More and more, marketers are waking up to the fact that influencers matter in the internet marketing process. That’s true in virtually any situation or industry, but influencers are particularly prevalent in B2B industries. So, if you haven’t been accounting for them already, now is a perfect time to get started.
Just to be clear, in this case we are talking about “influencers” as anyone who has input on the buying decision, even though they may not have the authority or resources to approve a purchase. Influencers could be front-line employees, middle managers, other executives, or even spouses and friends.
There are a number of reasons influencers matter, along with some steps you should take to keep them happy. Let’s look at a few of the finer points so you can start getting bigger results from your online marketing and lead generation campaigns…
The Myth of Decision-Makers
Newer business owners and executives are often given the advice to identify decision-makers and sell to them. That’s not a bad notion, but it’s increasingly outdated in the internet age, because our best customers often seek us out instead of responding to traditional sales and marketing messages. In fact, they often delegate the information-gathering phase of the process to someone else.
Likewise, many organizations now make buying decisions through groups and committees. So, it could be that no single person has the power to approve a purchase, but there are many different parties with a stake in the final outcome.
As a result, the “decision-maker” may not be involved until an influencer has already found a solution (or a few) and gotten advice on which step they should take next. They’re always going to value that advice more than they do your opinion that they should move forward with the product or service you have to offer.
What’s My Motivation?
It isn’t just that influencers have some sway in the information-gathering stage of the buying process, but also that they may have different concerns than the person who will ultimately make a decision or prove a purchase. For example, an underling or committee member may be highly concerned about budgets, durability, safety, or convenience, even if these aren’t the main concerns of the actual decision-maker.
Savvy marketers need to know what kinds of influencers are likely to be involved in the decision, and what their individual motivations might be.
Speak to Your Audience
After you have identified likely influencers, and considered what they want from your product and service, it’s time to ensure their concerns are being addressed in your marketing. That involves touching on their “pain points,” to be sure, but it also means developing your content in a way that makes sense for their knowledge and interest level.
You might present one type of webpage or white paper to someone who had a comprehensive understanding of your industry, and something completely different to an individual who was conducting initial research and didn’t have a mastery of the most important concepts. Recognize that these differences exist, and adjust the tone of your marketing appropriately when you think there are likely to be influencers involved.
Mastering the Unseen Conversion
It’s easy enough to tell what happened when you are presented with a sales opportunity that doesn’t result in a new contract or purchase. But, when influencers don’t find or see what they’re looking for in your website, they will typically leave without interacting with you at all – leaving you to stare at your web analytics and wonder what went wrong.
Once you take influencers into account in your marketing campaigns, you’ll find that more and more of these “unseen conversions” will start to take place and you’ll get more inquiries than ever before. Understanding influencers and connecting with them isn’t always easy, but unless you have decision-makers who act unilaterally all the time, you need to account for their needs in every campaign or communication.