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B2B Influencer Marketing in 2023: Key Strategies for Success

By: Viral Nation | 9 mins read |

B2B influencer marketing is a marketing strategy that involves collaborating with influential individuals or experts in a specific industry to promote products or services to other businesses. While influencer marketing is often associated with consumer brands and social media influencers, it holds significant untapped potential in the B2B marketing space as well.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into B2B influencer marketing and you’ll learn how to tap into its potential to boost your B2B marketing initiatives with proven strategies for success.

How influencers can boost your B2B marketing

B2B influencer marketing has become increasingly important in recent years due to its ability to amplify brand awareness, establish credibility, accelerate lead generation, and drive conversions. However, building brand awareness can be challenging in a B2B context where businesses often target specific industries or niches.

There are several compelling ways that businesses benefit from embracing influencer marketing in their B2B marketing efforts.

First and foremost, B2B influencers are usually established industry experts or thought leaders with a built-in audience that already trusts them. When your target audience sees you working with these influencers, some of that trust gets transferred to your brand, which helps build your brand credibility amongst that audience. Because of this, influencer marketing has gained widespread recognition among marketers for its efficacy in building buzz and trust in the brands they work with.

In fact, over 70% of B2B marketers believe influencer marketing enhances the customer experience, while 89% say their ROI on B2B influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other channels!

The fundamentals of B2B influencer marketing

Successful B2B influencer marketing involves several key components.

Find the right B2B influencers

The first step is identifying relevant influencers who align with your target audience and industry. These influencers should understand the subject matter and have a strong presence on the relevant social media platforms.

LinkedIn is the most important social network for B2B, as 96% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for their organic social campaigns.

Build relationships with B2B influencers

The next step is building genuine relationships with influencers. This is crucial in B2B influencer marketing and involves engaging with influencers through various means, such as attending industry events, sharing (and commenting on) their content, and collaborating on projects.

By nurturing these relationships, businesses establish rapport and lay the foundation for a mutually beneficial partnership with influencers.

Collaboration is the key to creating authentic content

Collaborating with influencers to create valuable and authentic content is a cornerstone of B2B influencer marketing. This collaboration can take various forms, including guest blog posts, interviews, webinars, podcasts, or social media collaborations. By leveraging the expertise of influencers and their unique perspectives, businesses can produce content that’s both compelling and relatable to truly resonate with their target audience.

Influencer partnerships and collaborations provide brands with an opportunity to tap into the influencer’s audience while expanding their reach. By sharing influencer-generated content across different channels, brands can amplify their message and gain exposure to new potential customers. This increases brand visibility and helps build credibility through the association with trusted industry influencers.

Measure and track your ROI

Measuring the impact of your influencer marketing campaigns is vital for assessing their success and ROI. Tracking metrics such as lead generation, revenue attribution, customer acquisition costs, and conversion rates, along with reach, engagement, and website traffic,  will help you evaluate the effectiveness of your influencer collaborations.

By analyzing these metrics, you can identify your most successful influencers, refine your influencer strategies, and optimize your future influencer marketing campaigns to maximize engagement and reach.

Key differences between B2B and B2C influencer marketing

While B2B and B2C influencer marketing share some similarities, there are significant differences between the two approaches. For example, B2B influencer marketing focuses on reaching decision-makers, industry professionals, and businesses, while B2C influencer marketing targets individual consumers. Consequently, the content and messaging must be tailored to resonate with your respective audience, be it businesses or consumers.

Here are some other key differences between B2B and B2C influencer marketing.

B2B has longer sales cycles

The purchase process in B2B sales cycles is typically longer than in B2C because it involves multiple decision-makers and approvals. Meanwhile, B2C typically has a shorter sales cycle as it’s up to individual consumers to decide whether or not they buy.

B2B influencer marketing aims to support and influence the more complex buying processes by providing thought leadership and expertise. In contrast, B2C influencer marketing is usually more focused on immediate purchase decisions and consumer preferences.

B2B marketing typically involves longer, more in-depth content

B2B marketing often involves in-depth content formats, such as whitepapers, case studies, ebooks, and expert interviews to educate and inform business buyers. On the other hand, B2C influencer marketing may utilize more visual and entertaining content, such as product reviews, tutorials, and lifestyle posts to appeal to consumers.

Working with B2B influencers often straddles that line between B2B’s longer-form content and B2C’s more engaging, short-form content because most influencers aren’t directly involved in the creation of content such as case studies, white papers, and ebooks. Instead, brands will often incorporate B2B influencers in those materials in the form of quotes and testimonials.

B2B influencer marketing builds long-term relationships

Given the specialized knowledge and expertise required in B2B industries, B2B influencer marketing relies heavily on building long-term relationships to establish credibility and trust. This involves ongoing collaboration, thought leadership contributions, and mutual support between the brand and the influencer.

On the other hand, B2C influencer marketing, while also valuing relationships, is generally more transactional in nature, with shorter-term collaborations and campaigns focused on product promotion and endorsements.

B2B and B2C prioritize different metrics

In B2B influencer marketing, the emphasis is often on measuring tangible business outcomes and impact on the sales pipeline. Metrics such as lead generation, conversion rates, and revenue attribution are crucial for evaluating ROI.

Meanwhile, B2C influencer marketing tends to prioritize metrics that reflect consumer awareness and brand perception, such as reach, engagement, and brand sentiment.

At the same time, it’s not black-and-white, so you’ll often see considerable overlap with the metrics regardless of whether your focus is on B2B or B2C influencer marketing.

Crafting a winning B2B influencer marketing strategy

Creating a winning B2B influencer marketing strategy requires careful planning and consideration, but many of the same principles and tactics you’d use in other marketing strategies will apply here as well.

Establish clear objectives, goals, and KPIs

To begin your campaign, establish clear objectives and pinpoint your target audience for maximum impact.  Your objectives may include:

  • Increasing brand awareness.
  • Positioning your brand as a thought leader.
  • Generating leads.
  • Amplifying your content.
  • Promoting a product launch or building relationships with industry influencers.

Determining key performance indicators (KPIs) is another critical step for measuring the effectiveness of your campaign. KPIs provide valuable insights into the impact of your efforts by tracking, for example, the number of people exposed to your campaign, the level of audience engagement, the increase in website traffic, the number and quality of leads generated, the conversion rates, and the sentiment of brand mentions.

Ensure that your objectives align with your overall marketing goals and follow the SMART framework—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Determine your target audience

Pinpointing your target audience will help you maximize the impact of your B2B influencer marketing strategy. By creating detailed buyer personas, you can better understand your ideal customers.

Consider demographics, job roles, pain points, challenges, and content preferences. With this knowledge, you can identify influencers with a strong presence and influence within your target market.

You should also look for influencers with an engaged audience that matches your target demographic. Factors such as relevance to your industry, expertise, reach, and engagement metrics should be taken into account when evaluating potential influencers to work with.

10 steps for discovering the perfect influencers for your brand

Before starting your B2B influencer campaign, you’ll have to find the influencer first! You’ll want to search for niche-specific influencers who can effectively connect with your target audience and evaluate their relevance and reach to determine whether it will be a successful partnership.

While many marketers assume that working with the biggest influencers with the biggest followings is a surefire path to success, that is not always the case. For one, the most famous influencers can be very expensive to work with, and their huge followings don’t automatically equal success. Their followings may be less engaged in general, or even less receptive to your brand’s products or services, so it’s important to choose your influencers carefully.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you in this process:

  1. Identify and understand your audience’s demographics, interests, and online behavior.
  2. Determine specific marketing objectives for influencer partnerships.
  3. Find niche markets and influencers that cater to your target audience.
  4. Monitor conversations to identify influential individuals related to your brand.
  5. Evaluate influencer content quality and audience engagement.
  6. Assess follower count, reach, and audience demographics.
  7. Ensure influencers align with your brand’s image and values.
  8. Personalize your messages to influencers to express interest in collaboration.
  9. Discuss compensation, content requirements, and timelines with your influencers.
  10. Monitor campaign performance using analytics and adjust as needed.

Mastering the art of content creation with influencers

To excel in content co-creation with influencers, collaborate with them to produce engaging content and explore diverse content types such as blogs, webinars, podcasts, and more.

When collaborating with your influencers, encourage open dialogue and brainstorming sessions to generate innovative concepts that leverage the influencers’ unique perspectives and creativity. After all, the influencer knows their audience best, so being open to their ideas can help maximize engagement while also diversifying your content to reach a wider audience.

Some ways to co-create content with influencers include creating co-branded or guest blog posts, hosting webinars with influencers as guest speakers or co-hosts, featuring influencers on podcasts, creating videos such as tutorials or interviews, and leveraging influencers for social media campaigns like contests or challenges.

Measuring success: Analytics and insights

Monitoring campaign performance and adapting strategies based on data-driven results are essential to success. It will also help you optimize future marketing efforts because analyzing key metrics and data helps you evaluate campaign performance, identify areas for improvement, and ensure meaningful progress.

Performance tracking will unveil the tactics and/or channels that generate the best results, which is a huge help when it comes to budgeting because you’ll be able to allocate resources toward the most effective strategies to maximize ROI.

Data analysis will also help you better understand audience behavior as it provides valuable insights into their preferences, behaviors, and demographics. Leveraging these insights will not only lead to more successful campaigns but also improved audience satisfaction as your content continuously improves and speaks to them directly.

Real-time monitoring is another critical tool that allows for timely adjustments and optimizations on-the-fly. This will allow you to quickly respond and adapt to the ever-changing world of digital marketing. One of the results of data-driven decision-making is cost efficiency. By identifying overspending and ineffective areas, you can optimize budget allocation to invest in the most effective strategies while modifying or eliminating underperforming ones.

Monitoring campaign performance and adapting strategies also foster a culture of continuous improvement as you learn from successes and failures, refine your strategies, and experiment with ways to optimize campaigns for long-term success.

Best practices to elevate your B2B influencer marketing

To truly unlock the potential of B2B influencer marketing, it is essential to adopt best practices that go beyond the mere act of collaboration. Here are some best practices you can adopt:

Cultivate ongoing partnerships

Fostering ongoing partnerships in B2B influencer marketing involves genuine two-way communication. Instead of one-time collaborations, focus on cultivating relationships with influencers who share your brand values and goals. Regularly engaging with influencers to discuss strategies, content ideas, and campaign performance will help foster an effective partnership that grows stronger over time.

Prioritize authenticity

Authenticity also plays a vital role in influencer marketing success. By selecting influencers who align with your brand’s ethos, you can ensure their endorsements feel genuine and trustworthy.

Leverage multiple distribution channels and platforms

Explore different content distribution channels to amplify your influencer marketing efforts. This may involve email marketing, social media advertising, blog partnerships, or guest posting.

Leveraging multiple channels is essential to get the most out of your influencer marketing efforts. Each platform attracts a different audience, so diversifying your campaigns across various channels allows you to reach a broader range of potential customers. Understand the characteristics and preferences of each platform and optimize your messaging and format accordingly.

Final words: Embracing the future of B2B influencer marketing

B2B influencer marketing has a bright future filled with immense business potential. By embracing influencer partnerships, companies can unlock opportunities for exponential growth and establish themselves as industry leaders. The power of B2B influencers lies in their ability to connect with niche audiences, build trust, and amplify brand messages effectively.

In the B2B context, influencer marketing offers unique advantages. It allows businesses to tap into the expertise and credibility of influential individuals within their industry who can endorse their products or services. This kind of collaboration helps establish trust and credibility among potential clients or partners.

To fully embrace the future of B2B influencer marketing, companies need to focus on building authentic and meaningful relationships with influencers. This involves identifying influencers who align with the brand’s values, target audience, and goals. In addition, the partnership should be based on shared values and mutual benefit, creating a win-win situation for both parties.

B2B influencer outreach also requires a strategic approach. Companies should invest their time in researching and understanding the influencers they want to collaborate with. They should also develop clear objectives for their influencer campaigns, whether to increase brand awareness, generate leads or drive conversions.

Armed with these strategies, you’re ready to kickstart your B2B influencer marketing efforts and we can’t wait to see what you come up with.

_About the author
Viral Nation

Viral Nation is a new media innovation group that powers the social ecosystem through integrated solutions that align strategy, talent, media, and technology. As pioneers in the influencer space, Viral Nation is comprised of a full-service creative agency, a creator and athlete-influencer representation agency, and a technology division creating modern marketing solutions for the social media age.