One way to monetise your blog is through working with brand partners.
This could be anything from sponsored content and affiliate promotions through to ongoing ambassadorships or sponsorships. In any case, there are a number of factors I consider when it comes to determining if a blogger is “influential” and can be successful in securing an opportunity with a brand.
As you would expect, metrics tell part of that story, so let’s take a look at them using a framework I thought I came up with, but has also been neatly described by Nielsen as the 3 Rs – Reach, Resonance, Reaction. I actually use at least one more R for Relevance which we’ll cover later.
How many people in the target audience is the blogger reaching?
Potential Reach and Actual Reach are two types of metrics to consider and not all platforms will provide you with both.
Most traditional marketing channels report potential reach, for example, circulation numbers for a newspaper. Your ad or story could potentially be seen by 300,000 people because that’s the number of copies distributed, and may or may not include a multiplier for ‘pass-along readership’ ie the number of people who might read the same copy.
Thankfully digital media gives us a more granular view, with not only potential reach, but also the actual reach of our content. Using a few platform examples (not an exhaustive list) below we can see the difference.
Does the content and message resonate with the audience so that they engage, remember or, ideally, change their attitudes or behaviour because of it?
Resonance is one of the main reasons brands work with influencers – their connection to their audience, their ability to tell a story that resonates with their audience far more than a branded message could, and the effect of their authority or trusted voice on the beliefs and actions of their readers.
The more your content resonates with your audience the more likely they will be to engage with it, and those metrics are easily tracked as dwell time, likes, comments, shares and click throughs.
Google Analytics: Time on Page (dwell time), % of return visitors (the higher the better), comments, social shares (to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc), some blog platforms have ‘likes’ which you can also include. Facebook: Likes, Comments, Shares, Link Clicks Twitter: Likes, Replies (comments), Retweets (shares) Pinterest: Likes, Comments, Pins/Saves (shares) Instagram: Likes, Comments, Tag in comments (shares)
A bit about link clicks – if your content has resonated to the extent that your audience follows a link to the brand or branded content, this is a great result. Make sure you capture it either by using a tracking link provided by the brand, or one you can track yourself like Bitly. You can use these links in your blog post and social posts to show click throughs and also to work out the click through rate ie the number of people who clicked the link divided by the number of people who viewed the content.
Is there a measurable outcome in the change of attitude or behaviour of the audience?
All influencer campaigns are done to achieve some kind of reaction, whether it is awareness, acquisition (ie leads) or sales. It is at this point that you as a blogger/influencer are less able to measure the outcomes. It is here where rubber meets the road and the brand can determine if they got a return on their investment. However, you should still have an understanding of what actions you can drive that they will ultimately measure at their end.
Awareness – obviously the more people who see the message, the more likely they will be aware of it. However, reach or impression numbers alone do not prove this outcome. A brand could look at things like increases in branded search terms, mentions of their brand on social media, unprompted recall, how they heard about the brand.
One way you can help is to survey your own readers and ask if they were aware of the brand before you mentioned it, and or have bought since you mentioned it.
Acquisition – this could be driving your audience to register their email with the brand, either via a competition, to download a bonus, to sign up for their newsletter. The brand needs to track where these sign ups are coming from to attribute the activity to your campaign and work out the cost per lead.
Sales – did your audience buy something? This can be tracked with a promo code for online purchases, an affiliate link, a printed voucher for in-store purchases, or a simple ‘how did you hear about us’ at point of purchase.
I mentioned earlier that I use more than just the 3Rs above. Before you look at any of those Rs, the first lesson is to understand that the same blogger will not be influential in all situations. So your first job is always to show a brand how relevant you are to the opportunity on the table.
Relevance will depend on the opportunity itself. Two main indicators of relevance will be:
Who is the brand targeting? The more specific you can get the more chance you can show how relevant you are over the next blogger. We’re not just talking about women aged 24-45 – that’s pretty much most blog readers! What kind of women, what life stage are they at specifically, what problems is the brand trying to solve for them? Then look at your own data for your audience and see how many similarities you can draw between the target audience and your audience. Some places you can look without getting too technical are:
Google Analytics Country and or even City data:
Facebook Insights “People” will give you a demographic overview for gender, age and location:
So, if the brief is to attract women in Melbourne to a local event, you can give them specific data on your blog and Facebook reach specifically for Melbourne. Another way to get a more specific profile of your most loyal readers is to survey them annually. This is a great way to get basic demographic data (like education, income and family size/makeup) as well as the psychographic and specific sociographic profiles of your blog readers (their attitudes, interests and lifestyle choices). For example, your survey may tell you your typical blog reader is 25, single, cashed up and loves coming to you for fashion advice because she’s too busy to try and figure out what to buy herself (Ka-ching! by the way!).
You can then use a combination of the above data to show how relevant your audience is to the brand’s target audience.
The second factor that determines how relevant you are is the overall objective for the brand. What kind of position are you in to drive the specific outcome they’re after? As mentioned earlier, brands work with influencers, bloggers and media sites for awareness, acquisition, sales. Some more specific examples are as follows.
a) Awareness Objective: The brand is running a general awareness campaign and want major reach for an emotive piece written from your perspective. They need blog post views.
What bloggers usually rely on: Monthly Unique Visitors
What you need to show: How many Unique Visitors (relevant to the audience profile) you can deliver to a single blog post – not just your blog. Work out your average unique views per post based on a range of other sponsored posts, and show them some examples and results of similar posts you’ve written.
They need you to know you can drive a direct response to the blog post, perhaps in conjunction with a social network like Facebook or your email list. Show them where your traffic is coming from and that your ‘big numbers’ are not just search traffic to one well ranking post.
For extra brownie points: Show how engaged they are with your posts using your averages for the Resonance metrics such time spent on page, comments, shares.
b) Acquisition Objective: The brand is trying to establish itself on Instagram and an increase in the brand’s followers will be a key performance indicator of the campaign.
What bloggers usually rely on: Media kit vanity metrics ie number of Instagram followers
What you need to show: Anyone can buy or ‘game’ Instagram followers. Your first task is to differentiate yourself from these types of accounts. Whilst the number of followers you have on Instagram will be important, the outcome here isn’t how many people might see your post – it’s how many people will click over to the brand’s account and follow them. Show the brand how engaged your audience is with your content with average likes and comments for your posts. Even better, show them the metrics for other sponsored posts you’ve done.
For extra brownie points: Show them examples of when you’ve done shout outs for other accounts/brands on Instagram. Use screenshots and ask for testimonials. We’re straying outside of just quantitative metrics here and into qualitative data to support how relevant you are to their campaign.
All of the above should give you a solid basis to create a pitch to a brand that goes way beyond what a standard media kit can do. In fact I’m not actually much of an advocate for media kits for influencers. Remember, when you’re pitching for an opportunity for a brand, your biggest challenge is to differentiate yourself from other bloggers and all a standard media kit does is show one blogger’s audience is bigger or smaller than another’s.
Get smarter and use the metrics and evidence you have at hand to show how you are more relevant than all the others. At the very least, by giving them access to a deeper level of data, you may educate them to start asking the same of other bloggers and that could very well be in your favour!