The influencer marketing industry is continuing to grow, predicted to reach a whopping $21.2 billion by the end of 2023. Businesses of all shapes and sizes, across all industries are leveraging the marketing strategy to boost brand awareness, drive sales, and build more authentic connections with their customers.
And there’s a reason the industry is growing at such an impressive rate: influencer marketing works. Numerous studies show that influencer marketing generates impressive return on investment (ROI), with the top 13% of brands earning up to $20 for every $1 spent.
But while there are remarkable stats out there, for individual brands and marketing teams calculating influencer marketing ROI can be a challenge. This is because influencer marketing typically spans a variety of short-term and long-term goals, often largely centered on driving brand awareness, which is notoriously difficult to measure.
Fortunately, when it comes to influencer marketing ROI, we know a thing or two. For nearly 10 years, we’ve been working directly with brands of all sizes and sectors to build and scale their influencer marketing campaigns.
Here’s a few things we know to be true:
- There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to calculating influencer marketing ROI. The impact of your influencer campaign is dependent on your goals and the stage of your business.
- Traditionally, marketers think that influencer ROI is solely defined by short-term, immediate sales. Other brands measure the ambiguous ‘brand awareness’ metric without being clear on what that actually means for long-term ROI. While we encourage our clients to have a primary key performance indicator (KPI), limiting your campaign goals doesn’t allow you to understand the full-funnel impact of your influencer marketing activations.
To extrapolate true influencer marketing ROI, brands need to understand how to shape their influencer marketing strategy based on short-term and long-term campaign goals and how they can work together. In this article, we lay out the metrics you need to track in order to effectively measure influencer marketing ROI.
Why Measure Influencer Marketing ROI?
But first, why do we need to measure influencer marketing ROI in the first place? Well, when it comes to influencer marketing specifically, there are a few reasons:
To secure buy-in from senior management
For many companies, influencer marketing can still be a relatively new marketing channel. This can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, there are no prior expectations – you have the opportunity to really impress with your initial results. But on the other hand, it can be met with some initial skepticism, especially if your prime goals are brand awareness and engagement, which can be difficult to show impact for in the short term.
This is why it helps to have a clear idea of the metrics you’re using to measure influencer marketing ROI across a range of goals, and know how to present these in a way that really showcases impact. We’ll come to metrics shortly, but where presentation is concerned, our campaign wrap deck is a great resource to copy and save for later!
To do more of what works
Measuring the ROI of your influencer marketing campaigns also allows you to really get under the skin of the activity that’s working best for you. Are you seeing particularly strong results from an affiliate marketing campaign? Or perhaps a new brand ambassador program has prompted a serious uplift in awareness and sales?
This is your chance to leverage those results and double down on the best-performing activity for your brand. And, with the help of your campaign wrap deck, you can highlight these findings to your top team and maybe even walk away with some extra budget to make it happen!
To reward your top creators
On a similar vein, while measuring influencer marketing ROI allows you to see which parts of your influencer program are driving the best results, it also allows you to understand which of your creators are delivering the most bang for your buck. You can reward top-performing influencers, nurture relationships, and explore new ways to turn these creators into long-term brand partnerships.
How to Measure Influencer Marketing ROI for 4 Key Goals
Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty of measuring influencer marketing ROI across 4 key objectives:
1. Immediate Sales
At the end of the day, every marketer’s goal is to drive sales. And when it comes to sales, all of your efforts will contribute in some way: whether long-term sales as a result of brand-building initiatives, or short-term, direct sales tracked through unique links and promo codes.
For that reason, your sales ROI covers all purchases that can be directly attributed back to influencer marketing. Most often, brands use promo codes, analytics, and tracking links like UTM or Bitly to track influencer-driven sales.
Of course, every brand wants to track sales — but we recommend that brands really consider whether sales should be the main objective to measure influencer marketing ROI. Certain brands are better positioned to drive direct, trackable sales through influencers:
- Brands with a lower purchase point
- Ecommerce brands with a short customer journey (i.e., fashion brands, makeup, etc.)
- Brands that are established on social media and have social media storefronts
- Brands that have already achieved awareness and affinity with their target audience
- Brands that can offer exclusive discounts through influencers that are not available elsewhere
Direct sales metrics to evaluate:
- Unique links: A specific, trackable link so that you can attribute where visits originate using Google Analytics and other tracking software
- Promo codes: A distinctive discount code, usually personalized to an influencer
In addition, savvy brands are boosting sales through branded content ads. This is when brands repurpose high-performing influencer content for paid ads across Facebook and Instagram. The combination of engaging, authentic content with hyper-focused audience targeting can increase purchase outcomes by up to 82%.
2. Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is a measure of how familiar your target audience is with your brand and how well they recall it after it’s been prompted. For example, if you were asked to name a skincare brand, what would be top of mind? We’re willing to bet Neutrogena, Olay, or Glossier would be at the top of the list. That’s because these companies have excellent brand visibility.
Neutrogena has many brand partners, like @hydrationceo, that help it achieve this status of brand awareness.
It’s important to note that you don’t have to be a household name to focus on brand awareness. You could be a smaller, more niche brand that wants to focus on awareness within a specific target audience. Great examples of this are Bluem and HERBIVORE, skincare brands who have built a strong presence in the sustainable skincare space, a smaller subset of the entire skincare market.
Your ROI on a brand awareness campaign is the number of new potential customers who become aware of your brand or product through the campaign you’re running. This can be tracked with metrics like reach and impressions on posts, as well as follower growth and organic website traffic on your owned channels.
To summarize, brand awareness should be a primary KPI for:
- Brands entering a new market
- Smaller brands in crowded markets
- High-consideration purchase brands (i.e., expensive tech or furniture)
- Brands with long or time-based sales cycles (i.e., pregnancy products or cold & flu remedies)
If your brand does not fit into these categories, what you may actually need to focus on is brand engagement and affinity — but more on that in the next section).
Some brand awareness metrics to evaluate:
- Impressions: the number of times social media users have been shown your content
- Reach: the number of unique people who have seen your content
- Branded search volume - the number of people who are searching for your brand’s name
- Social media mentions: the number of people who are directly mentioning your brand on a social media platform
- Traffic: the number of people overall who visit your website and how many visit from a social media influencer’s post
3. Brand Engagement
While it’s important for your target market to know your brand exists, you also want to inspire some kind of engagement from them too. The people who engage with you today are the people who will buy from you tomorrow.
Your ROI for a brand engagement campaign is the number of people who take action with your brand on social media platforms or on your site. This can be measured on a cost-per-engagement model with metrics such as likes, comments, retweets, post saves, clicks, and add-to-carts.
For example, Glossier partnered with @daniellemarcan to boost its engagement and received nearly 18k likes and 120 comments on its Instagram post.
Again, you don’t need to be a huge brand like Glossier to use brand engagement as a long-term growth indicator. The Bouqs Company measured likes and new followers as an indicator of long-term sales.
Brand engagement is the hero metric for long-term ROI, as it will help you forecast growth over time. Engagement metrics, such as comments and saves, are a strong indicator of brand love and can show purchase intent from existing and new customers. If you’re seeing high engagement, there’s a chance that it could translate into sales down the road.
Increasing engagement and affinity is crucial for:
- All brands! This is a necessary goal for long-term growth.
- Brands looking to redefine their image or launch a new product — engagement is a good measure of how people respond to your new approach.
Brand engagement metrics to evaluate:
- Engagement on social posts: the number of likes, shares, comments, etc.
- Social post saves: the number of people who save your posts to access later
- CPE: cost per engagement
- Email subscriber count: growth of your email list
- Follower growth on social channels
- Add-to-cart: the number of people who add a product to their cart
It’s important to note that you’re not just looking at the engagement on your influencers’ posts. Monitor how their engagement impacts engagement rates on your own channels — not just your social channels but your website as well. A successful influencer marketing campaign will yield engagement everywhere: TikTok, Instagram, and even LinkedIn. You want to see people talking about your brand anywhere sales happen.
4. Influencer-Generated Content
Influencer-generated content (IGC) is an essential yet often overlooked way of measuring the ROI of influencer marketing. IGC refers to the images, videos, and other creative assets that influencers develop, usually in partnership with a brand.
Note: You can also get user-generated content (UGC) from brand fans. If you notice a creator making content about your brand, make sure to promote it, as Glossier did.
IGC can have an impact on your entire marketing funnel and is an incredibly powerful added bonus on top of the ROI you see from visibility, engagement, and sales.
There are several benefits to influencer-generated content:
- Influencer content is extremely high-performing. In fact, 60% of marketers reported better performance with influencer content compared to their own branded content. Additionally, nearly 90% said, “the ROI achieved from influencer marketing is comparable or superior to other marketing channels.”
- By repurposing influencer content across various channels — including emails, paid ads, website, out-of-home activations, or your branded social media channels — you can support every single stage of the funnel with eye-catching, high-quality content. And it costs you less money. In fact, over the last year, brands cut 52% from their content creation spend by repurposing influencer content on their marketing channels.
- Negotiating rights to an influencer’s content is drastically more cost-effective and less time-consuming than a full-blown professional studio shoot.
So, how do you calculate content ROI for influencer-generated content?
Firstly, you need to consider the money you’ve saved on content production. This includes the money you would have spent on actually creating the content (filming, photography, writing, talent, location, etc.) as well as the designing and licensing. Dig out the costs from a previous campaign and compare these to the amount spent on influencer content and ad placement.
Next, it’s time to consider impact. Which generated a better return on your objectives? Prompted more follows? Add-to-carts? Sales? Revenue? Then simply compare the costs gained to the costs saved and voila – you’ve worked out the overall ROI for your influencer-generated content.
Here’s a summary of data points to consider when calculating the ROI of your IGC.
- Total media value
- Content performance across channels
- Costs saved by generating content through influencers
- Time saved by generating content through influencers
See how Icon Fitness leveraged influencer-generated content to increase their content ROI by 10x and boosted ROAS by 5x all while saving over $10K on content creation costs.
Start Measuring Influencer Marketing ROI Like a Pro
Ultimately, influencer marketing can support a wide range of key marketing objectives. By understanding the full impact of these programs and setting realistic goals, you will clearly see the potential to skyrocket business growth with influencer partnerships.
Before launching an influencer marketing campaign, define your objectives. Focus on the stage of your business, the price of your product, and the sales cycle you follow. Then, track both the quantitative KPIs (i.e., number of likes, sales, etc.) as well as the qualitative data (i.e., comment sentiment, follower authenticity, etc.) to extrapolate the true value of your influencer programs.
If you’d like help tracking campaign success and analyzing your ROI, consider a platform designed for influencer marketing success. Book a demo to see how an influencer marketing platform can help you understand influencer marketing ROI, or connect with one of Aspire’s expert strategists today.
Need help running your first influencer marketing campaign? Check out A step-by-step guide to running an influencer campaign for a full rundown.