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7 Influencer Marketing Measurement Mistakes to Avoid

May 23, 2024

Creators are now an essential part of the marketing mix, and their role is growing. In fact, influencer marketing spend rose roughly 3.5 times faster in 2023 than social ad spending.

But, as any good marketer knows, with increased spending comes increased pressure to demonstrate measurable results and impact. 

The bad news: influencer marketing measurement has been historically murky and difficult to do well. For a long while, the popularity of working with creators far outpaced our understanding of how to set goals, track results, and tie outcomes to bigger business objectives. 

The good news: that’s all changing now. Sophisticated marketers now have access to tools (like influencer marketing platforms) for tracking, ideas on what to measure and why, and data to back up their ways of thinking. 

With that being said, there are still bad, costly, and, shockingly, common mistakes that are made with influencer marketing measurement. Let’s walk through what they are and discuss how to avoid them.

7 Influencer Marketing Measurement Mistakes to Avoid

Influencer Marketing Measurement Mistake #1: Measuring the unmeasurable

The best influencer marketing measurement provides a roadmap to your business goals.

Some campaigns and programs don’t have clear goals articulated. If you haven’t defined exactly how your business will be impacted, there’s virtually no point to building a measurement strategy at all. 

It may sound like I’m stating the obvious but you’d be surprised by how often this happens. 

A real life example where I’ve seen this happen? Creator trips. 

There was a time when creator trips were a no-brainer for influencer marketing programs. Brands saw competitors doing them, reporters covering them, and creators posting about them, so they incorporated them into their programs. Recently, there’s been a rise in folks critiquing creator trips — saying they’re all flash and no impact.

To be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with creator trips. They become inefficient if you don’t answer these key questions:

  • What topline business objective do you think these trips will impact? (Hint: if your answer is earned media value (EMV), you’re already on the wrong track.)
  • How does the structure of your creator trip campaign — from the partners you choose, to where you go, to when it happens, to what the theme is — align with that greater business objective?
  • What KPIs have you defined that align to that business objective, and how will you track them?

If you can’t answer any of these questions, you’d be better off refocusing on initiatives and collabs that are designed to support specific business objectives. If you need more advice on this topic, check out our article on how to set tangible influencer marketing program goals and KPIs

Influencer Marketing Measurement Mistake #2: Measuring too much

“If you’re trying to accomplish everything, you very well may end up accomplishing nothing.“

Trying to track too many KPIs yields two significant side effects. 

First, you and your team spend a disproportionate amount of time tracking vs. executing. Influencer marketing platforms, social reporting tools, and other marketing stack tech can only do so much. KPIs should help your team operate with more speed and confidence — if they’re getting slowed down by gathering and tracking then it’s time to rethink your processes. 

Second, it dilutes the impact of your measurement. A solid measurement framework will only require a select number (3 to 5) of coherent metrics to be tracked. If you leave a review of your metrics MORE confused, you’re doing it wrong. Cut out the fluff, and measure what matters.

Influencer Marketing Measurement Mistake #3: Placing an unnecessary $ sign in front of every KPI

“Every marketing activity can be tied back to a real dollar made.” — said no sane marketer ever

When we’re talking about dollars and metrics, I’m not talking about monopoly money like earned media value (EMV) here. I’m talking about the compulsions that many organizations feel to bring everything they do directly to a dollar sold or a dollar saved. 

Although there’s merit to evaluating how every part of your organization impacts your top or bottom line, making it too strict of a rule can lead to folks taking the wrong shortcuts. Decision making gets narrowed down to the short-term, which could negatively affect the type of initiatives your company runs. 

As an example, too many brands still early in the maturity of their influencer program try to focus on demonstrating how influencer marketing drives sales. Here is the rub: driving sales is where you end, not where you start. Tying your actions too directly to the long-term goal (sales) will get you to make short sighted, often wrong, decisions.

Tip: One of the best ways to think through money and measurement? Spend efficiency metrics. Check out this guide on improving influencer marketing ROI with spend efficiency metrics and techniques

Influencer Marketing Measurement Mistake #4: Lacking rigor in your measurement approach

The quickest ways to fail at influencer marketing measurement involve oversimplification, lazy tracking, and a focus on “the journey”, but not the destination.

Complacency and sloppiness are your enemies when it comes to measurement. They come in many forms: 

  • oversimplification of KPIs
  • lack of discipline in tracking
  • defining your measurement strategy as an afterthought. 

Your program will only be as good as your ability to measure (and improve) its impact. Usually, complacency and sloppiness can be traced back to two key root causes: a lack of experience in measurement (fairly easily remedied) or a lack of care (much harder to overcome).

Tip: Unsure how to talk to your team about their performance? Here’s a resource on how to guide and ask your team about influencer marketing measurement

Influencer Marketing Measurement Mistake #5: Selecting KPIs you can’t track 

Good measurement has a trail of (data) bread crumbs to follow. 

Only second to forgetting that measurement requires structure and effort (measurement mistake #4) is setting goals you’re not able to track. 

There are typically two reasons behind this unforgivable mistake:

  • Reason #1 — your goal cannot be measured or tracked because it is ill defined or data is unavailable at the scale you need. A clear example of this — trying to measure the impact of Instagram Stories. This can quickly become a fool’s errand because of the lack of exhaustiveness of the data available and the absence of historical data to compare it to.
  • Reason #2 — you’re not set up to collect the data you need to measure your goal. For example, “improve brand advocacy by x” requires that you have a sense of your baseline and are set up to measure progress.

Influencer Marketing Measurement Mistake #6: Emulating a brand you admire but have little in common with

Imitation is flattery, except when it comes to marketing measurement (then it’s just a losing game).

We’ve heard that imitation is the highest form of flattery, and it can be. However, if applied wrong, this can also lead you to making one of the biggest (and most common) influencer marketing measurement mistakes. 

The net-net: you should only emulate and/or benchmark against brands that are similar enough to your own brand.

There are some industry giants — like Nike, for example — that have been innovative and big enough to inspire across industries. While it’s good to learn what you can, comparing yourself to these types of brands (unless you are similarly set up) can only lead to disappointment because they have:

  • Developed their brand equity over decades
  • Have a company culture allowing them to make hard choices (e.g. being ok with some people posting about burning their sneakers on social)
  • Big budgets that allow them to outspending you

That being said, setting goals that can be a bit of a stretch but realistic is a core requirement in developing a measurement strategy that will help your business. 

If you’re a long distance runner, you know that the way you win a race is not to sprint all the way to the finish line. What you do is to set your eyes on the person in front of you, pass them, then repeat with the next one. Influencer marketing performance and measurement is no different.

Influencer Marketing Measurement Mistake #7: Measuring to gloat

Marketing measurement has no participation trophy. You’re either winning, or searching to get back on the path to winning.

If your objective when building your measurement approach is the optics of winning vs. actually winning, I (or Traackr) can’t help you.

Bragging rights come from a job well done. My beef with earned media value (EMV) is that way too often there isn’t much more than the optics of success in this cost efficiency metric (nothing feels quite as good as a percent increase stat on your reports). 

Unless you go beyond the single-KPI success measurement, you will never understand the mechanics that led you to success or failure. Without that, you can’t predictably affect your future results. 

Taking credit for your good work is your absolute right. 

Leading measurement to find an angle that will make you look good will get you to lose clients or jobs when the chickens come home to roost.