Influencer marketing is one of the most powerful ways to grow a brand in social media. And to guarantee marketing success, you need to measure your results, which is why you need these influencer KPIs.
The marketing strategy involves tapping into the influence of others to help build trust in your brand within their communities.
The difference between hiring a typical celebrity is that influencers are often looked at as regular consumers who are considered experts in their specific niches. That is, influencers accessible, relatable, and their followers trust their opinions — it’s the modern word-of-mouth.
Coupled with its relative affordability and high returns of investment, it’s no wonder that companies are looking to increase their influencer marketing budget.
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Why do you need influencer KPIs?
While it’s clear that influencer marketing is on the rise, before launching your own influencer program or community, it’s essential to lay out a detailed measurement strategy. With fake followers costing brands an estimated 1 billion dollars, gone are the days of blindly paying influencers money for the sake of vanity metrics.
This means that it is more important than ever to set goal-oriented KPIs. Even before you decide on an influencer, ensure that you have the right tools to track them.
KPIs can be based on industry benchmarks or results from past campaigns. Like any other marketing campaign, measuring your return on investment (ROI) will determine success.
Here are some top influencer marketing KPIs to analyze to help you quantify your campaign’s ROI so that you can expand your budget as your efforts succeed.
1. Influencer Analysis – The #1 Influencer KPI
If we compare influencer marketing to paid social advertising, each influencer is similar to an ad unit. Influencers should not be considered programmable ad units by any means. But the most important KPI to measure just might be those of the influencers you wish to engage with. These will be critical for strategic influencer identification.
Thus, deciding on an influencer isn’t just about follower count. There are several factors to consider including follower demographics, average engagement rate (comments, likes, follows), frequency of posts, and frequency of publishing content that’s relevant to your brand.
Professional influencers usually have these numbers ready upon request. Make sure to gather as much data from all your top influencers of choice. From there, you can determine who can deliver the best results.
Of course, you want to partner with someone who is a thought leader in your industry. Because no matter how good the numbers seem, if your audiences don’t match, then you won’t see a return on investment.
Cookware brand, Great Jones, found a perfect partner in Claire Saffitz, a professional pastry chef and Youtube personality. Aside from posting images of Claire using Great Jones products, the campaign included a virtual baking class and a feature on their website.
This is an example of a spot-on audience match. Great Jones targets millennials who might find brands like All-Clad and Le Creuset out of reach — the same millennials who are likely to be familiar with Claire thanks to her (now defunct) YouTube show, Gourmet Makes.
2. Brand awareness
One of the top reasons brands partner with influencers is for brand awareness. Before expecting customers and sales, the first thing you want to do is get your name out there, and one of the best ways to accomplish that is through an influencer marketing program. If the primary objective of your influencer marketing strategy is geared toward brand awareness, these are the KPIs to keep track of:
- Audience Growth – Audience growth or follower count is a strong indication of brand awareness. You can choose from a number of third-party apps to measure your follower growth during your campaign period. After the campaign ends, you can also check your mutual followers by visiting your influencer’s profile, tapping on “Followers” then on “Mutual”. This is more or less the number of followers you gained from the partnership. For a more accurate number, don’t forget to view your mutual followers before the campaign begins.
- Impressions & Reach – One of the advantages of partnering with influencers is their large audience base. This is your opportunity to reach an audience you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Instagram defines “impressions” as the number of times a single user has seen your post, while “reach” is the total number of unique users who have seen a particular post. All these data can be accessed through Instagram Insights, which is available to all Instagram Business accounts.
- Brand name & Hashtag Mentions – How many times was your brand name or campaign hashtag mentioned during the campaign period? Mentions are a strong indication that your campaign is working. For real-time tracking of hashtags and mentions, you can use Keyhole.
3. Social engagement
Engagement is one of the most important KPIs to track in order to determine the performance of your influencer marketing campaign. On Instagram, engagement is measured by the number of likes and comments on your campaign post or story/video views.
While likes are easily countable and a sign of approval, comments are a clearer indication of active engagement. Comments show that your content left an impact, whether good or bad, this is a great starting point for community building.
You may see that your follower count has increased after running a campaign but engagement remained low. This may be a sign of a mismatch between your audience and the content you’re producing.
Keyhole has a great resource on how to calculate engagement rates. The most basic and manual formula would be to divide your total number of engagements (likes + comments) by your follower count, then multiply that number by 100. Generally, the standard engagement rate across all industries is 1.60%. But it is better to calculate a benchmark engagement rate for your niche.
Click-Through-Rate or CTR measures the number of times a potential customer clicks on a particular link. If you’re running an influencer marketing campaign, you can assign custom links with tools like Google Campaign Manager. So, use custom links assigned to each of your influencers to help you track their individual performances. You can also create custom links for Instagram Stories, ads, and bios to find out which works best.
Tracking your CTRs is extremely important. A low CTR shows that users aren’t landing on your website, which could mean a weak call-to-action or wrong targeting. A high CTR means you have more eyeballs on your website, bringing your audience lower into the sales funnel.
If CTR rate is low, one reason could be the result of bad design. If you’re running a campaign on Instagram or in any social media platform, great visuals go a long way. To help you create eye-catching campaign creatives, use apps.
Choose from a selection of fonts and filters to make your calls-to-action pop or play with vintage film overlays to add flair.
5. Referral traffic
Referral traffic is the number of people who land on your page from a specific link. CTR and Referral traffic are the same in a sense that you can track them through customized links or UTM parameters.
Referral marketing campaigns using influencers are usually run by e-commerce brands to encourage followers to shop with a special discount code or landing page. In this case, referral traffic can be measured by the number of times an item was purchased using the special code or page.
Content creator, Camie Juan (@camiejuan) invites her followers to click on the link on her YouTube to enjoy a special discount on Glossier products.
The link leads to a customized Glossier landing page called a “Glossier Rep Page”. The skincare brand partners with multiple influencers who usually advertise their Rep Pages on their personal profiles. Influencers themselves can track the performance of their pages as they receive a commission per sale made.
Naturally, any brand’s ultimate goal is to make a sale. You want to find the conversion rates when your influencer program is geared towards sales. How much of your website traffic converted into paying customers?
Also, when goal is customer acquisition measure in downloads, subscriptions, or sign-ups. From there you can calculate for your cost per acquisition.
Influencer KPIs per influencer
At the end of your campaign, it is critical to assess how each of your chosen influencers contributed to your campaign KPIs. In essence, everything in marketing is about A/B testing, including those influencers who you work with, so that you can ascertain your high-performing influencers and know who to engage with for your future campaigns.
That is, metrics such as unique links , engagements, and number of referrals can show performance per influencer. Hiring an influencer is not a sure-fire way to hit targets, like any other marketing effort, it may take some trial and error to attain success.
So, don’t be afraid to try it out with different influencers and see who works best with your brand.
Is your influencer marketing program a success?
Once all is done, look back at your objectives for collaborating with influencers. Were you able to reach your target KPIs?
It is crucial to go back to your original goals to help you zoom in on the relevant metrics. Don’t make the mistake of having too many target KPIs to begin with. A program should be focused in order to get the best results.
Look at how much you spent versus how much you gained. Compare the results to other marketing campaigns on different channels. This will give you an idea whether your campaign was a success or not.
Don’t forget: You can continue assessing the success of your influencer engagement by repurposing content as an organic post on your socials or website. Aside from testing organic response, it is also a great way to maximize your partnership and get your ROI.
Neal Schaffer is an authority on helping innovative businesses digitally transform their sales and marketing. Founder of the digital marketing consultancy PDCA Social, Neal also teaches executives digital marketing at Rutgers Business School and the Irish Management Institute. He is also the author of four sales and marketing books, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley) and the recently published The Age of Influence (HarperCollins Leadership), a ground-breaking book redefining digital influence.