For decades, especially before the Internet age, the impact of performance marketing on businesses was immeasurable. Like, literally immeasurable. Without a ton of data as evidence for every recommendation and sale, who knows how well it really works? There was a time when it didn’t matter if you had hard data to prove its success. The very nature of performance marketing is almost risk-free: referrals from your partners are ads, and you only pay when a sale is made.
However, as we learned in the early 2000s, digital technology is the peanut butter of performance marketing chocolate. They are two great flavors that taste great together. In fact, they taste better together because the peanut butter cups don’t provide an in-depth analysis of how good it actually tastes.
In 2010, a group of marketing veterans joined forces to launch Impact Radius, a performance marketing platform designed to take the practice to the next level. Not only do they want to make it easier for their customers, but they also want to make it easier for the industry as a whole. At launch, founder Lisa Riolo describe so:
Our industry has traditionally embraced a “black box” approach to conducting business, hiding relationships and containing critical information… We follow a “clear box” philosophy, designing tools and technologies for media partners and advertisers to identify opportunities, Define their relationship directly and connect in a profitable way.
With the introduction of Impact Radius, marketers can easily implement affiliate marketing campaigns at scale, truly putting “performance” into “performance marketing.” Over time, the company acquired complementary products to round out its offerings—fraud detection solutions and an AI-powered cross-channel analytics platform. By 2018, all of these products were consolidated into a single platform, renamed Impact.com – a collaboration platform.
With a trajectory like this, it was only a matter of time before impact.com introduced influencer marketing into its suite of tools. Influencers straddle two worlds, serving as social media spokespersons and commissioned sales ambassadors. In 2020, impact.com acquired Activate, a mature and successful influencer marketplace with high-profile clients such as Tinder, Olay, Reebok, and Brooks Brothers. If the acquisition didn’t generate instant credibility in the influencer space, the many improvements they’ve made since then certainly have. With an eye toward partnership performance and influencer marketing, impact.com adds features like content amplification, a UGC library, and integration with Shopify. There’s more to come as Activate integrates into its new corporate family, but the truth is it’s sure to have an impact.
Summary: Quick Jump Menu
Impact.com does not share pricing for any of its products, and the influencer platform is no exception. Although it is software-as-a-service, no information is provided about the different subscription levels, if any. After you’ve seen the demo, you may get pricing tailored to your specific needs.
What’s most impressive about the Impact.com influencer platform isn’t any single feature or innovation. Rather, it’s how all functions work together and create an incredibly cohesive whole. This is not surprising, given Impact’s experience with affiliate marketing, whose terms rely on a series of If/Then statements (“If X is referred by Y and buys Z, reward X with discount A and reward Y with bonus B ”). Impact.com’s ability to create a complete platform that can parse a confusing workflow across multiple channels and then report it accurately is ubiquitous on its influencer platform.
If you’re familiar with how marketplaces work, you’ll soon be rooted in the impact UI. You can start a search of impact.com’s opt-in influencer network, or search the world for influencers in the wild. If you do find someone who hasn’t been affected, you’ll need to invite them to the platform before they can work with you. You can also bypass discovery and directly create campaigns that influencers can apply for (they will interact with you using Impact.com’s mobile app). These campaigns are easy to set up while enabling you to create a detailed scope of work using a variety of deliverables (across Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Facebook) and pay conditions. If you want, you can set up a traditional influencer campaign this way all day, every day, and it might be very successful. However, you can do so much more with your influence.
When creating a campaign, you can choose not just to be successful once and for all. You can also set yourself up for future success. As part of each campaign’s terms and conditions, you will define default usage rights for any content. For every bit of content your influencers upload for each campaign, Influence keeps a copy in what’s called a media library. Vaults are searchable – you can add additional tags and identifiers to help find these later – and you can repurpose any content you see fit based on usage rights.
Impact.com also has a survey feature. Just like an event, you can create a survey that is broadcast to the influencer community and anyone can choose to participate. As with any campaign, you can also share these surveys only to specific influencers of your choice. No matter what your survey target audience is, the idea is the same: learn more about the people who are interested in your brand. The purpose can be purely for relationship management purposes: learn specific information about the influencer, note it on their profile, and then use their answers as criteria for future activity (e.g., each answer “Do you like pineapple on pizza?” ?”) can be added to campaigns targeting consumers with poor taste). You can also use the survey to capture influencers’ preferences for any product they might be interested in getting as compensation. When you give gifts to influencers? Integration with your e-commerce platform simplifies selection and fulfillment, as you probably already have some people and processes in place to get products to people who order from you.
This ecommerce integration lets you get more than a simple gift. Influencer marketing has long gone beyond the mere mechanism of increasing brand awareness. It’s not uncommon to mobilize influencers as virtual salespeople, offer them promo codes or custom links and track their results. Working with influencers and paying them performance fees does sound like an influencer would be a good boost, doesn’t it? This rhetorical question highlights why adding influencer marketing to its already robust suite of marketing tools is such a natural influencer development. It also hints at the thoroughness of influencer performance reporting on the platform. All of this, and more, works on a platform that can easily manage and even automate campaigns at scale — not an empty phrase when you’re talking about so many different moving parts.
If the idea of mass management and automation seems to be the opposite of the idea of partnership –How do you build meaningful relationships at scale?– Rest assured, you’re not the only one who thinks this way. This may be what helps influence beyond mere markets. This fundamental belief in partnership translates into influencing users to have the most flexibility in dealing with their partners. Contracts can be customized, and analytics help reveal the most influential partners/influencers – you’ll forgive the word. Over time, a brand will find that they have cultivated a group of influencers who really work with them because their performance requires it. It’s a hard feature to list in a matrix, but it’s what makes the impact worth your time.
Impact.com is new to the influencer marketing game, but its roots in digital marketing even predate its own inception in 2010. Some founders started the affiliate marketing network as early as 1998 – Commission Junction, now known as CJ Affiliate. Digital marketing is in the blood of company founders. With the initial launch and growth of Impact.com, its vision shifted: in 2010, it was a “performance marketing platform.” In 2018, it was a collaboration platform. In either case, the move to influencer marketing was a natural progression. We’re not surprised by its impact, and we’re even less surprised that they’re actually pretty good at it.