How Do You Track ROI In The Ever-Evolving World Of Influencer Marketing?

While influencer marketing has been present for a few years now, the world is increasingly waking up to its potency, with social media as the driving force

The booming digital landscape has completely changed the way we do business and the way customers access information. Recent studies have found that buyers are increasingly getting influenced by information found on social media. With television ads you cannot effectively target your audience due to its one size fits all stance but with influencer marketing, where things are more pertinent, audience reach can be far more effective. That influencers help in building brand credibility is of course an added bonus. 

While influencer marketing has been present since a few years now, the world is increasingly waking up to its potency now with social media playing as the driving force. So what is it that makes influencers influential? With a large following on the web and social media, influencers spend a significant amount of time building their own brand name and make sure to reach the audience organically.

2018 has witnessed several brands, namely Canon India, Kerala Tourism, Nykaa, KFC, American Express, Air Bnb, adding the power of an influencer to their marketing mix. The Association of National Advertisers surveyed 158 brands to examine the state of influencer marketing and found that 75 per cent use influencer marketing and 43 per cent are planning to increase budgets in the next year. According to a latest research by Linqia, out of 86% marketers who used influencer marketing in 2017, a whopping percentage found it useful.

While influencer marketing is not new, the ways how brands and influencers themselves are adapting their processes and creating new best practices to truly evolve in this rapidly growing space is exciting.

Few trends in influencer marketing:

Brands are trying to lock in Long-Term Relationships with their Preferred Influencers: “Since most marketers by now have deployed and seen success from their pilot campaigns with influencers, brands want to work with influencers that fit their brand on a longer-term basis. A part of this is also driven by most influencers endorsing a range of brands leading to a cluttered feed. These long-term partnerships are allowing brands to not only create authentic content with these influencers but also leverage them to test and co-create products as well as get market insights," said Arushi Sharma - Head of Brand Partnerships & Strategy at Chtrbox. 

Ashish Dhruva, Vice President - Marketing, Cleartrip, says, "Marketers are increasingly focusing on precise targeting when looking at influencer marketing. As the risks and potential of influencer marketing are surfacing, the axis of choice of influencers is shifting to the quality of followers."

According to Shradha Agarwal, COO, Grapes Digital, “The latest trend in influencer marketing in India is "Youth Marketing and Affiliate Programmes". Till now influencers were being used for branding and reach, now a lot of brands have started with youth ambassador programmes. For e.g.: Superstar by Paytm Mall, where every product sold through an influencer gets them an X percentage. This is very common in US and Europe where every influencer has a unique discount code but in India it hasn’t picked up much. But now this trend is coming where there are students specialising as sellers rather than just influencers."

Enter micro-influencers:

Micro- influencers are influencers with less than 25,000 followers, who are recognised by online communities for their knowledge and expertise in a particular topic. Also, the content that micro-influencers produce resonates with their audience because they are relatable. They have a mid-sized audience with dedicated, highly engaged followers. They tend to have a much more personalised way of engaging as compared to an established celebrity.

“Smaller brands which don’t have huge marketing budgets started approaching micro influencers who are easy to approach and cost-effective. Influencers have a definite set of followers and audience with whom they engage with on a regular basis. This makes it very easy for brands to reach out  to the target audience at an effective cost,  at the same time providing them with quality reach," said Abdulla Basha, Co-founder of Social Frontier.

“Partnering with a micro influencer is a good option for brands as this can be a long-term relationship. Influencers can create genuine and more impactful content for their followers. But while choosing the influencer we need to be very particular and objective driven," he added.

“Tapping into the Micro influencer space right now is a great bet for brands. Not only are we seeing better ROI overall, you never know when there is a tomorrow’s AIB hidden somewhere in that lot. Getting them on board at an early stage at a lower cost can prove to be really beneficial and profitable for a brand," said Sharma.

"At Cleartrip, we work with over 100 micro bloggers every month to engage with the travel community who add value to travellers' decision-making journey with interesting information about destinations, trends, new insights, etc.," said Dhruva. 

Speaking of the advantages of micro influencers, Agarwal said, “Micro influencers make for a good choice because they offer more value at less cost. They create multiple contextual content pieces based on the USP of the brand and product, and put together, their reach is far more targeted or at least equivalent to that of a celebrity."

ROI of Influencer Marketing

Without tracking ROI, it becomes difficult to analyse how effective is influencer marketing for a brand. 

“In its new avatar, influencer marketing is now relying on pockets of micro-influencers to help the brand message reach small communities. The ROI on influencer marketing can go either way, it's up to the marketing teams to figure ways to get the best bang for the buck. Today, on an average, one would burn about Rs 50-200 on CPM costs on any non-influencer channel such as Facebookor Google display. Compared to the per post cost that influencers charge, another measure is to see the reach achieved for the same. Many a times, even if it gives lesser reach than other digital channels, what makes up for it is the engagement and interactions you see on the product endorsed, which very few brand campaigns on their own are able to muster," said Meera Iyer, Head of Marketing, Melorra.

Agarwal feels there are two methods, which marketers can track to achieve ROI. "One is reach and other is engagement rate on the content. If the sales trend picks up, then sales will become a big KPI," she said.

Jatin Modi, Founder & CEO, FrogIdeas, has a different take on this. "Leveraging influencers to take a brand's message forward is picking up as a key marketing trend to cater to the new-age, intelligent consumer. What's crucial is to use influencers to your brand's advantage intelligently. Numbers or volume of postings, for instance, don't mean as much as a well-thought strategy mapped on real reach, intelligent conversations and conversions. Only then can micro-influencers add value to a business' ROI," he said.

“Influencer marketing is still evolving. While rise in engagement, traffic and impressions is where it begins, the focus should also be on aspects like the quality of impact, time saved to create the reach and brand awareness," added Dhruva.

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