Here at TopRank Marketing we do more than just plan and execute B2B influencer marketing programs. We also conduct research on the state of B2B influencer marketing at companies across multiple industries. 

The statistics and trends surfaced by this report and the iterations that preceded it are incredibly valuable for any B2B marketer looking to start or expand an influencer marketing program. 

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from our research and that of others in the industry. 

Influencer marketing is taking root 

While influencer marketing isn’t new, its prevalence among B2B marketers certainly is. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that a small but wise minority of marketers recognized how important influencer partnerships are. As recently as 2020, only 34% of B2B marketers said they used influencer marketing. The next year that number ticked up to 46%.

More recently, influencer marketing has become a standard part of the B2B marketing mix. Our most recent Influencer Marketing Report found 85% of B2B marketers emphasize the importance of influencer marketing in their suite of tactics. 

Influencer marketing contributes to success 

According to Forbes, 94% of B2B marketers say influencer marketing is a successful strategy. This is up significantly from last year. This level of confidence is an improvement from the already positive feelings for influencer marketing of last year, when our 2022 Influencer Marketing Report revealed that 86% of marketers found their influencer marketing to be either moderately or very successful. 

To put this confidence in perspective, respondents to our 2023 survey told us that influencer marketing contributes even more to the success of their marketing programs than social media marketing or content marketing. 

When asked “Which of the following contributes most to the success of your marketing programs?” marketers responded:

  • Search Engine Optimization (49%)
  • Influencer Marketing (39%)
  • Social Media Marketing (36%)
  • Content Marketing (36%)

But just how successful are these programs? Research from Zen Media found that as of 2022, B2B influencer marketing programs were generating a 520% return on investment (ROI). Of course, this ROI is not guaranteed, but averaging $5.20 for every dollar spent very effectively demonstrates the real, measurable impact influencer marketing can have for B2B brands. 

Maturity of B2B influencer marketing programs 

Because it is still relatively new to most B2B marketers, it may not come as a surprise that influencer marketing programs vary widely in their level of maturity. Our research divided influencer marketing maturity into four groups: beginning, moderate, extensive, and those who do not use influencer marketing at all. 

In 2023, our research reveals that most B2B marketers fall somewhere in the middle of their influencer marketing journey, with 48% reporting that they fall into the moderate category. This means they are already using influencer marketing, but it is usually limited to one-off campaigns and not involved in their overall strategy. 

Beginners – those just starting out with researching or testing these programs – make up only 15% of those we polled. Another 15% of marketers reported they do not use influencer marketing at all. 

The remaining marketers are those who have fully matured influencer marketing programs. This group makes up 26% of respondents from our 2023 influencer marketing survey. This group takes advantage of a developed strategy with ongoing “always-on” engagement and campaigns. 

This bell curve highlights the evolving landscape of B2B influencer marketing, with most companies still navigating the path to full-fledged integration but with a significant portion already demonstrating its potential as a valuable marketing tool.

Influencer marketing challenges 

Another indicator of the increasing maturity of B2B influencer marketing is the evolution of its top challenges. We have tracked this in each of our influencer marketing reports, and the trend indicates an increasing sophistication in influencer marketing. 

For example, in our 2020 report, respondents said their top challenge was the influencer marketing process being too manual. 

Once B2B marketers got their sea legs for influencer marketing programs and entered the moderate stage of maturity, they cited their number one challenge as a lack of documented strategy. 

By 2023, the challenges became less about how to do it and more about how to do it well. The top challenge in our latest influencer marketing report is identifying, qualifying and engaging with ideal influencers – a clear indication of experience and sophistication with influencer marketing. 

Outsource for success 

One important trend uncovered in our 2023 report involves how B2B marketers execute their influencer marketing programs. Slightly more than half of all the marketers we surveyed said they conduct their influencer marketing initiatives in-house. However, among those who reported the most effective programs, an astounding 70% said their influencer marketing programs are entirely outsourced. 

This correlation with outsourcing and success is no coincidence. Agencies that have been specializing in influencer marketing for years bring a lot of advantages to B2B brands, including a deep bench of thoroughly nurtured influencer relationships, outreach expertise, and content co-creation capabilities. 

Outlook for B2B influencer marketing 

The future of B2B influencer marketing is bright. Recent research found that an overwhelming 93% of CMOs plan to increase their use of B2B influencers in the coming years. 

Given the remarkable success reported by those already using these programs, this is not a surprise. This trend makes it clear that the rise of influencer marketing is bound to continue in the coming years.

Ready to learn more about influencer marketing for your B2B brand? Discover the latest insights in our  Influencer Marketing Report and find everything you need to get your own program started at our B2B Influencer Marketing Resource Hub.

About the author

Harry is one of TopRank Marketing’s Content Strategists, and has been a professional digital content specialist since 2016. During this time, he has honed his content writing skills and worked closely with SEO and SEM experts to enhance his understanding of how to most effectively create high-quality content that performs well on both search engines and social media. Harry is passionate about creating content that represents the voice of his clients well and provides genuinely relevant, insightful information that his client’s customers will find helpful and entertaining to read. When Harry isn’t writing content, he’s usually reading it, or watching movies. He watches a lot of movies.