More than a third of marketers are struggling to determine whether influencer campaigns are actually driving sales, according to a new study by Rakuten Marketing. The research highlights a general feeling of confusion among brands about the exact impact of paid and hired celebrities and individuals on return on investment and other key metrics.
Influencer marketing has quickly emerged as many brands’ go-to outlet for adding an additional, unique layer to campaigns due to their perceived ability to talk authentically to a target audience at scale. It is also believed to be particularly effective at boosting reach and relevance, but in a world where marketers crave precise measurements and analytics, calculating the impact of influencer activity remains challenging.
“No one really quite knows what the best route to measure the impact of influencer marketing is,” Benefit exec Michelle Stoodley said. “It’s probably the only thing in digital marketing that exploded before there’s been any real benchmark for success. It kind of goes against a lot of what digital marketing is normally about, which is numbers, data and tracking.”
The lack of clarity is worrying, as cases of fraud could be a potential risk for brands. Influencer marketing agency Mediakix revealed earlier this month that several brands had been lured into deals with bogus accounts on Instagram that had stock photography and substantial followings.
These cases are unlikely to deter brands, though, as Mediakix found that they have spent a sizeable £776.7 million on Instagram influencers during the last 12 months and that figure is likely to double by the end of the decade. While influencers have a role to play in the content marketing mix, brands still need to focus on insightful, creative organic resources to meet consumption demands and consumer needs. Rakuten Marketing also noted that influencers have increased their prices by up to 50 per cent due to a rise in demand.
Stoodley added: “Influencer marketing is probably the part of the digital marketing world that has the least amount of measurement and reliability, so to put all your eggs in one basket would be quite risky. Also, who knows where this part of the industry is going as brands start to pay influencers more and more? It can only go so far.”