For much of its existence Influencer Marketing has escaped the metrics and measurement we see Performance Marketing traditionally held to. Exactly what success looked like for an Influencer campaign was open to interpretation, varying from brand to brand. Strategies here typically strove to achieve maximum exposure, with minimal data falling behind the results to back up its apparent success. It makes sense; influencer marketing was born in a PR world, but in 2020 that world has well and truly collided with performance marketing. 

Even now the industry as a whole has yet to connect the dots that will allow us to truly understand the effect of an influencer’s endorsement or branded content. It certainly isn’t for a lack of trying, but whilst what happens in Instagram, stays in Instagram, are we ever truly able to know how a campaign performed?

Simply put, yes. We can if we’re smart and layout the breadcrumbs that will define performance for us. 

Evolve your strategies

If we start to evolve the way we create strategies to include some of the key points of a performance marketing strategy then we can start to follow a customer’s journey with a brand, from their first interaction with the influencer content we placed to inspire that very journey. What we see with Performance Marketing strategies is an emphasis on accounting for events along the way, in order to provide us with a more detailed picture at the end.

Looking at direct the sales and traffic from an influencer’s inclusion of your product will only ever give you a one-dimensional view of its performance. Obtaining a piece of content’s KPIs from the influencer (should they oblige) will at best help you flesh this by a second dimension. So how do we get the third? 

Look at your data

Attribution and incrementality are buzz words those in the affiliate marketing space will be incredibly familiar with. Networks have each worked towards building a model that allows us – the strategy makers – insight into the journey a customer follows through the affiliate world before eventually pressing confirm on the checkout page. What we likely know from being customers ourselves is that the journey can sometimes be long and convoluted. The seed planted in the back of your mind long before a decision is ultimately made. Along the way several other factors might well arrive; cashback publishers, voucher code publishers, a piece of content your team also placed, or just simply several months.

Whilst our networks and SaaS platforms are definitely working to flesh out their attribution models to help give us the full picture of purchase, in this mix the true influence of influencers is largely lost. Should they have included your products in a blog post or perhaps a YouTube video then you’re lucky. We can start to factor in their purchase power. However, whilst one of the industry’s biggest-selling tools, Instagram, isn’t able to pass on its cookies to a browser, the whole picture is unfortunately out of grasp.

Items that inspire an instant, spur of the moment purchase truly succeed. For many transacting in the platform’s browser isn’t a problem for a relatively unconsidered purchase. But what about an influencer promoting a holiday to their audience? Or a handbag attached to a price tag that can only be described as ‘an investment’? The number of consumers who’ll instantly transact within the browser and therefore assign the sale to its source is greatly diminished.

Tracking your organic mentions

Paid content with influencers is one thing, we can implement ways in which to track and monitor the results, but what about the organic inclusions? Arguably a far more accurate way of monitoring an influencer’s influence. It’s an industry acknowledged fact that content labelled as an #Ad tends to receive less traction and engagement than an organic endorsement. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be done however, but it is the legacy and long-term benefit you need to bring in to your measure. 

Does the product go on to be mentioned outside of this paid content? Does the influencer endorse you repeatedly? Do they direct their followers to you when they ask questions or require a recommendation?

To bring in that third dimension to our reporting on performance we need to blend our influencer marketing strategies with key learnings from performance marketing. Let’s follow that customer from that initial spark of inspiration provided by an influencer, right through to their purchase, whenever it may occur. The way we do that? Give the consumer a reason to join those dots on our behalf. 

Beauty Pie are a brand who’ve seen the importance of a customer’s need for time to think and review. The influencers they invited to collaborate with the brand were each given a code to provide their audience with, increasing their initial monthly allowance on their first order. These codes are indefinite. ‘CAROLINESENTME’ will forevermore tell Beauty Pie the true power Caroline Hirons has to inform, inspire and instigate a customer to purchase with them. They played the long game and more importantly, saw the value in it above instant performance. Affiliate links were present to capture those instant Swipe Ups – and even those who came directly from a blog and YouTube post – but the third dimension to the performance comes from this return for a consumer to always return to the original source. They get something for it. That incentive reappears with organic content the influencer’s posted, time and time again. 

In the case of Beauty Pie, it wasn’t so much a discount as an encouragement to spend more with them, simply because they increased the amount you could spend with them. There are a whole host of ways in which we can ensure a consumer provides us with their original source outside of a discount, however. Referral codes acting as an inclusion in a monthly giveaway, free shipping, additional samples, exclusive elements and access; utilise what we have learnt from performance marketing and apply it to influencer marketing.

If your affiliate strategy is well managed you’ll be able to negate these codes or referral links finding themselves posted elsewhere, allowing you to close the gap and understand the real value of an influencer’s opinion. At the same, should there be any overlap (an influencer code being applied to a purchase a cashback provider ultimately takes the last click for, for example) you’re provided with even more information to measure performance with? That influencer didn’t claim that sale, but they were a deciding factor in its event. 

To conclude

When it comes to determining the performance of Influencer Marketing the key lies right there in the title itself. Influence. That’s what we need to devise our strategies to understand and record. What sales and new customers can your influencer marketing campaign ultimately inspire? In working to put the strategy in place that will allow us to see the full picture we can drastically alter the ROI and measured performance of a campaign.