Influencer Marketing Needs ROI, Not Vanity Metrics

The rise of influencer marketing appears to show no sign of letting up. Yet curiously, marketers show no sign of understanding and measuring its real impact, despite being committed to spending more on the channel.

The latest research from influencer platform Takumi claims that 9% of marketers -- let's say one in ten -- intend to spend GBP100k on micro influencers in the next twelve months, and 20% expect to spend between GBP10k and GBP100k. That's nearly one in three markets expecting to spend serious double-figure-thousand budgets on the channel. Plus, there are another four in ten who will spend up to GBP10k. That's starting to get toward three in four investing in influencers.

Now, it should be pointed out that these are micro influencers, the type of people who have a decent following but are not famous enough to charge crazy sums per post -- there was talk recently of celebrities getting GBP75k a post. So this latest research covers people who will not be charging anything like that. However, the questions remains: how are these marketers going to know they're getting anything for their budget? Only 4% said they wouldn't consider the channel. What do the 96% of marketers expect to get, and how will they know if they've got it?

The obvious answer is "likes," and a bit of kudos, because a well-known expert in your field has said nice things about you. But how on earth do you know whether that affected the bottom line?

It may come as little surprise to learn that when campaigns start out on social media, metrics might prove to be a little flaky when it comes to translating how much "breaking Twitter" can be accounted for in increased sales.

In a recent piece of research from Rakuten Marketing, nearly four in ten marketers admitted they weren't aware of how they could work out ROI on influencer marketing. These guys were spending tens of thousands of pounds on single posts, yet were unable to say how they could determine whether that represented good value or not. More than four in five readily admitted they weren't too sure how influencers' final compensation was worked out.

Nevertheless, three in four of those surveyed on behalf of Rakuten revealed that despite not knowing fully how the system works or how they can determine value for money, or even how to measure effectiveness, they were going to pump more in to the channel over the next year. 

Clearly, influencer marketing must deliver something, or else people wouldn't devote budget to it. At the same time, however, it's got to be a worry for marketers that large budgets can be put in to micro influencers -- and at the other extreme, celebrities with massive followings -- without a clearer idea of what the brand gets from the relationship.

I have a horrible feeling that a lot of this comes down to vanity metrics, which are a flash in the pan. A load of people read our latest blog, or like a post and quite a few shared and even reacted with an emoji. The metric that matters, however, is how much busier this made your ecommerce site, how many more appointments or quotes were requested, how much busier the warehouse was shipping out product.

It stands to reason that influencers, by definition, have some influence. What it delivers and how much it's worth paying for it surely needs to more closely investigated. Otherwise, it really is just paying the cool kids to say something nice about you at break time.

1 comment about "Influencer Marketing Needs ROI, Not Vanity Metrics".
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  1. Roger Wu from Cooperatize, September 5, 2017 at 11:50 a.m.

    Hi Sean,
    I'd love to hear your thoughts on my last piece:
    as we've taken the first step toward real ROI beyond vanity metrics.

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