A few days ago I got a text from a friend who asked me if I could give her a quick crash course on influencer marketing strategy for a beverage company she heads up marketing for. And of course, it felt really difficult to give her a quick answer.... but in challenges and answers there always comes inspiration and new value to be created.
I have been born and bred (since Day 1 of my career) to believe that the best way to provide value to a client is to understand their own personal needs and objectives and to build and design something that is going to ultimately support them. Whether I was designing a social media strategy, a marketing plan, a website, an influencer campaign - everything really came down to how many “other” places in the company that we could add value to. Our ability to really succeed at providing services, all the way through the really hard metrics of what we were running, came down to each company’s distinct way of measuring the value of what they were doing.
Here’s an insider secret: influencer marketing is an investment that requires an understanding and measurement of more than just direct sales value. The top reason many brands pick influencer marketing up and put it back down is that they are singularly focused on a limited number of ways to measure the value of the program. No matter how amazing an influencer strategy is, no matter how amazing an actual influencer is, they will always be limited by they way success and value is being measured.
We can blow value open by taking a FULL SPECTRUM approach to integrating the value we receive from an influencer marketing program - including those things that are difficult to measure through limited data and metrics. FULL SPECTRUM VALUE connects what you receive through an influencer marketing program to every level of your marketing funnel.
Here’s what it looks like:
There are 9 MORE ways to measure the value of an influencer marketing program beyond the direct ROI received from influencer generated sales.
AD VALUE (TOP FUNNEL)
Is one of the most common ways to measure the value of brand awareness objectives. For nearly every company, marketing and advertising are a must to generate the awareness needed to create sales. AD value is typically measured through CPI (Cost Per Impression) or CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) that can be directly benchmarked against other ad methods. Since Influencer is distributed through social channels SENTIMENT and ENGAGEMENT with the ad are also used to provide a level of feedback on how the brand is resonating with core audiences - a feedback mechanism other ad channels, even paid social media ads, lack. Ad value sits at the top of the marketing funnel.
DIRECT SALES VALUE (BOTTOM FUNNEL)
Is the second most common way to measure the value of the penultimate marketing objective tied to an influencer program - to increase sales. Many brands will measure direct sales value by weighing the cost of the program over the amount of revenue the program can directly generate (for e-commerce, DTC brands. Retail brands will always have a disconnect between online awareness and retail store pick-up that can only be indirectly correlated and speculated). Measuring DIRECT SALES value is more “fair” when the brand can validate the CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) of influencer marketing against other marketing methods. DIRECT SALES is also more fair when the brand can assess consumer LTV (lifetime value) against the cost of acquisition and the cost of the influencer marketing partnerships and programs, rather than looking at the simplistic formula of REVENUE GENERATED - OVERALL COST OF PROGRAM = ROI. In complete opposition to ad value, direct sales value sits at the very bottom of the marketing funnel - it’s directly related to sales conversion.
More Top Funnel Values
VIRAL, SHAREABLE VALUE
Unlike print, online display, outdoor, and paid social media advertising, influencer content being innately social has viral value, meaning that it has potential to exceed the very estimate of audience size through sharing. While virality shouldn’t be the goal, when measuring, let’s say CPMs or CPIs of a Facebook ad vs. a piece of influencer content, viral value matters. Influencer content is typically created with value to the audience it serves. More valuable content increases engagement, with increased organic distribution and virality of content beyond what other ad types are capable of. Like ad value, this is a top of the funnel value.
CONTENT CREATION VALUE
Is the cost savings received by re-sharing user-generated content as part of your brand channel social media strategy. This can be of immense time, cost and labor savings and is often an overlooked connection to make between influencer teams and social media content teams. Consider this example: to create a volume of 1-2 pieces of high-quality media a week it can take a social media content creator anywhere from 8-16 hours of time and labor. Switching nearly 1 piece of content a week influencer created content or 1 piece every other week cuts time and labor costs by anywhere from 25-50% - either allowing the social media manager time to work on other things, or cutting the cost of running the community. This is a top of the funnel value. However, re-leveraging content in this manner actually creates entirely new value for your brand marketing strategy, such as….
More Mid Funnel Values
PERSONIFICATION , LIFESTYLE AND HUMANIZATION VALUE
Brands are made up of products, people and consumers. Yes, consumers are part of this equation. A critical piece of smart marketing is knowing your consumer’s interests beyond your own product and context. What do they do for fun? Where do they hangout? What do they value? Your “brand avatars”, buyer persona, ideal customer or customer profile is a person - they have faces and names and giving a face to your buyer persona through influencers is a really powerful way to make a statement about who your consumers are, what they enjoy and what they value. Influencers and the user-generated content that is re-leveraged from influencers is a powerful way to put human faces to your brands customers and create a ripple effect that draws more customers that mirror the image to your brand. While this cannot be measured with metrics, it’s a value that should not be overlooked. This kind of value can sit at the top of the funnel of “interest” or even be further down the funnel as you are pushing existing social media audiences to consider or evaluate their need for a product or service - making this critical to the middle of the funnel too.
Consumers measure the popularity of a brand or product by the number of people talking about the brand. If a high number of DIFFERENT people recommend or are speaking about the brand - it’s perceive to be solid, popular and well liked and more likely to increase conversion rates to purchase on an exponential curve (if you charted it). This is something that can only be done through 3rd party recommendation - something that influencer marketing programs exceed at. You can also mimic correlation value or increasing popularity again by re-leveraging user content across your own channels. This drives us further down the funnel from plain awareness to interest and consideration levels in the top-mid funnel.
SOCIAL CONNECTION + PROOF VALUE
Increasing the amount of organic brand mentions can increase awareness of your brand drastically with 0 costs. But what makes your brand worthy of being talked about online? Leading influencers can set the precedent that a brand is worthy of being talked about, drastically increasing opportunities for consumer UGC over time. Consumers want to feel a part of something - that they are “in” if they do the same things as the influencers they aspire to be. They feel a greater connection to the lifestyle through the products and are more likely to share when it’s being emulated by influencers. Brand owned channels often do not hold the same power in increasing the worthiness of being discussed than influencers, thought leaders and media. This is a mid-funnel value.
3RD PARTY ENDORSEMENT / REFERRAL / AFFILIATION VALUE
Influencer marketing is modern day word of mouth marketing. Testimonials, referrals, people endorsing your product or service that are your direct brand buyer personas or avatars, have immense weight when it comes to engaging new customers and the potential customers you have earned through top of the funnel interest that need to be worked through consideration, intent and evaluation stages. Referred customers - through endorsement, affiliation and other methods that influencer marketing capitalizes on - are 15% more likely to be loyal and nearly 25% more profitable. Endorsements directly impact mid-funnel values such as consideration, intent and evaluation.
CONTEXT, USE CASE AND EMOTIONAL VALUE
You have 1 page in traditional print, or a display box that spans no larger than 100x600 to make an impression on a consumer through online display. You may have less than 1 min in a YouTube ad, a 900x900 square on an Instagram ad, how on earth do you build context? How do you show who and how this product makes impact? Influencers allow more real-estate to build context and use cases as an “ad type” than any other kind of online digital ad - especially those that continue over time - and that context and use case allow influencer as an “ad” to also be reflected as a mid-funnel value that increases consideration and intent in core audiences.
More Bottom Funnel Values
RETENTION & LOYALTY VALUE
In the majority of business models, retaining their existing customer base is just as important as layering in new customers. It’s what helps companies and sales grow, and overall increases the customer LTV (Lifetime Value). Influencers play a supremely important role in the retention and loyalty of customers - THEY are setting the trends over who and what to be loyal to. Consumers see themselves reflected in the influencers and friends they follow - so retention and loyalty starts with the network. This is a bottom of the funnel value of influencer marketing that is often overlooked strategically. Many brands won’t put in the necessary program length to even reap benefits of retention and loyalty value that has contributed to brands who have been “made” by influencer marketing.
If we were to look at each one in its own silo, many brands may actually fall short of goals and metrics of singular value. But what if we looked at the value holistically? Because when we consider the values together, we take the time to strategically weave and allow influencer to support our content marketing, retention marketing, our brand strategy, our advertising strategy and our sales strategy - we end up with a campaign or program that holds way more value industry media is giving it.
How many facets of your company does influencer marketing support?