In order to know if your influencer marketing campaign is successful, you have to measure the results against your stated program goals.
Your goals and the campaign metrics must align. Only then can you set benchmarks, adjust as you grow, and prove your program’s return on investment (ROI).
In this article, we cover how to measure the success of your influencer marketing campaigns.
We outline best practices and common pitfalls, tell you why many industry standards are becoming outdated, and show you how setting the right metrics milestones will make or break your influencer marketing programs.
Setting up goals
The only reason to do influencer marketing is if it will help you achieve your business goals. Activity that fails to help you meet your business goals is a waste of time, money, and brainpower.
Even worse, an activation that is “just fun” puts you at risk of wasting a rare and valuable opportunity to get in front of your target market and convince them to do something useful.
Sure, it may be entertaining for your audience, but unless your goal is to be entertaining (and sometimes it is!), you’re missing a chance to convert that audience from a prospect to a customer, or from a first-time customer to a repeat buyer.
You should start with these very basic questions:
- What job does the program need to do?
- How does it fit into our business plan to help us reach our business goals?
To answer these questions, you need a business plan. We assume that if you’re here, you do have a clear understanding of your organization’s strategic business goals.
Make your goals SMART
Every influencer marketing program must have a goal, and you must measure to find out if you achieved that goal.
When you’re setting goals for your influencer marketing campaign, make sure they’re SMART:
- Specific: Decide exactly what you want to happen.
- Measurable: Pick a number, (almost) any number!
- Attainable: This where that “almost” comes in, as a reality check. You want to make sure your goal is something you can actually reach.
- Relevant: The goal of your influencer marketing program needs to be relevant to your business’s goals.
- Time-bound: Give yourself a timeframe, including a deadline.
Picking the right metrics
In order to measure the success of your influencer marketing campaign, you need to choose the right things to measure. So, how do you know what to measure?
In general, influencer marketing campaigns measure the top of the funnel and how well you’re raising awareness of your product or service.
The specifics of what you measure are related to the goals of your campaign. For example, if your goal is to drive traffic to your website, you might measure the adjusted click-through rate (CTR), which is the percentage of people who click on a link or ad to go visit another site.
If your goal is to generate awareness and reach lots of eyeballs, you might measure the following:
Monthly aggregate reach – impressions
The combined total number of monthly visits to all other blogs of the influencers who wrote about your product in the program. Numbers reflect the bloggers’ most recent 30 days of traffic.
Monthly aggregate reach – uniques
The combined total number of unique blog visitors for all participating bloggers. Numbers reflect the bloggers’ most recent 30 days of traffic.
Search engine marketing (SEM) and discoverability
Methods for increasing the visibility of keywords in search engine results, and ultimately driving more traffic to your site, which you can measure by comparing traffic pre-, post- and during the campaign.
Someone interacting with online content. This can include measuring the number of Posts, Tweets, and retweets, Pins, Likes, Social shares, Comments
Tools of the trade
Marketing is an industry of data hounds. Numerous tools are available to help you analyze your campaign results, with new tools being launched all the time.
Many of these tools are free, but some have paid features that are worth the investment, because they make your life, or at least the measuring part of it, so much easier.
Here are a few of the top tried-and-true free and paid analytics tools:
This tool shortens URLs and allows you to see how many people clicked the link and whether they accessed your content from a desktop or mobile device.
User-generated content continues to grow in popularity and value for influencer marketing. Curalate specializes in managing and measuring visual programs and offers a variety of competitive and user analyses.
Facebook is collecting all of the data about how we use the site. The good news is that Facebook is willing to share this information with users, in the form of Audience and Page Insights.
You can see which posts perform well, figure out the best time to post, and gather information like audience geolocation. Of course, Facebook’s master plan is to make you spend money advertising on the site, but the information is still useful!
It may seem simple, but a surprising number of companies forget to set Google Alerts to let them know when people are talking about them. Set up listening searches for your own brand, competitors, and hot topics for your industry.
The dashboard is fairly intuitive and allows you to drill down into more granular data sets. It’s nicely visual, and you can get a lot of useful data just from the free service, adding premium features if and when you need them.
This newer paid service offers a variety of service levels and lets you track hashtags over a period of time on Twitter and Instagram. It offers concise, easy-to-read reports and analytics.
Hootsuite is a paid service that allows you to manage up to 100 social accounts, across more than 35 different social networks, all on one dashboard. You can schedule updates to post later, and it offers a variety of analytics reports.
Sprout Social is a dashboard that allows you to look at programs across channels and track engagement. One helpful feature is that it analyzes both mentions and your responses, which allows you to evaluate and improve over time.
Pinterest is an important channel for influencer marketing, and this tool helps you manage Pinterest activity. You can schedule pins, measure performance of pins to analyze which ones are most popular, and measure follower growth.
Best of all, Tailwind can provide competitive industry benchmark information! An additional sweet feature is that it easily integrates with Google Analytics.
Adjusting goals and metrics for long-term success
When you conduct an influencer marketing campaign, you have lots of authentic, gritty, true-feeling content. It also means you probably found some surprises in your results. And let’s hope so! If not, you might have been too conservative with your goals.
One of the many wonderful things about having metrics and interpreting your results is that it gives you very specific information about where you can improve.
When you hit your numbers, and then some, it means you’re doing something right.
Here are some ways you can capitalize on your success:
- You have room to grow, so push yourself to increase your goals.
- See if there are additional goals you can add to your future programs.
- Consider new or different programs that will build on the momentum or relationship you’ve started with the influencers.
- Ask how you can add to or expand the target market, possibly with new demographics.
In a way (okay, a super optimistic way, but stay with us here), it’s almost better when you miss your goals because there are lots of things you can examine and adjust. Review the results, especially anecdotal information, to try to understand where you’re coming up short.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when you miss the target:
- Is it the product or service that’s underperforming?
- Are you doing a bad job of fulfilling orders or providing customer service?
- Are you trying to connect to the wrong audience?
- Was your message or value proposition wrong for that audience?
Interpreting the Data, and Deciding What to Do Next
Now you have your results. You know how much and what types of influencer activity you were able to produce, you know what the qualitative reactions were in their communities, and hopefully, you have some metric on how much it helped your business (for example, increased traffic to your website during the campaign and a corresponding increase in sales).
If it’s your first influencer marketing campaign, the next step is to do another one, and compare the results. If you’ve done this a few times, you’ll want to compare, adjust, and optimize the program to get more of the results you want.
The idea is to have a campaign that worked so well that you can duplicate it, set a new and higher goal, and simply do it again — for more success.
For example, if you had ten influencers post a coupon code on their Facebook pages, each post was shared an average of 23 times, and you had an increase of 10 percent of average daily traffic from Facebook, and a whopping 27 percent increase in daily sales, it’s a logical interpretation to decide to focus on finding Facebook influencers with similar demographics and audiences to help distribute coupon codes and drive traffic and sales.
Even when it’s not this simple, you still have a lot of useful data from your SMART goals. You want to evaluate the results, how close to or far from the goal you were, and try to understand why something was successful.
This tells you what to change, and what to keep the same.
For example, imagine that one of the goals of the Facebook coupon code program was to have an average of 30 shares per post. This program got an average of 23, but the data shows that Facebook influencers who posted in the morning had more than double the shares than the ones who posted at night.
In your next campaign, you would encourage the influencers to post in the morning and see if your average shares and overall results for site traffic and sales increase.
This is a “test and learn” discipline. You won’t have perfect campaigns every time, and there aren’t any magic answers. But by measuring everything against specific goals, you can understand which aspects of a campaign are successful, and which things you need to adjust or fix.
Use the data to drive your decisions. Over time, you’ll see improvements and watch your business grow!