Originally published on ION.

(Editor’s note: AList is published by a.network. To get up to speed on the rapid changes affecting the influencer marketing landscape, click here.)

As influencer marketing investment is expected to reach $10 billion by 2021, better data and campaign measurement are critical to hitting the nail on the head with influencer activations. And while marketers’ confidence in influencer marketing is growing, brands still have some lessons to learn in terms of what not to do if they’re to achieve full return on investment. 

We spoke with Mike Heller, the CEO of Talent Resources, about the mistakes brands make with influencer marketing, and what to do instead. Keep reading for Heller’s tips on growing influencer marketing campaign success.

How are marketers missing the mark in terms of driving ROI on influencer campaigns?

Aligning influencers with a brand by audience and true social interest. Where influencer marketers are missing the mark in terms of driving ROI most often stems from not properly putting data tools to use when pairing an influencer with a brand or product. The most successful influencer and brand partnerships use data to inform campaigns. If you’re not measuring the outcomes of your influencer campaigns to optimize for the next, you’ll be missing your own mark as well as the opportunity to improve ROI.

What’s one thing marketers are doing wrong with influencer marketing on Instagram/Stories and Snapchat, respectively? And what should they be doing instead?

Stories on Instagram and Snapchat stories are each steps behind in the customer journey on Instagram. Utilizing these tools can seem like a space to run transient partnered content, but you should use Story frames to pre-qualify followers for the end call to action (CTA). Make sure your influencer is methodically walking their followers through story frames while providing context to the final sell, which will keep interest high toward conversion.

In terms of measuring success of influencer-led campaigns, what are marketers having the most difficulty with?

Measuring conversions are one thing, the challenge comes when it’s time to measure retention, both in the short term and more specifically in the longer term. Common question: How can you attribute new fans to past influencer marketing campaigns?

Given its nascence, TikTok influencer marketing is uncharted territory for some brands. What do marketers have to know before spending influencer marketing budget on TikTok activations?

Know that if you’re leaping into TikTok, a sizable budget will at best help complement any brand awareness initiatives. Conversions and true measurements of success with engaging TikTok influencers are still to be seen, despite interest from brands in engaging in what may be a fad.

Influencer marketing on YouTube can be daunting for some marketers given the lack of a centralized influencer marketplace on the platform. What advice would you give to marketers who are reluctant to get on board with YouTube?

Brands looking to convey a message or promote a product and have it linger in consumers’ minds would be wise to test the YouTube waters. On the Google-owned video platform, influencers have more time to genuinely connect with consumers and actually have their messages be heard, differing from Instagram, where just 60 percent of stories are viewed with the sound on. 

Marketers should consider two popular types of influencer activations, Direct Response (DR) and Brand Awareness. Campaigns are generally a mix of the two. It’s a right of passage for many YouTubers to start producing direct response campaigns. YouTube makes these campaigns especially easy due to the handy inclusion of the “Link in Description.” Creators can ask their audience to click on the link to achieve the brand’s conversion goal. These DR campaigns can be placed further up the marketing funnel when used to generate leads or newsletter sign-ups. They can also be the bottom of the funnel when the influencer specifically asks the viewer to buy the sponsor’s product/service. 

Brand awareness campaigns get new fans to enter the top of your funnel, a great entry as fans have a personal connection with their favorite creators. Aside from the influencer being required to disclose the sponsorship, the creator’s brand awareness ad can feel more like one friend recommending something to another.

Which platform or channel has the steepest learning curve for influencer marketing today?

Inherently, a new platform with new functions such as TikTok would present the steepest learning curve both for influencer marketing and users alike. Being said, just because influencer marketing has been a practice through Instagram for some time already doesn’t mean the learning curve has flattened out. Instagram as a platform changes so frequently that there’s always a learning curve with influencer marketing, that’s what makes the landscape on one platform alone so exciting.

Where’s the most growth potential for influencer marketing?

As far as platforms, Instagram remains the space with the most potential for growth of influencer marketing. Regarding growth for ongoing campaign success, the opportunity is with the agencies who are focused on data-informed decisions and use a minimum of two software partners to do so. 

We may have come to find the best influencer marketing strategies on Instagram for today, but influencer marketing on Instagram will only grow greater and greater in new solutions. The next frontier of growth for potential influencer marketing won’t necessarily be a direct pivot to a new platform as much as it will be enhanced campaigning, more sophisticated based on data that’s increasingly becoming available through our own technology and previous influencer marketing efforts.