Improving Customer Experience is one of the top priorities for B2B marketers today. With the challenges of real-world experiences from field marketing to in-person tradeshows all but gone, B2B marketers are focused on figuring out how to maximize digital experiences.
Working with influencers has proven to be an effective solution. In fact, 74% of marketers agree that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience with the brand according to the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report. But how are B2B brands working with influencers to create those experiences?
To find out, I reached out to Srijana Angdembey, Director of Social Media Marketing at Oracle for this 8th Episode of Inside Influence – Interviews with B2B Influencer Marketing Insiders. During our talk, we discussed:
- How influencer marketing for B2B has changed
- What it takes to be a top B2B influencer marketing professional at a B2B brand
- Top challenges and opportunities for influencer marketing during the pandemic
- How influencer engagement impacts customer experience for B2B companies
- An example of a successful influencer marketing campaign
- Advice for B2B marketers that are considering working with influencers and what to expect
- Trends in influencer content
- Criteria for identifying and partnering with business influencers
- Measures of success for a B2B influencer marketing program
- Influencer marketing after the pandemic and future predictions
Below are some of the highlights of our discussion with the full video interview embedded below.
How did you first start working with influencers and how has it changed?
Srijana: The funny thing is I actually started in policy and working with politicians and policy makers. I was working in government affairs and in a way, I think I’ve always worked with influencers. I’ve always kind of known who are the people of influence or who could influence things to accomplish my goals. So when I jumped into the role of CX marketing, it just so happened that I also got influencer marketing. I felt very natural coming into it. I think the way things have changed now from when I started, is influencer marketing was very much for B2C. Now we’re seeing more B2B companies really embracing it. That’s been the major change that I’ve seen.
What do you think are some of the top challenges and opportunities for influencer marketing posed by the pandemic?
Srijana: Honestly I wouldn’t say that I’ve seen any or it’s not been much of a challenge. We’ve definitely had to tweak our strategy because we rely on influencers for our event marketing. For example, we’ve worked with Matt Heinz on a road show that we did, which was awesome. So we were continuing to do something similar this year before the pandemic, but when it hit, we realized we had to really pivot.
We were doing all these virtual shows and including influencers, hosting and attending, speaking and that was fine. We were also thinking about how we could be more helpful and make our content more relevant for our audience right now? I wouldn’t say that was so much of a challenge, but it was sort of like the guiding principle behind picking up influencer marketing this year and really seeing and working with those influencers who kind of got that.
We also realized that influencers were more accessible now and maybe more available to work to make sure that we have that equal value partnership. So we’re not taking advantage of them but being able to get something done that was of value for our audience.
According to our research presented in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing report, 74% of marketers agree that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience. In what ways do you believe influence has an impact on CX?
Srijana: Gosh, when I think of influencer marketing the first thing I think about is trust. Trust is the currency that makes the experience economy go around, right? We’re all trying to be more more human in our approach to marketing. We’re trying to come across as more friendly and not trying to push our solutions and products as much. But how do we do that?
When I think of influencer marketing the first thing I think about is trust. Trust is the currency that makes the experience economy go around. @srijanaa
I really think that influencer marketing helps fill that gap because now we’re working with individuals that our audience trusts and look up to us as experts. I think that’s the key. I think that’s how influence drives customer experience. Working on anything, content marketing or events with influencers just helps build the trust factor. It also adds credibility and makes everything so much more authentic.
Our research found that 96% of B2B marketers implementing influencer programs are successful in some way. Even with that optimism, 60% of B2B marketers say they don’t have the skills in house or expertise to execute. What advice can you share for marketers considering working with influencers?
Srijana: I think the first thing I’d say is you may not realize, but your company might already be doing some form of influencer marketing. A lot of times I don’t think people know for sure. When I was doing influencer marketing here initially at Oracle, I was surprised to find how many other people were already working with influencers. But maybe you don’t have that strategy in place yet or an official program.
If you set your goals for working with influencers and what you’re trying to achieve with the influencer marketing program, then you can start really slow and small. @srijanaa
I think if you set your goals for working with influencers and what you’re trying to achieve with the influencer marketing program, then you can start really slow and small. It could be as easy as just reaching out organically and trying to build that relationship with an influencer. That’s where you start and really start studying and understanding if this is the right influencer that you want to work with. What content are they producing? Who are their audiences? How are they engaging with them? So I would say start there.
B2B marketing and content expectations increasingly demand experiences, including with influencer content. What are you seeing in terms of recorded and live video, stories, podcasts and even interactive content with influencers?
Srijana: Tik Tok is a great example, right? As far as pushing the boundaries of content.
That’s another thing about working with influencers. I think they’re so good at that. Maybe I have restrictions and boundaries or maybe I don’t have the resources in my company. Maybe I have brand guidelines that restrict me from doing certain forms of content. I’m loving what I see from Brian Fanzo do for example. He has such good stuff like with virtual events that he’s doing. I love that.
Influencers know that the content needs to be very engaging and it needs to hold the attention of the viewer. @srijanaa
When working with Shep Hyken, for example, this year on one of our events, I was just blown away by the technology that he had and the ability to pull in things when he was speaking. He had slides up and had stats pop up and I was so impressed. I think that influencers know that the content needs to be very engaging and it needs to hold the attention of the viewer.
I’m just finding that we’re just getting more and more innovative and as we are exploring newer forms of news and new kinds of social media, for example, it just pushes the boundary even more.
What do you think will be different about influencer marketing for B2B companies post-pandemic? Any predictions for the future?
Srijana: No predictions, but I definitely don’t think we’re going back anytime soon to how things worked or how we were doing things.
One thing that this pandemic really did was make us all pause and kind of look at our (influencer) marketing in a more prescriptive way. “Is this going to add any value?” @srijanaa
One thing that this pandemic really did was make us all pause and kind of look at our marketing in a more prescriptive way. “Is this going to add any value?” I think even more so than ever, it kind of made that really clear to us.
I think even with influencer marketing, we became very focused on, is what this person saying aligned to our values and what we want? Post pandemic, I think that’s going to continue. For example, we want to work with a diverse range of influencers, right? Maybe that was already top of mind before, but now it’s even more top of mind because of the current situation.
I think we’re going to be more prescriptive on how we do things and who we align with and make sure that person is not just what they’re saying on social media, but also that they are good people to work with and that our customers really look up to.
To see the full Inside Influence interview with Srijana Angdembey, check out the video below:
Next up on Inside Influence, we’ll be talking to Brian Solis, Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce about how influence and thought leadership transcend marketing to become partners to drive business growth.
Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence B2B Influencer Marketing interviews: