Influencer marketing works. According to a study, influencer marketing is estimated to have grown from $1.7 billion market size in 2016 to $9.7 billion in 2020, and is expected to reach $13.8 billion in 2021.
Even during the pandemic, in spite of all predictions, influencer marketing continued to grow with micro influencers mainly on the rise. Research says that 96% of US and UK consumers who followed influencers were engaging with them either more or to the same extent as before the coronavirus outbreak.
There are also several reports and case studies out there that show that influencer marketing can pay big returns. An example is this study, which found that for every $1 you put into influencer marketing you get back $6.50.
But you won’t automatically begin generating results just because you invest in this popular marketing method. Not all campaigns will be successful. This could be because of a variety of reasons ranging from that particular influencer having fake followers to you implementing a bad strategy.
This is why you need to track every influencer marketing campaign you execute and determine if it is a success or not.
Before we step into the influencer KPIs, here are some important steps that will make it easy for you to choose the right metrics to track.
1. Determine your goals.
Different metrics and KPIs will help you track the performance of different goals. For example, you won’t be using all of the same metrics to track different goals such as sales and brand impressions.
For sales, you need to track metrics such as clicks and sales (of course). But for brand impressions, you need to track other metrics like views, impressions, sentiment, and more.
Some potential goals you can set are:
- Sales growth
- Brand awareness
- Brand reputation
- New audience outreach
The list goes on and on, but note that these are very generic goals. In order to get the best out of influencer marketing, you need to look at your brand’s business goals and then set influencer marketing goals that will support your overall marketing strategy.
2. Base your influencer marketing KPIs on industry benchmarks.
When you set goals, you need to be specific. If your aim is to increase sales, you need to write down the exact number of dollars or percentage you want to increase your sales by. You also need to choose a time frame. But make sure to set realistic goals instead of shooting for the sky and ending up disappointed.
Before you set these goals, it is important to check out industry benchmarks in order to keep things realistic. Engagement rates, average spend, reach, etc. will vary depending on the social media channels you are marketing on. So, go through the current benchmarks for each social network you plan to run a campaign on and make a note of the metrics.
Having these rates in hand will also make it easy for you to pick the right influencers. If you find that an influencer is driving low levels of engagement against the social network’s standards, it is probably because of fake followers. It will be best to steer clear of them.
But remember that on some social networks such as Instagram the average engagement rate dwindles as the number of followers increases.
The engagement rate can also vary depending on the niche/industry. This is why it is necessary to dig in and make a note of all these important details.
3. Ask social media influencers for more data.
You will be able to determine most influencer KPIs such as the number of followers an influencer has and the engagement rate of their account by simply looking at their profiles or by using a good analytics tool. But you won’t be able to see how many impressions or sales they drive by just looking at the publicly available data. You will need to ask for this data. Some influencers will be able to provide them in detailed case studies.
The metrics that determine influencer marketing success.
Now that you know how to set realistic goals you can reach and how to select influencers who can help you reach these goals, let’s look into the different metrics that influence your marketing success.
Engagement rate is an important metric that can influence most goals such as brand awareness and sales. This is because most of the leading networks run on algorithms that take engagement into account. When the engagement rate remains high, more followers get to see the post and this, in turn, drives even more exposure to your post.
Here are the engagement metrics you should track:
Likes/retweets/repins are the most common form of engagement on social networks. More likes will get your post to rise up in the newsfeed and generate even more engagement and views.
Comments are less common, but they can still have the same effect on the post. But comments can be both positive and negative. So, they can give you a clearer picture as to whether the campaign is having a positive effect or a negative effect.
Clicks indicate that the viewer took a special interest in the post and decided to visit the webpage (if the influencer shared a link) or enlarge the photo (if they shared a photo).
Shares show that people liked the content so much that they were willing to share it with their followers too.
On Facebook and LinkedIn people can leave reactions instead of a simple like. This can help you gain more insights. You can also look at emojis in the comments to garner more information on how the post made people feel. For more insights on how emojis work on social media check out our special emoji guide.
To get even more detailed insights on whether the engagement for your campaign was positive or negative you can track sentiment. Social listening tools such as Listen | powered by Brandwatch provide this data.
You can calculate the cost per engagement by taking the total amount you spent on the campaign and dividing it with the total number of engagements listed above.
Reach is the total number of people who saw your campaign. Reach is essential when your main goal is building a brand image. But you can also track it when you are pursuing sales as you can check how many brand impressions lead to a sale. Here are three metrics that can help you calculate the total reach.
Followers can be the total number of fans and followers one influencer has, or the total number of followers all influencers (if you are working with multiple) taking part in the campaign have.
Impressions are the number of times the post was viewed on social media. This is a combination of both unique and multiple views. Most social networks will provide this data in their built-in analytics. You will need to ask the influencer to provide this to you after the campaign ends.
- Traffic and pageviews
You can also check the traffic and pageviews the influencer marketing campaign drove by looking at your Google Analytics data.
To see this you should go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages and then choose the individual pages the influencer sent traffic to.
The sales metrics are straightforward. You just look at the number of sales from the campaign. But you need to subtract the amount you spent on the campaign from the amount of profit you generated from the sales, to make sure you are generating profit even after ad spend.
To track the performance of the individual influencers, you can create unique URLs for each influencer. This will work on most networks and on Instagram stories (if the influencer has more than 10,000 followers). But it won’t work on Instagram feed posts as influencers can’t share links there for example.
For that, you can create a unique discount code for each influencer. When a buyer uses the unique code, you will know which influencer referred them.
- Audience demographics
Audience demographics is a metric you need to track if you are trying to reach people in a specific city or country. For this, you can use Google Analytics. Just go into the Demographics section and it will show you where the traffic came from.
- New audience reach
If your campaign was to reach new audiences, you can use Google Analytics again. It will show you the New Vs Returning visitor comparison.
These are some of the metrics you need to track to determine influencer marketing success. You should use them to analyze each influencer as well as the entire campaign.
Start with a test campaign where you invest small amounts and then filter out the influencers who performed worst. You can provide long-term contracts to those who bought the best results.
But continue the process of testing out new influencers.