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Advice from a CMO on Influencer Marketing Measurement and Strategy

September 21, 2021

No matter the size of your influencer marketing budget, there are usually three key challenges to solve: 

  1. how to make data-driven strategic decisions 
  2. how to measure success
  3. how to attribute sales 

Below are insights from an interview with Brad Farell, CMO of Beekman 1802. Brad and his team were so successful with recent influencer marketing campaigns that the brand became one of the best performing skincare brands on TikTok and sold out two product lines at Ulta. 

You can read their full case study here, but we suggest you stick around to read this piece first!

Challenge: How do I use data to inform strategic decisions?

A key learning for Brad and his team was how to make strategic decisions based on insights. To accomplish this, they leveraged Traackr’s Brand Vitality Score (VIT) and influencer marketing benchmark tool to understand where the brand currently stood and where they wanted to be.  

“Obviously we look at metrics every day like video views and engagements but VIT is our North Star. It allows us to take a step back and understand where we are within our competitive set and how we are resonating with our audience. It’s an amazing metric for looking at the big picture.” — Brad Farrell, CMO of Beekman 1802

The team had used Earned Media Value (EMV) in the past, but switched to Traackr’s VIT because it wanted a metric that was more transparent. Unlike EMV, which assigns a nebulous dollar value to a campaign’s results, VIT measures a brand’s performance in influencers’ content by creating an aggregate score of visibility (reach), impact (engagement), and brand trust (quality of brand mention). Brand teams are also given the option to look at each of these elements separately so they can figure out exactly what they need to do to get better and increase that overall score. 

“Why do we measure anything? To get better. The challenge with EMV is that it puts a dollar on a metric that doesn’t actually measure financial value. For example, if you complete a $10k campaign and receive $1M in EMV, that is quickly seen as ‘we’ve created a million dollars worth of value’ - but that’s not true. Is that million dollars in your sales? Is it the value of your company? The metric doesn’t measure ROI nor does it help you understand what is actually working.” — Evy Lyons, CMO of Traackr

Through their VIT analysis, the Beekman 1802 team learned that VIP influencers were driving significant impact for their competitors. Up until that point, the brand had not worked with VIP influencers because their higher fees were daunting and made partnering feel like a big gamble.

When the team turned those findings into action, they were able to confidently select the right VIP partners. The impact was immediate. Brad and his team saw a direct impact on sales after their two top VIPs, Kat Sticker (@katstickler) and Dr. Shah (@dermdoctor) posted about their products. 

Beekman 1802’s success is evidence that we need metrics that give us a transparent view into the levers that will help us improve. Listen to Evy explain VIT and how it differs from EMV.

Challenge: Which performance metrics do I measure?

Beekman 1802 solved this by using a combination of hard and soft metrics to measure different goals. 

One of Beekman 1802’s biggest TikTok campaigns was designed to inspire consumers to go in-store to buy skincare products at Ulta Beauty. During the campaign, Beekman 1802 managed to get an average engagement rate of 3.06% and a high amount of awareness for their spend, achieving a 3:1 ratio for organic to paid posts. But they also sold out two product lines in Ulta Stores, with Ulta employees reporting that both coworkers and customers mentioned seeing Beekman 1802 products on TikTok. 

Cross-referencing these soft and hard metrics gave the team a better understanding of what impact its campaign had on multiple levels of the marketing funnel (from awareness to conversion).

Remember that while your metrics mix will be determined by your end goal, metrics can also help inform how you build your campaign. For example, if your goal is to use TikTok to drive awareness, then you will want to track video views, impressions, and engagements. But what about the number of organic mentions? This has historically been hard to track, but technology and clever campaign content can make it easier (e.g. makeup challenges that are fun to participate in but also have specialized songs and trackable hashtags). 

Challenge: How do I measure the impact of influencers on sales?

If you are having a hard time tracking how influencers are driving sales, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Create a time-bound campaign. These types of campaigns can be a dream match for sales attribution. For example, Beekman 1802 worked with beauty influencer, Laura Lee Watts (@lauraleewatts), to promote its Milk Drop product feature in Ulta Beauty’s 21 days of Beauty event. The skincare brand immediately saw traffic go both online and to stores which resulted in product sell outs during the event. Sales could be mostly attributed to the TikTok posts because of what the team was hearing at the Ulta stores as well as an uptick in sales after the post. 
  2. Turn your influencers into affiliates. Although affiliates have been around for a long time, partnering with influencers to drive sales (not just awareness) is fairly new. If you are developing specific sales-driving campaigns, consider taking a page out of the affiliate handbook and give your influencers specialized links and unique codes (with discounts!) to share with their audiences. 

This will all become even easier as social commerce and influencer marketing become even more integrated. Even now we’re seeing influencer marketing platforms embrace social commerce features like affiliate relationship management and link tracking and attribution.

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