It’s ironic that B2B influencer marketing is getting more difficult as it gets more popular.
In the ancient before times of 2017, it was as easy as dropping an email to a few well-known folks, asking for a quote or a quick interview, offering only goodwill and recognition in return.
Now that the B2B world at large recognizes the value of influencer marketing, it’s a much more sophisticated discipline. The game has changed for marketers and influencers alike. The days of informal requests and handshake deals are numbered, if not already over.
Despite these growing pains, it’s clear influencer marketing is going gangbusters for B2B. HubSpot reports that over 89% of marketers who currently engage in influencer marketing will increase or maintain their investment in 2023. In the TopRank Marketing 2022 B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 86% of our respondents said they had seen success with the practice.
If you’re just starting to build your influencer program, or you’re looking to increase your level of sophistication — and your results — it makes sense to join with an agency that excels in B2B influencer marketing.
4 Big Reasons to Partner with a B2B Influencer Marketing Agency
As the B2B influence landscape continues to evolve, it takes specialized knowledge to get the best results. An expert agency brings the knowhow, tools, tactics and established relationships that drive better results.
#1: Finding the right B2B influencers is challenging
Our colleagues on the B2C side have a much easier time finding the right influencers. Get the most popular social media star you can afford, pay for an endorsement, and off you go!
For B2B, however, follower count isn’t the only thing — or even the most important thing. In fact, research shows that micro influencers generate up to 60% more engagement than those with a huge audience.
This is true because B2B influence is all about relevance and credibility. In our survey, “size of audience” wasn’t in the top three essential qualities for a B2B influencer. Instead, the most effective influencers were relevant, trustworthy and knowledgeable:
- 98% said relevance of audience
- 87% said trustworthiness to audience
- 78% said subject matter expertise
Finding the most relevant, truly influential people to your target audience takes deep industry knowledge. More than that, it takes influencer marketing experience and specialized tools like Onalytica, Traackr, BuzzSumo, et al.
You could subscribe to these tools, train and upskill your team to use them, and devote substantial time and effort to the practice. Or, you could extend your team with an agency that already has a suite of influencer marketing tools and experience working with them.
#2: Influencer relationships matter more than ever
B2B influence used to be a buyer’s market — there was less demand for influencers than there were influencers available. Now the balance has shifted. B2B experts are in high demand, far outstripping supply.
This is due in part to the rise of virtual events, which have increased the amount of available opportunities for influencers.
The biggest factor, however, is the emergence of B2B influencer marketing as a formal discipline. Influencers now know that their work is valuable to brands, that “B2B influencer” can be a lucrative career path, and they’re less likely to respond to a cold request for a quote or interview.
It takes time and effort to establish and nurture relationships with influencers in order to co-create content together. An established B2B influencer agency has been cultivating these relationships for years — over a decade, in our case. We have an established network of dozens of influencers in B2B tech, supply chain, marketing, and many other industries.
“It takes time and effort to establish and nurture relationships with influencers in order to co-create content together. An established B2B influencer agency has been cultivating these relationships for years.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites Click To Tweet
#3: Put the ‘marketing’ in influencer marketing
It’s not enough to find the right influencers, cultivate a relationship, and have them endorse your solution. B2B influencer marketing needs, well, marketing:
- Creative content
- Based on proven search intent
- Strategically promoted
- With a logical next step
Turning influencer contributions into high-quality content takes its own unique skill set. It starts with in-depth analysis of keywords and search intent, to identify the burning questions your audience needs answered. Then there’s drafting the right questions for influencers, creating brand content, and putting it all together in a beautifully-designed package.
Then there’s paid and organic promotion, which is yet another area of specialization. Promotion needs to include tracked links for influencers, the right targeting for sponsored content, and drafting social messages that encourage influencers to share the content on their feeds.
In short, the ‘marketing’ component of influencer marketing takes an entire team’s worth of differentiated skills—something an agency can provide ready-made.
#4: The most effective influencer strategy is always-on
Most marketers are still in the early stages of B2B influencer marketing maturity. Our research found that 35% were running periodic campaigns, while 15% reported more strategic, coordinated and ongoing campaigns. Just 21% had reached an advanced stage of maturity: An always-on, fully engaged community of influencers.
What difference does always-on make? In our survey, 19% of those running periodic campaigns said they were ‘very successful,’ while 24% said they were ‘not successful.’
Of those with an always-on program, 31% reported they were ‘very successful,’ and 69% said they were ‘moderately successful.’ None of our always-on respondents said they were not successful.
When you maintain a community of influencers, you can produce more content, and more in-depth content, with less ramp-up time. Over repeated engagements, these influencers bond with each other and with your team, ultimately becoming brand advocates as well as influencers.
It’s a strategy that has worked incredibly well for giants of B2B like Adobe, SAP, and Dell. And it’s much easier to do with an agency that has experience developing and nurturing that ongoing community.
Elevate your B2B influencer marketing
If you’re ready to level up your B2B influencer program — or take the first steps to develop one — we’re here to help. TopRank Marketing has been working in B2B influence since before it was cool (hipsters that we are), and we helped turn a sporadic practice into a hugely successful marketing discipline.
Want more proof? Check out how Cherwell more than tripled their click-through rate with great B2B influencer content.