Creator marketing can be very powerful, but great performance can take a while to build. Once you’ve run creator marketing for at least for some months, one of the key questions becomes how to analyze the performance over time. What can be inferred from different metrics such as cost per click, cost per conversion or engagement rates going up or down?
In this blog post we discuss how to analyze creator performance, which metrics to focus on, and what changes in these metrics might indicate. But before we dig into the details, let’s start with the basics.
Keep a changelog
Marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Factors both inside and outside of a campaign can affect its performance.
For example, an improvement in creator conversion rates could be due to:
- Your new brief
- A better landing page experience on your website or in your app.
- Pricing changes in your product (e.g. a new promo code a creator’s viewers)
- Numerous other reasons
But how can you keep track of factors that might be affecting performance?
I highly recommend keeping a changelog of the big changes both inside and outside of your campaigns to make analysis easier. You can easily start out with a simple spreadsheet for example. If you are using Google Analytics, I also highly recommend making annotations on the timeline.
This log doesn’t have to include every single microscopic change done to your website, landing pages, app store pages and apps. However, you should at least keep track of the dates and times of bigger changes.
These could contain things like:
- Significant landing page changes
- Website load time improvements (or deteriorations)
- Bigger copy and creative asset changes to ad campaigns
- Pricing changes
- New app versions
- Ad campaigns that have been run and how much was spent per month
Estimate organic uplift
While a topic for a separate blog post all on its own, you should have some form of organic uplift estimation in place.
Because of how viewers interact with video media, channels like creator marketing, video ads and even tv commercials typically produce far more organic uplift than last-click-friendly marketing mediums like search ads.
So when you increase investment in these kinds of channels, remember to look at how your organic and direct traffic behave in addition to the directly reported conversions from the marketing channel. Otherwise you will most likely (incorrectly) conclude that these channels do not work.
Once you have covered these basics, it’s time to dig into the key metrics.
Realized CPM (cost per thousand)
Keeping track of your realized CPM is useful in multiple ways. It can for example help you see, if the media cost of influencers as a channel is increasing or decreasing for you.
When combined with reach, it can also tell you how much more it costs to reach an increasing amount of people. For example, is getting additional reach more expensive past a certain level?.
By itself, CPM doesn’t tell much about the results, but it can help you guide pricing decisions and channel choices. For example, if you see increasing CPM prices in one channel with influencers (e.g. Instagram), but the conversions and cost per acquisition do not improve correspondingly, it might mean it would be better to invest more in another influencer channel such as YouTube.
View forecast vs. realized views (and paid views vs. long-term views)
It is very helpful to keep track of your view forecast vs. the actual realized views. This will tell you how good your forecasts are, and how reliably you can make bigger pushes for example. So if you’d need to run a big promo campaign in a couple of months, a good forecast will tell you at what approximate cost you’d be able to achieve that.
If you don’t have a partner like Matchmade who can provide more sophisticated forecasts, a good starting point is for example using the average views per (recent) video of the creators you’ve hired.
If there is a constant mismatch between your forecast and realized views – especially if the realized amount is lower than the forecast – it is strongly recommended that you look at updating your model or hiring additional creators as your current ones might be losing popularity.
Image example 1: Forecast 7-day views per month vs. actual 7-day views in two different scenarios.
- If your actual situation looks like scenario A (red line), you are doing better than expected or your creators might be increasing their popularity.
- If your situation is more like scenario B (yellow line), you might need to hire additional creators due to current ones losing popularity for example.
This analysis can also be further extended so that you take into account paid views vs. long-term views. So, for example, let’s say you’ve agreed to pay a creator based on views achieved in the first 7 days after the video’s publishing. It can still be worth it to track how many views they generate in 30 days and beyond. This long-tail can be very useful for you especially with creators who make evergreen content, leading to improved cost-effectiveness.
Click-through rate (CTR) and Cost per Click (CPC)
It is recommended to keep track of the CTR of influencer promotions. While it doesn’t tell you how well creators convert audiences to your product, it does tell you if the promotions are engaging to viewers. A high CTR usually means that the brief is good, a creator’s viewers are interested in the promotion and are highly engaged with that creator in general.
If your CTR goes up over time, it can indicate that you are hiring more creators who successfully engage your audience and that the interest in your product is going up. In this scenario, it can be a good idea to hire more creators who have similar audiences.
Image example 2: While there is some fluctuation, CTR is trending up, indicating increased interest in the creator content and your product.
If CTR is falling across the board (not just with one creator) over time, you might be saturating the channel and medium. People who are potentially interested in your product have already checked it out.
If you’ve recently hired creators that have different audiences from the ones you’ve used in the past, it might also indicate that the audience of the creators you’ve been hiring more recently is not as interested in the product. In this scenario it can be a good idea to put more effort into other channels or to hire new creators with different kinds of audiences who have not been saturated yet.
Image example 3: While there is some fluctuation, CTR is trending down, potentially indicating audience saturation or decreasing audience quality.
Another consideration here is the creator brief and the content itself. Is CTR different when you use for example 30-second sponsorship segments vs. 90-seconds? Is CTR different when you have a several pages long brief detailing all the things the creator needs to say versus giving the creator the freedom to say and show what they want about the product? (hint: the latter usually performs much better)
The effect of different briefs can be analyzed using A/B testing. We’ve written about creative testing with creators more extensively in a previous blog post as well.
Cost per new user
The cost to acquire a new user is a very helpful metric to keep track of. However, as previously mentioned, you should take the organic uplift into account here as well. Don’t just look at the direct conversions from the sponsored content. It also varies a lot between advertisers based e.g. on the price of the promoted product and many other factors.
As with CTR, this metric will tell you if the audiences you are targeting find your product interesting. A low cost per new user can tell you that creators are an effective medium for converting your target audience. This is especially true if the overall install volume is also at a high level (or you see strong organic uplift).
Image example 4: Cost per new user from creator marketing is trending down while overall install volume is increasing. This indicates that creators’ viewers find your product interesting and that creators are an effective medium.
When combined with reach and your overall user numbers, it can also tell you if the cost of getting a new incremental user through creator marketing is increasing, which is common when you scale up your efforts.
You can also look at cost per acquisition (CPA). Remember to keep track of both of these metrics separately if possible. This is important because people can for example churn, uninstall an app and then reinstall it later and return as a customer.
Number of conversions (directly from the channel + organic uplift) and conversion rate
In addition to the cost per conversion, you need to naturally keep an eye on the volume and rate of conversions as well. This includes conversions directly attributable to creator content, and conversion uplift seen in organic/direct channels.
Especially if you run creator marketing at a big scale, it is very common that there is a large uplift in installs from organic search and direct traffic. Many people tend to watch creator videos and install later instead of interrupting the viewing to convert. If you ignore this natural behavior of users, you are not realistically estimating the channel’s performance.
Image example 5: Total installs from creator marketing campaigns (direct + attributed organic). The total scale is usually amplified when taking organic uplift into account.
Lifetime value per new user
Customer lifetime value (LTV) is the total value of a customer over the entire customer relationship. There are numerous different ways of estimating the LTV of a customer. Different companies can have vastly different LTVs as well – even in the same industry.
This metric will tell you about the quality of the audience you acquire through creator marketing. If LTV is at a good level or increasing, it means you are able to attract valuable or increasingly better users through creator marketing.
Image example 6: New user count is increasing and LTV per new user is also increasing slightly. This indicates good audience quality from creator efforts.
If LTV is going down a lot, it tells you that you are increasingly attracting lower quality users. It is of course useful to compare this to the install volumes as well. If you are converting many more users, the fall in LTV might not be an issue.
Image example 7: New user count is increasing but LTV per new user is dropping. This indicates that while you are able to acquire more users via creator marketing, the value from those users is decreasing – it might be worth exploring new kinds of creators to find more valuable users.
Direct Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
Here we define ROAS with the following formula: (Revenue Generated from Ads / Advertising Spend) x 100%.
It will tell you how much revenue was generated per dollar of investment. So for example, a ROAS of 50% tells you that for every dollar spent, you made $0.50 in ad revenue.
The trend in direct ROAS tells you if the investments you make into creator marketing are paying off.
- Direct ROAS increases over time, and conversion rate also goes up: this typically means you are getting better at converting audiences through creators (e.g. through more effective targeting and briefs).
- Conversion rates stay roughly the same but ROAS increases: this usually means you are getting better quality customers. In both cases, this is a good indication that efforts can be scaled further.
- Direct ROAS decreases but conversion rate remains stable: this can indicate that the quality of customers you gain from creator marketing is going down.
- Conversion rate and ROAS decrease: this can also mean that you are getting worse at converting the target audience. In this situation it is recommended to review your creator brief and the audiences you are targeting. Are you potentially saturating the audience? Has the brief stayed the same too long? Should you hire creators with different kinds of audiences for example?
Relying on direct ROAS alone is not recommended though. As with the conversion metrics, it is strongly recommended to use organic uplift estimates for revenue if possible to take the full picture into account – otherwise you might incorrectly conclude that the ROAS from creator marketing is too poor.
When just starting out with creator marketing, you shouldn’t look too closely at the absolute level of direct ROAS. Performance usually increases over time. You get better at working with creators and learn what kind of talking points work the best for example. Therefore, it is better to set a target ROAS level (direct + organic) and work towards reaching that target over time.
Note on ROI vs. ROAS: Another commonly used metric is Return on Investment (ROI). While sometimes used interchangeably with ROAS, the formula of ROI is different. For example Google defines it as follows: ROI = (Revenue – Cost of goods sold) / Cost of goods sold. So if you made $50 in revenue and spent $100, your ROI would be (50-100)/100 = -50%. The ROAS would be 50%.
No matter which metric you use, the trend changes will generally tell you the same things discussed in this section.
Total cost and count of deals separated by deal size ranges
This metric serves more as a sanity check than a performance indicator. We strongly recommended you keep an eye on the amount of money and the count of deals you are making in different size categories. Based on your total budgets, you can for example split the deals into 4-5 different value range buckets.
This metric tells you if you are spending too heavily on a specific category of creators. For example, are you spending most of your budget on a few large creators alone? This can be really risky if one of them stops performing.
It typically works best if you hire creators of all sizes. Small- and midsize creators tend to have more engaged audiences while larger creators have more reach.
Image example 8: Example of total cost per creator deal size range. The distribution is fairly even – even when budgets have scaled up. The advertiser might have been overspending on large creators compared to small and midsize in the past few months. The advertiser should analyze performance metrics further to determine if this has had a negative, neutral or positive impact.
These are some of the most useful metrics to use when analyzing the performance of your creator marketing efforts.
This list is by no means exhaustive. It should give you a good starting point to analyzing creator performance over time though. If you are interested in taking your creator marketing to the next level, or are unsure how to improve your performance, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!