Looking at brand ambassador marketing from a different perspective
Partnerships are everywhere
If you were to list all partners where your company is engaged with, you may not be able to list them all, but you can probably pick up one or two in no time. Partners are everywhere. Partnership building has been at the center of the digital economy. Any typical platform-centric types have been running based on solid partnership identification, on boarding and development.
When investigating what partners do well and why they are meaningful, you have fairly quickly identified that they are knowledgeable on one of your target audience and they are efficient in reaching them in a structured way.
This is valid for any type of partnerships from strategic business partners, referral partnerships, affiliate partners, editorial platforms, ecosystem partners, etc. and this is no different with creators also recognized as influencer marketing.
The SMB enablers challenge for IONOS
A solid marketing organization would identify its best customer profile, segments and buyer personas with the goal to engage with the desired audience which shall fully benefit from the company value proposition: product, price, support, additional services, etc.
And sometimes, reaching out to audiences which are evolving in specific clusters, can become a headache. Whereas the IONOS infrastructure reliability, product portfolio breadth, performance and consistency was not obvious for certain web pro audiences, those using it are keen on testifying about its comprehensiveness.
A few years ago, we faced this challenge of connecting with SMB enablers, or Web Pro audiences to spread a specific message tapping in their needs.
When confirming that our targeted audience does not trust direct brand advertisement but rather word of mouth, it became clear that we needed to reach them on the channel they consume and through third parties that will enact at trusted parties: marketing influencers tick all those boxes.
Is influencer marketing a good fit for B2B?
Influencer marketing has been on the rise for years. In 2023 the overall spend has been forecasted at 21B$ in 2023 (source: influencermarketinghub). Still small compared with the overall global advertising spend forecasted of 1T$ (2023 forecast), but growing @ 23% rate versus 4% for the global spend.
Also considering that 67% of marketers confirm they plan to maintain or increase their investment on influencer marketing, all signals are green to keep exploring this channel.
We started influencers marketing campaign with a specialized agency in Germany. In the first round, we tried to understand where to start, which KPIs make sense, who is in charge of identifying and converting potential influencers. Same with the briefing: shall it be very detailed or somewhat detailed? Shall we guide on a specific message and initiatives that will be at the center of an influencer post? But also, which Social Media channel is the best fit?
In the first year, we identified 20 influencers and tried to get them activated for publishing 40 content pieces in 2 or 3 months. We managed to activate only a few hands. High efforts, limited success… great learnings though.
In the second year, we were much more focused: a limited number of products and influencers with complimentary profiles from micro to nano-influencers, Youtube only, started to consider engagement rate as KPI, on top of “impressions”. Finally, we executed our 2nd year campaign with a solid outcome and were ready to scale internationally and also go beyond again in Germany. Influencer Marketing is a good fit for us.
The Magic Moment
After several rounds of testing, learning and adapting, we identified some of the most authentic influencers and we focused on them with the goal to establish a direct partnership. Call after call, we could establish this direct contact with one of them and once he got exposed to the IONOS product, services and infrastructure, he got convinced.
So when did the magic happen? After several rounds of exchange, when your influencer recommends the topics he believes the audience is looking for. This is the moment where you give the keys to the car. You realize just after, that you reach the point where your influencer status changes to partner. The trust is turning in creating content with striking engagement, organically elevating the IONOS brand and moving the needle from awareness to consideration. KPIs? An incredible average view time of the video (7min), achieving 50% of the reach of all influencers the year before in 3 videos only with a solid engagement rate higher than 6%. Very limited cost. Higher return we could have ever forecasted.
Why taking the risk of brand ambassador?
Would a message be still authentic if your influencer wears your brand shirt and discusses the exact topics you want him to discuss?
Turning influencer to brand ambassador is the last stage for some companies embracing the goal to tighten a relationship, looking at exclusivity and eventually ensuring a controlled topic selection and communication on topics which are brand related. But, isn’t it that there is a potential downside to it on ability to stay creative, the ability to integrate content organically, surfing on the trending waves?
Until you have convinced creators who really appreciate what you are doing, there is probably no need to take such a risk.
Long life to partner creators.