While they’re still side-eyed by some industries, influencers have become an accepted part of esports marketing. Competitive gaming and online streaming both heavily emphasize content creation and individual personality. External creators can fill gaps in content and marketing and are much cheaper than full-time staff or traditional ad campaigns. For the esports industry, that means streamers, analysts, or content creators sponsored to talk about and reference your product.
Influencers’ exact impact can be difficult to gauge, especially for companies looking to integrate them into a long-term marketing strategy. While every situation is different, there are three critical metrics that esports decision-makers should judge potential influencers by; cost-effectiveness, traffic, and content creation.
The most important metric to judge influencers by is cost per engagement. How many cents (or, in the worst case, dollars) are you paying for each website visit? Picking the right audience and personality can increase cost-effectiveness, but the influencer also plays a role. Click-throughs and referral codes are better ways of tracking engagement than views or followers, though higher numbers are better in each category.
As for cost, more experienced influencers will usually be managed by an agency. Any bargaining will be done with them, and they’ll often provide a track record of previous engagement numbers. Influencers can be much cheaper than traditional ad campaigns, but their rates can vary wildly. Having an ideal price per engagement in mind can help streamline negotiations. Approaching smaller influencers directly can further reduce cost, but managing an extensive network of small influencers requires more in-house resources than a handful of prominent personalities.
The most significant advantage of influencers is their ability to leverage a preexisting audience towards your company, but that engagement can come in many forms. Many marketing services, including Google Analytics, break traffic down into three types;
- Search – Customers use a search engine to research a product or service and find your company. Search engine optimization and targeted advertising are the key to search traffic, which influencers can indirectly help with.
- Referral – Customers are directed to your site either by webpage links, which can be individually tracked. Influencers are ideal for increasing referral traffic.
- Direct – Direct traffic refers to users that go directly to your site. No search engine, no links, no ads. This traffic includes regular customers and live service users.
Each type of traffic plays a different role in gauging an influencer’s effectiveness. The goal is to turn referral traffic into direct traffic, which can be achieved by getting as many referrals as possible. Distribute unique links to each influencer and monitor the amount of referral traffic they bring in. By narrowing your data, finding your price per engagement will be much easier.
Another advantage of employing influencers is their ability to create unique advertisements without direction or company resources. For the same reason, it’s crucial to monitor an influencer’s content before and throughout a partnership. Make sure their videos, stream, or posts are suitable for your target audience and that your brand is portrayed positively.
Esports fans are particularly keen at sniffing out maladapted advertisers, so authentic content collaborations are the best way to employ influencers. A promo code for a popular streamer’s overlay is good, but a custom t-shirt or sponsored stream marathon is even better. The esports crowd is finicky, but they’ll meet you halfway if you demonstrate knowledge of the esports community through your ad.
Content quantity is important, but it’s all for nothing if it misrepresents your brand. Influencers are one cog in the social media machine, and many get blind-sided by controversy or proudly step into it. A quick search for previous scandals is highly recommended; even if they put your company in a good light, an influencer’s previous mistakes could drive away potential customers.
Written by Kenneth Williams