Measuring Influencer Marketing Success, Not Necessarily A Tale of Two Cities
When selecting an influencer marketing company, every marketer weighs critical factors differently. For some, their decision comes down to potential reach. For others, finding the right influencers to educate consumers matters most, and still for others, picking an influencer partner comes down to category experience, cost structure, or available analytics. Everyone has a different process, but when measuring the success of influencer marketing campaigns, our recent marketer survey results revealed two clear camps: drive product sales or boost brand awareness.
Understanding the influencer space requires listening to stakeholders. Collective Bias makes a regular practice of this with our brand partners, our future brand partners and our Social Fabric® community. In this case, we surveyed over 400 marketers, from CMOs to shopper marketing teams, asking how they pick an influencer marketing company and how they measure the success of influencer campaigns.
All respondents ran at least one influencer campaign in the last year. 90% planned to run at least one influencer campaign the next year, and 64% of respondents ran four or more influencer campaigns in 2017. In short, we only spoke to marketers who have invested time in the space, and their responses have provided meaningful insights into how brands make decisions when considering influencer marketing companies.
What is the most important factor do you consider when selecting an influencer marketing company?
Everyone Has A Process
When asked to identify the most important factor in selecting an influencer marketing company, respondents showed no consensus with nearly all responses within only a few points of one another. These results could be read as marketers’ mixed feelings; are even the most savvy marketers unsure how to determine to best influencer marketing company? We don’t think so.
More likely, these results reinforce the notion marketers pick influencer marketing companies for disparate uses. Those selecting “Potential reach” and “Cost structure” may look at influencer marketing companies as media companies, hoping to uncover lower CPMs through influencer content. For marketers selecting “Status of influencer pool” and “Size of influencer pool”, influencer marketing companies may act as talent agencies, enabling brand teams to build out a team of in-budget, on-brand micro-celebrities. Some teams may even turn to influencer marketing companies to enhance the quality of online content around their brand; this could explain the “Proven track record of success” portion of respondents. Ultimately, only marketers know, but most appear to have different uses in mind.
Drive Product Sales
When evaluating the success of an influencer marketing campaign, marketers show a little more conviction. The leading response suggests marketers most value the effect of an influencer campaign on their top-line sales. The results are a little more complicated than this, but sales appear to be the chief metric for measuring success, at least on the surface. Sales are not to be confused with efficient spending; ROI ranked low on the list of responses, meaning brands are willing to look past less efficient campaigns as long as they increase sales. How do influencer marketing companies address this?
Some promise to provide direct measurement with a sales lift analysis after every campaign, the notion being that sales are always relevant and therefore always measurable. Unfortunately, while sales are always relevant, their measurement isn’t always reliable. Smaller campaigns often fail to provide a large enough data set to provide any reliable measure of impact.
Collective Bias offers an entire Measurement Suite for brands to analyze, directly or indirectly, the impact of their influencer campaign(s) on sales, and unlike some competitors, we’re honest about the limitations of campaign data. Our Measurement Suite not only includes a sales lift analysis but also other means of measuring campaign impact, including a loyalty-card study and in-store traffic analysis. Consult with your analyst about how to reliably measure your influencer campaign efficacy; we’ll be ready with the right analysts and analysis for you.
Boost the Brand
The second and third most popular measurements of success among marketers surveyed by Collective Bias point to an alternative school of thought: not all marketers view sales and sales alone as the dominant metric for campaign success. Collectively, marketers seeking to drive brand page traffic and to grow their brand on social networks made up a whopping 66% of responses, easily eclipsing the percentage of respondents favoring “product sales” as the primary metric of campaign success–just 39%.
Both driving traffic to brand sites and growing a brand’s social network represent marketers’ efforts to boost their brands. Marketers invest in the growth of a brand’s social infrastructure to support future product campaigns, develop a larger brand audience, and reach potential consumers down the line. These marketers are playing a longer game, building value around a brand, cultivating the right social conversations, and educating new product users.
Often this brand-building occurs as product teams pivot towards a new target audience. Rather than rely on old demographics, brands can lean on Collective Bias to cultivate their new audience.
prescriptiveIQ™ is a data and technology stack powered by first-party shopper data that gives marketers the tools to better understand key audience insights like consumer basket behaviors, loyalty segmentation, and social trends before a campaign starts. Marketers no longer have to guess how social tactics influence brand loyalty or which brand affinities can increase the purchase frequency of a target audience. The first-party data behind prescriptiveIQ™ better informs all influencer campaigns.
The Golden Mean
Influencer content can build a brand’s social audience while also driving product sales, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple. Most influencer tactics benefit both goals, but some tactics–the strategies marketers utilize to optimize campaigns, such as promotional content or long-form YouTube videos–can conflict. Promotional content pushing discounts may drive short-term sales but lower the brand value long-term. Long-term YouTube videos may inspire brand usage occasions for years, but drive a less immediate sales impact. Marketers need just the right balance, a golden mean.
Through our fully-managed service, Collective Bias, offers clients a turn-key solution. Once a marketer connects with Collective Bias, a strategy team builds out a plan with the perfect balance of tactics. A client services downloads your brand messaging and guardrails before our community team selects the right spread of Social Fabric® Influencers to achieve your KPIs. Once your content goes live, our media team utilizes Social Content Ads to extend the reach of your content, targeting and optimizing for your target audience the whole way through. Once the campaign concludes, marketers receive performance metrics and audience insights to continue improving their strategies.
Influencer marketing is more than just driving sales or building a brand; done right, influencer marketing executes a data-informed blend of social tactics to achieve the marketer’s goals. No this or that. Marketers want it all, and with the right data and team, Collective Bias can provide just that.