ROI & Influencer Marketing: Proving success is challenging but possible

Posted by Ed

For marketers, being able to measure return on investment (ROI) is an integral part of proving the success of a campaign strategy - but this isn’t always easy, particularly when it comes to working with influencers. Influencer marketing is a great way of gaining public attention for your brand, but it’s harder to fully gauge the value of influencer campaigns than it is for other marketing strategies.

Iron on table with note
Photo credit: Campaign Creators

The difficulty lies in the fact that campaigns with influencers tend to run without a set start or end date, meaning they have to be consistently monitored over time. Plus, they have a whole load of measurable metrics - each of which only shows us part of the picture.

That said, influencer marketing is noticeably gaining in popularity, with reportedly 80% of brands having a dedicated budget for it this year. But for marketers, the question remains - how can you determine the success of a campaign when ROI is so hard to quantify? Ultimately, the ROI of an influencer marketing campaign is possible to prove; but requires a more tailored approach to suit the campaign in question.

Sales is often thought of as the most direct measurement of campaign success. However, with influencer marketing, sales aren’t very clear cut. Even if you’re using trackable links or something to that effect, you can still only capture a small part of the whole story- campaign links will only clock those purchases made as a direct result of the influencer campaign, and doesn’t take into account people who were influenced, but bought later and didn’t use the specific trackable link. This poses a bit of a challenge for marketers who place sales high on their priority list. However, there are effective solutions that only require adding a couple of extra details; for instance, using things like unique discount codes or running brand collabs will make it more obvious where your influencer campaign has had an impact on consumers.

With all this said, sales aren’t the only useful measurement; in a 2018 survey, most marketers actually put engagement and clicks as the top two performance indicators. Influencer campaigns present the opportunity to go after objectives outside of sales and focus on more long term goals like awareness or perception. If a brand wants to increase awareness, then keeping an eye on engagement, clicks and impressions is one of the best ways to gauge success. Similarly, manageable metrics like growth of followers, traffic and visibility are great benchmarks when seeing how much impact an influencer campaign is really having. Whilst it’s true that ascertaining ROI for these kinds of metrics is more challenging, they will often prove more useful than measuring conversions. If need be, you can even assign a monetary value to these kinds of metrics in order to prove the ROI. For example, you could attribute values on a ‘cost per’ basis meaning you’d measure the cost per click or cost per follower etc. As mentioned, this is less straightforward than it would be for other marketing techniques but if you really want to prove the true value of an influencer campaign, it’s well worth the effort.

Ultimately, the most important thing for any marketer running an influencer campaign is to be clear from the start which objectives will be prioritised, whilst being as specific and realistic as possible. Measuring the ROI of an influencer campaign, though difficult, doesn’t have to be a complete headache. The thing to remember is that it’s possible to gauge success, not by focussing entirely on sales, but by looking at a combination of other metrics. When it comes down to it, an influencer campaign is a unique opportunity to work on more than one marketing objective, and when it’s done well, can result in a great ROI with a massive boost for your brand.