Influencing the Buying Journey with Influencer Marketing: A 5-Part Guide

Influencing the Buying Journey with Influencer Marketing: A 5-Part Guide

Nick Bennett 6 min

Influencing the Buying Journey with Influencer Marketing: A 5-Part Guide

Introduction

Influencer marketing isn’t just a buzzword—it's a dynamic strategy that can significantly impact the buyer's journey. But here’s the kicker: treating influencer marketing as a simple awareness tool is a massive mistake. This guide dives into how you can leverage influencers at every stage of the funnel, ensuring a holistic approach that drives real results.

The Biggest Problem in Influencer Marketing Today

Picture this: You're scrolling through your feed, and lo and behold! There's a post by an influencer you trust and respect raving about the latest software, platform, gadget, or whatever. You think, "Neat!" and maybe engage with what they’re talking about. Or perhaps you scroll on and think no more about their post, and that’s the end of the story. …Or is it?

There are plenty of challenges in using influencer marketing in B2B today, but by far, the biggest one is:

Influencer marketing in B2B is treated as a simple awareness play—And that’s a huge mistake.

If all you’re doing is filling the top of the funnel, you’re missing out on making an actual impact on a buying decision. Consider these stats:

  • B2B buyers increasingly prefer a rep-free sales experience, with 75% favoring purchasing decisions that do not involve sales representatives directly. (Source: Gartner)
  • Online content significantly influences purchasing decisions, with nine out of ten B2B buyers stating it has a moderate to major effect on their choices. (Source: WB Research)
  • A large portion of the buyer's journey is completed digitally, with sixty-seven percent of the journey now done online before direct contact with a sales representative is made. (Source: WB Research)

What do all three of these things have in common? They’re based on a relationship between the buyer and the brand, and like any solid relationship, it takes time to build. After all, buyers have quite a journey to go from unaware to repeat customers. If all you’re doing is creating awareness, you’re talking at your audience, not with them.

Instead, consider this way of thinking about the relationship between influencer marketing and stage of awareness:

  • Awareness: Sure, this is where our influencer pals shine, introducing your brand to the world. But as we’ve already covered, that's just the basics.
  • Consideration: As we go deeper, influencers can share their genuine experiences, making your product relatable and a must-have.
  • Decision: When push comes to shove, a trusted influencer's endorsement could be the gentle nudge needed to transform consideration into purchase.
  • Loyalty & Advocacy: Post-purchase, influencers can keep the love alive, encouraging repeat business and turning customers into brand advocates.

Brands need to treat influencer marketing like the full-funnel activity that it is. Let’s dive deeper into each stage of the funnel to see how you can optimize influencer marketing for maximum impact.

Top of the Funnel (ToFu): Crafting Awareness with a Bang!

Before we dive into specifics, let’s start with a story. I call it “How not to do a top-of-the-funnel campaign.”

A B2B SaaS platform once approached Mark and me about an influencer campaign they hoped we’d participate in. Their ask wasn’t unreasonable—3 posts for a fair exchange in value. Mark and I said no. Why? Three posts weren’t going to accomplish their goal of aligning their brand with the top revenue-generating leaders in the industry.

So we countered with a far more ambitious idea, including joint presentations by TACK and this organization, creating a co-branded asset, and a few LinkedIn posts as well. Our plan was still about driving that awareness, but instead of being a few posts within an ocean of content on LinkedIn, it was centered around this event series that would provide value without too much of an ask on the audience.

And that’s exactly what ToFu content should do.

Campaign Ideas that’ll Fill Your ToFu to the Brim

Takeovers That Tell a Story

We’ve all seen social media takeovers, and they’re popular for a reason: they work. But over time, it’s become a barrage of influencers shuffling between brands, making it hard to keep track of who represents what.

Instead of just having influencers take over your social media, focus on telling memorable industry stories. For instance, a short-term rental platform can have influencers share relatable stories about their worst guests. This approach speaks directly to your ideal customer profile (ICP) and gives your audience a reason to engage.

Things to consider:

  • Choose the right influencers: They represent your brand and literally post under your account.
  • Have a clear call to action: Ensure every aspect of this effort clearly outlines what the audience should do next.
  • Encourage real-time interaction: Have any influencer(s) involved stick around and engage. Not only does the algorithm love it, but it also makes the whole process more effective.

Interactive Content Collaborations

Too often, content/campaigns speak at your audience rather than with them. Engage your audience by involving them in the content creation process. Collaborate with influencers to host contests, polls, or challenges related to your brand. This approach creates excitement and buzz around your brand and allows for direct interaction with potential customers.

Things to consider:

  • Keep your goals firmly in mind: Align the type of interactivity with your goals.
  • Encourage UGC: Use influencer collaborations to generate user-generated content, creating a flywheel effect where content begets more content.
  • Use the strength of your platform: Influencer marketing in B2B doesn’t live or die by LinkedIn. If you feel constrained, drive users to platforms that allow for better engagement.

Webinars that Educate AND Entertain

Repeat after me: webinars aren’t dead. Boring content is dead. There are too many events that are just talking heads on a Zoom screen. To avoid this, ensure your webinars are engaging, interactive, and fun.

Key tips:

  • Lead with your best content: Don’t save the best for last. Hook your audience from the beginning.
  • Avoid the disguised sales pitch: Audiences are highly sensitive to being sold to. Focus on providing value.
  • Drive interaction: Seed questions, polls, and other interactive elements throughout to keep your audience engaged.

Blogs That Offer Value and Vision

Some of your audience prefers to learn and engage via text. Work with influencers on guest posts that delve deep into relevant topics, offering information and vision. An interview with an influencer sharing their experiences can be highly impactful.

Things to consider:

  • Use storytelling to connect: Incorporate the influencer’s expertise and experience throughout.
  • Encourage sharing and feedback: Make it easy to share the content and get feedback.
  • Play with format: Use videos, infographics, and other media tools to enrich the content. (HubSpot Guide)

Middle of the Funnel (MoFu): Nurturing Relationships and Reinforcing Brand Connection

At MoFu, your audience knows your brand and has shown some interest. Now, it's about deepening those connections and becoming synonymous with the solution they seek.

MoFu Campaign Ideas

Exclusive Events & Q&As

Craft exclusive opportunities for your audience to connect firsthand with influencers they admire. These events should go beyond ordinary interactions. Host VIP dinners, virtual Q&A sessions, or high-profile industry summits to foster a sense of community.

Things to consider:

  • Exclusive doesn’t necessarily mean expensive: Even a simple Zoom roundtable limited to key guests can be effective.
  • Keep the headcount lower: As you move down the funnel, interactions should feel more personal.
  • Match the event with the brand: For better retention, ensure the event location and type match your brand’s personality.

Innovative Workshops

Workshops designed to teach and engage can be highly impactful. An influencer walking participants through solving specific problems using your product in real-time can showcase features and offer tips in a meaningful way.

Key tips:

  • Have a clear problem you’re solving: Attract the right participants by focusing on a specific issue.
  • Plan appropriately: Allow enough work time during the session and provide actionable takeaways.
  • Use breakout rooms: Foster collaboration by keeping groups small.

Authentic Testimonies

Authentic testimonies from influencers who have used your product and experienced transformations can be incredibly persuasive. These genuine endorsements resonate deeply with your audience. (Neil Patel's Guide)

Things to consider:

  • Build long-term relationships: Long-term relationships with influencers make this content easier to produce.
  • Transparency is vital: Highlight both successes and challenges to build trust.
  • True enthusiasm can’t be faked: Seek out users who have had transformational experiences with your product.

Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu): Where Engagement Becomes Revenue

At BoFu, your focus is on converting nurtured leads into paying customers. Here, every bit of trust and value cultivated must translate into decisive action.

BoFu Campaign Ideas

Tailored Demos

Offering live, interactive demos with the prospect’s influencer can strengthen the connection between your offering and the prospect. These demonstrations should be highly personalized and interactive.

Key considerations:

  • Be highly personalized: Customize the demo to the prospect's specific challenges and goals.
  • Interactive: Allow for real-time feedback and questions.
  • Focus on specific value: Speak to specific ROI, time, or cost savings.

Time-sensitive or Exclusive Offers

Creating urgency or scarcity can motivate on-the-fence prospects to act. Offer limited-time discounts, free premium upgrades, VIP access, trials, or exclusive bundles.

Things to consider:

  • Genuine value: Ensure the offer provides real value.
  • Clear deadline: Set a timeframe that prompts action without feeling pressure-filled.
  • Exclusivity: Frame it as a special offer for engaged prospects.

Customer Success Stories

Detailed customer success stories showcasing the journey and transformation experienced using your solution can be powerful. Collaborate with influencers to create relatable and data-driven narratives. (Gartner Report)

Key insights:

  • Detail the journey: Cover challenges, decision-making, implementation, and outcomes.
  • Quantifiable results: Include data and metrics for concrete evidence of success.
  • Relatable protagonists: Use stories that reflect your ICP for greater impact.

Our 10 Best Tips on Integrating Influencer Marketing into Your Next Campaigns

  1. Shift Focus from Transactional to Strategic Partnerships: Treat creators as strategic partners.
  2. Prioritize Audience Match Over Size: Align influencer’s audience with your target market.
  3. Leverage Micro-Creators: Engage with micro-creators for higher conversion rates.
  4. Consider Non-Monetary Compensation: Explore various forms of compensation.
  5. Diversify Your Influencer Portfolio: Spread efforts across multiple creators.
  6. Focus on Authentic Engagement: Choose influencers who can genuinely connect.
  7. Measure Performance and Optimize: Use clear metrics to refine your strategy.
  8. Build Long-Term Relationships: Cultivate ongoing relationships for consistent promotion.
  9. Educate Your Creators: Provide sufficient information about your products.
  10. Create a Feedback Loop: Implement feedback from influencers and their audiences.

Final Thoughts

Influencer marketing is a powerful tool when used effectively throughout the funnel. By prioritizing genuine connections and meaningful content, you can elevate your brand's visibility and create lasting customer relationships and revenue growth.

Ever want to chat about it? Shoot me a note on LinkedIn or subscribe to our YouTube. (TACK Network YouTube Channel)

Nick

Nick Bennett 6 min

Influencing the Buying Journey with Influencer Marketing: A 5-Part Guide


Leverage influencer marketing at every stage of the funnel. Learn how to drive awareness, nurture relationships, and convert leads in this comprehensive guide.


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