Spending on influencer marketing continues to rise, with Business Insider predicting that investment in the sector will reach $15 billion annually by 2022. With so much money being invested, marketers can no longer approach this channel as a pure awareness effort tied to paying flat fees to celebrity endorsers.
Influencer marketing helps build awareness and brand love, no doubt. But it’s also a very effective component of performance marketing efforts, much like other well-established channels including partner and affiliate marketing. As brands look to better integrate influencer marketing into their media mixes, and thereby tie it more closely to broader marketing KPIs and revenue-focused metrics, they should consider rolling influencer marketing into their partnership and performance channels. This will lead to several benefits, including the following.
Connecting influencer activity to real results
A lot of brands today have been giving influencer marketing a pass when it comes to demonstrating results because it’s been believed that there is no model for accurately tracking outcomes. However, established performance channel tactics and approaches can easily be retrofitted to the influencer channel.
The first step to holding influencer marketing accountable for business impact is to get the right measurement in place. This means being able to tie activity and purchases directly to each influencer. One of the easiest ways to do this is to provide each influencer with unique tracking codes and URLs for their programs. With these simple elements in place, tying activity to results becomes fairly straightforward.
Of course, tying influencer activity to results doesn’t always mean your agreements have to be directly tied to conversions. Unique tracking codes can help identify engagement and performance in other ways. Whether compensation is tied to sales or engagement, implementing a measurement system similar to what’s used in other partnerships and performance channels will give brands the ability to track, report, and pay partners for the results they drive.
Forging niche influencer relationships
When brands tie their influencer marketing efforts to performance metrics, they’re able to open up their programs in ways that previously didn’t make sense. Tying payments to results encourages brands to work with micro-influencers who have more niche and brand-relevant audiences. These smaller players in the social space can have an outsized impact for brands, with 82% of consumers saying they would follow a recommendation by a micro-influencer. By enabling niche celebrities to be compensated for their real impact rather than their sometimes-modest audience numbers, brands can forge deeper relationships with these influencers that will benefit both sides greatly.
Optimising campaigns with better data
Bringing influencer marketing into the performance realm does more than just enable better influencer payment models. It also provides brands, and their partners, with the data needed to optimise efforts for better results over time.
In this regard, creating a data feedback loop with influencers can be invaluable. When influencers are able to see exactly how certain posts and activities drive results (and thus, their compensation), they’re incentivised to adjust their activities on an ongoing basis for better results, and the brands themselves can aid their efforts by providing better assets and collateral according to performance data. Providing these data feedback loops and the opportunity to optimise efforts can help brands identify the influencers who are truly committed to making the partnership work.
Managing programs more efficiently
In addition to all the other benefits, tying influencer marketing into partnership and performance programs also opens a whole new realm of management efficiencies. By implementing tools and analytics systems that are capable of tying influencer results into established performance programs, marketers can realise streamline operations when it comes to cross-channel tracking, measurement, and reporting.
The results of a well-run, performance-driven influencer partnership are often evident not just in the campaign results themselves but also in the depth and alignment of the brand-influencer dynamic. Higher compensation for performance yields stronger relationships with influencers and the true brand love that develops, as a result, translates authentically to the influencer’s efforts on behalf of a brand.