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Making Influencer Engagement Work - Part 2

You can read Part 1 of this blog here.

Slaying the dragon – executing on the plan

If you’ve spent the time and effort on the strategy, approach, identification and verification of creators, execution is actually one of the easier (if perhaps nerve-wracking) parts of an influencer marketing campaign.

Our results will follow in the next section, but outside of the obvious (vetting content, aligning influencer activations with other marketing activity, being prepared for coverage when content goes live, providing ways to track impact), here are some other things to take into account.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCAzmtvxylk (Nostalgia) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLAbs8coQTY (Nostalgia) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2HuxWBQDAw (Portability) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cor79MWvPz4 (Your Game, Your Rules)

A few examples of activations throughout the campaign, aligning with the ‘Nostalgia’, ‘Portability’, and ‘Your Game, Your Rules’ pillars

Firstly, be aware of timezones. When dealing with global creators, it can be all-too-easy for you to expect creative to go live at 8pm BST when the creator is actually working in PST.

Secondly, be prepared to hop on and engage with people when the content has gone live. There will likely be loads of customers unfamiliar with your product who will have questions that creators may not be able or compelled to answer. Here’s where you can step in. By engaging with potential customers early while your product is fresh in their mind, your chances of encouraging a purchase are a lot higher.

Thirdly, and I can’t stress how important this is, ensure the creator discloses that the content is sponsored within the body of the video AND corresponding social content. This isn’t merely friendly advice – it’s a legal requirement, and one that has landed plenty of companies and creators alike in hot water. Many influencers will have creative ways to tell their audiences that their content is paid for, but for less experienced creators you may have to walk them through the process to avoid a jarring and misleading end result.

Many contracts you’ll sign as part of an influencer partnership will include a license to use the content they produce for your own needs – so use it. As influencer content can be some of the most authentic testimonials you can get in the marketing space, you can use it to bolster your digital marketing, email, or CRM offerings as alternative creative. We found that repurposing those assets for Instagram Stories ads, which were significantly quicker to make than other creative, drove CPI figures of under our user acquisition (UA) benchmark.

Side quests – identifying the true value of influencer marketing

Tracking the ‘true’ value of influencer marketing is the Holy Grail. While tagged and tracked links to download/purchase, voucher codes or bespoke promotions can tell you some of the story, it is often not the whole picture.

Our £4.50 CPI was based on a link-tagging methodology. Within Old School RuneScape we’re unable to offer influencer-inspired promotional items or in-game incentives (doing so could damage the integrity of the game) and a week’s free trial for new users meant offering additional discounts was not viable.

One month into the re-heat phase of our strategy and after 25 YouTube activations, we were tracking at a £21.40 CPM (great) and a £8.62 CPI (not bad, but quite a way off hitting our ideal KPIs). What was frustrating though was that we knew this wasn’t the whole story as there would undoubtedly be players watching the videos, heading straight to the Play Store and App Store and downloading it without touching our tracked links.

One of the downsides of combining influencer activations with other marketing activities was that differentiating the organic uplift attributed specifically to this activity was difficult. We were finding that while link tracking is a good start for measurement, it by no means an accurate measure of all downloads and spend that resulted from watching our videos. Here were our initial findings (from a sample of 7 of the 25 activations):

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After speaking at length with Google about the issues we were experiencing, they invited us to collaborate on a pioneering study designed to bridge the gap between the limitations of a tracking link and the true value of influencer marketing. By looking at anonymised cohorts of signed-in Android users and their journey across YouTube and Google Play (which are, of course, both Google properties) we strove to discover if there was an incremental upside to influencer marketing nobody had been able to quantify or prove thus far? And as it turned out, there was.

Here are the findings after adding those who had watched a video we’d commissioned and downloaded the game on Google Play within 4 days:

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As you can see, this tracking had a profound impact, increasing App Store-attributed downloads by 357.6% overall. Some individual creators saw an uplift of over 1,000% compared to original tracking. It lifted our so-so CPI of£6.28 down to a very impressive £2.78 – putting it on a par (if not improving on) comparable digital marketing practices for this campaign.

According to Google, we weren’t the only ones, either.

While our sample size was relatively small, this rang true with the results Google discovered by using similar methodologies with other developers. Posting their findings in a recent blog they concluded: “For every person who is clicking on the tracking link of an influencer video on YouTube, there are 4 more people who are not clicking but still download the game within four days after watching.”

It is also worth pointing out that within this study, 50% of users downloaded the game within 30 minutes, indicating a direct behavioural change not attributable to other marketing touch-points. Interestingly, small-to-mid-tier creators tended to work harder and proved better value based on spend.

Quest Complete! – the enduring appeal of creators

This campaign had a profound impact with how much importance we place our relationships with creators – both organic and paid – and has gone a long way to improving our own forecasting/attribution models for influencer activity.

While it is difficult to measure the true value of influencer marketing, hopefully this blog has showcased that, if done correctly, it has huge potential for all-manner of companies. It is easy to be put off by exorbitant prices for the top-tier talent – but with a clearly-defined strategy, effective outreach and proper diligence, you can get one-of-a-kind, enduring content for a captive, engaged audience that actually drives and changes a customer’s behaviour.

Whether you’re a high-end fashion label, fast food company or a humble medieval MMO, influencer marketing should be something that brands are seriously considering adding into their marketing mix.