Tracking

How to Measure Influencer Marketing: 8 Proven Tracking Methods

July 22, 2022
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16 min
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Eleni Papaioannou

Consider this.

Fred is scrolling through TikTok on a Friday night when he sees one of his favorite creators sitting in an inflatable pool. Fred watches for 30 seconds, laughs, and moves on.

Two days later, temperatures rising, Fred remembers that TikTok pool and searches for the brand on Google. His search (right there in the SERP) reveals that the exact pool is available at a retail store 10 minutes away from his office.

Flash to a week later, Fred is exiting that same store with a neon box tucked under his arm.

Meanwhile, at the very moment, a social media manager at Blow-Up Pool Inc. is considering how to answer a question that just popped up in Slack from the Director of Marketing.  

“I don’t know, Katie, is influencer marketing even worth our budget and our time?”

This guide is for Katie and all Katies who need to show the effectiveness of influencer marketing but don’t know where to start. It’s for marketers who know that our battle-tested tracking methods aren’t fully supported by social platforms. And all those likes, comments, and views don’t impress CFOs that much.

So, what do you do?

Our favorite answer comes from Marcus Burke, who led influencer marketing at Blinkist, Tandem, and other teams.

“I'd recommend anyone to just start and study the data to grow confident over time. In most cases, the channel is underestimated rather than overestimated.”

This guide covers 8 proven ways to track influencer marketing, explains the importance of goal setting, and then discusses which KPIs might be right for your campaign.  

But first, here’s what we’ve learned through 34+ hours of research, talking to experts, and 3+ years of working with brands.

What you need to know about measuring influencer marketing

  • Just start. Pick 1-2 tracking methods to begin, select 10-20 influencers and get the ball rolling. Only through doing will you learn better ways of tracking with the resources you have.  
  • Influencer marketing is a full-funnel channel. You can use it to improve sales, boost engagement, increase content production, reach new audiences, and amplify brand awareness. Do not only use it for brand awareness. You’ll leave money on the table. 
  • Similar to SEO and content marketing, influencer marketing is a long-tail game. It takes time for its true impact to show up in the data. 
  • Establish benchmarks. Get historical data from Google Analytics or your eCommerce tool and compare your results to other marketing channels. Do not solely rely on external industry benchmarks.  
  • Influencer marketing does not exist in a vacuum. It has the power to support and amplify other channels (paid, earned, or owned). Sync up strategies for better results.   
  • Only 25% of purchases come from customers using attributable links. For teams who want to move fast, consider prioritizing execution over perfect measurement. (We’ll show you how)

Note: Traditional marketing (print, TV, radio) can drive eCommerce, and digital marketing can drive in-store purchases. But this guide focuses only on digital marketing for eCommerce or consumer mobile apps. 

8 ways to track your influencer campaigns

Tracking influencer campaigns is simple —if you want it to be. It can also be more sophisticated —if you need it to be. Choose a way that fits your budget, skills, and needs, and go for it! The methods below are listed in order of simplicity in getting started.

1. Use personalized promo codes

Best for a quick & easy way to track sales to influencers while incentivizing their audiences

The humble promo code is easy to set up and powerful in its simplicity. Personalized promo codes for each influencer will help you track sales and help you track other direct and indirect factors.  

Customers enter this personalized code at some point in the shopping experience to unlock a discount (Usually at checkout). Now, promo codes on their own won’t tell you how a customer arrived on your site, but you’ll know exactly who sent them.  

For example, when Rothys partnered with writer and creator Olivia Muenter they used the promo code OLIVIA20. Simple and memorable!

You can use promo codes to track all sales-related metrics for individual influencers. For example, the number of sales, amount of sales, average order value (AOV), and any other metric you track.

TL;DR: If you want to start tracking campaigns quickly, go with promo codes. 

2. Use UTMs to track sessions and sales

Best to track sessions and sales. Quick and easy to set up, UTMs are used by most brands – big and small. 

Let’s go back to Rothys example from above. Not only did they use a personalized promo code, but if you look carefully, they also used a UTM link.

A quick reminder: UTM codes are a little bit of text added to a link that tells Google Analytics (and other tools) more information about your link. UTMs capture 4 bits of info: source, medium, campaign, and content. You can then track behavior by those categories.

Here’s how to set up UTMs to track individual influencers’ performance or individual campaigns in Google Analytics.

Source

Source tells Google where the data is coming from. This will be the channel where your campaign is running, for example, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, etc.

Use IG, YT, or TT as your source.

Medium

This UTM tag completes the statement: This visit came via _______.  Usually, it’s separated into paid, organic, social, and email. But this breakdown isn’t helpful when working with social channels.  

Instead, use the tag “Influencers” or “Creators” or “Brand partners” or however you refer to them in-house.

Campaign

This parameter will do most of the heavy lifting for you. It completes the blank space of the statement: “This visit came from _______ effort.”

There are two ways to use the Campaign tag to track different things:

  • To track an influencer’s effectiveness, use the individual influencers’ handle or name. For example, This visit came from @taylorswift13 efforts.
  • To track a campaign across all influencers, use the promotion name as your campaign tag, for example, Summer Cat Adoption Drive.

Content (Optional)

The content UTM tag gives you added information to understand from which piece of content the user clicked. This is useful if you want to track where the influencer’s audience is coming from: their feed (link in bio), their stories, or even their website.

How to make UTM links more memorable

The problem with UTMs is that to the naked untrained eye, they look long, ugly, and, well, spammy. When you build them in Campaign URL Builder you get something like this:

https://www.modash.io/landing-page/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=email&utm_content=-image&utm_campaign=june2022

Long links are easy enough to hide in hyperlinks, but with limited real estate on social platforms for links of any kind, we recommend shortening your UTMs. With a URL shortener like Bit.ly, you can create a personalized URL for each influencer. Using the structure brand.com/creator and followers will easily remember the link and be able to leave the app they’re in and quickly get to your site. 

You can see an example of a URL shortener/UTM in this Honey campaign with the YouTube channel h3h3Productions. They used a memorable and personalized shortened URL -> joinhoney.com/h3h3  that redirects to a UTM link.

Memorable for the audience, memorable for Google.

What analyses can you do with UTMs?

  • Compare sales across different influencers to find your highest performing influencers and consider working long-term with them. Find your lowest performing influencers and consider training them or ending the relationship.
  • Compare sales across campaigns. This will help you discover the type of campaigns that work best for your brand. You could learn that discount codes are better than product placement. The more you test different campaigns the more information you’ll get to understand your audience and what motivates them to buy or download your products.
  • Compare sales from influencer campaigns with other mediums (channels). This will give you a good metric of the impact of influencer marketing.
  • Compare content type. You could discover that educational content performs better than entertaining content. Or, that videos work better than in-feed posts.

TL;DR: Create a UTM with Campaign URL builder, shorten and personalize with Bit.ly, share the link with creators. Track in Google Analytics.

3. Use a monitoring tool to track content

Best for established teams who are scaling to automatically track sponsored content.

Whether this is your first influencer campaign or your tenth, you know that monitoring every post or piece of sponsored content posted takes up tons of time.

This is just a few of the things you want to check:

  • Have all my influencers posted on the day they were supposed to post?
  • Are my influencers complying with brand guidelines & ad disclosure requirements?
  • Have my influencers used the right hashtags? Are they spelt correctly?
  • How much reach & engagement are posts getting?

Multiply by the number of influencers in your campaign, and it’s a lot!

There are two ways to keep track of sponsored content: manually or with a monitoring tool.

A monitoring tool helps you automate content tracking.

Tell our Modash bots what they need to track, and they’ll go out and collect all your posts for you. Then, they line them all up in our Published Content report.

TL;DR: Monitoring tools will track all sponsored posts so that you can quickly check in with your campaigns from one place.

4. Use influencers’ in-platform analytics to track individual content engagement

Best for tracking post engagement, views, impressions, and reach

Asking influencers to self-report post metrics is critical when one of your goals is brand awareness. Ask creators to take screenshots to capture views, impressions, reach, and the engagement of posts for you. Just remember that some content like Instagram feed posts, YouTube Videos, and TikToks live online in perpetuity. The metrics you get only show a snapshot of a moment in time.

Consider including reporting expectations in your contract or agreement with influencers.

5. Use unique landing pages to track traffic by entrance page

Best for more sophisticated campaigns to track sales, clicks, and website engagement

A unique landing page with a unique URL takes a bit more effort than a UTM but offers a more personalized experience for the user. And unlike UTMs that track campaigns by source/medium, a personalized URL on a unique landing page tracks by entrance page.

To isolate the traffic coming from creator partners, you can noindex the page, too. A no-index metatag tells Google you don’t want the page to be findable via search. So any visit to this page comes from users clicking on a link they found through the influencer. This helps you track traffic, clicks, and sales in Google Analytics and attribute them to a specific influencer. To noindex a page, either find the option in your CRM/eCommerce tool or add some code onto the page.

There's no right or wrong way to use dedicated landing pages with personalized URLs. It will depend on your campaign goals and strategy. But by mapping goals to campaigns, you can try various tactics.  

A good example of a low effort unique landing page is this example from Magic Spoon. When they sponsored the podcast True Crime Obsessed, followers landed on a home page with a personalized welcome message.

This message creates a personalized experience for the user, reminds them of the offer, and makes the podcast hosts feel appreciated.

Another example of the power of unique landing pages comes from Bloom & Wild. When a customer clicks on the link, a discount is applied automatically. This trick is a neat way to ensure promo codes are used and the experience for the user is seamless. 

Here are more ideas to try:

  • Goal -> Increase brand awareness and sales -> Direct all followers to your homepage with a welcome banner
  • Goal -> Increase sales of a specific product -> Direct followers to a category or product page
  • Goal -> Increase product awareness and sales ->Direct followers to a curated products page. The influencer chooses a variety of products they like, and their followers can buy from a dedicated page on your site.

TL;DR: Unique landing pages help you attribute traffic, clicks, and sales to individual influencers with a bonus of creating a personalized experience for the user.

6. Use affiliate programs (& links) to simplify tracking

Best for teams with a booming influencer marketing program that use performance-based or commission-based payment models.

If your strategy (or margins) don’t support discounts, or if you’ve already found success with influencer marketing and want to scale your efforts, an affiliate program might be the answer to your tracking issues.

Affiliate marketing is not only a payment model but can also be used to track all types of visitor behavior through an affiliate link.

Unlike promo codes or UTM links that change depending on the campaign or influencer, you only have to create an affiliate link once. Each influencer is assigned an ID to create their unique affiliate link.

Based on your affiliate model and goals, you can then track:

  • Leads
  • Clicks
  • Installs
  • Sales

Affiliate programs require some work upfront to get started, but they can be a good tracking tool and a great recruitment tool.

7. Use surveys to understand indirect attribution

Best for capturing indirect attribution

Post-purchase or "how did you hear about us" surveys (HDYHAU) can be one way to capture indirect attribution.  We don't see them often enough in influencer marketing.

One of the reasons is that survey data is imperfect. People often misremember or even lie. While you can’t stop people from lying, you can make surveys more specific to aid recall.  

Instead of offering broad options to the question "How did you hear about us?" include creator names or handles in the options.  

Another common concern in using surveys is user experience, especially for consumer mobile app brands.

If you're worried about hurting your users' onboarding experience, consider serving them the survey on their second or third session, or after they’ve completed a specific action.

8. Use marketing mix modeling

Marketing Mix Modeling is a statistical way to measure (& forecast) performance on an aggregate level. It attempts to attribute the success of each factor you put in the model, meaning it can account for both trackable and untrackable factors. It's increasingly used post-iOS14, now that user-level tracking is broken.

Marketing mix modeling can be a useful & advanced method of measuring any marketing channel, including influencer marketing. That said, it can be quite time consuming and/or expensive to do. For most small teams who are spending less than $30k per month, it likely isn't economically viable. Though the release of open-source libraries by Facebook and Google are lowering the barrier to entry.

One way to use the results of a marketing mix model is to measure the full impact including indirect effects of a campaign on overall performance. You might find, for example, that your direct attribution only reports half of the total impact, compared to what your marketing mix model finds. In that scenario, you can simply move forward with the assumption that the 'real' total impact is 2x whatever your attribution model says.

You can use this number as a benchmark and will likely only need to refresh it once per quarter (though there are always-on solutions available).

Traffic sources to watch for indirect attribution:

  • Organic increase in traffic coming directly to your store (misspellings included)
  • Organic traffic coming from branded keywords
  • Any traffic coming from paid retargeting ads
  • Traffic from promo code or discount voucher sites
  • Some sources of referral traffic

It’s likely that direct traffic, brand keywords, and the other sources listed, are all claiming attribution for sales that were actually driven by campaigns higher up the marketing funnel, like influencer marketing. Marketing mix modeling can help determine how much of each channel was truly incremental, giving you the correct amount of credit, so you can better allocate budgets.

Sources will change depending on the channel or format of your campaigns. For example, you’ll need to understand the long-term effects of evergreen content like YouTube videos, if that’s a large factor for your brand. 

There are also tricks of the trade that modeling experts have found to work for different scenarios, for example modeling influencer marketing accurately relies on syncing up your spend to when the post was published. Once you’ve built your model, you can compare it to your tracked results (Promo codes, UTM links, unique landing pages, etc.).

There are limitations to marketing mix modeling as your outputs are only as reliable as your inputs, and it’s easy to get this sophisticated technique wrong. You won't want, for example, to blindly compare Q2 to Q4 without accounting for the impact of Black Friday and holiday shopping. 

But for teams who can and want to prioritize accuracy in budget allocation over the cost of building a model, it’s worth considering.

Why goal setting is an unmissable step when measuring influencer marketing

One of the biggest mistakes we see in measuring the impact of influencer marketing has nothing to do with tracking. But with goal setting.  

Goal setting is the one step you shouldn't miss when considering how you'll track your campaigns. Why? Because every choice you make is dependent on your goals.

Which influencers are a good fit for us? Depends on your goals.
What kind of content should they create? Depends on your goals.
What tracking methods should we use? Depends on your goals.

So, before you do anything else, establish goals. Pro-tip: Make sure your influencer marketing goals align with business goals.  

Here are a few examples of what your goals can look like:

  • A goal for increasing content production: “Create [number] of posts and repurpose [number] of posts for [channel(s)] in Q2.”
  • A goal for sales: “Increase the number of sales from [x to x] from [channel] in Q3."

Now, go forth and set goals!

What metrics to track categorized by goal

This Tracking Cheatsheet will help you spot the metrics and methods to track based on your goals. Keep reading to learn more about the ones we recommend.

Metrics to track sales goals

Is it worth setting sales goals if you're just starting out with influencer marketing? Absolutely yes.

In his experience working with 100s of brands, Modash CEO Avery Schrader says:

“While not all of the success can be attributed right away, most companies do see some measurable impact on sales when running their first partnerships. Especially when tracking sales specifically.”

Focus on perfecting your influencer selection process and running regular campaigns to get noteworthy results. Some of the best metrics to track sales goals:

  • Number of sales
  • Sales conversion rate
  • Average order value
  • Promo code redemptions
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS)

Metrics to track engagement goals

Engagement is a big bucket. You’ll want to monitor actions that can be reasonably interpreted as interest, desire, or even intent. 

Here are a few metrics you may want to consider:

  • Adds to cart
  • Accounts created
  • Wishlists created
  • Number of email or text subscribers
  • Sessions
  • Average time on page
  • Cost per conversion
  • Engagement rate
  • Quality of engagement

Metrics to track content production goals

A perfectly valid goal of influencer marketing is to increase the quantity, quality, and speed of content production. 24% of marketers say that one of their primary objectives of influencer marketing is influencer-generated content.

Just be sure it’s not your only goal. Increasing content production with influencers can be a cost-effective way for smaller brands who don’t have access to studios, professional equipment, and models to get content and then repurpose it for other channels.

It’s simple to track:

  • Number of pieces of content created
  • The overall cost of content produced

Metrics to track brand awareness goals

In Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2022 Benchmark Survey, 36.7% of marketers chose brand awareness as the number one goal for running campaigns. No surprise there. Brand awareness is the first step to more customers and more sales. 

So, which metrics should you monitor to see the impact of influencers on brand awareness?  

  • Follower growth on your brand’s social accounts
  • Branded search volume
  • Direct traffic
  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Views
  • Earned media value
  • Brand lift
  • Share of voice

Organize your measurement workflow

Once you’ve established your goals, chosen metrics, and set up your tracking methods, you’ll want to organize your workflow.

There's no 'one size fits all' approach. Your workflow will depend on your goals, the length of your campaigns, the type of campaigns (always-on vs. limited), team size, resources, etc.  Here are a few ways to think about it.

What can you track daily/weekly

  • Set a regular time and day to monitor content during active campaigns.
  • Set a regular time and day to check in on directly attributable goals like traffic or sales. For example, how many UTM clicks, promo code redemptions, and affiliate sales did you have today/this week?
  • Engage! Set a regular time to engage with the content your influencers are posting!

What can you track monthly/quarterly

Discuss with your team and stakeholders the expected frequency of reporting they expect. The important thing is to be aligned on how/what you measure, and how it's compared to other channels/marketing expenditure.

  • Decide when you will make total ROI calculations
  • Set a time and date to check in on indirectly attributable results For example, what growth did you see in your social reach/followers, any growth in branded searches?
  • Set a time and date to track influencer performance. You’re looking to find high-performers and low-performers. You may decide to remove low-performers from your list and consider longer-term relationships with high performers. Rising performers may also benefit from training.

Calculate and report on ROI

Since influencer marketing is a full-funnel channel and the metrics you choose to track will vary, there are two types of ROIs that you can report on: direct and indirect.

Reporting on direct ROI

We’re defining Direct ROI as the standard ROI. The one that answers three questions:

  • What was our goal?
  • Did we achieve it?
  • At what cost?

Generally, the formula will look like this:

*For an influencer campaign where the primary goal is sales, the amount gained is the total revenue generated  

*Amount spent is the total of all the costs associated with that campaign.

When reporting on Direct ROI, whether in a slide deck or email, be sure to show the following:

  • What was the business objective? What was the influencer marketing goal?
  • What did you do? (Include timelines, campaign message, channels you used, and influencers you recruited)
  • What were the results? (What did you get for the amount that was invested? Did you reach the goals?)

Reporting on indirect ROI

You don’t want to stop at direct ROI, though. Influencer marketing is still underreported and underestimated. So, you’ll want to present all of the “intangible” benefits of your campaign/s.

Here are a few benefits you can consider including in your report.

  • The number of new impressions: This may have been the first touchpoint for customers who will buy in the future!
  • The value of influencer-generated content: This is content you can repurpose. You may have saved thousands on content production.
  • Indirect traffic: An increase in brand searches or direct traffic growth shows an uplift in brand awareness.  
  • Follower growth on social channels: This usually has a cascading effect on other metrics. More followers=more reach=new audiences=potential new customers
  • New relationships: Spending time and/or money on outreach or recruitment is invaluable because you can reuse those relationships in the future.

Lessons learned

To keep getting the most value out of influencer marketing, make a practice of collecting and implementing lessons learned. Ask yourself and your team,

  • What did we learn?
  • How will we use this information going forward?

Show your stakeholders and your team what worked well and why you think it worked well. Will you double down on that? Share what didn’t work and consider stopping that activity or tactic. Look for your best performing influencers and best performing posts. Try to understand and hypothesize why they performed well. Are there any patterns? Use this information to train other influencers in other campaigns.

Wrapping up

Before you go, here are the top lessons we want you to take with you as you consider running your next campaign.

  • There is no perfect tracking system. Instead, aim to do the best you can with what you have. And don’t forget about the intangible, unattributable benefits.
  • Tracking can be as simple as using promo codes or UTM links with Google Analytics or as complex as your data analyst can make it.
  • Influencer marketing as a channel is still underestimated. Just start, and you’ll grow confident over time.
 
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