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Conversion is Key: How Brands Can See if Influencers are Converting

August 15, 2018
Brand, Agency
  
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As influencer marketing becomes more transparent, data-driven, and strategic, brands have become increasingly focused on conversion, rather than just immediate revenues, as they look to maximize their ROI. To measure the real return of an influencer collaboration, brands are now looking beyond dollars generated by a single campaign, and toward the impact an influencer likely made on the overall customer journey, which can encompass as many as 30 touchpoints between inspiration and purchase. 


Our experience managing influencer collaborations over more than four years has shown us that bloggers are often the first touchpoint. They introduce brands to new potential customers, instill trust, and inspire shoppers to buy, but because they aren’t always the “last click,” influencers are often cut from the very path to purchase they set in motion. To understand whether influencers are converting, it’s important to look at the customer journey through every touchpoint. Here’s how to do it: 


But First, What Is Conversion? 


For a term that has come to define marketing campaign success, “conversions” are often misunderstood, even among veteran marketers. Here’s how to think of it: a conversion is not a one-off sale, and it’s not the revenue you earn from a single influencer campaign. Rather, a conversion depends on your objective, but is often referred to a completed path to purchase, from inspiration to transaction. Focusing only on immediate sales ignores the value of purchases, both online and in-store, that a shopper makes because of a blogger’s influence. Focusing your efforts on all parts of the funnel can make a big difference in terms of the overall ROI you see from a campaign. This is especially important when working with influencers, who are often part of the “upper funnel,” or those who introduce customers to a brand and keep it top-of-mind, but aren’t necessarily the last point of contact before a purchase.  



Shoppers were more likely to think of USA fashion brand Hale Bob after seeing this collaboration with Jenna Boron (@jennaboron), even if followers casually scrolling through their Instagram feed weren’t ready to make a purchase on the spot. When they later look for the perfect summer jumpsuit and find the Hale Bob eCommerce site, Jenna’s content still inspired their purchase. 


Having managed influencer collaborations for brands with wide-ranging goals, we find that sometimes even very successful campaigns don’t yield an obvious return on investment if we only look at short-term “last click” sales that are generated. The expectation that revenues will stream in immediately after a campaign -- that influencer marketing will act as a  silver bullet -- ignores why influencers are so effective in the first place. Influencer marketing works because followers trust that the relationship between a blogger and a brand is genuine. Because influencers aren’t trying to “sell” their followers on a brand, influencer marketing encourages a more natural customer journey than an advertisement alone. Successful influencer collaborations aren’t focused on an immediate purchase; rather, they seek to keep a brand top-of-mind when followers make their next natural purchase. This makes putting a dollar amount or last-click attribution on a single campaign nearly impossible. It’s also why many brands prefer not to discount the influencer channel but instead use it for the launch of their new season collections. 



Want to see more conversions with your next influencer collaboration? Get in touch! Book a personalised demo to see how Shopping Links can give you a bigger influencer marketing ROI.  



So how can you tell if an influencer is converting, if you’re not measuring sales?


First Steps  


The first step is casting off the last-click conception of influencer, which ignores a large part of the conversion story. With a more nuanced understanding of attribution, marketers often find that certain partners are better for introducing a brand into the minds of consumers—say, a mention by a respected blogger in a given space—while other channels work better for closing sales. For example, an eCommerce platform with detailed product comparisons or discount codes is more likely to inspire a purchase, but a consumer is not likely to land there first when seeking outfit inspiration. Acknowledging that all these disparate touchpoints contribute to the customer conversion journey – not just the click that leads them to the shopping cart – is vital to accurately measure the ROI of any influencer marketing campaign. 


Tracking conversion starts with understanding the customer journey from inspiration to purchase. A customer who learns about a new product from an influencer might then browse the brand’s eCommerce site, bookmark the product page, then ultimately buy from a retail store on impulse. Finding ways to track that journey is part of accurately tracking conversion. Thankfully, we now have much better insights and metrics than we did even a few years ago to pinpoint an influencer’s role in converting followers into customers. 


The Metrics That Matter 


As you look at the whole customer journey, here are metrics and tools to help you measure conversion:


Coupon Codes. Although coupon codes will only help you track conversions for online purchases, they can be incredibly helpful for tracking customer behavior. Coupon codes can even help you determine the natural length of time between a collaboration and a transaction by incentivizing shoppers to tie their purchase back to the influencer. You can make coupon codes even more effective by tying them to an affiliate campaign. Shopping Links is integrated with over 15 different affiliate networks, so your chosen influencers can easily generate affiliate links directly through their Shopping Links account using SLINKS. 


Instagram Story Swipe-Ups. Instagram Stories traffic is another effective way to measure conversion, which is why we encourage brands to include this platform as part of their collaboration brief. We have found Instagram Stories to be so successful at driving conversions, generating as much as $185 in revenue with a single swipe-up, that they are now part of the guaranteed deliverables with our Product Seeding Collaboration type, which allows brands to gift 10 or 50 bloggers with at least 10k Instagram followers for a flat fee. 


Engagement. Engagement is another key metric to track, although it’s important to distinguish between types of engagement. Followers often double-tap images without making a purchase, which can inflate the value of “likes,” but more active engagement, such as comments, shares and interactions with Instagram Stories, can be valuable indicators of future conversion. 



The above collaboration between Chelsea Thomas (@iheartbargains) and MARKS & SPENCER is a great example of how comments can contribute to conversion, particularly when followers tag other users, introducing the brand to new consumers.  


Actions. One final way to track conversions is by tracking specific actions that indicate a likely future purchase. These actions could include signing up for your EDM, joining your loyalty program, or following your brand’s social accounts. Conversion pixels can help you track the actions of an influencer’s followers after a campaign and tie those actions to a specific influencer. 


Working with the right influencer marketing platform can also help ensure you have the tools to track conversion. Thanks to sophisticated tracking through different eCommerce carts and integration with multiple affiliate networks, Shopping Links can track conversion even when it occurs early in the customer journey. One of the biggest frustrations we find facing brands as they try to track influencer conversion is the difficulty that comes with tracking multiple points in the path to purchase. For example, if an eCommerce website is the last point of contact, that site often receives full credit for conversion. We have the tools to track an influencer’s involvement to demonstrate a clearer picture of your ROI.  


The Bottom Line 


Influencer marketing can have a significant impact on conversions in ways that aren’t obvious. Effective at “top funnel” interactions, Influencers introduce customers to your brand, cultivate trust and loyalty, and keep your products top-of-mind when shoppers are ready to buy, even if they aren’t involved in that last click. Tracking the role that influencers play in the overall customer journey by measuring sales from coupon codes, Instagram Story swipe-ups, engagement, and other individual actions along the path to purchase, can help you gain a better sense of your influencer marketing ROI, and how well your influencer collaborations are truly converting. 


Want to get more conversions from your influencer collaborations? Get in touch! We’re always happy to help and have the tools, connections and technology to track more actions along your sales funnel. Schedule a demo or reach out at hello@shoppinglinks.com.    

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