My team and I at TopRank Marketing are happy to announce the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report!
Influencer Marketing has fast accelerated as a topic over the past few years with B2C influencers and brands getting the majority of attention. While consumer focused influencers have been impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, B2B is a different story.
Whether in times of crisis or in competitive markets, B2B marketers are challenged to reach distracted buyers and create meaningful experiences that inspire trust, confidence and action.
As B2B marketers search for solid insight and leadership around marketing strategies to survive and thrive during this time of uncertainty, Influencer Marketing offers businesses a welcome dose of optimism.
With much of the research and media attention focused on B2C influencer marketing, we believe the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report to be the first ever research report dedicated to B2B.
B2B Marketers are hungry for effective marketing strategies but don’t always have the resources or confidence to implement. To help close the gap of knowledge and skills around working with influencers to impact marketing and business goals, this new report focuses exclusively on how businesses are engaging influencers for marketing to other businesses.
For this research, hundreds of B2B marketers shared their insights including many of the top B2B brands in the world on all things B2B influencer marketing including strategy, tactics, operations, software, integration, measurement, budgeting and the future.
We’ve combined the findings from our research with insights from top B2B marketers from brands, case studies and some of the most respected B2B influencers in the industry to give you direction, confidence and inspiration for the best that influencer marketing has to offer.
Some of the key findings from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report:
B2B Influencer Marketing is Valuable for B2B Brands:
- 78% believe their prospects rely on advice from industry influencers
- 74% agree that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience with the brand
- 63% agree that marketing would have better results if it included a B2B influencer marketing program
- 90% expect their budget to increase or stay the same
Top Challenges B2B Marketers Have with Influencer Marketing:
- Only 35% use software to find influencers – most ask for recommendations from personal connections or other influencers (no data validation)
- Only half include a plan for influencer activation in their strategy
- 41% are not using any technology for their IM program
- Only 19% of B2B marketers are running ongoing influencer marketing programs
- 60% say they don’t have the knowledge to execute or have the right skills in house to implement ongoing IM programs
Characteristics of the Most Successful B2B Brands at Influencer Marketing:
- Always On: 60% of marketers who use always on IM programs are very successful vs. 5% who do periodic campaigns
- Use industry experts and analysts
- Use blogs as platforms
- Use software to identify and qualify influencers
- Create interactive content with influencers
- Have a centralized IM program
- Integrate with corporate communications department
- Have a documented strategy for B2B IM
This 45+ page report is rich with insights from the survey of hundreds of B2B marketers, featured case studies from B2B brands of all sizes and insights from 15 of the top B2B marketing experts and influencers about Influencer Marketing. We also included a list of 20 top Influencer Marketing practitioners from B2B brands. To give you an idea of what’s inside, here’s the report Table of Contents:
The Influence Advantage: From thought leadership to customer acquisition, B2B brands are optimistic about the competitive advantages of influencer marketing. Find out why.
The Engine of Influence is Always-On: B2B brands are evolving from short term influencer campaigns to relationship driven, Always-On programs that build trust, engagement and advocacy..
Influencer Marketing Integration: To create a better customer experience, B2B brands are integrating influencer content across marketing channels from content marketing to PR.
Influencer Marketing Operations: To scale influencer marketing while maintaining quality, processes and software are essential for influencer identification, communications and performance reporting. .
10 Predictions on the Future of B2B Influence: What will B2B influencer marketing look like in 2021 and beyond? Get answers from 10 top influencer marketing professionals.
And here are a few insights from some of the respected B2B Marketers and Business Influencers who contributed:
“Engaging with influencers provides a myriad of competitive advantages. There’s nothing more comforting than to have trusted voices defend your brand or correct misperceptions.”
Rani Mani @ranimani0707
Head of Social Influencer Enablement at @Adobe
“The operations behind Influencer Marketing is the less glamorous yet essential side of relational business. You need to come up with a strategy, plan of action, and a process.” Ursula Ringham @ursularingham
Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP
“Being ‘always-on’ has allowed our team to build meaningful relationships with influencers. B2B brands would be wise to adopt this approach as they look to build true brand advocates.”
Garnor Morantes /in/garnormorantes
Group Marketing Manager at LinkedIn
“Customers know authenticity when they see it & naturally trust humans more than brands. Working with credible B2B influencers helps to build brand authority through real, human conversations & interactions.”
Sarita Rao @saritasayso
SVP – Business Marketing, Analytics & Alliances at AT&T Business
“Ongoing influencer programs are more valuable to B2B companies and allow for deeper engagement with influencers. These connected activities provide a cohesive experience for your audience.”
Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg
VP, Global Head of Marketing at arm Treasure Data
“Working with the right influencers builds credibility with the audience you are trying to reach. Influencers can help you deliver content that solves problems, educates & inspires your intended audience.”
Amisha Gandhi @AmishaGandhi
VP, Influencer Marketing & Communications at SAP Ariba
“Having an end-to-end process is key to be effective & scale. From clear objectives to identification, engagement tactics, management, budgeting, reporting & not to forget feedback to close the loop.”
Janine Wegner @JanineWegner
Global Thought Leadership Program & Activation Manager at Dell Technologies
“A shift I see for B2B influencer marketing in 2021 is using employees as influencers. This will allow marketers to have more control of the campaign & build advocacy among internal thought leaders.”
Ryan Barres @RyanBares
Global Social Programs Lead: Social Influencers & Employee Advocacy at IBM Systems
“As influencer marketing matures, brands will expect their influencer marketing software to integrate with the rest of the march stack.”
Pierre-Loic Assayag @pierreloic
Founder and CEO at Traackr
“Partnering with well-matched influencers is a handy way to infuse your brand with creative energy and inspiration. It’s a direct line to building trust and customer confidence.” Ann Handley @MarketingProfs
Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs
“We will see the rise of the customers as influencers given their ability to share stories that help target buyers navigate the increasingly complex B2B buying journey. ”
Jeff Davis @meetjeffdavis
Founder & Principal at JD2 Consulting
“In 2021, brands will need to identify, test and deploy a new type of tech stack to make the creation and consumption of virtual content as seamless as possible for influencers and audiences alike.”
Tamara McCleary @TamaraMcCleary
CEO at Thulium
“In 2021, success in B2B influencer marketing is dependent on the compelling delivery of relevant information via video & audio. Influencers can no longer rely on face-to-face personal charisma.”
Kevin Jackson @Kevin_Jackson
CEO at GC Globalnet
“Traditional marketing channels are drying up and even trade shows are imperiled in 2021. The influence marketing trend will be amplified as businesses seek trusted voices to join industry conversations.”
Mark Schaefer @markwschaefer
Author, Return on Influence
COO at B Squared Media
And many more…
Influence plays an essential role in marketing whether B2B brands run influencer programs or not. The question is, will influence be random or will it be nurtured, amplified and targeted to produce brand awareness and lead generation outcomes B2B marketers are after?
The research supports optimism for B2B Influencer Marketing for a few key reasons:
- Brand trust is in question but buyers trust experts
- Influence optimizes performance of content and other marketing
- Influence differentiates B2B brand experiences
The B2B marketing world is at the cusp of change but also opportunity. The influence advantage is available for marketers who can adopt the best practices of the most successful B2B influencer marketers outlined in this report from an Always-On strategy to qualitative influencer engagement to effective operations with process and software.
I encourage you to access the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report and to get the insights that have been missing in B2B about working with influencers.
A BIG THANKS goes to Michele from Mantis Research for all her help with research design and analytics. HUGE APPRECIATION to Ashley from TopRank Marketing for project and content management as well as a MASSIVE PROPS to Jake from TopRank Marketing for a stellar design! Thank you to our other team members from Lane to Alexis for pitching in as well.