Measuring Success in Influencer Marketing

 

Seth Hillstrom:

Do you think influencer marketing is working? How are we able to generate real ROI from paid and incentivised posts? What about about earned posts?  We’re here today with Lyle Stevens, CEO and Co-founder of Mavrck – an influencer platform that says they can help brands do just that (and it seems like their customers agree) – to talk about measuring success in influencer marketing.  Lyle, thanks so much for joining us today!

Lyle Stevens:

Hey Seth thanks for having me for today’s Q&A! #influencermarketing

Seth:

Lyle, we had a lot of questions at eBev this past fall about determining the true ROI of paid/incentivized/earned influencer marketing…so we really appreciate that when you agreed to sit down and chat with us, you wanted to tackle measurement head-on! Let’s start with the underlying principles: What are we looking to stimulate in activating a network of micro-influencers? And how might you compare this to the use of “mega” influencers?

Lyle:

To start, I think it’s important to understand the difference between the influence personas, and how each differs in terms of quality, quantity and cost. Many marketers try to bucket influencers by follower counts or engagement rates, but its not that simple. At Mavrck, we use the motivation behind the individual to determine where in the spectrum they fall. For example – Mega influencers are celebrity athletes, artists or actors monetizing the influence that comes with that celebrity as a secondary revenue stream, and are by far the most expensive to activate and therefore can be hit or miss when it comes to ROI.

Macro-influencers are consumers who earn their living as a content creator (bloggers, journalists, videographers). These individuals are best for creating long form blog or video content, that goes through a review and approval process, and is therefore highly curated. Micro-influencers are everyday consumers who have a side hustle creating content to get access to products and experiences they wouldn’t otherwise, and many aspire to become a Macro-influencer someday. These individuals create quality, short from social posts, stories or live video that is not typically reviewed and approved in advance, so you can generate more of it at scale in a cost effective way. Here’s an example of micro-influencer content that cost only $50 per post (so the influencer could buy the product in store): https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/KrogerOreo/

Seth:

I see a lot of “hearts” and comments on those posts; and as a collective, one can imagine the scale/reach.

What about the difference between user generated content and influencer generated content? Do each accomplish different things, or is all shared content created equal (more or less)?

Lyle:

There is definitely a difference and it comes down to choosing between quality, quantity and cost, and whether you’re trying to tap into the audience of the individual, repurpose the content they are creating, or both. Depending on the brand objective, both influencer generate content (IGC) and user generated content (UGC) can play a role. For example, if you’re trying to drive offline or online sales lift via the audience of influencers, we would recommend IGC. If you’re looking to drive channel lift on your e-commerce site via product photos or ratings and reviews, we would recommend a blend of IGC and UGC. We did an in depth study of UGC on Facebook and how it compares to brand generated content, and we found UGC drove over 6x more engagement than brand generated content: http://info.mavrck.co/facebook-ugc-benchmark-report-mary-meeker-edition

Seth:

Wow, that’s a key insight!

Okay, now let’s dig in to how we’re measuring this all! In driving shares and spurring conversations, I would tend to think you’re measuring impressions, engagements, clicks, etc. and reporting that back to the brand. How do you go a step further and show conversion and offline sales lift?

Lyle:

At Mavrck we utilize a 5 step ROI measurement framework that I recently discussed in a webinar around influencer measurement: http://info.mavrck.co/thank-you-webinar-measurement-drives-influencer-marketing-success It starts by choosing whether you’re trying to increase return or reduce investment, and most marketers are doing both. From there you choose from the 7 ways to measure an increase in return or reduction in investment, leverage benchmarks to create achievable goals, while also making sure to take into account and brand-specific constraints. The last step results in an integrated influencer marketing strategy that defines which influence personas you are going to use, where are you recruiting them, what type of content they are creating, how are you incentivizing them, and what their KPI is that feeds into an ROI measure and brand objective.

When it comes to measuring an increase in return, Mavrck has several out-of-the-box capabilities to do this. For example, we dynamically pixel all blog content, provide influencers with unique tracking links/promo codes to include in their content and place conversion tags on a brand’s destination so we can track online conversions that occur. We can implement a tracking cookie, that allows us to create an exposed cohort which can then be used to measure offline sales lift. We can also send brand lift polls to that exposed cohort to understand the brand recall, sentiment, and intent to buy from those who saw an influencer’s post.

Seth:

That sounds like a well thought out approach. Not surprisingly, the ROI of many marketing activities can be difficult to truly quantify. And by nature, I think deploying influence as a tactic is one that’s not as easy to measure as say a direct click-to-conversion situation. How do you separate out all other activities (be they positive or negative) and really hone in on the direct impact of utilizing influence as a tactic?

Lyle:

Going back to the ROI measurement framework, marketers should also think about the cost savings side of the equation. Media savings is a great example since most marketers are going to buy media on a cost per X basis. Spending 5-10% of that paid media budget on Influencer Marketing can help drive more efficient results in a few ways. First, the influencer’s equivalent cost per X with their audience should be more efficient, or you picked the wrong influencer. Second, repurposing that influencer’s content as the ad creative in your paid media campaign should result in a more efficient cost per X. We often find that influencer content can be up 30-50% per efficient than creative made in-house or by an agency, especially when you’re leveraging 100+ micro-influencer generated photos in your programmatic ad unit inventory. Lastly, you can create a cookie pool from the individuals exposed to an influencer’s content, and we find that pool will convert more effectively on retargeting ad units.

Seth:

The integration of influencers into media planning is definitely an interesting concept, and it’s easy to see why this makes sense. And when thinking holistically, if you’re able to accomplish the same thing (or more) for less $, that’s a better system.

So once you’re confident that you’re tracking it correctly…what types of outcomes can a major brand expect to see? Is every campaign a success, or does it come down to understanding and executing effectively for the particular brand at hand?

Lyle:

We do everything we can to enable marketers see at least 300-500% ROI on their influencer marketing spend, either through an increase in return, reduction in investment or both. That said, each brand does have a set of constraints that makes certain ROI approaches better than others. For example, one of our beauty customers recently won a Shorty Award after driving over 500% ROI from sales lift via the Mavrck platform, but they have the online ecommerce presence that allows those results to happen: http://www.mavrck.co/case-study-cosmedix-crowd/ For those who are focused on offline sales through retail partners, a CPG customer of ours saw more than a 10% offline sales lift across three target DMAs from their influencer campaign, after activating a combination of macro and micro-influencers. A chocolate brand saw an increase in their ecommerce conversion rates of more than 30% from influencer content being repurposed and tagged on product web pages. A paint brand saw a 38% sales lift from the 1,800 ratings and reviews they were able to generate over 6 months, that were then syndicated out to major online retail partners like Target and Walmart.

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