By now, you most likely have seen the research from Nielsen, which indicates that 92% of consumers trust earned media over any other form of branded advertising. Well, the B2B world has experienced a similar shift, with more buyers turning to like-minded peers and industry thought leaders over branded content and product sheets.
That’s not to say that branded content doesn’t have its place in the buyer’s journey — quite the contrary. However, B2B marketers should consider combining their content forces with industry influencers in an effort to add more clout and credence to their assets.
Influencer marketing is the process of engaging and connecting with individuals who have sway over buyers in your respective industry. An effective influencer can be a power user, an industry analyst, author or speaker.
In order to shine a spotlight on influencer marketing, SiriusDecisions’ Julie Ogilvie revealed six ways influencer marketing and content marketing can converge. Here are three that stood out to me:
- Incorporate influencers into persona research. As you build and update your buyer personas, incorporate questions regarding influencers. Ask your target buyers about the publications they read, the analysts they rely on, and whom they trust and go to for information about their field.
In my opinion, this step is extremely important. At Content4Demand, we live and breathe buyer-centric marketing and messaging. And what better way to identify and engage the right influencers than to ask your buyers directly? If you incorporate the influencers that they care about, they are more likely to download and engage with your content. More importantly, they are more likely to see you as a trustworthy source.
- Expand your influencer horizons. As I noted above, influencers can have a variety of different titles and can play myriad roles in your industry. Don’t just limit your outreach to analysts. Instead, expand your horizons and think about which authors, speakers, bloggers, social media experts and even other content marketers can add value to your messaging and resources.
Having variety in your influencer initiatives is important because it speaks to the variety of information sources your buyers turn to. I don’t know of a single person that only reads analyst reports or only trade publications. Instead, they tap into a hearty mix of different platforms, outlets and sites, and merely read that content that is most relevant to them. This reaffirms the importance of asking your buyers to share the people and sources they trust most.
- Ask influencers for feedback. Use your influencers as a sounding board for potential campaign ideas. Even better: Share your content with them and ask for their feedback. Because they are so entrenched in your industry (and come from outside of the organization), they can provide valuable, unbiased insights that can help you improve your final product.
Your ideal influencers will have a vast understanding of your industry and will have a lot of connections. That means they have a wealth of knowledge regarding what matters most to your target buyers. Your influencers can act as a mini focus group and will give you fresh and honest feedback on the content and campaigns you create.
It is evident that industry experts and influencers hold more weight in buyers’ eyes, so be sure to embrace them! If you give them the opportunity to share their knowledge and unique thought leadership with the industry at large, they will more than likely jump at the opportunity.
If you want to learn more about how influencers can help enrich your campaigns and add more value to your content marketing investments, visit the SiriusDecisions blog. Content4Demand is also helping clients build and improve their influencer initiatives, so contact us if you want to get started!