When it comes to measuring influencer marketing ROI, many brands have found themselves back in the Wild Wild West of the digital frontier.
Measuring the ROI of influencer marketing has always been a tricky topic. Using individuals with significant social media reach is a relatively new concept to many brands, and holding those programs up against traditional digital marketing means having a comprehensive, standardized measurement approach. Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist yet.
Many marketers find influencer programs are going unfunded while peers and competitors push forward into new territory, earning new customers, headlines, and having a lot of fun at the same time. So I thought I would share a bit more about how we propose influencer marketing programs, and how we prove ROI over time.
1. Start with your objectives, sorted and prioritized
The first step in measuring a successful influencer marketing program is strongly vetting and qualifying your objectives. Start with the simple funnel model for your business, and assess where influencers can impact that funnel. For example, if you are a retail chain with little to no ecommerce capabilities, you might consider using Instagram influencers to impact top funnel metrics like brand awareness and preference, or bottom funnel metrics like store visits. In this example, store visits would be set as a very high value, but also hard to obtain, metric.
Choosing priority for your objectives is also important. In the above example, it may be smart for the retail chain to prioritize awareness as the initial objective of the program. It’s asking too much to immediately leap to sales when the brand is starting an influencer marketing program and there is no way to buy online.
2. Structure a program that incentivizes influencers to perform against your objective
Before reaching out to influencers, it’s important to put together a program that excites and encourages those influencers to work with you to achieve your goals. This is where you can get really creative, because there are no gold standards for how to work with influencers. And while many brands struggle with the question of how much influencers should be paid, you’ll find most influencers are willing to at least have an initial conversation with you about your idea. Don’t worry, with more influencers coming up in the ranks of social media every day, you’ll have plenty to choose from.
Another important note is to get buy in for program funding and duration. Brands should plan on at least 3 months of work before seeing tangible results. Every brand is different, and having time for iteration helps put focus on relationship building with influencers, improvement, and growth rather than quick sales.
3. Select influencers that make sense for your brand and objectives
The influencer selection process is key. Data points should track back to objectives, and while approaches can vary, generally speaking brands should look to set up for success by pairing with influencers who match topic, tone, creative, and personality. The process of finding and onboarding influencers can be accomplished in various platforms through a careful human search, matching context to brand to program.
4. The right measurement tools for the job
While there are many purported measurement platforms, there’s nothing better than adapting the same tools marketers use for other on and offline efforts. That’s going to require a bit of planning, but can be accomplished through the use of the major tools:
Google Data Studio
The latest free offering from Google lets marketers create custom dashboards that pull in data from many sources into one glorious, real time, cloud-based report. It takes a bit of getting used to, but is well worth the investment of time, and can make an influencer marketing program look and feel like other initiatives, giving stakeholders an immediate level of comfort.
Tried and true Google Analytics can be used in a number of ways, including tracking unique links and identifiers given to influencers for use as part of the program. It’s a tried and true measurement tool most marketers use, and reports can be easily cut to provide regional data.
Platform Native Analytics
Everything from ecommerce portal analytics to sales figures from retail stores can be integrated into a platform-native report. Include analytics and data pulled directly from social platforms as well (including Instagram) to round out the numbers.
Perhaps the most interesting new trend in influencer marketing is to conduct pre and post-campaign surveys of customers and prospects to understand if they were impacted by the effort. These surveys can be both qualitative and quantitative, but ultimately result in a well-rounded proof point about overall influencer marketing ROI.
5. Recruit and activated your program
Recruiting and activating an influencer marketing program can be the hardest part of getting started. The best influencer marketing programs are not a one and done test, but a long term relationship. The worst influencer marketing mistakes come when brands try to get transactional, exchanging cash for message and parting ways. Brands should make an effort to meet influencers they want to work with, and assess fit in person.
6. Measure and iterate
Like everything else, influencer marketing takes time and effort. There are no silver bullets, and every brand needs time (and budget) to adapt influencer marketing to produce ROI. And while mass-consumer and luxury lifestyle brands have been first to market with successful influencer marketing case studies, the tactic has plenty of room to grow.