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How SAP Drives B2B Demand with Influencers

Jul 1, 2016

According to CMI lead generation and sales will be the most important goals for B2B content marketers this year. Content marketing has become the dominant tactic in lead generation, with 60% of marketers creating at least one piece of content each day. However, only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, down from 38% last year.

How can B2B become more effective in content marketing to increase sales lead quality? By involving influencers in content creation, B2B companies can add an entirely new dimension to the buyer’s journey.

In a recent podcastBernie Borges of Social Business Engine interviewed Amisha Gandhi, Senior Director of Influencer Marketing at SAP, a global leader in enterprise software solutions. The following summarizes the podcast, highlighting how SAP approaches influencer marketing to better reach its audience.

How SAP approaches influencer marketing

SAP approaches influencer marketing by working with third party influencers, e.g. those outside of the traditional analyst relation and PR functions. Instead, SAP works with independent business consultants, academics, and authors who have an influence with a certain audience. SAP identifies these influencers and then engages them with content and programming opportunities. By doing this, SAP effectively engages influencers in a demand gen cycle versus an awareness cycle.

A demand-generation focused influencer marketing strategy

When working with influencers, SAP focuses on co-creating content and involving influencers at events. The tech giant aims to create content that targets both customers and prospects with compelling thought leadership. By partnering with influencers that already command the attention of the right line of business, SAP can rely on these specific voices to tell their story in a credible fashion.

Managing influencers across multiple lines of business

Global enterprise companies like SAP serve many different lines of business (LOBs), so how do they manage influencer relations effectively? The most important factor is to identify the right influencers for each line of business. At SAP, Amisha works cross functionally with each audience marketing team to create influencer marketing campaigns that align with each LOB and its specific audience.  

Engaging with influencers to co-create authoritative content

SAP’s largest customer-facing event and user conference, Sapphire, brings together customers, partners, and user groups to share best practices. SAP also uses this event, which draws 20,000+ attendees to Orlando every year during May, to announce major product changes and strategic direction. But this year, influencer marketing added an entirely new dimension for this event.

To tap into virtual audiences, SAP partnered with influencers to create live video content. Using Facebook live, this content extended to a much larger audience of over 80,000 people. This tactic helped them to extend the event to people who were not able to attend in-person but were still interested in the topics. By having influencers involved in creating the interview-based video content, SAP gave attendees another perspective of Sapphire through the eyes of the influencers themselves. The content was then shared through different relevant Facebook pages (one per LOB) and the broader Facebook community.

Influencers bring knowledge and expertise, which draws in people interested in a certain topic. SAP plans to leverage the videos to create derivative content to embed in blog posts and field communications. Influencers also are likely to promote video content that they helped to create.

A relationship with an influencer is a two-way street

To ensure influencers had a valuable experience at Sapphire, SAP arranged for strategic meetings among influencers and attendees based on the influencer's area of expertise. SAP also enabled influencers to connect with executives and experience the product to provide their feedback.

SAP treats influencers like clients to create top-notch relationships

When you treat your influencers like clients, as SAP does, it leaves people with a positive feeling and they are going to want to engage with you time and time again. When the relationship is mutually beneficial, both parties are going to get the best results out of the engagement with the brand.

Check out the full podcast below to hear Amisha’s interview detailing how SAP establishes long-term relationships with influencers. Learn why SAP uses Traackr to identify and manage influencers by trending topics, geographies, and more.