One of the more challenging questions we get asked as an influencer marketing agency is, “Can you measure sales lift at a retail from influencer marketing?”
With digital marketing, many great tools help us measure results digitally and draw a direct line from your influencer marketing efforts to a customer’s online purchase. However, drawing this direct line is more complicated in the real world. In other words, measuring the success of influencer-based digital marketing efforts directly and accurately for physical retail purchases can be challenging.
That said, measuring sales lift at retail from influencer marketing is possible. To dive deeper into this, we recently sat down with one of our digital marketing data experts to discuss four ways we found to measure the ROI of influencer marketing for retail sales.
If you prefer to read along, we’ve summarized many of the highlights of the discussion in this post, covering four ways to measure sales lift from influencer marketing and the pros/cons of each method.
How to Measure Sales Lift from Influencer Marketing
Geofencing with Test and Control
When working with a national brand, such as a ground beef brand sold in a nationwide grocery chain, getting geographically specific can help you analyze the data instead of looking at the entire picture at once.
Segment out a part of the country where you want to start using influencer marketing. Simultaneously, segment another comparable part of the country where the variables are very similar, but you aren’t using any influencer marketing. This second segment will be used as a control for your data. The control is essential because it will provide a baseline for sales for you to compare to.
Ideally, you will see a difference in sales across these two locations once you start influencer activation. The sales differential in the influencer-activated region compared to the control and what you’d typically expect for the selected region will show whether or not that sales lift is present and to what degree it is present.
One thing to note is that most influencers’ audiences are not geographically concentrated. Even if they are located in Atlanta, for example, their followers will be from across the country. Therefore, it is important to geofence and syndicate their sponsored content to your selected region to get the best results.
Another thing to note is that this method requires access to data from your retail partner. They typically charge for this, so you have to have it in your budget for this measurement method to work, but keeping your geographic region small and specific can help keep this cost affordable for some companies.
Promotion Codes and Coupon Redemptions
Another way to measure retail lift from influencer marketing is to use promotion codes or coupon redemptions. A good example would be providing a call to action for customers to download a coupon that they can use in-store or online. Another example is giving influencers a promotion code to give out to prospective customers, like RYAN20.
This method makes tracking coupon downloads and promotion codes to an in-person or website purchase easy.
One factor that makes this method a little tricky is sometimes promotions can spread like wildfire online and people find them from other sources like coupon sites instead of from the influencer directly.
This situation can become a gray area where measuring the value of the influencer’s message is complicated. You are making sales with their code, which is great, but the influencer no longer controls the message and gives your customers their experience and opinions of the product. It is easy to over-count the impact of influencer marketing.
Also, those sales might be coming from people who were going to make a purchase anyways but then used the code to save money. If a code goes viral on a coupon site and creates a sales lift, it is important to ask if the marketing campaign is actually achieving what you wanted the campaign to achieve.
To measure results, it is always essential to have a benchmark to compare your sales to. For example, if you want to push a coupon or offer for a particular day, you want a benchmark to compare that day to. If the offer is for a Sunday in August, you’ll want to benchmark it against a similar Sunday.
For one-day promotions, finding a day when other factors won’t influence your data is best. For example, don’t push an email promotion and a one-day promotion at the same time. Chances are there is always something else going on, whether it is something in your control or something out of your control. For example, bad weather can keep people home and not shopping. Therefore, getting a perfectly clean benchmark is hard, but it can be insightful when you do get one.
Brand List Studies
Brand list studies are another method we often use to measure sales lift from influencer marketing. Brand list studies measure people exposed to a brand’s message and how likely they are to buy. These don’t directly measure sales but can estimate how many consumers were exposed to an influencer’s content and track them through sales.
One high-profile brand list study by Nielsen Catalina showed a 16 times higher ROI for influencer digital marketing campaigns than traditional banner ads. That is a fantastic value. However, this study was done with blog posts and Pixel, which cannot be applied to social media platforms. Therefore, this methodology is unapproachable for many brands unless you are doing a blog-heavy promotion.
Key Takeaways: How to Measure Sales Lift in Retail from Influencer Marketing
While it requires some careful study design and data analysis, measuring sales lifts in retail from influencer marketing is possible. In this article, we’ve covered four different methodologies that we’ve successfully used to measure influencer impacts on sales.
Whichever methodology might be suitable for your brand, the core concepts to keep in mind are to focus on finding something small enough to reliably test and have an impact on within your budget. You must also have a control and baseline set when designing a study.