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A new comprehensive report from TopRank Marketing indicates that B2B influencer marketing is more effective than many would have expected.

The 60-page report includes survey data, case studies, and information collected through extensive analytics analysis. 

Among all this information is the finding that 86% of B2B businesses report being successful in using influencer marketing to reach their goals. Specifically, the survey found that:

  • 86% of businesses say influencer marketing is moderately or very successful
  • 72% say it helped improve their brand reputation
  • 70% say it improved brand awareness
  • 56% say it drove new leads
  • 33% say it generated revenue for their company

B2B Influencers Aren’t Your Usual Influencers

These findings might surprise many business owners who are imagining a TikTok star promoting manufacturing equipment or professional services.

As the survey makes clear, though, the most effective B2B influencers are often not the figures with the biggest follower or subscriber counts.

“Audience size matters less than audience relevance. The sheer number of followers isn’t as important to marketers as relevance, credibility and expertise. Those with a large audience can help with the reach of a campaign, but it’s vital to include more influential people with smaller audiences.”

Instead, the most effective partnerships with influencers are those who are seen as industry experts or professionals with personal experience in your industry. According to the survey results, B2B companies partner with influencers who are:

  • Industry experts and analysts (77%)
  • Internal executives (56%)
  • Niche experts (48%)
  • Customers (46%)
  • Professional influencers (45%)
  • Employees (42%)
  • Prospects (12%)

The importance of only partnering with influencers who are relevant to your field or audience is also reflected in the answers to what qualities are most important for B2B influencer marketing:

  • Relevance of audience (98%)
  • Audience sees them as trustworthy (87%)
  • Subject matter expertise (78%)
  • Values align with the brand (69%)
  • Influencer publishes on at least one platform (65%)
  • Ability to create content (54%)
  • Size of audience (49%)
  • Professional credentials (42%)
  • Advocate for our brand (33%)

What Types of Influencer Marketing Are Most Effective

As for what types of content brands are making with influencers, the results clearly favored webinars, though other content like social media or blog posts were also popular with brands:

  • Webinars (81%)
  • Social media (74%)
  • Blog posts (71%)
  • Recorded video (67%)
  • Interviews (62%)
  • Podcasts (52%)
  • Live video (48%)
  • Case studies (38%)
  • Industry (33%)
  • Interactive content (31%)
  • Third-party analyst (29%)
  • Social audio (22%)
  • Infographics (17%)

For more, you can get the full 60-page report for free here.

New analysis from market research firm FocusVision shows that the average B2B buyer consumes 13 pieces of content before making a purchase or signing a contract.

That finding and more comes from a large survey of executives at companies with at least 500 employees and $50 million in annual revenue. Additionally the participating companies had purchased a marketing technology solution within the past year.

What Content Do B2B Buyers Consume?

Of the 13 pieces of content that B2B purchasers explore, the majority (8) tend to be marketing pieces delivered directly from the company, while the other five consisted of third-party content.

The content also takes a wide range of shapes, including video, blog posts, reviews, customer testimonials, and market analysis.

The B2B Purchasing Journey Through Content

FocusVision’s report suggests it takes an average of two to six weeks and three or four internal decision makers for B2B buyers to make the big decision. Much of this time is spent researching by connecting with content that might inform their purchase.

When asked how they found content, the majority said they found it directly on a vendor’s website or through search and social media.

The complete responses were:

  • Directly through vendor website — 70%
  • Internet search — 67%
  • Social media  — 53%
  • Sent to me via email — 41%
  • Word of mouth — 33%

The study also identified four unique buying stages with specific types of content present during each phase:

  1. Understanding the problem
  2. Looking at vendors
  3. Short-listing
  4. Final decision

The most useful types of content according to B2B buyers were

  • Product specifications and functionality — 67%
  • Product comparisons — 65%
  • Product success stories — 60%
  • Content specifically showing value to internal stakeholders — 54%
  • Product tutorials — 49%
  • Troubleshooting and problem solving — 48%

Notably, the study found some variance in how companies with higher revenues used content to inform their decisions. Those with revenues above $250 million tended to rely more on third-party content and market analysis, rather than first-party content.

What This Means For You

If you provide products or services to other businesses, the findings make it clear that content is essential for marketing your brand to other professionals. Without it, influential buyers may not hear about your product or have enough details to make an informed decision.

Many think that B2B marketing requires a completely different approach than marketing from a business directly to consumers. There is the belief that they B2B audiences don’t use social media or Google the same way that other audiences do and that you have to use a more “old-school” approach.

However, a new survey from Clutch shows that B2B audiences are just as, if not more likely, to use search engines and social media to find business information as other demographics.

The survey of 384 consumers of online business content found that 87% frequently find business content using search engines, 85% use social media to find business content, and 75% encounter content most frequently on company websites.

The findings show that it is more important than ever for B2B-focused companies to modernize their marketing techniques and connect with clients through popular platforms like Google and Facebook.

As part of ensuring they are working with only the most reliable businesses, B2B customers extensively research the companies and products they need online as part of their purchasing process.

They also widely use the internet to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and news in their industry, providing ample opportunities for businesses to advertise and market themselves in their niche.

According to the survey, nearly half of B2B audiences primarily read business content online to stay aware of the latest happenings in their industry. The second most common reason was to inform their purchasing decisions.

The big takeaway here is that B2B marketing shouldn’t be stuck in the past. Purchasers are incorporating modern sources of business content and doing an increasing amount of their business purchasing online. Unless, you’re making your brand a part of those online conversations and research, you’re missing a chance to bring in customers looking for the products and services you offer.