According to the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 96% of B2B marketers that engage influencers consider their program to be successful and 90% expect their budget for influencer marketing to increase or stay the same over the next 12 months.
Why the confidence? 77% of marketers say their prospective customers rely on advice from industry experts with 84% engaging influencers to create brand awareness and 69% counting on influencers for lead generation.
Influence plays a role across the entire B2B customer lifecycle from awareness to advocacy and with B2B marketing going decidedly digital during the pandemic and research showing few signs of reverting back to the old ways, the importance of peer, expert and influencer recommendations through social and digital media are more important than ever.
Without question, the pandemic has affected business customers in a variety of ways from pausing on purchasing to taking more time to do research on solutions. How B2B marketers adapt to these changes is essential for success now and into 2021.
So how are B2B brands like LinkedIn, SAP, monday.com and others finding marketing wins during a time of uncertainty? One way is through understanding which voices are most influential to their customers and then partnering with those influencers to collaborate on content used for thought leadership, brand engagement and lead generation.
“The work that we’re doing with influencers is not centered around campaigns, it’s centered around relationships.”
Garnor Morantes, Group Marketing Manager at LinkedIn
Watch Garnor’s Inside B2B Influence interview
Based on research of hundreds of B2B marketers, several best practices have emerged to optimize content with influence. The most successful B2B influencer marketing programs share certain characteristics including:
- Engaging in ongoing (Always-On) influencer marketing vs. periodic campaigns
- Rely on industry experts and analysts vs. purely social influencers
- Use blogs as content publishing platforms
- Use software to identify and qualify influencers vs. gut feel
- Create interactive content with influencers
- Have a centralized influencer marketing program
- Have a documented influencer marketing strategy
But what can B2B brands expect from building relationships of mutual value with influencers? Everything from increased social reach to improved credibility of brand content to increases in leads in sales.
“Working with the right influencers, you build credibility with the audience you are trying to reach. Influencers can help you deliver content that solves problems, educates and inspires your intended audience. The biggest benefit is the engagement, how you can work with your influencers to create meaningful engagement that leads to the right outcomes for your brand.”
Amisha Gandhi, SVP of Marketing at Tipalti
(Previously VP Influencer Marketing and Communications at SAP)
Watch Amisha’s Inside B2B Influence interview
B2B Influence in Action: Monday.com
When the pandemic swept through the world in 2020, monday.com identified an opportunity to help support teams that had gone from working in-office to working remotely. To help position itself as a valuable resource for remote teams, Monday.com partnered with TopRank Marketing to develop an influencer marketing program featuring remote work experts that could reach and engage teams facing remote work challenges more effectively than the brand on its own.
By engaging influencers with audiences hungry for information about remote work best practices, the Monday.com influencer program added value to the target audience and increased awareness of Monday.com’s solutions.
- 1,790% above goal social reach from influencer shares
- 300k organic brand social impressions from influences
- Nearly 3k video views of a livestream featuring 2 influencers during the first week
Get more details on the Monday.com influencer marketing case study here.
Without question, effective engagement with the right influencers can create a competitive advantage for B2B brands.
“Influencers’ industry expertise lends credibility that results in convincing and converting your target audience.”
Rani Mani, Head of Employee Advocacy at Adobe
Watch Rani’s Inside B2B Influence interview
Our research supports that insight with 77% of marketers saying their prospective customers rely on advice from industry experts.
What B2B marketers can do to take advantage of the influence opportunity is to decide what topics the brand wants to be known for that customers are seeking. Using topics of influence, a content marketing program can be developed that incorporates industry experts that are influential about those very same topics. It’s not enough to create useful content for buyers any more. B2B brands that want to create the best possible customer experience for buyers that are now relying on digital content and trusted voices more than ever, can optimize those experiences with the credibility of the influencers their customers trust.
Collaborating with topically relevant influencers on content of mutual value provides those influencers with an incentive to help share the content with potential customers that are likely ignoring ads and formal brand marketing. As B2B brands continue to engage influencers, benefits include content for demand and lead gen, third party validation for thought leadership, and importantly, quality relationships with trusted voices that can organically advocate for the brand.
For more insights, trends and data around how B2B brands are effectively engaging with influencers to optimize their content marketing, check out the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report.