[Estimated reading time: 4 minutes]
Influencer marketing has experienced industry-wide popularity in recent years, but the marketer’s challenge remains: how do you identify the right influencers for your campaign?
According to Augure, 93% of pros consider influencer engagement as an effective strategy to build brand awareness. Still, 75% believe the main challenge is to identify the right influencer. The question of focus becomes imperative. Should you focus on the creme de la creme of influencers, or invest in the mid and lower tiers for volume-based performance? These are the burning questions.
So with this in mind, we decided to run the numbers on 2,000+ Upfluence native ad campaigns conducted over the past 6 months to see which influencers provided the best return.
How to differentiate influencers
Assuming that blog content and topics are relevant, then the key differentiators for influencers are usually found in terms of website traffic. Influencer measurement tools like Alexa rank or Klout leads marketers to rank influencers according to their global influence over their audiences. However, for the purposes of our analysis, Alexa rank, website visits and engagement rates are the metrics we’re looking at.
For this study, we divided Influencers into 3 categories:
- Top 5%: High-ranking influencers with an Alexa rank lower than 100 000 whose website usually benefits from +250K monthly visits
- Top 10%: Influencers with between 250,000 and 25,001 recurring monthly visitors and having an Alexa rank between 100 001 and 200 000.
- Power Middle: The power middle is an influencer of “average” influence. They have between 2,500 and 25,000 recurring monthly visitors and their Alexa rank is above 200 001. Their audience is highly targeted and highly engaged. They create a lot of value for brands.
Why influencer’s type matters:
Influencer marketing has many benefits for a brand and not all marketers need their content to go viral. For many, influencer marketing efforts are used to provide a better ROI than traditional means. Simply put, marketers don’t all have the same needs, so having a range of potential influencers is important. Here are the variables affected by influencer size.
Budget: Prices vary of course depending the blogger’s popularity and influence. The top 5% blogs have important traffic. Since they are used to be contacted by brands, they usually demand more money for sponsored posts than the power middle.
KPIs: Factors like reach, engagement, and CTR vary according to the size and content of an influencer’s site. Marketers can target KPIs depending on the outcome(s) they focus on. If a marketer needs clicks, it would be foolish to look to an influencer with high reach but low CTR metrics. These KPIs often drive decisions above factors like blog size.
Brand relationship: A goal of influencer marketing is also to develop long-term relationships with influencers. For example, Top 5% blogs are overwhelmed with sponsored post demands and are often less inclined to develop a deep brand relationship than power middle influencers.
Campaign effectiveness: Several studies show that the power middle drives 16x more engagement than other influencers. On another hand, popular bloggers are good to generate brand awareness. Depending on marketing objectives, the choice of the influencer’s type can impact the overall campaign effectiveness.
Overall blog type performance
In this study, we looked at the click-through rate (CTR), which is the total number of impressions divided by clicks. The red line is the visits index – the top 5% blogs are the base 100.
Data shows that big blogs benefit from a large audience that is less engaged than top 10% blogs and power middle. However, as shown by the visit index, articles published by Top 5% blog benefit from greater exposure than any other blog type. For every 100 visits on a top 5% blog, the top 10% and power middle receive fewer visits. Still, Top 5% blogs’ high level of impressions leads to a lower CTR than other blog categories.
Engagement is calculated as total amount of content shares divided by number of unique visits. A blog’s engagement rate shows how an audience interacts with content – whether they consume or share. Our stats show that power middle blogs generate far more engagement than the top 5% or 10% blogs. This means that power middle’s audience not only read the content, but they also share it to people incline to read it too.
However, considering the visit index, data shows that this high engagement rate is calculated from a low volume of visits.
Budget per blog type:
Cost-per-click (CPC) is the price paid by the brand for the sponsored article divided by the number of clicks on the sponsored links. This data gives marketers an idea of how much they have to spend to generate leads in a given influencer’s community.
Cost-per-read (CPR) represents the average price paid by a brand to get a sponsored article read once. For awareness campaigns, this metric gives marketers an idea of necessary spend in each influencer’s community.
The data provides us with 3 takeaways:
1 – For a low CPC, top 10% blogs seem to be the perfect blog type for advertisers. Despite generating fewer clicks than the top 5%, they are cheaper to produce overall.
2 – For a low CPR, look to top 5% blogs, which generate a high volume of traffic and high level of reads. Messages here can spread farther at a lower cost per-reader basis than other blogs.
3 – Don’t sleep on the power middle. Despite lower volume of reads and clicks, they offer competitive rates (and quality audiences) at $4.76 CPC and $1 CPR on average.
There is no wrong choice among influencers – it all depends on the marketer’s objectives and resources deployed. It is more important to make a plan according to your needs and stick with it. The top 5% are good at leveraging brand awareness and generate huge amount of reads. For a good compromise of ease of placement, price, and site visits, the top 10% is enticing. Leveraging the power middle is a very cheap and extremely powerful way to engage audiences. Plus, they are also easier to form relationships with, and hopefully grow into a top-tier influencer in their own right.
Regardless of your path, start your influencer marketing strategy NOW.