an illustration of a female construction worker filming a video on her phone

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a growing list of purchases made while under the influence, or influencer, rather. Maybe it was the $50 tumbler you saw all over TikTok. Or the spin mop that promised to make your least favorite chore effortless. It could even have been the most recent charitable donation you made via Instagram. 

Digital creators who have built online followings are shaping the social media landscape, fueling trends, and influencing spending across every conceivable niche and sub-niche. We look to them for their valued opinions on vetted products and the latest trends. In fact, seven out of 10 consumers say they trust influencers’ recommendations just as much as the opinions of real-world friends. 

And it’s not only consumers’ attention that influencers have captured. Businesses big and small are collaborating with these trusted voices and digital advisors, to interact with hundreds, thousands and even millions of people across social platforms and beyond. 

With the help of influencers, businesses are gaining connections to target audiences, vetting their brands, and promoting products and services in ways that are proving to make the most dollars and sense in today’s rapidly evolving market. In return, influencers build credibility, gain exposure, deepen their connections to followers, and potentially earn income — for a partnership that’s proven to be a win-win. 

In the business-to-business (B2B) space, influencer marketing targets businesses, rather than individual consumers. Companies are leaning on influencers and subject matter experts (SMEs) to help increase brand awareness, reputations and revenues. Influencer marketing isn’t a new concept to B2B. Historically, some of the most powerful brands in B2B have looked to industry experts to further reach, conversions and long-term viability.  

Ninety-four percent of marketers believe influencer marketing is a successful strategy for B2B businesses. Here’s why.

Added Influence in B2B

Influencer marketing is boosting bottom lines

Social media’s rapid growth has increased its reach and influence in some industries. Influential figures and key players who have a sizable social media following in a particular industrial sector are collaborating with businesses to sell their products and produce engaging content. 

As authorities in their field, B2B influencers have built credibility and established thought leadership. They consistently provide value to their followers by sharing relevant and insightful content. With this content, they can expertly shape the opinions and purchasing decisions of their audiences.  

That’s why collaborating with an influencer may be advantageous to B2B organizations. The decision-making process for purchasing products or services often involves multiple stakeholders. By leveraging the influence of an industry expert, businesses can establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry, attract new business opportunities, and ultimately drive sales. 

Mega influencers have massive followings. A product or post shared by an influencer of this size may potentially reach more than 1 million followers. For businesses that have the budget, mega influencers’ ability to reach a diverse audience makes them ideal for large-scale brand awareness campaigns. But buyers beware. Since their audiences are so broad, mega influencers’ engagement rates may not be as high as those with smaller, more niche followings. 

Depending on the industry, influencers with considerably smaller followings can facilitate a more authentic connection between a business and its target audience. Macro (100,000 to 1 million followers), micro (1,000 to 100,000 followers) and nano (fewer than 10,000 followers) influencers can captivate an authentic niche and connect to passionate audiences with their creative content, relatable recommendations and genuine interactions. 

While you’ll want to work with an influencer who has established a sizable following, choosing influencers solely based on follower count can be a miscalculation. A smaller, more engaged following that is more targeted to your customer type may result in higher return on investment (ROI). 

Choose influencers who have an engaged audience that aligns with your target market, rather than just focusing on their audience size. Influence in B2B is based on real expertise, respect and third-party validation by peers, communities, publications, professional organizations and often, academic institutions. Many people who are influential in a B2B industry are focused mostly on doing the work they’re known for, rather than promoting themselves as influencers. 

You might even have influence and expertise right under your nose. Internal influencers are those within an organization that just have “it”. It could be their level of expertise or unique ability to craft presentations that resonates with audiences. Leveraging the expertise of individuals from within — regardless of title — is wise (not to mention, beneficial to your marketing budget). 

Strategize with influencers to nurture a strong partnership. Influencer marketing is a long-term effort that requires patience and persistence to see results. Offering the right influencer(s) money to share products and content can bring a business one of its highest ROIs.

Authentic Interactions Lead to Leads

Experts recommend paid influencer programs when moving into a new target audience or adding new products. 

Rather than waiting for your target audience to come to you, paid influencer programs can increase your reach and visibility, putting your product and business directly in front of who you want to talk to. But this comes at a cost. With influencer marketing, you’re in essence purchasing advertising that allows you to target audiences quickly and specifically. 

With this visibility, influencers can assist businesses in gaining clients and increasing their revenue by creating engaging and pertinent content. By employing material supported by an influencer, campaigns can drive traffic to a business’ website — ultimately resulting in more leads and potential sales.

ROI You Can See

Measuring the success of any campaign is essential to optimize both short- and long-term performance. Though influencer marketing campaigns can be difficult to measure, the formula to gain valuable insights and calculate ROI is simple: Take the overall campaign expenditures, subtract the total campaign revenue, and then divide the result by the combined campaign costs. 

To fine-tune an influencer marketing campaign, tracking meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) is imperative, experts say. In addition to audience engagement, metrics like organic search, traffic and share of voice will give you a clearer picture of your progress and pinpoint the areas that could also use improvement. 

Landing pages and promotional codes are additional analytic tools and tracking methods that businesses can use to measure the effectiveness and ROI of an influencer campaign. Perceptions of the brand, social media comments and other qualitative metrics will provide valuable insights into the success of a paid influencer campaign.

Influencer Marketing: A Trend That’s Here to Stay

Although data supports its use, only 24 percent of B2B businesses incorporate influencer marketing in their business plans. Influencer partnerships can create connections between brands and consumers that can’t be derived from traditional one-way marketing. The power of these partnerships is only growing. Are you missing out?