Influencer marketing has become top of mind for every CMO, not just in consumer facing brands, but in B2B technology organizations as well. In fact, among the business technology brands recently surveyed for the report Influence 2.0, 77% rate influencer marketing as strategic or highly strategic.

One critical component to B2B influencer marketing is understanding the evolution of measurement. No matter the area of expertise, measurement is always a common challenge for marketers.

To understand more about measurement in B2B influencer marketing, I teamed up with Evy Wilkins, VP of Account Based Marketing at Traackr, to interview 10 of the most forward-thinking B2B marketers who are overcoming the challenges and successes of enterprise influencer marketing.

While early influencer measurement efforts concentrated on “reach” as expressed in likes and mentions, there are broad categories of measurement that are meaningful in B2B – some of which link directly to sales revenue.

The main takeaway from our experts is that when it comes to measurement, you have to start somewhere: put a stake in the ground, decide what to measure and evolve it over time.

Working With Influencers To Drive Awareness

It takes time to build a large, engaged audience so when you are launching a product or just need fast awareness, and there may be no more effective channel for B2B today than working with the right influencers.

“Our strongest metric for awareness is engagement,” said Nicole Smith of Intel. “We analyze our success on every piece of content and every influence channel. Measures might include likes, comments, replies, and click-throughs. Did it start a conversation? How did this compare to previous content efforts? Did people take action on the content when they saw it? We can learn from this and then figure out if all the pieces are fitting together. We care less about potential reach. If somebody has three million followers but only 15 people engaged with it, that’s not really helpful for us.”

Involving Influencer-Experts In R&D Efforts

Many forward thinking companies are involving influencer-experts in their R&D efforts. Who better to guide product development than those who care about your company and use your products every day?

Becca Taylor of Hewlett Packard Enterprise provided an example. “A blogger came to me and said, ‘I have this idea and I’d love to partner with you to do this. I want to take your technology out of the box at your lab, build the machine, deploy a dummy company onto the units and live-stream the whole thing to show how it’s done.’”

“Over four plus hours, he came into one of our labs and live-streamed it, and we had one of our technical marketing folks there, and a pre-sales solutions architect, just in case something went wrong. And as he was doing the build, sure enough, they ran into a problem but they worked together to solve it.”

This is a great method to identify new problems but come up with an entirely new path to success because of the insightful problem-solving of the influencer.

Connecting Influencer Marketing With Sales Revenue

The ultimate measurement of influencer marketing, obviously, is sales. But, according to Andrew Grill of IBM, “Measurement becomes harder and harder to determine based on the size or the scale of the product and the long lead time and the complexity of the buyer journey in B2B.”

All of our experts acknowledged the grueling difficulty of measurement, but progress is being made. “Where we’re going to go and where we need to go is getting influence measurement into a social attribution model,” asid Aruba’s Pegah Kamal. “There are different methods developing out there, and these are the next steps we need to figure out — tracing content and actions.”

In fact, technology companies are now increasingly seeing more success when measuring influencer programs and content.

“Influencer marketing is becoming a much more sophisticated discipline within the marketing department,” says Amisha Gandhi of SAP. “We know that programs and content typically generate 2 – 4X greater return than if we were to run that same campaign without an influencer partnership.”

Bringing visibility to these outcomes by creating a standardized measurement framework is certainly a work in progress, but the impact of influencer marketing on sales is becoming clearer.

Attributing Business Impact To Influencer Marketing

Today’s brands cobble together data from different systems; yet, as they learn, they keep refining the process. One key is to make sure you have the right tools and tracking for your influencer marketing in place from the outset. For example, you need to arm your influencers with trackable links so you can link an activity back to a registration or lead; or that the impact can be attributed to influencer marketing.