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The Juice CEO Jonathan Gandolf Talks Growth With B2B Influencers

January 10, 2024

jonathan gandolf industry insights

Digital environments and consumer interests shift continually, making brands look for fresh ways to tell their stories.

In an ever-evolving business landscape, the quest for sustainable growth is a continuous journey. As thought leaders in the industry, understanding the dynamic needs of the market helps us stay ahead of the curve and explore innovative strategies that resonate with the audience. 

Today, we delve into a realm that has gained prominence as a powerful catalyst for business-to-business (B2B) growth: strategic collaboration with influencers.

Picture a symbiotic relationship between businesses and influencers, where insights meet influence, and strategies align seamlessly with market trends. B2B influencer marketing helps embrace a new paradigm. 

In this article, I'll unravel the nuances of B2B influencer marketing growth and the transformative potential that lies within influencer partnerships. Delve into the intersection of innovation and influence, while learning how we, as thought leaders, can leverage the prowess of B2B influencers to not only amplify their reach but also create authentic connections and propel business growth. 

I share my experience and perspective on the journey of fostering growth through influencer partnerships.

This article is not just a report, but a roadmap that will help unravel the intricacies of B2B influencer marketing and how to grow and nurture your user base while fostering real connections.

What you'll learn in this article: 

  • Challenges of starting a newsletter
  • How to identify the right B2B influencers for your newsletter
  • Building and nurturing relationships with influencers
  • Metrics used to measure the success of a newsletter
  • Mistakes to avoid while growing your user base (+advice) 

Aspiration to achievement

My winding-but-fun professional journey started at ExactTarget (acquired by Salesforce) in Indianapolis. 

I stayed through the acquisition process and gained valuable experience in content marketing, relationship marketing, and product management. I later moved to data analysis for email, mobile, and social marketing teams, helping build data infrastructure and strategize for B2B digital campaigns. 

I had an unanticipated entrepreneurial opportunity when my passion project turned into an almost 4-year endeavor — I launched and grew a brewing company with friends. I helped grow the company to around 40 employees, worked on raising awareness, executing events, and managing the marketing and brand experience team. 

While this was a great business, I didn’t want to build my career in the beer industry and, thus, moved back to the software industry, working at Springbuck - a healthcare analytics company where I led the sales and marketing teams. 

Throughout my career, I’ve loved content marketing. 

I felt like I was pouring more time into content creation rather than content distribution. I call it the content hamster wheel, where we spend time producing a piece of content, spend time marketing it, and the cycle continues. 

This is when I came up with the idea for The Juice — a newsletter platform that aggregates all B2B content for sales and marketing professionals in one location. You can sign up for free and gain access to curated content recommendations. We help brands promote their content to the right audience at the right time.

Challenges of starting a newsletter

I started The Juice during the pandemic, which was definitely an interesting time to start a business. It did allow us to jump on Zoom calls with marketers to help validate the content we were putting out. 

However, hiring a team during the pandemic was a challenge, considering not many people were willing to take the risk of joining an early-stage company when times were already uncertain. But we ended up with an absolutely great team! 

Growing into the current market and economy has also been quite a challenge, but we’re growing despite it. 

A challenge unique to my business comes in two sides:

  • Attracting individual users to the platform 
  • Monetizing through brands promoting content on the platform 

This felt like growing two businesses. 

We eventually had a flywheel effect, but starting at zero on both ends was a special challenge that we overcame through various marketing campaigns and efforts. Working with B2B influencers and creators has been an especially rewarding experience.

How to identify influencers for the newsletter

B2B influencer marketing has gained popularity over the years. Tapping into this market and growing the newsletter has been a combination of paid and organic marketing efforts. 

Since we’re a content marketing company at our core, we pour a lot of effort into our programs, such as podcast streams, a virtual event series, and a lot of written content, while collaborating with other brands that have a large audience. This is where our organic efforts lie. 

When it comes to paid marketing, it’s a combination of social and search engines. 

We’re always testing and experimenting with different messaging and CTAs to help boost our efforts and see what works best. Among these efforts, the most repetitive channel for us has been B2B sponsorships or influencer marketing, where we target individuals with a large social media platform and work through sponsoring their content. Influencers have an audience who are high-volume content consumers (which is exactly what we want). 

Apart from this, we’re also always doing a cost analysis. 

Figuring out how many users we can expect based on the investment, which is a straightforward ROI in this space. We also look for a highly engaged sales and marketing audience, who will be our primary target. We partner with influencers whom we can build a long-term relationship with.

Overall, the focus has been on working with people we think are interesting. Our ideal users are just like us; if we don’t find the content interesting, neither will our audience. It’s about being community-driven and organic, and building real relationships that last.

Building and nurturing relationships with influencers

Finding a new set of creators to work with is always important, but so is staying connected to the core set of creators. There are several influencer marketing platforms available that help connect us to the right influencers. 

Given the nature of the newsletter, we’re able to help creators promote what they’re promoting - it’s a system where we provide value to each other. The relationship goes beyond transactions and is focused on trust and quality. 

Metrics to measure success

While building and nurturing our relationships and growing the newsletter, measuring metrics and working based on the data help understand what we can do to add value to our audience. 

The core metric used is the cost per acquisition of an individual user, a pretty straightforward ROI analysis.

There’s a certain target we try to hit, and while we don’t always see these targets being met, it’s about experimenting and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. There’s always some brand value that can’t be measured through metrics. We do not strictly look at the cost per acquisition but also have partnerships and are involved with the right audience and network. 

And there’s always the other classic immeasurable brand KPIs that are standard to any marketing efforts.

Effective brand campaigns that helped retain users

Two things worked well:

  • One is offering exclusive content through sponsorship. Influencers offer exclusive content to our sponsorship/collaboration through a report or piece of content that their audience can get only via our partnership.
  • Second is when the ad is written in the influencer’s voice and tone. We let them write the ad in their tonality. Many influencers do this often because they already have that trust built with their audience - they understand their audience's needs, and it seems more genuine coming from the influencers themselves.

There have also been occasions where we were partnering with influencers to build a user base, but they’ve driven customer acquisition for us. This speaks highly about the trust built with The Juice not only as users but customers as well.

Mistakes to avoid while growing your user base 

Do your homework. Earlier, we took people for their word, but over time I’ve learned that if they don’t have a media kit or backing data, then it’s probably not going to work out. 

Holding partnerships accountable to their numbers is a big tip. We’ve had instances where the campaign felt flat, and we’ve gone back to the influencers to figure out if the copy wasn’t the right fit or if the subject line could have been improved.

Of course, there’s some volatility involved in any marketing campaign. There’s going to be some hits and some complete whiffs – and that’s alright, that’s the nature of it. It might feel uncomfortable, but as long as you’re still having some hits, you can continue experimenting.

Intrigued to learn more from inspiring leaders? Our Industry Insights series is full of the knowledge you need.

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The Juice CEO Jonathan Gandolf Talks Growth With B2B Influencers CEO of The Juice, Jonathan Gandolf talks about how the team has relied on B2B Influencers/Creators to grow user base and scale up the newsletter.
Jonathan Gandolf Jonathan Gandolf is the CEO of popular newsletter, The Juice. The Juice collects, consolidates, and curates insightful resources from across the internet into a single platform where members can organize, save, share, and enjoy content curated for them without ever having to fill out a form.

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