New research from Ogilvy shows that B2B influence is one of the fastest growing marketing priorities
98% of B2B marketers in Southeast Asia are already utilizing influencer marketing
77% of those are planning to increase influencer activity
However, its potential in lead generation and aftersales still drastically unrealized
B2B influence has reached a global tipping point to become one of the fastest growing marketing priorities, according to a new report* from Ogilvy. Based on interviews of 550 Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) across 11 markets including Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, from brands including LinkedIn, Dell, EY, IBM, and Samsung, the first-of-its kind study shows that 75% of B2B marketers are now utilizing B2B influencer marketing, and 93% of those are planning to increase influencer activity. Scroll down further below to download a copy of the full report.
High usage, high value
The survey, which polled marketing leaders from across Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and the USA, proves that C-suite leaders are already recognising the potential of B2B influence activity in building a credible brand and supporting lead generation. Half (49%) believe influencers can help their brands be more credible and trusted, while 40% experienced improved leads or sales because of influencer marketing strategies.
In Asia specifically, some of the key findings include:
> Industry Adoption: a staggering 94% of businesses in the region have already integrated B2B influencer marketing into their strategies. Among them, 77% have expressed their intention to further increase their investments in this area. Those who haven’t formulated a B2B influencer marketing strategy may find themselves falling behind competitors.
> Influence Effectiveness: 66% of businesses have found that B2B influencers deliver more significant impact compared to traditional brand-only marketing approaches.
> Industry Knowledge Reliability: almost all (98%) of industry executives in Asia consider B2B influencers on social media as vital tools for staying updated and engaging with their respective industries. This surpasses the global average of 90%.
> Insights Credibility: more than half of industry executives in Asia incorporate insights gleaned from B2B influencers into their presentations. Similarly, over 50% of these executives actively share relevant content with their network.
Even more potential to be realized
However, despite high usage, the full potential of B2B influencer is yet to be realised. Findings from the global research suggest that no teams are utilizing after-sales influence to its full potential, despite 47% agreeing there is an opportunity for B2B influencers to have the biggest impact during aftersales when executed correctly. With 60% not yet experiencing improved lead generation from B2B marketing activity, there is also a large opportunity to immediately realise more value from influencer marketing.
In addition, there is a symbiotic relationship between employees and influencers that few CMOs have spotted, with limited numbers identifying that employees can be influencers themselves – representing a missed opportunity for ROI.
Emily Poon, Ogilvy’s President of PR & Influence in Asia, commented on the findings saying: “With 66% of CMOs in Asia saying they find B2B influencers more impactful than their usual marketing activities, a B2B influencer marketing strategy has become a must-have for brands and businesses. Our global research — the first-of-its-kind — with local insights from senior marketers in Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, provides actionable steps for CMOs, communications and business leaders in the region to turn influencers into the most versatile full-funnel tool in their B2B marketing communications armoury.”
Ashutosh Gupta, Country Manager and Head of Online Sales for LinkedIn APAC, added: “B2B companies are increasingly choosing creative ways to connect with their target audience in a more authentic and engaging way. A big reason behind this trend is the trust and credibility that these experts offer. On LinkedIn, we have seen industry leaders carve a niche for themselves as thought leaders in their space, where their opinions hold significance within their network. Thought leaders often provide a more genuine connection than brand advertising thanks to the fundamental trust that is already fostered between them and their network over time.”
Three key imperatives for CMOs identified by the global report include:
Peer-to-peer 2.0: This has been widely recognised as the most trusted and effective marketing channel. Its value when reassuring prospective buyers is undisputed, and the revolution of digital has democratised access to those trusted inner circles. In an age where 75% of the workforce will be digital natives by 2025 (Harvard Business Review) businesses must adapt to the new reality of the digital relationships & professional communication landscape becoming increasingly integrated with our physical one.
Holistic Growth: Influencers are not simply content vehicles existing only to promote products to new audiences. The research shows how wider business growth comes from using Influencers throughout an entire business operation, from including them in client meetings and having them talk to employees, to bringing them into R&D sessions and feedback to improve products & services. CMOs need to appreciate Influencers don’t just drive views, likes and comments. Create real business growth throughout your business that benefits customers long term by providing a better service, and that will come back to you in new sales and client retention. One of the biggest points of the research was that 44% of CMOs acknowledged the biggest opportunity that they weren’t yet using was integrating influencers in the post-sale experience.
Employees are Influencers: CEOs and CMOs agree on what makes a successful business. It isn’t based on accurate balance sheets, the latest CRM system, or even their founder charisma. 90% of C-Suite recognise their employees as the most valuable asset in their business. The collective network of your employees is on average ten times larger than the company itself. Activating an employee advocacy network will help brands access their most valuable untapped resource. 89% of C-Suite marketers recognise that using employees as Influencers holds immense value for their business.
* We conducted a global questionnaire of 550+ senior leaders across 11 global markets through our research partner Opinium. Qualifying criteria for respondents included senior decision makers with experience in B2B. This was followed by an in-depth interview series to CMOs of multi-national organizations.
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