How to Measure Influence: 2 Approaches and the Tools You’ll Need

Influence, whether or paid or earned, is at the core of all professional communications and marketing programs—to change minds or behavior. Think about it. At its core, isn’t the purpose of any marketing program to exert influence over the stakeholders? Isn’t your job to convince stakeholders to consider, prefer, buy from, invest in, work for, or support your organization’s purpose? And, as with any effort to change human beings, there is no single magic bullet that will enable you to measure every influence in your programs.

What most people think of when you say “influencer marketing” is the activity that goes into it. There are at least 28 different tools to measure that activity, and you can read all about them here. I’ve used many of them, and most will adequately count what’s happening among your influencers. Personally, I’m a big fan of the methodology behind Little Bird, because it looks at the connections between individuals, not just key words.

But that’s not measurement or influence, that’s measuring activity. To measure whether you are actually increasing your influence, you can take one of two approaches: either ask them, or develop an acceptable proxy for a behavior or action that indicates they’ve been influenced.

Ask them: Measuring influence via survey research

If you have ongoing audience research that tracks changes in awareness, consideration, and perception, you’re halfway there. In an ideal world, your research would also ask them what influences them or what they’ve seen lately. So you could conduct a statistical factor analysis to determine the correlation between changes in consideration and the presence or absence of influence.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a full market research department to help you evaluate your influence program, you could do an A/B test, calculating changes in perceptions with or without influencer outreach. Key to this approach is the ability to hold other marketing activities level.

If you are limited in your budget and lack a market research team, think about using Google Forms or Survata to survey your audience to establish baseline levels of awareness, consideration, and preference before you start your influencer marketing program. Then, after your program has been operating for six months or more, repeat your survey. By that time your program should have had some impact and you can measure results before and after implementation.

Track their actions: Developing an acceptable online proxy

If your objective is to generate leads with your influence marketing program, the easiest way to track impact is to create (or agree upon existing) pages on your website to which a customer or prospect is directed by your program. The ability to tag and track where your traffic comes from is one of the benefits of using web analytics. Setting up conversions in Google Analytics is fast and easy; watch my how-to video here. The tricky part is getting everyone from sales, marketing, and leadership to agree on what the appropriate proxy should be.

Typical proxies for influence might be:

  • Requesting more information on a specific topic or product;
  • Signing up for an email newsletter or information;
  • Downloading a white paper on a specific topic or product; and
  • Contacting your organization for additional information.

About Author

Katie Paine

I've been called The Queen Of Measurement, but I prefer Seshat, the Goddess.