25 B2B Influencer Marketing Campaign & Engagement Ideas for 2020

In the business world, you don’t have to look far to see that the number of B2B companies engaged with influencer marketing is growing. As more companies are moving beyond experimentation to conducting pilots, sequential campaigns and always on programs, there is an increasing desire to expand how brands engage with business influencers. To help…

25 b2b influencer campaign ideas - 25 B2B Influencer Marketing Campaign & Engagement Ideas for 2020

In the business world, you don’t have to look far to see that the number of B2B companies engaged with influencer marketing is growing. As more companies are moving beyond experimentation to conducting pilots, sequential campaigns and always on programs, there is an increasing desire to expand how brands engage with business influencers.

To help B2B marketers solve that problem, I’m going to share a swipe file of sorts of different business influencer campaigns and engagement opportunities. Implementing just a few of these could help a company with a substantial amount of influencer program activity.

Of course just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! As with all effective marketing, it’s important to match up the campaign approach with the criteria for your customers and how they want to engage with influencer/brand content.  Check out the list below and hopefully some good ideas will spark and ignite your 2020 B2B influencer marketing to new levels.

25 B2B Influencer Marketing Campaign and Engagement Ideas for 2020

1. Conduct a series of video interview with influencers – Pick a theme and topics you want your brand to be influential about, then interview the top experts. The Break Free B2B interview series is a good example of that. The great thing about video is that you can repurpose as a podcast or even as text for social shares and quotes for related blog posts, presentations, reports and newsletters.

2. Engage an Influencer host on a brand podcast@TamaraMcCleary does an amazing job for the SAP Tech Unknown podcast, interviewing other influencers and executives from SAP.

3. Invite Influencers to provide content for an interactive content experience – Of course we’ve been specialized in this form of content collaboration for many years and have numerous examples. The interactive content format is engaging for your audience and also for contributing influencers because it elevates their status and visibility. One of my favorite examples of this is this microsite featuring 10+ influencers and a simulated voice assistant named Penny, who helps you navigate the world of finance, machine learning and AI.

4. Publish a list of top influencers in each industry vertical where you operate – Many companies want to begin developing an influencer program but have no meaningful connections with influencers yet. One of many ways to get on influencers’ radar is to publish a qualitative list of who is leading the field. Then reach out to share the honor followed by an invitation to collaborate. Go beyond one-off lists and make it an annual event like the list we’ve been publishing each year for the past 10 years of women who rock on digital marketing.

5. Add influencer reactions and expertise to a research report – When IT Service Management leader, Cherwell Software released their research report on Work Process Integration and Digital Transformation, they engaged a group of relevant influencers including Dr. Sally Eaves, Tim Crawford and Ray Wang to share their expertise.

6. Enlist influencers as judges in a contest – This is exactly what Alcatel Lucent Enterprise did with their IT Vanguard Awards. Industry influencers were invited to review nominations for IT network and communications professionals. The program created great exposure for the winners, the judges and for ALE, resulting in multiple six figure leads.

7. Engage influencers to interview brand executives either online or in real-time at a conference – The influencer marketing team at SAP engaged multiple influencers to interview SAP executives during the SAPPHIRE conference, an ideal time to connect industry pros with in-house thought leadership like this interview I did with Oliver Betz, General Manager, Innovative Business Solutions at SAP, on innovation.

8. Invite influencers to an event at brand HQ: tours, executive meet and greets, education, social content creation – Adobe does a great job with this kind of B2B influencer activation and hosted 18 industry marketing, design, tech and business influencers to San Jose for a deep dive into topics like CDP, CXM and of course, Adobe’s solutions. The bonus was a fun visit to the company store for Adobe swag.  Here’s a fun video from Ross Quintana documenting the experience.

9. Invite influencers to write a series of articles published on the brand site – Brands that answer buyer questions provide a valuable service. Inviting 3rd party experts to answer those questions through useful content is even more valuable. Keep in mind, in most cases a commitment to writing on a regular basis is a paid engagement with the contributing influencers.

10. Engage influencers to keynote or workshop at your brand’s user conference – Another common form of paid influencer engagement is as a featured speaker at a company event. These engagements can elevate the performance of an event when a talented performer that also has deep industry expertise can inspire the audience.

11. Partner influencers with your customers to interview each other for a web video series – Customer trust in brands is not high but trust in peers and experts is. Creating conversation opportunities between credible industry experts and your clients can inspire truly meaningful dialog that resonates with potential customers.

12. Invite influencers to an event to livestream and document their experience – I have been invited by multiple B2B companies to attend events and share my impressions using whatever media I was comfortable with including Adobe, SAP, IBM, and Oracle. A small number of influencers experiencing a brand event can have a big impact. At SAP’s annual conference, 15 influencers drove 25% of all social media impressions.

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13. Invite influencers along with clients and prospects to VIP dinners where your brand presents, sponsors or attends industry events – This is one of my favorite things about attending industry conferences: connecting our clients with top industry influencers. There’s no selling, just an experience and connection that everyone involved remembers – and that top of mind effect is priceless.

14. Create an ebook featuring brand thought leadership accentuated by relevant industry influencer insights – Oracle Dyn created the Cybersecurity Intelligence Report featuring a combination of respected influencers and practitioners as well as an Oracle executive, building credibility by association.

15. Run a webinar or series of webinars featuring an influencer as host or guest and a brand executive – Featuring an industry expert in a webinar is a fairly common influencer activation and the reason is, it works! So why not create a series of webinars to build audience, momentum and a body of content that can be repurposed?

16. Engage influencers to contribute expertise to content that advances a key brand theme – It sounds pretty basic, but I can’t tell you how many B2B brands produce content without any 3rd party credibility. Adobe engaged multiple influencers to provide insights around customer experience management in this interactive infographic in support of the Adobe Summit conference.

17. Feature quotes from a group of influencers for a roundup blog post or landing page – Dell Outlet Small Business added commentary from multiple small business influencers about the value of refurbished computers on this landing page to drive awareness and engagement.

18. Curate quotes from influencer contributions and repurpose them as social shares throughout the year – Modular content means planning repurposing by using templates with influencer interviews and content capture. This makes it easier to create a library of influencer quotes organized by topic for social shares, use in contributed articles, newsletters, blog posts and presentations. Not only does reposting influencer quotes add credibility to brand content, but they also give the influencer ongoing exposure, which they will appreciate.

19. Engage influencers with a blog network, or podcast network to come up with a creative campaign for your brand – The notion of “creator” is most often associated with B2C influencers. But more B2B influencers are adapting and acquiring media creation savvy. Better yet is when influence creators and media publishers bundle themselves together.

20. Invite influencers to an executive meeting or retreat to discuss topics of mutual interest, then publish a summary – Guided discussions amongst industry experts and internal subject matter experts can generate a goldmine of ideas. The Digital Marketing Institute has formed the Global Industry Advisory Champions with representatives from major brands Google, Facebook, IBM, CocaCola, The Economist, LinkedIn and even TopRank Marketing 🙂 to share insights around the state of digital marketing and education. Summaries of conversations are released along with industry research.

21. Engage an influencer to be an Emcee or digital correspondent during a brand conference – A few people I know do this really well. First, Jay Baer and Katie Martell are excellent emcees and influential in their unique ways. Sarah Evans is an amazing digital correspondent that can cover a conference with interviews and commentary to really level up the brand.

22. Make your influencer community available to a publication – 12 influencers including Dion Hinchliffe, Tamara McCleary, and Ronald Van Loon were interviewed by The New Economy publication during the SAPPHIRE conference for this video focused on a key topic of interest to SAP: The Experience Economy.

23. Create a series of blog posts featuring author influencers and their books  – The team at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has published a series of posts honoring top marketing authors that have been well received by their readers and inspiring for authors to share. Even better, is when authors recommend other authors to be featured.

24. Have a tech influencer do an “unboxing video” of a server or other hardware from your tech brand – Many B2C influencer tactics could be cleverly applied to B2B products. Go ahead and search for “server unboxing” on YouTube and you may be surprised at how many there are. Maybe a “haul” video from an office supply store isn’t such a bad idea?

25. Publish a list of the most influential speakers at conferences relevant to your industry – Of course this is something we’ve been doing here on our blog for several years including Content Marketing Influencers / Speakers and B2B Marketing Influencers / Speakers. Publishing influencer lists before the conference can open up conversations while attending the event and complement other outreach afterwards.

BONUS! (Thanks to Debbie Friez @dfriez and Jack Fitzpatrick @fitzJackrick from our Influencer Marketing team)

26. Invite influencers to do software walkthroughs and post them to IGTV, Facebook, and YouTube. They could could also be live-streamed on platforms like Twitch.

27. Host a networking happy hour with influencers and your key customer contacts during a conference or in your city.

28. Co-create a series of podcasts on the influencers channels that include supporting content like blogs, twitter chats/polls and cross-channel amplification.

29. Create an ask-the-expert video series on your brand YouTube channel where influencers join a brand co-host to answer top questions.

While there’s a variety of solid and actionable ideas in this list, it’s really important to lay the groundwork and strategy for an influencer marketing program in terms of understanding what kind of influencers and topics make the most sense for your brand and customers.

Influencers are not magic, but when you develop strong relationships with a relevant group of influencers, the impact on your marketing across the customer lifecycle can seem magical.

If you would like to learn more about influencer marketing for B2B, see these resources and be sure to check out the following list of upcoming conferences where I will be sharing strategies, best practices and case studies featuring B2B brands of all sizes:

February 24-25, 2020 – B2BMX – Scottsdale, AZ

How to Optimize ABM Results with Influencer Marketing

March 19, 2020 – Convergence Summit – Minneapolis, MN

In Search of Trust: How Authentic Content Drives Customer Experience

March 24, 2020 – Pubcon – Miami, FL

B2B Influencer Marketing Workshop

April 20-22, 2020 – Content Tech – San Diego, CA

How to Optimize Content Performance with Influence

April 22-23, 2020 – Content Marketing Conference – Boston, MA

Be Best Answer for Your Customers with SEO and Influence

May 27 -28, 2020 – B2B Ignite USA – Chicago, IL

In Marketing We Trust: How to Build Influence with the C-Suite and on the Street

I hope to see you there!

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5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand

B2B marketing is swiftly embracing techniques that were once only for B2C, and we’ve got five smart B2C tactics to add to your B2B plans for 2020 and well beyond. Influencer marketing, engaging interactive content, awards events, chatbots, and podcasting are just some of the ways that today’s savvy B2B marketers can add a healthy…

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B2B marketing is swiftly embracing techniques that were once only for B2C, and we’ve got five smart B2C tactics to add to your B2B plans for 2020 and well beyond.

Influencer marketing, engaging interactive content, awards events, chatbots, and podcasting are just some of the ways that today’s savvy B2B marketers can add a healthy dose of the B2C experience to your business marketing efforts.

#1 – Influencer Marketing

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Even though influencer marketing is still largely associated with the B2C world, you’ve likely noticed that it’s being increasingly used by smart marketers as a highly successful go-to B2B tactic.

Influencer marketing has already accounted for over $2 billion in annual marketing spending in the U.S. alone, and annual growth rates are predicted to from 41 percent all the way to 95 percent. (AdAge)

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B2C influencer marketing has relied heavily on celebrity influencers, a combination that has faced a growing backlash and played a part in diminishing trust in marketing.

B2B influencer marketing, on the other hand, incorporates industry experts who have a genuine two-way relationship with a brand, a partnership that respectfully serves both parties equally well, and boosts trust.

While influencer marketing may have had its ups and downs in the B2C landscape, influencers in the B2B world may just be a perfect match.

“Invite people to be in your program first and then do some brainstorming with them and see what they like, how they like to interact or what they like to do for companies.” @AmishaGandhi Click To Tweet

Amisha Gandhi is vice president of influencer marketing and communications at SAP*, and she recently shared her B2B influencer marketing insights in one of our new Break Free B2B video interviews, including creative and fun ways that add sizzle and build brand credibility.

Watch and learn from Amisha in “Break Free B2B Series: Amisha Gandhi on Global B2B Influencer Marketing.”

If you don’t tie your influencer marketing to business objectives, you can quickly lose track of what you’re trying to accomplish. @Konstanze Click To Tweet

Konstanze Alex of Dell* is another leader in B2B influencer marketing, and along with Amisha and Dell’s Janine Wegner at the most recent MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference, she explored some of the latest trends shaping influencer marketing, in “Tales from the B2B Influencer Marketing Trenches with Leaders from Dell & SAP #MPB2B.

“Influencer marketing presents an opportunity to tap into the established credibility and connections that people in your industry or niche already have with their own audiences.” @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

Our own senior content strategist Nick Nelson and senior director of digital strategy Ashley Zeckman have also explored the subtle nuances of B2B influencer marketing, taking “A Journey Through Always-On Influencer Marketing with Ashley Zeckman #MPB2B.”

We pride ourselves on cultivating and nurturing long-term relationships with our influencers … which means we are always looking to establish a ‘give to get’ exchange where all parties come out ahead. @ranimani0707 @adobe Click To Tweet

Rani Mani, head of social influencer enablement at Adobe* is another leading B2B influencer marketing expert, and she has shared a number of her unique insights in “B2B Influencer Marketing Interview: Rani Mani, Adobe.”

Trust in marketing has been a growing concern among marketers — one that B2B influencer marketing is squarely seeking to improve —  and here are five of our most recent articles that explore how marketers can build greater trust:

#2 – Engaging Interactive Content

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B2C brands have spent heavily on bringing consumers engaging interactive online content as a major part of many marketing campaigns.

As the B2B landscape continues to speedily depart from its dusty Boring-To-Boring roots, business customers are expecting content and experiences that are increasingly similar to what B2C efforts have long provided, and engaging interactive experiences exemplify the type of content B2B firms need to offer if they wish to successfully compete.

What could be less interactive or engaging than a hundred-plus page purely text industry white paper?

Today’s B2B customers expect to have access to all of the relevant information that white paper contained, but brought to life through an online interface that’s not only easy to search and navigate, but also chock full of user experience features that make interacting an entertaining experience.

“You may need to take baby steps with your audience to get them warmed up to the idea of interactivity.” — Caitlin Burgess @CaitlinMBurgess Click To Tweet

Engaging and interactive content marketing is a subject near and dear to our hearts at TopRank Marketing, and here are five of the most recent pieces we’ve published to help you learn more about building your own:

#3 – Awards & Best-Of Pages

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As B2B efforts become more like those in B2C, business marketers are increasingly looking for places to showcase their best work, and industry awards events can be a powerful way to share and celebrate cutting-edge work.

Whether it’s physical red carpet award programs where industry professionals gather to honor the top B2B marketing work, or purely digital events that show off lists of winning campaigns, the benefits of highlighting great B2B marketing efforts can be far-reaching.

LinkedIn* recently announced the winners of its “Best of LinkedIn Pages 2019,” taken from submissions to its annual contest — a list that shows how building great content can lead to widespread industry  recognition.

We’ve examined the power of award-winning content in the following articles, including several examples from the Cannes Lions event:

#4 – Chatbots & AI-Infused Customer Interaction

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B2C companies were some of the first to actively offer chatbots to consumers, however there’s been swift adoption in the B2B world, and with studies showing that people like interacting with powerful chatbots when they can quickly get the answers they seek, more B2B organizations are likely to begin using chatbot technology in 2020 and beyond.

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For a deeper look at how chatbots, artificial intelligence, plus augmented and virtual reality can work to your B2B marketing advantage, here are five recent articles we’ve published:

#5 – Podcasting

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Just a few years ago the idea of podcasting in a B2B context would likely have been seen as preposterous by most business consumers.

Now however, as podcasting’s popularity has skyrocketed in general — over 62 percent of podcast listeners say they listen to more now than a year ago — more B2B firms than ever are either starting their own or studying how to do so in the near future.

B2B podcasting is ripe for business marketers, with some 13 million households already including avid fans of business podcasts, and 52 million households including casual fans of business podcasts, according to Nielsen podcasting data.

Our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite recently made the case for B2B marketers to take a serious look at podcasting, and presented “B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats that Make the Marketing Case.”

“B2B marketers who are creating any kind of audio content should consider podcasting as a channel to earn attention, deeply engage an audience, and ultimately drive measurable business results.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

When it comes to B2B podcasting, making the leap from consideration to implementation can be a hurdle, however Josh has written an insightful guide to help marketers with the process, in “10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild.”

More B2B podcasting help and examples of top marketing podcasts can be found here:

A Brighter B2B Future For 2020 and Beyond

As we’ve explored, by using influencer marketing, engaging interactive content, awards events, chatbots, and podcasting, B2B marketers can add new life to once-stale campaigns, and we hope that 2020 brings you an abundance of B2B marketing advancements to be thankful for.

* Dell, SAP, Adobe, and LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing client.

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Marketplaces 2019: B2B Ecommerce Strategies for Amazon, Alibaba and Others

At Business Insider Intelligence, our mission is to bring you the most important insights, data and analysis from the digital world. So when we come across outstanding research from our partners that we think our audience can benefit from, we like to make sure you hear about it. That’s why we’re giving you a preview of…

  • At Business Insider Intelligence, our mission is to bring you the most important insights, data and analysis from the digital world. So when we come across outstanding research from our partners that we think our audience can benefit from, we like to make sure you hear about it. 
  • That’s why we’re giving you a preview of eMarketer’s new report: Marketplaces 2019.
  • You can purchase and download the full report here.

As business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce grows, sellers must decide how marketplaces fit into their digital sales approach. While high traffic and demand can expose B2B suppliers to new audiences and opportunities, marketplaces can also be a competitive threat without the right strategy.

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What is a B2B marketplace?

A marketplace is an e-commerce platform that lets third parties sell directly to customers. Unlike a distributor, marketplaces don’t own inventory. B2B marketplaces facilitate complex transactions for business buying needs like wholesale, bulk orders, invoicing, order approvals, and more.

How do I decide which marketplace to work with?

When starting to build or assess a current marketplace strategy, B2Bs need to understand the different options. Amazon, Alibaba, and Thomas are the three biggest with wide assortments across commodity and custom goods. Niche marketplaces for specific industries — healthcare, auto parts, office supplies, building materials, food, industrial machines, entertainment, and real estate — are also available. Products sold, target audience, and price point are factors impacting which marketplace is best for your company.

How do I open an Amazon Business account?

Amazon Business and other marketplaces are actively courting new sellers to diversify supply. Amazon Business offers a self-service option for business sellers, Seller Central. And Alibaba has an accounts team to help onboard new sellers in the US.

What are the best practices for developing a marketplace strategy?

Marketplaces are a good testing ground to begin selling online or supplement a direct website. Understanding margins is essential for profitability. Product content is also a strong marketing tool, which must be accurate and optimized for search. Conflict between other sales channels should be avoided.

eMarketer has put together a detailed report, Marketplaces 2019, to explore how and why sellers use marketplaces and how these platforms are innovating.

Topics discussed in this report include:

  • B2B e-commerce in 2019
  • Marketplaces as a digital sales channel
  • A deep dive into the marketplace
  • 7 best practices for devising your marketplace strategy

In full, this report contains:

  • 2 Detailed files: Exportable files for easy reading, analysis and sharing.
  • 10 Data-rich charts: Reliable data in simple displays for presentations and quick decision making.
  • 22 Expert perspectives: Insights from industry and company leaders.

>> Purchase and download the full report here.