[Infographic] Where B2B Marketers Turn When the Easy Road Ends

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Marketing in B2B technology used to be easy and
dare I say–almost always predictable. But there are major changes happening in
the B2B marketing landscape, disrupting our once reliable marketing strategies.

As B2B marketers, we’re up against:

  • Customer communication channels
    that have exploded into thousands of pieces;
  • A tangled mess of a buyer’s
    journey requiring new technologies and methodologies; and
  • New sales and marketing rules, set
    by a generation of digital natives who block ads and trust peer recommendations
    above all.

In the words of Mark Schaefer,
author of KNOWN and renowned marketing strategist, 

While our “go-to” channels
are in turmoil–or in permanent decline–there is one bright spot that is
growing in importance at light speed: Influencer Marketing.”

According to recent research,
the act of sharing influential content impacts purchase decisions. In fact, The
New York Times
reported that 70% of adults say their purchasing decisions are
affected by content they see shared on the web. Furthermore,
Hotwire PR found that 83% of technology buyers prefer 3rd party opinions when
evaluating a vendor, which they are open to discovering on social media.

Faced with such challenges and
opportunities, I teamed up with Mark to learn from 10 of the most advanced
influencer marketing experts at the world’s largest technology organizations,
including Microsoft, SAP, HPE and more.

While it’s apparent that
influencer marketing works for consumer-facing brands, we wanted to shed light
on how influencer marketing works in B2B and go deep into the specific
challenges and solutions for technology brands.

What we learned is that sophisticated influencer
strategies are taking root throughout leading B2B technology organizations and
growing rapidly as the impact on the business become clear.

Even more so, the experts we interviewed revealed that
influencer marketing not only works, but is seen as a strategic lever for their
business success. Their insight revealed six emerging trends in the practice:

1.     Emergence of micro-influencers
and their role vis-a-vis macro-influencers

2.     Necessity to lead with
purpose over promotion

3.     Importance of expert voices
and their relationship with brand voice

4.     Transition from
campaign-driven activities to “always on” engagement

5.     Demolition of silos in favor
of cross-functional collaboration

6.     Evolution of measurement from
reach to outcomes

Collectively, these six trends have indicated a major shift,
but focusing on the transition from campaign-driven activities to “always-on”
engagement will be especially acute for marketers. For decades, marketers have
been in a rhythm of campaign-based activities. But every one of the experts
emphasized the need to break that cycle and acknowledge that influencer
marketing is about long-term relationships that don’t go up and down with
budget levels.

In fact, to go even deeper, we reached out to Michael
, CEO of Marketing Insider Group and a top CMO Influencer by Forbes, for
commentary on these six trends. Michael noted, “I wish you could put double
emphasis on the long term “always on” trend. I have had probably a dozen
requests from B2B tech brands this year for one-off engagements. I turn them
down every time.”

The key is to bring influencer relationship management
in-house to create closer bonds between employees and influencers. Michael
included his take on what he would add as the seventh trend:

Influencer marketing is going to join up with employer
branding and social activation programs when companies begin to realize that
paid outreach no longer works. Influencers can start to ignite the
conversation and provide internal experts and employees the guidance and the
confidence they need to start sharing their own points of view. When influencer
content gets shared by employee networks and employee content is shared by
influencer networks, the combined engagement and business outcomes will be

On October 10th, Mark and I will co-host a live webinar to
present the findings from our research and discuss how to apply the trends in
practice to enable B2B influencer marketing success.

This infographic summarizes our key findings and
provides guidance to B2B marketing organizations who are looking to establish,
scale or optimize their influencer marketing programs.  

Traackr's 6 Industry Trends Shaping B2B Influencer Marketing

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