The struggle to measure influencer marketing ROI
In a recent survey of marketers by Econsultancy, 65% said they faced a challenge measuring influencer marketing within their organization.
Fair enough. Except we think influencer marketing is fairly easy to prove out. In fact, we’ve captured and reported everything from equivalent media value to actual sales lift from Carusele campaigns.
While there are many ways to prove out the business value of influencer marketing, which option is right for you will depend heavily on where your products are sold, how frequently customers buy, and the level of data you have control over in terms of tracking and reporting.
Below we've highlighted over twenty-five ways you can measure influencer marketing ROI.
Level 1: The Basics
If you're just getting started with influencer marketing, then the metrics below are a great place to get started and help set the baseline for your own influencer marketing benchmarks. They’re easy to gather using your social media monitoring tool of choice but will require the influencer to provide you with links to every piece of social content they create throughout the campaign.
- Potential Impressions: The maximum number of times your brand message could get in front of your target audience.
- Channel Growth: Increase in brand channel likes, followers, or subscribers across targeted platforms.
- Pieces of Content: The number of pieces of content placed on the web during a campaign, including all blogs, photos, videos, and social shares.
- Engagements: The number of social interactions you receive from influencer-produced content, such as likes, comments, shares, etc.
- Clicks: The total number of times audiences clicked on content to “learn more”.
- Total Potential Reach: The cumulative number of followers from all influencers utilized in a campaign.
- Number of Influencers: The total number of influencers paid to participate in a single campaign.
WATCHOUT: Not all influencer companies measure these metrics the same way. Some will estimate second-generation or “viral” metrics like impressions, engagements and clicks without validation. Ex. User A shares Influencer B’s post, which has a total of 100 shares. User A’s shared post counts for another 10 shares, based on the share rate of the influencer’s post, even if those shares never occurred.
Level 2: Campaign Insights
For those of you who already have a foundation for your influencer marketing strategy, the next step is pulling business insights and feedback by analyzing the performance of individual content and individual influencers in each campaign. These insights can help not only inform future campaigns but also provide valuable information on the creative and content angles that resonate with your target audience. Level 2 insights can include:
- Content Performance Insights: Evaluating every individual piece of influencer-produced content based on impressions, engagements, clicks, etc., then comparing against one another to determine top-performing content.
- Influencer Performance Scoring: Evaluating the performance of each influencer based on campaign objectives, as well as overall reach and cost efficiency, to determine top-performing influencers.
- Engaged Audiences: Using the insights provided by any influencer produced content that was boosted throughout the campaign, you can assemble a profile of your brand’s most engaged audience.
- Increase in Online Share of Voice: During the campaign, track relevant online mentions of the brand and select competitors. Then, compare these findings against a similar benchmark period (campaign period vs. benchmark period).
- Equivalent Media Value: In this instance you need to determine a benchmark CPM. Once in place, consider similar placements and content types and the benchmark value for each, such as a premium native content buy or premium targeted digital ads. Then compare the two values.
- Content Value: Value of content that can be used in the future can be credited to total campaign cost when comparing metrics against other marketing tactics. Consider how much it costs to create creative assets internally and assign a value to each.
- Audience Attention: If you recognize that engagements suggest consideration, take some time to attribute a value to each type of measurable engagement based on the amount of time it takes an average user to complete the action.
Level 3: Partial Attribution/Purchase Indicators
Brands who want to prove the value of influencer marketing relative to sales contribution can benefit from including these business metrics in their influencer programs. Just remember, these components will need to be set up prior to the start of your influencer marketing campaigns in order for them to work. In fact, the campaign setup should be structured to drive these results. Level 3 metrics include:
- Promotion Code Redemption: Having influencers share coupons or codes that are exclusive to your campaign is a great way to get credit for at least a portion of resulting sales.
- Direct Web Traffic: Given most influencer content has already introduced the product, often in much detail, clicks through to your website can be indicative of audiences in consideration.
- Lift in Online Mentions: A lift in overall conversation about a brand online has often been an early indication that overall sales growth will follow.
- Branded Keyword Search Volume Lift: The increase in organic search volume for your brand and/or product is also often an indicator of growing consideration and future sales growth.
- Correlated Sales Lift: Comparing sales data in the weeks during and immediately after a campaign to a benchmark period (consider time-frame attributes like product availability, promotions, seasonality, distribution, etc.) is a way most brands can start to make assumptions about the direct business impact of their influencer campaigns.
- Other Correlation Analysis: Measuring how the timing of campaign delivery correlates to lifts in other key business metrics is an alternative to lagging or unavailable sales data.
- Conversion Tracking: By setting up the appropriate link tagging and funnels within your e-commerce analytics platform, most influencer campaigns can be evaluated on their ability to drive web traffic that converts to a sale or other website goal.
- Goal Conversion Correlation: Not all conversions occur via a UTM coded URL. Mobile app downloads or offline activities may need to be evaluated by correlating lifts in user activity to metrics like impressions or engagements from your influencer campaign.
- Ad Recall Lift Rate: A traditional TV metrics applied to the social space, Facebook Ad Recall Lift Rate, is a research-based estimation of the number of people who saw your ad that will remember it 48 hours later. This metric is an indicator as to whether your influencer content had the desired impact.
- Affiliate Sales: Measuring influencer affiliate links to track sales online through social channels and blog content.
Level 4: Influencer Performance Studies
While level 3 metrics show some of the impacts on business (for example, the tracked sales may only be a subset of all the sales influenced), there are several ways to show a more holistic view of how your influencer marketing campaigns directly attributed to sales lift and driving people into stores. And while many of these Level 4 performance studies do require a heavy investment, they can certainly be worth the results.
- Sales Lift Study: A sales lift study is conducted by developing a system in which purchase behaviors of those exposed to the influencer content is analyzed against a control group that did not see the content. The following example shows the results of a 2016 study conducted by Nielsen Catalina Solutions in conjunction with Carusele partner TapInfluence and CPG company WhiteWave Foods. Read more here about how this study worked.
- Foot Traffic Study: A system by which the presence in-store of devices exposed to influencer content is analyzed against foot traffic of a control group that did not see the content. By matching exposed devices going into the store against the control group, foot traffic lift can be measured.
WATACHOUT: Exposed and non-exposed groups are controlled through carefully built target audiences and controlled ad serving. This type of analysis will not capture the bulk of organically served influencer content.
Since paid media is required to reach scale for this campaign, the minimum budget levels are high. We suggest ensuring you have a sophisticated system for identifying, scoring, and only boosting the best performing content, like we do at Carusele. You’ll save precious ad dollars by not having to test all content with paid media prior to optimizing against your foot traffic objective.
Also, of note, your campaign must be carefully timed to account for average store visit frequency, a challenge that can prove difficult for high-frequency retailers.
- Media Mix Modeling: A statistical analysis on sales and marketing time series data to estimate the impact of various marketing tactics on sales and then forecast the impact of future sets of tactics.
This is not a tactic that can be implemented for a standalone influencer strategy. To be used successfully, the brand or retailer must already use media mix modeling and likely already measure social media’s impact on that media mix. In addition, the scale of the influencer marketing programs must be significant enough to expect measurable impact on sales lift. On the positive side, when done properly, this is the most sophisticated measurement structure and can strongly validate such programs.
Don't be overwhelmed by these metrics. Make sure you download the full white paper PDF below to ensure you have a full understanding of each option and a chance to see how they're applied to real examples from Carusele's influencer marketing campaigns.