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Why Measuring Influencer Marketing Shouldn’t Be Hard

Jason Falls

28 Sep 2021 · 5 min read


What’s the most perplexing issue you find in today’s influencer marketing landscape? For many, the answer is how to measure influencer marketing. For me, it’s that people have a problem measuring influencer marketing in the first place.

Measuring any kind of digital marketing is not hard. This is an environment of ones and zeroes. Everything here is quantifiable. Measurement can be complex, for sure. But complexity only implies the need for planning and time to execute. Those are only hard if you’re lazy.

To make measuring influencer marketing easier for you, I’ve boiled down the process to three reminders. If you start your influencer marketing campaigns with these three points in mind, you’ll find measurement is one of the easiest things you do.

Define A Clear Goal

The most important answer you need to have when beginning and building your influencer marketing efforts is the one to the question, “What is my goal?” Without knowing the ultimate reason you’re doing this in the first place means you can never know when you’ve achieved it.

In general, goals will fall into one of two broad categories:

  1. Persuade the audience to take action

    This could be to buy your product, download content from your website, subscribe to your email newsletter, or follow you on social media.

  2. Persuade the audience to think differently

    This could be to simply think about you more (awareness), change their opinion of your product or service, or support your position on a given issue.

The first is the easier of the two to measure. You simply know the number of people who took the action before a given campaign starts, then measure how many took the action during. If more than one campaign or channel is used to drive the same action, you leverage attribution tools or models to know which channel drove what results.

The second is more challenging to measure, but again, not hard. You do need to measure how many people are aware of you, or what percentage think one way or another about you or the issue in question before you begin. Then you measure again after the campaign. The change is your result.

Plan Ahead to Measure

I wrote in Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand that not planning to measure is like getting to the end of the driveway in the family van, turning to your spouse and kids and asking, “Where are we going on vacation?” You haven’t made reservations, bought tickets, packed suitcases, found someone to feed the cats, or even locked the house.

Why then would you launch a marketing campaign for your company without first planning to measure?

In my experience, about 90% of the problem most businesses have with measurement is they wait until the end of the campaign to think about it. You didn’t start with benchmarks to know how far from them you moved. You didn’t identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) you needed to monitor and capture along the way to gauge success.

So, when you get to the end of the year and ask, “How did we do?” The answer is normally, “I’m not sure. What were we trying to do again? How were we going to measure that?”

The first step in developing our campaign was to define a clear goal, right? The next step is to decide exactly what we’ll measure to illustrate whether or not we accomplished it.

If your goal is to increase sales among women aged 35-54, you first need to know what your sales in that segment were for the previous period. Then you need to develop an influencer marketing campaign that chooses influencers and content creators that reach that audience. Next, you need to ensure the messaging the influencers share includes the call-to-action to purchase your product. Then you need to design a way to know which sales came from your influencer audiences.

You can do that using unique purchase codes, UTM parameters and custom short links delineated by influencer, or sending all traffic to unique landing pages per campaign or influencer. And you need to use a website analytics tool that presents the actions taken on your site, and can segment them by gender and age group.

What you’ve done is set data traps along the way to know how many women aged 35-54 are buying your product. You’ve also built a measurement system that is active during the campaign which you can monitor, analyze and optimize for maximum performance. You aren’t just waiting until the end to see how you did.

Measure to the Goal

The final piece of the measurement puzzle is all about focus. You have to measure to the stated goal of the project. And, more importantly, not be distracted by measures and analytics, charts and graphs, that do not.

The honest truth is that automatic reports from the various software packages we use in marketing, even ubiquitous ones like Google Analytics, paralyze us with too much information. If my goal is to drive website conversions, I don’t really care much about the time on site. Yes, it can correlate to higher tendency to purchase or higher average order value, but I don’t care how long people spend there as long as they convert.

With influencer marketing, you’re often presented with a given content creator’s reach, impressions and engagements. But if your goal was to drive sales from that influencer, none of those are the ultimate measure of your success. Yes, they can indicate better chances of conversions, or provide supplemental returns beyond your main goal, but they aren’t your key performance indicator. They’re just performance indicators.

My recommendation is to define the 1-3 measures that answer the question, “Did we achieve our goal?” and focus only on those measures for your reporting.

At the risk of committing data science blasphemy, what I’m saying to you is that your influencer marketing campaign report can be one page with 1-3 numbers on it, not 57 PowerPoint slides with more charts than a Calculus textbook.

So, if my goal in using influencer marketing is to create broader awareness of our new product feature, my report could look like this:

Does the number of influencers I used matter? Sure. Do I need to see that on the report? No. Does the number of reach, engagements, or video views matter? Yeah. Does it answer whether or not I achieved my goal? No.

Yes, you can print all the charts and graphs, make copies, and put a multiple-page campaign report in a binder. You can distribute it to the board of directors, shareholders, or put it up on the shelf next to the one from last quarter.

But if you follow the advice in the first two reminders (Define a Clear Goal and Plan to Measure) all you really need can fit in a standard text message.

The K.I.S.S. Rule

Measuring influencer marketing shouldn’t be hard. In fact your measurement can likely be improved immensely by simply following the K.I.S.S. rule: Keep it stupidly simple.

Define a clear goal, communicate that through the organization, then report the handful of metrics that illustrate that you did or did not meet it. If you do, you’ll get fewer questions, and fewer ulcers, about measuring your influencer marketing.

Jason Falls is a content partner and guest contributor to Tagger. He is also the author of Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand and the host of Winfluence - The Influence Marketing Podcast.

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