How influencer marketing benchmarks force industry maturity

Effective influencer marketing marries creative flair with data-driven insight to produce actionable content. Benchmarks provide that insight.

A lot of shade is being thrown at influencer marketing. Some deserved; some hyped. CampaignDeus’ recent Influencer Index reveals that 12% of influencers bought followers (see: Influencer Index: Which brands and sectors are getting it right on Instagram?).

All nascent industries tread paths that include periods of fast growth followed by criticisms of the certain direction taken, and inefficiencies created in the market. In 2018, it appears influencer marketing has reached that latter point, where controversy around influencer fraud and a lack of transparency has started to erode trust in the industry. 

To address both issues, the time has come for the industry to focus on building a systems-based approach to influencer marketing. Benchmarks should form part of a standard methodology. Brands need to feel confident that when they form a working relationship with an influencer that the selection decision is backed by data-driven insight.

See also: An interview with CampaignDeus’ CEO: Bringing transparency to influencer marketing

Influencer marketing benchmarking on Instagram

Instagram is the current influencer marketing powerhouse platform. It now boasts a billion monthly active users. Scoring past Instagram campaigns provides a good indication of future performance.

 Number of monthly active active Instagram users from January 2013 to June 2018 (in millions) -  Statista

Number of monthly active active Instagram users from January 2013 to June 2018 (in millions) - Statista

Benchmarks can help marketers not only select the most appropriate influencers which resonate best with their audience but can crucially allow them to compare their influencer marketing investment performance against competitors and the broader industry.

See also: Influencer marketing benchmarks: how to measure success

Influencer marketing benchmarks in practice

Say you represent a high-street fashion brand. More than one-in-three (37%) of all posts to Instagram fall within the fashion and style vertical. This makes it the most popular vertical on the platform. Consequently creating stand-out content is crucial.

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You have whittled down a long-list of potential influencers you want to work with from six to two. You have budget for one. Both have an engagement rate of 5.2%. Looking closer at their engagement rates for organic content versus sponsored content shows one has a sponsored content engagement rate of 4.9% whilst the other is 4.5%.

You pick the one with 4.9%. Benchmarks tell you this rate is overperforming by 42% in the high-street fashion sub vertical. It is in the top 20% for best performance.

At the creative brief stage the influencer tells you that pictures taken at city landmarks are popular. Armed with benchmark insight you can agree (31% of high street fashion posts are taken with a street backdrop). However, you counter that sponsored posts with the most engagement are taken with a backdrop of rivers in a natural setting.

Benchmarks inform you that the best performing product is the T-shirt. Whilst watches produce the most sponsored content in this sub-vertical they come ninth in terms of best performing engagement rates.

You want to drive sales. But can’t decide whether to run a competition or offer discount codes. Again benchmarks can help inform the decision. Links to codes offer 5% higher engagement than competitions and giveaways in this sub-vertical.

Accurate, independent data can guide you at the creative brief stage. It can also provide insight when evaluating success after the campaign.

That is why CampaignDeus launched the Influencer Index earlier in the year. It’s an analysis of 43,000 brand-sponsored posts published to Instagram over 6 months (Jan-June 2018). The index provides influencer marketers with data insight, which enables brands to work with influencers in smarter ways. Being guided by the data helps generate the biggest engagement rates for branded content.  

The recent shade thrown at influencer marketing will produce a bright future for the industry. It will expedite the maturation process. Both brands and influencers who forge long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships generating high engagement rates via creative content will thrive. Those who fail to do so will discover that the influencer marketing gravy train is about to hit the buffers.

See also: Our new free Benchmarking tool for YouTube and Instagram


Scott Guthrie is an advisor to CampaignDeus a data-driven company providing independent benchmarking, measurement & reporting on influencer marketing progammes.