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Elise Dopson on September 25, 2019 (last modified on April 8, 2021) • 13 minute read
You’re trying to find a marketing channel that brings the best results for the cash you’re spending.
Email, social media, SEO… Which should be your main focus?
The answer might be surprising: (maybe) none of those.
Depending on the industry you’re working (and the budget you’ve got to splash), the best channel could be influencer marketing.
In this guide, we’ll share:
Ready? Let’s dive in.
P.S. Want to know the most important marketing KPIs to track across all functions (i.e. content, SEO, email, social, etc.)? Check out the definitive list of marketing KPIs all marketers should be tracking according to 400+ marketing professionals.
Here’s a simple definition:
Influencer marketing is the process of identifying popular online personalities in your industry, and collaborating with them to mention your brand, service, or products on their online profile.
Well-known celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Jamie Oliver, and Jeffree Star are all “influencers”.
And while not all companies have the kind of budget to land an A-list influencer, every niche has people with large influence that can expose your brand to tens of thousands (or even millions) of people.
In fact, it’s so popular that influencer marketing is projected to become a $10 billion industry by 2020.
Influencer marketing has long been praised as the channel with the best ROI.
That theory still stands true. When we polled our experts, the majority (55.6%) said influencer marketing has been highly effective for their (or their clients’) businesses:
But what makes it such a great marketing channel?
Firstly, influencer marketing works because you’re partnering with people your target audience know, like, and trust. Those three emotions are involved with every purchasing decision. If you don’t have them, you don’t make the sale.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at these influencer marketing statistics:
…And since you’re getting attention from multiple audiences on the web, there’s no doubting that influencer marketing does wonders for brand awareness.
Are you convinced on the power that influencer marketing holds?
Before we dive in with the metrics you should be tracking, Bannersnack‘s Robert Katai argues that “there is no ONE most important KPI when tracking. Before starting any influencer campaign you need to define your campaign’s goal.”
Katai explains: “The most important KPI can be overall reach, signups or even leads or sales. If you are running a general marketing campaign, with several influencers for branding purposes, then the overall reach should be your most important KPI. If you want to generate leads or sales the overall reach will matter less.”
So, begin by thinking about the overarching goal you have for your strategy.
The influencer marketing KPIs you might want to track include:
Click the links above to jump to a specific KPI, or continue reading to learn about the 10 influencer marketing metrics you’ll need to keep an eye on.
Editor’s note: Want to get notified when important KPIs trend up or down? Get Databox alerts for your KPIs now.
“The most important KPI to track is ROI. How much revenue did you make from your influencer marketing campaign minus how much the campaign cost?” writes Growth Hackers‘ Jonathan Aufray.
“If you made a positive ROI, you can definitely run another similar one. If your ROI is negative, find what worked and what didn’t: how much traffic did you get, how many leads did you generate and how many sales?
Optimize each part of the funnel, prep your influencer and run another campaign.”
Ormi Media‘s Natalie Athanasiadis concludes: “The goal of influencer partnerships is ultimately to increase sales and conversions for your brand. So while measuring click-through rates and traffic are important its essential you can attribute sales to the collaboration so you can determine the ROI of your efforts.”
Editor’s note: Did you know that you can get KPI performance alerts in Slack? Connect your data and start receiving performance insights directly in Slack now.
Silverbean‘s Annabel Gray thinks “influencer marketing campaigns can be difficult for advertisers because of the large degree of ambiguity around outcomes and the level of potential fraud and manipulation with these metrics.”
“This challenge has further been amplified by the role influencers traditionally play in the customer journey, having a stronger impact on the consideration than conversion stage, something which is not reflected in traditional last-click metrics.”
Gray explains: “Technological advances now enable visibility on the full customer journey, meaning outcomes can be traced back to an individual partner, no matter which stage they fall.”
“This means advertisers can now move away from softer metrics such as reach and engagement to measuring the business impact an individual influencer drives.”
“In most cases, this impact would usually be assessed against revenue and ROI, but in some cases, softer KPI’s may be assessed against this.”
“Understanding the specific value an influencer is driving for your business is an incredibly powerful tool to support strategic decisions on how and where your brand is represented,” Gray adds.
…But what if you’re not actually selling products on your website?
Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles explains how you should be tracking conversions: “Use a choice of UTM tags, discount codes, unique landing pages dedicated to the campaign and affiliate links in order to measure the conversion you are targeting. Be it downloads, sign-ups, sales, or whatever else the target conversion is.”
“This way you’ll be able to track the traffic source and determine how each influencer campaign is converting and then measure against your campaign costs,” Dodds continues.
“When you run an influencer marketing campaign, you’ll be working with a number of different people across multiple platforms. Those might include blogs, or social media accounts, and more,” writes Andrew McLoughlin of Colibri Digital Marketing.
“You want to distill the practical cost of your campaign into a comparable metric, and our single most important KPI that we track is cost-per-click (CPC).”
McLoughlin explains: “Once a user has clicked over to our own site, we track engagement and behavior from different sources, sure, but that’s now a part of our own funnel. CPC gives us the chance to see at a glance how different influencers and their audiences behaved during our campaign.”
Sammi Coppedge thinks you should track the click-through rate (CTR) of your influencer marketing campagins because “in today’s age, consumers are bombarded by advertisements and marketing campaigns, so it often takes several touch points with a person to drive them to purchase.”
“So for us at Readers.com, as really value click through rates, as this helps us identify how many people actually clicked from the influencer ad to our brand. This lets us know that they recognize it was our brand and product in the ad, which is important.”
Coppedge continues: “Just looking at engagements or number of followers doesn’t us a lot, as they might not have even recognized it was our brand being advertised.”
Fundera‘s Ricardo Velez thinks “referral traffic is crucial to judging the success of an influencer marketing campaign.”
“You can have a well-optimized conversion page but if there’s no traffic to it, conversions will remain low. Google Analytics makes it simple to track how effective the campaign is in bringing in traffic to your site,” Velez explains.
Katrina Gallagher of Digitangle Ltd adds that referral traffic “is harder to track than ‘likes’, shares and visits, but it’s worth the effort because there are a lot of vanity metrics that don’t result in any tangible business benefits, and these softer social signals can sometimes be pure fraud.”
Dhruv Mehta of Acquire also thinks “referral traffic is the most important KPI to track when running an influencer marketing campaign [because] we can get evidence of referral traffic when the user subscribed to a newsletter, interacting with the customer support team & filling up the contact form.”
However, Christie Osborne of Mountainside Media uses this referral data for retargeting: “I try to get as much traffic as I can to a client’s website so I can retarget ads to them later. While it’s sometimes difficult to get direct traffic to influencers, tracking traffic spikes during an active influencer push can be equally important.”
*Editor’s note: Track the referral traffic to your website with our Google Analytics Referrals dashboard. You’ll be able to pull data from your account to easily (and quickly) analyze which influencers are driving the most traffic to your site.
“If your collaboration with influencers is ebooks, guides, webinars and events, you can directly measure success in new signups,” says Orbit Media Studios‘ Andy Crestodina.
“This is far greater value than brand awareness, mentions and likes. It’s even better than traffic. It’s the farthest down the funnel that influencer marketing can go and be measured.”
Crestodina summarizes: “Use influencers to increase awareness for content formats that trigger registrations. Then measure email list growth as your KPI.”
“Influencers’ fan bases can be fickle, and it’s difficult to pinpoint why that is; but, if you’re interested in contacting an influencer for marketing purposes, it may be wise to have a look at their audience’s loyalty to their content,” writesSocial Media Optimism‘s Julien Malet.
“In our eyes, the more loyal the fan base the higher quality the content—and the better the influencer’s promotional skills.”
Malet continues: “Frankly, people don’t like it when videos are interrupted by advertisements or when photos contain promotions. However, there are influencers out there who accept sponsorships from or promote brands that align with their audience’s interests.”
“They also incorporate the promotion in such a way that it’s cohesive with the content of a given video or post. This means their mention of your product is so unintrusive that viewers don’t mind watching it and returning time and time again.”
Malet adds: “Unfortunately, these types of influencers are few and far between; but when you find one, their loyalty to your product and their audience’s loyalty to them are great assets to have at your disposal.”
ACTIVATE‘s Nicole Gittleman swears by a similar influencer marketing metric: “If I HAD to pick one KPI as the most important metric for influencer success, or rather one metric that’s always important to measure, I might say sentiment analysis.”
“When people tell stories about your brand on social media, the entire world is invited to participate. As audiences react and comment to media, a narrative begins to unfold. Understanding the sentiment of your audience (i.e. the audiences of the influencers you’re working with) empowers you to shape that narrative as the story evolves,” Gittleman summarizes.
When you’re picking a list of influencers to work with, you’ll need to look across the channels your audience is using.
Our experts think Instagram influencers are the best, shortly followed by YouTube and independent bloggers:
TK101 Global‘s Namoo Lee explains how your channel needs to tie-in with your metric: “When collaborating with YouTube Influencers one metric we find to make up for potential issues like fake fans inconsistency with content quality is Channel authority and ability to rank for our target keywords.”
“Viability research will have to be done of course but once you have that you at least have a high probability of ranking for your chosen keyword.”
“This visibility acts as a kind of insurance and at worst a consolation prize if all other metrics don’t pan out,” Lee adds.
*Editor’s note: Are you working with Instagram influencers? Grab our Instagram Business Post Performance dashboard and see how well your influencer collaborations are impacting your KPIs:
“When an influencer has a cult-like following and who has a trustful audience, any recommendation they make, their audience will buy,” Josh Clafin of Garrison Everest says.
Matthew Ross of The Slumber Yard agrees, which is why “engagement is the most important element when evaluating an influencer marketing campaign.”
“Ultimately, you want to see that viewers are actually interested in your brand, product or service. As such, one KPI that you should be paying attention to is the comment to impression ratio for the campaign.”
“This shows how many people who actually viewed the ad felt compelled enough to take action,” Ross adds.
So, what should you look at when determining the engagement of your influencer marketing campaigns? Veronica De Borba of OnPoint Internet Marketing thinks you should “look at these metrics:
According to Stephanie Riel of RielDeal Marketing, tracking engagement rates start “way before the campaign even begins [because] the engagement rate shows how much legitimate influence an influencer has with their audience.”
Hotel Jules‘ Will Hatton adds: “It doesn’t matter how many followers or likes a person has if nobody engages with the post. 0.1% of a million followers is 1000 engagements, whereas 10% of 10,00 followers is the same.”
Finally, Wavemakers‘ Nadzirah Hashim thinks you should take that a step further and calculate “cost per engagement. How much does it cost to reach a follower for every influencer post?”
WPBeginner‘s Faizan Ali thinks you should track the reach of your influencer marketing campaign because “your main goal should always be reaching out to more people. Influencers can help you achieve this goal if you choose your influencers carefully.”
Ali explains: “To determine success with this goal, you’ll want to track how many people you reached with your campaign, how many new prospects became aware of your brand, and how well the campaign reinforced your brand with pre-existing prospects.”
Katherine Rowland of YourParkingSpace also notes you can measure the reach of your influencer marketing campaign by “track[ing] the impression data on your various posts, whether this is social, blog, or other.”
Editor’s note: Need a quick and easy way to track your influencer marketing KPIs? Create KPI Scorecards for the marketing department and have a complete picture of how your business is performing at any moment.
The influencer marketing KPIs we’ve mentioned here will help you start to determine whether your campaigns are successful.
But Go Fish Digital‘s Jessica Butner thinks “the most important KPI changes based on the goals and strategies of the specific campaign.”
Katherine M. Pereda of The Influencer Grapevine explains: “If the goal is to bring brand exposure, the best KPI to measure is reach and/or video views; if the goal is to drive traffic to the website, the appropriate KPI would be click-throughs; but if the goal is to drive direct sales, then the KPI should be conversions.”
So, start to think about which goals are most important to your business–and select your influencer marketing metrics based on your answer.
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