We’ve all witnessed big changes in the partnership and affiliate space since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March. During the first two months of this situation Partnerize, as well as leading brands and partners, focused on formulating and executing strategies and tactics designed to help mitigate immediate challenges we each were facing. Reacting to the profound market changes we were facing.
Now we are entering a new phase. As much of the world takes steps toward “opening up” again, it’s time for brands to reflect and shape a “new normal” in their go-to-market planning. We must all continue to be vigilant about protecting the health and safety of our families and colleagues while also proactively developing new go-to-market plans that reflect the world in which our businesses will compete in the coming months.
We’ve launched a new phase of the “Growing Together” content series to deliver new content and ideas on how brands and partners can get the best possible results as they proactively look to shape their own futures. We hope that you find this second wave of Growing Together content useful as you formulate programs for your business. In that spirit, please read on.
The age of social media has bought with it the rise of the influencer as opinion leader and paid brand advocate. Whether they reach their audiences as bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers and/or TikTokers, influencers now play a significant role in marketing for thousands of leading brands. In the US alone, influencer marketing spend is expected to top $8B by 2022. Globally, the spending is expected to reach $15B.
COVID and the accompanying #stayathome orders have further increased the potential value of influencers for brands, because people are now spending more timing consuming online content. Total consumer media time is expected to increase by more than 4.7% in 2020, driven by a 9.3% increase in time spent with digital media. Additionally, 80% of consumers in the U.S. and UK say they have consumed more social and digital content since the outbreak. This presents a significant opportunity for brands to maintain or raise their brand awareness, shape more purchase decisions, and ultimately increase revenue. Through influencers.
The pandemic has also put increased pressure on marketers to prove the ROI of every dollar they invest. As many brands are trying to meet goals with more limited resources, demonstrating marketing effectiveness is more important than ever. As companies look to brand leaders for more tangible proof of ROI, and demand that they scale successful programs faster, it’s critical to take a systematic approach to measuring and growing sales from influencers. Here’s how, in 5 steps.
Understand the Revenue and Profit Impact of Your Influencer Program
Traditionally, managing influencer programs was under the purview of PR and social teams, not commerce leaders. Measurement focused on “soft metrics” like exposure, awareness, and consideration. But that is changing as brands look to influencers for real, measurable sales impact.
Few would doubt that influencers have sales impact — brands wouldn’t engage with them if they didn’t believe that these advocates drive sales. But belief isn’t enough in today’s environment; now there’s a demand for proof. Fortunately, brands can use the same methodologies to track influencers as they do performance partners like affiliate publishers. By providing influencers with unique product and offer links from affiliate platforms, it is easy to measure direct sales impact.
While some influencers prefer to be compensated and measured based on social media metrics, a growing number are happy to work with brands on a revenue-performance basis — to be compensated based on the direct sales that they drive. Additionally, some affiliate and partner management tools now enable you to split commissions across multiple partners that may touch an individual customer journey. That’s great for influencers because they often play a disproportionate role in earlier stages of the buyer journey.
Compare Influencer Marketing ROI to Other Channels and Allocate Resources Based on the Data
Any decision to spend in one channel brings with it a decision not to invest that same money in another channel. To make the right decisions here, it’s valuable to be able to compare tactics on concrete metrics. The first step here is to define the role that each medium plays for a brand. Some media are more valuable at different stages of the customer journey than others.
Then, juxtapose the revenue impact of each channel in the context of that role. By understanding roles and efficiency, brands can calibrate their marketing for maximum impact.
Evaluating channels based on their role and their ROI is important because you need the right mix of tactics to maximize sales and profit. Brands that focus solely on touchpoints that happen just before a conversion often find their growth limited because of comparably low awareness and consideration. But being able to pinpoint ROI from influencers and other channels helps ensure the right budget allocation for maximum performance.
Audit Your Influencer Marketing Program to Build the Right Mix of Advocates
We’ve discussed comparing revenue impact across channels. But it’s also invaluable to compare ROI and other metrics for individual influencers and types of influencers to maximize value from the channel.
Many brands find that certain types of influencers perform better than others. Again, it’s important to understand all of the impacts of an influencer, including but not limited to revenue. We believe that working with a top influencer platform or network, combined with a technology to measure revenue like Partnerize, is the best approach. That’s why we have built close integrations with platforms like Zine and Sideqik and networks like RewardStyle. These providers can help you streamline your influencer marketing workflows and make smarter decisions backed by data. Working with those tools can also give you easier access to more influencers with a high degree of likelihood of being relevant for your brand.
Engage and Build Lasting Relationships With Your Top Influencers
Another important strategy is to view your relationships with influencers as long-term versus short-term partnerships. Many brands field influencer programs of just a few weeks duration, to support product launches and promotions. But a growing number of brands are recognizing that the results are better when they cultivate long-term brand advocates.
Now more than ever, it is of paramount importance to engage and develop an ongoing relationship with your influencer base. Ongoing influencer programs are more valuable to influencers and can help create brand- as opposed to deal-advocates.
Most brands engage with a large number of influencers, so having automation tools to manage creative and communications helps free your team for more important strategic work while also ensuring that your influencers stay informed and loyal to you.
Adapt Your Influencer Programs to Changing Circumstances
Once you have your influencer base established and have fostered strong relationships with these individuals, you have the opportunity to control and adjust your campaigns in response to audience behavior.
For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic led to temporary retail location closures, some brands transitioned their in-store staff to online brand ambassadors and compensated them for their advocacy using a performance-based influencer model and affiliate links. We have seen these new influencers giving a significant boost to performance results for multiple clients.
Influencer marketing is growing rapidly and adding revenue and profit impact measurement can only help it continue to grow. By taking a thoughtful and strategic approach to investing, scaling and communicating with influencers, they create powerful and mutually beneficial relationships.
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