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How to Set Tangible Influencer Marketing Program Goals and KPIs

Dec 12, 2022

Many marketers still struggle with identifying tangible goals and KPIs that will improve their influencer marketing ROI (return on investment). In fact, 30% of surveyed marketers aren’t aware of how their influencer marketing program ROI compares to other marketing activations, suggesting a disconnect between goals and performance measurement.

When it comes down to it, setting goals should help you better identify where you have areas to improve. Similarly, if you don’t have the right benchmarks (or tracked KPIs) to base your performance off of, you have no way of measuring your success.

In this article I’ll walk you through some tips for setting goals and KPIs that I’ve learned during my eight years in the influencer marketing industry. 

How to set tangible influencer marketing program goals and KPIs

Establish specific influencer marketing program goals at a macro and micro level

A big mistake that I’ve often seen folks make — they don’t ruthlessly narrow down priorities. If you’re trying to accomplish everything, you very well may end up accomplishing nothing. A better approach is to pick one single overarching goal and then break down the steps to that goal into smaller, micro goals. 

Let’s say that you’ve been told that your campaign goal is to drive awareness for a new product. While this goal makes logical sense, its vagueness doesn’t help you determine the specific tactics or KPIs that you need to set to get there. Your influencer marketing goals - on both a programmatic and campaign level - should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time Bound

If we were to rewrite that campaign goal with these qualities, we’d get something more like: get our new product seen by 30% of our target audience this month. 

Let’s say, for the purposes of this exercise, that 30% of your target audience is about 5 million people. This means that a more tactical goal for your campaign could be to earn 5 million views or achieve 5 million impressions on content from this new product launch campaign. 

What’s great about this approach is that it creates a natural path towards thinking about tactics. You now have a specific goal in mind, so how are you going to achieve it? Will you pick five top-tier influencers (who all have between 1-5 million potential reach) to produce sponsored posts about your product? Or will you sponsor a larger group of mid-tier and macro influencers, but then supplement their content with a broader gifting program so you can gain some awareness from organic mentions as well?

Set KPIs that are flexible, but tied directly to your goals

Once you’ve honed in on your goals and begun thinking through some tactics, it’s time to set your KPIs (key performance indicators). Ask yourself, am I measuring something that truly indicates progress towards my goal?

When trying to determine how to measure performance among the influencers you are activating, you want to make sure that you use influencer marketing KPIs that can make “apples to apples” comparisons. As a best practice, avoid metrics that solely focus on volume or absolute numbers, as the data will often skew unfairly (and inaccurately) towards influencers with larger audiences. For example, if you’re comparing a VIP (5+ million followers) influencer to a macro tier influencer (50k-250k followers), of course the VIP is likely to achieve more views due to their scale. Here are some influencer marketing KPIs that are good for measuring performance:

  • View rate or engagement rate: Compare influencers and their content based on view rate or engagement rate instead of total views or engagements! This will normalize the size of their audience, and ultimately means that the evaluation of their performance will be proportional to their reach (i.e. there’s no unfair bias towards influencers with large followings). 
  • Spend efficiency metrics: It’s important to compare cost per impression, cost per engagement, and cost per view because this gives you an objective sense of how much impact each partner drives for your investment. For example, you might pay influencer A double the amount you pay influencer B, but if influencer A’s spend efficiency metrics reveal that they’re driving 2X the ROI, the $$ are indeed worth it.
  • Cost equivalency metrics: This measures the efficacy of your influencer marketing investments and is perhaps the most challenging one of all. Many leading brands - especially in the beauty industry - use Traackr’s Brand Vitality Score (VIT) VIT for this. VIT is composed of three elements: visibility (reach of content), impact (engagement generated), and trust (quality of content on brand image), and can be used to measure the success of a post or campaign, and improve the reliability of your ROI and investment models. VIT also allows you to compare your strategy against competitors using the same KPIs from publicly available data at scale (e.g. this Beauty Brand Leaderboard).
“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

Another thing to keep in mind when setting KPIs for an influencer marketing campaign is to use any historical data you can as a starting point. When done right, this can help set a benchmark for you to work against, although, of course, you should always take into account important details such as resources or investment levels.

Tip: Make sure to track these KPIs in real time! An influencer marketing tool like Traackr will give your team the ability to see your campaign’s progress and evaluate how to improve.

Always, always debrief on your influencer marketing program goals and KPIs

Last, when it comes to setting goals you don’t want to “set ‘em and forget ‘em”. Setting good influencer marketing program goals and KPIs, and reacting to metrics in real-time is a skill that must be constantly practiced. Part of that practice is to take an unflinching look at where you fell short or surpassed your goals and put together actionable insights to inform future campaigns. Consider what the reasoning was behind your progress on your goals (whether good or bad). 

  • If you failed to meet a goal, is it because your tactics were off? Or because you weren't tracking the right KPIs to help you go in the right direction?
  • If you surpassed your goal, how can you apply that best practice to your next campaign? And how could you make your goals more aggressive in order to improve next time? 

The only way to optimize your performance is to understand it, and use data to inform the foundation of your influencer marketing strategy.