Updated February 28, 2023
B2B healthcare brands see real results when they use the voices of respected experts and brand advocates to speak to their target audiences.
This new age of digital commerce and virtual healthcare continues to provide new challenges and opportunities in the B2B healthcare industry. Business customers are so inundated by online ads that they’re developing ad blindness. They’re deciding how and when they want to interact with brands and sales reps. How do you reach buyers when they’re doing their own research and making decisions before they even talk to a sales rep?
To reach buyers and decision-makers, you must be where they are virtually and speak to them through the content they’re consuming. This means marketing through influencers who are healthcare experts and health brand advocates and whose followers are decision-makers in the B2B healthcare industry.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing pays influencers to endorse a brand
Simply put, influencer marketing is marketing that pays individuals who have a dedicated following to endorse a brand. Influencer marketing uses shared experiences to build loyalty and trust.
Why use influencer marketing in the B2B healthcare industry?
According to a DemandGen report, 62% of B2B buyers make buying decisions based on 3-7 pieces of influential content before ever speaking to a salesperson. Of the buyers surveyed, 41% consider the trustworthiness of the source significant, and 39% of them prefer credible content from industry influencers.
As many as 38% of B2B brands are exploring influencer marketing as a lead gen activity. And, more importantly, those that use it find it effective – 89% of marketers using influencer marketing see an ROI that is as good as or better than other marketing efforts – up to 11X higher.
Dr. Daniel Brackins explains that the rewards of influencer marketing and the trust it creates are exponential, producing an expanding circle of influence:
How does B2B healthcare use influencer marketing?
Effective healthcare influencer marketing combines medical experts with brand advocates
With evidence that B2B influencer marketing works, B2B healthcare brands may be wondering which influencer role is the most effective. In the healthcare industry, influencers take on one or more of the following roles:
The most effective influencer strategy is one that combines healthcare experts and brand advocates. Thought leaders and influencers in these groups have an audience of 800 to 50,000 followers who have shared beliefs, values and interests. Smaller, niche audiences are particularly cost-effective as they have the lowest cost per post with the highest ROI.
Medical professionals are effective in building brand credibility, providing accurate information and combatting misinformation. However, they are less successful when endorsing a prescription medication. In addition, medical experts must captivate their audience without losing professional trust and respect and while navigating the ethical minefield of social media.
Client brand advocates – existing clients who act as influencers – are more trusted by their followers than medical experts. Their authenticity and shared expertise foster a strong follower relationship built on trust. However, brand advocates can inadvertently mislead followers with incorrect, or too little, information. In addition, client influencers aren’t prepared to discuss controversial or conflicting opinions when they arise.
Employee advocates know the most about your clients and can speak about your brand with authority. They have interests and connections within the healthcare industry. And yet, employees are a highly untapped resource.
Effective healthcare influencer marketing has a plan in place
While influencer marketing is taking off in the B2B space, strategy development is key.
According to Search Engine Journal, less than half of B2B marketers have a documented influencer strategy in place and only 28% of brands have an informal plan.
Before you hire an influencer, it’s crucial to have a plan in place that outlines what qualities you’re looking for, what policies that influencer must adhere to, what content he/she will share, what goals you’re looking to achieve and how you will measure success.
#1 – Hire the right influencer. The first step to effective influencer marketing is to hire the right influencer who shares your values. You want an influencer with empathy, authenticity and relatability. Consider:
- Using social listening tools like HubSpot or Sprout Social to monitor social mentions of your brand, product or related keywords. Influencers who are struggling with a pain point your brand solves or who use your products/services make trusted champions.
- Finding an influencer thought leader who is a guest blogger, or a keynote speaker at conferences and podcasts
- Asking your clients to provide testimonials and quotes for your brand
- Asking clients to co-present at events
- Giving your staff the tools to advocate for you through guest blogs and social media
- Hiring an influencer who has a smaller circle of followers and a bigger circle of trust
- Using an influencer relationship management (IRM) tool
- Using an influencer platform such as WEGO Health, which is dedicated to healthcare influencers
#2 – Share your policies, disclaimers and disclosures. While the right influencer will adhere to the values and social behaviors that represent your brand, make your expectations clear by providing a written policy. Let influencers know if you must review and pre-approve all brand-related influencer-produced content.
Before you even reach out to an influencer, it’s especially critical in the healthcare industry that you already have an influencer policy in place regarding disclaimers and disclosures. Sponsored ads may require an ad hashtag (#Ad) upfront. Somewhere within a post that mentions your brand, an influencer may need to mention that they are paid to advocate for your brand. To clearly set out expectations of disclaimers and disclosures, consider these regulations from the FDA and FTC.
#3 – Provide content (when necessary). While creative freedom increases authenticity, it’s also important to provide necessary content to avoid misleading or misinforming followers. There are many outlets a B2B influencer might use to advocate for healthcare brands. These include product mentions within the influencer’s content but might also look like branded hashtags or sponsored ads. Additional ways healthcare businesses might interact with an influencer’s followers might take the form of brand-provided or influencer-produced content. Consider:
- Social media posts
- Authentic stories
#4 – Set goals. To ensure the best results from your influencer campaign, it’s vital that you clearly define your goals. Focus on:
- Boosting brand awareness through brand mentions and product reviews
- Increasing website traffic through backlinks, blog posts, guest blogs and social ads
- Generating leads and driving sales with , as appropriate
- Growing social followers and engagement through social takeovers and brand ambassadors
#5 – Set measurable KPIs that align with your goals and monitor them consistently. This includes:
- Track downloads, clicks and subscriptions directly related to your influencer campaign. For sales-related campaigns, track sales before, during and after your influencer campaign.
- Referral traffic. Monitor the amount of traffic the campaign drives to your landing page or website.
- Track the number of impressions your campaign made through your influencer’s social media analytics.
- Audience growth. Monitor your new social media followers and email subscribers before, during and after your campaign.
- Track your own social media engagement (reactions, comments, shares, mentions, views, clicks) and the engagement of your campaign through your social media analytics as well as your influencers’.
A successful influencer marketing strategy includes using healthcare experts, thought leaders who deliver accurate information and build brand credibility, client advocates who provide authenticity among trusted peers, and employee advocates who know your brand inside and out and already have a relationship with your clients. Put together a plan that defines your influencer(s) and your influencer policies, content, goals and how to measure success. With these tools, your influencer marketing strategy will deliver
For effective influencer marketing, work with an established B2B agency that specializes in healthcare marketing. With over 20 years of marketing experience in the healthcare industry, Elevation can help you develop a successful influencer marketing strategy. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your healthcare brand.