Opinion

Why You Should Focus on Long-Tail Influencers for Your Performance Program

Wade Crang, co-founder of Impact and VP of Global Operations runs through how long-tail influencers can enhance advertisers' performance programs.

With 60% of consumers consulting blogs, vlogs or social media posts on products before considering a purchase and influencer marketing generating up to 11 times the ROI of
traditional advertising, advertiser performance programs need to embrace long-tail influencers, also called micro-influencers, as a vital element. But how do you tangibly drive and attribute the metrics that matter through influencer marketing?

First, what do we mean by “long-tail” influencers? Long-tail is based on a theory from Wired’s Chris Anderson in 2004, that puts forth the idea that modern consumption habits are “increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of ‘hits’ (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.”

The term “influencers” runs the gamut these days, but long-tail influencer refers to the bloggers/vloggers/social media leaders whose devoted niche following takes this influencer’s endorsements to heart as honest, action-taking advice. Long-tail influencers are not usually the big celebrities—they are the mommy bloggers, ultra-foodies, or yoga gurus who appeal to a very specific audience. The content produced by these influencers is authentic and directly connected to their audiences, which results in far greater engagement.

With marketing trends continuing toward the long-tail, it’s important to identify the role of the influencer to see where they affect consumers along the path to conversion. Essentially, there are three roles influencers play:

  • Introducers: Those who introduce a brand or product into a consumers’ mind space.
  • Contributors: Those who contribute and ensure that the brand or product remains top-of-mind as they contemplate their purchase decision.
  • Closers: Those who close the deal and are the final point of persuasion that drives the purchase decision through.

Influencers often function as introducers or contributors, and are less likely to be found towards the end of a conversion path, so when you are looking at your performance marketing, you need to make sure you look at the full attribution path, and not just the last event, so be sure your influencers get credit for their part in the process of conversion. And as we move even more towards the long tail in our brands, where each company produces a huge variety of different products to appeal to a highly specialized consumer base, the long-tail influencer becomes all the more important.

So, when it comes to tracking and analyzing ROI and attribution, it’s important that influencer marketing is folded into, or at least supported by, your performance partnership program. But how?

  1. Track it beyond vanity metrics: Vanity metrics such as “likes” and “shares” that are common on social platforms are inadequate KPIs or measures of success. Performance programs provide deep mastery around how to track and attribute everything back to how it drives revenue, which has been missing from the influencer marketing conversation today.
  2. Payout and revenue data: Without having visibility into both the spend and revenue data, it is impossible to calculate a reliable ROI number, which is one of the most important metrics in marketing. By folding the influencer program into the performance arm of a company, marketers are able to pull payout and revenue data and confidently calculate ROI per influencer.

Performance marketing has for too long been synonymous with deal, coupon, rewards and loyalty sites. Some forward-thinking performance programs have expanded their outlook on what constitutes “performance marketing” into a more holistic view of “partner marketing.” This is actually an effective way to think about long-tail influencers—they become your partners because they are directly influencing their specific audiences vital to your marketing program’ success.

Here are a number of less-common types of media partners, including influencers, that could be tracked, managed and monitored by your performance or partner program:

  • Social influencers
  • Influencers on blogs and other content marketing channels
  • Brand and local ambassadors
  • Strategic revenue-generating partnerships

At the end of the day, the various types of influencers need to be managed – but differently. You should look at long-tail influencers similarly to media partners, rather than the big celebrity influencers, which are generally more aligned with branding and awareness goals and not likely to change the way they are paid. However, micro- or long-tail influencers (as long as they are recognized in the conversion path and aren’t reliant on last-click) are generally open to performance-based compensation, because the high engagement they command from their followers often results in a win-win for both sides of the relationship.

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