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In this week’s In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris talk about the declining impact and availability of social media metrics when it comes to influencer marketing. As data becomes harder to get ahold of, what are our options? The answer: SEO. Using SEO and traffic metrics along with rigorous analytics tracking is the path to demonstrating impact and even ROI in influencer marketing. Listen now to hear useful tips for configuring your own influencer analytics.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn
In this week’s in In-Ear Insights, we are back from the marketingprofs b2b forum. And one of the topics that came up now granted this is is b2b to some degree, but I think will be possibly more than just that, if more on the b2c side as well is influencer marketing for a long time has been all about who’s got the biggest audience who’s got the biggest mouth, how many likes did you get? Which is fine, sort of. But when companies are asked now for attribution for impact for results for ROI, it’s awfully hard to tell what the ROI of a like is, it’s a lot easier to understand what is the ROI of the traffic that has come to your company’s website. And so one of the topics we started discussing as a community is what would it look like if we started using SEO and search and traffic data as a proxy for influence rather than the social media vanity metrics. So Katie, what are your thoughts in terms of being able to look at an influencer or a campaign or an always on campaign and saying, I need it as an executive as a marketing executive to I need to see some real impact? How do you feel about the way we’re we’re currently measuring influencers and the way that we could be.

Katie Robbert
I think it’s terrible. No, you know, what, it’s interesting, because as you’re describing it, it’s really making me think like, you know, there are so many different kinds of influencers, but we tend to immediately think social media influencer. And, you know, as we’ve talked about in our social 2020 paper, and as we’ve sort of talked about a lot in our public communities, social media is something that you cannot rely on. You can Move into next year and assume that it’s a channel that’s going to strongly work for you. It might. It might not, it will probably not. And so, you know, Chris, as you’re talking about the different metrics for an influencer, you know, think about the people that you have guest blogging or people that you have on a podcast or some other kind of content asset that you might share on social media, but doesn’t originate on social media. And I think that that’s where, you know, we’ve started looking at some of those social media, I mean, SEO, domain authority, importance metrics that are really going to help you demonstrate that ROI, because that’s a tangible thing. I had this person guest on my blog, or they did a link back to my site. And I saw traffic from that, you know, those are things that are trackable, because you’re right, you can’t really measure the ROI of others. Like it doesn’t do anything, it’s awareness. Awareness is important. But it’s the beginning of the funnel, not the end of the funnel.

Christopher Penn
You bring up a really good point that a lot of these metrics like SEO metrics like traffic and clicks are closer to the bottom of the funnel right that’s that you’re absolutely right that the closer you can get to the bottom of the funnel, but better we just did a campaign with our friends and colleagues over talk Walker where we got to refer the down the funnel and put 1000 new leads for them into their into their sales CRM for their salespeople to follow up and now it’s incumbent upon them to now go on and you know, and do business with us folks, but I like what you’re saying about how the influencer did their job if they got traffic to your website, right and after that, it’s our responsibility as marketing to say, okay, we need to take this traffic and convert it capture the attention retargeting and ultimately turn it into business impact, but here’s what I think is preventing that from happening. I think it’s the influencers because they’re already awful lot of people who, OA we know people who just like talking through the air. And maybe they can get 1000 likes or a million likes, whatever. But there was that case earlier this year, that person on Twitter with 2 million followers who couldn’t sell 36 shirts, right up 2 billion people, you’ve been able to buy your shirt.

Katie Robbert
It always reminds me of the keynote that Avinash did at marketingprofs, a few years ago, where he was talking about engagement. And he was like, yeah, you might have a million followers on Facebook. But if the only person who likes your stuff is your mom, you’re doing it wrong. And that’s not engagement, because followers does not equal engagement. And so that’s a really great example of how influencers, how an influencer campaign cannot work for you, but you can end up spending a lot of time and energy. So I think what we want to see moving into next year is for marketers to really challenge the notion of what an influencer looks like, and maybe even drop the word. Maybe it’s a partner, an ally,

Christopher Penn
an ambassador,

Katie Robbert
you know, an ambassador, a, a guest blogger, you know, whatever the term is, it’s someone who has authority in the topic that you’re speaking about, and can help get a little bit more awareness and drive traffic back to your site about that thing. You know, so one of the things that we tend to do, Chris, you and I is that we will guest blog for other people about a specific topic with the goal of them getting the awareness around the topic and the authority and us getting, you know, reach into their network. So I think that’s a really interesting spin on what an influencer should look like moving into next year.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, I know the other thing we do a ton of his is showing up on other people’s podcasts and things and as at Let’s say for example, let’s say I didn’t work for Trust Insights and you were the head of marketing. And but I was one of your influences. What would you expect to see out of me in the next year? If we said like, yeah, I’m going to sign a thing for like $10,000 a month as your premier influencer? What would you expect to get for that money?

Katie Robbert
You know, that’s a really good question. I would want to see you, I would want to see you contribute some content to my blog. I would like to see you repost that on your blog to your network. You know, put a mention in your newsletter. So basically, all of your different assets that make you an influencer, I would like to see my company show up. So your blog, your podcast, your newsletter, those assets, and then maybe reshare them across social media because there is still value in that. But I don’t think that that’s the only thing you can do in SEM that will be That it will work. And then I think having you as the influencer, you know, do a webinar with us, you know, and then cross promote it those types of things because those activities, people don’t traditionally think, oh, that’s an influencer activity it is because it’s basically you’re partnering with someone who has reached into a network that you want to have access to. And so it’s, it’s something that is a smart move for companies to do to partner up and work with people who have that reach. So if I were signing a contract with you a monthly for an influencer, those are the types of things that I would want to see. And then of course, everything would be UTM tracked and tagged and measurable. And then I would want some sort of a monthly report to say, Hey, is this guy actually doing anything for us or do we need to kick them to the curb?

Christopher Penn
Mm hmm. It’s fascinating that you mentioned that because one of the things I have seen influences routinely and universally fail at is doing any kind of tracking I was having dinner with Leo Odin and ashes f1 from top ranked marketing. They were talking about some of their, their marketing campaigns. And they were saying there’s one influencer who was demanding exorbitant sums of money, but actively refused to track and provide reporting I’m like, I mean, in our work with IBM, for example, I have to provide I don’t have to, but we choose to provide detailed monthly reporting of all the activities all the traffic, all the views and the reach and stuff like that, that they can then take to their management and justify continuing to work with us both as a partner and as an influencer. And now it’s just astonishing that more influencers would not want to say look, look at everything I did for you. This justifies my fee actually justifies an increase in my you would think that that would be something you would want unless they don’t have the goods.

Katie Robbert
Well, and I think a lot of times and we’ve talked about this topic to death. But I’ll bring it up again, if a lot of times you started influencer campaign without a plan, you know, so there’s the lack of how are we going to measure this our likes and retweets and you know, smiley faces good enough? Or do we need something more tangible? If we need something more tangible? What does that look like? How do we measure that? Does this person only live on Instagram and hide behind 20 filters, so they don’t actually know how to do any kind of reporting? Okay, how do we get those metrics because they can’t do it themselves. If you can answer those questions before starting a campaign, you’ll be fine. But I think a lot of times there’s this assumption that I hire an influencer, they’re going to deliver something for me, and then they’re going to tell me how it went. And I don’t know that influencers and this broad strokes, share that same mentality, you know, so there are a lot of great influence. There’s out there. But there’s also a lot of really crappy ones.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, yeah, there are. So in terms of those metrics that we were talking about earlier, like clicks like traffic, like, even lead generation, as a company, as a marketer, how do you think about expectations, setting expectations for the obviously, you said that and it’s completely true, there has to be a plan. But when you think about, you know, again, using the fictional example, if I didn’t work for the company, if we weren’t, were cofounders. What would you be expecting to see from a numbers perspective from, you know, showing up in my newsletter, for example?

Katie Robbert
Um, you know, it depends, it depends on how many people currently subscribe to your newsletter. I would say I would even take a step back from there. And the first thing I would do before hiring an influencer is I would take a look at my KPI map and my goals to figure out what metrics are even the most important to me, so I know one of our goals moving into next year is to continually increase our database of prospects and new newsletter, subscribers, podcast subscribers, because those are things that we own. And so my first question to you before hiring you is how many people subscribe to your newsletter? How many people open your newsletter and read your newsletter and engage with your newsletter? And so if you are to place something in your newsletter, that’s mine, what can I expect? So it’s actually I’m almost sort of interviewing you first before I’m setting the expectation of this is what I need. So if I come to you and say I need a million subscribers and you say, cool, I only have 5000 Well, we have a problem. Mm hmm.

Christopher Penn
Exactly. Does that also help the influencer in some ways? Because if you say, I need a million subscribers, well, I have 43,000 subscribers. What is it? You’re exactly you’re trying to get to eat and use You end up saying I need 200 leads, right? That’s a little bit more understandable because you’re making some assumptions that you know, like, one half of 1% of my subscribers going to click on something when I may have, like 11 to 15% click through rate. So there’s what

Katie Robbert
I was gonna say that’s exactly it, understanding how what those metrics look like, helps to set the expectation. So if I’m looking for 200 leads, and you have, you know, a 30%, click through rate, then I can start to do the back of the envelope math to say, over this period of time, this is what I am likely to get this number of leads.

Christopher Penn
Yep. Again, this is something that I don’t think many influences or frankly, many companies have a good handle on because they don’t even have a handle on their own analytics. And without that infrastructure in that foundation, that kind of just guessing.

Katie Robbert
It’s, you know, we we always say that it’s a little surprising, but we shouldn’t be surprised at this point how many companies are still kind of guessing at their metrics? I mean, we’ve seen it time and time again, in the CMO survey, the SEO survey, you know, everybody wants the data. Nobody’s using the data to make decisions. We know this. We know that, you know, a good chunk. And by that I mean, more than 50% of companies are still guessing. How do

Christopher Penn
you deal also with some of the attribution windows being incredibly long, especially in b2b, but even in complex, b2c? I got an email last night about my newsletter from somebody who said, I’ve, you know, their current client, they said, I’ve been wanting to work with you in some capacity since 2007. When we first met, like, well, that’s a 12 year that’s a really long time to try and and do that ROI computation. How do how do we deal with that?

Unknown Speaker
I’m not well, he throws No.

Katie Robbert
Where’s my attribute show? You know, and I think that that’s, you know, if that’s a different conversation to be quite honest. But you know, at a high level, I think, you know, and I was reading your newsletter this morning as well, you’re absolutely right. Like the attribution, you know, for that particular thing is you have to use your human judgment to go back and adjust that particular prospect, so that you don’t say, this is where this one came in. You can do a lot of your attribution analysis in an automated fashion using only your digital channels. But Chris, to your point, for those who haven’t read your newsletter yet, there’s going to be a lot of offline interactions, you know, the text messages, the in person, you know, conversations or the phone calls, like all need to be factored in. how that’s done. I don’t have a great short, succinct answer. That will fit within the constraints of this podcast. But I think that that is something that we should explore with our audience over the next year, because it is something that we’re working on for a lot of our clients, what does that on and offline attribution model look like? And it doesn’t look the same for everybody. Because every single customer is going to interact with them in a different way. They might interact with a chat bot and then go in the store and look at some stuff and then go home and comparison shop and then ask their friends about it or, you know, there’s a million different combinations of things. And so that’s a really interesting challenge that I think that will be tackling a lot in the new year.

Christopher Penn
And I think where that nets out in terms of like, influencers and ROI and metrics and analytics is that we have to set some parameters in our planning like this is the general expectation like yeah, we we totally get that your personal brand may have decades of internet And relationships, but there’s a minimum expectation that you can get 200 people to do this thing. And if you get extra on top of that, great, that’s gravy, we’re all happy. But this is sort of the baseline expectation. I don’t think you feel like that’s unreasonable.

Katie Robbert
I don’t I don’t think that’s unreasonable. And I think you know, again, to your point in your newsletter, it, we have to be okay, at some point with good enough because, you know, perfection is going to be the enemy of productivity. You have to, you know, cut that off. So, in this example, that you gave someone who mentioned that they met you 12 years ago, I would say honestly, you could probably just put that in the email newsletter bucket, and then move on with their life.

Christopher Penn
Right, exactly. So, to recap, one thing that we need to think about is, should we be using more than just basic social media metrics or influence? And of course, the answer is yes, there’s a world metrics and analytics out there word of mouth surveys, attribution brand strength SEO. There is social media, web traffic, lead generation marketing automation. You have buckets and buckets of data available to you. So the challenge for all of us is to figure out what is it that aligns best with the outcome we care about, which of course requires good planning. And if you have questions about doing this for yourself, we are of course you’re happy to help stop by Trust insights.ai. While you’re there, please subscribe to our Youtube channel and to our newsletter, and we’ll talk to you soon. Take care


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