You’ve got budget for influencer marketing, how should you spend it? Should you invest it all in one celebrity influencer with a high number of subscribers? Should you follow the latest trend and hire several nano influencers with less reach but a higher engagement rate? Maybe you prefer something in between but worry your results will flatline.
While many strategies exist for influencer marketing, at Matchmade we care about results. That’s why we decided to dive into our own statistics and investigate what the true correlation is between influencer popularity and campaign outcomes and if one strategy outperforms the others.
For this article we tracked and analysed data from 1.9M YouTube channels to identify the sweet spot between subscriber count, average views, engagement rates and campaign performance to help our clients get the optimal return on investment from their influencer marketing efforts.
Ignore subscriber counts
It may be the industry standard to judge influencer popularity on subscriber counts, but in influencer marketing terms this metric is meaningless and nothing more than a vanity measure. Having a high number of subscribers does not equate to the best reach because many subscribers are inactive. They include people who have subscribed to the channel and then stopped being interested in it but have forgotten to unsubscribe, or in the worse case some of the subscribers could be fake.
That means working with these influencers will not deliver the results you expect because the number of people actually viewing and interacting with the influencer’s content are far fewer than those subscribed. One million subscribers does not necessarily lead to one million views. Do not expect a high subscriber count to result in a high number of views or a high click through rate.
Instead a much more reliable metric for forecasting the potential impact of your influencer marketing promotion is average views, that is, the consistent real reach of the influencer. Looking at 30-day average per video views, we classify YouTube influencers the following way: celebrity (5M+), mega (1M+), macro (500K+), mid-tier (50K+), micro (10K+) and nano (<10K).
As the graph shows, there is an increase in channel counts as the viewership gets smaller, but it is the mid-tier group which generates the most views and engagements overall.
Mid-tier influencers have the biggest reach
By reach, we are not simply talking about objective reach but rather efficient reach. If you wanted you could work with hundreds of nano influencers and get the same reach as collaborating with one celebrity influencer. But this is not efficient and the opportunity cost of your time in orchestrating the campaign will hit your return on investment hard. Instead, you need reach that optimises your return on investment.
When aiming for efficient reach, there are two important factors which must be balanced. Firstly, views, and secondly, the number of channels commanding those views. You want to maximise the views your budget will generate but optimise your time by narrowing down the number of influencers you need to collaborate with to obtain those views. At the same time, the more channels available to work with ensures more options for your marketing and contributes to the total reach of the category.
The category of nano influencers is bigger than the category of mid-tier influencers, however, the total views generated by the mid-tier group far outstrips those generated by the group of nano influencers.
In fact when comparing the total views of each group to the channel count of the group, it is clear that mid-tier influencers collectively reach more people than any other channel group.
There’s more mid-tier influencers to work with
The number of channels available to work within your chosen influencer category is crucial for effective influencer marketing.
A common attribute of our most successful customers’ influencer marketing efforts is a willingness to experiment.
If the goal of your campaign is brand value, it absolutely makes sense to collaborate with a celebrity or macro influencer. However, if branding is just one of your goals and your objectives lean more towards generating clicks to your product page and sales or downloads, we advise not putting all your eggs in one basket, especially in the early stages of your influencer marketing efforts.
Your product has unique selling points, and experimenting with different influencers, content formats, geographical target groups and audience demographics will help you establish faster the best influencer marketing formula for your product. Experimentation will also provide data to help increase the predictability of your marketing in the long-term.
The mid-tier influencer group has more than 10 times as many YouTubers to work with compared to the macro and mega groups.
Mid-tier influencers are more cost effective
Another vital metric for a successful campaign is click through rate from the influencer’s content to your product page. The more clicks, the more sales or downloads. The best indicator of click through rate is the influencer’s engagement rate, that is, the number of comments, shares and likes on their content compared to the number of views.
Nano influencers tend to have the highest click through rates, as their small audiences are highly engaged. Our data shows the average click through rate of nano influencers is around 1.8 percent. However, in practice it’s extremely hard to reach a meaningful number of conversions when working with nano influencers because their viewership is so small.
As can be seen from the data below, mid-tier influencers with up to fifty times the views of nano influencers command an average click through rate of 0.9 percent.
The mid-tier group has a better average click through rate than both macro (0.4 percent) and mega (0.3 percent) influencers.
The outlier in the data is the celebrity group, which seems to have the second highest average click through rate. Looking into this further, the campaigns involving celebrity influencers that sparked this impressive level of engagement were far more complex than typical influencer marketing campaigns. Brands made specific products for the celebrity influencers to showcase, incorporating them as characters in a gaming app for example. These campaigns, although effective, require a substantial investment from the advertiser.
For typical influencer marketing efforts, the mid-tier group of influencers hit the right balance of effort required and results delivered, leading to an optimal return on investment.
It’s not one size fits all
The number of mid-tier influencers offers the opportunity for more varied marketing, while their reach and click through rates make for effective and efficient campaigns. But as mentioned, the other categories of influencers have their own advantages and influencer marketing is not one size fits all.
If your goal is purely brand value and exposure, a celebrity influencer might be for you. If you are looking for exceptional engagement and measurable results, the nano to mid-tier influencers will deliver the best results.
But analysing the data, it is clear the standout all-rounder category of influencer marketing is mid-tier, the group that delivers the best reach on YouTube. For standard product marketing with a mix of branding and generating revenue these are the influencers most likely to provide you the highest return on investment.
Mid-tier influencers are also more adaptable to your campaign needs than larger influencers and they are in many instances actively growing their audience. Another plus point, as the content they produce for you will remain on their channel indefinitely gathering more and more views even after your campaign is closed as new fans check out the influencer’s previous content.
Working with influencers effectively
It is key to bear in mind that influencer marketing is different from user acquisition. Influencers are human beings like you, producing individual content for their fans.
Allow the influencer creative freedom to communicate the unique selling points of your product to their audience in their own way. They’ve built their audience doing just that, let them work for you. Try also targeting different geographical locations. Different locations have different costs and performance and the best return on investment for your efforts could be anywhere.
Through influencer marketing you are getting personalised native advertising; work with one influencer and get one ad, work with 100 and that’s 100 personalised ads for your product.
If working with multiple influencers is daunting, Matchmade is here to help. Through our tailored software algorithms we can find your best influencers instantly, take care of all your campaign management and help you keep on top of your return on investment with our real-time results dashboard.
There’s no mistaking the data. Hire a selection of mid-tier influencers and get your planned results.
Get in touch with Matchmade at firstname.lastname@example.org and our influencer marketing experts will advise you!