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The Guide to SaaS and B2B Influencer Marketing

 

Trust—intangible yet powerful—is increasingly important to both partners and buyers. As a result, buyers tend to be hesitant to engage in sales pitches, instead craving genuine recommendations from people they know.

Influencer marketing has long been a hot topic for direct-to-consumer brands — of course, consumers want to purchase products and services their favorite online celebrities use. However, in recent years, influencer marketing has become more prevalent in the SaaS and B2B spaces.

This article will explore how influencer marketing can have a powerful impact on your SaaS and B2B marketing strategy by diving into potential challenges, general best practices, and our picks for industry influencers to watch.

The Role of Influencer Marketing in B2B

Influencer marketing is an advertising strategy that leverages the influence of online personalities to advance awareness and drive sales. When done correctly, influencer marketing can be a powerful way to establish brand presence and sell into new markets because consumers trust other consumers more than companies. 

Influencers provide an insider perspective on what the industry is likely to engage with, what they’re interested in, and the best channels to leverage.

Best Practices for SaaS and B2B Influencer Marketing

SaaS and B2B influencer marketing is a powerful way to build trust and increase engagement with your industry. 

    1. Start by identifying prominent voices in your customer and partner ecosystem. Your company’s best influencers are likely already in your audience. Start by exploring who of your customers might have the strongest pull. These will be the professionals always popping up on your LinkedIn feed and coming up in conversations.
    2. Spend time training your influencers. Provide thorough product demos, actionable resources, and access to your tool as relevant. Leverage your PRM to provide easy access to your training materials.
    3. Leverage their expertise. Your influencers have built their audience using their personality and creator skills — don’t overlook this! Collaborate with influencers to create campaigns that align with their voice and audience. Be open to ideas from your influencers — they’ll likely have creative concepts tailored to their audience.
    4. Sales-focused messaging won’t fly. Today’s consumers can smell canned messaging from miles away. Don’t plan on giving your influencers templated posts and emails to send out. Instead, work with them to create something genuine.
    5. Actively recruit channel partners with strong SaaS influencers on their team who can give momentum to joint promotional efforts. For additional reading on attracting the right program participants, check out Building a Channel Partner Recruitment Plan.
    6. Use automation to enable scalability. Growing your efforts with influencers is time-consuming. While your initial outreach should be customized, and you should coordinate regular check-ins, there are many aspects of the relationship you can automate. Consider systemizing your monthly reports and automating any repetitive tasks.

Risks and Challenges of Influencer Marketing for SaaS

While SaaS and B2B influencer marketing can be incredibly impactful, it has risks and challenges to watch out for. Before getting started, consider how the following drawbacks might impact your influencer efforts.

While SaaS and B2B influencer marketing can be incredibly impactful, it has risks and challenges to watch out for. Before getting started, consider how the following drawbacks might impact your influencer efforts.

 Audience size isn’t everything.

Just like partnering with a behemoth of a company won’t automatically generate thousands in revenue, working with a viral influencer doesn’t guarantee success.

When selecting a B2B influencer to partner with, consider more than just their current follower count. Be sure to also explore:

  • Engagement rate on recent posts. Do their followers like and comment on their posts? Do the engaged users look real or like bots?
  • Audience persona. How many of their followers fit your target audience? Are any prospects or existing customers part of their audience?
  • Industry knowledge. Do they have any experience in your niche? Do they understand your audience’s pain points and desires?

B2B influencer marketing can be challenging to measure.

Since influencer marketing can significantly impact your brand awareness and top-of-funnel efforts, it can be challenging to measure the ROI.

Especially since the B2B sales process is so long, consumers have dozens of touchpoints before making a purchase. While influencer marketing may only include a few touchpoints early in the cycle, it still impacts the deal.

Additionally, your influencers may leverage multiple channels when communicating with their audience. For example, a strong influencer relationship will include organic mentions within thought leadership on blogs, podcasts, and social media posts. Further, great influencers will thoughtfully weave brand mentions into their conversations with other industry professionals.

Prominent Micro SaaS and B2B Influencers

When working with influencers, you can opt to approach micro or macro influencers. Macro influencers have larger audiences, but will also cost more to work with. Additionally, their audience will be broader, and thus less likely to fully overlap with your target audience.

As a result, it’s typically more effective and affordable to partner with micros SaaS and B2B influencers like those mentioned below.

Will Taylor

With over 5,000 LinkedIn followers, Will Taylor is a micro-influencer in the mar-tech and partnerships space. Recently, he’s worked with brands like Lavender and Aircall to create personality-filled fun videos on LinkedIn.

Jay McBain

As Chief Analyst at Canalys, Jay McBain is an enormous voice in the channel and tech industry. While he has over 33,000 LinkedIn followers, he is also a popular industry speaker, frequently presenting at tech conferences.

Amanda Nielsen

Self-proclaimed “thot leader” Amanda Nielsen has over 6,000 followers on LinkedIn and over 5,800 on Twitter. As a Gen Z partner leader with a marketing background, she brings a genuine and fun approach to her content. 

Allan Adler

With over 6,500 followers, Allan Adler is a strong voice in the ecosystems, partnerships, and go-to-market space. As a Managing Partner at Digital Bridge Partners, Adler typically discusses themes such as ecosystems ops, go to ecosystems, and B2B SaaS. 

Leverage SaaS and B2B Influencers for Success

Today, trust is your most valuable asset. Working with SaaS industry influencers is a powerful way to break into new markets, build loyalty, and establish trust with your target audience. Remember that approaching leaders in your existing network is the best way to identify great influencers to partner with.

Influencer marketing is just one aspect of a successful SaaS and B2B go-to-market strategy. Discover additional strategies, such as channel partner marketing best practices, co-marketing activities, and leveraging a channel partner marketing checklist.