Due to my lifelong contempt for math, I’ve been known to struggle with equations – especially complicated ones.
Luckily, understanding the “Confluence Equation,” as broken down by TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden at Content Marketing World, is quite straightforward. For modern marketers, it’s also absolutely critical.
Content + Influence = Confluence
Given the setting where Lee’s session was delivered – a massive conference with thousands in attendance – it goes without saying that there’s plenty of interest in content marketing right now.
But you might be surprised to learn that, at least through the lens of Google search trends, interest in influencer marketing has actually surpassed it, and continues to rise rapidly:
Confluence, as Lee refers to it here, represents the intersection of these two strategic initiatives. It’s a key frontier for B2B content marketers, and the math to support that is simple:
By co-creating content with influencers, you can add credibility, subtract from the amount of effort required, and multiply your marketing reach exponentially.
Redefining Influencer Marketing
The framing of influencer marketing as a tactic driven by celebrities or YouTube stars is outdated, and not especially relevant in the B2B space. This approach is not about attaching your brand’s name to some popular or trendy individual for the sake of basic exposure and positive associations.
Instead, Lee asserts, it is entirely about the ability to affect action.Unless an influencer can help you facilitate some business outcome, then what’s the point? @leeodden #CMWorld Click To Tweet
To comprehensively encapsulate what influence should mean for today’s B2B marketers, Lee provided this definition:
Influencer Marketing activates internal and industry experts with engaged networks to co-create content of mutual value and achieve measurable business goals.
An influencer could be a celebrity, sure. It could also be a recognizable executive within your industry. Or a knowledgeable and outspoken employee at your company. It could even be you.
And these influencers can be very powerful as content conduits. As evidence, Lee cites these data points from the 2018 Content Preferences Report:
- 78% of B2B buyers place a higher emphasis on trustworthiness of content source
- 65% have a higher preference for credible content from industry influencers
When you think about the gravity of B2B purchase decisions, which can often involve thousands if not millions of dollars, it’s easy to see why the heightened impact of this content matters – a lot.
Lee offered examples of TopRank Marketing client programs to demonstrate this, including a campaign that drove 22% of sales pipeline revenue in 2017 for IT service management company Cherwell, and one for content planning platform DivvyHQ that surpassed its lead gen goal by 550%.
He also offered a practical framework for a building a sustainable engine of influencer-driven content.
Empathy, Ask, Reward
Incorporating influencers into B2B content marketing might seem like a no-brainer, but how to actually put such a model into action? First, you need to identify relevant influencers for your niche or campaign, which can be accomplished through software such as BuzzSumo, Traackr and Onalytica. Then, Lee says it’s all about three letters: E.A.R.
Empathy: This applies to both the influencer and the audience. What do they want? What do they need? What are their goals? This can direct your outreach for the next step.
Ask: Engage your selected influencers and enlist them to contribute. Naturally, you’ll need to frame the benefit for them to participate.
Reward: Even prominent “Tier 1” influencers may see intrinsic value in having their expertise exhibited to new audiences, or having their content appear alongside other highly respected authorities. But if that isn’t a strong enough incentive, or if you’re asking for a heavier lift (e.g., longform content creation or hosting a webinar), Lee suggests offering compensation to make it worth their while.
By successfully applying the E.A.R. framework, and working continually to nurture your influencers – “I can’t stress enough the value of an always-on approach to maintain relationships,” says Odden – you can develop a fruitful long-term strategy with reliable influencers who not only contribute consistently, but advocate and recruit others.
It doesn’t take a math whiz to see the immense value in that equation.