Inside Influence EP09: Brian Solis from Salesforce on How B2B Influence Adds Value to Customers

Brian Solis Inside Influence

According to our research in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 74% of marketers surveyed believe that influencer marketing improves prospect and customer experience for B2B brands. If there’s one industry expert to tap on the topic of customer experience, I can think of few more qualified than the author of X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, Brian Solis.

As an 8 time best selling author, keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, digital anthropologist and Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, Brian is a longtime friend that I’ve been able to collaborate with numerous times on marketing topics.

In a time of darkness, chaos, or confusion, B2B brands have an opportunity to be the light. @briansolis

Brian has a lot of inspiring insights when it comes to the intersection of experience and influence. Not only did he author the Influence 2.0 report that we partnered with Traackr on to research, but he contributed to the introduction of the first research report dedicated to B2B influencer marketing: The 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing. Here’s an excerpt:

“In a time of darkness, chaos, or confusion, B2B brands have an opportunity to be the light for their customers and customer’s customers. Meaningful customer engagement starts with discovery. When someone begins their discovery process, what do they find? How do they react? Does your content resonate in a relevant and empathetic way or does it push customers elsewhere?

B2B marketers now have an opportunity to reimagine engagement to ignite a new type of connection with customers. Beyond designing for and measuring the potent for engagement, design for humans and their intentions, needs, and desired outcomes. Engagement becomes a function of intent and purpose.

This is where influence and thought leadership transcend marketing to become partners to drive business growth.”

I recently had the opportunity to connect with Brian to record this latest episode of Inside Influence to talk about a range of topics based on Brian’s experience as an analyst and as one of the most sought after and respected influencers in the business world.

In our discussion, we covered:

  • Brian’s role at Salesforce as a Global Innovation Evangelist
  • The importance of Always-On Influence and creating value for customers
  • What B2B brands should expect from influencer marketing
  • The closing gap between B2B and B2C influencer marketing
  • What B2B executives should consider when incorporating influence into the marketing mix
  • What B2B marketers should expect from influencer marketing agencies
  • Most rewarding experience with a B2B brand as an influencer
  • The role influencer can play for B2B brands during times of uncertainty
  • Tips for B2B executives on becoming more influential (and why)

Below are some of the highlights of our discussion with the full video interview embedded below.

You’ll be coming up on a year into your role as Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce in a few months. Tell us about the work you’ve been doing and what you’re looking forward to in 2021.

Brian: A lot of what my role is what we’re going to be talking about. The word evangelist at Salesforce means something deeper than simple evangelism. It really gets to the core of what you and I have been talking about over the years, which is true influence.

We think about [influence] as adding value to people who need to make decisions about the future of their business. @briansolis

Influence is something that we don’t think about in terms of marketing. We think about it as adding value to people who need to make decisions about the future of their business. Therefore, taking the insights, thought leadership, and ideas to help them do something in a new, different, or better way. So it’s essentially bringing influence down to cause and effect. What is the effect or what is the outcome that you want to see and how you share content, ideas, or whatever package that is, to help that individual or help that organization move forward in ways that they couldn’t have otherwise, without hopefully seeing your work.

When we talk about B2B influence, let’s take out the, “How many followers do you have?” or “How many impressions are you going to drive?” and let’s look at it for what it is, right? A business or an executive needs help in these times of great transformation and disruption. And where do they turn for that when there is not a playbook about building the future? That doesn’t exist, right? What do you do? Where do you turn? Who do you listen to? Right? That’s the role of someone who adds value to the conversation.

You’re essentially building a community around people who are helping one another invent forward, right? To break convention or break mediocrity.

I want to thank you for writing an introduction to our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report – the first dedicated study of B2B influencer marketing. You mentioned that the need for influence is Always-On. Can you drill down into that?

Brian: Influence never sleeps because people are always in need of information. There’s always something new. There’s always a new opportunity. There’s always a new way to do something differently moving forward. And so this is an opportunity to build an infrastructure within your organization that is constantly adding value to business customers as they seek it in a variety of contexts in their journey.

Influence never sleeps because people are always in need of information. @briansolis

If we think about customer experience in the B to C world, one of the biggest transformations that I hope we’ll see is we’ll see organizations be always on and always connected from within so that the back office and the front office then facilitates a much more intuitive, always on and personalized customer journey.

The same is true for business to business. Business customers are going through that journey. There’s different stages all the time, and they’re always in need of insights, information and engagement. That means the opportunity to engage, the opportunity to provide content, the opportunity to guide their journey is always on. That takes influencer marketing.

We can help that business customer at every stage because of the influencer program that we’ve put in place is designed to add value. @briansolis

Maybe this isn’t so much about influencer marketing as it is about influencer experience. We can help that business customer at every stage because of the influencer program that we’ve put in place is designed to add value. That takes the concepts of influencer marketing, content, and product marketing and essentially creates this much more powerful alliance of ways in which we can think beyond, “Hey, how many views did we get?”, “How many impressions did we get?”, “What was the reach on that last piece of content we created?”

Then we can start measuring things by how many questions we answered, how many people we drove towards the stage to want to know more. And how did we change the thinking among executives and really start to get to a much more meaningful place where influence is essentially a code word for helping people?

A few years ago we both worked (much more you than me) with Traackr on the Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing research report where there was quite a gap between B2C and B2B influencer marketing adoption. Has that gap closed much in the past 3 years?

Brian: You know, I don’t have the data around me, but I have to imagine that you had a big deal to do with closing that gap because you’ve been a champion for B2B influence for a really long time. You’ve been a pioneer in actually making this a formal construct within companies. That report that we worked on was our way of not only showing the discrepancy between the two, but actually showing the need for them to be actually more similar than dissimilar.

Influence 2.0 is a concept that was introduced to help marketers think about influence differently than the way that it’s still largely thought about, which is a broadcast mentality or what I call a drafting someone’s social capital. That’s when a person has street cred within an industry and brands want to partner with them so that they can draft their credibility and attach it to our brand.

That’s all fine, but if you’re consistently adding value through strategic partnerships, building trust, and also becoming an influencer yourself, I always believed brands needed to become influencers as well, then we actually can forge an ecosystem, essentially a community of belonging together to make that community stronger for one another and for the market.

I always joked when I spoke to B2B audiences, I specifically loved to use the best B2C examples.  I mean anything besides the traditional stuff where we see influencers getting free products and they put it on Instagram.  That’s to me, the same as celebrity endorsements, I’m talking about influences outcomes. Like, “I trust you. I value what you’re thinking. You’re guiding me in my decision-making.”

I want to push business to business forward to remind them that there are human beings on the other side of that screen. @briansolis

Whether I’m a consumer or whether I’m a business customer, that’s what I talk about with influence. I want to push business to business forward to remind them that there are human beings on the other side of that screen, right? If you could humanize something, then people will find it more relatable. It’s not like as a business customer, they’re not consumers. It’s not like they say, okay, I’m done shopping for headphones and now I have to look at B2B enterprise systems here, so I’m going to forget what it was like to be treated as a human being. I actually think that humanization is what can make B2B even stronger.

Our research found that 77% of marketers say that their prospective customers rely on advice from industry influencers and yet 60% say they do not have the skills or expertise in-house to execute influencer programs. Of course many of those marketers trust outside experts like agencies to help. What do you think B2B marketers should expect from agencies or consultants when it comes to influencer marketing programs?

Brian: I hope that agencies think of themselves as partners in trust-building. Because it changes the conversation from marketing. Part of the challenge is, what’s the brief or what’s the remit? And how does someone respond to that?

I think for thoughtful organizations on the outside, you should probably consider influencing the decision makers as well. Meaning, that you should become an influencer in helping your customers understand that what they’re buying from you is not just the ability to connect them with people who have a lot of followers or audiences or networks or proven track record of content. But you’re actually partnering with them to build a market of trust, to build a community, an Always-On community. When I research the decisions I need to make it happens at midnight, you know? Influence never sleeps, right?

You have to find the things and the trusted voices when you can and you want them to be recent. You want them to be contextually relevant, which means I can’t just find an article. Maybe I want data visualization. Maybe I need a video, whatever it is, right. I need to find it my way. So, I actually think that this is an opportunity for agencies, partners, or consultants to influence their buyers so that the briefs now start to ask for bigger, better things.

This is an opportunity for agencies, partners, or consultants to influence their buyers so that the briefs now start to ask for bigger, better things. @briansolis

I wrote, I think, the first industry report on digital influence back in the day about 2011 and in that, I talked about authority and popularity and what I see, especially in B2B, we see it in B2C too, the authority part of this was always under appreciated. Authority essentially says, I not only know what I’m talking about, I know what you’re going through. So therefore, that’s what’s inspiring a lot of my work and hopefully I can earn your trust because that’s the consideration set I’m bringing to the table.

That’s the work that external partners need to do to help internal partners who are caught up in everything that they have to deal with beyond influence – everything that they have to constantly substantiate and try to justify all of the work in the investments that they’re making. Those things will become much more valuable within the organization if they can tie it to business outcomes or to customer lifetime value or to things that actually have an impact on the business.

I can tell you after doing this for so many years,  tying my work to those things, that’s all a customer is looking for: real help. And a business is looking for outcomes and the two are mutually beneficial. So let’s help those decision makers think beyond influencer marketing and more about influence.

The pandemic and many other forces driving a feeling of uncertainty and change have created an environment where there are new challenges, yet also opportunities. What role do you think influence can play in helping brands during these “uncertain times” better connect with customers?

Brian: I think ultimately, yes. It’s not that it’s never not been important. There’s just a lot of uncertainty right now. There’s also a lot of fear, anxiety, stress, and anger. These are just human, natural human feelings that exist. These are things we’re dealing with. We’re coping. We’re not just working from home or trying to work from home during a pandemic with a whole bunch of other stuff like remote learning or whatever it is in our households. Right?

So that importance of light that we talked about in the ignite moment, that’s more important than ever. Add to that the digital distractions that everybody’s dealing with that’s now compounded more because we have to be digital first. Those opportunities to deliver value and build trust are more important and actually more valuable than ever before.

Those opportunities to deliver value and build trust are more important and actually more valuable than ever before. @briansolis

That’s what I think we want people to think about here leaving this conversation. If I had to reinvent my definition of influence and my approach to it because of 2020, what would I do differently? If I could set aside 20 years of work in March and start all over again, you can do it, because it only makes you more relevant and better. That’s ultimately all we want to do and that’s ultimately what people are looking for.

Any tips you can share with senior B2B brand executives on becoming more influential themselves?

Brian: There are individuals that I think do a really amazing job within brands, whether they know it or not, that make that brand trusted and much more influential within the customer community.

Talk to Paul Greenberg for example. Paul’s a dear friend and an incredible, Godfather of CRM, an incredible analyst and also an incredible human being. He empowers individuals who feel like they want to change within organizations to go and change within these organizations because they know it’s what’s right for the community.

So, I think the first part is caring. You’re not just trying to be an influencer and run an influencer marketing program, because you care about the fact that customers are struggling to find information. They’re frustrated because they couldn’t previously do the things to make the impact that they really wanted to make. Influencer marketing or influence in that regard just becomes a means, a mechanism of which to activate a community.

What does it take to be a thought leader? Well, you have to be a thought leader. @briansolis

So that part is about caring, which is actually a rare, rare gift out there. The other piece is, what does it take to be a thought leader? Well, you have to be a thought leader. And that means you have to actually know what is happening out there, what people are struggling with. And you have to care so much about solving that, that is the heart of everything that you do. Then, hopefully it inspires you to see a different path forward of which becomes your unique voice.

Ultimately, what influence means is, “What impact did you have?” @briansolis

Of course, the mechanics of making that voice heard is not just about how loud you are or how you put fear into people or how popular you get. Ultimately, what influence means is, “What impact did you have?” I think those things are where businesses need to focus and where business leaders need to rethink what it takes to build that brand, that trusted brand out there.

To see the full Inside Influence Episode 9 interview with Brian Solis, check out the video below:

To connect with Brian, you can find him at BrianSolis.com, on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Next up on Inside Influence, we’ll be talking to

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence B2B Influencer Marketing interviews:

Inside Influence EP09: Brian Solis from Salesforce on How B2B Influence Adds Value to Customers

Brian Solis Inside Influence

Brian Solis Inside Influence

According to our research in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 74% of marketers surveyed believe that influencer marketing improves prospect and customer experience for B2B brands. If there’s one industry expert to tap on the topic of customer experience, I can think of few more qualified than the author of X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, Brian Solis.

As an 8 time best selling author, keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, digital anthropologist and Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, Brian is a longtime friend that I’ve been able to collaborate with numerous times on marketing topics.

In a time of darkness, chaos, or confusion, B2B brands have an opportunity to be the light. @briansolis

Brian has a lot of inspiring insights when it comes to the intersection of experience and influence. Not only did he author the Influence 2.0 report that we partnered with Traackr on to research, but he contributed to the introduction of the first research report dedicated to B2B influencer marketing: The 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing. Here’s an excerpt:

“In a time of darkness, chaos, or confusion, B2B brands have an opportunity to be the light for their customers and customer’s customers. Meaningful customer engagement starts with discovery. When someone begins their discovery process, what do they find? How do they react? Does your content resonate in a relevant and empathetic way or does it push customers elsewhere?

B2B marketers now have an opportunity to reimagine engagement to ignite a new type of connection with customers. Beyond designing for and measuring the potent for engagement, design for humans and their intentions, needs, and desired outcomes. Engagement becomes a function of intent and purpose.

This is where influence and thought leadership transcend marketing to become partners to drive business growth.”

I recently had the opportunity to connect with Brian to record this latest episode of Inside Influence to talk about a range of topics based on Brian’s experience as an analyst and as one of the most sought after and respected influencers in the business world.

In our discussion, we covered:

  • Brian’s role at Salesforce as a Global Innovation Evangelist
  • The importance of Always-On Influence and creating value for customers
  • What B2B brands should expect from influencer marketing
  • The closing gap between B2B and B2C influencer marketing
  • What B2B executives should consider when incorporating influence into the marketing mix
  • What B2B marketers should expect from influencer marketing agencies
  • Most rewarding experience with a B2B brand as an influencer
  • The role influencer can play for B2B brands during times of uncertainty
  • Tips for B2B executives on becoming more influential (and why)

Below are some of the highlights of our discussion with the full video interview embedded below.

You’ll be coming up on a year into your role as Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce in a few months. Tell us about the work you’ve been doing and what you’re looking forward to in 2021.

Brian: A lot of what my role is what we’re going to be talking about. The word evangelist at Salesforce means something deeper than simple evangelism. It really gets to the core of what you and I have been talking about over the years, which is true influence.

We think about [influence] as adding value to people who need to make decisions about the future of their business. @briansolis

Influence is something that we don’t think about in terms of marketing. We think about it as adding value to people who need to make decisions about the future of their business. Therefore, taking the insights, thought leadership, and ideas to help them do something in a new, different, or better way. So it’s essentially bringing influence down to cause and effect. What is the effect or what is the outcome that you want to see and how you share content, ideas, or whatever package that is, to help that individual or help that organization move forward in ways that they couldn’t have otherwise, without hopefully seeing your work.

When we talk about B2B influence, let’s take out the, “How many followers do you have?” or “How many impressions are you going to drive?” and let’s look at it for what it is, right? A business or an executive needs help in these times of great transformation and disruption. And where do they turn for that when there is not a playbook about building the future? That doesn’t exist, right? What do you do? Where do you turn? Who do you listen to? Right? That’s the role of someone who adds value to the conversation.

You’re essentially building a community around people who are helping one another invent forward, right? To break convention or break mediocrity.

I want to thank you for writing an introduction to our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report – the first dedicated study of B2B influencer marketing. You mentioned that the need for influence is Always-On. Can you drill down into that?

Brian: Influence never sleeps because people are always in need of information. There’s always something new. There’s always a new opportunity. There’s always a new way to do something differently moving forward. And so this is an opportunity to build an infrastructure within your organization that is constantly adding value to business customers as they seek it in a variety of contexts in their journey.

Influence never sleeps because people are always in need of information. @briansolis

If we think about customer experience in the B to C world, one of the biggest transformations that I hope we’ll see is we’ll see organizations be always on and always connected from within so that the back office and the front office then facilitates a much more intuitive, always on and personalized customer journey.

The same is true for business to business. Business customers are going through that journey. There’s different stages all the time, and they’re always in need of insights, information and engagement. That means the opportunity to engage, the opportunity to provide content, the opportunity to guide their journey is always on. That takes influencer marketing.

We can help that business customer at every stage because of the influencer program that we’ve put in place is designed to add value. @briansolis

Maybe this isn’t so much about influencer marketing as it is about influencer experience. We can help that business customer at every stage because of the influencer program that we’ve put in place is designed to add value. That takes the concepts of influencer marketing, content, and product marketing and essentially creates this much more powerful alliance of ways in which we can think beyond, “Hey, how many views did we get?”, “How many impressions did we get?”, “What was the reach on that last piece of content we created?”

Then we can start measuring things by how many questions we answered, how many people we drove towards the stage to want to know more. And how did we change the thinking among executives and really start to get to a much more meaningful place where influence is essentially a code word for helping people?

A few years ago we both worked (much more you than me) with Traackr on the Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing research report where there was quite a gap between B2C and B2B influencer marketing adoption. Has that gap closed much in the past 3 years?

Brian: You know, I don’t have the data around me, but I have to imagine that you had a big deal to do with closing that gap because you’ve been a champion for B2B influence for a really long time. You’ve been a pioneer in actually making this a formal construct within companies. That report that we worked on was our way of not only showing the discrepancy between the two, but actually showing the need for them to be actually more similar than dissimilar.

Influence 2.0 is a concept that was introduced to help marketers think about influence differently than the way that it’s still largely thought about, which is a broadcast mentality or what I call a drafting someone’s social capital. That’s when a person has street cred within an industry and brands want to partner with them so that they can draft their credibility and attach it to our brand.

That’s all fine, but if you’re consistently adding value through strategic partnerships, building trust, and also becoming an influencer yourself, I always believed brands needed to become influencers as well, then we actually can forge an ecosystem, essentially a community of belonging together to make that community stronger for one another and for the market.

I always joked when I spoke to B2B audiences, I specifically loved to use the best B2C examples.  I mean anything besides the traditional stuff where we see influencers getting free products and they put it on Instagram.  That’s to me, the same as celebrity endorsements, I’m talking about influences outcomes. Like, “I trust you. I value what you’re thinking. You’re guiding me in my decision-making.”

I want to push business to business forward to remind them that there are human beings on the other side of that screen. @briansolis

Whether I’m a consumer or whether I’m a business customer, that’s what I talk about with influence. I want to push business to business forward to remind them that there are human beings on the other side of that screen, right? If you could humanize something, then people will find it more relatable. It’s not like as a business customer, they’re not consumers. It’s not like they say, okay, I’m done shopping for headphones and now I have to look at B2B enterprise systems here, so I’m going to forget what it was like to be treated as a human being. I actually think that humanization is what can make B2B even stronger.

Our research found that 77% of marketers say that their prospective customers rely on advice from industry influencers and yet 60% say they do not have the skills or expertise in-house to execute influencer programs. Of course many of those marketers trust outside experts like agencies to help. What do you think B2B marketers should expect from agencies or consultants when it comes to influencer marketing programs?

Brian: I hope that agencies think of themselves as partners in trust-building. Because it changes the conversation from marketing. Part of the challenge is, what’s the brief or what’s the remit? And how does someone respond to that?

I think for thoughtful organizations on the outside, you should probably consider influencing the decision makers as well. Meaning, that you should become an influencer in helping your customers understand that what they’re buying from you is not just the ability to connect them with people who have a lot of followers or audiences or networks or proven track record of content. But you’re actually partnering with them to build a market of trust, to build a community, an Always-On community. When I research the decisions I need to make it happens at midnight, you know? Influence never sleeps, right?

You have to find the things and the trusted voices when you can and you want them to be recent. You want them to be contextually relevant, which means I can’t just find an article. Maybe I want data visualization. Maybe I need a video, whatever it is, right. I need to find it my way. So, I actually think that this is an opportunity for agencies, partners, or consultants to influence their buyers so that the briefs now start to ask for bigger, better things.

This is an opportunity for agencies, partners, or consultants to influence their buyers so that the briefs now start to ask for bigger, better things. @briansolis

I wrote, I think, the first industry report on digital influence back in the day about 2011 and in that, I talked about authority and popularity and what I see, especially in B2B, we see it in B2C too, the authority part of this was always under appreciated. Authority essentially says, I not only know what I’m talking about, I know what you’re going through. So therefore, that’s what’s inspiring a lot of my work and hopefully I can earn your trust because that’s the consideration set I’m bringing to the table.

That’s the work that external partners need to do to help internal partners who are caught up in everything that they have to deal with beyond influence – everything that they have to constantly substantiate and try to justify all of the work in the investments that they’re making. Those things will become much more valuable within the organization if they can tie it to business outcomes or to customer lifetime value or to things that actually have an impact on the business.

I can tell you after doing this for so many years,  tying my work to those things, that’s all a customer is looking for: real help. And a business is looking for outcomes and the two are mutually beneficial. So let’s help those decision makers think beyond influencer marketing and more about influence.

The pandemic and many other forces driving a feeling of uncertainty and change have created an environment where there are new challenges, yet also opportunities. What role do you think influence can play in helping brands during these “uncertain times” better connect with customers?

Brian: I think ultimately, yes. It’s not that it’s never not been important. There’s just a lot of uncertainty right now. There’s also a lot of fear, anxiety, stress, and anger. These are just human, natural human feelings that exist. These are things we’re dealing with. We’re coping. We’re not just working from home or trying to work from home during a pandemic with a whole bunch of other stuff like remote learning or whatever it is in our households. Right?

So that importance of light that we talked about in the ignite moment, that’s more important than ever. Add to that the digital distractions that everybody’s dealing with that’s now compounded more because we have to be digital first. Those opportunities to deliver value and build trust are more important and actually more valuable than ever before.

Those opportunities to deliver value and build trust are more important and actually more valuable than ever before. @briansolis

That’s what I think we want people to think about here leaving this conversation. If I had to reinvent my definition of influence and my approach to it because of 2020, what would I do differently? If I could set aside 20 years of work in March and start all over again, you can do it, because it only makes you more relevant and better. That’s ultimately all we want to do and that’s ultimately what people are looking for.

Any tips you can share with senior B2B brand executives on becoming more influential themselves?

Brian: There are individuals that I think do a really amazing job within brands, whether they know it or not, that make that brand trusted and much more influential within the customer community.

Talk to Paul Greenberg for example. Paul’s a dear friend and an incredible, Godfather of CRM, an incredible analyst and also an incredible human being. He empowers individuals who feel like they want to change within organizations to go and change within these organizations because they know it’s what’s right for the community.

So, I think the first part is caring. You’re not just trying to be an influencer and run an influencer marketing program, because you care about the fact that customers are struggling to find information. They’re frustrated because they couldn’t previously do the things to make the impact that they really wanted to make. Influencer marketing or influence in that regard just becomes a means, a mechanism of which to activate a community.

What does it take to be a thought leader? Well, you have to be a thought leader. @briansolis

So that part is about caring, which is actually a rare, rare gift out there. The other piece is, what does it take to be a thought leader? Well, you have to be a thought leader. And that means you have to actually know what is happening out there, what people are struggling with. And you have to care so much about solving that, that is the heart of everything that you do. Then, hopefully it inspires you to see a different path forward of which becomes your unique voice.

Ultimately, what influence means is, “What impact did you have?” @briansolis

Of course, the mechanics of making that voice heard is not just about how loud you are or how you put fear into people or how popular you get. Ultimately, what influence means is, “What impact did you have?” I think those things are where businesses need to focus and where business leaders need to rethink what it takes to build that brand, that trusted brand out there.

To see the full Inside Influence Episode 9 interview with Brian Solis, check out the video below:

To connect with Brian, you can find him at BrianSolis.com, on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence B2B Influencer Marketing interviews:

The post Inside Influence EP09: Brian Solis from Salesforce on How B2B Influence Adds Value to Customers appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


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Gratitude In Uncertain Times: What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For

Family gathered for Thanksgiving for video call with remote family members.

Have our views on thankfulness changed in the turmoil and uncertainty of 2020?

As the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving Day, the pandemic continues to have a profound global impact, making this start to the holiday season one unique in modern history.

This doesn’t mean that we have less to be thankful for, however — indeed the opposite may be true, based on what our team here at TopRank Marketing have taken the time to reflect on for our traditional post sharing messages of thankfulness.

Our ability to see and express gratitude in difficult times can be especially meaningful and replenishing. This may be a prime year to consider the words of writer G. K. Chesterton.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” — Gilbert K. Chesterton Click To Tweet

Let’s open our hearts and take in messages of thankfulness from our team during this unprecedented pandemic year, shared with the hope that you’ll also be inspired to reflect on some of the silver linings that may be hidden in our lives if we take the time to listen.

What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful for in 2020

CEO and Co-Founder

2020 has been a remarkable year for many reasons. With all of the challenges, uncertainty and obstacles, I could not be more proud of my team at TopRank Marketing for how they have adapted quickly, with care and quality to every speed bump to roadblock they have encountered.

Amidst the significant changes and challenges, new leaders have emerged, processes have been refined and accountability for work quality has improved.

Most of all, the attention and responsiveness to customer needs that have been a hallmark of TopRank Marketing for many years were rewarded with incredible customer retention rates, program expansion and the addition of some of the largest client engagements we’ve ever had in our 20 years in business.

I am thankful for the leadership of our management team, the next level organizational and relationship management skills of our account team, the unrivaled creativity of our content and creative teams, the tech and marketing mastery of our SEO team, the industry leading capabilities of our fast growing influencer marketing team, our internal marketing for keeping this blog and our social media accounts a source of insight for hundreds of thousands of people and how operations has been able to make sure everything we need to do business is working properly.

I am thankful for the continued confidence and partnership with our clients who represent some of the top B2B brands in the world. The opportunity to collaborate and create influencer content experiences with these brands is a source of inspiration to our team and to the B2B marketing community at large as we get to share success stories through case studies and industry awards.

I am thankful for the TopRank Marketing community of industry influencers who have raised the bar on our collaborations with clients and helped us produce meaningful, impactful marketing resources that customers actually love.

I am thankful for our community of marketers who visit us here on our B2B Marketing Blog, read our newsletter, attend event presentations and engage with us on our social media channels.

2020 has been remarkable not just because of the challenges, but because of the way those in our community, amongst our clients and team have responded. The clarity of our purpose in creating content experiences that inspire by helping B2B brands become the best answer for their customers has served our clients and company well. 2020 will be one of our most successful ever.

I am eternally thankful for the opportunity to live a dream of working with an agency dedicated to making a difference for our clients with care, creativity and impact. Thank you!

Senior Account Manager

I’m thankful for everybody who learned and leveraged new ways to tell their stories, create their content, and reach their audiences this year. This includes many of our clients as well as my yoga and school-teacher friends, my travel-blogger parents, my trivia team, and everybody keeping in touch along the way — all of whom I admire very much. I’m a lucky person to be surrounded in both my work and home life by caring, compassionate, funny, kind people who value growth.

My amazing husband and our snuggly dog Monroe are endless sources of mood-boosters, and undisputed MVPs of our “quaranteam.”

Social Media and Content Marketing Manager

In our uncertain 2020, I’m especially thankful for my wonderful family, friends, and associates.

Celebrating 19 years of marriage with my amazing wife and pandemic partner Julie Ahasay tops my thankfulness list, along with the joy of having my parents Konnie and Bob in my life, as well as my astounding and always-inspiring 103-year-old grandma Lilly Haldorsen, who is living through her second pandemic.

I’m thankful for over 36 years of using the Internet, and to still be able to run, mountain bike, and cross-country ski the beautiful trails of Duluth, and for our loving cats — Phineas Faustus and Kukla Francis Oliver.

It’s a great time to reach out and give the world and its endless opportunities a cozy wintery embrace, so here’s a big virtual hug to all of you I’m lucky enough to know, lovely family and friends. Thank you.

Senior Account Manager

In reflecting on 2020 there is so much more to be grateful for than meets the eye. So yes, my children got too much screen time. But they also got 5x more baking soda/vinegar science experiments, pillow tents and Friday movie nights with their parents. Yes, I miss getting out of the house, but I cannot rejoice enough for the innumerable moments my husband and I have had.

I am also thankful for our TopRank Marketing team – dealing with COVID and civil unrest in real, close-to-home ways – all the while coming to work ready to hustle, learn and drive results. I’m grateful and optimistic for all of the outstanding talent that has joined our team this year. And, I’m proud of the growth in each and every single one of us professionally and personally in 2020!

Speaking of growth… we are beyond grateful to announce baby number 3 coming to our locked down home in June 2021! And yes, we have confirmed – it is just one baby.

Senior Content Marketing Manager

In my professional life, I’m grateful for an amazing team that stays engaged and keeps in touch even when we can’t be in the office together.

Personally, I’m grateful for my at-home team — my wife, my 5-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son. We’re getting more together time than ever before, but we still enjoy each other’s company. Couldn’t ask for a better lockdown crew.

Influencer Marketing Strategist

I’m thankful to be busy working with fabulous clients and amazing thought leaders every day. In a year that has hit many people very hard, I know that each day is a blessing. And, I am especially blessed to be able to get up every day and walk into my office and do work that I enjoy.

On a personal note, I am thankful for my health and that of loved ones who have recovered from sickness. And in a time when I don’t leave my house, I am especially blessed to have my husband and fur babies keeping me happy and busy.

Research Analyst

I am mostly thankful for my wonderful family, my wife of 56 years, our three children and seven wonderful grandchildren.

I feel blessed to be father of this great family! May the new year bring enlightenment.

SEO Strategist

While these are things I’m always appreciative of, 2020 has me extra thankful for family, friends, and good health. I’m thankful for discovering sports like roller skating to keep me active during these tough times.

I love working alongside the amazing businesses we, at TopRank Marketing, partner with, and I’m grateful I can continue to do so and achieve great results.

Account Manager

I’m thankful for the amazing team and collaborative work environment we have at TopRank Marketing. All throughout this wild ride we call 2020, we’ve stuck together and have been able to achieve some incredible milestones and results for clients.

On a personal level, I’m thankful for the health and support of my friends and family. Thank you all for continuing to challenge me and make me a better person each and every day. And of course, my new puppy Chief who we got in the middle of this pandemic. He has certainly helped keep us plenty busy and can always help brighten up a Zoom call.

Senior Influencer Marketing Manager

Bizarrely, I’m thankful for 2020 and all of the curveballs it’s thrown. Personally, I’ve been grateful for all the extra time with immediate family — even virtual schooling a 7 year old while trying to entertain a 4 year old! — as I’ve realized we have a lot of fun together and are very fortunate.

All of our wider family lives abroad so we’ve not been able to see them in almost a year, which has been really sad, but made me value them all the more and be tremendously excited for travel and reunions in 2021!

And professionally, if 2020 didn’t go the way it did, I may never have landed at TopRank Marketing, as I was lined up for another role which quickly evaporated as Covid took hold. I’m so grateful to now be working alongside such a stellar crop of people and being at the cutting edge of B2B content and influencer marketing for some amazing clients. Every day is invigorating and brings a new challenge, and a lot of collaboration and laughter. All things to be celebrated : )

Influencer Marketing Strategist

In a year that has felt like a decade, I am thankful that me, my family, and loved ones are all healthy and still standing. I also started at TopRank Marketing this year which was scary and exciting, but the team is amazing and supportive which I am truly thankful for.

Lastly, I would like to thank quarantine for allowing me to hone my cooking skills — I’m no Gordon Ramsay, but an air fryer does wonders.

TopRank Marketing Gives Thanks For You

All of us at TopRank Marketing are grateful for you, and thank you for being the supportive fans, amazing clients, and enthusiastic influencers that have allowed us to achieve personal, professional, and brand success.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

The TopRank Marketing Team

Gratitude In Uncertain Times: What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For

Family gathered for Thanksgiving for video call with remote family members.

Family gathered for Thanksgiving for video call with remote family members.

Have our views on thankfulness changed in the turmoil and uncertainty of 2020?

As the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving Day, the pandemic continues to have a profound global impact, making this start to the holiday season one unique in modern history.

This doesn’t mean that we have less to be thankful for, however — indeed the opposite may be true, based on what our team here at TopRank Marketing have taken the time to reflect on for our traditional post sharing messages of thankfulness.

Our ability to see and express gratitude in difficult times can be especially meaningful and replenishing. This may be a prime year to consider the words of writer G. K. Chesterton.

[bctt tweet=”“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” — Gilbert K. Chesterton” username=”toprank”]

Let’s open our hearts and take in messages of thankfulness from our team during this unprecedented pandemic year, shared with the hope that you’ll also be inspired to reflect on some of the silver linings that may be hidden in our lives if we take the time to listen.

What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful for in 2020

Lee OddenLee Odden

CEO and Co-Founder

2020 has been a remarkable year for many reasons. With all of the challenges, uncertainty and obstacles, I could not be more proud of my team at TopRank Marketing for how they have adapted quickly, with care and quality to every speed bump to roadblock they have encountered.

Amidst the significant changes and challenges, new leaders have emerged, processes have been refined and accountability for work quality has improved.

Most of all, the attention and responsiveness to customer needs that have been a hallmark of TopRank Marketing for many years were rewarded with incredible customer retention rates, program expansion and the addition of some of the largest client engagements we’ve ever had in our 20 years in business.

I am thankful for the leadership of our management team, the next level organizational and relationship management skills of our account team, the unrivaled creativity of our content and creative teams, the tech and marketing mastery of our SEO team, the industry leading capabilities of our fast growing influencer marketing team, our internal marketing for keeping this blog and our social media accounts a source of insight for hundreds of thousands of people and how operations has been able to make sure everything we need to do business is working properly.

I am thankful for the continued confidence and partnership with our clients who represent some of the top B2B brands in the world. The opportunity to collaborate and create influencer content experiences with these brands is a source of inspiration to our team and to the B2B marketing community at large as we get to share success stories through case studies and industry awards.

I am thankful for the TopRank Marketing community of industry influencers who have raised the bar on our collaborations with clients and helped us produce meaningful, impactful marketing resources that customers actually love.

I am thankful for our community of marketers who visit us here on our B2B Marketing Blog, read our newsletter, attend event presentations and engage with us on our social media channels.

2020 has been remarkable not just because of the challenges, but because of the way those in our community, amongst our clients and team have responded. The clarity of our purpose in creating content experiences that inspire by helping B2B brands become the best answer for their customers has served our clients and company well. 2020 will be one of our most successful ever.

I am eternally thankful for the opportunity to live a dream of working with an agency dedicated to making a difference for our clients with care, creativity and impact. Thank you!

Jane BartelJane Bartel

Senior Account Manager

I’m thankful for everybody who learned and leveraged new ways to tell their stories, create their content, and reach their audiences this year. This includes many of our clients as well as my yoga and school-teacher friends, my travel-blogger parents, my trivia team, and everybody keeping in touch along the way — all of whom I admire very much. I’m a lucky person to be surrounded in both my work and home life by caring, compassionate, funny, kind people who value growth.

My amazing husband and our snuggly dog Monroe are endless sources of mood-boosters, and undisputed MVPs of our “quaranteam.”

Lane R. EllisLane Ellis

Social Media and Content Marketing Manager

In our uncertain 2020, I’m especially thankful for my wonderful family, friends, and associates.

Celebrating 19 years of marriage with my amazing wife and pandemic partner Julie Ahasay tops my thankfulness list, along with the joy of having my parents Konnie and Bob in my life, as well as my astounding and always-inspiring 103-year-old grandma Lilly Haldorsen, who is living through her second pandemic.

I’m thankful for over 36 years of using the Internet, and to still be able to run, mountain bike, and cross-country ski the beautiful trails of Duluth, and for our loving cats — Phineas Faustus and Kukla Francis Oliver.

It’s a great time to reach out and give the world and its endless opportunities a cozy wintery embrace, so here’s a big virtual hug to all of you I’m lucky enough to know, lovely family and friends. Thank you.

Elizabeth WilliamsElizabeth Williams

Senior Account Manager

In reflecting on 2020 there is so much more to be grateful for than meets the eye. So yes, my children got too much screen time. But they also got 5x more baking soda/vinegar science experiments, pillow tents and Friday movie nights with their parents. Yes, I miss getting out of the house, but I cannot rejoice enough for the innumerable moments my husband and I have had.

I am also thankful for our TopRank Marketing team – dealing with COVID and civil unrest in real, close-to-home ways – all the while coming to work ready to hustle, learn and drive results. I’m grateful and optimistic for all of the outstanding talent that has joined our team this year. And, I’m proud of the growth in each and every single one of us professionally and personally in 2020!

Speaking of growth… we are beyond grateful to announce baby number 3 coming to our locked down home in June 2021! And yes, we have confirmed – it is just one baby.

Joshua NiteJosh Nite

Senior Content Marketing Manager

In my professional life, I’m grateful for an amazing team that stays engaged and keeps in touch even when we can’t be in the office together.

Personally, I’m grateful for my at-home team — my wife, my 5-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son. We’re getting more together time than ever before, but we still enjoy each other’s company. Couldn’t ask for a better lockdown crew.

Debbie FriezDebbie Friez

Influencer Marketing Strategist

I’m thankful to be busy working with fabulous clients and amazing thought leaders every day. In a year that has hit many people very hard, I know that each day is a blessing. And, I am especially blessed to be able to get up every day and walk into my office and do work that I enjoy.

On a personal note, I am thankful for my health and that of loved ones who have recovered from sickness. And in a time when I don’t leave my house, I am especially blessed to have my husband and fur babies keeping me happy and busy.

Mike Odden

Research Analyst

I am mostly thankful for my wonderful family, my wife of 56 years, our three children and seven wonderful grandchildren.

I feel blessed to be father of this great family! May the new year bring enlightenment.

Birdie ZepedaBirdie Zapeda

SEO Strategist

While these are things I’m always appreciative of, 2020 has me extra thankful for family, friends, and good health. I’m thankful for discovering sports like roller skating to keep me active during these tough times.

I love working alongside the amazing businesses we, at TopRank Marketing, partner with, and I’m grateful I can continue to do so and achieve great results.

Keith WiderskiKeith Widerski

Account Manager

I’m thankful for the amazing team and collaborative work environment we have at TopRank Marketing. All throughout this wild ride we call 2020, we’ve stuck together and have been able to achieve some incredible milestones and results for clients.

On a personal level, I’m thankful for the health and support of my friends and family. Thank you all for continuing to challenge me and make me a better person each and every day. And of course, my new puppy Chief who we got in the middle of this pandemic. He has certainly helped keep us plenty busy and can always help brighten up a Zoom call.

Mairi MorganMairi Morgan

Senior Influencer Marketing Manager

Bizarrely, I’m thankful for 2020 and all of the curveballs it’s thrown. Personally, I’ve been grateful for all the extra time with immediate family — even virtual schooling a 7 year old while trying to entertain a 4 year old! — as I’ve realized we have a lot of fun together and are very fortunate.

All of our wider family lives abroad so we’ve not been able to see them in almost a year, which has been really sad, but made me value them all the more and be tremendously excited for travel and reunions in 2021!

And professionally, if 2020 didn’t go the way it did, I may never have landed at TopRank Marketing, as I was lined up for another role which quickly evaporated as Covid took hold. I’m so grateful to now be working alongside such a stellar crop of people and being at the cutting edge of B2B content and influencer marketing for some amazing clients. Every day is invigorating and brings a new challenge, and a lot of collaboration and laughter. All things to be celebrated : )

Nic MichaelNic Michael

Influencer Marketing Strategist

In a year that has felt like a decade, I am thankful that me, my family, and loved ones are all healthy and still standing. I also started at TopRank Marketing this year which was scary and exciting, but the team is amazing and supportive which I am truly thankful for.

Lastly, I would like to thank quarantine for allowing me to hone my cooking skills — I’m no Gordon Ramsay, but an air fryer does wonders.

TopRank Marketing Gives Thanks For You

All of us at TopRank Marketing are grateful for you, and thank you for being the supportive fans, amazing clients, and enthusiastic influencers that have allowed us to achieve personal, professional, and brand success.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

The TopRank Marketing Team

The post Gratitude In Uncertain Times: What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Inside Influence EP08: Srijana Angdembey from Oracle on How Influence Creates Better B2B Customer Experiences

Srijana-Angdembey Oracle

Improving Customer Experience is one of the top priorities for B2B marketers today. With the challenges of real-world experiences from field marketing to in-person tradeshows all but gone, B2B marketers are focused on figuring out how to maximize digital experiences.

Working with influencers has proven to be an effective solution. In fact, 74% of marketers agree that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience with the brand according to the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report. But how are B2B brands working with influencers to create those experiences?

To find out, I reached out to Srijana Angdembey, Director of Social Media Marketing at Oracle for this 8th Episode of Inside Influence – Interviews with B2B Influencer Marketing Insiders. During our talk, we discussed:

  • How influencer marketing for B2B has changed
  • What it takes to be a top B2B influencer marketing professional at a B2B brand
  • Top challenges and opportunities for influencer marketing during the pandemic
  • How influencer engagement impacts customer experience for B2B companies
  • An example of a successful influencer marketing campaign
  • Advice for B2B marketers that are considering working with influencers and what to expect
  • Trends in influencer content
  • Criteria for identifying and partnering with business influencers
  •  Measures of success for a B2B influencer marketing program
  • Influencer marketing after the pandemic and future predictions

Below are some of the highlights of our discussion with the full video interview embedded below.

How did you first start working with influencers and how has it changed?

Srijana: The funny thing is I actually started in policy and working with politicians and policy makers. I was working in government affairs and in a way, I think I’ve always worked with influencers. I’ve always kind of known who are the people of influence or who could influence things to accomplish my goals. So when I jumped into the role of CX marketing, it just so happened that I also got influencer marketing. I felt very natural coming into it. I think the way things have changed now from when I started, is influencer marketing was very much for B2C. Now we’re seeing more B2B companies really embracing it. That’s been the major change that I’ve seen.

What do you think are some of the top challenges and opportunities for influencer marketing posed by the pandemic?

Srijana: Honestly I wouldn’t say that I’ve seen any or it’s not been much of a challenge. We’ve definitely had to tweak our strategy because we rely on influencers for our event marketing. For example, we’ve worked with Matt Heinz on a road show that we did, which was awesome. So we were continuing to do something similar this year before the pandemic, but when it hit, we realized we had to really pivot.

We were doing all these virtual shows and including influencers, hosting and attending, speaking and that was fine. We were also thinking about how we could be more helpful and make our content more relevant for our audience right now?  I wouldn’t say that was so much of a challenge, but it was sort of like the guiding principle behind picking up influencer marketing this year and really seeing and working with those influencers who kind of got that.

We also realized that influencers were more accessible now and maybe more available to work to make sure that we have that equal value partnership. So we’re not taking advantage of them but being able to get something done that was of value for our audience.

According to our research presented in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing report, 74% of marketers agree that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience. In what ways do you believe influence has an impact on CX?

Srijana: Gosh, when I think of influencer marketing the first thing I think about is trust. Trust is the currency that makes the experience economy go around, right? We’re all trying to be more more human in our approach to marketing. We’re trying to come across as more friendly and not trying to push our solutions and products as much. But how do we do that?

When I think of influencer marketing the first thing I think about is trust. Trust is the currency that makes the experience economy go around. @srijanaa

I really think that influencer marketing helps fill that gap because now we’re working with individuals that our audience trusts and look up to us as experts. I think that’s the key. I think that’s how influence drives customer experience. Working on anything, content marketing or events with influencers just helps build the trust factor. It also adds credibility and makes everything so much more authentic.

Our research found that 96% of B2B marketers implementing influencer programs are successful in some way. Even with that optimism, 60% of B2B marketers say they don’t have the skills in house or expertise to execute. What advice can you share for marketers considering working with influencers?

Srijana:  I think the first thing I’d say is you may not realize, but your company might already be doing some form of influencer marketing. A lot of times I don’t think people know for sure. When I was doing influencer marketing here initially at Oracle, I was surprised to find how many other people were already working with influencers. But maybe you don’t have that strategy in place yet or an official program.

If you set your goals for working with influencers and what you’re trying to achieve with the influencer marketing program, then you can start really slow and small. @srijanaa

I think if you set your goals for working with influencers and what you’re trying to achieve with the influencer marketing program, then you can start really slow and small. It could be as easy as just reaching out organically and trying to build that relationship with an influencer. That’s where you start and really start studying and understanding if this is the right influencer that you want to work with. What content are they producing? Who are their audiences? How are they engaging with them? So I would say start there.

B2B marketing and content expectations increasingly demand experiences, including with influencer content. What are you seeing in terms of recorded and live video, stories, podcasts and even interactive content with influencers?

Srijana: Tik Tok is a great example, right? As far as pushing the boundaries of content.

That’s another thing about working with influencers. I think they’re so good at that. Maybe I have restrictions and boundaries or maybe I don’t have the resources in my company. Maybe I have brand guidelines that restrict me from doing certain forms of content. I’m loving what I see from Brian Fanzo do for example. He has such good stuff like with virtual events that he’s doing. I love that.

Influencers know that the content needs to be very engaging and it needs to hold the attention of the viewer. @srijanaa

When working with Shep Hyken, for example, this year on one of our events, I was just blown away by the technology that he had and the ability to pull in things when he was speaking. He had slides up and had stats pop up and I was so impressed. I think that influencers know that the content needs to be very engaging and it needs to hold the attention of the viewer.

I’m just finding that we’re just getting more and more innovative and as we are exploring newer forms of news and new kinds of social media, for example, it just pushes the boundary even more.

What do you think will be different about influencer marketing for B2B companies post-pandemic? Any predictions for the future?

Srijana: No predictions, but I definitely don’t think we’re going back anytime soon to how things worked or how we were doing things.

One thing that this pandemic really did was make us all pause and kind of look at our (influencer) marketing in a more prescriptive way. “Is this going to add any value?” @srijanaa

One thing that this pandemic really did was make us all pause and kind of look at our marketing in a more prescriptive way. “Is this going to add any value?” I think even more so than ever, it kind of made that really clear to us.

I think even with influencer marketing, we became very focused on, is what this person saying aligned to our values and what we want? Post pandemic, I think that’s going to continue. For example, we want to work with a diverse range of influencers, right? Maybe that was already top of mind before, but now it’s even more top of mind because of the current situation.

I think we’re going to be more prescriptive on how we do things and who we align with and make sure that person is not just what they’re saying on social media, but also that they are good people to work with and that our customers really look up to.

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

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

Next up on Inside Influence, we’ll be talking to Brian Solis, Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce about how influence and thought leadership transcend marketing to become partners to drive business growth.

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence B2B Influencer Marketing interviews:

Inside Influence EP08: Srijana Angdembey from Oracle on How Influence Creates Better B2B Customer Experiences

Srijana-Angdembey Oracle

Srijana-Angdembey Oracle

Improving Customer Experience is one of the top priorities for B2B marketers today. With the challenges of real-world experiences from field marketing to in-person tradeshows all but gone, B2B marketers are focused on figuring out how to maximize digital experiences.

Working with influencers has proven to be an effective solution. In fact, 74% of marketers agree that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience with the brand according to the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report. But how are B2B brands working with influencers to create those experiences?

To find out, I reached out to Srijana Angdembey, Director of Social Media Marketing at Oracle for this 8th Episode of Inside Influence – Interviews with B2B Influencer Marketing Insiders. During our talk, we discussed:

  • How influencer marketing for B2B has changed
  • What it takes to be a top B2B influencer marketing professional at a B2B brand
  • Top challenges and opportunities for influencer marketing during the pandemic
  • How influencer engagement impacts customer experience for B2B companies
  • An example of a successful influencer marketing campaign
  • Advice for B2B marketers that are considering working with influencers and what to expect
  • Trends in influencer content
  • Criteria for identifying and partnering with business influencers
  •  Measures of success for a B2B influencer marketing program
  • Influencer marketing after the pandemic and future predictions

Below are some of the highlights of our discussion with the full video interview embedded below.

How did you first start working with influencers and how has it changed?

Srijana: The funny thing is I actually started in policy and working with politicians and policy makers. I was working in government affairs and in a way, I think I’ve always worked with influencers. I’ve always kind of known who are the people of influence or who could influence things to accomplish my goals. So when I jumped into the role of CX marketing, it just so happened that I also got influencer marketing. I felt very natural coming into it. I think the way things have changed now from when I started, is influencer marketing was very much for B2C. Now we’re seeing more B2B companies really embracing it. That’s been the major change that I’ve seen.

What do you think are some of the top challenges and opportunities for influencer marketing posed by the pandemic?

Srijana: Honestly I wouldn’t say that I’ve seen any or it’s not been much of a challenge. We’ve definitely had to tweak our strategy because we rely on influencers for our event marketing. For example, we’ve worked with Matt Heinz on a road show that we did, which was awesome. So we were continuing to do something similar this year before the pandemic, but when it hit, we realized we had to really pivot.

We were doing all these virtual shows and including influencers, hosting and attending, speaking and that was fine. We were also thinking about how we could be more helpful and make our content more relevant for our audience right now?  I wouldn’t say that was so much of a challenge, but it was sort of like the guiding principle behind picking up influencer marketing this year and really seeing and working with those influencers who kind of got that.

We also realized that influencers were more accessible now and maybe more available to work to make sure that we have that equal value partnership. So we’re not taking advantage of them but being able to get something done that was of value for our audience.

According to our research presented in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing report, 74% of marketers agree that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience. In what ways do you believe influence has an impact on CX?

Srijana: Gosh, when I think of influencer marketing the first thing I think about is trust. Trust is the currency that makes the experience economy go around, right? We’re all trying to be more more human in our approach to marketing. We’re trying to come across as more friendly and not trying to push our solutions and products as much. But how do we do that?

When I think of influencer marketing the first thing I think about is trust. Trust is the currency that makes the experience economy go around. @srijanaa

I really think that influencer marketing helps fill that gap because now we’re working with individuals that our audience trusts and look up to us as experts. I think that’s the key. I think that’s how influence drives customer experience. Working on anything, content marketing or events with influencers just helps build the trust factor. It also adds credibility and makes everything so much more authentic.

Our research found that 96% of B2B marketers implementing influencer programs are successful in some way. Even with that optimism, 60% of B2B marketers say they don’t have the skills in house or expertise to execute. What advice can you share for marketers considering working with influencers?

Srijana:  I think the first thing I’d say is you may not realize, but your company might already be doing some form of influencer marketing. A lot of times I don’t think people know for sure. When I was doing influencer marketing here initially at Oracle, I was surprised to find how many other people were already working with influencers. But maybe you don’t have that strategy in place yet or an official program.

If you set your goals for working with influencers and what you’re trying to achieve with the influencer marketing program, then you can start really slow and small. @srijanaa

I think if you set your goals for working with influencers and what you’re trying to achieve with the influencer marketing program, then you can start really slow and small. It could be as easy as just reaching out organically and trying to build that relationship with an influencer. That’s where you start and really start studying and understanding if this is the right influencer that you want to work with. What content are they producing? Who are their audiences? How are they engaging with them? So I would say start there.

B2B marketing and content expectations increasingly demand experiences, including with influencer content. What are you seeing in terms of recorded and live video, stories, podcasts and even interactive content with influencers?

Srijana: Tik Tok is a great example, right? As far as pushing the boundaries of content.

That’s another thing about working with influencers. I think they’re so good at that. Maybe I have restrictions and boundaries or maybe I don’t have the resources in my company. Maybe I have brand guidelines that restrict me from doing certain forms of content. I’m loving what I see from Brian Fanzo do for example. He has such good stuff like with virtual events that he’s doing. I love that.

Influencers know that the content needs to be very engaging and it needs to hold the attention of the viewer. @srijanaa

When working with Shep Hyken, for example, this year on one of our events, I was just blown away by the technology that he had and the ability to pull in things when he was speaking. He had slides up and had stats pop up and I was so impressed. I think that influencers know that the content needs to be very engaging and it needs to hold the attention of the viewer.

I’m just finding that we’re just getting more and more innovative and as we are exploring newer forms of news and new kinds of social media, for example, it just pushes the boundary even more.

What do you think will be different about influencer marketing for B2B companies post-pandemic? Any predictions for the future?

Srijana: No predictions, but I definitely don’t think we’re going back anytime soon to how things worked or how we were doing things.

One thing that this pandemic really did was make us all pause and kind of look at our (influencer) marketing in a more prescriptive way. “Is this going to add any value?” @srijanaa

One thing that this pandemic really did was make us all pause and kind of look at our marketing in a more prescriptive way. “Is this going to add any value?” I think even more so than ever, it kind of made that really clear to us.

I think even with influencer marketing, we became very focused on, is what this person saying aligned to our values and what we want? Post pandemic, I think that’s going to continue. For example, we want to work with a diverse range of influencers, right? Maybe that was already top of mind before, but now it’s even more top of mind because of the current situation.

I think we’re going to be more prescriptive on how we do things and who we align with and make sure that person is not just what they’re saying on social media, but also that they are good people to work with and that our customers really look up to.

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

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

Next up on Inside Influence, we’ll be talking to Brian Solis, Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce about how influence and thought leadership transcend marketing to become partners to drive business growth.

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence B2B Influencer Marketing interviews:

The post Inside Influence EP08: Srijana Angdembey from Oracle on How Influence Creates Better B2B Customer Experiences appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

B2B Marketing News: Digital Marketing Priorities, Ultimate CX, B2B Burnout, The Power of Podcasting

Digital Marketing Priorities 2020

Where Do Digital Marketers’ Priorities Lie for the Year Ahead?
Digital marketers have a clear vision of their priorities though some are working with less marketing resources than others, according to Altimeter’s State of Digital Marketing report for 2020. The report highlights that organizations are either cutting costs as a response to the financial uncertainties of the crisis or upping investments in digital to keep up with customers moving online. MarketingCharts

The CX Courtship: How B2B Brands Get To The Partnership Stage [Merkle Study]
The B2B customer experience should be just as smooth as B2C. But too often it’s not. Indeed, 35% of businesses with 1,000 or more employees find choosing a B2B supplier to be almost a nightmarish process, judging by Architecting The Ultimate Customer Experience, a study by Merkle, with participation from its gyro and B2B International agencies. MediaPost

B2B Pros Say: ‘We’re Burned Out’ By Pandemic: Study
B2B marketers are falling apart from the stress of COVID-19 and its ongoing impact, according to Revealing What’s Fact And What’s Fiction, a study by RollWorks. Of the marketers surveyed, 50% have suffered from pandemic-related burnout, And 50% say the lines between work and personal life have become more blurred in a negative way.  Email Marketing Daily

Google Page Experience Update To Launch May 2021 With New Snippet Labels.
The update will show new basic page performance and expected experience statistics to searchers, Google says. Search Engine Roundtable

How Social Issues Are Sparking Action Among Brands
A majority of consumers now expect brands to take a stand on social issues and work to effect positive change—though their sentiments are sometimes complicated. A June 2020 survey by Mindshare found that more than two-thirds of US adults said brands should play an important role when it comes to speaking out against racial inequality and injustice. However, six in 10 believed brands that spoke out were being opportunistic. eMarketer

B2B influencer marketing budgets 2021

Marketers Raise Podcast Volume to Eleven – The format is poised to become a permanent and powerful marketing channel
With podcast advertising racking up 48 percent year-over-year growth in 2019, according to an IAB study, the medium’s 14.7 percent projected growth in 2020 might seem anemic. But that slowed growth is merely a pandemic-induced blip on the radar. The longer-term outlook remains stellar, with spending projected to rebound almost 45 percent, to more than $1 billion in 2021, according to eMarketer, and marketers and media companies are making big bets on the format’s staying power. ANA

We’re in this together: 5 takeaways from Adobe Experience Makers EMEA 
This is a unifying moment for businesses. Across virtually every industry and discipline, business leaders are rethinking their approach to leadership, employees are finding new ways to perform their jobs in a digital world, and consumers are re-evaluating the way they make purchases. Adobe

Instagram Adds Keyword Search in Addition to Profiles and Tags 
Instagram has announced an update to its search functionality which will give users the capacity to search for specific keywords, as opposed to being limited to profiles, hashtags and locations. Social Media Today

Executing A B2B Integrated Marketing Strategy: Who and What’s Involved?
7 in 10 organizations have implemented integrated marketing to some extent, though it remains challenging for many, according to Demand Gen Report and True Influence’s report on the state of integrated marketing in B2B. When it comes to the best tools for executing an integrated marketing strategy, respondents cited CRM (80%), data tools (65%), reporting platforms (63%) and collaboration tools (44%) as particularly useful. MarketingCharts

New Survey Says We’re Spending 7 Hours Per Day Consuming Online Media 
A new survey conducted by the research firm DoubleVerify found that we’re now spending about seven hours per day consuming online content. In the past we typically spent about three hours per day consuming media. YouTube streaming has sky-rocketed, up 43% since the pandemic started. We’re also even more obsessed with Facebook with a usage increase of 40%. Forbes

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Strategic Planning Cartoon Tom Fishburne
How to do strategic planning by Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

TOPRANK MARKETING IN THE NEWS:

TopRank Marketing – 2020 Research: The Current State & Future of B2B Influencer Marketing – Onalytica

TopRank Marketing Blog – Top 20 Digital Marketing Blogs and Their Specialties – Vocal

Have you found your own favorite B2B marketing story from the past week of industry news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for joining us for our weekly B2B marketing news, and we hope that you will return again next Friday for another round-up of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news.

B2B Marketing News: Digital Marketing Priorities, Ultimate CX, B2B Burnout, The Power of Podcasting

Digital Marketing Priorities 2020

Digital Marketing Priorities 2020

Where Do Digital Marketers’ Priorities Lie for the Year Ahead?
Digital marketers have a clear vision of their priorities though some are working with less marketing resources than others, according to Altimeter’s State of Digital Marketing report for 2020. The report highlights that organizations are either cutting costs as a response to the financial uncertainties of the crisis or upping investments in digital to keep up with customers moving online. MarketingCharts

The CX Courtship: How B2B Brands Get To The Partnership Stage [Merkle Study]
The B2B customer experience should be just as smooth as B2C. But too often it’s not. Indeed, 35% of businesses with 1,000 or more employees find choosing a B2B supplier to be almost a nightmarish process, judging by Architecting The Ultimate Customer Experience, a study by Merkle, with participation from its gyro and B2B International agencies. MediaPost

B2B Pros Say: ‘We’re Burned Out’ By Pandemic: Study
B2B marketers are falling apart from the stress of COVID-19 and its ongoing impact, according to Revealing What’s Fact And What’s Fiction, a study by RollWorks. Of the marketers surveyed, 50% have suffered from pandemic-related burnout, And 50% say the lines between work and personal life have become more blurred in a negative way.  Email Marketing Daily

Google Page Experience Update To Launch May 2021 With New Snippet Labels.
The update will show new basic page performance and expected experience statistics to searchers, Google says. Search Engine Roundtable

How Social Issues Are Sparking Action Among Brands
A majority of consumers now expect brands to take a stand on social issues and work to effect positive change—though their sentiments are sometimes complicated. A June 2020 survey by Mindshare found that more than two-thirds of US adults said brands should play an important role when it comes to speaking out against racial inequality and injustice. However, six in 10 believed brands that spoke out were being opportunistic. eMarketer

B2B influencer marketing budgets 2021

Marketers Raise Podcast Volume to Eleven – The format is poised to become a permanent and powerful marketing channel
With podcast advertising racking up 48 percent year-over-year growth in 2019, according to an IAB study, the medium’s 14.7 percent projected growth in 2020 might seem anemic. But that slowed growth is merely a pandemic-induced blip on the radar. The longer-term outlook remains stellar, with spending projected to rebound almost 45 percent, to more than $1 billion in 2021, according to eMarketer, and marketers and media companies are making big bets on the format’s staying power. ANA

We’re in this together: 5 takeaways from Adobe Experience Makers EMEA 
This is a unifying moment for businesses. Across virtually every industry and discipline, business leaders are rethinking their approach to leadership, employees are finding new ways to perform their jobs in a digital world, and consumers are re-evaluating the way they make purchases. Adobe

Instagram Adds Keyword Search in Addition to Profiles and Tags 
Instagram has announced an update to its search functionality which will give users the capacity to search for specific keywords, as opposed to being limited to profiles, hashtags and locations. Social Media Today

Executing A B2B Integrated Marketing Strategy: Who and What’s Involved?
7 in 10 organizations have implemented integrated marketing to some extent, though it remains challenging for many, according to Demand Gen Report and True Influence’s report on the state of integrated marketing in B2B. When it comes to the best tools for executing an integrated marketing strategy, respondents cited CRM (80%), data tools (65%), reporting platforms (63%) and collaboration tools (44%) as particularly useful. MarketingCharts

New Survey Says We’re Spending 7 Hours Per Day Consuming Online Media 
A new survey conducted by the research firm DoubleVerify found that we’re now spending about seven hours per day consuming online content. In the past we typically spent about three hours per day consuming media. YouTube streaming has sky-rocketed, up 43% since the pandemic started. We’re also even more obsessed with Facebook with a usage increase of 40%. Forbes

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Strategic Planning Cartoon Tom Fishburne
How to do strategic planning by Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

TOPRANK MARKETING IN THE NEWS:

TopRank Marketing – 2020 Research: The Current State & Future of B2B Influencer Marketing – Onalytica

TopRank Marketing Blog – Top 20 Digital Marketing Blogs and Their Specialties – Vocal

Have you found your own favorite B2B marketing story from the past week of industry news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for joining us for our weekly B2B marketing news, and we hope that you will return again next Friday for another round-up of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news.

The post B2B Marketing News: Digital Marketing Priorities, Ultimate CX, B2B Burnout, The Power of Podcasting appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

12 Expert B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2021

Meeting table with people's hands working on predictions image.

What will B2B influencer marketing look like in 2021, and where will it take B2B marketers and brands when a post-pandemic world eventually arrives?

To help answer these questions we’ve gathered top B2B influencer marketing insights from both industry experts and our own team, and present our look at their predictions for 2021.

Let’s jump right in and see how top B2B influencer marketing practitioners expect 2021 to change the way we do business, and why it will likely be a breakout year for building influence.

1 — Anti-Marketing and The Real vs. The Ideal

Ann Boyd
Ann Boyd
Vice President of Communications, Rubrik

My prediction is that we’re moving into an anti-marketing, influencer marketing world. No one has time for the deluge of commercial content coming their way these days on every platform. The pendulum has swung to where the obviously-solicited and carefully-curated feedback is flooding our inboxes and social feeds.

The trick is finding authentic advocates and keeping the content short, sweet, timely, and targeted! 2021 is going to be all about the real vs. the ideal.

“The trick is finding authentic advocates and keeping the content short, sweet, timely, and targeted! 2021 is going to be all about the real vs. the ideal.” — Ann Boyd @annb Click To Tweet

2 —Ethos, Relatability, Affinity and True Partnerships

Ann-Handley
Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

I have 3 predictions for 2021:

1. A long-term approach to influencer marketing growth is the Miracle-Gro B2B brands need. Influencer relationships have increasingly been about building long-term partnerships — not short-term, one-off collaborations. This has been evolving for a while… but in 2021 it’s critical. One-offs are choked off so true partnerships can thrive.

2. Purpose-driven partnerships become a thing. It’s not the size of an influencer’s audience — it’s what they stand for. Brand, ethos, character, relatability, affinity… it all matters.

3. A B2B brand will create the first viral TikTok video in partnership with a TikTok creator. (Why not?)

3 1/2. Instagram stops updating its platform in annoying ways that repel users. (Wait. Now I’m just making a Christmas wish list…. Never mind.)

If the pandemic has taught B2B marketing anything, it’s that trust, relatability, and TikTok matter more than ever.

Just kidding on that last one.

Or am I?

“A long-term approach to influencer marketing growth is the Miracle-Gro B2B brands need.” — Ann Handley @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet

3 — More B2B Influencer Marketing Professionals Will Move the Needle

Ryan Bares
Ryan Bares
Global Social Programs Lead: Social Influencers & Employee Advocacy, IBM Systems

2021 will be the year of focus for the influencer marketer. B2B brands should now see the fruits of their influencer marketing labor, but is that really moving the needle?

Influencer marketing professionals – a position that will have more headcount in 2021 – will be expected to show results and focus on the right influencers engaging with your target audience vs. trying everything and seeing what sticks.

“2021 will be the year of focus for the influencer marketer. Influencer marketing professionals will be expected to show results and focus on the right influencers engaging with your target audience.” – Ryan Bares @RyanBares Click To Tweet

4 — Virtual Events Become Stronger B2B Marketing Tools

Anton Shulke
Anton Shulke
Head of Influencer Marketing (SEO), SEMRush

Influencer marketing for me is about relationships.

Between you, as a part of your brand, and a person — an influencer. Sure, there is some kind of relationship between an influencer and the brand, but still, in the end, it comes down to personal relationships between particular people.

Many of us build it using real-life meetings, a cup of coffee or a beer. What could be better than face-to-face conversations?

It abruptly stopped in 2020 with COVID, and my guess is it won’t be back soon. I don’t want to use a cliche — the world won’t be the same again — but it might be partially true.

What could replace real-life conferences and personal meetings?

The obvious answer — online ones. I think in 2021 a lot of influencer marketers will look at online events as arguably the strongest influencer marketing tool. We will be arranging virtual conferences with the major goal to “steal the soul” of our influencers. Saying so, remember what is the best way to please your influencer/speaker: have a big, engaged audience.

“In 2021 influencer marketers will look at online events as arguably the strongest influencer marketing tool.” — Anton Shulke @anton_shulke Click To Tweet

5 — Better Mutual Long-Term Influencer Value

Tim Williams
Tim Williams
CEO, Onalytica

As an industry the early adoption phase is now over. B2B influencer marketing is now a more mainstream strategy integrated by marketers who are not specialists.

This in turn has caused a lot of brands and agencies to jump on the bandwagon and collaborate with the same top tier industry global influencers with mixed results.

The increased take up has shone a spotlight on the knowledge gaps and improvements that are required by marketers and influencers to collaborate better as the industry matures.

In 2021 there are 3 key areas for marketers to improve:

  1. Better design of initial brand/influencer partnerships to deliver mutual long-term value
  2. Help develop a community of internal & external influencers as content creators around thought leadership themes
  3. Improve onboarding and management of influencers, as poor processes can negatively affect the relationship

“As an industry the early adoption phase is now over. B2B influencer marketing is now a more mainstream strategy integrated by marketers who are not specialists.” — Tim Williams @WilliamsTim Click To Tweet

6 — A Blended and More Human Approach

Nic Michael
Nic Michael
Influencer Marketing Strategist, TopRank Marketing

What we see right now is a distinction between B2C and B2B influencer content creation — but why not blend the two?!

My prediction is that B2B content will begin to take on a more B2C approach, in that the way influencers develop content will be a bit scrappier and more human rather than buttoned up and polished.

“B2B content will begin to take on a more B2C approach, in that the way influencers develop content will be a bit scrappier and more human rather than buttoned up and polished.” — Nic Michael @TopRank Click To Tweet

7 — Deep Engagement and Finding a Value Sweet Spot

Rachel Douglas
Rachel Douglas
Senior Manager of Marketing and Brand, Prophix*

Influencers are becoming more savvy about brands they partner with and why.  Organizations and marketers have to work harder to nurture key relationships and ensure we aren’t just asking for content or activation, but rather find a value sweet spot where both parties benefit and win.  That means meaningful content, authentic voices and deep engagement.

“Influencers are becoming more savvy about brands they partner with and why. Organizations and marketers have to work harder to nurture key relationships and ensure we aren’t just asking for content or activation.” — Rachel Douglas Click To Tweet

8 — Seek Up-And-Coming Influencers who Align with Brand Values

Tom Treanor
Tom Treanor
CMO, Treasure Data*

With the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive rush online, and many of these new habits will continue in 2021 and even post-pandemic.

Because of this, the importance of online influencers has only increased. Expect to see brands increasingly working with influencers in B2C and B2B environments. The smart money will go after influencers on the rise, so look out for up-and-coming influencers who are seeing some success in the platforms your audience prefers, as well as who align with your brand’s values.

“The importance of online influencers has only increased. Expect to see brands increasingly working with influencers in B2C and B2B environments.” — Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg Click To Tweet

9 — Always-On Influence and Greater Sophistication

Debbie Friez
Debbie Friez
Influencer Marketing Strategist, TopRank Marketing

Brands often engaged influencers around events, and that is where they were able to get budget. With so many events going virtual, I see brands reassessing this tactic. More brands are striving to engage influencers throughout the year and look to have an always-on program. Thus, the budgets and alignments are changing.

Additionally, virtual events are not new, but their importance and sophistication is already radically improving. 2021 will continue to see more influencers upping their game around lighting, microphones and cameras to have the best experience for their audience. I’m excited to see how influencers will develop their video and audio presence to help companies share information.

“More brands are striving to engage influencers throughout the year and look to have an always-on influencer marketing program.” — Debbie Friez @dfriez Click To Tweet

10 — Network and Credential-Building Activities in a Maturing Influencer Industry

Paul Dobson
Paul Dobson
Senior Director of Social and Influencer Marketing, Citrix

Here’s what’s been on my mind while I have been thinking about planning for 2021. With the ongoing discussion about misinformation in the media, I think that B2B influencer teams are going to be looking for a solid balance between the influencer’s network and their credential building activities that continue to build on their reputations as a strong voice in the industry that they represent.

With the influencer industry maturing, and mindspace on social media shrinking, there is going to be increasing competition to find the right person to help promote B2B brands and brand messages.

“B2B influencer teams are going to be looking for a solid balance between the influencer’s network and their credential building activities.” — Paul Dobson @svengelsk Click To Tweet

11 — Long-Term Cooperation and Deepening Influencer Relationships

Michaela Underdahl
Michaela Underdahl
Senior Community Manager
Nimble

I predict two key trends happening in the B2B influencer marketing space in 2021. The first one will be the continuation of brands’ focus on nurturing existing relationships and building new long-term connections.

At Nimble, we believe in treating business relationships the same way we treat other important relationships in our lives. Long-term cooperation with influencers is our number one priority because it’s a win-win for everybody.

Both we and the influencers we work with invest time, energy, and resources into every campaign we run. We only reach out to people who we want to build a long-lasting relationship with. The end goal with our influencers is to eventually turn them into Nimble power-users and life-long brand advocates.

The other thing I think companies will be focusing on in 2021 is “fishing out” the micro-influencers from the deep waters of their existing base. It’s much easier to deepen the relationship with someone who already loves your product, turning them into an evangelist, than it is to teach an influencer the product after you’ve spent months — sometimes years — nurturing a new relationship.

“It’s much easier to deepen the relationship with someone who already loves your product, turning them into an evangelist, than it is to teach an influencer the product.” — Michaela Underdahl @Nimble Click To Tweet

12 — Experiences, the Business of Influence, Agency Influencer Networks and Brand Individuals


Lee Odden
CEO, TopRank Marketing

In our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 80% of B2B marketers agree that influencer marketing will be more important in the coming year and 80% expect their influencer marketing budgets to increase or stay the same. As the pandemic has driven B2B marketing activities decidedly digital, influence will continue to play an increasingly important role in the B2B marketing mix and here’s how:

  • Experiences – 74% of marketers believe working with influencers improves the experience of prospects and customers with the brand. That trend will continue as more influencers are engaged creatively to partner with brands on messaging and trusted content. The definition of influencer will broaden enabling brands to activate more of the individuals internally and externally playing a role in delivering the best experiences for customers.
  • Business of Influence – More professional influencers will come on the scene in the B2B world to provide brands with everything from analyst level expertise to turn-key research and promotions projects, professional media and content creation that are accountable to more than just “potential social impressions.” Business influence in 2021 means accountability to the bottom line, not just superficial KPIs.
  • Agency Influencer Networks – As more B2B brands come on board the influencer marketing train, they’ll want to fast track the most difficult part: identifying, qualifying and recruiting influencer partners. Specialist agencies will maintain relationships with networks of industry specific influencers and be able to provide new clients with near-immediate connections with experts that might otherwise take months to nurture.
  • Brand Influencers – Employee advocacy can tip the scales in favor of the B2B brands that are able to activate their staff and this trend will continue. Additionally, more B2B brands will invest in the building of influence for their key executives. B2B brands that both harvest relationships with top industry influencers and build the influence of their key execs and subject matter experts could see a multiplier effect on warming the market, building trust, thought leadership, and credibility when it comes to the confidence needed to make purchasing decisions.

“The definition of influencer will broaden enabling brands to activate more of the individuals internally and externally playing a role in delivering the best experiences for customers.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

Putting 2021 B2B Influencer Marketing Trends to the Test

2021 will see B2B marketers taking influencer marketing into not only a new year but a new more mainstream era of wider adoption among major brands, and the insightful predictions we’ve examined here are sure to play out in altogether new and sometimes unpredictable ways.

* Prophix and Treasure Data are TopRank Marketing clients.

12 Expert B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2021

Meeting table with people's hands working on predictions image.

Meeting table with people's hands working on predictions image.

What will B2B influencer marketing look like in 2021, and where will it take B2B marketers and brands when a post-pandemic world eventually arrives?

To help answer these questions we’ve gathered top B2B influencer marketing insights from both industry experts and our own team, and present our look at their predictions for 2021.

Let’s jump right in and see how top B2B influencer marketing practitioners expect 2021 to change the way we do business, and why it will likely be a breakout year for building influence.

1 — Anti-Marketing and The Real vs. The Ideal

Ann Boyd
Ann Boyd
Vice President of Communications, Rubrik

My prediction is that we’re moving into an anti-marketing, influencer marketing world. No one has time for the deluge of commercial content coming their way these days on every platform. The pendulum has swung to where the obviously-solicited and carefully-curated feedback is flooding our inboxes and social feeds.

The trick is finding authentic advocates and keeping the content short, sweet, timely, and targeted! 2021 is going to be all about the real vs. the ideal.

[bctt tweet=”“The trick is finding authentic advocates and keeping the content short, sweet, timely, and targeted! 2021 is going to be all about the real vs. the ideal.” — Ann Boyd @annb” username=”toprank”]

2 —Ethos, Relatability, Affinity and True Partnerships

Ann-Handley
Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

I have 3 predictions for 2021:

1. A long-term approach to influencer marketing growth is the Miracle-Gro B2B brands need. Influencer relationships have increasingly been about building long-term partnerships — not short-term, one-off collaborations. This has been evolving for a while… but in 2021 it’s critical. One-offs are choked off so true partnerships can thrive.

2. Purpose-driven partnerships become a thing. It’s not the size of an influencer’s audience — it’s what they stand for. Brand, ethos, character, relatability, affinity… it all matters.

3. A B2B brand will create the first viral TikTok video in partnership with a TikTok creator. (Why not?)

3 1/2. Instagram stops updating its platform in annoying ways that repel users. (Wait. Now I’m just making a Christmas wish list…. Never mind.)

If the pandemic has taught B2B marketing anything, it’s that trust, relatability, and TikTok matter more than ever.

Just kidding on that last one.

Or am I?

[bctt tweet=”“A long-term approach to influencer marketing growth is the Miracle-Gro B2B brands need.” — Ann Handley @MarketingProfs” username=”toprank”]

3 — More B2B Influencer Marketing Professionals Will Move the Needle

Ryan Bares
Ryan Bares
Global Social Programs Lead: Social Influencers & Employee Advocacy, IBM Systems

2021 will be the year of focus for the influencer marketer. B2B brands should now see the fruits of their influencer marketing labor, but is that really moving the needle?

Influencer marketing professionals – a position that will have more headcount in 2021 – will be expected to show results and focus on the right influencers engaging with your target audience vs. trying everything and seeing what sticks.

[bctt tweet=”“2021 will be the year of focus for the influencer marketer. Influencer marketing professionals will be expected to show results and focus on the right influencers engaging with your target audience.” – Ryan Bares @RyanBares” username=”toprank”]

4 — Virtual Events Become Stronger B2B Marketing Tools

Anton Shulke
Anton Shulke
Head of Influencer Marketing (SEO), SEMRush

Influencer marketing for me is about relationships.

Between you, as a part of your brand, and a person — an influencer. Sure, there is some kind of relationship between an influencer and the brand, but still, in the end, it comes down to personal relationships between particular people.

Many of us build it using real-life meetings, a cup of coffee or a beer. What could be better than face-to-face conversations?

It abruptly stopped in 2020 with COVID, and my guess is it won’t be back soon. I don’t want to use a cliche — the world won’t be the same again — but it might be partially true.

What could replace real-life conferences and personal meetings?

The obvious answer — online ones. I think in 2021 a lot of influencer marketers will look at online events as arguably the strongest influencer marketing tool. We will be arranging virtual conferences with the major goal to “steal the soul” of our influencers. Saying so, remember what is the best way to please your influencer/speaker: have a big, engaged audience.

[bctt tweet=”“In 2021 influencer marketers will look at online events as arguably the strongest influencer marketing tool.” — Anton Shulke @anton_shulke” username=”toprank”]

5 — Better Mutual Long-Term Influencer Value

Tim Williams
Tim Williams
CEO, Onalytica

As an industry the early adoption phase is now over. B2B influencer marketing is now a more mainstream strategy integrated by marketers who are not specialists.

This in turn has caused a lot of brands and agencies to jump on the bandwagon and collaborate with the same top tier industry global influencers with mixed results.

The increased take up has shone a spotlight on the knowledge gaps and improvements that are required by marketers and influencers to collaborate better as the industry matures.

In 2021 there are 3 key areas for marketers to improve:

  1. Better design of initial brand/influencer partnerships to deliver mutual long-term value
  2. Help develop a community of internal & external influencers as content creators around thought leadership themes
  3. Improve onboarding and management of influencers, as poor processes can negatively affect the relationship

[bctt tweet=”“As an industry the early adoption phase is now over. B2B influencer marketing is now a more mainstream strategy integrated by marketers who are not specialists.” — Tim Williams @WilliamsTim” username=”toprank”]

6 — A Blended and More Human Approach

Nic Michael
Nic Michael
Influencer Marketing Strategist, TopRank Marketing

What we see right now is a distinction between B2C and B2B influencer content creation — but why not blend the two?!

My prediction is that B2B content will begin to take on a more B2C approach, in that the way influencers develop content will be a bit scrappier and more human rather than buttoned up and polished.

[bctt tweet=”“B2B content will begin to take on a more B2C approach, in that the way influencers develop content will be a bit scrappier and more human rather than buttoned up and polished.” — Nic Michael @TopRank” username=”toprank”]

7 — Deep Engagement and Finding a Value Sweet Spot

Rachel Douglas
Rachel Douglas
Senior Manager of Marketing and Brand, Prophix*

Influencers are becoming more savvy about brands they partner with and why.  Organizations and marketers have to work harder to nurture key relationships and ensure we aren’t just asking for content or activation, but rather find a value sweet spot where both parties benefit and win.  That means meaningful content, authentic voices and deep engagement.

[bctt tweet=”“Influencers are becoming more savvy about brands they partner with and why.  Organizations and marketers have to work harder to nurture key relationships and ensure we aren’t just asking for content or activation.” — Rachel Douglas” username=”toprank”]

8 — Seek Up-And-Coming Influencers who Align with Brand Values

Tom Treanor
Tom Treanor
CMO, Treasure Data*

With the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive rush online, and many of these new habits will continue in 2021 and even post-pandemic.

Because of this, the importance of online influencers has only increased. Expect to see brands increasingly working with influencers in B2C and B2B environments. The smart money will go after influencers on the rise, so look out for up-and-coming influencers who are seeing some success in the platforms your audience prefers, as well as who align with your brand’s values.

[bctt tweet=”“The importance of online influencers has only increased. Expect to see brands increasingly working with influencers in B2C and B2B environments.” — Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg” username=”toprank”]

9 — Always-On Influence and Greater Sophistication

Debbie Friez
Debbie Friez
Influencer Marketing Strategist, TopRank Marketing

Brands often engaged influencers around events, and that is where they were able to get budget. With so many events going virtual, I see brands reassessing this tactic. More brands are striving to engage influencers throughout the year and look to have an always-on program. Thus, the budgets and alignments are changing.

Additionally, virtual events are not new, but their importance and sophistication is already radically improving. 2021 will continue to see more influencers upping their game around lighting, microphones and cameras to have the best experience for their audience. I’m excited to see how influencers will develop their video and audio presence to help companies share information.

[bctt tweet=”“More brands are striving to engage influencers throughout the year and look to have an always-on influencer marketing program.” — Debbie Friez @dfriez” username=”toprank”]

10 — Network and Credential-Building Activities in a Maturing Influencer Industry

Paul Dobson
Paul Dobson
Senior Director of Social and Influencer Marketing, Citrix

Here’s what’s been on my mind while I have been thinking about planning for 2021. With the ongoing discussion about misinformation in the media, I think that B2B influencer teams are going to be looking for a solid balance between the influencer’s network and their credential building activities that continue to build on their reputations as a strong voice in the industry that they represent.

With the influencer industry maturing, and mindspace on social media shrinking, there is going to be increasing competition to find the right person to help promote B2B brands and brand messages.

[bctt tweet=”“B2B influencer teams are going to be looking for a solid balance between the influencer’s network and their credential building activities.” — Paul Dobson @svengelsk” username=”toprank”]

11 — Long-Term Cooperation and Deepening Influencer Relationships

Michaela Underdahl
Michaela Underdahl
Senior Community Manager
Nimble

I predict two key trends happening in the B2B influencer marketing space in 2021. The first one will be the continuation of brands’ focus on nurturing existing relationships and building new long-term connections.

At Nimble, we believe in treating business relationships the same way we treat other important relationships in our lives. Long-term cooperation with influencers is our number one priority because it’s a win-win for everybody.

Both we and the influencers we work with invest time, energy, and resources into every campaign we run. We only reach out to people who we want to build a long-lasting relationship with. The end goal with our influencers is to eventually turn them into Nimble power-users and life-long brand advocates.

The other thing I think companies will be focusing on in 2021 is “fishing out” the micro-influencers from the deep waters of their existing base. It’s much easier to deepen the relationship with someone who already loves your product, turning them into an evangelist, than it is to teach an influencer the product after you’ve spent months — sometimes years — nurturing a new relationship.

[bctt tweet=”“It’s much easier to deepen the relationship with someone who already loves your product, turning them into an evangelist, than it is to teach an influencer the product.” — Michaela Underdahl @Nimble” username=”toprank”]

12 — Experiences, the Business of Influence, Agency Influencer Networks and Brand Individuals


Lee Odden
CEO, TopRank Marketing

In our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 80% of B2B marketers agree that influencer marketing will be more important in the coming year and 80% expect their influencer marketing budgets to increase or stay the same. As the pandemic has driven B2B marketing activities decidedly digital, influence will continue to play an increasingly important role in the B2B marketing mix and here’s how:

  • Experiences – 74% of marketers believe working with influencers improves the experience of prospects and customers with the brand. That trend will continue as more influencers are engaged creatively to partner with brands on messaging and trusted content. The definition of influencer will broaden enabling brands to activate more of the individuals internally and externally playing a role in delivering the best experiences for customers.
  • Business of Influence – More professional influencers will come on the scene in the B2B world to provide brands with everything from analyst level expertise to turn-key research and promotions projects, professional media and content creation that are accountable to more than just “potential social impressions.” Business influence in 2021 means accountability to the bottom line, not just superficial KPIs.
  • Agency Influencer Networks – As more B2B brands come on board the influencer marketing train, they’ll want to fast track the most difficult part: identifying, qualifying and recruiting influencer partners. Specialist agencies will maintain relationships with networks of industry specific influencers and be able to provide new clients with near-immediate connections with experts that might otherwise take months to nurture.
  • Brand Influencers – Employee advocacy can tip the scales in favor of the B2B brands that are able to activate their staff and this trend will continue. Additionally, more B2B brands will invest in the building of influence for their key executives. B2B brands that both harvest relationships with top industry influencers and build the influence of their key execs and subject matter experts could see a multiplier effect on warming the market, building trust, thought leadership, and credibility when it comes to the confidence needed to make purchasing decisions.

[bctt tweet=”“The definition of influencer will broaden enabling brands to activate more of the individuals internally and externally playing a role in delivering the best experiences for customers.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

Putting 2021 B2B Influencer Marketing Trends to the Test

2021 will see B2B marketers taking influencer marketing into not only a new year but a new more mainstream era of wider adoption among major brands, and the insightful predictions we’ve examined here are sure to play out in altogether new and sometimes unpredictable ways.

* Prophix and Treasure Data are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post 12 Expert B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2021 appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


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