4 Best Influencer Marketing Research Tools + A Simple Guide (2021)

In this guide, we’re looking at influencer marketing research, what it entails, and the tools you can use to create the most successful campaigns for your business.

Influencers allow you to reach a huge, engaged and receptive, audience. With the rise of social media, influencer marketing has become a mainstream and extremely effective marketing channel.

The 2020 Influencer Marketing Survey by SocialPubli states that 89.2% of marketers found influencer marketing to be highly effective and 42% of marketer’s found it to be the best return on investment when compared to paid advertising, SEO, and email marketing.

A survey by MediaKix found that 71% of marketers agree that the quality of the customers generated from influencer marketing is higher than those generated by other types of marketing.

A successful influencer marketing strategy requires a solid foundation, built on solid research. This includes careful planning, identifying and knowing your audience well, and doing detailed influencer research.

With the proliferation of influencer marketing campaigns, data analysis has become an essential part of the process. Influencer marketing research is the key to success and obtaining a competitive edge.

Doing thorough research is essential for finding great content ideas, insights from other successful campaigns, detailed audience targeting, and finding the best influencers to work with. 

Using insights from verified data is the key to finding the best strategies for your brand, the right niche audiences, and of course, the best influencers for your unique brand. 

So, let’s dive in! Read on for everything you need to know about influencer marketing research:

Influencer Marketing Research and Campaign Planning

Research and planning are the basis of your successful influencer marketing strategy. Here are four key aspects to consider:

1. Set Campaign Goals

Clearly define what the objectives of the campaign are, as this will inform how you approach the rest of your strategy. There are a variety of different goals you may wish to achieve. These include:

  • Increased brand awareness and recognition
  • Engagement with your brand
  • Reach targeted audiences
  • Lead generation and sales
  • Downloads, sign-ups/subscriptions, or followers
  • Collaborative, authentic content creation  
  • Improve brand reputation

What you’re aiming to achieve will define how you structure your campaign and which influencers you want to work with. If you’re looking for increased brand awareness, you will need to look at the influencer’s reach, rather than the creative quality of the content they produce.

Success is specific to your goals and if you don’t plan, you may have a great campaign that is driving metrics that aren’t a priority for you. Clearly defining your goals and considering what you will need from the influencers you work with will have a huge impact on how well you achieve your goals.  

2. Research Competitors’ Campaigns and Look at Case Studies

The recent boom in influencer marketing campaigns has generated a wealth of information and inspiration for your campaign.

Browsing on different social media platforms allows you to see what your industry and competitors are doing, which campaigns have been successful, and which ones haven’t done so well. 

For strategic and creative inspiration, look at what your competitors are doing. Look at which campaigns they had the most (and the least) success with. Consider the types of influencers they have partnered with, how they managed their collaborations in terms of content creation. This will give you insights into your industry as a whole, and current trends, as well as which strategies are working best.   

Case studies are also a great source of inspiration and a gold mine of useful information. Websites like Winky Axe, offer detailed case studies, which provide important data on what has been most successful in your niche.

3. Research Your Audience

One of the reasons influencer marketing works so well is because it allows you to reach precisely the right audience.

You have to know your audience well before you can find influencers catering to the same kinds of people. Consider your target location, age, gender, income group, etc., and set make a ‘customer persona’ to get a detailed picture of who you are trying to reach and how best to reach them.

You should also look beyond essential demographics and try to identify what their values are, what their preferences are, and which type of content resonates with them. 

You can do this by looking at who already follows and engages with you on social media, who your known customers are, and who your competitor’s fans are on social media.

Finding the right blend of things that appeal to your ideal audience can be tricky but if you’re able to find what really resonates with them, you will be able to refine your influencer marketing strategy to your best advantage.

4. Consider the Type of Influencers Best Suited to Your Campaign

This is an essential step. Choosing the right type of influencer, on the right platform, makes a huge difference to the results of your campaign.

Before you start researching individual influencers, it is important to narrow down the selection to those who will be best suited to meeting the objectives of this specific campaign. Looking at the influencers who have achieved the best results for campaigns in your niche is a great place to start.  

This largely comes down to the size of their following and the level of engagement they have with their followers.

Broadly, based on follower count, there are four types of influencers:

  • Mega-influencers: 1 million or more followers
  • Macro-influencers: 100 000 to 1 million followers
  • Micro-influencers: 1000 to 100 000 followers
  • Nano-influencers: less than 1000 followers

Within each of these segments, some influencers work on specific platforms, and some work on multiple platforms. Some will be considered authoritative ‘experts’ in certain domains and others will be seen as lifestyle icons rather than experts.

Generally, the smaller the number of followers, the higher the engagement rate is. Engagement is a particularly important aspect to consider, as it denotes a more personal relationship between the influencer and their audience, with leads to more attention, higher trust, and greater credibility for your brand.

Influencers with a higher follower count will have greater reach but lower engagement rates. Reach is good for awareness and recognition, but less effective for actions like lead generation and sales conversions.

How to Research and Choose the Best Influencers for Your Campaign

Once you have identified the type of influencer that is best suited to your campaign’s objectives, it’s time to look at the influencers within that category and find the best one for your brand.

Finding the best influencer for your campaign and your brand can be quite challenging. There are numerous things to consider, beyond budget and availability.

These range from aesthetics and content quality to personal values and authenticity. Partnering with an influencer means that your brand is tied to theirs and they will reflect on your brand outside of the campaign. Poor research can lead to less-than-ideal associations, which are difficult to remedy.

Another important aspect to consider the legitimacy of the influencer. Fraudulent accounts with bought followers and fake engagement can look deceptively authentic but partnering with those influencers will not yield results as the eyes on your content do not belong to your target audience (and often not to real people at all!).

A great way to access this is to look at the results they have achieved for similar campaigns in terms of ROI and meaningful engagement. Fraudulent accounts with fake followers may garner a high number of likes and comments but won’t achieve great results for their partners in terms of ROI and activity off the social media platform.  

With that said, the vast majority of influencers are authentic people who will be ideal for the right brand to work with. Finding the perfect match for your brand just involves due diligence and some careful research!

Influencer Marketing Research - Graph titled 'it is challenging to identify the best influencers for a campaign' from the MediaKix 2019 Survey. It shows that 61% of marketers agree that it is difficult.
Image Source

What to Consider When Doing Your Influencer Research and Selecting the Best Influencer for Your Brand:

1. Relevance and Niche

Precise targeting is one of the biggest benefits of influencer marketing. This is why it is so important to consider is how relevant the influencer is to your brand and your industry. Influencers that have already been successful in your industry are a good place to start.   

Their established content should be aligned with your products/services and their posts should speak to your ideal customers. If they’re not a great fit for your brand, it is unlikely that their followers will be your ideal audience.

No matter how big their follower base is, you won’t see great results if their followers are not the right audience for your brand. The more you’re able to drill down into your niche and the influencers in that space, the better! 

2. Style, Tone and Resonance

Look for influencers with a visual style and tone that complements your brand. Look carefully at the values they exhibit and the image and personality they present. If they’re well matched to your brand, collaborations will be congruent and come through as authentic and meaningful.

If there’s a big discrepancy between how they present themselves and your brand’s image, a collaboration will come off as insincere.

Trust and credibility are important aspects of influencer marketing. This is why it is key to use influencers that would genuinely like and support your brand.

3. Credibility and Authenticity

Have a look at the influencer’s past sponsored posts to see how they come across. They should be natural and fit well into the rest of their content.

Sponsored posts that come across as pushy or spammy will not do as well as authentically presented posts that hold genuine value for their audience.

When influencers are being authentic, they’re sharing their expertise and opinions with their audience. Their captions and comments are thoughtful and relevant.  They’re not just slapping up a post with a generic caption. 

When you’re doing your influencer marketing research, look at the comments on these posts. They will give you an indication of how their audience is receiving the content.  

4. Visual Aesthetics, Consistency and Content Quality

Partnering with an influencer gives them the freedom to create content that is attached to your brand. It is important to find influencers who will create good quality content that is a good fit for your brand identity.  When you’re doing your influencer research, look for an aesthetic that complements your brand and content that is high-quality, well-composed, consistent, and creative.

Consistency and frequency in how often they’re posting are also important. Regular activity keeps audiences engaged and active, which is what you want for your posts.

Avoid influencers who don’t post often or post erratically with long gaps between posts. There should be a balance between sponsored posts and their own content.

5. Reach

Along with engagement, reach is the main metric influencers are assessed on. Reach refers to the number of unique individuals their content can reach. The size of their following and the number of shares their content gets are the key to understanding their potential reach. As a general rule, the greater the number of followers, the greater the reach.

A high reach is important for brand awareness and recognition, audience growth, and establishing authority. However, passive reach without engagement is less effective for campaigns aimed at generating an action, like clicking on a link to your website or making a purchase.  

6. Engagement

An influencer’s engagement rate is even more important than their follower count or reach. Engagement is a metric that denotes the number of viewers who are actively engaging with their content in the form of likes, comments, and shares.

High engagement rates indicate that the content is well-received and that a large proportion of their followers are actively interacting with the content. When viewers are engaged, they’re actively processing the information in the post are more likely to retain it and to take action based on it. 

As a general rule, engagement goes down as follower count goes up. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, studies have shown that the average Instagram engagement rate for influencers with less than 2000 followers is 10.7%, whereas the rate drops to 1.5% for influencers with over a million followers.

Another thing to look out for when you’re doing your influencer research and assessing their engagement rate is to look at how much effort they put into replying to comments. Replying to comments creates a deeper relationship with their followers, which is valuable to you if they’re sharing your content. 

7. Legitimacy and Audience Quality

As influencer marketing has grown and become profitable for influencers, so have has the number of accounts with fraudulent followers and fake engagement.

This can be as simple as ‘like-for-like’ and ‘follow-for-follow’ tactics or as sophisticated as bought followers and engagement from bots. It can be difficult to assess whether an account’s followers are genuine and even fake comments can seem very authentic.

Evaluating the legitimacy of an influencer is challenging if you don’t have access to detailed data and the results they have achieved for their partners. This is an area where influencer marketing research tools are especially useful. Choosing a legitimate influencer is essential for getting results and achieving the goals of your campaign.   

The 4 Best Influencer Marketing Research Tools

Now that you have a good idea of what influencer marketing research involves, let’s look at the best tools to help you do it!

Using a great influencer marketing research tool is the key to a successful campaign and great returns on your investment. They offer immediate access to current insights, based on verified data. Some tools also offer templates and strategy suggestions, access to case studies, and insights from other campaigns.  

Once your influencer marketing campaign is running, they also offer valuable tools to track and measure your results, maintain relationships with your influencers, and detailed analytic reports.

These functions help you to manage your campaign effectively from conception to completion, as well as nurture and maintain long-term relationships with your favorite influencers.

Here are four of the best options to look at:

1. Winky Axe  

Winky Axe is a robust smart influencer marketing research tool. It allows you to find successful influencer campaign strategies based on your specific criteria, including the audience, geographical area, budget, and vertical specifications for your niche.

Winky Axe also provides detailed information, benchmarking, and case studies on similar influencer marketing campaigns that have been successful in your industry and niche. This is a great feature, which gives you useful insights into what has worked best for campaigns like yours.

Winky also provides a full campaign strategy guideline that allows you to start your campaign immediately. This cuts out a huge amount of work in the planning and structuring of your campaign. The solution is designed to generate campaign ideas that will produce the best ROI, by using precise and accurate data to build creative campaigns.

Their influencer data is based on the results an influencer produced in each campaign, which gives a valuable indication of the legitimacy of the influencer and how well they will serve your campaign.       

Winky Axe on YouTube

Key Features:

  • Campaign search engine based on niche, brand, and keywords
  • Comparison tool that allows you to compare successful, relevant, campaigns from your competitors
  • Campaign generator based on a comprehensive database of successful strategies
  • Market analysis insights from Tik Tok, Instagram, and more.
  • Suggestions for the most relevant influencers for your campaign
  • Measures Cost Per Engagement (CPE) vs. Cost Per Click (CPC) to compares your influencer marketing to other forms of digital marketing for similar campaigns.

Website: Winky Axe

2. Tagger

Tagger is a data-driven platform that allows you to plan campaigns based on their data. They offer great analytics for determining influencer legitimacy and credibility as well as detailed campaign tracking and reporting.

They’re compatible with campaigns on all major social media platforms and content types. The platform allows you to view audience metrics and various campaigns from competitors. As a data-driven solution, they’re particularly good for those who know exactly what they want and need an end-to-end solution with access to precise data.

Their large influencer database is great for finding the perfect influencers to work with and weeding out the less effective ones to partner with.

Tagger also offers a useful CRM tool to manage long-term relationships with your influencers and a social listening function.

Screenshot of the Tagger Media Influencer Marketing Research Tool Homepage
Tagger Media

Key Features:

  • Large database of influencers and useful data on each one
  • Compare competitors’ campaigns
  • Data to help you understand your audience
  • Tracking, measuring campaign reporting
  • Social listening functions
  • CRM tool

Website: Tagger  

3. Open Influence

Open Influence is an influencer marketing agency and platform, which offers a full suite of influencer marketing services. Their unique tech solution allows you to find the best influencers for your campaign and identify the top-performing creatives in your industry.

Their tool helps you track and measure your campaign to see what is working well and what needs tweaking for optimum results. As they’re also an agency, they can help you analyze and manage your campaign or they can run it for you from start to finish.

Key Features:

  • Ability to identify the optimal influencer for your need
  • Track progress and stay in control as your influencer campaigns unfold
  • Access metrics, uncover insights, and optimize campaigns
  • An agency that produces and creates campaigns for you

Website: Open Influence  

4. Creator IQ

Developed for enterprise and global organizations, Creator IQ is a powerful solution that uses data to provide create and manage influencer marketing campaigns as well as other digital marketing campaigns.

The platform offers great analytics from end-to-end. You can find the best influencers to work with, create data-driven campaigns, track and analyze your campaign and integrate to their full CRM tools to manage relationships with your influencers. 

Screenshot of the Creator IQ Influencer Marketing Research Tool Homepage
Creator IQ

Key Features:

  • Access to influencers and influencer data
  • Campaign analysis and development
  • Influencer marketing campaign management tools and CRM
  • Exceptional analytics and reporting

Website: Creator IQ  

Final Thoughts

In this guide, we have discussed the importance of influencer marketing for growth and great ROI, how to do influencer marketing research when you’re developing your influencer marketing strategy and how to find and select the best influencers for your brand.

We also covered four of the best influencer marketing research tools you can use to do your influencer research, as well as to help you develop, manage and track your campaigns. 

We have included a variety of tools so you can find the one best suited to your needs, from start-up to enterprise.  

You now have all the information you need to do effective influencer marketing research so that you can plan and execute a successful influencer marketing campaign, using the best influencers for your brand!  

References and Useful Resources

Backlinko: 38 Fascinating Influencer Marketing Statistics for 2021

Influencer Marketing Hub: 13 Influencer Marketing Trends to Watch in 2021

Fourstarzz Media: 11 Different Types of Influencers You Should Know About

Mention: 9 Examples of Amazing Influencer Outreach

Neil Patel: How Influencer Outreach Can Revive Your Content Marketing Strategy

P2P Marketing: 5 Successful Influencer Marketing Campaigns You Need to Emulate [2021]

Winky Axe: Influencer Marketing Case Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing refers to marketing, usually on social media, that uses the endorsement of influential individuals to increase brand awareness and product/service sales. Influencers are people with a large or dedicated social media following and are autorotative people within their niche. Read the full guide to learn more about influencer marketing.

What is influencer marketing research?

Influencer marketing research is the pre-campaign research that is conducted when planning an influencer marketing campaign. It includes:
1. Setting campaign goals
2. Researching competitors’ campaigns and looking at case studies of past campaigns
3. Researching your audience and identifying your specific target audience
4. Considering the type of influencers best suited to your campaign
5. Finding the best influencers for your unique campaign
To learn more about conducting influencer marketing research, check out the full guide here.

What are the best influencer marketing research tools?

Four of the best tools to use for your influencer marketing research are:
1. Winky Axe
2. Tagger Media
3. Open Influence
4. Creator IQ
Read the full guide for more info on these great tools and what they have to offer.

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