How to Use Influencer Marketing in B2B Healthcare | Elevation Marketing

Advantages of Using Influencer Marketing in the B2B Healthcare Industry

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 has presented new challenges and opportunities in the B2B healthcare industry. Business consumers 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 that 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.

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.

According to Dr. Daniel Brackins, the rewards of influencer marketing and the trust it creates, are exponential, producing an expanding circle of influence.

“Trust is built across 3 key pillars—trust in the product itself, trust from customers, and trust from broader society. Brands that can tap into all 3 key pillars increase the number of customers who buy, stay loyal, and advocate and defend the product in the long term.”

B2B buyers consider the recommendations of colleagues and other consumers

According to a DemandGen report, B2B buyers make buying decisions based on 3-7 pieces of influential content before ever speaking to a salesperson. Of the buyers surveyed, 95% of them prefer credible content from industry influencers. Buyers rated the most valuable content as follows:

  • 46% from colleagues and peers
  • 35% from user review sites
  • 32% from third-party/analyst reports
  • 28% from case studies
  • 24% from industry newsletters

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 healthcare industry, influencers take on one or more of the following roles:

  • Medical experts – nurses, doctors, pharmacists, scientists and healthcare industry peers
  • Client brand advocates – healthcare organizations, hospitals, your clients
  • Employee brand advocates – employees and execs in sales, marketing, admin and customer care roles

The most effective influencer strategy for healthcare 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 for 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 advocates— customer influencers who are employed as brand advocates—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, customer 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

Before you hire an influencer, 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
  • Hiring your biggest fans (your clients) as brand ambassadors
  • 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) up front. 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 healthcare 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:

  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Blogs
  • 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 affiliate marketing and promotional codes, 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 influencer’s.

Use case: holistic influencer marketing drives holistic employee wellness

B2B healthcare SuccessfulFactors (SAP) used influencer marketing to raise awareness of their healthcare management suite, which approaches employee wellness holistically.

Likewise, SAP’s influencer marketing strategy used a holistic approach to share helpful information about employee wellness. To do so, they used an IRM tool to find the ideal influencers, which included industry and internal experts, partners, clients and a business celebrity who shared a range of materials from social content to an eBook.

SAP’s influencer campaign saw a 272% increase over their download goal and a 68% conversion rate on eBook downloads. Influencer shares were responsible for 86% of eBook views and 69% of the conversions.

Bottom Line

A successful influencer marketing strategy for B2B healthcare businesses includes the use of healthcare experts, thought leaders who deliver accurate information and build brand credibility, client advocates who deliver 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 real results.






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