The confidence of B2B marketers in the role of influence, both externally and internally, has grown significantly over the past year. Following this growth is B2B influencer marketing success stories inspiring marketers to explore common content strategies that involve influencers.
At the same time, the pandemic has had an impact on marketing budgets, and one of the trends that has stalled over the past year is the need to demonstrate greater responsibility and ROI for marketing investments. Although research shows that 96% of B2B marketers who involve influencers consider their program to be successful, 60% of marketers do not have the necessary skills or expertise in their own company to implement influencer programs.
Contrasting trust and opportunity with a lack of in-house capabilities has attracted more marketers than ever before external assistance for working with influencers. Agencies with in-depth knowledge of B2B influencers’ marketing strategies, tactics, software, and relationships with top influencers enable B2B brands to reach the ground with confidence and acceleration, which is simply not possible when working alone.
Our research has found that B2B marketers seeking help from agencies often involve these experts in a number of key functions:
- Understand the influencers 79%
- Influencer Relationship Management 76%
- Develop a marketing strategy for influencers 71%
- Measure the effectiveness of the influencers program 66%
- Integrate with other marketing activities 63%
- Implement Influencer Marketing Campaigns 60%
- Influencer Marketing Technology Management 44%
While value agencies can offer B2B brands for working with influencers, marketers have a few things to look for and ask to segregate real skills and abilities, and these agencies opportunistically add another offer to their range of services. Here is a set of important questions that B2B marketers should ask when evaluating B2B marketing agencies for influencer content marketing programs:
How long have B2B companies provided marketing services to your agency influencers?
As with all popular marketing strategies, there are many agencies that combine them with their services in order to benefit from the trend without having any expertise (yet). Do you want to be an agency rabbit or do you want to be another success story?
Have you previously provided influencer marketing services in our industry? Please share an example:
Expertise in your field is important enough to ask this question. Although general influencer marketing is more recent for B2B than in the consumer industry, there are more and more professionals who understand the nuances of their focused industries and have connections with the influencers of these industries. Impact presupposes authenticity, and to build such credible credibility with industry stakeholders, it can be very useful if the Agency already has deep knowledge and links.
What is the size and nature of your network of influencers, and how do you ensure that we work only with the most influential influencers?
Experienced B2B marketing agencies working with influencers understand the value of relationships. Therefore, they do not simply use influencers for campaigns, but work to build, maintain, and build relationships with those influencers, so when a new client project comes up, they are warm to the idea of a call to participate. The best influencers are very, very busy and demanding. The existing relationship with the agency is often the reason why the desired influencers say yes to dealing with a B2B brand with which they have not previously collaborated.
How do you identify and activate the right influencers for us?
As mentioned above, our research found that cutting-edge B2B brands help agencies identify influencers. It is important to understand whether the agency is approaching transactions or a more romantic / convincing approach. Technology also has a role to play, and if an agency simply says they use Twitter and LinkedIn vs. a software platform that uses algorithms and sometimes artificial intelligence to analyze a huge amount of social data to determine your relevance, audience resonance and reach – it’s disappointing. The impact on B2B is more than social information, and identifying, qualifying, and activating it requires both technological and industry expertise.
What is the process for your campaigns and always-on influencer programs?
Many agencies that are new to content marketers don’t really understand if a campaign is always right compared to an always-on program, or even what an always-on program is. It is important for the Agency to be able to describe the differences in use cases and how the stakeholder program may evolve over time to provide significantly greater value.
What compensation or value-for-money approach do you recommend when working with influencers?
In B2B, most stakeholder engagement is organic value exchange, where influencers participate in content collaboration in exchange for exhibiting or participating in an official brand influencer program. However, there are more and more professional B2B influencers and this means higher financial compensation. It is important to understand whether the agency simply pays influencers for each contribution by default or whether they have the opportunity to recruit influencers organically and work with professional influencers.
How to integrate externalities with internal managers and SMEs?
Impact is more important than ever for B2B brands to build, maintain and grow relationships with their customers. Linking external influencers to internal managers or subject matter experts adds value to the customer experience on many levels. The inclusion of both internal and external factors in the content of the brand gives it greater credibility, as well as increases the influence of internal brand employees in cooperation with recognized experts in the field. Does the agency understand this possibility and do they have the experience to persuade managers to be more social and influential?
What type of content do you specialize in for collaborators?
A growing number of B2B influencers’ marketing resources provide both technology and services for identifying and engaging influencers. It is important to understand which outputs and outputs are possible as a result of the Agency’s expertise. Content is one of the most valuable products of a B2B brand and influencer, and it’s important to understand if the agency has experience in influencer-favored formats: live video streaming, recorded video, podcasts, social audio, episodic “show” content, social media content, live events and of course any textual content. – blog posts, surveys, reports, etc.
What software or technologies do you use to support the identification, management, and measurement of influencers?
In agent marketing, there is simply no extension of influence unless there are technologies in place to support the ongoing identification, management and performance measurement of influencers. There are a handful of platforms that allow you to do everything, but the most likely scenario for a B2B brand is a combination of a platform + special tools. It is important to know what the Agency’s experience is and what specialized tools are used and for what reason.
The evaluation process for engaging a B2B marketing agency to provide influencers with content marketing services varies according to the needs of the company, market, resources, schedule, and industry. However, these questions should provide answers to B2B marketers who are considering engaging external experts in any field to identify the best possible partners. On the surface, a partnership with influencers may seem quite straightforward. But in fact, the difference between successful pilots who generate both results and data to support influencers’ marketing efforts and waste of time and resources is whether marketers have invested in getting help from those with proven strategies, processes, relationships and technology savvy.