The Episode in 60 Seconds
Who is your brand's most powerful voice? Outside influencers have more sway than official spokespeople. SAP's Ursula Ringham and Rachel Miller join us today to discuss.
- What influencer marketing is
- How influencer marketing is changing the landscape
- How to properly vet potential influencers
- Two case studies of successful implementation of influencer marketing
- The future of Influencer Marketing
Ursula Ringham leads the Global Influencer Marketing team in collaborating with the entire SAP product portfolio in creating innovative content with trusted external voices to build brand awareness and create sales. Before her tenure at SAP, she had stints at Yoh, Adobe, and Apple where she was the partnership manager for Worldwide Developer Relations.
She has a reputation as a storyteller, author, creator, influencer marketer, digital innovator, social media maven, champion of girls education, and an outdoor sports freak.
Rachel Miller is a social media and content marketing strategist. She's listed as one of the top 50 MarTech influencer marketing and B2B marketing experts worldwide. Her background before SAP includes Thulium, TopRank Marketing, and PureMatter. During the pandemic, she is taking her fitness seriously and has earned the nickname "baby hulk" and is a craft beer aficionado.
77% of all revenue transactions worldwide run through systems powered by SAP. - Ursula Ringham
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer Marketing noun
- partnering experts and trusted authorities together with your brand to help guide customers forward into their buying decision.
- creating innovative content with trusted external voices to build brand awareness and create sales
- trusted voices that influence the decisions of others
- people-to-people marketing
Hear a discussion about definitions at 4:15
How Can a Brand Deploy Influencer Marketing?
Starting an Influencer Marketing program with your own people. Bring in those who have understand people, existing success, a strong social following, understand your business, and get that it is people-to-people networking and marketing. —Ursula Ringham
Improving Live Events by Taking Them Virtual
How to Properly Vet Influencers
- Follow on social media
- Read their writings
- Watch their videos
- Listen to their interviews, podcast and otherwise
- Discover whom they have promoted in the past, even if your competitors
- Identify those you trust who are already connected with them
- Identify their strengths (for example, is someone strong on camera and social, but not a long-form writer. Or, this person asks amazing questions and draws out others.)
- Know them so well you can name their dog and favorite craft beer
- Discuss your findings with your team and get their input
- Talk to them on a video conference if not in person, and get "a feel" for the person
How Do You Measure Influencer Success?
- Identify the true goal. What are you trying to accomplish?
- Closely monitor the effectiveness of your collaborations
- How often is the influencer sharing on social media?
- What level of engagement—likes, comments, shares?
- What type of audience are the attracting through video or podcasts?
- Are they exciting to watch?
There is no true set of criteria because technology is changing so rapidly.
Listen to a success story at 16:00
You have to understand the intent of wanting to work with a particular influencer. It has to be mutually beneficial. — Ursula Ringham
Nobody wants to hear from a brand spokesperson. — Rachel Miller
Hear another success story at 21:11
As we live in an age where reviews, references, and third-party validation become increasingly important, having a disciplined, principled, and intentional effort within our companies to connect our value propositions to the market through people that are able to talk about us better than we can talk about ourselves is incredibly important — John Farkas
Subscribe here to get a sneak peak every week.
Mark Whitlock (0:00): Welcome to Studio CMO. Hi, I’m Mark Whitlock. You’re listening to the podcast designed to help you listen in on a real-life conversations about marketing issues that B2B tech leaders care about the most. We look at the biographies and we break down the marketing successes and woes of those in financial technology, health technology, cybersecurity, business intelligence, and the organizations and products that support their work. And today, John, we’re going to be talking with some folks who make that possible. We heard that 77% of all world transactions happen and are supported by this group.
John Farkas (01:11): SAP is a force. And they touch just about every area of our lives and they obiviously have a lot of influence, but part of their work—part of their work from a marketing perspective—is point of view and helping people understand how to approach business. Influencer Marketing is a critical lement of that. Influencers are it’s really a means of partnering experts and trusted authorities in ways that can help guide customers forward, help them into their buying decision behavior. And that third party point of view, that third party validation, helping people who understand the ecosystems that are involved in the things that we’re in. The businesses that we do are integral in helping complex decisions get made. And our guests today do a phenomenal job of leading those efforts for one of the largest organizations in the world. And we’re proud to welcome our guests back Angus who’s back with us today on Studio CMO.
Angus Nelson (01:56): Well, back for the second time, it’s the double duo. The dynamic duo the B2B influencer marketing team from SAP. First up, we have the head of global influencer marketing at SAP. She is a fiercely curious marketer who loves storytelling and writing her entire life has been spent in Silicon Valley in her early career roles were at Adobe and Apple, and as a creator, a digital innovator in social media maven her current role is about creating innovative content with trusted external voices to build brand awareness and create sales. And lastly, she’s a champion of girl’s education and an outdoor sports freak. We welcome to the show Ursula Ringham. Welcome back.
Urusla Ringham (02:39): Thanks for having me.
Angus Nelson (02:40):Oh, and then joining Ursula because that’s not all, there’s more, she is the global influencer marketing lead at SAP as she’s a social media and content marketing strategist. And listed is one of the top 10 MarTech influencer marketing and B2B marketing experts. Worldwide. Her background comes from an agency world with Thulium, TopRank Marketing, and PureMatter. She loves craft beer and has taken up jujitsu over this time of the pandemic sheet is a muscle muscle fiend. She is now referred to as baby Hulk. Great to have you Rachel Miller.
Rachel Miller (03:19): Thank you guys. I am. So looking forward to this discussion,
Angus Nelson (03:23): Now we’re getting into your sweet spot. We got to talk to you about running events and now.
Mark Whitlock (03:27): stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Okay. Hold on, hold on. We’re talking about influencer marketing today, right? Yup. Okay. So Ursula, Rachel, you guys are representing SAP today on our podcast. So you guys have got to have some agenda items you’ve got to accomplish before the end of this podcast. Would that be right?
Ursula Ringham (03:44): We’re going to influence your audience to check out SAP.
Mark Whitlock (03:48): Okay. So we’re going to check in at the end of this episode to see if you have accomplished what you set out to do. If you feel that way. So sorry for interrupting, John, please take it away.
John Farkas (03:58): Yeah, it’s true. I mean, we live in the content driven world and in the B2B realm, increasingly we’re dealing with self service sales where people are doing the research themselves. It’s a self guided adventure. It doesn’t involve personal connection until way farther down the funnel than it used to. And influencers are important, but let’s get some definitions out on the table. I would love to hear from Ursula, Rachel, if you were to give us a quick definition of what is an influencer, what’s an influencer.
Ursula Ringham (04:34): I would say it’s a trusted voice that influences by your decision, but that’s like my SAP persona. Um, I’d say that it comes down to it’s people-to-people marketing. And right now in this day and age, people trust other people more than they’re going to trust a brand. And if you follow someone that you really believe and trust in their opinions, then you’re more apt to listen to what they have to say. And I’d say for the B2B market, as opposed to BBC, we didn’t have another show about that. But B2B, the type of influencer we’re working with, they’re actually product experts. Maybe they are consultant that used to be in the HR side of things. They actually know their shit. Can I say that? Yes, you can. And so they’re not just like, you know, SAP, you can’t our products. And I said this before the S and SAP doesn’t stand for sexy, but you can’t touch our products. You can’t smell them. You can’t eat them. You know, you can’t taste them. You can’t do anything like that. So for B2C um, you know, our influencers are not going to be the bikini models on the beach, holding our product. And so our influencers actually do command authority. And so when we work with them, people do listen,
Mark Whitlock (05:44): Rachel, we’ve talked a little bit about SAP, but why don’t you give us the foundational principles of what SAP is and what they do?
Rachel Miller (05:52): Sure. SAP, I think is the most essential software that no one has ever heard of. As John said in the intro is 77% of the world’s transactions run through one of our solutions, which is darn impressive. If I don’t say so myself and while you can’t eat any of our products, I do each Chobani a yogurt almost daily. And that is whenever our customers. And I think that’s a household name that many people have heard of.
Angus Nelson (06:19): Yeah, you’re talking everything from like machine learning, internet of things, advanced analytics, like the whole thing behind logistics and financials, human resources, all the business areas, all the things,
Rachel Miller (06:33): All the things. Yes.
Ursula Ringham (06:34): All the things that help the world run better improve people’s lives. Was that too much, sorry.
Mark Whitlock (06:42): And had the right amount of sarcasm right there on it. Quoting the positioning. That was great.
John Farkas (06:48): So let’s get into some of the, how tos, how this work, when we, when we’re thinking about putting together an influencer marketing program, give us an idea of how to begin to think about that. What are some of the essential ingredients?
Ursula Ringham (07:02): The number one is people. It’s interesting because Rachel and I, we met years ago on social media. And then we were involved in a influencer campaign. I ran around the Super Bowl, Super Bowl 50, and Rachel was behind the scenes with some things and she caught my eye and I was like, who is this person? She’s awesome. And I had vowed in my head at the time, if I ever had an opportunity to bring someone on board, I would want Rachel and fast forward. How many years ago is that Rachel or five, four or five years ago. So when growing up my team, I needed someone that is in her own right an influencer in that she has a social following because people trust what she has to say and what she does. And she’s a thought leader in her own. Right? And she actually has worked at agencies and influencers and she knows how to do B2B marketing.
Ursula Ringham (07:57): So I reached out to her, expecting her to be like, Nope, I don’t need a job because you, you didn’t, you were just looking for career growth. And basically I said, I want to bring you to SAP. And you know, in some ways it’s not Facebook, it’s not Google, but SAP has this hidden gem that has opportunity. And so to answer the question in starting and marketing it influencer marketing program, you need to start with your own people. And when you bring those types of people into your program, you’re going to have success because they understand the business and they understand the number one thing is it’s people to people networking and marketing and understanding those people.
Angus Nelson (08:38): Yeah. And I come from doing a lot of the B2B type part influencer marketing, and then we have our family travel blog. So we do all the influencer things. And I know in a B2B space, some of the critical components are also who you’re partnering as the people, the influence themselves is because their, their character, their style is going to be either complimentary or contradictory. And so finding those people as well is kind of critical in the context that a, the people you hire on their network is going to expose you to the right people who can already be trusted. They’ve already been vetted. They already have with them, you know, the, the, the chutzpah, you know, that you’re looking for. And then the hashtag hootspa, or the second piece is then finding the right people who are curious enough to go and find the kind of influencers that are going to compliment your brand. So Rachel, when you came on, can you explain kind of what part you played in your transition coming on board, besides the pandemic coming into play? What role did you get to serve?
Rachel Miller (9:42): Sure. Um, my sweet spot and actually what I find the most joy in is identifying new voices. And, um, I know from my quick audit of SAP over the years, there’s, they’ve had some wonderful collaborations, but it’s often the same faces popping up. So I know Ursula tasked me early on with, we need to bring in some fresh new voices and I was like, game on, let’s do it. Um, and particularly in the B2B space, peer opinion carries infinite weight. You can’t just slot somebody in because they have, you know, X amount of social following. They need to have the rapport and respect with the audience that you’re targeting. And, um, oftentimes be a practitioner, um, not just generalists, they want to have real world experience. And that’s, what’s gonna really move the needle, particularly in the B to B environment that we’re working in
Angus Nelson (10:28): And related to that is because of the people that you’re selecting. They can give you kind of a competitive advantage. Can you kind of share like where bringing a particular person in, helps your company look a certain way or be respected or, or thought of in a different fashion versus, you know, bringing in some other influencers
Ursula Ringham (10:48): To answer that question, it kind of gets into cultural relevancy also. Um, that’s the one thing that I, I tasked my team is look at, what’s trending out there, these amazing different topics who’s talking about it. And, um, could this be a new, fresh voice for SAP? Yes. And so I, to Rachel’s point, that’s the fun part for me too, is I love discovering new voices and talking with people. And, you know, Rachel had mentioned, um, when we were talking about the Sapphire event that we’ve vetted probably four to 500 new voices. And when I say vetted, we’re talking to them, we’re following them on social media. We’re reading, watching, listening to everything they do. And so we opened up this network while we did have kind of a relatively small number of thought leaders and experts that we recruited for Sapphire, as there so mentioned, we did have zoom calls with hundreds of amazing people, and that allowed us to have this really vast.
Rachel Miller (11:41): I’m going to call them our stable of thought leaders to now bring into our future events because Sapphire was our big jump into virtual programming. This is our new normal now. So we’re kind of feeding the beast with LinkedIn lives and various other formats. And we have these great people that we can never be like, Hey, I know I spoke to you a couple of months ago. We loved your vibe. We have this project that’s perfect for you. And we probably wouldn’t have done that if it wasn’t for Sapphire and just going through that whole vetting process.
Ursula Ringham (12:09): And there’s different types of influencers because now, because everything has to be like video, right? Everything’s video. There are some influencers that they’re not really going to video. Maybe it’s better for a podcast or blogging. So you can match them with someone who is that energetic personality, and then they can maybe do an interview together. And that’s what you have to look at as a storyteller. Also, it’s kind of this matchmaking of who are the best people to tell the story that you want to get out there
Mark Whitlock (12:36): And what Ursula and Rachel are talking about related to Sapphire and all of the things around a virtual conference and taking a live mega worldwide user conference to a virtual conference can be heard on studiocmo.com/022. They were our guests on episode 22. So visit studiocmo.com/022. You can hear a great discussion about what it takes to make a virtual user conference work and meet the goals for your business.
John Farkas (13:04): Speaking of meaning and goals for your business, how do you look to align with thought leaders, with influencers who are aligned with your business that are going to help further your agenda? What are some of the ways you build those relationships?
Rachel Miller (13:21): I think for me, you can tell a lot by a person just on your initial vetting calls. Um, and I do a deep dive into their history who have they worked with before? I am not personally turned off. If they worked with a competitor, um, we kind of run an agnostic program. And if anything, it just kind of provides more insight cause they can provide a holistic view of the industry versus having a very siloed view. Um, people who are just like, I’m only with this brand and you’re like, Oh, you’re just the poster child. So I really appreciate somebody who could work with a vast amount of companies, particularly if they’ve had actual work experience in the role that we’re targeting for me. It’s I don’t know if it’s a gut feel, but it’s relatively easy to see if this is going to be an alignment.
Ursula Ringham (14:02): And that’s the first call, Rachel, we’ve talked about this so many times. It’s so important. I like to just start talking about who are you, you know, how did you get to what you’re doing right now? Really find out more about the person I’ve had calls where someone sees, Oh, head of global influence market SAP. And the first thing they say, Hey, Ursula. Yeah, it’s great to get on a call. I don’t do anything unless it’s 200,000, I’m like, I don’t even know who you are. Do I even want to work with you? And now it is a big turnoff. And so my job is like, I want to get to know that person, because this is a longterm relationship. I don’t want just a one and done. And so those first calls are so important and understand influencers out there. If you’re listening before we had the call, we fully vetted you to get to a point, to have a call with you. We have researched, watched, listened and you know, read anything you’ve done. And as a team, we’ve decided we want to reach out to you. And sometimes I should say, we’ll have fun projects where it’s like, let’s just throw a wide net and talk to a bunch of people. So it’s not always like a targeted thing. It’s just, we want to kind of expand our network. But in general, that first initial touch is really, really important.
Rachel Miller (15:04): We know your dog’s name before we talk to you
Ursula Ringham (15:07): And hat craft beer you like. But
Angus Nelson (15:13): I love what you said is these are ongoing relationships, right? It’s not like days of old where you just had a campaign that went through a certain launch or a certain season. It’s something that you want to create that rapport because that’s how you build that trust, that advocacy, you know, that engagement. How do you measure success with a partnership with an influencer?
Rachel Miller (15:35): It really varies depending on the project. Some teams we work with have hard KPIs, whether it’s driving registrations to a virtual event, or perhaps it’s downloading something, sometimes it’s a brand awareness play. But to that effect, we definitely closely monitor the effectiveness of our collaborations. Um, how often is someone sharing what see engagement on their social posts? How are they performing on video or the podcast? Um, are they exciting to watch? Am I genuinely looking forward to the next episode? Right? So there is a whole variety of metrics, um, that we determine success or not.
Ursula Ringham (16:11): Yeah, there’s no template and there’s no benchmarks because every year, every couple of months technology changes like several years ago. It was just like the Facebook live. Maybe it was the downloads of a podcast. Maybe it’s how many blog views. It constantly changes. But I’ll tell you one example that I thought was really exciting was a year or a year and a half ago, we were at our Sapphire event and there’s this one part of the business that I wanted to experiment with. And I wanted one of our influencers to interview these two customers and then the partner, because the partners part of our ecosystem, they not only sell to the customer, but implement long story short. What we did was our influencer to put up these three little videos on his social channels. And the call to action was go to the partner website because if you want to, you know, have the partner help you with this product, they can. We got a call four weeks later. And the, the partner said, I don’t know what you guys do, influencer marketing, but you sold me on it. And I said, why? And he’s like, we just made $600,000 in sales, which is a huge deal, um, for, you know, their product. And, um, he just said, what happened was our influencer, their audience, they, someone, these customers saw it listened. And the whole thing was the customers explaining it was a really easy process. And then the partner was like, and this is how you do it. And it’s all to that. Influencer was a really good storyteller that could draw that story out. And so what is success? It changes per project, as Rachel said, but I love those wins when you can get, you know, someone has come back to you and said, this really helped our business,
Angus Nelson (17:38): Uh, related to that. So they influencer does a great storytelling job. They put out some great piece of content. How do you integrate that content into your content? Whether that be through, you know, your simple content marketing schedule or in PR, like, what are the channels? You know, how do you put those into your marketing channels in a way that obviously leverages their influence, but also compliments, you know, your agenda.
Ursula Ringham (18:05): So we have teams behind the scenes that see this as amazing content and they’re like, let’s feed the beast. So let’s package it and put it in the regions and then they can have their own call to action. And that’s the brilliant thing, right? So if you have a customer success story where an influencer is interviewing them, then the region can take that and market directly to that audience. And then the call to action can be a myriad of URLs that they can provide. So internally we have teams that do that and we get the word out internally through newsletters, through just regular meetings with people. And, you know, sometimes we’re surprised that there’ll be a small little region somewhere in the world that suddenly they’ve picked up our content. We’re like, that’s awesome. Um, so we do the best we can to influence internally also, um, all the programs that we have
John Farkas (18:49): Who is making requests of you in this regard?
Ursula Ringham (18:58): Yeah. I was going to say, I mean, it’s fascinating that right now everyone’s like, we don’t have events because events were usually the big draw, like an in person event. And now they’re like influencers influencers. But the interesting thing is that we have to understand the intent of wanting to work with that influencer. Why have we decided to choose that person and is Rachel’s point earlier? It’s like, we don’t just pick someone because they have 200,000 followers. They have to add value to our, you know, whatever our messaging is, whatever that we’re trying to, um, amplify to an audience. But also then what I say to the influencer is we want to add value for your audience. And so it can’t just be one sided. It has to benefit both sides. And I always go into discussions with influencers, I’ll talk to them about a project and say, is this a good fit for you and your audience? I’ll never say you are such a great fit for us. We want you. It’s like, no. How, how can we help each other?
Angus Nelson (19:50): I love that. I have a question for you just to kind of put on your wizard caps, kind of like looking through your crystal ball at the future of influencer marketing. What do you see?
Rachel Miller (20:02): I see it expanding. I think it’s never been more important. Um, as we touched on earlier that peer to peer marketing, it’s essential. Nobody wants to hear it from our brand spokesperson and finding those exceptional storytellers to tell your message better than you could have ever crafted yourself is really what’s going to differentiate your business from another.
Ursula Ringham (20:25): And I think the tough thing is in the industry right now, like influencer is seen as kind of a dirty word because the BDC side of things, sorry guys out there in the BDC worldly kind of ruined it for us. But the BDC side, as we’ve said, it’s the intent. Like we find these diamonds in the rough that are actually really good practitioners that actually have the expertise like former CEOs, right? CIO can talk to a CIO and say, Hey, I’ve been there. I’ve actually used SAP products in the past, even though we don’t ask them to promote that at all. It’s more that we look at it from a thought leader perspective of what are those business challenges that a CIO has? What does business outcomes you have? And then when you talk through something, what’s the call to action is, Hey, check out what SAP has for you. And so in that respect, that’s how I look at it.
John Farkas (21:11): So let’s funnel it down to one, one instance where a storyline, where your work in linking SAP is value proposition through an influencer has resulted in something remarkable happening for the business. Can you give us a little mini case study of a storyline where that’s happened?
Ursula Ringham (21:35): I don’t have like a specific like stats to back this, but I’m just going to put it out there. Um, SAP, um, we’re like one of the top 17 brands in the world and there are different like, you know, analytics that they measure all this from. And, um, I think it was Rachel correct me if I’m wrong, but our CMO Alicia Tillman (shout out to Alicia—she’s doing great). Um, she was brought up as one of these top CMOs and it was based on Sprinkler and it was based on sprinkler going out there and looking at the hashtags and looking at how relevant, um, her name was in the industry and how she’s coming up. And we’ve done a lot of work with her over the last two years. And like at our Sapphire event in 2019, she had one tweet that had an, a influencer associated with it, Tamara McCleary.
Ursula Ringham (22:21): And it was all just about, Hey, this is the X anniversary of Sapphire. It got 17,000 views, unique views. And then a bunch of us also amplified that on our social channels and on my LinkedIn, it got 17,000 views. And so when you look at all of that going out there, can I prove that what might influencers did actually like statistically, can I show in the analytics that it did that we’ll know, but if you’re looking at sprinkler and they’re looking at the reach and how her name is coming up, I think we contributed to that, right. I definitely think we contributed, I mean, mind you, she is a power of her own and has her own brand entity and does so much for SAP. So it’s a common thing, right? Everyone has jumped in and helped with that. I think influencer marketing is how to play in part of it. It was kind of like it’s taking a good thing and it’s amplifying it. If we didn’t have a good thing, working with influencers wouldn’t have as much impact. Cause you can’t nobody, you can’t really amplify hope. So.
Angus Nelson (23:18): Yeah. Can’t Polish a turd.
John Farkas (23:19): nobody wants to talk about a bad thing.
Rachel Miller (23:23): Actually, a great example. That’s actually quite recent. We’ve been working with a lot of our teams putting together LinkedIn live series. And we did one specific to our industries team, which we have 27 industries that SAP covers. And we did a pilot, um, that consisted of six, covering everything from supply chain to retail. And they have a successful LinkedIn page. But through doing the LinkedIn lives, we increased their page fellers by over 250%, simply a 90 day period, which I was very proud of, but I guess that’s business value. We’re increasing their audience. So all future projects that we do, we’re getting more eyeballs on it. So it’s just, um, it enables them to have a stronger call to action when they put something out there.
John Farkas (24:09): I love it. These conversations are really critical to business. I mean, as we look at an age where reviews references, third party validation becomes increasingly important, having a disciplined and principled and intentional effort within our companies to connect our value propositions to the market, through people that are able to talk about us better than we can talk about ourselves. And that’s, that’s an incredibly important element. Ladies, thank you for your, uh, your perspective on this. I appreciate your time today. And, uh, Mark, tell us about, uh, where we can get some more information on this.
Mark Whitlock (24:52): We’ll get to that in just a second, but I’ve got to know Ursula. Rachel, did you check off your checklist? Were you guys good influencers for SAP?
Ursula Ringham (25:01): I think so. I think people might be curious enough to go. What does that SAP actually do and maybe
Mark Whitlock (25:08): Love it. Thank you so much for being with us today on studio CMO.
Rachel Miller (25:13): No worries. I appreciate the invite.
Urusla Ringham (25:14): Yeah. Thanks guys.
Mark Whitlock (25:17): So here’s what we’re going to do. Come to studiocmo.com/zero two six that’s studiocmo.com/zero two six. At that website, you’ll find all the show notes for this episode. You’ll find a transcript and you’ll find links out to ways that you can build influencer marketing into what you’re doing for your company. And while you’re there studiocmo.com slash zero two six, please subscribe to this podcast. We’ve got a massive amount of great guests coming up and we want you to be the first to know who’s coming and to hear some of the great content that we’re producing here at golden spiral. So subscribe to Studio CMO. You can do that at the bottom of any page at studiocmo.com. We have all the major podcasts apps listed, whatever your favorite is, click on it, add us to your subscription list. So our shows will be delivered directly to your device. And until next time we encourage you to understand your buyers problems and lead out of that empathetic understanding. Always, always make your buyer the hero. We’ll see you next time on Studio CMO.