B2B Customer Engagement

The Best B2B Influencer Engagement Strategies for Channel Marketing

Almost all consumer goods companies have 2 parts to their marketing strategy: One is marketing to end consumers to create a pull effect while the other is marketing to trade channel/Influencer networks to create awareness and a push for their products.

All consumer goods companies engage with end customers through ATL advertising which is a mainstream mode of communication such as TV, Print media advertisements, and BTL advertising which is through more direct modes of communications such as sales promotions, free samples, events & sponsorships. A combination of both of these modes works depending on the goal or strategy the company is driving at any point in time.

This mode of advertising is taken care of by the brand marketing team. Most companies have started by making a separate channel marketing team that takes care of marketing to the trade channel which has enough influencing power to affect the purchase of the end consumers. FMCG companies have retailers as their main influencers, while consumer goods companies such as Paint, Cement, automobile parts, and House interiors companies have their influencers such as Masons, Plumbers, Painters, Mechanics, Electricians, Architects & contractors, etc.

If you ever got your house painted, the journey must have started with hiring a painter and then consulting with your painter on what kind of paint and where you should buy that from – The painter is playing the role of influencer for the paint company you are purchasing from.

It becomes extremely important for consumer goods companies to engage with these influencers – Retailers for FMCG companies, Influencers for consumer goods & manufacturing B2B companies. In this article, we will have a look at how consumer goods companies can leverage their influencer network and work towards creating a long-term loyal community out of this channel.

Let’s start with the problems faced in managing this Influencer channel:

Brands’ influencer engagement suffers from challenges related to influencer education and reward delivery mechanism, leading to suboptimal outcomes.
  1. Missed Engagement opportunities: There are lost engagement opportunities with influencer connections only through physical visits. A high engagement can facilitate brand connection as well as continuous information about the brand, products & influencer loyalty program. Brands can facilitate this by engaging with influencers through digital modes by sharing their product videos, influencer success stories & training material.
  2. Delayed Response to  new launches: With most new launches, brands see a low reception in the distribution network. If the influencer channel is utilized to pass on product knowledge, USPs, and use-cases to consumers, they will have a higher chance of building that initial enthusiasm around new launches. It’s like priming your evangelists and retailers before you push the product through the supply chain.
  3. Dissatisfaction with Gift Delivery Programs: There is low adoption of reward programs that are being run by brands to engage influencers, because of the broken experience right from onboarding to associating them with a particular Retailer/Dealer. There remains an ambiguity in terms of tertiary offtake sale tracking to come at how much a particular influencer is purchasing. The loyalty redemption program is another broken experience where they need to collect physical coupons and then follow up with the dealers on redeeming them. There are frequent issues in physical gift delivery.
  4. Sub-optimal demand generation: Because sales teams aren’t able to engage with these influencers in a targeted optimal way, oftentimes brands see a sub-optimal demand generation from this channel. Companies can’t drive brand stickiness among these influencers without driving their field sales team towards it.

Here is how BeatRoute with its workflow on Channel & Influencer Marketing is solving the field team’s engagement with the company’s influencers:

By building an effective mechanism of collaboration between brands’ field teams and influencers, and digiting the reward redemption and deliver system, BeatRoute resolves all the challenges usually associated with Brands’ influencer engagement.
  1. Influencer paired onboarding: The sales team can manage influencer onboarding stages, create influencer profiles with configurable fields & track profile completion. Influencers can be associated with one or multiple outlets & track the demand generated by them. These influencers can be added to the beat plan/visit schedule of the sales team & can be tracked.
  2. Digital Engagement with Influencers: Brands can ensure standardized continuous communication with influencers by sharing product videos, training videos & success story content on the easy WhatsApp interface. Brands can ensure qualitative engagement rather than just focusing on transactional benefits.
  3. Linking Sales to Influencers & Ensuring Authenticity of Sales: For project sales, BeatRoute workflow has an option of adding influencers from whom the lead came. For retail sales, coupon scanning is embedded with the BeatRoute customer app which uses WhatsApp bot as the user interface. It gives the influencer complete visibility of the total points collected & his performance. This transparency ensures the authenticity of the loyalty reward which is being passed on.
  4. Community Meet planning: The sales team can plan community meets and get their budgets approved with approval workflow. Workflow gives brand visibility on event execution, influencer feedback, attendance & other details which can be captured using configurable forms. This gives an integrated view of physical & digital engagement history on an individual influencer level.
  5. Reward points calculation in Scheme Engine: BeatRoute comes with a versatile scheme engine to set up complex rules easily based on value & volume. It can accommodate both in-bill & cumulative purchase schemes. Reward rules should incentivize sales performance as well as brand engagement
  6. Integrated Loyalty Program: BeatRoute is integrated with a global catalog for e-voucher redemption giving a complete closed-loop experience to customers & influencers in their loyalty redemption experience. Getting the physical gifts delivered through a third party, creates an issue in terms of quality, delivery timelines & return in case of quality issues. It is always better to leave that experience to e-commerce players such as Amazon & Flipkart who have that experience of delivering customer experience at scale.

BeatRoute Influencer engagement vs other options:

Another option that companies consider is coming up with their own influencer app, let’s evaluate that against BeatRoute’s way:

  1. Engagement in the app: There are frequent uninstalls of the app & low open rate on any communication or messages with a company-specific app. BeatRoute has a near 100% open rate on nudge messages because of using the WhatsApp bot as the main interface. There is no problem of constantly wavering adoption levels with frequent installs & installs
  2. Delivery issues: There are no redemption experience issues with e-commerce delivery & direct money transfer establishing that trust & credibility with the brand.
  3. Reward point strategies: Integrated scheme engine provides quick-to-change benefit rules & targeting based on customer/influencer segmentation.
  4. Total Cost Overhead: In-house development will be 50% more costly as compared to a ready plug & play workflow built around addressing core problems faced by the value chain.

Deployment Options:

  1. As a stand-alone component: You can deploy the BeatRoute WhatsApp channel on influencers or retailers as a stand-alone component by integrating it with your existing data management software. BeatRoute enables 200+ integrations by using the BeatRoute matrix as a low code API playground.
  2. With BeatRoute’s CRM SFA application: If you are looking for a complete solution around your field force or already working with BeatRoute’s other solutions – this can be deployed as an additional solution layer.
  3. With existing loyalty application: If you are already using an in-house or 3rd party app for managing loyalty programs, the BeatRoute WhatsApp channel can be deployed on a select group of customers to run specific campaigns alongside your existing loyalty application.

To know more about influencer engagement and learn how it works in real life, please book a free demo of our platform.