If you’re even somewhat active in the digital environment, you’ve definitely heard of influencers by now. And you probably know about how brands find influencers to promote their products on social media.

But did you know that 91% of surveyed marketers believe working with influencers to be an effective form of marketing? That’s good to know, and influencer marketing can definitely provide brands with various benefits. However, what does “effective” mean exactly? Let’s outline what you need to know when measuring the success of your influencer marketing campaigns.

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Before you start, know this

Influencer marketing campaigns need to start with thorough research and planning in order to be successful down the line. Know your objective, your target audience and your deadlines and budget. Set key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you track your progress toward your goal. And choose influencers who can help you advance on those KPIs.

However, while every campaign requires planning, every campaign is different. And success is relative: Relative to the investment you put into the campaign, and relative to the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of it all.

Further, in order to accurately assess the results of your campaign, you need to know which types of KPIs are commonly measured in digital marketing. It’s also important to understand the other types of benefits you may glean from your influencer campaign, which should also be worked into your success analysis.

KPIs in influencer marketing

The common KPIs in influencer marketing are similar to those of other digital marketing campaigns. Think about things like:

  • Sales – Sales brought in through your campaign
  • Impressions – Times your campaign content was displayed on screen
  • Clicks – Times that users clicked links in your campaign
  • Conversions – Sign-ups to your newsletter or VIP program, downloads of content, etc.

Also, when working with influencers, there are some other KPIs you should also look out for, like:

  • New Followers – Social media users that find and follow you thanks to the campaign
  • Engagements – Likes, comments, shares, saves or other interactions with campaign content
  • Reposts – Imagine an influencer’s fan club reposts your branded content, leading to extra exposure to more followers
  • Press – Coverage that comes about from your collaboration with an influencer
  • Content – Photos, video and other media that influencers create for you, which can either be reposted on social media or reutilized in other contexts

The last point on that list is especially important to elaborate further on. First, influencer-created content can add a sense of social proof to either your brand’s own social accounts or e-commerce product pages. According to research, only 38% of people trust social media recommendations from brands, while 61% trust the opinions of influencers, family and friends.

Looking at it from another perspective, you may get media assets from an influencer that you can use to promote your business. Imagine that as part of a collaboration deal, an influencer visits and photographs your new restaurant. You’ve closed the deal so you can republish those photos to your website, and now you don’t have to hire a professional photographer or worry about doing it yourself.

The point here is to consider all the benefits your influencer campaign brings you, and not just the hard-and-fast marketing KPIs.

Examples of different types of influencer marketing success

In order to fully demonstrate what success may look like in influencer marketing campaigns, let’s look at some hypothetical examples.

Success at sales

You’re a fashion brand, and you want to promote sales of your newest handbag. The bag retails for $100, and the cost of production for you is $50. You recruit 3 Instagram influencers, who each have between 20-50K followers, to promote the handbag. Moreover, you set up a specific discount code for each influencer to give their followers 15% off your bags.

For incentive, you give each influencer a free bag and a $100 fee for their services. This puts the investment per influencer at $150, and the total investment at $450. So, to recover your investment, you need to sell 5 bags, assuming that followers will use the 15% discount to buy them at $85 instead of $100.

Now, when the campaign wraps up, you find that the influencers actually sold 8 bags between them. This puts your sales total for the campaign at $680. Compared to your investment of $450, you could say the campaign was successful, as you’ve net a profit.

Success at branding

Sales involve money and so are fairly straightforward to calculate. But when it comes to campaigns with branding goals, it can be trickier to measure the numeric value of KPIs. In these cases, relate back to your goal and see if you’ve exceeded it.

For example, you’ve opened a new restaurant and want to get the word out on social media. You find 2 appropriate influencers and invite them to a free meal in exchange for a post each. The meals you give them cost $100 each, so your total investment is $200.

Both influencers have around 15K followers. Based on this, and their analytics insights for impressions on past posts, you expect one influencer to get around 5K impressions, and the other 4K, for a total of about 9K impressions.

To measure the cost of impressions, we can use a formula called cost per mille (CPM), which means cost per thousand impressions:

So in this specific example, your estimated CPM would be around $2.22. In other words, you’re spending $2.22 for every 1,000 impressions.

Now, Influencer A posts and gets the 5K expected impressions. But Influencer B loves your food so much that they publish a post, which gets 5K impressions, and two stories which garner another 8K impressions. This puts the total impressions at 18K, and your CPM at $1.11.

This example also speaks to the importance of finding influencers who align well with your brand. The more an influencer’s interests and style meshes with your brand’s, the better chance you have that the influencer will authentically enjoy your products.

Conclusion

When it comes to measuring the results of your influencer marketing campaigns, make sure to remember that success is relative to your goals and investment. Consider all the benefits you get out of your campaign. And if you don’t succeed, be open-minded about what you can learn to hopefully succeed the next time around.