Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing every aspect of business, but influencer marketing has lagged behind the curve. While other areas of digital marketing have leveraged analytics for years, influencer marketing continues to follow an outdated manual approach. Creator marketers stumble through a fog of intuitive guesswork instead of following data-driven benchmarks.
Subjective criteria drive selection of influencers and creative strategies. Irrelevant statistics pass for ROI tracking. Strategies for scaling hit their targets with all the hit-or-miss accuracy of a shot in the dark.
This blind inefficiency translates into wasted marketing spend. Attempts to cut costs through automated solutions typically fail to maintain the tone of human authenticity necessary for effective influencer marketing. Budgets are met at the expense of missing marketing goals and revenue targets. Marketing teams need a better solution, and they need it now.
There is good news however - a new and better way to activate influencers is here for marketers that demand more. Today’s AI now lets you harness creative intelligence data to understand target audience personas, match audiences to influencers, optimize campaign content, and track your performance with measurable KPIs.
The result is that influencer marketing campaigns can now enjoy the same measurable ROI tracking as pay-for-performance advertising. Now you can meet your influencer marketing goals without breaking your budget.
In this three-part series, we’ll introduce you to the future of influencer marketing by looking at how creative intelligence and content AI are disrupting the industry. First, here in Part 1, we’ll review the old way of doing influencer marketing and identify why it doesn’t work.
Then, in Part 2, we’ll reveal how creative intelligence overcomes traditional limitations by providing a data-driven path to persona analysis, influencer selection, campaign messaging, and results tracking. Finally, in Part 3, we’ll lay out an action plan for launching an effective ROI-based influencer marketing campaign using today’s technology.
What’s Wrong with Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing has been around as long as social media, but it’s been slower to harness the full power of automation. Marketing campaign managers still use manual methods to select influencers, based on intuitive, subjective criteria.
This may involve a time-consuming search, lengthy contract negotiations and high expenditures on content development. If you’re lucky, you might eventually connect with the right influencer for your target audience. If you’re not, you can waste long hours at high costs without seeing a return on investment.
Despite these drawbacks, influencer marketers still use manual methods alongside an array of inadequate influencer search platforms. Oftentimes, this manual approach seems like the only way to make genuine connections with influencers who create authentic content.
The alternative is automation, which works well when done right, but can be as wasteful as manual methods and even less effective when done the conventional way. Automated solutions mediated by ad agencies may generate more impressions more quickly, but at the cost of sacrificing human authenticity.
High impressions don’t count for much when you’re channeling your message through influencers who aren’t aligned with your target market, or if your message and content aren’t on-target with what your audience wants. Unless your automated campaigns are guided by a smart strategy and informed by measurable goals and benchmarks, you end up wasting money without seeing real gains.
Adding to the stack of issues, agencies and influencers are happy to take your money in exchange for feeding you misleading statistics which don’t reflect results that matter. For example, CPM-based influencer marketing KPIs may showcase how many impressions you’re getting without demonstrating how well those impressions are converting into business objectives.
Without knowing which metrics matter and where your data is coming from, you’re vulnerable to blowing your marketing budget on statistical shell games. These frustrating and confusing results may even leave you questioning the value of influencer marketing. These are some of the symptoms of what’s wrong with conventional creator marketing as widely practiced today. But what’s the cause of the problem? And what’s the solution?
Traditional Influencer Marketing Doesn’t Work
A lack of actionable business intelligence underlies the problems with conventional influencer marketing. To apply automation effectively for digital marketing, you need reliable data and accurate analysis. This includes intelligently gathering data from historical performance to create a baseline.
This gives you a basis for guiding future results by replicating what works and correcting what doesn’t. In order to do this, you need the ability to analyze previous posts, messaging, keywords, and phrases to see what’s driving current performance.
1. Missing Data Misses the Mark
Unfortunately, if you don’t have this data and the tools to analyze it, you don’t have a reliable foundation for managing your influencer marketing campaign ROI. And the data you need isn’t easy to come by manually.
For example, you might be relying primarily on Facebook data without knowing that the influencers you need to connect with are talking on Reddit. There are actually hundreds of data sources with potentially relevant information, including social media, website data, and email that can be used as a guide, if harnessed correctly. And in today’s multimedia environment, you need to include not just textual data but also images and video.
If you only use data from your own favored sources, at best you’ll have only a partial perspective on your market. At worst, you may end up chasing biased outliers and missing the mark.
2. Skewed Data Analysis Distorts Campaign Focus
Lack of relevant data is only part of the problem. Even when you have the data, analyzing it and transforming it into actionable intelligence presents a challenge. Here you need to know which metrics matter for your objectives. If you’re not using the right KPIs to dissect your data, all the information in the world isn’t going to help you.
For example, let’s say you’ve focused on finding which influencers generate the most impressions. However, in the process, you inadvertently neglected to discover what type of content performs best with your target audience. You could end up getting your brand in front of the right audience but with the wrong content. This can lead to high impressions but low engagement and low conversions.
Optimizing your content isn’t just a matter of knowing which media or channel to use, either. For example, you might know that your audience prefers videos, but what kind of videos do they like? How long do they like to watch? Which camera angles, subjects, and editing styles perform best with your intended audience?
For best results, you need to drill deeper into your data than surface analytics. This is another pitfall of manual methods and old-school automation: you only scratch the surface of all the relevant variables that can impact your results.
3. Tracking Bad Data Steers ROI in the Wrong Direction
Neglecting relevant variables ultimately limits your ability to track your return on investment. To gauge ROI accurately, you need to go beyond generic KPIs and get specific about which metrics matter for your campaign objectives and the channels you’re targeting. For instance, the KPIs which define a successful brand awareness campaign on TikTok are different from those you’d use for a product promotion campaign on YouTube.
Along with relevant KPIs, you need measurable benchmarks to orient your campaign and tracking to evaluate your results. This enables you to adjust your performance in progressive iterations which steer you toward your campaign objectives. Without these guideposts, you lack the means to monitor your ROI and correct campaign underperformance.
Stop the Guesswork
Without the correct data and analysis tools for accurate ROI tracking, what you’re left with is intuitive guesswork, which doesn’t work as a marketing strategy. Without the business intelligence you need, you’re stuck with speculation.
Without relevant data, you have to make an educated guess who your audience is, what they want, and where to find them. You can only guess which influencers you should work with, what creative strategy to use, and how to track your return on investment.
It’s not hard to guess where this hit-or-miss approach leads. Instead of a profitable return on investment, you end up with meaningless metrics and confusing results that don’t tell you what you need to know. At the end of your campaign, you have no quantifiable way to assess your performance, and no actionable insights on what steps to take to improve your ROI.
So what’s the solution? Enter performance based influencer marketing, powered by creative intelligence:
Part 2 of 3: Creative Intelligence Is Rewriting Influencer Marketing Standards-
Written by Seth Weinkranz
Seth has 10+ years of experience in developing and executing global influencer-led initiatives cross-platform for Fortune 500 Brands. Today, he is a senior Account Manager with a history of working with prominent entertainment studios, lifestyle & sports brands. This, alongside with Seth’s background in talent management enables him to build win-win business partnerships for both talent & brands.