B2B Influencer Marketing: X Factor, Sneak Peek Behind the Sendoso Campaign and the One Post Rule

B2B influencer marketing is here to stay but is it a must-have for your brand? What sets the successful campaigns apart is strategy, preparation, creative freedom and audience match. But is it for everybody? We sat down with 3 experts to chat about dos and don’ts of influencer marketing in the B2B space, their success stories and lessons learnt. 

Watch or read our conversation with: Brianna Doe, Co-Founder @ Verbatim, Katie Penner, Head of Sender Relations at Sendoso, Jess Ramos, Sr. Data Analyst at Crunchbase (and an influencer after hours!), hosted by Jared Robin.

What is Influencer Marketing? 

Brianna Doe: Influencer marketing is when a content creator who’s built up an audience that trusts them and engages with them, partners with a brand to promote their products or services. 

Think of product unboxings, launches, co-created content and sponsored posts. But the thing is, in this day and age, we’re saturated with ads — they’re all of our social media feeds and we don’t really look at them anymore. 

With influencer marketing, you’re able to break through that. 

If you partner with the right people that have built trust with your target audience, they’re able to help you build trust and credibility for your brand as well, a lot quicker than a paid campaign. 

Influencer marketing is a great way to speak directly to your audience.

X Factor — Trust 

Jess Ramos: I am very protective of my audience because I want to make sure I’m showing them things that are relevant and interesting to them, but also reputable. 

The trust factor is huge.

If brands can find people that have the target audience they need, it makes the connection even stronger.

Creative Freedom vs. The Script

Jess Ramos: I love when brands give me creative freedom. I have had companies before come to me and give me a commercialized looking graphic and say: “Post this. We want you to talk about these exact bullet points” and those posts performed the worst because they don’t align with my regular content. 

Katie Penner: Creators have built this intense emotional connection with their audiences and they know more than anyone what’s going to resonate. I think it’s so silly that brands are providing scripts and sometimes not even caring if that creator is a user of their service or platform. It’s very transactional.

Influencers or Creators?

Katie Penner: I like calling them creators because that’s truly what they are. For me an influencer is someone that is just posting and not really giving back to the community. I think creators are more collaborative and offer help to the community, they are determined to upliftt others. 

Brianna Doe:  You can be a content creator and not be an influencer, but you can’t really be an influencer and not be a content creator. I think the thing that makes them different is an influencer does participate in brand partnerships and leverages their online community. A content creator, on the other hand, might not. They might also focus on user generated content that’s free for brands to use. 

Your Playbook For a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign 

Brianna Doe: One of my most successful influencer campaigns was with a brand that provided me with a context of the whole project, the brief with basic information and then – creative freedom – because they knew I would do what’s gonna resonate with my audience best.

They were really focused on building a long-term partnership and to build trust with my audience.

Knowing that I didn’t have to worry so much about negotiating every time I post, I was able to just focus on the content and make sure that we were aligned on their goals. 

The longer term you can think about your partnerships, the more success you’ll start to see, not just with your audience, but with the influencers that you work with, with the content that you’re creating and with the overall strategy.

When you do set up influencer marketing campaigns or programs, make sure everything else is optimized. If you have a content creator driving traffic to a site where you’re not capturing anybody’s information, you’re not able to continue nurturing them, so you’re probably not going to see the results you want. And instead of blaming it on the content creator, it’s important to make sure all of this is in line before you actually launch.

Checklist for the influencer campaign:

  • Creative brief (not a script!)
  • Clear goals 
  • Long-term relationship with the audience AND with the content creator 
  • Creative freedom but providing helpful context 
  • Overall long-term strategy 
  • Optimization of all the touch points 

One Post Anti-Policy 

Jess Ross: When the campaign is just one post, it puts so much pressure on it because you want it to go viral, to get thousands of likes and views for that client, but that’s not always possible. Over the course of five months for example, my brand becomes a lot more associated with the company. People see me posting about them, so the it  becomes familiar. 

Jared Robin: You’re getting more posts, you’re getting recalibrations, you communicate with the influencers or creators that you’re partnering with. You’re getting feedback on brand messaging too. 

Katie Penner: Paying an influencer for one post is like having a one step sequence. It takes time to tell a full story and to bring up features and your experiences with the product. 

Be Clear About the Goals and Expectations  

Jess Ramos: The influencer is not a salesperson. There’s only so much influencers can do. We’re sitting at the top of the funnel. We’re helping bring brand awareness and trust. We’re driving clicks, free trials. But what happens beyond that is out of our control. If we’re bringing people to your website and maybe converting them to a trial or to put in their info, we can’t really do a whole lot beyond that.

I’ve talked to companies that want to get people to sign up for free demos, which are one of my least favorite CTAs. Just because it’s a big ask to get someone to sign up for a meeting. It’s important to find a balance between meeting your business goals, but also giving the influencer a CTA that makes sense and that they can really work with their audience.

Brianna Doe: Make sure you know your goals ahead of time. If you’re trying to define success in the middle of the campaign, it’s going to be a lot more difficult, if not impossible. Make sure to understand if you’re looking to drive brand awareness, free trials,  or you’re trying to capture people’s information or get them to an event. Understand what success is and then just get the metrics that will quantify that. 

Make sure you have tracking in place for whatever metric it is and communicate that to the influencers. It’s really important to make sure you have all this dialed in before you start the actual campaign or engage with the influencer.

Influencers Campaigns Gone Wrong

Jess Ramos: One difficult campaign I worked on was with a B2B company that had an unlimited budget. They got every influencer anywhere close to their target industry and worked with them. Long-term the campaign just fizzled out because it was tons of people all posting the same thing few times a week on LinkedIn. So anybody who follows influencers in this specific domain would see their posts every day. 

They got everyone they could instead of finding a few trusted people to work with. And then they also just oversaturated the market to the point where consumers and businesses got so tired of seeing these posts. The engagement dropped to 20 likes per post. 

Brianna Doe: We had one client who wanted a really fast turnaround time for the campaign. We handled everything we were supposed to: sourcing the influencers, negotiating, getting the contracts in place. And then the company just went silent for a while. There was no communication. Influencers were waiting for updates. They were waiting for their posts to get approved. 

Teams are lean right now. People don’t allocate a ton of resources to influencer marketing in the B2B space. So make sure you start small, with a few content creators, maybe even one. Then build accordingly or scale. Communication should always be a priority.

Brands’ Homework BEFORE Launching Influencers Campaign 

Katie Penner: When you don’t do that homework, you can get caught up in being affiliated with someone that maybe isn’t the best representation of your brand. It’s important to provide the creators with free access to your platform so that they can become genuine fans of what you’re offering — that will definitely come through in the posts that they’re creating. 

Buyers don’t want to hear from you or your company anymore. They are going to their communities, they’re going to the people that they trust, to the creators that they follow. 

You should get to know the creators that you might want to work with also. Make sure that they would be a good fit to represent your brand before even looking at their followers’ count. Our “creator community” is actually pretty small. 

The Combo of Paid Marketing and Influencer Campaigns 

Brianna Doe: On average, people need to see your brand’s name between 7 to 13 times for the linkage. 

So if you can incorporate both the paid marketing and influencers campaigns into the strategy, you’re going to hit it from both ends. You have influencers that people trust talking about your product, giving it validity, and then you can do remarketing at the same time with paid advertising. So they’re seeing it on their feed in multiple different formats. I love the combo of paid marketing and influencers campaigns. 

Katie Penner:  We ran a paid ad recently that was one of Tim Davidson’s posts about how he used to use gifting at Sendoso in his ads. And we generated multiple demo requests from that ad alone. 

No Budget? 

Brianna Doe: Everyone has their own rules here and boundaries they’re comfortable with. I think my time is valuable and people aren’t just paying for the piece of content I’m making for them. You’re paying for all the time someone invested building up their platform, building up their trust and getting access to that audience. Being a content creator is a ton of work, and to get to the level to where you have even 50k followers on one platform is difficult, so I do believe that it should be compensated. I think you can do a lot with a smaller amount of money if you go with smaller creators. Still, there needs to be some kind of budget in place.

I would advise any marketer or brand that wants to start approaching influencers for free content campaigns to really dig into why they want to do that. If it’s a budget concern — partner with smaller creators or potentially hold off on influencer marketing. Focus on other channels and make sure you have at least some sort of budget to be able to engage with people. 

Jared Robin: I think influencers are being underpaid. No matter what you’re doing, you should have a bulleted list of benefits ready.  Some may want to get speaking engagements, others — introductions. That’s going to create a much better bond and trust with whoever you’re working with. And that’s collaboration. 

Behind the Sendoso Influencer Campaign 

Katie Penner: I absolutely think that creators should be paid. We also do some other things, like LinkedIn takeovers with gifting — campaigns that are free but with our influencer program, 

I got a set budget. Then we launched a waitlist landing page where people could sign up. Thankfully I already knew many of these people and was able to go through the list and choose those that I know would really shine and bring out our brand. 

You just have to be pretty selective with your budget and mix big creators with the smaller ones. That’s what worked for us.

Metrics Rundown 

Jess Ramos: If the company is looking for brand awareness, then they want to get their name out there. They want others to know that I’m working with their brand which means focusing on impressions, views, post engagement and comments. If the main goal is to drive free trials or clicks, then the brand wants people to visit their website. I communicate that clearly — I can make that the main goal, but it’s probably going to hurt impressions because I’m going to have to do a post that is more catered to.

If you’re interested in watching the whole show, check it out here. If you wanna partner with RevGenius on events like this, let us know