Our prediction for the year is……ROI!
Now that we have got January out of the way, the same familiar faces offering the same old predictions daily, on the ‘influencer’ market (where do they find the time?), I thought I’d give you time to digest them all, and then, you guessed it, offer some of my own. If you know me, you’ll know I can't keep quiet for long!
I’m sure, like me, you are sick of hearing about this being the ‘year of influencer marketing’ and how the market is going to be worth $20bn by the end of 2020. It seems every ‘influencer network’ has hired the same PR agency and has re-hashed this story a million times already. If, like me, you have been around digital and mobile advertising for the last 20 years, you have heard it all before. You will also know that these types of predictions are often inaccurate and are offered up using a myriad of data that is not always that specific, to an individual market, and certainly not to most of the companies in it. I’d be interested to see how the powers that be (who are these people anyway?) make up these numbers and where they come from. If I think back to the general predictions about digital over the years, Google and Facebook have always dominated these projections and driven growth. The same can be said for mobile and now we have the influencer market, no doubt being dominated by some of the large mature U.S offerings, group agency in house teams, as well as the large social networks themselves. I’m always more interested in viewing the numbers with one or two of the main protagonists taken out. It gives a much clearer indication on growth levels generally.
We have seen eye-watering investments recently in our space as a result of the above predictions. The tech that has been invested in, seems of little consequence and methodologies? Obviously not of interest! As long as you connect the advertiser to the influencers social profile and measure likes, comments and the occasional impression or click that seems sufficient. I have to ask the question, when did it become okay again to just measure these upper funnel metrics? Because, some trendy 20 year old, with a disastrous haircut, tells us so? Not on my watch! What happens to the user once they like or click an influencers post?
Before our industry takes a leap forward we need to take a few steps back. The influencer industry needs to understand that for the last 20 years, planners, buyers, marketing execs and advertisers, have been able to measure pretty much everything from start to finish, within their campaigns. There has always been engagement. In programmatic terms this is called prospecting. In general media terms its called TV, Outdoor, Radio, Press and yes, Digital. I do believe that engagement levels within the organic influencer approach are higher. I can see it throughout our own campaigns. Of that there is no doubt and I’m sure you are all sick of seeing the evidence thrown at you, by the same players pretty much every day on Linkedin. I was always tasked by my former boss, Andy Mitchell, to ask ‘so what’? Since joining the influencer industry and working at other companies, I asked this pretty much daily. Look Mark, our campaign has got ‘x’ amount of likes, so what? Look at the amount of comments! So what? Look at how great this influencer’s content is! You guessed it, so what? What does it actually achieve? If I’m an advertiser who is spending my budget on standard digital activity, I can answer all those questions. This ad hit ‘x’ many people, it was clicked on ‘x’ amount of times and it produced ‘x’ amount of orders which generated ‘x’ amount of ROI from the campaign.
When I set up xInfluence I was determined to answer my own so what’s. The obvious came first. We developed a platform that does what most do. We connect an influencer to their social channels. We didn’t stop at Instagram, we also connected their Facebook, YouTube and Twitter channels (with others to come later). We brought on board several partners that helped us audit fraud and identify further information on our creators like age, country, interests etc. So far so good. I must say at this point, this is pretty much where our competitors stop. This is their business (and with most, only Instagram is connected). But, at this stage I hadn’t answered any of my own questions. I had merely created a product that offered much of the same. So we went further.
We have developed xPass. A product that is added to an influencers post or bio and once clicked, using our wallet card technology, you have the option to download a wallet card to your IOS or Android device. Once downloaded an advertiser can reach out to the potential customer by time or location and hit them with a push notification reminding them of the offer they have on their card and notifying them of the nearest store (which the user will be walking past). This allows the advertiser not only to track in store sales from their influencer campaigns, but it builds their own, highly engaged communities, to which they can communicate. It provides the consumer with updated offers on their favourite brands and reminds them its there waiting to be redeemed. Win, win!
We also add well-known and well-used digital strategies to our influencer’s posts, once created. We send our connected influencer posts across all digital channels, which allow us to use the very robust and mature digital technologies that already exist. We can implement pixels and as a result start optimising accordingly. We are seeing 6x the ROI using these methods to standard, agency made, creative. As we are, rather uniquely, ran by people who have long history in the digital adtech space, rather than from the typical influencer, or PR industries, we know that our customers feel comfortable with our methodologies, having been using them for years. Why try to fix something that isn’t broken? We are adding newer, more authentic creative to the mix. We garner the engagement levels through our organic activity and work with the best performing creative. Our organic, influencer content, is creating the initial engagement and our boosting methodologies are then able to follow the consumer through the funnel, to purchase using tech that is already trusted throughout the digital world.
A good test for all my marketing friends in the digital, social and influencer sector would be to ask your current influencer marketing partner, for their pixel to monitor success at your clients landing page. See what kind of look you are given by your rep. It is this look that has driven me to create xInfluence. We understand that it is hard to take budget from a plan that is showing you real returns. We understand that the influencer market to date hasn’t been able to offer you this kind of granularity. Rest assured, xInfluence has taken this in to consideration and is the first influencer company, certainly in the UK if not globally, that can guarantee against your preferred digital metrics.
So my prediction for the year, or years ahead is this: Unless you are able to truly measure your influencer marketing campaign against your usual digital metrics and sales, with the ability to optimise towards success, you are doing it wrong.