Some 4 in 10 (38%) B2B marketers expect their influencer marketing budgets to increase into 2021, with a further 42% expecting that these budgets will stay the same, according to TopRank Marketing’s first report [download page] on the state of B2B influencer marketing. The study explores how marketers are choosing the right influencers, the kind of marketing activities being integrated into influencer campaigns, and the myriad benefits associated with the practice.
Influencer marketing has been growing in popularity for some time in the B2C world but has received less attention in B2B marketing. Among the survey’s more than 300 B2B respondents, though, the perceived benefits of influencer marketing are clear. Indeed, more than 6 in 10 respondents agree that their marketing results would improve if they included an influencer marketing program, and virtually all (96% of) B2B marketers who do engage influencers feel that their program is successful.
Respondents were most convinced by an influencer marketing’s ability to increase social reach (78%), with increased credibility of brand content (64%), increased share of voice (62%) and increased media mentions of brand (55%) also cited as benefits by a majority of respondents.
The emphasis on brand among this list of benefits tallies with what respondents believe B2B marketers can achieve through working with influencers. The vast majority (84%) indicate that influencer marketing can achieve brand awareness, with a majority also believing that it improves lead generation (69%), and brand reputation (58%). Fewer are yet to perceive measurable benefits to brand advocacy (32%) and sales/revenue (20%).
The report also notes that marketers who use always-on programs report much higher success rates than those who only engage influencers on a periodic basis.
Choosing the Right Influencer
Certain qualities are more essential than others when it comes to choosing the right influencer for a B2B campaign. The relevance of their audience comes out on top (91%), followed by subject matter expertise (79%). Many also choose influencers based on their having values that align with the brand (64%) and their ability to create content (51%).
Other important qualities for some include advocating for the brand (39%), the size of the influencer’s audience (32%), their charisma and personality (31%) and professional credentials like education, job title or company (30%).
Most B2B marketers use technology to help identifying influencers, with this being the top use of such tech (76%). B2B brands are also using technology to monitor an influencer’s social network activity (69%), to qualify influencers (65%), and to report on campaign/program results (63%). Further down the line, marketers call on their tools to manage influencer campaigns (43%), manage and nurture influencer relationships (41%) and activate influencers (35%).
Influencer Marketing in Action
With influencer marketing being one of the top strategies B2B marketers said they would be exploring this year, there are a number of activities influencers can participate in with brands once they have been identified for a campaign. According to respondents, influencers will most frequently collaborate on content/provide quotes for a brand (87%), and promote their content (82%), but many will participate in events (66%) or serve as a brand ambassador (58%). Some influencers serve as advisors for a brand (35%), endorse products (35%) and participate in media interviews (32%).
For those collaborating on content, social media marketing shows up as the biggest opportunity for influencer content integration (90%). Content marketing (83%), public relations (56%) and SEO (50%) are also being integrated with influencer marketing, as well as branding (43%) and account-based marketing (32%).
As far as the content types B2B marketers are creating with influencers are concerned, more than 8 in 10 (83%) use blog posts, making this the most popular content type, with a majority also using recorded video (67%), webinars (64%), interviews (59%) and podcasts (52%).
Read more about influencer marketing in the full report here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of more than 300 B2B marketing and communications professionals from various industries, the majority (72%) of whom are from companies located in the US.