Celebrity tweets, product endorsements – no matter how companies do it, it’s clear influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere.
According to eMarketer, companies shelled out an estimated $570M globally last year on influencer marketing – turning to social media stars on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube to promote their brands to masses of dedicated followers.
But influencer marketing is still a fairly new practice, and many marketers still struggle with how to quantify success. According to a Linqia study, 78 percent of marketers surveyed said defining ROI was one of their biggest challenges when evaluating campaigns.
“The challenge there is to have an easy, turn-key way to have those partners working with you, and have them track and measure the activity they’re doing,” Todd Crawford, co-founder of digital marketing platform Impact Radius, said.
Here are some other things to consider when building a data-driven influencer marketing strategy for 2018:
Establish influencer marketing goals – and keep them
What role do influencers play in your customer journey? Typically, influencers are a powerful tool at the top of the funnel, with “shout outs” and social promotions serving as drivers for brand awareness and validation through “celebrity” caliber endorsement from an audience of dedicated followers.
But tracking metrics like social shares, impressions and engagement is only one piece of the puzzle. Sure, the exposure is great, but how much of that exposure ends up as customer acquisition or conversion?
“You have to be able to stitch the consumer journey together, to make sure you can measure the value of all touchpoints that are contributing,” Crawford said.
When mapping customer journey, evaluate how you want to attribute influencer contribution into your data set. Some metrics to consider:
- How much traffic influencer posts drive to your website
- How much revenue is generated from individual influencer posts
- What parts of the customer journey are impacted the most (initial interest, comparing products, final purchase, etc.)
- New customer vs. returning customer ratios
- Average order values
Like any marketing strategy, results from campaigns should be directly tied to ROI – not only to justify the budget, but to improve on it if you’re not getting the results you need.
Quality vs. quantity: the rise of the micro-influencer
When it comes to maximizing ROI, bigger influencers may not always be the better choice for your marketing strategy.
“I think in the beginning people were really attracted to the big influencers, the ‘Kim Kardashians’ of the world, where they have a large audience,” Crawford said. “But now, audiences understand that it’s a paid tweet, and that celebrity may not really use the products they’re endorsing.”
To improve ROI, Crawford suggests considering “micro-influencers.” These accounts are smaller, but still have substantial followings — often in targeted or niche areas.
“When you get to the micro-influencers, their followers actually want to know what they think – they take the time to do reviews or have an opinion,” Crawford said.
There are several ways micro-influencers can benefit to your marketing strategy:
- Better targeting: Micro-influencers in specific niches can often attract quality audiences that better align with brand goals. When working with influencers, make sure you’re tracking the conversion paths tied to each post (as we mentioned before) to accurately gauge success.
- Longer content cycles: Utilizing evergreen content can help increase brand awareness longevity, reaching potential audiences long after that first plug. “With a large influencer, it’s one and done. They post and you pay the money – and there’s hardly any length to that post – it spikes and goes away,” Crawford said. “With micro-influencers, their content is more evergreen…they may be tweeting things that are also on their blog or on YouTube.”
- More incentive: Instead of paying upfront costs, consider options like revenue share, where influencers are paid a percentage of every conversion directly tied to their efforts. This will increase incentive for influencers to actively engage and promote your product or services.
Structuring your influencer strategy for 2018 comes down to two things – analytics and accountability. Tapping into data will help marketing teams make the best decisions when it comes to partnerships and evaluating success. Strong data will also help track and define goals that can be directly attributed to campaigns.
“I think the trend of influencer marketing is still strong. In the earlier days it was more organic – it wasn’t really solidified. There was a lot of hope around it, and a lot of regret around it,” Crawford said. “I think now the data, the technology, the partnerships, and the understanding of what it takes from both sides has a lot of potential.”