The DGR Quick Six: Transforming B2B Influencer Marketing From Obscurity Into Authority

Published: September 20, 2023

“DGR Quick Six” is a new monthly series that features one of the industry’s trendiest topics distilled into six hard-hitting questions answered by an in-the-field practitioner. This month, we’re talking all things influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing typically conjures images of low-level celebrities and athletes sharing posts touting their “favorite” brands and products — but in B2B, influencers aren’t hawking supplements and skincare products. Instead, they’re partnering with the companies they trust and leverage in their day-to-day business activities to collaborate on content and reach a wider audience.

Influencers provide third-party credibility that organizations simply can’t deliver on their own. But given modern buyers’ discerning eyes, “pay-to-play” influencer strategies no longer cut it; instead, prospects and customers want tangible insights and thought leadership from their peers who’ve experienced the same pain points and challenges.

In turn, modern practitioners are prioritizing niche influencers who have strong, genuine connections with their audience and generate more authentic content. As 86% of practitioners find success with influencer marketing, it’s time to examine what’s working (and what’s not) in the field. For this month’s edition of the DGR Quick Six, the team sat down with Ted Kohnen, CEO of brand, marketing and content agency Park & Battery, to uncover the strategies needed to create credible, authentic influencer content.

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Demand Gen Report: What’s currently working in influencer marketing strategies?

Ted Kohnen: What really works for influencer marketing — especially now — are true collaborations between the influencer and the brand, as the influencer serves as a bridge between brand and end audience.

Historically, it was more of a transactional relationship where a brand would provide an influencer with a formulated script and imagery. In other word, the brand enabled, and the influencer posted. Now, it’s more likely that the brand provides direction and suggestions, and then allows the influencer to package and publish the content in their own voice, which creates content that is more reflective of themselves and their audiences.  

DGR: Although influencer marketing is considered more of a B2C construct, how does it take shape on the B2B side of things?

Kohnen: The power of B2B influencer marketing is that it can reach both professional audiences and other brands. On one hand, B2B influencers can talk to other professional audiences, but on the other, these influencers are often also followed by other brands that a marketer may also want to reach.

For example, Park & Battery engages professional health and beauty professionals for our client Questex in support of its International Beauty Show (IBS). Our influencers have the power to reach both potential conference attendees, as well as brands that IBS wants to engage with across the industry.

DGR: How can practitioners determine who the best influencers would be for their products/services?

Kohnen: The quality of an influencer’s audience is paramount. I don’t care if you have 1 million followers: What we want to see is that you have quality, engaged followers. High engagement rates. Follower health. And who you follow. Those metrics help us determine who the right influencers are. We also look at who is following them — who are they reaching for us?

DGR: What are the best projects/opportunities to collaborate with influencers on?

Kohnen: We find that influencers are typically best suited to experiential things, such as promoting a product that they can genuinely use or discussing an event they will actually attend. Influencers love to promote and attend events.

DGR: How can practitioners create influencer-led campaigns that seem authentic?

Kohnen: Authenticity starts with alignment — aligning your brand with a shared experience and interest between the brand, the influencer and their audience.

The other critical aspect of authenticity and — probably the hardest thing for a brand to do – giving up a little control. It’s tough, but it’s necessary for authenticity. You need to give the influencer some freedom and autonomy to imbue their personality. There have to be guardrails, but it’s so obvious and inauthentic when an influencer reads verbatim from a script. You’re hiring them for their style and their content that resonates with their audiences, so you must allow them to use their own voice.    

You also must give your influencers to new products and early information. Also, offer them something of value for their audiences. These influencers only exist because of the people that follow them and engage. If you provide value with information, education or discounts and promo codes, you’ll create loyalty.

DGR: How can marketers track the success of influencer campaigns?

Kohnen: Measurement for influencer marketing is multifaceted. You must look at it as an ecosystem of touchpoints — the influencer’s channel, the brand channel (like an Instagram), then your websites, then what’s being shared. So, you must look at metrics provided by the influencer directly; track hashtags, follows and engagement; UTM URLs for site traffic and engagement; and promo codes for sales. You need multiple forms of tracking in order to get a full picture of success.

DGR: What’s your biggest piece of advice for practitioners that want to incorporate or expand their use of influencer marketing?

Kohnen: My biggest piece of advice is to have and communicate shared objectives for the brand and the influencer — and ensure that everyone is aligned to those goals. Influencers will collaborate with you and bring suggestions on the best way to meet your needs; they know their audience and can say, ‘This has worked really well on my channel.’ Get aligned and work together toward common success metrics.

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