“Working with influencers is so expensive. Are you sure they’re worth it?”
If you’ve encountered this question before, you’re not alone. Influencer marketing’s popularity has skyrocketed, but not every person in every agency or company has seen the cold, hard numbers of how much revenue influencers can bring in.
It’s time to put those concerns about influencer marketing and ROI to rest. Here are four tools you can use to directly tie your influencer campaigns to sales:
1. Discount codes
How do they work?
For every influencer you work with, you create a discount code that they can share with their followers. That way, you’ll be able to track how much revenue each influencer brings in. Pretty easy, right?
Tips for success
This form of influencer campaign ROI tracking works best if your main focus is seeing how much revenue each influencer is bringing in. For example, if I have my influencers promoting a big discount on my ebook, I’ll make unique discount codes for each influencer. Then, at the end of the campaign, I’ll be able to see the exact amount of revenue each influencer contributed.
One down side to discounts codes is that it’s difficult to see how these visitors found my deal. Did they find the discount code from my influencer’s Twitter feed? Their blog? Or maybe their YouTube channel? Although discount codes offer little visibility into that area, I can still add another layer of detail on my end by specifying the influencer name and specific campaign. Going back to my ebook example, instead of a discount code being “Stephen,” my discount code might be something like “StephenEbookFallSpecial.”
Of course, if you do choose to add that layer of detail to your discount codes, you might end up with a lot of discount codes to keep track of over time. Say you have five influencers who are likely to share your discount codes, and you do six campaigns a year, analyzing and keeping track of that data could get cumbersome in a few years.
2. UTM codes
How do they work?
UTM codes are codes you add to the end of a URL that tell you:
- Where your traffic is coming from
- The channel by which your traffic got to you
- Which campaign of yours this traffic is associated with
To build your own URLs with UTM codes, you can use Google’s URL builder, which will ask you to specify the Campaign Source (utm_source), Campaign Medium (utm_medium), and Campaign Name (utm_campaign). For the purpose of influencer marketing, the Campaign Name is where you can include your influencer’s name to help you track their success.
Say I’d like to leverage my influencers for a new product my client is launching, and I’d like to give those influencers the option of using any social channel they like. If my influencer’s name was Paul, I’d send Paul different links that are all tagged with “Paul” in the campaign name, while specifying different sources and mediums. So, his Twitter link could look something like:
Tips for success
The key to using UTM codes to track influencer campaign ROI is consistency. At first blush, there could be some confusion between Campaign Source and Campaign Medium among your team, so make sure to set some ground rules (ie: the Campaign Source is the website that does the actual referring of traffic, like yourinfluencersblog.com. The Campaign Medium for Twitter is always “social,” and so on.)
Secondly, the way you put together your UTM codes will affect how they’re tracked by Google Analytics and where they show up, so make sure to work out a system that makes sense to you.
UTM codes tend to work work particularly well as part of affiliate marketing campaigns or giveaways. But keep in mind that it can be hard to get influencers to share these kinds of links in the context of an organic campaign, as it could be seen as more transactional as opposed to being driven by interest.
- Make your link less scary looking
- Receive additional data like:
- Referral source
- A history of all of the links you’ve shortened
Pricing will depend on your needs and the vendor you choose, but you have many free options
How do they work?
Giveaways can be a profitable way to work with an influencer, and solutions like Rafflecopter, woobox, SnapApp and Offerpop are designed to make it easy to launch and manage your giveaway. With many of these solutions, you can choose to have entrants participate by following your brand’s social channels, tweeting, or by inventing your own option like entering their email address or subscribing to your newsletter. Once all the entries are in, your solution can often automatically pick a random winner for you, as well as notify them.
And for the cherry on top? You can use many of these solutions for free!
Tips for success
If you have multiple influencers promoting one of your giveaways, one of your entry options could simply be answering the question “Who did you hear about this giveaway from?” That way, you can directly link which entries (and how much resulting revenue) can be attributed to which influencer.
If you’re sponsoring a giveaway with just one influencer, things get a little easier, but you’ll still want to include an entry option that can tie participants to any purchases they make. One example could be collecting an email address, since that can be easily cross-checked with your list of purchases.
Lastly, to make the most of your giveaway, don’t forget to email those who didn’t win with a discount on one of your offerings. That way, they know the exact outcome of the giveaway, and can act on any lingering fears of missing out.
4. Instagram monetizing services
How do they work?
There are now products and services that make it possible for fashion influencers and brands to easily monetize their Instagram posts. First, users sign up for the service. Then, when they like an influencer’s posts, they’ll receive an email detailing the products that are featured in the post, as well as where they can purchase those items.
Here’s an example of an email a user would receive after liking a post:
Before you can utilize these services as a brand or influencer, you’ll likely have to apply and be approved. The application process can take months, and often the exact selection criteria is kept under wraps. However, if you’re thinking of applying, there are style influencers who have written about their experience and recommendations on how to get accepted, like this post by fashion influencer Amanda Miller.
A word of warning: The majority of accounts that get approved by these Instagram monetization services are individual influencers, not companies. However, that doesn’t mean getting approved as a blog and company isn’t possible. It just takes a different approach.
Dear Lillie is a blog and shop for handmade items and prints that’s been approved by one of these kinds of services, and they actively add or highlight other products alongside their own throughout their blog and Instagram feed.
For example, in this post, Dear Lillie showcases their autumn-themed print, as well as furniture from Wayfair and World Market.
When used in this way, Instagram shopping services become similar to a referral or partner program. If a user were to purchase that distressed dresser or round back dining chair, Dear Lillie would get a kickback. Likewise, your brand could feature one of your influencers’ latest offerings, then reap the referral bonus and strengthen your relationship with your influencer when one of your followers makes a purchase.
The other way to utilize Instagram monetizing solutions as a brand is to become the product that influencers are posting about. For example, if you’re launching a football-themed t-shirt line, you might want to research fashion influencers who have also expressed an affinity for sports, then start building a relationship with them. However, keep in mind that you’ll likely have to apply in order to be featured in this way as well.
Tips for success:
When using these services as a brand (AKA as a referral or partner program), the key is balancing your partner relationship with the interests of your brand. Your followers are following your brand because they’re interested in what you have to offer, not necessarily what your partners have to offer. That means you’ll want to find the right mix of posts featuring your partners or influencers, and your brand’s posts.
While you experiment to find that right mix, don’t forget to leverage your data. If you’re looking for something simple and straightforward, you might want to check out Socialbaker’s free Instagram analytics tool. It shows you the top 3 most liked photos in your stream, the top three most commented-on, and your most frequently used hashtags.
If you want something more in-depth (and don’t mind needing to get a little more involved in order to get it), then you’ll want to look up Simply Measured’s Free Instagram report. You have to authenticate your Instagram account, fill out a form, follow them on Twitter to get access to the report, and then wait a little bit for the report to be generated, but the results are much more in-depth.
You can also download Simply Measured’s report as an Excel file.
Overall, these Instagram monetizing services are not an instant fix. To even begin using it, both you and your influencers will likely need to be approved, which is a challenge in itself. You’ll need patience and hard work to build out your blog and Instagram feed, or product offering, to get approved. But once you’ve done it, you’ll reap the benefits of an Instagram monetization platform that can easily tie your influencer campaigns to sales.
Tracking the ROI of your influencer marketing campaigns may not always be straightforward, but it’s worth it. Once you know exactly how much your influencer campaigns are bringing in, you can better budget for your next campaigns, and even decide which influencers to leverage on different campaigns based on past performance.
As with all things marketing, experiment with the tools listed above, whether in conjunction or one at a time, to see which tactic works best for your brand’s needs.
What are your preferred methods of tracking influencer marketing ROI? What are some other ways or other tools you use to track the revenue generated by your influencer campaigns?