When it comes to measuring the return on investment (ROI) of influence marketing, social media offers some key advantages over traditional marketing and advertising.
Prior to social media’s rise as an essential business solution, marketing campaigns were primarily through print, media including TV and radio, and direct mail. The use of flyers, posters, billboards and print editorials were the staple method of promotion, often complemented with radio spots or television ads.
The main problem with these methods is that it was difficult to pinpoint which ones were working and driving foot traffic to a brick and mortar store.
- If a business sent 10,000 flyers out, how could they guarantee their intended recipients saw all 10,000?
- Or if a radio spot played during a certain time of day based on that radio station’s demographics, how could a business be sure a certain percentage of that audience heard and acted on that ad?
The answer to both questions is simple – they couldn’t. If there was increased foot traffic to a location or more calls to a call centre for a company’s information pack, more often than not the source of that referral was virtually impossible to identify.
Social media changed that.
The ability to create extremely targeted campaigns, combined with platforms that measure which networks and content create the most return on investment, has made social media a key part of every smart business owner’s toolset.
This ability to measure business results is easily transferrable to measuring influencer results – the difference is in what, and who, you measure.
Measuring the Brand Metric
There are two core metrics that brands need to measure in any influence marketing campaign. The first is the Brand Metric.
The investment metric is the pre-campaign cost of researching which influencers are right for you by identifying Micro and Macro Influencers; how much it costs to set the program up; and using that as a barometer against how much return (financial or awareness) you experienced.
The financial investment of an influencer campaign involves more than pure monetary costs. Resources like manpower (how many employees are needed and how many hours they need to allocate to the campaign) and education (how much time you need to allocate to train each influencer on your product and company culture) also need to be measured and added to the bigger financial investment.
To encourage an influencer’s audience to connect with your brand from a lead generation or purchase decision angle, free samples of your product need to be made available to the audience as well as the influencer. Test or demo areas may also need to be set up for more technical-led products or software.
The cost to your company for the amount of products sent out, coupled with the hosting costs of the demo area online, need to be factored into the overall financial investment of the campaign.
Measuring the Influencer Metric
In addition to measuring the Brand Metric, the second key metric to track is the Influencer Metric, which can be broken down into three key areas.
The biggest problem many brands have when it comes to results from social scoring platforms is the “influencer” targeted is simply another number in a database with a large following and an amplified voice online. This lack of differentiation is guaranteed to provide poor returns.
Instead, the ratio of community to followers is key – a thriving, interactive community that reacts to an influencer is far more important than higher follower numbers. It’s these qualitative reactions that provide a higher propensity of actions taken by the influencer’s community.
Measure how many reactions an influencer is receiving when sharing your message as a percentage of their overall following to extract a more exact return on that specific influencer.
Every marketing campaign, whether online or offline, succeeds primarily for one main reason – the perception of that campaign and the buy-in of the audience.
Using the same metrics to measure your influencer campaign will allow you to understand the sentiment around the brand message, and how the target audience perceives both your brand and the campaign itself. It also allows you to quickly identify areas that upset a certain demographic and amend the message accordingly, or instigate a crisis communication response if needed.
Additionally, you can see which influencer receives a favourable reaction and adoption, allowing you to increase awareness around him or her and helping improve the perception of a less well-received influencer.
The most valuable barometer to showing whether an influencer campaign has worked or not is the effect it has on your brand.
From a brand awareness point of view, measurement needs to include:
- traffic generated to a website, microsite or landing page;
- how many times your brand or product is mentioned online and how many people recognize your name when mentioned;
- how many new fans or followers you accrue on the social networks your brand is on;
- how many white papers or fact sheets were downloaded from your website;
- and how many new subscribers you receive to your company blog or newsletter.
From a more dedicated business angle, it’s much more straightforward:
- how many new inquiries did your inbound sales team receive;
- how many referrals did your direct sales team receive;
- and how many sales were directly attributed to your influencer’s work with their community.
Depending on your product or service, the purchase cycle of your customer may be a longer one than the duration of your campaign – include a plan to continue measuring the effect of the initial influence campaign on this purchase path.
Moving Beyond the Metrics for Influence Marketing ROI
While by no means exhaustive, both the Brand Metric and the Influencer Metric measurement examples are key parts of any kind of influencer campaign your brand partakes in.
Each metric is a guideline to the core information that needs to be tracked in each example – your own brand’s definition of additional metrics will be determined by the results you’re looking to achieve.
You may only be interested in awareness, in which case you’d place more emphasis on:
- what platforms will show most return
- what new platforms you can take advantage of
- where your competitors are interacting online
- and how you can insert your brand into these conversations via your influencers.
If you’re more geared towards pure sales and lead generation, your outreach and subsequent measurement needs to be focused more on:
- potential e-commerce partnerships with peers and colleagues of your influence
- affiliate sales programs for your influencer’s community
- and/or strategic partnerships with other businesses in your industry who can benefit from increased exposure through your influencer while introducing you to their audience.
Either way, determining the end goal allows you to chart a path back from there and identify the milestones and metrics that matter for each one.
Get this part right, and your influence campaign will move from being a nice to have to becoming an essential part of the puzzle.