Shopping Links Blog

10 Data Points to Consider When Choosing an Influencer

June 09, 2018
Brand, Agency

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Although predicting the ROI for any marketing initiative is a challenge, influencer collaborations have historically proven especially tricky for brands, with 78% who use influencer marketing recently citing ROI as their biggest headache. Thanks to technology, however, this challenge is quickly becoming an opportunity. The influencer data now available to brands has made predicting their potential impact increasingly more reliable, and the post-collaboration analysis more accurate. This has allowed brands to allocate their budgets more efficiently and more confidently invest in long-term strategic relationships. 

Brands now have the ability to assess not just follower count, but in many cases, average unique views, audience demographics, domain authority and audience growth over time. Following a collaboration, they can track brand-specific engagement, the actual reach of their content, and even sales. It is important, however, to understand which data points will be the greatest indicators of success depending on your goals, and how to take advantage of available technologies to see all the most relevant data for your brand. 

Having managed influencer collaborations for Fortune 500 retailers and emerging designers alike, we have found the following 10 data points to be the most important to consider when choosing an influencer. 

Want an expert to walk you through your next influencer collaboration? Schedule a call with our team! We’ll take you through each important data point, step by step.

1. Audience Demographics

Perhaps the most important data point of any is audience demographics, which can be even more important than an influencer’s own demographics. A common mistake among new marketers is the assumption that influencers mirror their audience. Although this is certainly true for some influencers, it’s not always the case. Our own data has shown that 63% of an influencer’s followers are between 4-10 years older than they are, which means you may need to skew younger than you might think to hit your ideal audience. Some female influencers have cultivated a largely male audience, which can dramatically inflate the real number of target customers you’re reaching. Tools like Google Analytics and Instagram Insights, both metrics you can see through Shopping Links, give you the data points you need to understand exactly who an influencer’s audience is, including the gender breakdown, age range, and country of residence. When so much of influencer marketing is simply finding the right audience, these data points are some of the most crucial to assess in order to see a positive return.  

2. Follower Count

Follower count has historically been the most commonly used data point, and it’s certainly the most visible -- you don’t need to be a data scientist to track this one; but it’s actually just one of three metrics we use to measure total potential reach. Unique views and total viewable impressions are often more important, but we’ll look at those metrics in a moment. 

Follower count will give you an idea of an influencer’s potential reach on a particular social channel, but it’s important to keep two factors in mind as you assess an influencer. The first is that follower count and engagement are inversely related. So if you’re looking for really deep engagement in terms of likes and comments, an influencer with a smaller, more niche audience might be a better fit based on your goals. Secondly, it can be beneficial to look beyond your preferred social platform. Although Instagram might be your primary focus, you might find that an influencer has incredible traction on Pinterest or strong blog traffic, which can be great for your SEO. Understanding an influencer’s strengths on different social platforms can help you maximise your return by incorporating their strongest channels as you write your brief. We show follower count across several platforms in our Shopping Links blogger profiles so you can easily assess an influencer’s strengths at a glance; no need to research their platforms individually. 

3. Actual Reach

When assessing overall reach, the second factor we look at is the number of unique individuals who have viewed content shared by the influencer. For bloggers with savvy promotion and use of hashtags, this number can actually be higher than their follower count. To assess actual reach, you’ll need the help of Instagram Insights. Thankfully, this is something you can find on many bloggers’ Shopping Links profiles. We encourage all our bloggers to connect their Instagram Insights, giving you an accurate assessment of your potential to hit your target reach. 

Get in touch to see how you can start viewing better insights before selecting influencers. 


4. Viewable Impressions

The third metric we assess to determine overall reach is viewable impressions, which includes the total number of times your content has been seen, including repeat views within a set time period (e.g. the last 7 or 28 days). Since these views are not unique, they reveal how many times individual consumers are viewing the content, which we have found is a good predictor of traffic and conversions into sales. 

In addition to assessing overall reach, we find that total impressions is a good indicator of how active an influencer is on a particular platform, which can increase your chances of securing exposure beyond their audience of followers. We weight each of these metrics -- follower count, unique followers and viewable impressions -- differently depending on your specific brand objective when assessing overall reach. 

5. Follower Growth Trend

Another important data point to assess is an influencer’s follower growth trend over time. A sudden increase in followers is sometimes the result of hard work and a stroke of good luck, as Angela Giakas of The Sunday Chapter recently experienced, but it can also be a bit of a red flag that an influencer may have purchased followers. A slight decrease or no movement in followers doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of engagement -- it more likely indicates that the blogger has put less focus recently on their own promotion -- but you can use this metric to identify emerging talent to start cultivating a strong relationship before they become more expensive. Many good influencers will be quick to share with you how and why they have spikes in their follower trend graph.


6. Website Traffic & Domain Authority

Domain authority is an often overlooked data point, but we find it to be incredibly valuable, particularly for those with an SEO objective. A blogger’s domain authority, measured on a scale of 1 to 100, is a search engine ranking score that functions as a “trust factor.” The higher the number, the more trust Google assigns the site. We include domain authority on our Shopping Links blogger profiles, allowing you to see which bloggers are most likely to improve your SEO.  

Want to boost your organic search ranking with influencers? Get in touch! We have cultivated influencers with high domain authorities and strong blog traffic who can help you with your SEO. 

7. Collaboration Engagement

Your collaboration engagement, or the likes and comments you receive on your own sponsored content, is another good data point to assess, although this is one point we recommend approaching subjectively. As we’ve mentioned, likes and comments aren’t always good indicators of potential sales since many consumers will make a purchase without registering a comment or a “like,” but engagement does provide valuable feedback. Comparing your post engagement to an influencer’s average engagement can help you gauge how well your brand has resonated with that audience, and brand-specific comments can give you insightful feedback about what customers think of a product.

The below collaboration by Christina Beauchamp (@fashionandfrill) for MARKS & SPENCER gives M&S specific insights on its maternity pom-pom top, which the brand can use to determine what aspects of this top it is that customers are responding to, and what other types of products are likely to do well in the US market. 

8. Impact on your social growth

Another helpful data point to benchmark is the impact an influencer collaboration has on your own social growth. To measure this, start by recording your follower counts across relevant channels before you start a collaboration. As your content goes live, simply track the number of followers you receive over the next week. Although you may not be able to attribute every new follow to the collaboration, you can make a judgement by comparing the rate at which you receive new followers to your average growth. Every new follower that an influencer adds to your own brand community is an opportunity for you to convert that follower into a customer with your own content, which makes this metric particularly helpful, even if it can be difficult to measure the immediate impact.

By benchmarking its follower counts, Nomad Lane, an emerging retail brand, was able to record more than 300 new followers to its Instagram account following a collaboration through Shopping Links with Mallory Morris (@malloryonthemoon). Nomad Lane can now serve these followers even more content about the brand and connect with them on Instagram. 

9. Traffic

Another important metric to track is how much traffic an influencer drives to your website or eCommerce page. There are so many opportunities now to track campaigns in detail, whether through coupon codes, special offers or other promotions, but without traffic, you will never convert to sales. Only with a good volume of referral traffic can you start to test which products, offers, shopping arrangements and messaging will attract a certain audience. Creating unique links for each influencer will allow you to easily track tie referral traffic to a specific influencer.

10. Sales

The final influencer data point to measure is the one that often matters most to brands looking to measure their ROI. When it comes to sales, however, we find that many brands do not track their collaboration results for a long enough period of time to see the full results. In the first month following a collaboration, brands often see a spike in traffic, although generally not accompanied by sales. The second month is where we start to see sales traction, but it’s the third month where we see conversions really start to take place. The more you work with an influencer, the more reliably you can predict the progression from traffic to sales -- and the more sales you will ultimately see over time. Because of the average time it takes for a potential customer to move from “first touch” to sale, we recommend tracking your collaboration results for at least three months. 

 Did you know: we include access to our Collaboration Results dashboard for 90 days with every Product Seeding collaboration. Get started to see how it works. 


Although there are many data points to consider when selecting an influencer or reviewing a recent collaboration, we have found that these 10 metrics can help to improve your overall ROI from influencer marketing, while allowing you to more accurately predict the results of future collaborations. We have made data a primary focus as we’ve built the Shopping Links platform, giving our brands access to Google Analytics, Instagram Insights and transparency in influencer-level metrics in our Collaboration Results. We would love to walk you through each of these metrics to help you plan your next campaign. Get in touch at or schedule a call to see how it works!