 

  • What it takes to be an influencer marketing thought leader when you work at a global B2B brand
  • Whether thought leadership and influencer marketing are independent or synergistic disciplines
  • How Dell Technologies works with B2B influencers
  • The benefits of working with influencers besides building brand awareness and lead generation
  • Key insights from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report
  • The difference between influencer marketing and influencer relations
  • How process is essential for scaling influencer marketing
  • Top challenges when working with influencer marketing
  • Predictions for the future

Here are highlights of our conversation and you can watch the full interview below.

I recently heard a B2B marketing leader describe thought leadership and influencer marketing as an either / or. Do you agree or can they work together?

Janine: If I had an ideal world I would always like to combine both. If we look at thought leadership, one thing is a thought like coming up with a new innovative idea, point of view or solution, new product or service, whatever it is the certain organization is doing. And leadership. That’s not up to a person or an organization, right, to call themselves a leader. Actually you need a validation from an external audience, from an external source. Sometimes it can be analyst firms that confirm that, it can be through highly credible influencers and industry experts. For us certainly that is kind of how we have approached this.

Using influencers and industry experts for thought leadership validation is absolutely key. @janinewegner

Thought Leadership even in its combination with influence has that element of validation by third parties. And so, to me, using influencers and industry experts for thought leadership validation is absolutely key. From the past years we’ve been doing this combination, it has actually shown us so many great returns, not just from brand awareness and perception but also in carrying our thought and what we’re doing, how we’re exploring the next generation of technologies or the next horizon of technologies to communities, that we might not have tapped into before through traditional means. By connecting with those likeminded people, those industry experts, sometimes even niche experts, a whole new community opened up to us, which was great.

Dell has long engaged different types of influencers in ways that impact the business from content collaboration used in marketing to thought leadership. How important do you think influencers are for Dell Technologies?

Janine: It has been increasing. At first it was like maybe some teams here and there that just wanted to work with some knowledgeable experts in a certain field or in a certain region. For example, events with panels that wanted to have an expert opinion back in the days when we could still do physical events. Today it’s a lot of webinars and online events.

Over the years we’ve seen that there’s so much more and there are so many different types of influencers that you can engage with. Working with influencers all comes down to having a good strategy in place and really knowing your objectives, knowing what is a complete marketing suite, where are your gaps and how do you want to reach your audience? What is the story you want to tell? Where on the customer journey do you want to do that? Once you know that, you can then determine what kind of influencers makes sense.

Is it someone you need to increase awareness and have a broad reach and a huge following on social media. Or is it someone, like I said, like if you have an online panel and the vendor panel where you want to have a certain type of expertise that this person brings to the table? There’s so much richness in the diversity of of influencers.

What we’ve been doing over time at Dell is really kind of doubling down on where we can make the best use of influencers. @janinewegner

And so what we’ve been doing over time at Dell is really kind of doubling down on where we can make the best use of influencers. We’re working with influencers from the C-level all the way to dev ops and anything in between. This is really exciting because we get to work with lots of different people. And also in recent months, we have been making really great progress in building an actual team that’s just responsible for influencer relations. We have people that are truly focused from B2C all the way to B2B influencer relations, which is awesome.

In the report you shared that having an end to end process for influencer marketing is key to not only be effective, but also to scale. What goes into that kind of process?

Janine: I think all having an internal process is a must for any organization of any size, because you want to start at your business objectives. I alluded to this a little bit earlier. You want to know what it really is that you are after so you can set your KPIs and know, at the end of the day, if you actually met your objectives.  Otherwise, why are we doing all of this and why we’re spending this money at resources and time?

Also, it’s not just looking at influencer relation tactics as like an add on once you’re done with that campaign, but building it into your complete marketing mix and marketing and communication mix. So, you want to kind of start on setting the objectives then also selecting a great partner and vendor, like your company itself has been tremendously helpful to us, right?

We’re looking for people that have a diverse network of influencers, right? Because we are an end to end solution company. So we need to go from PC all the way to infrastructure and emerging technologies. But also as a global brand who has a network with a global reach, it could be either, influencers that have a global reach or people that are very knowledgeable within a certain region or country that is of interest.

All of this goes into like building a strategy and setting those objectives and finding the right partner. Then you go into identifying who the right people are for whatever stage on the customer journey you want to produce this kind of collaborative content for. Then you can set the right KPIs for the program. You can execute it.

Of course you need to have budget to execute it. You need to ask your business folks to get it for you. Then you execute it, measure it and then you can present a new case to get more funding for the next project.

I feel when people are starting out within this field, they should start small, but very focused. Don’t try to boil the ocean…where can we make impact? @janinewegner

Oftentimes I feel when people are starting out within this field, they should start small, but very focused. Don’t try to boil the ocean, right? Like, really thinking like where can we make impact? What is something that we can show our leadership that this really works and brings us really tactical benefits? And from there on out, you kind of go one stage bigger. And bigger. Until you truly have that full suite of influencer marketing and, or influencer relations or a combination of both.

Who are some other B2B brand influencer marketing professionals that you admire?

Janine: So many! One is Konstanze Alex who used to work with me at Dell technologies. She showed me a lot about influencer marketing and how to work in that space. She’s now at Cisco, sadly, we miss her terribly. Also, the both of us were on a panel together with Amisha Gandhi from SAP and just hearing how she kind of worked from the ground up and like build this huge team and really look at how to integrate influencer marketing within the whole marketing suit that SAP has to offer is fantastic. She’s really a trailblazer within the industry and certainly inspired me. I was very pleased and honored to be on a panel with her.

To see the full interview with Janine, watch video below:

If you would like to connect with Janine further about B2B influencer marketing, you can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Next up on Inside Influence, we’ll be talking to Rotem Yifat, Head of Influencers & Online Partnerships at Monday.com.

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence interviews:

Inside Influence: Janine Wegner from Dell on Thought Leadership and Influencer Relations

Janine Wegner Interview

Janine Wegner Interview

Today marks the 4th installment in the Inside Influencer series. I want to thank everyone who has viewed the interviews, made comments and shared with their networks. This week we’re continuing our search to find out what’s working and what’s not within the world of B2B influencer marketing as well as further insights from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

Episode 4 of Inside Influence features guest insider, Janine Wegner, Global Thought Leadership Program and Activation Manager at Dell Technologies who our agency TopRank Marketing has the pleasure of working with on influencer content marketing programs like The Zettabyte World – Securing our Data-Rich Future.

Janine and I were able to dig into a topic that I think represents a huge opportunity for influencer integration: the intersection of thought leadership.

Our conversation covered many of the most important topics in B2B influencer marketing including: 

  • What it takes to be an influencer marketing thought leader when you work at a global B2B brand
  • Whether thought leadership and influencer marketing are independent or synergistic disciplines
  • How Dell Technologies works with B2B influencers
  • The benefits of working with influencers besides building brand awareness and lead generation
  • Key insights from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report
  • The difference between influencer marketing and influencer relations
  • How process is essential for scaling influencer marketing
  • Top challenges when working with influencer marketing
  • Predictions for the future

Here are highlights of our conversation and you can watch the full interview below.

I recently heard a B2B marketing leader describe thought leadership and influencer marketing as an either / or. Do you agree or can they work together?

Janine: If I had an ideal world I would always like to combine both. If we look at thought leadership, one thing is a thought like coming up with a new innovative idea, point of view or solution, new product or service, whatever it is the certain organization is doing. And leadership. That’s not up to a person or an organization, right, to call themselves a leader. Actually you need a validation from an external audience, from an external source. Sometimes it can be analyst firms that confirm that, it can be through highly credible influencers and industry experts. For us certainly that is kind of how we have approached this.

Using influencers and industry experts for thought leadership validation is absolutely key. @janinewegner

Thought Leadership even in its combination with influence has that element of validation by third parties. And so, to me, using influencers and industry experts for thought leadership validation is absolutely key. From the past years we’ve been doing this combination, it has actually shown us so many great returns, not just from brand awareness and perception but also in carrying our thought and what we’re doing, how we’re exploring the next generation of technologies or the next horizon of technologies to communities, that we might not have tapped into before through traditional means. By connecting with those likeminded people, those industry experts, sometimes even niche experts, a whole new community opened up to us, which was great.

Dell has long engaged different types of influencers in ways that impact the business from content collaboration used in marketing to thought leadership. How important do you think influencers are for Dell Technologies?

Janine: It has been increasing. At first it was like maybe some teams here and there that just wanted to work with some knowledgeable experts in a certain field or in a certain region. For example, events with panels that wanted to have an expert opinion back in the days when we could still do physical events. Today it’s a lot of webinars and online events.

Over the years we’ve seen that there’s so much more and there are so many different types of influencers that you can engage with. Working with influencers all comes down to having a good strategy in place and really knowing your objectives, knowing what is a complete marketing suite, where are your gaps and how do you want to reach your audience? What is the story you want to tell? Where on the customer journey do you want to do that? Once you know that, you can then determine what kind of influencers makes sense.

Is it someone you need to increase awareness and have a broad reach and a huge following on social media. Or is it someone, like I said, like if you have an online panel and the vendor panel where you want to have a certain type of expertise that this person brings to the table? There’s so much richness in the diversity of of influencers.

What we’ve been doing over time at Dell is really kind of doubling down on where we can make the best use of influencers. @janinewegner

And so what we’ve been doing over time at Dell is really kind of doubling down on where we can make the best use of influencers. We’re working with influencers from the C-level all the way to dev ops and anything in between. This is really exciting because we get to work with lots of different people. And also in recent months, we have been making really great progress in building an actual team that’s just responsible for influencer relations. We have people that are truly focused from B2C all the way to B2B influencer relations, which is awesome.

In the report you shared that having an end to end process for influencer marketing is key to not only be effective, but also to scale. What goes into that kind of process?

Janine: I think all having an internal process is a must for any organization of any size, because you want to start at your business objectives. I alluded to this a little bit earlier. You want to know what it really is that you are after so you can set your KPIs and know, at the end of the day, if you actually met your objectives.  Otherwise, why are we doing all of this and why we’re spending this money at resources and time?

Also, it’s not just looking at influencer relation tactics as like an add on once you’re done with that campaign, but building it into your complete marketing mix and marketing and communication mix. So, you want to kind of start on setting the objectives then also selecting a great partner and vendor, like your company itself has been tremendously helpful to us, right?

We’re looking for people that have a diverse network of influencers, right? Because we are an end to end solution company. So we need to go from PC all the way to infrastructure and emerging technologies. But also as a global brand who has a network with a global reach, it could be either, influencers that have a global reach or people that are very knowledgeable within a certain region or country that is of interest.

All of this goes into like building a strategy and setting those objectives and finding the right partner. Then you go into identifying who the right people are for whatever stage on the customer journey you want to produce this kind of collaborative content for. Then you can set the right KPIs for the program. You can execute it.

Of course you need to have budget to execute it. You need to ask your business folks to get it for you. Then you execute it, measure it and then you can present a new case to get more funding for the next project.

I feel when people are starting out within this field, they should start small, but very focused. Don’t try to boil the ocean…where can we make impact? @janinewegner

Oftentimes I feel when people are starting out within this field, they should start small, but very focused. Don’t try to boil the ocean, right? Like, really thinking like where can we make impact? What is something that we can show our leadership that this really works and brings us really tactical benefits? And from there on out, you kind of go one stage bigger. And bigger. Until you truly have that full suite of influencer marketing and, or influencer relations or a combination of both.

Who are some other B2B brand influencer marketing professionals that you admire?

Janine: So many! One is Konstanze Alex who used to work with me at Dell technologies. She showed me a lot about influencer marketing and how to work in that space. She’s now at Cisco, sadly, we miss her terribly. Also, the both of us were on a panel together with Amisha Gandhi from SAP and just hearing how she kind of worked from the ground up and like build this huge team and really look at how to integrate influencer marketing within the whole marketing suit that SAP has to offer is fantastic. She’s really a trailblazer within the industry and certainly inspired me. I was very pleased and honored to be on a panel with her.

To see the full interview with Janine, watch video below:

If you would like to connect with Janine further about B2B influencer marketing, you can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Next up on Inside Influence, we’ll be talking to Rotem Yifat, Head of Influencers & Online Partnerships at Monday.com.

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence interviews:

The post Inside Influence: Janine Wegner from Dell on Thought Leadership and Influencer Relations appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Inside Influence: Ursula Ringham from SAP on Influencer Marketing Operations

Ursula Ringham SAP Interview

Welcome to the 3rd episode of Inside Influence: What’s working and what’s not inside the world of B2B Influencer Marketing. Each week we feature an interview with a B2B marketing insider on all things influence and a deeper dive into the insights found in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

In this 3rd episode of Inside Influence you are in for a treat: A discussion with the force of nature and client of TopRank Marketing that is Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP.

Ursula leads the Global Influencer Marketing team at SAP in collaboration with the entire SAP product portfolio to create innovative content with trusted external voices to build brand awareness and create pipeline. She is also an accomplished storyteller, author, creator, influencer marketer, digital innovator, social media maven, champion of girls education, and self described “outdoor sports freak”.

Our Inside Influence conversation covered a variety of influencer marketing topics including:

  • The key components of influencer marketing operations
  • The importance and application of influencer marketing software
  • An influencer marketing case study featuring an SAP podcast
  • Advice for marketers that want the benefits of influencer engagement but are hesitant to commit
  • What B2B brands can expect if they hire an outside agency to help with influencer marketing
  • What B2B marketers should watch out for when working with influencers and influencer programs
  • Rising influencer stars in the B2B tech space

Here are a few highlights of our discussion with a video of our full interview below.

77% of all the world’s revenue transactions go through an SAP ERP system, so we’re probably the biggest company in the world that you use every day, but you don’t know anything about it.

Of course most people in the marketing world know you, but for those that don’t, can you share a bit about the work you do at SAP?

Ursula: Sure. I work at SAP and if people don’t know what that is, SAP is one of the largest enterprise software companies in the world. 77% of all the world’s revenue transactions go through an SAP ERP system, so we’re probably the biggest company in the world that you use every day, but you don’t know anything about it. What I do is I manage our global influencer marketing program where we collaborate with trusted voices that influence customer decisions. What we like to do is collaborate with them to tell the story of how SAP makes the world run better and improve people’s lives.

Your contribution to the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report on influencer marketing operations was really important because I think a lot of people don’t think about all the behind the scenes work that goes into an effective program. What are the key components of influencer marketing operations that marketers should know about? 

Ursula:The operations part of influencer marketing is so important. I think when you’re just starting with an influencer program, you’re just like, okay, where do I begin? You know there are people you need to research with a large social following, but that’s the wrong approach. You’d have to start with your strategy.

You also need some tools to help you. There are different influencer relationship management tools that you can use such as like Onalytica or Traackr which are more for the enterprise. These are also tools that are going to help you with tasks. For example, when we work with other teams at SAP, the very first thing we do is we have them fill out a form about the audience demographics, what success looks like, and the buyer persona.

The key thing is (Influencer Relationship Management) tools save you time and help you manage all your projects in one place.

We collect this information so we can find out who’s that person that you want to help tell the story with you? And that’s really, really important. When you use influencer relationship management tools, you can go in and plug all that data in. The tool will surf the whole web, bring everything back and populate a report for you showing matching influencers. Then you can look at who are these influencers? The key thing is the tools save you time and help you manage all your projects in one place.

Great. I suppose along with software, process comes into play and the whole operations thing too, right? As far as like best practices?

Ursula: Oh my gosh, there’s so many different best practices. But the one thing that I always tell my team is even if the tool brings up all these people, you need to read, watch and listen to every single asset that these influencers has come up with. That’s a best practice.

You really have to go and see what the influencer’s personality is like and how they present themselves.

You can’t just look and go, wow, this person meets the criteria on paper of what this team wanted. Maybe they wanted them to be located in North America and have a podcast. Or maybe they had 50,000 followers. But you really have to go and see what the influencer’s personality is like and how they present themselves.

Of course, now our world is all digital and about video. For that you have to see how they perform if you want them to be a host. The biggest practice is the process that I have: you have to watch, read and listen to everything out there.

The 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report includes a case study featuring your work with SAP in the form of a podcast. Creating a single resource to serve as a platform for different internal customers and different external audiences is impressive. What role did influencers play in the Tech Unknown podcast?

Ursula: Absolutely. We created this podcast called Tech Unknown. We actually just finished our second season. For the first season, it was basically an influencer talking to other influencers, live.

When you look at influencer marketing, you have to think, what is the story you’re going to tell?

For the second season, we wanted to create something different. And so we took inspiration from This American Life, a great podcast. We have a host that tells a story, which is the most important thing. When you look at influencer marketing, you have to think, what is the story you’re going to tell? It’s not just like, let’s do this campaign. You have to think about what is the overall story?

The podcast is a series and what we did was to identify an influencer who would be our host. So decided that would be Tamra McClary. She’s a great thought leader and influencer. The reason we chose her is she’s energetic, her voice, and how she introduces things is great. The audience can relate to her.

For the second season she was the host and our focus was on the topic of data. We looked at all different lines of business and how data affects different businesses out there. Then we would bring in other influencers to give their perspective as like thought leaders on that topic. So if it’s talking about HR data, we bring in an HR expert. And then we might have a customer involved in it or an SAP executive who could talk about the customer.

The whole thing was around thought leadership and the influencers played a critical role because they validated the story. They are that third party validation about what SAP is talking about as a challenge in the industry. The hope is that people realize, “Oh, SAP has a solution to my challenges. Let me go check that out.” That’s why it was so important that the podcast included influencers.

And I’ll have to tell you one thing that is absolutely incredible. We would create a summary blog post about the podcast that we publish on one of our website properties. The gal who manages this thought leadership area of sap.com knows SEO really well. If you typed into Google, “future of data”, out of 1.5 billion search results, our blog post came up number one. It’s a combination of working with the influencer who has the social media presence on the topic. Also, Tamera the host is out there and she’s promoting this blog summary that she wrote. She’s promoting the series and we’re getting the word out there using the right keywords and it all comes into play. It’s all full circle, right?

It’s a podcast, it’s a blog, it’s the influencers. It’s all working together to create this awareness that people are going to pay attention to and realize that SAP has a solution to their business needs.

So who are some B2B tech influencers that really stand out today? And are there any re rising stars you would like to mention also?

Ursula: Oh my gosh, there are several. One of the first people that comes to mind is Sally Eaves.

She’s someone that she’s been on the scene for quite some time, but the thing is, Sally is first of all, Sally. I don’t know where she gets that energy. She is 24/7 go, go, go. She’s doing so many things. She has a background being a CTO, but then she has a side of her that is about education, children and the environment and how technology is influencing society. She’s kind of like the whole package and she’s really good and knowledgeable and very charismatic. We’d love to do some work with her because she’s fantastic. She also has a British accent, which makes that fun for us Americans. She’s one of the top ones that I would recommend. I love following her stories, so definitely check her out.

To see the full Inside Influence interview with Ursula, check out the video below:

To connect with Ursula on all things marketing and influence, you can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

B2B Influencer Marketing Unleashed
Don’t miss Ursula and I as we present at the virtual Content Marketing World conference this week: Influencer Marketing Unleashed: Top Tactics for Success from Global B2B Brands. This is my 10th year in a row speaking at CMWorld and this presentation highlights the best of the best when it comes to information about B2B influencer marketing including:

  • Key trends based on the latest B2B influencer marketing research study
  • Use cases and case studies from Monday.com, Cherwell Software, LinkedIn, Adobe, Alcatel Lucent Enterprise and of course, SAP.
  • A framework for enterprise B2B influencer content campaigns

While the CMWorld conference is happening virtually this week, you can get access to presentations on demand as well. Check out the website.

Next up on Inside Influence is a conversation with Janine Wegner, Global Thought Leadership Program and Activation Manager at Dell Technologies.

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence interviews:

Rani Mani, AdobeThe Value of B2B Influencer Marketing

Garnor Morantes, LinkedInThe Power of Always-On Influence

Inside Influence: Ursula Ringham from SAP on Influencer Marketing Operations

Ursula Ringham SAP Interview

Ursula Ringham SAP Interview

Welcome to the 3rd episode of Inside Influence: What’s working and what’s not inside the world of B2B Influencer Marketing. Each week we feature an interview with a B2B marketing insider on all things influence and a deeper dive into the insights found in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

In this 3rd episode of Inside Influence you are in for a treat: A discussion with the force of nature and client of TopRank Marketing that is Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP.

Ursula leads the Global Influencer Marketing team at SAP in collaboration with the entire SAP product portfolio to create innovative content with trusted external voices to build brand awareness and create pipeline. She is also an accomplished storyteller, author, creator, influencer marketer, digital innovator, social media maven, champion of girls education, and self described “outdoor sports freak”.

Our Inside Influence conversation covered a variety of influencer marketing topics including:

  • The key components of influencer marketing operations
  • The importance and application of influencer marketing software
  • An influencer marketing case study featuring an SAP podcast
  • Advice for marketers that want the benefits of influencer engagement but are hesitant to commit
  • What B2B brands can expect if they hire an outside agency to help with influencer marketing
  • What B2B marketers should watch out for when working with influencers and influencer programs
  • Rising influencer stars in the B2B tech space

Here are a few highlights of our discussion with a video of our full interview below.

77% of all the world’s revenue transactions go through an SAP ERP system, so we’re probably the biggest company in the world that you use every day, but you don’t know anything about it.

Of course most people in the marketing world know you, but for those that don’t, can you share a bit about the work you do at SAP?

Ursula: Sure. I work at SAP and if people don’t know what that is, SAP is one of the largest enterprise software companies in the world. 77% of all the world’s revenue transactions go through an SAP ERP system, so we’re probably the biggest company in the world that you use every day, but you don’t know anything about it. What I do is I manage our global influencer marketing program where we collaborate with trusted voices that influence customer decisions. What we like to do is collaborate with them to tell the story of how SAP makes the world run better and improve people’s lives.

Your contribution to the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report on influencer marketing operations was really important because I think a lot of people don’t think about all the behind the scenes work that goes into an effective program. What are the key components of influencer marketing operations that marketers should know about? 

Ursula:The operations part of influencer marketing is so important. I think when you’re just starting with an influencer program, you’re just like, okay, where do I begin? You know there are people you need to research with a large social following, but that’s the wrong approach. You’d have to start with your strategy.

You also need some tools to help you. There are different influencer relationship management tools that you can use such as like Onalytica or Traackr which are more for the enterprise. These are also tools that are going to help you with tasks. For example, when we work with other teams at SAP, the very first thing we do is we have them fill out a form about the audience demographics, what success looks like, and the buyer persona.

The key thing is (Influencer Relationship Management) tools save you time and help you manage all your projects in one place.

We collect this information so we can find out who’s that person that you want to help tell the story with you? And that’s really, really important. When you use influencer relationship management tools, you can go in and plug all that data in. The tool will surf the whole web, bring everything back and populate a report for you showing matching influencers. Then you can look at who are these influencers? The key thing is the tools save you time and help you manage all your projects in one place.

Great. I suppose along with software, process comes into play and the whole operations thing too, right? As far as like best practices?

Ursula: Oh my gosh, there’s so many different best practices. But the one thing that I always tell my team is even if the tool brings up all these people, you need to read, watch and listen to every single asset that these influencers has come up with. That’s a best practice.

You really have to go and see what the influencer’s personality is like and how they present themselves.

You can’t just look and go, wow, this person meets the criteria on paper of what this team wanted. Maybe they wanted them to be located in North America and have a podcast. Or maybe they had 50,000 followers. But you really have to go and see what the influencer’s personality is like and how they present themselves.

Of course, now our world is all digital and about video. For that you have to see how they perform if you want them to be a host. The biggest practice is the process that I have: you have to watch, read and listen to everything out there.

The 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report includes a case study featuring your work with SAP in the form of a podcast. Creating a single resource to serve as a platform for different internal customers and different external audiences is impressive. What role did influencers play in the Tech Unknown podcast?

Ursula: Absolutely. We created this podcast called Tech Unknown. We actually just finished our second season. For the first season, it was basically an influencer talking to other influencers, live.

When you look at influencer marketing, you have to think, what is the story you’re going to tell?

For the second season, we wanted to create something different. And so we took inspiration from This American Life, a great podcast. We have a host that tells a story, which is the most important thing. When you look at influencer marketing, you have to think, what is the story you’re going to tell? It’s not just like, let’s do this campaign. You have to think about what is the overall story?

The podcast is a series and what we did was to identify an influencer who would be our host. So decided that would be Tamra McClary. She’s a great thought leader and influencer. The reason we chose her is she’s energetic, her voice, and how she introduces things is great. The audience can relate to her.

For the second season she was the host and our focus was on the topic of data. We looked at all different lines of business and how data affects different businesses out there. Then we would bring in other influencers to give their perspective as like thought leaders on that topic. So if it’s talking about HR data, we bring in an HR expert. And then we might have a customer involved in it or an SAP executive who could talk about the customer.

The whole thing was around thought leadership and the influencers played a critical role because they validated the story. They are that third party validation about what SAP is talking about as a challenge in the industry. The hope is that people realize, “Oh, SAP has a solution to my challenges. Let me go check that out.” That’s why it was so important that the podcast included influencers.

And I’ll have to tell you one thing that is absolutely incredible. We would create a summary blog post about the podcast that we publish on one of our website properties. The gal who manages this thought leadership area of sap.com knows SEO really well. If you typed into Google, “future of data”, out of 1.5 billion search results, our blog post came up number one. It’s a combination of working with the influencer who has the social media presence on the topic. Also, Tamera the host is out there and she’s promoting this blog summary that she wrote. She’s promoting the series and we’re getting the word out there using the right keywords and it all comes into play. It’s all full circle, right?

It’s a podcast, it’s a blog, it’s the influencers. It’s all working together to create this awareness that people are going to pay attention to and realize that SAP has a solution to their business needs.

So who are some B2B tech influencers that really stand out today? And are there any re rising stars you would like to mention also?

Ursula: Oh my gosh, there are several. One of the first people that comes to mind is Sally Eaves.

She’s someone that she’s been on the scene for quite some time, but the thing is, Sally is first of all, Sally. I don’t know where she gets that energy. She is 24/7 go, go, go. She’s doing so many things. She has a background being a CTO, but then she has a side of her that is about education, children and the environment and how technology is influencing society. She’s kind of like the whole package and she’s really good and knowledgeable and very charismatic. We’d love to do some work with her because she’s fantastic. She also has a British accent, which makes that fun for us Americans. She’s one of the top ones that I would recommend. I love following her stories, so definitely check her out.

To see the full Inside Influence interview with Ursula, check out the video below:

To connect with Ursula on all things marketing and influence, you can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

B2B Influencer Marketing Unleashed
Don’t miss Ursula and I as we present at the virtual Content Marketing World conference this week: Influencer Marketing Unleashed: Top Tactics for Success from Global B2B Brands. This is my 10th year in a row speaking at CMWorld and this presentation highlights the best of the best when it comes to information about B2B influencer marketing including:

  • Key trends based on the latest B2B influencer marketing research study
  • Use cases and case studies from Monday.com, Cherwell Software, LinkedIn, Adobe, Alcatel Lucent Enterprise and of course, SAP.
  • A framework for enterprise B2B influencer content campaigns

While the CMWorld conference is happening virtually this week, you can get access to presentations on demand as well. Check out the website.

Next up on Inside Influence is a conversation with Janine Wegner, Global Thought Leadership Program and Activation Manager at Dell Technologies.

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence interviews:

Rani Mani, AdobeThe Value of B2B Influencer Marketing

Garnor Morantes, LinkedInThe Power of Always-On Influence

The post Inside Influence: Ursula Ringham from SAP on Influencer Marketing Operations appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Inside Influence: Garnor Morantes from LinkedIn on the Power of Always-On Influence

Inside Influence Garnor Morantes

Inside Influence Garnor Morantes

Welcome to the second episode of Inside Influence: What’s working and what’s not inside the world of B2B Influencer Marketing. Each week we feature an interview with a B2B marketing insider on all things influence and a deeper dive into the insights found in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

This week, we’re talking to Garnor Morantes, Group Marketing Manager at LinkedIn. Our team at TopRank Marketing has been fortunate to work with Garnor on an award-winning, ongoing influencer marketing program for LinkedIn over several years and his leadership has been instrumental in its success.

Our conversation touches on:

  • What Always-On influencer marketing is and why its valuable for B2B brands
  • The challenges faced by campaign-focused influencer marketing efforts
  • Advice for B2B marketers considering influencer marketing
  • How LinkedIn Marketing and Sales Solutions (clients) has developed an influencer community with an Always-On approach
  • Key statistics from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report
  • How LinkedIn works with influencers to improve customer and prospect experience
  • Whether marketers should pause or proceed with influencer marketing during the pandemic
  • Who some of the rising star B2B marketing and sales influencers we should be paying attention to
  • Predictions on the future of influencer marketing for B2B brands

The work that we’re doing with influencers is not centered around campaigns, it’s centered around relationships.

How would you explain an Always-On approach to Influencer Marketing to someone who is not familiar?

Garnor: For us as we think about Always-On as a strategy, the biggest thing that comes to mind is that the work that we’re doing with influencers is not centered around campaigns,  it’s centered around relationships. What I mean by that is, who do we want to be working with, who do we want to tell our story, who do we want to engage with.

It’s about building that relationship and finding people that are going to get mutual benefit out of this relationship and as a result we can have that type of engagement that isn’t just centered around different points in time like in a campaign based strategy.

The other thing I think about when it’s Always-On is really, are you activating this program through some channels that are always on? For us it’s our blog and our social channels and those are 24/7. I think that’s another way to think of an Always-On type of strategy.

At LinkedIn Marketing and Sales you’ve take more of an Always-On approach to influencer marketing with some great results in terms of reach and engagement. Can you share a little bit about your objectives and approach?

Garnor: Our objectives as we think about the influencer program is that it works really well in concert with our other programs, our other communities: customer advocates and even industry analysts is that we want to leverage and work with the influencer program in way that it is able to take the messages we want to deliver as a brand or business unit for Sales Solutions and Marketing Solutions, and empower those influencers to tell that story as well.

Our objective (with influencers) is that they know what our story is, that they are familiar with it and can lend input into it as well.

As I mentioned earlier, they have their own story to tell, their own brand, and their own narrative. So I feel that we are finding influencers that are already aligned with that message and that story. Our objective is that they know what our story is, that they are familiar with it and can lend input into it as well. They are the experts in many instances. They’re the feet on the ground who are talking to the marketers on a daily basis, talking to the sellers. So we want that feedback, that input into it.

The objective is equally gathering that input, getting better at telling our story and developing our products and services, while at the same time empowering a set of advocates or people out there that have large followings, or developing followings or are just experts in their field to tell that story as well.

That’s really at a high level the objectives we are trying to meet as we develop these programs. And we do that by keeping an eye out for the types of content that influencers might be creating that supports the message we’re telling. At the same time on occasion, creating some new campaigns in which we can arm these influencers with more information, with some assets that tell the story that we want to put out there – create some new content around that and have them be a key part of the delivery and the content creation.

What do you think are some of the top challenges working with B2B influencers today?

You put your message and your brand in the hands of someone else, what happens if that person says some things that are not in alignment with your brand?

Garnor: I go back to what’s going on in society and really that backdrop that we all heavily need to consider with everything we’re doing these days. There is that risk: you put your message and your brand in the hands of someone else, what happens if that person says some things that are not in alignment with your brand?

There’s a bit of that risk, there’s a bit of that challenge. For us, we have really placed a ton of emphasis on developing the trust and relationships with influencers – we feel pretty good about it, about where we stand, about the messages they’re going to deliver and what they’re going to say. That’s a risk.

Another challenge is one that you also mentioned earlier, is how do you find the right influencers? There’s so many people out there purporting to be experts. How do you find the right ones? We already talked about some of the ways to do that, being a more active part of the conversation.

The number of B2B brands considering influencer marketing for the first time or elevating their efforts has actually increased in the past 6 months. At the same time, our research shows that 60% of marketers do not feel they have the right skills in house or capability to execute. What advice can you share with marketers considering an influencer marketing program?

Garnor: I think the advice that I would give is take a moment and step back and not think of it as an influencer program. Think of it more as what is helpful for your buyers? What is important for your buyers and what they could benefit from?

Start thinking about who the audience truly is and as a result, who might be able to speak to them better than you can?

When you stop and take a look at that, then you start thinking about who that audience truly is and as a result, who might be able to speak to them better than you can?

For example, if you think about our business lines, the ones that I support, we’re talking about marketers and sellers. Yes I work in marketing, but I don’t have the necessary skill sets that I think a lot of these marketers are asking for. So then you start to take a look at what are they asking for? What are those conversations and who is a part of that conversation and can we have a relationship with them?

I think that’s the place to start. It removes some of the overwhelming nature of what setting up an influencer program can be. If you just think about who are the sales leaders and people who are experts in sales I should be talking to? Because that’s my end goal, to talk to sellers.

Let me start there, let me build a relationship with them. Let me see what they need, or what they have to offer and what I can offer them. That can do some of the upfront work of identification of influencers and also what ultimate output, methodology and process are going to work best because it happens from those discussions and relationships. I think that’s the advice I would give.

Check out the full video interview with Garnor here:

To connect on all things B2B marketing with Garnor, be sure to follow him on LinkedIn.

Next up on Inside Influence we will be talking with with Janine Wegner, Global Thought Leadership Program & Activation Manager at Dell Technologies on the intersection of influence and thought leadership.

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence interview with Rani Mani, from Adobe.

The post Inside Influence: Garnor Morantes from LinkedIn on the Power of Always-On Influence appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Inside Influence: Garnor Morantes from LinkedIn on the Power of Always-On Influence

Inside Influence Garnor Morantes

Welcome to the second episode of Inside Influence: What’s working and what’s not inside the world of B2B Influencer Marketing. Each week we feature an interview with a B2B marketing insider on all things influence and a deeper dive into the insights found in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

This week, we’re talking to Garnor Morantes, Group Marketing Manager at LinkedIn. Our team at TopRank Marketing has been fortunate to work with Garnor on an award-winning, ongoing influencer marketing program for LinkedIn over several years and his leadership has been instrumental in its success.

Our conversation touches on:

  • What Always-On influencer marketing is and why its valuable for B2B brands
  • The challenges faced by campaign-focused influencer marketing efforts
  • Advice for B2B marketers considering influencer marketing
  • How LinkedIn Marketing and Sales Solutions (clients) has developed an influencer community with an Always-On approach
  • Key statistics from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report
  • How LinkedIn works with influencers to improve customer and prospect experience
  • Whether marketers should pause or proceed with influencer marketing during the pandemic
  • Who some of the rising star B2B marketing and sales influencers we should be paying attention to
  • Predictions on the future of influencer marketing for B2B brands

The work that we’re doing with influencers is not centered around campaigns, it’s centered around relationships.

How would you explain an Always-On approach to Influencer Marketing to someone who is not familiar?

Garnor: For us as we think about Always-On as a strategy, the biggest thing that comes to mind is that the work that we’re doing with influencers is not centered around campaigns,  it’s centered around relationships. What I mean by that is, who do we want to be working with, who do we want to tell our story, who do we want to engage with.

It’s about building that relationship and finding people that are going to get mutual benefit out of this relationship and as a result we can have that type of engagement that isn’t just centered around different points in time like in a campaign based strategy.

The other thing I think about when it’s Always-On is really, are you activating this program through some channels that are always on? For us it’s our blog and our social channels and those are 24/7. I think that’s another way to think of an Always-On type of strategy.

At LinkedIn Marketing and Sales you’ve take more of an Always-On approach to influencer marketing with some great results in terms of reach and engagement. Can you share a little bit about your objectives and approach?

Garnor: Our objectives as we think about the influencer program is that it works really well in concert with our other programs, our other communities: customer advocates and even industry analysts is that we want to leverage and work with the influencer program in way that it is able to take the messages we want to deliver as a brand or business unit for Sales Solutions and Marketing Solutions, and empower those influencers to tell that story as well.

Our objective (with influencers) is that they know what our story is, that they are familiar with it and can lend input into it as well.

As I mentioned earlier, they have their own story to tell, their own brand, and their own narrative. So I feel that we are finding influencers that are already aligned with that message and that story. Our objective is that they know what our story is, that they are familiar with it and can lend input into it as well. They are the experts in many instances. They’re the feet on the ground who are talking to the marketers on a daily basis, talking to the sellers. So we want that feedback, that input into it.

The objective is equally gathering that input, getting better at telling our story and developing our products and services, while at the same time empowering a set of advocates or people out there that have large followings, or developing followings or are just experts in their field to tell that story as well.

That’s really at a high level the objectives we are trying to meet as we develop these programs. And we do that by keeping an eye out for the types of content that influencers might be creating that supports the message we’re telling. At the same time on occasion, creating some new campaigns in which we can arm these influencers with more information, with some assets that tell the story that we want to put out there – create some new content around that and have them be a key part of the delivery and the content creation.

What do you think are some of the top challenges working with B2B influencers today?

You put your message and your brand in the hands of someone else, what happens if that person says some things that are not in alignment with your brand?

Garnor: I go back to what’s going on in society and really that backdrop that we all heavily need to consider with everything we’re doing these days. There is that risk: you put your message and your brand in the hands of someone else, what happens if that person says some things that are not in alignment with your brand?

There’s a bit of that risk, there’s a bit of that challenge. For us, we have really placed a ton of emphasis on developing the trust and relationships with influencers – we feel pretty good about it, about where we stand, about the messages they’re going to deliver and what they’re going to say. That’s a risk.

Another challenge is one that you also mentioned earlier, is how do you find the right influencers? There’s so many people out there purporting to be experts. How do you find the right ones? We already talked about some of the ways to do that, being a more active part of the conversation.

The number of B2B brands considering influencer marketing for the first time or elevating their efforts has actually increased in the past 6 months. At the same time, our research shows that 60% of marketers do not feel they have the right skills in house or capability to execute. What advice can you share with marketers considering an influencer marketing program?

Garnor: I think the advice that I would give is take a moment and step back and not think of it as an influencer program. Think of it more as what is helpful for your buyers? What is important for your buyers and what they could benefit from?

Start thinking about who the audience truly is and as a result, who might be able to speak to them better than you can?

When you stop and take a look at that, then you start thinking about who that audience truly is and as a result, who might be able to speak to them better than you can?

For example, if you think about our business lines, the ones that I support, we’re talking about marketers and sellers. Yes I work in marketing, but I don’t have the necessary skill sets that I think a lot of these marketers are asking for. So then you start to take a look at what are they asking for? What are those conversations and who is a part of that conversation and can we have a relationship with them?

I think that’s the place to start. It removes some of the overwhelming nature of what setting up an influencer program can be. If you just think about who are the sales leaders and people who are experts in sales I should be talking to? Because that’s my end goal, to talk to sellers.

Let me start there, let me build a relationship with them. Let me see what they need, or what they have to offer and what I can offer them. That can do some of the upfront work of identification of influencers and also what ultimate output, methodology and process are going to work best because it happens from those discussions and relationships. I think that’s the advice I would give.

Check out the full video interview with Garnor here:

To connect on all things B2B marketing with Garnor, be sure to follow him on LinkedIn.

Next up on Inside Influence we will be talking with with Janine Wegner, Global Thought Leadership Program & Activation Manager at Dell Technologies on the intersection of influence and thought leadership.

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence interview with Rani Mani, from Adobe.