Scott Harward is an SEO, Pay-Per-Click and Affiliate Marketing guy. What does he have to do with influencer marketing? Well, he can not only help influencers understand how to better monetize their online presences, but report back metrics that brands care for most. He also works with brands and clients to help them design measurement strategies to prove the worth or programs like influencer marketing.
Scott and I chatted for Winfluence about how influencers can better measure what they do, what brands expect and should ask of influencers, how affiliate marketing can supplement or enhance influence programs and beyond. You can never get enough advice and help figuring out measurement in this space, so give my conversation with Scott a listen.
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Winfluence Podcast – Scott Harward Transcript
Jason Falls 1:58
Scott, give me a little background on on you and Blue 21 so folks understand where you’re coming from in this whole influence marketing conversation.
Scott Harward 2:07
As I’m a marketing consultant, I’ve been in digital marketing for over 10 years. And I started out in SEO worked my way into PPC and then expanded out into affiliates and lead gen. And then I worked my way up to marketing director and and jumped off and started my own business.
Jason Falls 2:27
It’s it’s always a fun ride, Innit?
Scott Harward 2:30
Jason Falls 2:31
Alright so let’s there’s there’s a lot in there that’s that’s baked into that but i think you know, brands need to understand and influencers need to understand so I want to kind of unpack all that a little bit. I’m really interested in your take on affiliate marketing, which we’ll get to since you’ve got experience with that because I think that’s something that some influencers take advantage of and some don’t. But let’s get into the influencer marketing piece from a high level. I know you specialize in revenue strategies business analytics, very important parts of the influence equation and a big part of the book that I wrote to those are critical for brands but also the individual influencers themselves. Before we get into the meat of that, though, from from your experience with your clients over the last few years, what what’s your perspective on their use of influencers? What type of engagements Are you seeing? Are there any trends is influencer marketing increasing for you and your clients is something that you’re having to focus more on? Or has it been kind of a level set stream for a while now?
Scott Harward 3:32
I have a lot of experience in affiliate marketing, which is they’re basically the same except influencer is just a little less established. I’ve answered a lot of questions for companies that do influence marketing, where there’s there’s just a lot of questions that revolve around influencer marketing and how effective it is. And I’ve it depends on the client but a lot of e commerce companies are starting to reach out to influencer marketing and trying to test the waters.
Jason Falls 4:05
So we’ve recently talked about on this show, you know, some issues like influencer fraud with comment pods and fake followers and all that kind of stuff. But I think you take you look at some some interesting issues that are somewhat related but not exactly. So you FFO KPIs fluff metrics. First, let’s zero in and define, you know, what fo KPIs are and what the fluff metrics are, and talk about why that’s a problem. And then how do you advise brands and clients to get around that to actually get the good measurements out of them?
Scott Harward 4:37
Yeah, so this is a topic that I’m passionate about. I believe that there are five faux KPIs that a lot of companies, agencies and influencers use to fluff their metrics. And it I think it leads them to make bad decisions. The five faux KPIs that are there are first impressions. Two his reach. The third one is position on page. Fourth is engagement, and five is view through conversions. Now, this isn’t to say that those metrics aren’t helpful. Each of those are specific, specifically helpful and helpful in different cases. But KPI stands for key performance indicators. So KPIs are the primary ways that you’re measuring success. These five metrics that marketers love and influencers definitely love. They do not measure the success of most business goals. They’re limited in their scope, and they don’t drive a lot of revenue on their own.
Jason Falls 5:38
So reach impressions are probably the first two that a lot of brands look at and want to use when they’re talking about you know, external advertising or external you know, sort of marketing tactics like influencer marketing, what is it about reach and then separately, I guess what is it about influence that makes those you know, KPIs, not KPIs more like p eyes without the key on the front of it. What makes them problematic for you?
Scott Harward 6:08
impressions and reach indicate no action. So what is the goal of most businesses? Most businesses want to drive revenue, most businesses want to drive purchases. Now, if your goal is purchases, your KPI should be purchases and conversions, not impressions. impressions are a means to the end, but they are not the end. And so that’s why impressions are problematic. You can get a lot of impressions without having people do anything. That’s one of the big problems I’ve seen with a lot of influencers and a lot of agencies is they say, oh, man, we got X amount of impressions. We’re doing so good. But in reality, the majority of those impressions aren’t driving any action. So the goal would be to measure the actions you’re wanting them to take, you don’t want them to just see your ad. You want them to see your ad and do something. Without that do something, you’re doing nothing really. And measuring just impressions only measures that people saw your ad. It doesn’t measure what happens after.
Jason Falls 7:19
But but aren’t they? Aren’t they important indicators? Because I think, you know, a lot of brand marketers and even some e commerce, you know, folks are like, Look, I’ve done the math, we’ve done this long enough to know that if I get X amount of impressions, and I continue to have the, you know, engagement rates, or the, you know, the quality type of content that I’m putting out there in terms of advertising, messaging, or whatnot, as long as I keep my effectiveness level for that communications, well, impressions are very important for me to know because I can go by impressions and if I keep my conversion rates the same, I can predict my revenue, so are there not instances where that is an important KPI for people to track?
Scott Harward 8:00
Well, I think you mentioned in particular, you mentioned other metrics that have to go in conjunction with impressions. You mentioned conversion rates. So conversion rate is one of your real KPIs. And then impressions is just one of the farther up the funnels where you can use to help control volume. By impressions by itself, you’d hopefully lead to clicks or lead to lead to other interactions with you. And that’s why I think many businesses focus too much on impressions themselves.
Jason Falls 8:32
So from an influencer marketing perspective, because a lot of influencer marketing is about, you know, branding and awareness which the KPIs for branding and awareness are eyeballs, right, yeah, that’s ultimately Yes, the business wants to sell things. But in order to create you know, enough demand, sometimes you have to create the awareness and the demand first. And so in in scenarios like that, impressions are important for brand Because they need to get the word out there and influencer marketing is used for impressions and awareness a lot as opposed to a direct transactional thing. I suspect I might know the answer to this. But I wonder from your perspective, if a client comes to you and says we want to use influencer marketing, how should we approach this? Is it your opinion then that that brand should really focus more on a transactional relationship with influencers rather than something that’s much more sort of intrinsic or you know, a not a non conversion number.
Scott Harward 9:33
I would say it should be more transactional, there should be there should be something that you’re measuring beyond just impression and reach. Because you may reach out to an influencer and they, they publish a video or a post about your product. But if you’re not measuring the impact of that, then it’s gonna be difficult to know whether you should move on and go with that influencer. You know, influencers have different audiences? How do you know whether the the message actually resonated, you need something beyond impressions to be able to measure whether the influencer actually had impact whether their audience even liked your message. So, impressions by itself needs help, it needs additional metrics that influencers can provide. As you know, influencers can get pretty creative in measuring what’s happening with their content. So beyond impressions, influencers can include coupon codes, they can include links that are trackable, they could ask for interactions and comments on to their post or their video. And you can do a lot of stuff that create engagement from the user that helps you know, whether the message is resonating, and whether it’s actually driving revenue.
Jason Falls 10:58
So a brand has a full Marketing Program multiple touch points but they feel they need to invest in influencers. You know, you, you you say that you feel like that, you know a transaction has to be a part of this equation. What are some things that a brand needs to ask for from the influencer in terms of analytics and access to their data to be able to, you know, appropriately measure the impact of their influence programs.
Scott Harward 11:28
Businesses should ask from their influencers, beyond reach and impressions of the post, maybe it depending on the platform, it’d be good to get as much information as they can such as impressions by day, or how many likes they should go on, analyze the comments, and just pick apart as much as is available for some social media platforms. There’s not a lot available and that brings a lot of questions as to how to measure it but businesses should ask for more than just saying how many people saw the post?
Jason Falls 12:04
So let’s flip that then if I’m an influencer and I want to a deliver the right metrics and speak the language, you know, with the brand partner so they know what they get from me. But also know I’m a smart partner to have from a measurement standpoint. If I’m an influencer, what do I need to do to set up a system to be able to deliver that data appropriately for brands so they can use it?
Scott Harward 12:26
So one of the big things as influencers need to realize they are marketers. They need to realize that they are doing a campaign for a client that the brand that is paying them, they are their client, and they need to make sure that they’re delivering the proper results, and the proper reports to make sure that they know that their money was worth it. One of the creative ideas I think, I’ve seen YouTubers do this before, is they go the extra mile and they they go through and analyze the reaction of their audience to the message. So they’ll ask, Hey, what do you think about this product? Leave your comments below. Do you think it’s a good product? Do you think I reviewed it thorough and thoroughly enough? Are they asked for feedback from their audience? Now, this doesn’t get 100% feedback because not everyone comments. But, you know, you can get a pretty good feel as to how well the message was received by looking at the comments and understanding the sentiment involved with each of the comments. Then the influencer can go to the the sponsor or the company that paid them to do it. And they can provide additional information and insights to the product and the reaction from the audience to the company. And to be able to do this you’ve really got to understand what the goals of the sponsor or the client is in order to deliver a report. as meaningful to them.
Jason Falls 14:02
So let’s talk a little bit about affiliate marketing because it’s, it’s related. And I think if we were to go back, you know, 10 years or so, you know, there were in the in the social media space there were, you know, bloggers and whatnot that were starting to emerge as quote unquote, influencers, we really call them that back then. It was bloggers or sometimes mavens was used, but the people who were really driving the most impact for businesses online, you know, 10 years ago, were, you know, affiliate marketers, people who were, you know, taking an advertisement or a message from a brand, and, you know, using their channels to expose their audiences to that particular message, and it might have been their blog, or their website, or it might have been social network networking channels. It might also have been that they, you know, had the permissions within that affiliate program to go out and place online media and advertising campaigns for that particular you know, affiliate program and you know, it was a pay for performance kind of thing. The more things you sell or the more clicks you get or the more M’s you drive in the cpms, you know, you get an affiliate payment the commission for that is is affiliate marketing, kind of the original influencer marketing, are we talking about the same kind of thing? It’s just looking at it through a different kind of lens. In my opinion, influencer marketing and affiliate marketing are the same thing. The difference is the influencer realm of marketing is unstructured.
Scott Harward 15:33
And it’s a lot of people think it’s new, but the reality is, it’s just on new channels. And it’s with the with YouTube and Pinterest and all the social media channels that are out there. It’s opened the gates for a lot of people to become influencers. However, they just haven’t turned themselves into affiliates, though they’re doing the exact same thing. But um, Because there’s a lack of education in the influencer around a lot of a lot of them don’t know that the affiliate marketing realm even exists. Right?
Jason Falls 16:09
Here’s an interesting question for you. So one of the big topics in the influencer space has has been for several years now, is disclosure making sure that you are you know, when you’re doing a sponsored post for a brand or you have a relationship with a company, you know, you disclose that and say, Hey, you know, I work with this company, and this is sponsored, let me tell you about this, blah, blah, blah, whatever, as long as you have, you know, certain FTC requirements here. Correct me if I’m wrong here or school me on the existence of the same approach in affiliate marketing because I don’t necessarily have to disclose that I’m an affiliate. If I’m, you know, buying an ad somewhere for a company, do I or is there something I’m missing there?
Scott Harward 16:50
Oh, when you’re buying an ad, that’s a slightly different situation. When if you’re the affiliates themselves needs to disclose that they have a relationship with the with the merchant.
Jason Falls 17:07
Scott Harward 17:09
As for buying ads, that’s more of a media agency. And I don’t think it’s as required. I think it depends on the nature of the content. If you’re buying an ad space, and it’s just an ad, I don’t think you have to reveal that you have that relationship because you’re acting on behalf of the merchant. But if you’re writing a review about a product and you’re going to receive affiliate commissions, then it does need to be disclosed.
Jason Falls 17:40
Good. Okay. So we’re covered there. I when I think of affiliate I don’t know if why I do this, but when I think of affiliate marketing, I remember back in the day when an affiliate marketer certainly could put you know, banner ads and things like that on their blogs or websites. But I also the my first exposure to It was a gentleman several years ago, showed me how he was able with different affiliate products to be able to basically buy Pay Per Click ads for those products, and put those ads out there and, you know, based on, you know, bidding strategies and whatnot, he was able to drive affiliate sales through Pay Per Click ads. And so I’ve always had this preconceived notion that affiliate marketers are basically SEO folks who are, are trying to engineer traffic to, you know, certain, you know, search terms so that they can, you know, profit from that traffic. But affiliate marketing is much broader than that, right?
Scott Harward 18:37
Yeah, in fact, those are the ones who buy ads. The affiliates who buy ads, they’re actually in the minority. A lot of the internet world runs off of affiliates. That’s I it’s for me, I fit the affiliate network, or affiliate network marketing. That’s one of the three pillars of Internet Marketing for me. The first one is PPC. The second one is SEO. The third one is affiliate marketing.
Jason Falls 19:09
And affiliate marketing can take the place of meaning, it can be that you are dropping a link to a product in the content that you share on social networks or the content that you share on your website, your blog, or whatever. But it can also be, you know, banner ads on your site and whatnot, which, you know, anytime you go to any content, you know, site these days with news, entertainment information, whatnot, you know, there’s ads all over the place. good chances, a lot of those are affiliate ads,
Scott Harward 19:38
right? The ads normally aren’t so the banner ads aren’t out. Sometimes they are but the majority of them are just regular display ads. The where you’ll find a lot of the affiliate links is actually in the article itself. So this is how CNET runs that’s how they make the majority of their money is actually through affiliates. Links in their articles, when they write a review about a new piece of technology. It normally contains an affiliate link in the article and that’s how they make money when someone clicks on that link and they go and purchase that new piece of technology.
Jason Falls 20:16
Interesting. Yeah, I use a The only affiliate stuff I tend to do or Amazon links if I put somebody book or something like that on my, on my blog or my website and talk about it, you know, I throw the link to the Amazon up there and I use my own little affiliate thing. So I get no gift card if I sell, buy books or whatever. But I guess you could get a lot deeper, deeper with it. So do you think back to sort of the influence marketing perspective here? Do you think if that that we’re going to get to a point where if the influencer isn’t sharing full analytics and understanding that sort of business equation, that that type of influencers just going to get cut out of opportunities all together.
Scott Harward 20:59
I think The influencer marketing realm is going to continue to push towards being measured. At first it was a lot more forgivable because it’s a new realm. Everyone’s trying to figure it out. But I mean, influencer marketing has been around for over probably 10 years now. And so it’s gonna start heading into to be an established industry and an established marketing method. And with that there needs to be able to come the measurement because I’ve talked to a lot of business owners who have they’ve done the they’ve done influencer marketing. And you know, the question they asked me every time is how do we know whether it’s working? Most of them don’t know whether it’s working. And that’s a problem. That’s a problem for the influencer. That’s a problem for the company. And the company will see sales come in and they think it may be because of the affiliate or the influencer but they The they have hours of meetings discussing this. And they always leave the meeting. Just just as confused as when they went in they can have they’re having a really hard time figuring out how to measure the influencer marketing. And because it’s because there’s a lot of methods and practices that just aren’t being used in the influencer world. You know,
Jason Falls 22:20
I devoted an entire sort of sidebar in one of the chapters of my book to UTM parameters, are they not sort of the savior of all this?
Scott Harward 22:31
Oh, they are definitely an important part. If you can get a click a click as measurable, you can attach additional tracking information using the UTM parameters. And you can track that all the way to the conversion. So I definitely say UTM parameters are very important to measuring.
Jason Falls 22:49
Yeah, there’s I spend some time in the book explaining that, you know, if you if you are able to add, you know, some parameters on the end of your link, it’s everything that follows the question mark, if you look at the URL, those parameters tell your analytic software, you know, anything you want the big, big bucket items of what you want to know about them. So anytime I do an influencer marketing program for a client and I say hey we want you to click back to the client’s website I don’t give them you know website comm I give them website comm question slash question mark. And then there’s parameters after it in those parameters typically are you know, the the medium that they that are assigned to influencers is influencers so that can bucket them all in my analytics and say, This is everything that I got from quote unquote, influencers as a medium? And then source is actually an individual name for that influencer? So if you know if Scott Harward is an influencer in my program, it would code the parameters would be, you know, medium influencers source Scott Harward. And I can go into my Google Analytics or whatever analytics software I’m using, and say, Show me revenue by source and I can tell you exactly how much money Scott hardware drove how much revenue he drove to my website. So you see him Brad, if you don’t know what UTM parameters are, just Google it. Unfortunately, Google has a nice little UTM parameter builder that’s easy to use and whatnot. So you can generate your links that no one code and all that good stuff. Scott, I want to ask you one of the things, you’ve got some interesting ideas, you mentioned something in preparation for the show about revenue, inflation, and reported revenue being inflated. Tim, explain to me what you mean by that. And where are we seeing revenue inflation reporting.
Scott Harward 24:37
So in the marketing realm, this is, this is actually a big problem that a lot of people are starting to become aware of. I put the revenue inflation it’s because right now, customers take complicated journeys, they will visit your fit, they’ll click on your Facebook ad, then they’ll click on your Google Ad ad. They’ll then go to one of your affiliate Or your influencers, they’ll then sign up for email and then receive an email. So they’re going to have a lot of touch points with you before they actually make a purchase. Several years ago, it was five to seven. A recent report that I heard was that it was like 12 to 13. Now, that’s the average amount of times a customer interacts with you before making a purchase. What’s going to happen in your marketing report is because everything is tracked, and I’m assuming that this example of assuming that the influencer also contributed they’re part of their tracking. But what’s gonna happen in the marketing reports is let’s say there’s a $100 purchase of shoes on your website. And they this customer in particular, they clicked on your Facebook ad, they clicked on your Google ad, they clicked on a retargeting ad on a new site, they read a review from one of your affiliates and they clicked on one of your emails, what’s gonna happen in your marketing reports is that $100 is going to be claimed by each of the platforms. So Google Ads is going to say, Hey, I drove $100 of revenue. Then for that same purchase, Facebook scan, say I drove $100 of revenue, and so on and so forth, each of the platforms that participated in driving that purchase is going to claim 100% credit. So for a customer that interacted with five of your marketing platforms, you’re going to have $500 of reported revenue for only $100 of actual revenue. So in your marketing reports, revenue is going to be inflated, and you have to start taking into account the overlap between the different marketing platforms.
Jason Falls 26:50
So is is using, you know, analytics platforms that have the multiple touch attribution, you know, feature the answer here or there more, more complex things that we need to be doing to solve for this problem.
Scott Harward 27:04
You know, the Google Analytics, the attribution is a great start. However, it’s it doesn’t have as much complete information. So there are revenue attribution tools out there. Most of them are enterprise level. There’s, there’s not very many that are out there for small businesses. But there are tools out there that give much more granular and much more detailed information about which marketing channels are driving revenue. So it takes that hundred dollars and it splits it up between the different platforms that participated in the in the purchase. So rather than having $500 of revenue in the report, it will only show $100 of revenue in the report and it will split it up among the channels that participated.
Jason Falls 27:57
And I guess the next big software thing is going to be whoever figures out how to do that and make it economical for medium and small businesses to get.
Scott Harward 28:06
Well, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do right now. My software as an early is in early access stage, but I have actually developed a revenue attribution tool that is meant for small to medium sized businesses.
Jason Falls 28:17
Well, excellent. Well tell us how people can find that and find you on the internet.
Jason Falls 28:34
Excellent. Scott, thanks so much for your time today appreciate you sharing all this with us.
Scott Harward 28:39
No problem. Glad I could be on the show.
Transcribed by otter.ai