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In the past few years, more and more brands have experimented with influencer marketing, whether to tap into hard-to-reach communities, drive general awareness or boost conversions. And while influencer marketing continues to grow—the industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022—many brands still struggle to know how to effectively measure their investment.
From selecting the creator who is best aligned with your brand to securing the best possible ROI, mastering measurements is key to a successful influencer-marketing strategy. So, here’s what you should look out for at every stage of your campaign—before, during and after.
Setting goals from the get-go
It’s important to keep in mind that what works for one brand or campaign won’t always work for another. So before you set out to measure success, start by defining what success actually means to you by having a clear goal in mind. Do you want to raise awareness, boost conversions, or something else entirely? Your objective will define which metrics you must measure to evaluate performance, and will guide you through the optimisation process. Without setting your goal(s) from the beginning, you will never know if your campaign was a true success or not.
For those who don’t know where to start, specialised partners can help by applying a brand’s goal to strategies that help them get there. With one established objective, it becomes clearer what to prioritise and who is delivering the most value. An awareness campaign, for instance, will demand special attention to metrics like views, impressions, volume of posts, engagement and number of influencers activated. On the other hand, a campaign to build brand loyalty requires a strong percentage of returning customers, hashtag use and positive reviews.
Having something specific to focus on instead of constantly keeping track of every indicator takes some pressure off brands’ shoulders. And perhaps more importantly, mastering measurements allows for mid-campaign optimisations—which could range from new assets to partnering with other creators. Rather than wait until the campaign is already finished, continually tracking metrics can help brands see what changes should be made in real-time, ensuring they continue to move toward their established goal.
Find the perfect match
Once you’ve set your goals, the next crucial part of any influencer project is to select the right creator—and tracking the right measurements is key to ensuring you’ve made the right choice. After identifying a selection of creators whose content, communities or values feel like a good fit for your brand, the creator’s social metrics, as well as the KPIs set at the beginning, play a key role in narrowing down your options.
Over the years, there has been a gradual shift away from prioritising follower counts to engagement levels, driving support toward micro-influencers with highly engaged communities. Understanding that people can buy followers and likes, marketers came to realise that a truly engaged audience is worth more than simply the perception of reach. There are now platforms available that can help to identify creators with fake followers and to help you find those with highly engaged audiences; alternatively you can work with a partner who has these abilities in-house.
Once you’ve established a partnership with a creator and the campaign is underway, continue to track engagement metrics to measure how their audience engages with your product. Look at impressions (the number of times people see the influencer content in the campaign), engagement rate (calculated by dividing campaign engagements by campaign impressions) and conversion rate (an indicator of the consumer’s immediate desire to own the product) throughout the campaign.
Measuring brand sentiment can also tell a story about whether a creator or their audience is a fit for your brand. Look at all the comments on a sponsored post, splitting them into positive and negative sentiment. Identify how many are actually about your brand (not just the influencer). If there’s no indication that consumers are engaging with your product on a sponsored post, then that content creator and their audience may not be right for a future partnership.
Finding the right creative talent is far from easy, but mastering measurements can help you compare, interpret and identify who is garnering positive attention from your target audience—and who you should keep working with. Once you have encountered a creator that drives the right engagement, it’s key to protect that relationship, especially if they go above and beyond for your brand.
Apply insights for continued success
Influencer marketing lives up to its true potential when approached as an ongoing process instead of a one-time campaign. And you guessed it: metrics play a key role here, too, helping marketers understand what they should do next—and more importantly, how.
When working with specialised partners, for instance, brands should receive a detailed end-of-campaign report that summarises each metric and result. With this information, marketers can draw actionable insights and plan future strategies based on the brand’s KPIs. By looking at the correlations between types of content and engagement, what the audience is responding to and which actions created the most positive impact, brands can improve their spend efficiency going forward—however big or small their budget may be.
Looking beyond a single campaign and building a roadmap is essential in successful influencer marketing. Make a long-term plan covering multiple product launches or key dates in the calendar that can benefit from amplification in social media, and continue to apply learnings from previous campaigns to new ones. Through this process, adequate measurement will set you up for success campaign after campaign.
In digital marketing, there’s a constant challenge to understand the efficacy of each channel, platform or creative partner. And although there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to influencer marketing, one thing is true for everyone: tracking the right metrics is key, without which the campaign will never reach its full potential. It doesn’t matter at what stage of your digital strategy you’re in; having KPIs in place and the right measurement tools will secure a healthy ROI and determine success in the long run.
Sophie Crowther is senior influencer marketing manager at MediaMonks.