10 Expert Tips about Influencer Marketing ROI

This post is an excerpt from our Authentic Marketing Conference in Los Angeles. The conference was a rich environment for brands and influencers to openly discuss tactics for authentically building a strong following.

There's plenty of room for smaller brands to get involved and get an ROI with Influencer Marketing

Q: Is influencer marketing something that only big brands can take advantage of? Or is there room for smaller brands to get involved and get an ROI on it?

A: There's plenty of room for smaller brands to get involved and get ROI. One area that can really take advantage of influencers, is hospitality. You are offering an experience so you can barter a lot, in that case, you can offer free food, offer an environment. I think some of the most successful campaigns that have happened recently have been a combination of mostly barter and some payment. I think the hard thing about working with smaller brands is that they literally want to know how much the cucumber in the salad cost because if they don’t hit their number, they're going to feel it really hard. So, you have to manage expectations the entire way. You gotta really do your homework and do your research. You can't afford to be lazy. You can't afford to take risks and not get a reward out of it. You have to be intelligent about ROI and KPIs. If you don't set KPIs throughout your campaign and your campaign doesn't run well, at the end, it's your fault. You didn't understand where the pitfalls were. But that comes from doing your research, really understanding your audience and understanding how to identify them and reach them. –Jonathan Chanti, HYPR

Influencer marketing is scalable

I think the beauty of influencer marketing is that it's completely scalable. You could be a small business and have a couple of thousand dollars to spend on an influencer campaign. We take that and say, “This is how many influencers we can work with, this is the type of reach, this is the targeted demographic that we want to target.” Or, we can get these million dollar contracts and work with some of the biggest influencers out there and brands with the budget to do that. We work with brands right across the board from the very small ones right through the bigger ones. –Emily Fonda, The Sociable Society

Find a budget for influencer marketing

One of my top pieces of advice that I would give a small brand or small business owner, is you have got to find money for advertising and marketing. You have to. You are not running a business if you're not paying for some kind of advertising, you are just not. You can do organic all day. I mean we grew our page organically to 1.5 million likes, completely organically and now we pay. Because Facebook demands that you pay. We still got a lot of organic but we pay now. And getting to that point mentally was such a huge struggle for us because it is a small business that's not making millions per year. It's a niche distribution company. But once we got past that point of understanding that, we could then explain that to other people as well. So now, when we're working with a new client or a smaller brand, it's part of the deal. They have to agree to a certain amount of money for straight ad spend. –Zack Coffman, One World Studios

Learn the process of fine-tuning a Facebook ad

We use Facebook advertising not only just because of ROI against other ads but also because once you get in there, the data that you can generate for your business is incredible! Also, Amazon now allows you to run ads on Amazon that's very similar to the way that you run ads within Facebook. It's incredible. You're within that ecosystem running ads and targeting them and fine-tuning. Once you learn the process of fine-tuning a Facebook ad, you can turn that right around and hand it to your content people. A/B test against all the images. Understand why the winning image won. The ads platform will tell you. You paid for information that organically, would have taken many posts to learn what works. With ads, they tell you what works. Now change all your content to look that way. –Zack Coffman, One World Studios

Test data for future ad campaigns

I think that point is --critical. I don't think enough people do that in influencer marketing. You mentioned it earlier, putting a paid budget behind, amplification budget, behind influencer posts. If you have a post that's working for you and if you have a post that's actually driving results, why not try to get more and try to figure out how to optimize it, how to get insights, split testing data for future ad campaigns. I think that's a really good point. –Jesse Leimgruber, NeoReach

Pay Influencers and pay them fairly

Q: I ran a campaign once on a complete CPA basis. The brand spent many, many millions of dollars entirely on a CPA basis. They paid influencers a straight dollar amount per install. Is this a model other brands could look at? Or is it something that brands should not consider trying.

A: I’m very “anti” the affiliate program. It requires the influencers to put a lot of work out there, up front, without a lot of expectation of being paid for it. We are really big proponents of paying influencers and paying them fairly. Trying to find a standardized pay rate for an influencer, it’s never going to be perfect but it’s something we’re trying to figure out via different formulas. I think affiliate programs are great from a brand perspective and I understand why a brand wants to do it. Because they offer Perma code every time someone buys something and then the influencer gets a dollar. It's really putting the risk of the brand and the brand's product, on the avenue that they want somebody to speak about their product positively, authentically and organically and I don't think that's fair. I think if it's your business if it's your brand, it’s your product and you want to get it out there then you need to fund it. You can't put that risk on someone else. –Emily Fonda, The Sociable Society

Consider using an affiliate program

I tend to believe it’s just another tool in the tool box. Some of the most successful campaigns you’ve seen in modern marketing have an affiliate aspect to them... It could be a component of the deal, obviously, you could do a royalty applied towards the guarantee. So you could give an influencer $15,000, and say, “I’m not going to pay you anything until I make X amount of money back. Once you reach X amount of dollars, then you start making a royalty afterward”. Then the influencer feels they got something up front and then they can make a royalty afterward. Which is incentivising because they can make more and more, potentially. I don't think it's a wrong thing to do. I just think you have to know the scenario and the way you're going to include it in the deal. Also, understand the influencer that you're speaking to and see if that's something that might offend them. Because if you approach them really big and say, “I just want to pay you for an affiliate”, they're just going to tell you-- “Peace out bro.” –Jonathan Chanti, HYPR

Learn from Amazon's influencer marketing program

I think that can work with celebrity marketing. One of the things I'm interested in, and we haven't tested it yet, it just launched, is Amazon's marketplace with their influencer program. That's launching right now, where brands cannot work directly with Amazon but influencers can. Then you get your unique Amazon link, so anything that you sell you can click on this link and it has all the influencers recommended products. Well, that might not be right for everyone. It will be interesting to see how that goes. I mean, Twitch is doing the same thing, where they're allowing all of their key voices who are playing these games online to then sell the product. I’m not such a huge fan of that at the moment but we'll see how that develops. The Amazon Marketplace thing I'm a bit more excited about because you work with specific influencers you might be able to get a little more prominence with that brand. –Chris Inners, OMD USA

I think Amazon's been really clever at that. We work with a lot of bloggers that have, whenever they do a story, their affiliate Amazon link, it automatically populates products that you can buy from Amazon through that link. I think that's great. That’s not, to me, an affiliate program. I mean it is, but for me, an affiliate program with an influencer is when a jacket company comes in and says, “Hey, we want to sell 20,000 jackets on your platform, we want you to wear it, we want you to post about it, and we will pay you for every sale you get.” That's the affiliate side that I don't agree with. –Emily Fonda, The Sociable Society

Influencers bring certain metrics to the table

Q: It’s important to understand what an influencer really brings to the table. There are a lot of different metrics you could measure ROI by: likes, views, installs, conversions, sales, revenue, brand lift, media value, and the list goes on and on. Is there one particular metric that influencers shine at? And how should brands be thinking about that key KPI that they should be looking to optimize around?A: Average engagement. Put this way, if someone has a hundred thousand followers and they’re getting a thousand likes per post, they suck. It’s that simple. –Jonathan Chanti, HYPR

Influencer Marketing is still evolving

Q: Is Instagram better for awareness or other conversion driving?

A: I think some of the most successful campaigns that have been run recently on social media have been on Instagram, through the story feed. You can directly attach yourself to a website or a site directly for purchase. You have to keep looking for these strategies. It all comes down to being a perpetual student. I hate when someone says they're an “Influencer Expert”. That just makes me cringe inside because it’s not over, it’s still going, it’s evolving. You have to be a perpetual student to understand what the best tactics are because they’re going to change. –Jonathan Chanti, HYPR