Influencer marketing is like the cool kid in school. No one doubts their popularity, and everyone wants to be them. The channel’s success is even measured with ‘likes’, a vanity metric that brands have been paying millions for. However, is being the new popular marketing channel on the block enough anymore?
The ‘2019 State of Influencer Marketing’ reports that 55.8% of marketers don’t know how to set goals for influencer marketing and consequently understand how it could fit in their overall marketing strategy. This seems to suggest there are a lot of disappointed marketers out there spending budgets but not really knowing what benefit the campaign has brought them.
Is the glamour of influencer marketing wearing off?
This confusion over purpose and measurement, along with the constant stream of compliance issues seems to show that the glamour of influencer marketing is wearing off.
So much of what you read or listen to about influencer marketing is full of promise. Performance, ROI and all the other buzzwords marketers want to hear. However, these often fall flat, and you end up with nothing more than titbits about reach and engagement. Engagements, unfortunately, don’t make your FD sleep well at night.
Taking it seriously
So how do we help influencer marketing mature into a channel that we can take seriously?
Firstly, we must understand what business outcomes it can drive so that we can set our goals accordingly. The most obvious goal is that of brand awareness. We follow influencers because they are the innovators and early adopters. They bring us new and exciting information, restaurants, services, bars, products that we haven’t heard of before. According to the report, 41% of 18-29-year-olds use an ad blocker and 86% of people mute or skip TV ads. Therefore, for many, organic social media is the main way they find out about brands.
A powerful and fairly unique goal influencer marketing can solve is changing perception. There is some dispute over how much trust consumers have in influencers; one report will tell you trust is high and another that trust is low. I side with the former but would argue that you don’t necessarily need trust to change someone’s perception. For example, if you want consumers to view you as more fashionable and on-trend then working with influencers with great style will help shift perception. If you start to see several fashionable influencers over weeks or even months wearing a brand then before you know it you’ve likely changed your mind about that brand.
Another goal influencer marketing can drive is response. How effective influencers can be in driving ROI depends on your product, product margin, AOV, and your target CPA. If you are focusing on performance only and you have small product margins, influencer marketing may not be for you. However, what you should also consider is that you are getting content created as well as distributed within your budget. This doesn’t happen with other channels and therefore you can perhaps offset your marketing budget with some budget from your social or creative team.
Response campaigns should be planned differently to brand awareness campaigns however you are still getting added brand benefits even when concentrating on response. After all, you are targeting an audience who are fairly turned off to brand ads but consume a lot of influencer content.
We have found however that even with low price point items, influencer marketing can achieve better results than paid social when done right.
Developing a strategy that matches your goal
Being ‘done right’, or effective planning and measurement is the second area that needs to be improved. This includes developing a strategy that matches your goal, using data to select influencers properly and tracking the right thing for your goal. These three areas alone could warrant three separate articles, so we will focus on the last one.
Trackable links are not rocket science and get used constantly in other types of online media but seem to get forgotten in influencer marketing. By using pixeled links we can measure clicks, sales, revenue, AOV, abandoned baskets and more. The one unfortunate thing with influencer marketing compared to other online channels is that we can’t track from the impression. This means we cannot see all the sales that come from people seeing the ad but going directly to your website from Google. There are a couple of ways around this. Voucher codes can suck some of these responses up but we would also recommend setting a baseline where possible. By doing this we can see the uplift the influencer campaign drives and apply this % to future campaigns.
There are also tech solutions popping up which help track in-store sales by opening a card in the consumer’s mobile wallet. This will include a QR code that the store clerk can scan attributing the sale back to your campaign.
If you want to track brand awareness or perception change then you’ll need to use a survey-based solution and/or social listening. By using social listening, you can see the uplift in people talking about your brand as well as the brand sentiment. Without these solutions, you will only be able to show social metrics such as reach and impressions.
Once you know your goal and how you are going to track, you can use your target KPIs as benchmarks to help you get effective rates. Industry benchmarks are also crucial because if you are offering way too little in payment, you won’t get much response. However, influencer rates are very up and down, so having a target CPV or CPC in mind will help you negotiate and filter out those that are too expensive.
Popularity is no longer enough as influencer marketing needs to mature. Let’s put vanity metrics to one side and start taking influencer marketing seriously. By setting the right goal, planning effectively and measuring correctly you can have a campaign focused on business outcomes and make the most of your budget.