A North East digital technology firm is looking to build its influence across the UK marketing sector after securing a six-figure investment from the North East Growth Capital Fund Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.

Xinfluence’s proprietary software platform Xi enables brands and advertising agencies to search, engage, and collaborate with verified influencers in order to identify the most appropriate partners for their online marketing activities.

Xi uses a range of different metrics to help and maximise clients’ return on investment, and facilitates the creation of tailored marketing content for social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube from concept through to full post-campaign analytics.

The Newcastle-headquartered business, which also has a London office, is using the £200,000 investment, which was sourced though regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers, to enhance its sales and business development resources, with up to 11 new jobs expected to be created over the next two years.

Work is also continuing on the development of new technologies, with a new tool to enable brands to connect their digital marketing activities directly to sales in physical stores set to be launched later in the year.

Xinfluence was founded four years ago by brothers Mark and Paul Wright, who have five decades’ combined experience in the digital marketing, technology and sales industries.

As part of its growth strategy, the company has also brought in Gary Hunter and Sam Morton, founders of renowned affiliate marketing company The Redu Group, as non-executive directors, with a further addition to the NED team set to follow in the near future.

Support on the transaction was provided by Barry Gill of TiG Corporate Finance, with legal advice supplied to NEL Fund Managers by Zoe Ditch and Hayden Richards at Muckles LLP, and to the Xinfluence management team by Jabad Jaigirdar at JLF Law

Xinfluence director Mark Wright says: “There’s been an explosion in influencer marketing over the last few years, but brands and marketers are often still making decisions on which influencers to work with on the basis of metrics like ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ that don’t really have any substantial, measurable or reliable meaning.

“We recognised that it was too easy for companies to spend a lot of money without having any clear idea of their likely return on investment, so spent two years developing a platform that would give them access to reliable, recognisable data on which they could base their decisions.

“Auditing influencers before agreeing to consider working with them ensures that there’s a focus on quality and suitability for the job in hand, rather than just on basic numbers, and it helps budget holders identify where they’re going to get the best value for their money.

“The breadth and quality of the data we’re working with means we’re generally able to predict how successful a campaign is going to be, and we’re confident that the appetite from brands and marketers for this service is going to grow substantially and quickly.

“It’s important for any funder to get a firm grasp on what a company is looking to do right from the off.  The NEL investment team understood what we were about straight away and we’re very pleased to have them as part of our continuing growth journey.”

Jane Siddle, senior investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Xinfluence provides the type of detailed insight that could make a huge difference to the impact of digital marketing activity and has a robust business plan in place for how this insight is going to be delivered.”

The North East Growth Capital Fund has been designed to create around 790 jobs in more than 70 regional firms over the life of the programme and offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.

The overarching £130m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

NEL Fund Managers is also responsible for managing the £9m North East Small Loan Fund, which typically offers loans of up to £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.