Influencers have undeniably changed marketing with their social media savvy. Once thought to be the bastion of B2C brands promoting skincare, lifestyle, and fashion products, influencer marketing has firmly secured its seat at the B2B table. However, B2B influencer marketing looks much different—often requiring nuanced strategies centered on authenticity, thought leadership, and industry expertise.

My goal here is to equip you with a deeper understanding of what makes B2B influencer marketing successful. Today, let's unpack a few standout examples. By deconstructing the winning aspects of these collaborations, we'll lay out the strategies and tactics that will help you harness the power of influencers to supercharge your own B2B marketing efforts.

Reimagining ROI: Beyond Metrics, Focusing on Alignment

Craft your ideal influencer persona: Before searching for influencers, define the characteristics of your most valuable audience. Where do they consume content? What industry topics interest them? This ensures your target influencers have the right audience makeup.
Map out your desired outcomes: Determine your primary goal. Is it brand awareness, thought leadership, lead generation, or a mix? This clarity will guide your selection of influencers and measurement strategy.

Before diving into examples, let's adjust our understanding of ROI in the context of B2B influencer marketing. Traditionally, influencer ROI might rely on metrics like impressions, reach, engagement, and click-through rates. While these remain valuable in certain instances, the key to B2B influencer success lies in a more strategic outcome – alignment.

B2B Influencer Marketing: Ultimate Strategy Guide for 2024
Source: Referral Rock

Consider influencers as extensions of your brand's voice, but with the potential to reach more targeted audiences organically. They carry the unique quality of earned trust. Successful B2B influencer collaborations occur when an influencer's niche, values, content style, and audience resonate seamlessly with your brand. This is true whether you are working with micro-influencers in a deeply specific domain or major thought leaders with substantial followings.

Case Study 1: Gong Goes “Hyper-Niche” for Lead Generation

Gong, the revenue intelligence platform, is a masterclass in how to leverage niche influencers to drive meaningful business results. Gong's strategy targeted hyper-specific audiences by focusing on sales leaders and executives with smaller followings and high levels of thought leadership within their domain.

A great example is Gong's collaboration with Morgan J Ingram, a prominent figure in the sales development community. In addition to his social media following, Morgan has a loyal base of subscribers thanks to his podcast and newsletter. Gong integrated itself into his content with natural product mentions and by sponsoring specific segments. This authentic integration allowed Gong to gain exposure with their ideal customer persona in a context where Ingram was providing valuable insights for that audience.

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By collaborating with such hyper-niche influencers, Gong didn't rely on sheer impression numbers. Instead, it targeted genuine authority figures that its ideal customer profile respected. This strategy successfully nurtured high-quality leads while also building brand awareness among its target audience.

Case Study 2: Adobe and “Accidental Influencers”

How to make your social media pop like an influencer | Adobe Blog

Adobe's influencer strategy offers a different approach, tapping into the often-neglected power of “accidental influencers.” These are individuals with expertise in certain fields who might not consider themselves professional influencers but have earned genuine authority and respect within their niche. Think subject-matter experts in sectors like design, photography, or software engineering.

Adobe identified, engaged with, and empowered these experts, fostering long-term collaborations that built both community and brand advocacy. Their “Adobe Insiders” program provides creators with resources and early access to tools, empowering them to produce relevant, informative content on their channels – content that organically champions the benefits of Adobe's products.

This influencer strategy relies on genuine passion and showcases product value authentically through the voices of respected domain experts. While challenging to scale quickly, it creates a community with deep roots that extends far beyond vanity metrics.

Coming Home: Dreamforce Returns to San Francisco for 20th Anniversary -  Salesforce

Case Study 3: Salesforce Builds Thought Leaderships Through Events

Salesforce's Dreamforce is the largest software conference in the world, and it’s where their influencer marketing truly shines. The brand amplifies the voices of major B2B influencers during keynote presentations, panels, and breakout sessions. It creates a space where influencers become synonymous with cutting-edge insights and knowledge related to Salesforce's offerings.

Tactics for B2B Influencer Success

Evaluate existing content assets: Assess the content formats that perform well with your current audience (e.g., webinars, infographics, whitepapers). How could influencers reimagine these materials to expand reach while offering genuine value?
Brainstorm your value proposition for influencers: Define what kind of unique opportunities you can offer influencers—early access, insights, co-creation opportunities, behind-the-scenes content, etc.

The case studies discussed highlight a few key tactics pivotal to a successful B2B influencer campaign:

Niche Over Numbers: Target influencers who might have smaller followings but wield immense influence within their specific vertical. This ensures deep resonance and meaningful audience connection rather than mere reach.

The Power of Expertise: Collaborate with influencers who are regarded as authorities within your target industry. Their thought leadership will be far more impactful for B2B audiences than broad-based lifestyle influencers.

Long-Term Perspective: Foster long-lasting relationships with influencers rather than one-off collaborations. Authentic relationships drive consistent engagement and establish your brand as a genuine member of the community.

Value Exchange: Provide value to influencers beyond simple monetary compensation. This could include early access to product features, educational content, or behind-the-scenes peeks that allow them to feel like real brand ambassadors.

Measuring Success in B2B Influencer Marketing

Baseline Audit: Set baseline numbers for the outlined KPIs before starting your influencer campaign. This is crucial for gauging its impact.
Set realistic ROI expectations: Understand that B2B influencer success often comes from long-term relationships and trust-building. This can be difficult to tie directly to immediate sales in some cases.
How to Measure the ROI of an Influencer Marketing Campaign?

Tracking traditional vanity metrics is, of course, still valuable. However, B2B influencer marketing requires us to measure impact across multiple dimensions. Let's look at some key performance indicators (KPIs) that resonate with this context:

Share of VoiceMonitoring the amount of online conversation about your brand or products compared to competitors.
Referral Traffic to WebsiteTracking the amount of website traffic originating directly from influencer channels.
Increase in High-Quality LeadsAnalyze the proportion of leads generated through influencer collaborations that closely match your ideal customer profile.
Brand SentimentTrack changes in brand sentiment surrounding your product or industry on social media and other relevant online communities due to influencer collaborations.
Content Engagement RateTrack the amount of direct engagement (likes, comments, shares, etc.) generated by content crafted in collaboration with influencers.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Audience analysis exercise: Analyze past or competitor campaigns that fell flat. List the reasons they failed and identify red flags to avoid when selecting your influencers.
Brand Message Guide: Create an accessible “voice and tone” guideline for influencers to reference to ensure brand consistency without undermining their organic style.

B2B influencer marketing might seem easy in theory, but several traps can easily trip up an otherwise promising campaign:

Ignoring Audience Fit

Influencer selection without proper analysis of their audience can make even the best content fall flat. Misalignment of their reach with your target market leads to wasted effort.

Losing Creative Control

Don't overcontrol. A key benefit of influencers is their authenticity! While providing brand guidelines for a cohesive message is vital, allowing influencers the flexibility to craft content in their voice leads to better results.

Short-term Perspective

Influencer marketing success is not an overnight phenomenon. Invest in long-term relationships to develop genuine advocacy and consistent results.

Finding Your Influencers and Crafting your B2B Campaign

Now that you understand the tactics that underpin successful B2B influencer marketing, let's discuss some resources to get you started on your journey:

Influencer Marketplaces: Explore dedicated B2B influencer platforms such as Traackr and Upfluence. These offer search functionality to help you uncover influencers based on industry, niche expertise, and audience demographics.

Social Listening: Keep a close eye on social media conversation within your niche. Use social listening tools to identify individuals frequently mentioned, actively participating in relevant conversations, and are considered authority figures.

Existing Network: Utilize your customers, employees, and other partners who may have passionate followings of their own. These organic brand advocates can be incredibly valuable.

B2B influencer marketing can be a transformative driver of growth when tailored thoughtfully to your brand and target audience.

By prioritizing strategic alignment, cultivating a sense of genuine collaboration, and tracking results holistically, you'll pave the way for success and harness the significant opportunity influencers represent.


1. How do I identify the right influencers for my B2B campaign?

Identifying the perfect influencers requires focusing on alignment rather than pure numbers. Prioritize the following:

  • Niche Expertise: Seek influencers with in-depth knowledge of your industry or product offering. They should have established thought leadership and credibility.
  • Audience Resonance: Assess the influencer's audience for engagement levels as an indicator of genuine influence. Ensure their followers closely match your ideal customer profile in terms of roles, interests, and pain points.
  • Content Style: Does the influencer's content style and values align with your brand image? Aim for collaborations that will feel organic and authentic to their existing audience.

2. How do I approach an influencer to initiate a collaboration?

First, do your homework on the potential partner. Follow their content, identify topics they are passionate about, and demonstrate awareness of their work before reaching out. Here's an approach that fosters genuine connections:

  • Personalize: Avoid generic mass pitches. Start your correspondence by acknowledging specific content or contributions that resonate with you or your brand.
  • Showcase value: Offer something unique to the influencer beyond simply payment – early access, behind-the-scenes content, networking opportunities, etc.
  • Pitch ideas: Demonstrate you understand the influencer's style and niche by suggesting a few campaign concepts showcasing collaboration opportunities. Be ready for discussion and flexibility to fine-tune your ideas together.

3. What kind of content works best for B2B influencer marketing?

B2B audiences respond favorably to content that provides educational value and helps them overcome industry challenges. Consider exploring content like:

  • Thought Leadership Pieces: Co-create blog posts, whitepapers, or industry reports highlighting the influencer's insights and expertise.
  • Webinars/Podcasts: Feature an influencer in an interview or host a joint webinar, fostering informative dialogue.
  • Case Studies: Highlight how your product solved problems for customers. Collaborate with influencers to share those use cases with their networks.
  • "Day in the Life" Content: Partner with micro-influencers in a specific field to show how your product integrates into their workflow.

4. What are some realistic budgeting considerations for B2B influencer campaigns?

Influencer costs vary across several factors like niche and audience size. Smaller, highly-specialized influencers might be open to less traditional value swaps for their expertise. Larger names are more likely to have defined engagement tiers or package rates. Here's a breakdown to navigate costs:

  • Scope of Content: Factor in the number of deliverables requested from the influencer, like writing pieces, webinar participation, and social media posts.
  • Time Commitment: More extended engagement periods generally mean a higher price tag. Consider whether one-off events or campaigns spanning months align with your goals and budget.
  • Exclusivity or Reuse Rights: Negotiate upfront, clarifying content ownership and future brand usage.

5. Beyond impressions and clicks, how do I measure the success of my B2B influencer campaign?

B2B success hinges on deeper indicators than pure vanity metrics. Here's how to analyze impact beyond surface-level engagement:

  • Website Traffic: Monitor referral traffic originating from influencer-tagged content to see their direct contribution to site visits.
  • Lead Quality: Utilize a form field asking how visitors heard of your brand. Assess if leads from the influencer are aligned with your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile).
  • Share of Voice: Measure mentions of your company, products, or hashtag related to your campaign via social listening tools. Analyze sentiment changes related to the collaboration.

6. Should I focus on one "big name" influencer or multiple micro-influencers?

Both strategies offer distinct benefits! "Big-name" influencers can expand reach quickly, while micro-influencers deliver highly-engaged niche audiences and are often perceived as more trustworthy due to their close community interaction. A hybrid approach is often best, striking a balance between exposure and deeper connection.

7. How can I build long-term relationships with influencers?

Treat influencer collaborations as the start of a partnership, not a one-time transaction. Invest in the following to ensure consistent results and strong ties:

  • Regular touchpoints: Engage with their content even outside campaigns. Send updates and involve them organically to feel like extensions of your brand.
  • Value beyond payment: Offer early product access, invitations to events, co-branding on content – make them feel appreciated and their time valued.
  • Open communication: Demonstrate responsiveness and flexibility when discussing feedback or potential hurdles.