The pandemic has changed the way we buy products, and the traditional model of influencer marketing will have to change too in 2021 to make sure that it keeps customers engaged.

Influence marketing has matured over the last few years and has reached a critical point in its delivery of results resulting in an uptick by businesses who recognize how valuable influencers are to the enterprise.

San Francisco, CA-based Being recently announced a new consultancy designed to empower enterprise marketers to self-diagnose their current or forthcoming Influencer Marketing (IM) programs to improve and advance future marketing campaigns.

Its Influence Maturity Quotient (IMQ) looks at categories such as program scope, influencer relations and ability to execute to place influence at the center to unlock growth opportunities that a mature IM strategy can deliver.

A recent report, “Into the Mainstream: Influencer Marketing in Society 2020” from Takumi, quotes that 73% of brands have upped their influence marketing spend this year despite the pandemic.

Additional validation comes from Gartner, where in their latest 2020 CMO Spend Survey, which reports that globally CMOs looking to optimize costs have shifted almost 32% of agency work to their own in-house teams, 53% of which was social marketing.

With IM proving itself to be critical for many CMOs, it is tempting to move straight to campaign execution at the expense of a unified IM strategy.

Inpulsus sees untapped potential for many marketers to more fully optimize and scale IM, growing audience engagement and gaining positive results for their businesses.

Inpulsus believes that new ideas in how marketing and business organize around IM internally can unlock vast growth potential. It predicts the following changes will happen across the B2B landscape throughout 2021:

  • Companies will create Centers of Excellence to formalize their in-house programs and place influence marketing (IM) at the heart of their marketing strategy. However they will decentralize IM management thanks to evolving technology platforms that allow for seamless execution and unified reporting.
  • The continued growth of B2B e-commerce, with sales set to reach over $6.6 trillion in 2020 means that B2B companies have a unique opportunity to mobilize influencers for bottom of funnel campaigns.
  • “Communities of influence” will be created across external advocates, customers and partners, internal influencers, and employees and leaders. Blurring of the lines between external and internal resources will broaden the scope IM plays in the marketing strategy of B2B companies.
  • Bifurcation amongst IM technology providers by industry and business model means that B2B providers will follow a CRM model, whereas B2C providers will specialize in managing IM media and compensation. Consolidation within the IM ecosystem will also advance, making small niche tools acquisition targets of the bigger cross-industry platforms.
  • The growth of ABM (Account-based Marketing) methods inside CRM systems will begin to integrate IM data into their own platforms to support programmatic execution, support for dynamic content and reporting.
  • Influence marketing will become an essential method for B2B marketers to understand what content truly engages with the market (such as the explosion of corporate podcasting or streaming video via Twitch).

IM will also augment R&D as companies activate enterprise influencers to participate in product development and provide informed feedback and recommendations.

CEO, Robbie Vann-Adibé says: “As more companies see better direct return on investment from Influence Marketing versus traditional paid media, the opportunity to become vastly more efficient and drive positive impact to the business is incredible”.

If used properly, IM can become a strategic function – especially in the B2B sector that brings together external influencers, employee, customer and partner advocates to create communities that can drive business impact.

The challenge is finding the right partner in 2021 to drive these influencer management programs if you do not have an in-house team. Certainly something to think about in your 2021 planning.

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