One of the pioneers in the enterprise B2B influencer marketing space that I’ve been most fortunate to collaborate with most is Amisha Gandhi, (AmishaGandhi) Vice President of Influencer Marketing at SAP Ariba.
Whether it was the SAP Leonardo launch microsite with interactive content and 30+ influencers sharing their expertise reaching 21 million views or campaigns like this one with Arianna Huffington plus internal and external influencers for SAP SuccessFactors, there’s a lot of success in the momentum Amisha has created in the B2B influencer marketing world.
As the creator of SAP’s Global Influencer Program, Amisha has numerous B2B influencer marketing case studies being used in articles and presentations all over the industry. Now her focus is specifically with the Ariba global program that also includes working with analysts, communities and brand partners.
In this interview, Amisha talks about going beyond creating awareness to working with influencers to engage specific customer personas across the entire customer journey. She also shares her favorite tools and her vision of what influencer marketing will be in 2020.
Many B2B companies focus on their influencer partnerships to raise brand awareness and engagement. How does working with influencers in B2B help drive leads, sales and revenue?
A lot of companies focus on the awareness piece of influencer marketing and that would be called influencer relations.
Influencer marketing is focusing on the customer journey and driving demand to drive leads and to help with nurture. @AmishaGandhi @SAPAriba
Influencer marketing is focusing on the customer journey and driving demand to drive leads and to help with nurture. That means you are co-creating content for demand generation with influencers, having them be speakers on your lead generation and involved with your high value, high touch customer activities.
With influencer marketing, you’re looking to offer a better experience and better knowledge-based educational content with a third-party voice. These experiences can be achieved through content, speaking directly to customers, nurturing them and nurturing your cycle. This is the approach towards working with influencers that will help you to drive sales and show that you can touch pipeline.
How is influencer marketing positioned within your company? Ex: independent department that serves the brand and departments / business unites or is it more decentralized? What are the advantages of that structure?
Influencer marketing sits within the global marketing group at Ariba in corporate marketing. Ours is somewhat of an unconventional model with an influencer marketing team comprised of analyst relations, third party communities, external business influencers, and advocacy.
The advantage of this structure is that it allows us to bring communities of influence together in a way to help drive real business outcomes from awareness to advocacy and with internal and external advocates.
What tips can you share about being more effective about influencer identification, qualification or recruitment?
The biggest piece of advice I can share is don’t just look at popularity metrics. Go beyond what the numbers are and see what that data really means. Don’t just look at followers, look at engagement. Look at who influencers are engaging with and how long they’ve been engaging.
Also, don’t just look at social media. Look at where the influencers are speaking and who else they are connected to. Often times influencers on a specific topic hang out together. Start seeing those connections because that’s going to help you create a more effective program.
Engagement is better than the number of followers. Look at the conversations influencers are driving and take a deep dive across all their channels. @AmishaGandhi @SAPAriba
Engagement is better than the number of followers. Look at the conversations influencers are driving and take a deep dive across all their channels. Discover where they are blogging to see what they are talking about and if it fits with what you are doing.
When recruiting an influencer, make sue that it’s clear you’ve spent quality time getting to know what they care about and why they should care about you. Make it really clear what’s in it for them, not just what’s in it for you.
What characteristics make for a successful influencer / B2B brand relationship?
The biggest misconception about influencer marketing is that it’s all about social media and that you should buy influence to shout out marketing messages. Companies should approach influencers as partners, not just as people that they can use for their marketing efforts and launches.
Companies should approach influencers as partners, not just as people that they can use for their marketing efforts and launches. @AmishaGandhi @SAPAriba
Leveraging influencers only for promotion is a big complaint from influencers. It’s really about building a relationship that brings value to both parties.
When you look at the characteristics for a successful B2B brand relationship you are:
- Looking at creating value for both parties
- Creating a long term and lasting relationship that is a two way street
- Setting up your influencers for success and arm them with knowledge before they walk into any kind of engagement
- Arming your brand stakeholders with information as well so interactions are high value between the company and the influencers
- Being clear with the influencers on what it is that you’re trying to achieve
Often times the influencers will share their advice from a view of the market that you don’t have, and you need to be open to that. Influencers can bring their outside-in perspective and help drive engagement with their advice. Listening to influencers in this way is a key tenant for a strong relationship.
What advice can you share about measuring success with influencer marketing?
When you are implementing an influencer marketing campaign understand the business outcome that you are helping to drive. Once you know the specific business outcome, put the metrics you want to track in a dashboard.
For example, with a campaign that involves an eBook, your metrics might include social media shares, social impressions to see how it was promoted by influencers, views or downloads depending on how it’s set up.
If you set up up measurement correctly with the right tagging you can see how much touch the asset had. If you have Marketo you can see when people come to the asset and where they go after, which helps inform your customer journey and how the influencer marketing pieces are working within your entire marketing landscape.
Once you have those metrics in place you can use them as a benchmarks so the next time you have a program you can go back and see what your baseline measurements are.
Many marketers overlook engagement. A lot of marketers look at social media impressions and social engagement. In B2B influencer marketing, there’s a lot of focus on engagement with assets and the customer journey, so you will want to make sure you have like minded metrics that fit into your marketing landscape that people will understand.
Make sure that you have quantifiable metrics – but also don’t be afraid to bring up qualitative metrics as well.
For example, if you did a webinar with influencers, you might say you saw 2X leads and 4X engagement which is going to be important way to report performance. Even if you don’t have hard numbers, you should be able to share comparative metrics so that people understand the value of using influencer marketing versus not .
The quality of content is important as are quantitative and qualitative metrics. It’s important to show both the art and science of influencer marketing. @AmishaGandhi @SAPAriba
The quality of content is important as are quantitative and qualitative metrics. It’s important to show both the art and science of influencer marketing.
Speaking of technologies, any favorite tools or platforms you can share?
Some of our favorite tools are Traackr, Marketo & Sprinkler. Traackr is for influencer marketing, Sprinklr is for scheduling and putting content out on social media networks and Marketo is what can help you visualize the journey. These are all tools that can help you show the measurability of influencer marketing and to quantify the program.
How do you think influencer marketing will have evolved in the next year or two? What will it look like in 2020?
I think influencer marketers will start to look beyond influencer relations. Today you see a lot of influencers at events and I think in the next few years you’ll see a lot more influencers during the demand cycle and involved with more content down the funnel.
Personalization of content is becoming more important and you’re going to see influencers show up there, talking to different personas.
There is also a growing importance around micro-influencers in industries where macro influencers were covering topics like artificial intelligence. I think we’ll see more micro-influencers talking about topics like AI and manufacturing. There will be more micro-influencers involved with industry specific content.
I think we’re going to go away from influencer marketing and start thinking about what influences the customer journey. @AmishaGandhi @SAPAriba
In the next few years I think we’re going to go away from influencer marketing and start thinking about what influences the customer journey. B2B companies will move more into influence marketing versus influencer marketing.
For those companies that want to be more strategic about influencer marketing, many programs begin as a pilot to determine if it will work for your company and why you are doing it. That way you can build your program based on the outcomes.
Influencer marketing will be seen more as a strategic function if you can stretch it across the customer journey.
In two years, I think we’ll go beyond influencer marketing. It will be about the intrinsic value of influence.
Thank you Amisha!
If you would like to learn more about B2B influencer marketing from a panel of brand experts, be sure to check out our sesssion at MarketingProfs B2B Forum November 13-15th featuring Konstanze Brown from Dell, Amisha Gandhi from SAP Ariba and Lucianna Moran from Dun & Bradstreet.
Here are the details:
Content and influencer marketing are hot topics for B2B marketers all over the world as two of the most promising strategies for attracting, engaging and converting ideal customers. What many marketers don’t realize is how collaborating with influencers can create even more credible, relevant, and optimized experiences for target accounts. Join moderator Lee Odden and an expert panel of B2B brand influencer marketing executives from SAP, Dell and Dun & Bradstreet to learn how working with influencers and their communities can help scale quality B2B content that gets results. You’ll learn:
- The variety of benefits from B2B influencer collaboration
- How major B2B brands plan, implement and measure influencer content
- About processes and technologies that support influencer marketing success
We hope to see you there!
Be sure to check out the other Enterprise B2B Influencer Marketing interviews in this series:
Another resource that you might find interesting is this presentation on Big Brand Influencer Marketing: