According to a survey by Linqia, “The State of Influencer Marketing 2018,” marketers are set to spend even more on influencers in 2018. 39% of respondents said they intend to increase their spending on influencers in 2018.
While accounting for a relatively small amount of overall marketing and ad budgets, the amounts being spent are not small. 74% of Linqia’s respondents said they spend $25k or more per influencer marketing program. 46% of respondents said they typically run 2–5 influencer campaigns annually, while 30% run five or more.
As budgets are shifted to influencer programs, data and analysis will inevitably become a bigger part of what has been an opaque (at best, in some cases) process. According to Linqia, 76% marketers say measuring influencer program ROI is a top challenge and, in 2017, “46% of marketers used product sales to determine the success of a program.”
All of this means that influencer marketing is getting more sophisticated. Working with influencers presents challenges for both sides involved. Influencers need to work with partners that their audiences like and, more importantly, avoid partners that could invite backlash.
On the buyer side, agencies and brands need to do their homework, as is the case with any other marketing or advertising venture. Are influencers going to be more effective than other channels? Which influencers will your audience respond to? Are there certain segments that respond more strongly than others?
Like pretty much every other aspect of marketing and advertising, all of these things can be tested. Yep, it’s true, market research has a HUGE role to play in influencer marketing. Here are a few ideas:
1.) Know what your audience will pay attention to and what they won’t. You can look at potential sponsors and partners within your target demographics and find those that fit the best. Find out things like brand strength, brand likeability, and motivation to buy — and get your audience ads they’ll engage with and keep your brand partners happy.
2.) Manage your personal brand more effectively. Don’t rely strictly on analytics data about your audience. Ask them what they like, what they want to see more (or less) of, what they think about things that may differ from your content, and more. The more you know about the audience you have, the more you’ll know about the audience you want to get.
3.) Stay ahead of the game. As brands and agencies increase budgets, there will be increased demand for accountability. Use market research to look at your partners’ products and craft collaborations that speak directly to their target audience and yours with one voice.
For Brands & Agencies
1.) Find the right partner. A robust market analysis will tell you how consumers make buying decision, when and why they recommend products, how they learn about new products and more. You’ll target the right market with the right influencers like never before.
2.) Set your goals. According to the Linqia survey, engagement is still the leading metric for influencer campaigns. If the goal is increased brand awareness, it’s good to know where your brand sits in the first place. Furthermore, ongoing brand analysis will show you the brand effects of your influencer campaigns in concrete terms.
3.) Reach the masses, one niche at a time. With influencers, even the largest audience (usually) pales in comparison to even the smallest ad network. Audience loyalty is key — the scale comes next. On the acquisition side, that means you’ll be spreading budget around different platforms, with different products, to oftentimes wildly-unrelated target audiences. A little market research will help you narrow that list to something manageable, and then build campaigns with influencers that will actually influence your audience.
There are countless applications for market research for those on both ends of the influencer marketing universe. The most striking number from the Linqia survey was the response to a question about the biggest challenges facing influencer marketing. 76% of respondents said it was determining ROI. This is an issue for both buyers and sellers in this market. If there is overwhelming agreement that determining ROI is a challenge on the brand side, that means influencers aren’t forthcoming and proactive enough in showing their value.
The answer to a big portion of this is actually simple, and affordable. The top three KPIs for influencer programs are engagement, clicks, and impressions — all brand awareness metrics. One, ongoing brand analysis can tell both sides all they need to know. You’ll see brand lift, motivation, likeability, and more, tracked over time. Second, you’ll be to go deeper and test different deliveries and channels with the market and get it right the first time.
Both sides will be better off for it.
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