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What Every B2B Brand Should Know About Influencer Marketing (Pricing Included)

What Every B2B Brand Should Know About Influencer Marketing (Pricing Included)

Time for a quiz.

Do people trust:

  • Non-governmental organizations (NGO)?
  • Government?
  • Media?

If you answered no, no, and no, you would be right.

According to the 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report, less than 60% of the global population trusts NGOs (59%), government (51%), or media (50%), putting them at the neutral trust level.

So, who do people trust? The answer might surprise you — 63% say business.

That’s an increase of 1 percentage point over the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer.

According to the 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report, less than 60% of the global population trust NGOs (59%), government (51%), or media (50%), putting them at the neutral trust level.

This increased trust presents a great opportunity for businesses.

In a recent CMI post, Robert Rose wrote about brand trust as a more desired outcome than audience attention. “Your brand is probably more trusted than the media company you’re paying to advertise with. That might be the strongest argument for an owned media strategy in 2024,” he said.

Know the benefits of a B2B influencer marketing strategy

Influencers can play a critical part in that 2024 owned media strategy.

In 2022, Edelman created an influencer-focused supplement for its trust barometer titled, The New Cascade of Influence: Brands In A Feed First World, based on an online survey of 20,000-plus respondents in 14 countries.

Here’s who responded yes to this statement: “I trust online influencers that I follow that talk about, review, and recommend brands and products,”

  • Ages 14 to 17: 75%
  • Ages 16 to 26: 63%
  • Ages 27 to 41: 70%
  • Ages 42 to 55: 67%
  • Ages 56 and older: 63%
Here's who responded yes to this statement: “I trust online influencers that I follow that talk about, review, and recommend brands and products,”
Ages 14 to 17: 75%
Ages 16 to 26: 63%
Ages 27 to 41: 70%
Ages 42 to 55: 67%
Ages 56 and older: 63%

That’s a high percentage of trust placed in influencers.

In addition, over three-fourths say they “have bought, started to trust, or talked about a brand in the last six months because of an influencer I follow.” While this statement focuses on consumer products, I think a parallel exists for B2B marketers to shape brand perception and affinity.

Ashley Zeckman might agree with this. The co-CEO of Onalytica presented “Cut the BS: B2B Influencer Marketing Strategies That Actually Work” at Content Marketing World 2023.

In the talk, she gives six marketing benefits for B2B partnerships with influencers:

  1. Increase in awareness
  2. Better demand generation results
  3. Increase in quality content
  4. Scalable and organic-led engagement
  5. Cost-effective engagement
  6. Increase in brand trust
Six marketing benefits for B2B partnerships with influencers:
Increase in awareness
Better demand generation results
Increase in quality content
Scalable and organic-led engagement
Cost-effective engagement
Increase in brand trust

Understand the B2B influencer types

Before diving into a B2B influencer marketing campaign, you should understand the types of influencers. Spoiler alert: Some may sit in the office, cubicle, or Slack channel next to you.

Ashley details the six B2B influencer categories:

The six B2B influencer categories:
Professional influencer
Content creator
Niche expert
Up & comer
SMEs/Execs
Customers/prospects
  • Professional influencers — The “big names” in an industry who are beloved and have a high number of followers. They’re good for general authority but might not have the deep expertise for narrower, more niche topics. Ashley says it’s a good idea to partner with professional influencers to increase the reach of your content.
  • Content creators — They create large amounts of quality content. Ashley advises marketers to figure out where the content shines the most (e.g., video, social media posts, etc.)
  • Niche experts — They have a smaller audience size but are hyper-relevant. Think data scientists with deep domain expertise and knowledge. Ashley says marketers work with them to get their brand in front of more people and give them educational information.
  • Up-and-comers — Also called micro-influencers, they’re on the path to becoming professional influencers. Brands can benefit by getting in the door early so that by the time they hit professional influencer status, they have already built a good advocacy program with you.
  • SMEs and executives — Your team members, colleagues, and bosses are also B2B influencers. Executives and subject matter experts paired together can publish content and raise their visibility in tandem. This influencer type rates the highest for relevancy because they live and breathe your business.
  • Customers and prospects — By including prospects in your B2B marketing, you form a relationship and create credibility before engaging them in a sales-oriented discussion. It’s more valuable and organic than a cold outreach email, Ashley says. Customers are effective because they’re living the day-to-day existence of your target audience. Prospects can see themselves in your customers. Prospects will say things like, “Oh yeah, I’m experiencing that exact same thing. That is what keeps me up at night. This is the struggle I’m having within my organization.”

Decide on business goals before the influencers

You must first decide which benefit(s) your brand wants to achieve for a B2B influencer campaign. Is your goal awareness and thought leadership? Or is it demand generation?

Your answer dictates both the tactics and the influencers.

If your goal is awareness or thought leadership, consider:

  • Tactics: Blog posts, social content, LinkedIn Live, social video, and events
  • Influencer types: Professional influencers, content creators, up-and-comers, internal SMEs, and executives

Professional influencers work well for awareness because your goal is to reach more people, Ashley says. Then, you might look at the content creators, up-and-comers, and a few internal experts to build their credibility.

If your goal centers on demand or lead generation, consider:

  • Tactics: Webinars, white papers, original research, gated assets
  • Influencer types: Niche experts, customers and prospects, SMEs and executives

Invite influencers to sit in on a panel discussion. Ask the influencers to promote their webinar participation to their followers. “It’s a great way to increase numbers beyond having to invest a lot in paid advertising or trying organically to get people to register,” Ashley says. “Including influencers is almost guaranteed to help drum up excitement and get people to attend.”

Get the typical costs for influencer marketing

Ashley recommends combining multiple influencer types in your programs. “You want a mix. It’s going to depend on your program and what you want to achieve, but a mix of at least two to three types is always best,” she says.

Once you’ve identified your influencer types, you should understand the costs of their deliverables. This ballpark pricing from Ashley accounts for the spectrum of influencer types. Estimates based on the tactic include:

  • Short contribution/quote — free to $500
  • Podcast guest — $1,000 to $2,000
  • Blog post creation and publication — $1,200 to $3,000
  • LinkedIn Live guest — $2,500 to $7,000
  • In-person event — $5,000 to $17,000
  • Webinar — $3,000 to $12,000

Note: All these tactics include promotion.

Ballpark pricing for the spectrum of influencer types:
Short contribution/quote — free to $500
Podcast guest — $1,000 to $2,000
Blog post creation and publication — $1,200 to $3,000
LinkedIn Live guest — $2,500 to $7,000
In-person event — $5,000 to $17,000
Webinar — $3,000 to $12,000

These numbers and parameters aren’t set in stone, but they can help frame your conversations and negotiations.

Expect pricing to be both higher and lower. Ask for client references in a similar industry to understand their value. If you don’t have a budget, use no-cost influencer options like executives, SMEs, customers, and prospects.

Dispelling common influencer marketing myths

As with any emerging marketing discipline, myths emerge. Ashley dispels some of the most common:

  • Myth 1: B2B influencer marketing is an expensive, unproven tactic that your team cannot execute.
  • Dispelled: Influencer marketing is an extension of your content and social media marketing strategy. You don’t need a new team, tools, and processes. Think of influencer marketing as an extension of what you’re already doing.
  • Myth 2: Your desired tactics should lead the influencer marketing program.
  • Dispelled: Lead with your business objectives and the KPIs to measure those objectives. Then, define influencer types and tactics.
  • Myth 3: Influencer collaborations are like affiliate marketing.
  • Dispelled: Influencer partnerships are a relationship-based, long-term approach that builds affinity, trust, and advocacy. “That doesn’t happen overnight. Just because you pay someone to collaborate with you doesn’t mean that you have a lasting program … It’s the relationships that do,” Ashley says.

Are you ready to consider B2B influencer marketing?

Businesses are the only category today deemed trustworthy by the world. As Robert Rose says, “Your brand is probably more trusted than the media company you’re paying to advertise with. That might be the strongest argument for an owned media strategy in 2024.”

Here’s how you can get started adding an influencer component to your owned media strategy:

  • Document the business goals for the programs in which you’ll engage with B2B influencers.
  • Identify the influencer types you want to engage.
  • Map your goals into tactics and influencer types.
  • List the KPIs to measure influencer and overall program effectiveness.
  • Reach out to influencers, keeping the ballpark costs in mind.
  • Execute your programs.
  • Measure results and assess.

Use #CMWorld on social media to let us know how it goes (or how it’s already going).

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute