Influencer marketing has become an essential part of the marketing mix for brands across many industries. Now, it is making major inroads into the B2B space as well. Recent research shows that B2B marketers are rapidly adopting influencer strategies and finding them effective for goals like increasing awareness and sales.
The question is no longer, ‘Does influencer marketing work for B2B?’ We already know the answer. The question is, ‘How can we get the best results from B2B influencer marketing?’ And, ‘What are the most successful B2B brands doing that the rest of us are missing?’
According to a new report from Ogilvy, three-quarters of B2B decision-makers worldwide currently use influencer marketing. Among those, over 90% plan to expand their use of influencers in the future. Another study from Ascend2, in partnership with TopRank Marketing, found that influencer marketing is already part of the mix for 85% of surveyed mid-market and enterprise B2B brands in the US.
As B2B marketers gain more experience with influencer strategies, they are becoming more sophisticated in their approaches. While 15% are just beginning with influencer marketing, about half are at a moderate maturity level. Nearly one-quarter have reached expert status, according to the Ascend2 report.
Influencer Marketing Benefits
The biggest payoffs reported are increased sales revenue and improved brand reputation. Two-thirds of respondents in the Ogilvy study said their B2B influencer campaigns had more impact on marketing performance than brand-only efforts.
In the Ascend2 research, current customers were the most commonly used type of influencer. However, brands at moderate maturity levels reported greater use of professional influencers and prospects compared to beginners. The Ogilvy findings suggest employees could also be untapped influencers, with 89% of C-suite marketers saying staff can add value when integrated into strategies.
How to Identify Influencers
When evaluating potential influencers, B2B brands look for several key traits. The most important is that the audience sees the influencers as trustworthy and they have a relevant audience or network. Professional credentials, audience size, and subject matter expertise are also key considerations.
Influencer Program Challenges
Executing an influencer program brings challenges like identifying and engaging influencers, measuring results, and creating content. Over half of respondents struggle to find and connect with the right influencers. Many also pointed to difficulties tracking performance, collaborating with influencers on content, and documenting an integrated strategy.
Artificial Intelligence Applications
Artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging as a useful tool for some of these hurdles. While content creation is the top AI application now, performance tracking and influencer selection follow closely behind. AI could help provide data-driven insights and efficiencies.
AI Influencer Tools
- Influencity – Build a stronger Influencer Relationship Management (IRM) strategy with access to comprehensive profile statistics on a platform that analyzes millions of the most influential content creators on social media today.
- Insense – Collaborate with multiple vetted creators at once. Get a steady flow of authentic UGC starting at $50 per video. Increase your ads performance with whitelisted ads.
- InsightIQ – Define, track, and boost influencer marketing ROI.
- Partnerize – End-to-end partnership platform that automates tedious tasks associated with partner management to help you find and convert your target audience at scale.
- Rad AI – Creative intelligence that brings new standards to influencer marketing.
- Squad – One-stop solution for influencer marketing at scale. Collaborate between influencers and brands.
- Tapasom – Discover the perfect influencer for your brand. Work together effortlessly. Make creator marketing easy.
For content, social posts are the most common influencer marketing format for B2B. Social media allows influencers to share information with their networks, an important value proposition, according to the Ogilvy research. Nine in ten B2B marketing leaders see social media influencers as vital for staying current in their industry.
When it comes to tactics, content promotion by influencers is most effective for achieving objectives. Product endorsements, quotes for content, and event participation also deliver results for some B2B brands.
Influencer marketing adoption is accelerating among B2B marketers. As strategies mature, brands are rapidly expanding their programs to leverage influencers’ value for driving awareness, sales, and reputation. While challenges remain, AI and best practices are helping refine influencer identification, partnership, and measurement. The future is bright for B2B brands successfully harnessing the power of influencers.
The Ascend2 and TopRank Marketing results are based on a July-August survey of 425 B2B marketing decision-makers in management or higher roles representing mid-market (100 – 999 employees) and enterprise (1,000+ employees) B2B brands from various industries. The Ogilvy results are based on a survey of more than 550 senior B2B decision-makers working at companies of various sizes across 11 markets.
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