Digital Marketing

Inside Influence: Ursula Ringham from SAP on Influencer Marketing Operations

Ursula Ringham SAP Interview

Ursula Ringham SAP Interview

Welcome to the 3rd episode of Inside Influence: What’s working and what’s not inside the world of B2B Influencer Marketing. Each week we feature an interview with a B2B marketing insider on all things influence and a deeper dive into the insights found in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

In this 3rd episode of Inside Influence you are in for a treat: A discussion with the force of nature and client of TopRank Marketing that is Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP.

Ursula leads the Global Influencer Marketing team at SAP in collaboration with the entire SAP product portfolio to create innovative content with trusted external voices to build brand awareness and create pipeline. She is also an accomplished storyteller, author, creator, influencer marketer, digital innovator, social media maven, champion of girls education, and self described “outdoor sports freak”.

Our Inside Influence conversation covered a variety of influencer marketing topics including:

  • The key components of influencer marketing operations
  • The importance and application of influencer marketing software
  • An influencer marketing case study featuring an SAP podcast
  • Advice for marketers that want the benefits of influencer engagement but are hesitant to commit
  • What B2B brands can expect if they hire an outside agency to help with influencer marketing
  • What B2B marketers should watch out for when working with influencers and influencer programs
  • Rising influencer stars in the B2B tech space

Here are a few highlights of our discussion with a video of our full interview below.

77% of all the world’s revenue transactions go through an SAP ERP system, so we’re probably the biggest company in the world that you use every day, but you don’t know anything about it.

Of course most people in the marketing world know you, but for those that don’t, can you share a bit about the work you do at SAP?

Ursula: Sure. I work at SAP and if people don’t know what that is, SAP is one of the largest enterprise software companies in the world. 77% of all the world’s revenue transactions go through an SAP ERP system, so we’re probably the biggest company in the world that you use every day, but you don’t know anything about it. What I do is I manage our global influencer marketing program where we collaborate with trusted voices that influence customer decisions. What we like to do is collaborate with them to tell the story of how SAP makes the world run better and improve people’s lives.

Your contribution to the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report on influencer marketing operations was really important because I think a lot of people don’t think about all the behind the scenes work that goes into an effective program. What are the key components of influencer marketing operations that marketers should know about? 

Ursula:The operations part of influencer marketing is so important. I think when you’re just starting with an influencer program, you’re just like, okay, where do I begin? You know there are people you need to research with a large social following, but that’s the wrong approach. You’d have to start with your strategy.

You also need some tools to help you. There are different influencer relationship management tools that you can use such as like Onalytica or Traackr which are more for the enterprise. These are also tools that are going to help you with tasks. For example, when we work with other teams at SAP, the very first thing we do is we have them fill out a form about the audience demographics, what success looks like, and the buyer persona.

The key thing is (Influencer Relationship Management) tools save you time and help you manage all your projects in one place.

We collect this information so we can find out who’s that person that you want to help tell the story with you? And that’s really, really important. When you use influencer relationship management tools, you can go in and plug all that data in. The tool will surf the whole web, bring everything back and populate a report for you showing matching influencers. Then you can look at who are these influencers? The key thing is the tools save you time and help you manage all your projects in one place.

Great. I suppose along with software, process comes into play and the whole operations thing too, right? As far as like best practices?

Ursula: Oh my gosh, there’s so many different best practices. But the one thing that I always tell my team is even if the tool brings up all these people, you need to read, watch and listen to every single asset that these influencers has come up with. That’s a best practice.

You really have to go and see what the influencer’s personality is like and how they present themselves.

You can’t just look and go, wow, this person meets the criteria on paper of what this team wanted. Maybe they wanted them to be located in North America and have a podcast. Or maybe they had 50,000 followers. But you really have to go and see what the influencer’s personality is like and how they present themselves.

Of course, now our world is all digital and about video. For that you have to see how they perform if you want them to be a host. The biggest practice is the process that I have: you have to watch, read and listen to everything out there.

The 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report includes a case study featuring your work with SAP in the form of a podcast. Creating a single resource to serve as a platform for different internal customers and different external audiences is impressive. What role did influencers play in the Tech Unknown podcast?

Ursula: Absolutely. We created this podcast called Tech Unknown. We actually just finished our second season. For the first season, it was basically an influencer talking to other influencers, live.

When you look at influencer marketing, you have to think, what is the story you’re going to tell?

For the second season, we wanted to create something different. And so we took inspiration from This American Life, a great podcast. We have a host that tells a story, which is the most important thing. When you look at influencer marketing, you have to think, what is the story you’re going to tell? It’s not just like, let’s do this campaign. You have to think about what is the overall story?

The podcast is a series and what we did was to identify an influencer who would be our host. So decided that would be Tamra McClary. She’s a great thought leader and influencer. The reason we chose her is she’s energetic, her voice, and how she introduces things is great. The audience can relate to her.

For the second season she was the host and our focus was on the topic of data. We looked at all different lines of business and how data affects different businesses out there. Then we would bring in other influencers to give their perspective as like thought leaders on that topic. So if it’s talking about HR data, we bring in an HR expert. And then we might have a customer involved in it or an SAP executive who could talk about the customer.

The whole thing was around thought leadership and the influencers played a critical role because they validated the story. They are that third party validation about what SAP is talking about as a challenge in the industry. The hope is that people realize, “Oh, SAP has a solution to my challenges. Let me go check that out.” That’s why it was so important that the podcast included influencers.

And I’ll have to tell you one thing that is absolutely incredible. We would create a summary blog post about the podcast that we publish on one of our website properties. The gal who manages this thought leadership area of sap.com knows SEO really well. If you typed into Google, “future of data”, out of 1.5 billion search results, our blog post came up number one. It’s a combination of working with the influencer who has the social media presence on the topic. Also, Tamera the host is out there and she’s promoting this blog summary that she wrote. She’s promoting the series and we’re getting the word out there using the right keywords and it all comes into play. It’s all full circle, right?

It’s a podcast, it’s a blog, it’s the influencers. It’s all working together to create this awareness that people are going to pay attention to and realize that SAP has a solution to their business needs.

So who are some B2B tech influencers that really stand out today? And are there any re rising stars you would like to mention also?

Ursula: Oh my gosh, there are several. One of the first people that comes to mind is Sally Eaves.

She’s someone that she’s been on the scene for quite some time, but the thing is, Sally is first of all, Sally. I don’t know where she gets that energy. She is 24/7 go, go, go. She’s doing so many things. She has a background being a CTO, but then she has a side of her that is about education, children and the environment and how technology is influencing society. She’s kind of like the whole package and she’s really good and knowledgeable and very charismatic. We’d love to do some work with her because she’s fantastic. She also has a British accent, which makes that fun for us Americans. She’s one of the top ones that I would recommend. I love following her stories, so definitely check her out.

To see the full Inside Influence interview with Ursula, check out the video below:

To connect with Ursula on all things marketing and influence, you can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

B2B Influencer Marketing UnleashedB2B Influencer Marketing Unleashed
Don’t miss Ursula and I as we present at the virtual Content Marketing World conference this week: Influencer Marketing Unleashed: Top Tactics for Success from Global B2B Brands. This is my 10th year in a row speaking at CMWorld and this presentation highlights the best of the best when it comes to information about B2B influencer marketing including:

  • Key trends based on the latest B2B influencer marketing research study
  • Use cases and case studies from Monday.com, Cherwell Software, LinkedIn, Adobe, Alcatel Lucent Enterprise and of course, SAP.
  • A framework for enterprise B2B influencer content campaigns

While the CMWorld conference is happening virtually this week, you can get access to presentations on demand as well. Check out the website.

Next up on Inside Influence is a conversation with Janine Wegner, Global Thought Leadership Program and Activation Manager at Dell Technologies.

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence interviews:

Rani Mani, AdobeThe Value of B2B Influencer Marketing

Garnor Morantes, LinkedInThe Power of Always-On Influence