83% of marketers cite influencer marketing as top priority for relationship building

An overwhelming 83% of brand marketers cite influencer marketing as a top priority to “identify and build one-on-one relationships with industry key influencers,” according to new research that sought to evaluate the current state of the practice.

The global study of enterprise businesses – Altimeter, Traackr and TopRank Marketing  from also found that while 71% of respondents understand that influencer marketing is a strategic practice, only 49% of B2B marketers are experimenting with it.

With 28% of brand marketers limiting its use to campaign level applications, it seems the overriding tactics of short-term, campaign-driven and paid activities are missing much of the customer journey. 

“The business of influence is maturing and proving to be a driving force in enterprise growth and digital transformation,” said Traackr CEO, Pierre-Loic Assayag. “CMOs must now take the opportunity to harness this power and lead in redefining the impact of marketing in enterprise business.”

The report, written by Brian Solis of Altimeter, suggests an evolution of influencer marketing is needed, naming it ‘influence 2.0’, an approach that emphasises an always-on approach to influencer engagement across departments from marketing to customer service. 

Some 24% of brands are leading the way with ‘always-on’ programmes, but just 5% have implemented integrated influencer activities across all functions. 

This slow uptake is explained, in part, by budget projections – half of the CMOs surveyed currently allocate less than $100,000 to influencer initiatives annually; that is an average of just a 10% marketing budget share.

A significant disconnect was found over influencer marketing ownership as 16% cited PR as sole owner, while 65% said it is a contributor. 

Half agreed, however, that marketing instigates and owns influencer marketing, with the engagement of four or more departments. Perhaps there is little surprise, then, that almost half (47%) believe it will become a cross-functional discipline that will expand beyond marketing.

The report states that influence is an ideal partner for content marketing strategies. In fact, the impact of influencer marketing lies primarily with content, with 80% of respondents ranking it above all other business impacts.  

“We’ve found that sophisticated marketers in B2B organisations emphasise long term relationships with influencers, particularly through content collaboration.” Said Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing. 

Odden added, “Looking forward, B2B marketers that evolve working with influencers from a short term, transactional approach towards a more strategic and always-on relationship based strategy that values the mutual benefit of content, will become more effective at aligning brand and influencer messaging throughout the customer journey.

"With a well-developed strategy and capable enterprise platform, on-going influencer marketing programs and long-term relationships can be better managed and scaled, cross-functional collaboration can be enabled and business impact can be measured more effectively.”
 
For a framework that outlines specific steps B2B marketers can take towards a more strategic approach to influencer marketing, the “Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing” report is available for free download here.

Harnessing the power of influencer marketing in B2B

Influencer marketing is no longer the preserve of consumer brands. An increasing number of B2B companies are embracing the power of influencers, enabling them to reach new audiences and increase the authority and awareness of their brand. Here's your ultimate step-by-step guide to putting together an influencer marketing programme that will deliver tangible results.

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