Traditionally influencer marketing and affiliate marketing were treated as two separate strategies and managed by two separate teams. While affiliate marketing focused on web traffic conversions through pay-per-performance partnerships with coupon and deals sites, influencer marketing focused more on social traffic conversions through paid sponsorships with social leaders. However, the objectives of both strategies are essentially the same: increase referrals to drive traffic and sales.
With the rise of social media and shopping capabilities of some social platforms like Instagram, influencers have now become an integral part of a brand’s affiliate strategy due to their ability to influence conversions from their loyal followers through product recommendations and reviews. Many affiliate managers also feel that influencers drive more incremental value compared to other affiliate partners due to the ability of targeting influencers who have an audience that is similar to a brand’s target demographic.
In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Influencer Marketing Hub, 82% of their respondents believed that influencers attract a higher quality of customers compared to other marketing channels. However, since influencers tend to be more top-of-funnel partners who drive more brand awareness than conversions, the key performance indicators used to measure performance can differ compared to some of the more traditional, bottom-of-funnel affiliates like coupon and deal sites. Thus, understanding why and how to measure influencer performance is important for any affiliate manager.
How an influencer is measured within an affiliate program will depend on the brand’s goals and objectives for working with this partner. For example, a brand looking to build brand awareness and trust among new potential customers may evaluate performance differently from a brand who is looking to increase revenue. Below are some examples of some key performance indicators that are typically used when measuring influencer performance through affiliate programs.
Sales and revenue
Increasing revenue and sales is one of the biggest return of investments brands are looking for from an influencer campaign. By creating unique affiliate links, you can track referred traffic, sales and revenue from an influencer’s blog or social posts. Custom coupon codes also allow for easy tracking and can come in handy in situations where affiliate links cannot be shared or posted easily.
Coupon codes also allow for merchants to track purchases beyond the cookie duration of affiliate links as not all consumers will make a purchase immediately after seeing a review post. Finally, urchin tracking module (UTM) parameters can be used to track revenue and sales through Google Analytics.
Reach and brand awareness
Businesses that are promoting a new brand or a new product may have an objective to increase visibility. For these types of campaigns, reach and the number of new visitors or new potential customers that become aware of your brand through influencer reviews and recommendations is important. Looking at the number of views or impressions of a campaign can help to determine reach along with tracking new customer visits to your website through the use of unique affiliate links. In addition to affiliate network tracking, Google Analytics can be used to supplement affiliate data and can help to get a deeper understanding of consumer demographics.
Engagement is another metric that can be used to evaluate whether or not consumers are interested in your brand and how consumers feel about your brand or product. Looking at the number of likes, comments, views or click-throughs from an influencer’s post will determine whether a campaign received high or low engagement. Not only is the quantity of engagement important, but the quality of engagement as well. Positive comments and reactions to posts can indicate optimistic feelings from consumers about your brand, which could lead to eventual sales.
Impact on SEO
While an influencer campaign or placement may not always generate immediate revenue results, it’s important to consider the impact of the campaign on your SEO. A study by Moz lists the top-ranking factors that affect a website’s SEO. Influencers can help with several of these factors. For example, they can help to create unique and interesting content about your brand, adding credibility to your website and brand message, as well as generating natural backlinks to your website.
These are just a few examples of how influencers can be measured within an affiliate program. No matter the goals and objectives of an influencer strategy within your affiliate program, it’s important to consider all areas in which the influencer partnership had a positive impact.