How to Identify and Target B2B Influencers in Your Email Campaigns

Although technically not a part of the “target” segment, influencers play a key role in the purchasing decisions of your target audience and should be included in your B2B marketing database resources. This post looks at a few basic guidelines to help you confidently identify and precisely target B2B influencers with your email marketing campaign.

Influencers take many forms—from internal sources of recommendation to external experts. They also transcend multiple marketing channels from traditional to social media platforms. But, regardless of their orientation, influencers provide an important marketing vehicle known as “word of mouth.” The persons making the purchasing decisions, whom we normally consider when we build B2B leads database entries, oftentimes factor in word-of-mouth (albeit not literally) information about our products before deciding.

Social media has revolutionized the way that B2B purchasing decision-makers consume information. Nowadays, they tend to seek the guidance of experts who provide reviews, insights, opinions, recommendations, etc. through blogs, forums, groups, pages, and online communities. In fact, a study by Forrester Research reveals that about 500 billion influencer impressions are made each year online.

As a B2B email marketer, it’s part of your job to identify and target these influencers in your contact database or from elsewhere. Here are some basic steps to follow in order to help you accomplish this:


1. Know the buying process. Before you begin thinking about who your target influencers are, you have to first study and understand the buying process that your target prospects follow. Among the information that you need to uncover are the steps, levels, persons, accountability, and needs.

2. Identify the different sources of information. In the business world, purchasing decision-makers are only one part of a larger group in charge of evaluating their options. Find out what other types of roles comprise this body. Are there end-users involved? Are inputs from consultants and other third parties considered in the process? How does the committee acquire information about a given product/service? Does it involve both online and offline resources?

3. Build additional marketing database. Once you’ve identified where and from whom your target prospects acquire relevant information, you then need to build a marketing database centered on these potential influencers. You can develop your own opt-in list or find a reputable targeted database provider to acquire relevant lists.

4. Send test emails. Once you’ve developed your contact database of potential influencers, you need to send some test emails for analysis. Make sure that your test emails include relevant content and are strategically packaged and delivered.

5. Consider their social reach. The purpose of sending the test emails is to gauge your potential influencers’ level of social reach. Accordingly, you need to go beyond the obvious social media metrics like number of followers or connections. Instead, find out how the email content they shared travels after several degrees of connection.

6. Refine your influencer database. After you’ve determined their level of social reach, you should segment your influencer database further according to their social influence. There are a number of software tools that can help you measure these values. Among the purposes of segmenting your contact database further is for easier content mapping.

7. Map relevant content to each segment. Again, influencers come in diverse groups with different information needs. Some influencers may on prefer industry-wide information while others want more specialized knowledge such as tips and solutions related to a particular product or issue. The point here is to send email content appropriate for a specific influencer group.