Demystifying influencer marketing: How brands can build relationships with a data-driven culture

Gemma Dodd is Traackr's GM UK and VP Client Partnerships based in London. She is a strategic and creative business leader with a track record in helping businesses to develop new strategies, grow revenue and integrate better marketing thinking into their DNA.

When it comes to the practice of working with influencers, I come across a lot of fear and caution amongst marketers. Whether it’s the fear of influencer fraud, uncertainty around how to measure results, or an inability to understand the impact of their investments, people remain wary.

Yet, influencer marketing is one of the highest potential practices for brands. An influencer’s voice can often be seen as more credible than a brand’s own. So, it has never been more important to understand how – and when – marketers should leverage these trusted voices. Today’s socially engaged consumers expect a two way interaction with brands across social platforms. Influential communities can be a powerful conduit between a brand and its audience, providing authentic and engaging content often at a scale brands can’t achieve on their own on social channels. I frequently see influencer content significantly outperform a brand’s owned content across social channels.

To illustrate this, we looked at the performance of two automotive companies, Nissan and Audi, on YouTube in October 2019. Nissan’s official Youtube channel counts 83K subscribers. Last month, its top 10 videos, mostly on new product launches and shows, racked up 1.2 million views. Contrast that with the top 10 influencer generated pieces of content mentioning Nissan in the same time period. These 10 videos, created by eight influencers, earned 1.7m views – 40% more views that the branded channel earned with the same number of videos.

This dynamic is even more acute for Audi, which published three videos in October on its own channel, earning 58,000 views. However, the top 10 influencer generated videos mentioning Audi garnered an impressive 8.5m views during the same time period.

The gap in performance is even wider when you look at engagements. However, this is not to say that owned content is not an important asset for a brand. But simply to demonstrate that collaborating with influencers to create compelling content is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a must-have for brands to remain relevant.

Yet, people still remain fearful. Common concerns and questions include how to maintain control of the brand values, how to determine which influencers are right for the brand, how to measure the performance of influencer activations, what resource is required to fully scale programmes. While this practice is still maturing, there is still a job to do to help marketers overcome their fears and provide simple answers to common questions.

Over the last decade, I’ve guided many brands from diverse sectors on their journey to ‘professionalise’ their approach to influencer marketing. At the core of every successful programme are clear simple principles. The thread across all of this is understanding how to use data to make decisions at every step of the process. Removing subjectivity from your approach and creating a data-led decision making culture is the single transition every business needs to make to ensure success. In my view, this shift to data-led objectivity can bring about powerful changes in approach and performance. Using data to support all your decision making, at every step of your programme from benchmarking to influencer selection, campaign management and reporting is the key to success.

Here are some important areas to be doing this:

  • Understand your market: Do you know how many potential influencers there are to work with in your market and category? Do you really understand how your brand performs in your market amongst influencer communities? Do you have a defined end goal for your influencer programme? Being able to clearly define answers to these questions using data, will help with your planning
  • Watch your competition & learn from peers: How do your competitors engage with influencers?  Which tiers of influencer drive the best results for our brand and category? What data led insights can you learn from your peers? Enabling a data led understanding of what works is crucial to understanding how to optimise your approach
  • Influencer selection: To create a high-performance influencer programme, you need to bring rigour and consistency in the process of selecting who you work with. You don’t need to leave anything to chance because data around the performance of an influencer, the authenticity of their social presence, the impact of their voice on their communities is all readily available for you to consider.  Defining new workflows for teams to use when using data to select and review their influencers is a fundamental shift that brings about immediate changes
  • Measurement culture: Measuring and optimising should be the simplest thing you do around your programmes. You should have access to all metrics and be equipped to answer questions about performance, at all times

With access to the right insights, influencer marketing is a strategic, data-driven practice that leaves little to chance. By adopting a data-led approach to influencer marketing, you enable structure around what ‘good’ influencer marketing looks like. In doing so, it makes mismatched influencer partnerships and influencer fraud a thing of the past. At Traackr, we live and breathe this ethos by providing transparent, data-driven insights enabling brands to understand their performance, optimise their approach and scale their impact.

Ultimately, influencers have the ear of your audience, so a successful marketing strategy must incorporate influencer relations. If you’re hesitant to engage, I invite you to explore how technology and data is changing the field, because today those that embrace a relationship-driven influencer strategy founded on data are leaving their competition in the dust.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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