How SAP Drives Digital Transformation with Influencer Marketing

Jordan Feise
October 25, 2016
Success stories

Digital transformation directly impacts your immediate marketing success. In this digital world, a new age of influencers have emerged and have gained the trust and attention of your consumers. Which is why being an effective marketer today means adapting to this ever-changing landscape.

It’s time for a pulse check. How is your brand’s digital transformation going?

How Brands are Failing At Digital Transformation

Brand Centric Vs Customer Centric - Influencer Marketing

For so long, as brands, we have been too focused on ourselves. We have been listening to the sound of our own voice and loving it; but, do our customers feel the same? In order for digital transformation to occur, we need to shift from being brand centric to customer centric. Influencer marketing is a great opportunity to lead this change. So what’s standing in the way?

Brands are failing miserably at digital transformation.” – Pierre-Loïc Assayag, Co-Founder & CEO, Traackr

Influencer Marketing Strategy: The Struggle is Real

What comes to mind when you think about your current influencer strategy? If you’re struggling to align engagement efforts, establish a measurement framework, and scale influencer relations, then you are not alone. Like many other successful brands, SAP, a business applications and technology company, was once in your shoes.

Jim Dever, SAP’s VP of Audience Marketing, met us in Boston to share how SAP is unchaining influencer marketing. Jim joined Pierre-Loic Assayag, Traackr’s Co-Founder and CEO, on stage at MarketingProfs’ B2B Marketing Forum. If you missed the session or are just looking to refresh your memory, look no further. Here is a deep dive into the lessons learned during the session.

SAP’s Influencer Marketing Starting Line

From the start, SAP’s influencer marketing program:

1.     Lacked focused, collaborative influencer engagement

2.     Was limited in scale and scope

3.     Needed a system for influencer insights and measurement framework to show results

Does this look familiar?

Since this starting point, SAP has ignited its influencer marketing, overcoming common hurdles to scale an influencer program. Regardless of your business type, these four key steps will ensure you prove the internal value of influencer marketing by showing success along the way.

SAP’s influencer marketing strategy is a case study in progress. We are trying to focus our influencer efforts in support of our global campaigns and programs.” - Jim Dever, VP, Audience Marketing, SAP

4 Steps to Supercharge Digital Transformation by Scaling Influencer Relations

1.     Engage Executives to Gain Buy-In

70% of attempts at change in organizations fail. Lack of endorsement by leadership is a key reason why change falls short in organizations. It is essential to build up your executive engagement in your influencer strategy. Demonstrate the effectiveness of your program to your leadership team. SAP got senior execs to experience the insights and impact of influencer marketing first hand in order to gain buy-in.

2.     Find Change Agents to Lead Digital Transformation Efforts

Find internal change agents to lead digital transformation rather than forcing change. At SAP, Jim developed a team to develop and manage mutually beneficial influencer relationships. This team serves as influencer marketing advocates both internally and externally. Whether it’s in the conference room or on stage at a conference, the team helps educate others about influencer marketing best practices.

3.     Federate Projects to Achieve Visibility

It’s important to find initiatives that offer balance between being contained while also having some level of visibility. SAP leveraged two events as mini influencer marketing case studies. SAP’s team invited 11 influencers to attend their annual user conference, SAPPHIRE Now, and conducted interviews and live streamed them throughout the event. The 11 influencers generated 17% of the total online chatter around the event. A few months later at its IoT Launch event, SAP leveraged influencers to “go viral” and had its event hashtag trending on Twitter. Both events showed the power and reach of influencers in support of key marketing activities.

4.     Drive Change with Interdepartmental Collaboration

Transformative change has to break organizational charts. Strong communication between teams is a necessary ingredient for success. At SAP, Global Audience Marketing (the team Jim works on) has multiple teams managing audiences in IT, HR, Internet of Things, Finance, and Supply Chain. In order for influencers to become integrated into their approach, there has to be a communication process in place for different teams to easily collaborate.

In addition to sharing key tips to drive transformational change, Jim and Pierre-Loic motivated the audience to take immediate action with these tips to get started:

5 Expert Tips to Kick-Start Your Influencer Program

1.     Target the Right Influencers

When selecting influencers, remember that relevance to your topic is always most important. Vet influencer’s content to ensure they are on-brand. Influencer engagement is all about being at the right place at the right time. Listen to your influencers on social for the perfect time to start a conversation.

2.     Take a Balanced Approach

Influencer marketing budgets have three main components: technology, resources, and influencer spend. In order to pilot, kick-start or scale your program these three areas need to have an allocated spend. Understand your current program stage and adjust your budget accordingly.

3.     Aim Small

Prove that influencer marketing works by starting with one goal around one initiative. Begin engaging with a few influencers but do so on a higher touch point. Rather than going on a bunch of “first dates”, take the time to engage on a deeper level with strategically selected influencers. Ensure that the project you select has visibility and will not go unnoticed.

4.     Listen to Your Influencers

Your influencers are masters of social branding and positioning. Allow room for the unexpected feedback that might happen as a natural result of your new-formed relationships.

5.     Play the Long Game

Set reasonable goals around your influencer marketing efforts and do not expect miracles to happen overnight. Building meaningful relationships takes time. Additionally, take the time to set up a measurement framework and measure consistently. Iterate and improve based on your results.

Start Building Relationships Today

Whether you are just getting started with building influencer relationships, or you are trying to scale an existing program, learn from what SAP has already achieved. Which of these expert tips can you kick-start today?

If you would like to see how brands like Dell, Cisco, Microsoft, and Marriott are solving influencer marketing puzzles, check out our Influencer Marketing In Real Life eBook. We gathered some of the top brands and influencers in the marketing space to discuss how they achieve success together. You will also learn more about SAP’s influencer strategy. Download the eBook today and get your free copy!  

This post is brought to you by Traackr,

the technology platform behind the world’s leading influencer marketing programs. Want to become the smartest marketer you know? Subscribe to get better at influencer marketing, one newsletter at a time.