The issue remains that most marketing measurement models in practice today are not able to keep pace with the speed of consumers’ paths-to-purchase. It’s no surprise to see how quickly marketing strategies can go awry as a result and, still, how influencer marketing practitioners can adapt regardless of the current state of their organization ’s measurement maturity. Consumers’ accelerated paths-to-purchase today demands new approaches to influencer marketing measurement.
Let’s consider current state. If the success of a marketer’s influencer marketing strategy is determined by a traditional MMM, value could be determined by ‘media exposure,’ which indicates that the key performance metrics of that program are impressions, unique views, or reach value – despite the fact that purchase conversions are possible to track. An attribution model may be based on consumers’ last-click prior to purchase, which may mean that only channels that enable that behavior are used and prioritized, even though others may be better at influencing consumers (i.e. Instagram).
So how can marketers begin to capture the full picture of all the value generated and to be gained from their influencer marketing programs? It starts by reverse-engineering a new return-on-investment framework from the top.
Learn How Your C-Suite Measures Marketing Performance
It is critical for marketers to understand all the ways marketing performance is measured and forecasted within their organizations in order to be able to prioritize the right objectives and metrics that best connect their influencer marketing success to business outcomes – regardless of what the brief says.
Only with this foundation can marketers optimize and evolve their current influencer marketing programs to become predictive, revenue-generating business units within their organizations. As well, armed with this knowledge, marketers can pro-actively introduce new measurement frameworks that better quantify influencers’ value if and when the current marketing model fails to account for a key result.
Design Influencer Marketing Programs with Business Value in Mind
Neither CPM nor CPE metrics alone can drive a mature influencer marketing strategy, which is designed around influencers’ abilities to deliver business value – brand lift, channel lift, or sales lift. Even if the C-Suite is using an antiquated model, the opportunity remains to benchmark the current state of performance and put the parameters in place to measure at least one of the following:
- Brand Lift: How is an influencer marketing campaign impacting audience perception, brand reputation, or customer affinity? To quantify brand lift, start by surveying or polling an exposed cohort and control group with 3-4 questions to collect n=1,000 responses around recall, NPS, sentiment, and intent – including the influencers you are engaging for the campaign. Brand lift studies typically require minimum exposure, technology to tag influencer content, and the ability to blackout other marketing activity if possible. Recommended partners include Kantar Millward Brown.
- Sales Lift: Online Sales Lift is measured via cookie-powered conversion tags, UTM links, app install links, pixels, or promo codes. An Offline Sales Lift study is performed typically by a third party that has access to shopper data, coupon redemption data, or loyalty purchase data, and compares results between an exposed cohort and a control group. It requires minimum exposure and the ability to tag the content, and it is best practice is to blackout other marketing activity. Recommended partners include Nielsen Catalina Solutions.
- Channel Lift: Channel lift puts a greater emphasis on influencers’ content performance. The content that sells the most product isn’t necessarily the content that has the highest engagement rate or impressions. Repurpose or syndicate content that is generated by influencers to improve the performance of existing e-commerce and other digital channels, comparing performance to historical benchmarks, or performing A/B or multivariate tests to quantify lift in performance via a specific channel.
Benchmark How Influencer Marketing Improves Efficiencies
What more could be done with more time? More time to be creative, to be strategic, to be innovative, to have the breakthrough that leads to the next campaign. The other side of the ‘return-on-investment’ equation is all about working smarter so the budget can work harder. In addition to better foundational measurement, there is also a need to factor in efficiencies that reduce or improve costs. There is an opportunity to quantify efficiencies in non-working spend, like time-to-insight or reduced production costs; as well as improvement in working dollar investment (lower CPMs, CPEs) that result from more authentic, engaging influencer-generated content.
It Starts With You
Aggregating data that can be connected to business metrics in one place (e.g. a DMP or CDPs) is incredibly difficult. For that reason, advanced attribution and BI systems that allow for predictive analytics are in our not-so-distant future, but until we all get there, established methodologies like Marketing Mix Models will persist. With all of that said, the advancements made via data and technology in the 24 years since the first digital ad was published have not evolved with the pace of consumer behavior. It’s understandable how CPM and CPE efficiencies remain key performance metrics when the “walled gardens” of Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft nearly demand it. Conflicting standards for impressions, viewability, or clickability makes multi-channel attribution a fruitless apples-to-oranges comparison.
The shift to business value must start with marketers from the top down, and it is among the few aspects of marketing that remain in marketers’ control. Click farms, bots, comment pods, engagement rings, and the like thrive only so long as marketers insist on using impressions, engagements, and CTR as the currencies of digital performance. For more on how to become a measurement-first influencer marketing practice, download the our Influencer Marketing & Relations Playbook: A Five-Part Framework for Measuring Influencer Creativity and ROI.