Influencers elevate B2B marketing by connecting brands with key audiences in a meaningful and authentic way. This relationship leverages the trust and respect influencers have cultivated to turn potential customers into engaged brand advocates.
Success, however, is not guaranteed. Our own research found that of the 85% of B2B brands using influencer marketing, only 34% describe their B2B influencer marketing strategy as “extremely effective.” And 53% named identifying, qualifying and engaging with ideal influencers as their greatest challenge.
The cornerstone of an effective B2B influencer marketing strategy is assembling the ideal mix of influencers. This requires a strategic combination of reach, resonance, relevance and credibility within a balanced cross-section of influencer types.
Understanding the types of B2B influencers
Recognizing the different types of influencers will help you understand the different roles they can play in your strategy.
Expert influencers are the industry leaders and thought leaders who shape opinions and trends within your field. They bring a high level of credibility and authority, often backed by extensive experience or notable achievements. Partnering with these influencers can significantly boost your brand’s reputation and thought leadership status.
Practitioner influencers, on the other hand, are professionals with hands-on experience in their respective fields. They offer practical insights and real-world expertise, making them relatable and highly valuable to an audience seeking practical advice and solutions. Collaborating with practitioner influencers can enhance the practical applicability of your content and offerings.
Finally, internal and executive influencers are often overlooked but equally important. These are individuals within your organization, from top executives to knowledgeable staff members, who can advocate for your brand. Leveraging their expertise not only showcases your internal talent but also adds a layer of authenticity and trust to your influencer marketing efforts. Utilizing internal influencers effectively can strengthen your brand’s voice and reinforce its values from the inside out.
Each type of influencer brings unique strengths to the table. Your goal should be to identify and engage with the right mix that aligns with your brand’s objectives, audience preferences, and marketing goals.
Influencer attributes that make an impact
Choosing the right influencers for your B2B marketing strategy involves identifying those who can truly resonate with your audience and communicate your brand’s message.
Resonance: Engagement and persuasiveness
Resonance is key in influencer marketing. It’s not just about how many people influencers can reach, but how deeply they can connect with and influence their audience. Measuring resonance involves looking at engagement metrics like comments, shares, and the quality of interactions. Prioritize influencers who not only have a voice but can also persuade and inspire their audience in alignment with your brand’s values and objectives.
Relevance: Overlap in subject matter
Relevance is critical when selecting influencers for your B2B marketing campaigns. It’s about ensuring there’s a strong alignment between the influencer’s expertise and your brand’s niche. This alignment guarantees that the content shared is not only pertinent but also valuable to your audience.
To achieve this, strategically identify influencers who are authorities in areas directly related to your products or services. Analyze their content, audience demographics, and engagement to determine how well they align with your brand’s objectives. The right match will yield content that authentically serves your target audience, enhancing the overall impact of your influencer marketing efforts.
“Relevance is critical when selecting influencers for your B2B marketing campaigns. It’s about ensuring there’s a strong alignment between the influencer’s expertise and your brand’s niche.” — Theresa Meis of @TopRank Marketing Click To Tweet
Reach: Size of audience
The size of an influencer’s audience, or their reach, plays a significant role in amplifying your brand’s message. However, it’s important to balance reach with the relevance and resonance of the influencer. A large follower count doesn’t automatically translate to effective influencer marketing.
Evaluate how an influencer’s audience size aligns with your campaign goals. Consider the potential for broader exposure against the need for targeted, meaningful engagement. In essence, the ideal influencer should not only have a considerable reach but also an audience that is genuinely interested in your brand’s domain, ensuring that your message is heard by the right people.
Size of audience (44%) ranked behind relevance of audience (48%) among the most important qualities for successful brands when choosing an influencer. (2023 B2B Influencer Marketing Report)
Credibility: Trustworthiness and experience
An influencer’s ability to be trusted and respected by their audience, which often stems from their experience and expertise in a specific field, lends credibility to your brand.
When assessing potential influencers, examine their track record, the quality and consistency of their content, any notable professional credentials, and their reputation within the industry. An influencer with high credibility not only ensures that your message is taken seriously but also significantly elevates your brand’s integrity in the eyes of your audience.
Leveraging internal & executive influencers
Utilizing internal and executive influencers is a powerful yet often underutilized strategy in B2B influencer marketing.
These influencers are your own team members, from top executives to knowledgeable staff, who can authentically represent your brand’s values and vision. By tapping into this internal pool of influence, you can showcase your organization’s expertise and thought leadership from within.
Executive influencers, in particular, can play a pivotal role in shaping industry conversations, lending a level of authority and trust to your marketing efforts that is hard to replicate with external influencers.
Don’t overlook customers and prospects
Many of the brands that are more advanced in their B2B influencer marketing maturity are also incorporating customers and prospects into their influencer mix. It is not only a good way to build and strengthen key relationships, but can also create powerful resonance with the people you’re trying to reach.
Crafting the perfect B2B influencer mix
The following steps outline a strategic approach to building an effective B2B influencer marketing mix:
1 — Identify the unique values of each influencer type.
- Expert influencers for authority and thought leadership.
- Practitioner influencers for practical insights and solutions.
- Internal and executive influencers for personal brand representation.
2 — Understand your audience’s needs.
Make sure to align influencer types with your audience’s preferences and how they consume content. Analyze your audience demographics, interests, and engagement behaviors to identify the types of influencers they most resonate with. For instance, if your audience is highly technical, partnering with expert influencers who can delve into industry-specific details might be more effective.
3 — Diversify content formats and channels.
Different influencers excel on different platforms and with various content types. Some might be more effective on social media platforms while others could shine in long-form content such as blogs or webinars. By diversifying your content approach, you can engage with your audience across multiple touch-points, enhancing the overall reach and impact of your influencer marketing efforts.
4 — Monitor and analyze performance.
To continually optimize your influencer strategy, regularly monitor and analyze performance metrics. This includes tracking engagement rates, conversion rates, and overall return on investment (ROI). Data-driven insights can help you understand which influencers and content types are most effective, allowing for more informed decisions in future campaigns.
5 — Adjust strategy for evolving preferences.
Audience preferences and industry trends can shift rapidly. Stay agile and be ready to adjust your influencer mix accordingly. This may involve exploring new influencer partnerships, experimenting with emerging content formats, or even shifting focus to different social media platforms. Keeping your strategy aligned with these evolving preferences ensures your influencer marketing remains relevant and effective.
Maximize impact with a strategic influencer blend
Being strategic with your influencer blend requires not only identifying the distinct advantages each influencer type offers but also aligning these strengths with your specific brand goals and audience expectations.
When you are strategic with your B2B influencer mix, you’ll be able to forge genuine partnerships with influencers who drive collective growth.
Theresa began her career as a marketing writer around the same time TopRank launched, though it would be a couple of decades and a great deal of side questing before she joined the team. In those intervening years, Theresa did everything from managing operations and marketing for an award-winning home inspection company to starting a farmer’s market that enabled community connection and additional income for farmers and crafters in rural Minnesota. Drawing on this unique background, Theresa is committed to working with clients to develop content that reaches both the mind and the heart. Theresa’s second proudest personal accomplishment (after raising two amazing kiddos!) is her 20+ year career as a fire dancer with Fandazzi Fire, the troupe she co-founded with her husband and favorite dance partner.