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Influencer marketing has been around since the late 1800s, but it’s only recently become a crucial strategy in digital marketing. Previously, we would have just called it “word-of-mouth.” However, with the growing number of influencers who are popular on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, blogs, and other social channels, digital marketers who want a successful and comprehensive strategy to grow a business cannot ignore this important tool. That being said, it’s also important to know how to measure the success of an influencer marketing campaign, and for that, you need key performance indicators.
There are many KPIs that serve a purpose for different elements of your strategy, but when it comes to influencer marketing, the five essential ones to focus on are conversion rates, reach and awareness, referral traffic, audience growth, and engagement. These KPIs will help you track your progress, measures success in meeting your goals, and help you stay on track with your influencer marketing campaign.
Influencer marketing has a number of goals, including increasing your reach, growing your audience, driving engagement, and increasing traffic to your site. But as with all marketing, the chief goal is always driving growth and sales, and that’s where your conversion rate KPI comes in handy. An easy way to track conversions generated by the influencer marketing campaign is to track sales before, during, and after the campaign, and comparing any changes in sales that happened when the campaign was running. For a more sophisticated approach, you can set up affiliate links, UTM parameters, promo codes, landing pages, and link tracking for the campaign, and that way you can track the traffic sources of customers who converted during the campaign.
But conversions don’t always have to do with sales, and there are other conversion rates you can be monitoring as well. Any time a prospect completes a desired action, that counts as a conversion. This can include things like signing up for a newsletter, downloading an ebook, clicking on a link, or anything else that you want your prospects to do. When it comes to influencer marketing and KPIs, other conversion rates you might want to track include how many Facebook likes you generate, how many new followers you obtain, how many people sign up for emails, and other non-sales related conversions.
2. Referral Traffic
Although the conversion KPI is important to track with influencer marketing, it’s not the only thing that matters, and the amount of traffic the campaign drives to your site is also worth monitoring. The reason for this is that referral traffic will give you a good idea of the campaign’s reach, but also because it can tell you a lot about the overall success of the campaign. It’s important to note that conversions don’t always tell the whole story, because if your site isn't properly optimized for conversions, then it’s possible the campaign was still successful, even if you didn’t see an increase in sales. That’s where monitoring referral traffic can help because it will tell you how many people actually came to your site thanks to the campaign.
The good news is that you can use the same tools to monitor campaign-driven traffic as you did for conversions, including promo codes, UTM parameters, and the like. Moreover, you can also analyze the metrics provided by Google Analytics and compare them to pre-campaign metrics to gauge success, and the ones to pay attention to include:
- New visitors
- Referral sources
- Total page views
- Time on site
3. Reach and Awareness
One of the main benefits of influencers is they have turn-key access to an enormous audience that can increase the visibility of your brand, which is an important first step when you want to boost brand awareness and build new relationships. To determine success with this goal, you'll want to track how many people you reached with your campaign, how many new prospects became aware of your brand, and how well the campaign reinforced your brand with pre-existing prospects.
A good way to measure reach and awareness is by tracking impression data on your various posts, such as blog posts, social posts, videos, and other content you create specifically for the campaign. This information is available through social media site analytics, through your influencer’s personal (such as blog) site and social media analytics, and through your own Google Analytics if you compare new versus return visitors when the campaign is running.
4. Audience Growth
Audience growth is similar to reach and awareness, but there’s a crucial difference: just because somebody was impacted by the campaign doesn’t mean that person was successfully brought into the fold.
For example, say you were scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed, clicked on a new blog post from a food influencer you follow, and then from the blog clicked through to a website for a new restaurant in your city. According to reach and traffic KPIs, this would have been a success. But let’s say you checked out the restaurant’s menu while on the site and realized they didn’t have any food that accommodated your dietary restrictions. After this realization, you leave the site and never think about the restaurant again. According to the audience growth KPI, the campaign wasn’t successful. But now let’s say that when surfing the restaurant site, you realized everything on their menu was specifically designed with your diet in mind, so you decide to follow them on Facebook to get updates about promotions, new menu items, and the like. Again, this is where the audience growth KPI is so important because it gives you a fuller picture of your success. Remember, you aren't just trying to reach as many people as possible: you're also trying to convert them into raving and loyal fans.
To track audience growth, you can use social media site analytics to monitor your followers and see how many new ones you gain during the campaign, and compare the growth to pre-campaign numbers. You can do the same thing with your email list and compare the number of prospects who sign up during the campaign compared to before.
Similarly, engagement is an important KPI because it provides a more in-depth view of how your campaign was received. Again, traffic and reach will tell you how many, but audience and engagement will tell you how well. Engagement is crucial because it’s a good indicator of how your brand is being received, how strong your relationship is with your audience, how relevant you are, and how loyal your customers will be. A single engagement can be one of a number of different actions taken by your audience, including:
- Video views
- Brand mentions
There are a couple of ways you can measure engagement, and one of the easiest is through a tool like BuzzSumo, which will actually track and measure engagement for you. But if you prefer the manual way, you can measure engagement by dividing the number of engagements by the number of impressions, or by dividing the number of engagements by your number of followers. Furthermore, you can calculate the cost per engagement (CPE) by dividing your total ad spend by the number of engagements, and this will give you a better idea of your ROI and budget requirements for future campaigns.
Influencer marketing is becoming increasingly important in the digital age, but this isn't really a surprise. People have always trusted word-of-mouth advertising, and influencer marketing is simply a more sophisticated version of this that leverages the pull and popularity of certain people to help you spread the word about your brand. But it’s just as important to be able to measure the success of your influencer campaigns accurately, and KPIs like conversions, traffic, reach, engagement, and audience growth can help you do that. By focusing on these five KPIs, you'll get a well-rounded idea of how successful your campaign was at achieving your goals, which can include driving traffic, boosting sales, reaching new demographics, re-engaging past prospects, and increasing brand awareness.