Influencer marketing is at its heart a human affair. It is people writing posts for thousands or millions of their social media followers with the aim that, by exciting and enthusing them, they will engage with the brand and take action to make it a part of their life or business.
Increasingly, as in most industries, data and technology are the glue that binds these human aspects together. For influencer marketers, data that is available in real time, and that reflects the vagaries of underlying market forces, social media engagement and current affairs, is gold dust.
Data has long moved on from being a set of static results to being a source of contemporaneous analytics that arm influencer marketers. These are the nuts and bolts of strategy, enabling marketers to read and forecast trends and to essentially be ahead of the game.
Strategic data use cases
Brands and influencer marketers use data from the inception of a campaign to its manifestation. Data that is continually refreshed – and thus relevant – helps them to select influencers who will be the best fit for their strategies and have the most desired impact.
Platforms such as Klear will, via influencer profiles, detail statistics such as the number of followers an influencer has and their engagement rates. This helps brands to understand reach and how to access the target audience, by indicating how active that audience is and thus how much resource to allocate to achieve a healthy ROI.
“Influencer marketing is an ‘always-on’ strategy because consumers don’t just look at social media once a year. It is a daily thing,” says influencer marketing consultant Camille Kennedy.
“It works best for brands to have a roster of influencers they work with regularly, so consumers build familiarity with their faces and build up trust. Data helps you do that. But you can also use data and insights on performance and reach and engagement to amplify work you are doing with influencers in the middle of a campaign.”
A campaign’s success can be assessed in terms of ROI and return on ad spend by comparing the cost of the campaign to the number of conversions. Engagement rates show how well influencers have performed in comparison with others and indicate what might work better for future influencer marketing strategies, for example, by deciding not to continue with a certain influencer given a poor engagement rate or reach.
“By using social listening analytics across a range of channels you can also see how much, for example, earned media you have made through your influencer partnerships,” says Neil Brennan, VP sales at Klear.
With social listening, you can make much more strategic decisions about where next to invest your marketing dollarNeil Brennan, VP sales at Klear
“We can also blend paid performance data with influencer marketing on a dashboard, which helps CMOs see how they compare, such as cost-per-click and conversions. Influencer marketing has always been in isolation from other marketing activities. It’s never been compared as a like-for-like even though a CMO really should be able to clearly see how one vertical performs against another. You can make much more strategic decisions about where next to invest your marketing dollar.”
Data informs C-suite strategy
In a time of stretched budgets, where effective marketing is even more important to make the most of resources, the information provided by real-time data can further guide the wider C-suite to the benefits of influencer marketing.
“The C-suite has been a little more focused on traditional advertising metrics because they are used to them,” says Brennan. “This sometimes, particularly with legacy brands, makes it hard for them to justify spending on influencer marketing.
“Being able to do these comparisons via technology is a helpful start to get this to change. A CMO can show them how successful the campaigns have been and have the data to back it up. It is not back of the envelope figures. It is true value.”
Teri Simone, head of marketing and design at Nieu Cabinet Doors, who champions female DIY-ers in her influencer marketing strategy, certainly sees the benefit in practice: “Measuring impact in any campaign is crucial to track ROI. While likes and follows can be exciting, it’s essential to use effective tools for real data on reach, resonance, and link clicks.
“This data informs decisions for future partnerships and provides valuable insights. To track our sales funnel, we offer discount codes in influencer posts to provide a direct measure of sales impact and incentivise potential customers. Utilising UTM parameters for tracking traffic from influencers’ social channels enables analytics programs to monitor social media results.”
Each influencer, she adds, receives a link with a UTM code. This provides a clear picture of the project’s performance and reveals how users have been directed to your site.
The value of measurement
Other measures used to find valuable influencer marketing data can include personalised backlinks to track the volume of clicks through to a brand’s site. In addition, monitoring comments on an influencer’s post, likes, shares and other social interactions can also be useful insights that help to gauge how effective a campaign is likely to be when it comes to raising brand awareness.
According to The State of Influencer Marketing 2023 report, three-quarters of brands and marketing agencies said they track sales from their influencer campaigns. The most common method was to use email addresses (31%), closely followed by referral links (30%). This movement towards tracking via email addresses is significant, as only 16% of brands did so the previous year, notes the report.
Kennedy believes that the ability to access a larger amount of influencer marketing metrics and data will increase. This will be helpful, given the growing number of influencers worldwide looking to make a living through their posts – but it may add pressure for CMOs who need to sift through myriad options to find the right influencer.
“The advancement in information, especially around ROI, will mean brands will get smarter with their influencer spend,” says Kennedy. “They will, in turn, expect more from that spend and only work with those creators who are driving performance.”
To make the process easier for influencer marketers, Brennan recommends that brands seek a technology partner armed with the most relevant, insightful, real-time available data, rather than trying to build such platforms in-house.
“Being able to plug in the software and receive the data feeds makes the lives of managers and CMOs much easier,” concludes Brennan. “It is better than having to learn all the nuances of influencer marketing.
“There are pain points that are difficult to move beyond if you are a business attempting to build in-house technology that provides this type of data. Outsourcing this removes those pain points, not merely solving problems but adding tangible value.”
Learn how to be successful at influencer marketing here.