AN INFLUENCER’S GUIDE TO INFLUENCER MARKETING ROI (HOW BRANDS MEASURE SUCCESS)
There is a huge misconception by a lot of companies that working with influencers is like waving a magic wand… with one poof, all their problems will be fixed!
We often have to be the bearer of bad news and explain to brands that working with influencers does not mean an automatic increase in sales or bookings and there are way more things to consider and value when determining influencer marketing ROI.
Here at Sidewalker Daily, we work with brands on their influencer marketing initiatives but we also provide one-on-one coaching for influencers so we really understand their needs as business owners and creators. While there are tons of articles on the internet about influencer marketing ROI, we want to speak directly to the Instagram influencers and creators to give you valuable insight into how brands actually measure success in our industry.
We truly believe knowledge is power, and the more you know about how companies value your work, the better equipped you’ll be to land brand partnerships.
But First, Let’s Define Influencer Marketing ROI
Whenever you hear the term ROI – this is an abbreviation for the phrase, “Return On Investment.” It’s an industry term that brands use to measure if the funds they are investing into marketing initiatives were worth it based on their goals as a company.
Basically, if a brand is paying you for your work as an influencer (either monetary compensation or trade) it’s an investment for them. Instead of spending that budget on other marketing avenues such as Facebook ads, they spent it on you! So that means, they will expect to see a positive ROI from the work that you do. At the end of the day, brands (no matter the size) do not have unlimited budgets so they need to spend their money wisely.
ROI is important to brands because they are running a business and businesses are in the business of making money – so basically, just breaking even isn’t a win. Companies need to show a positive return in order to feel like an influencer initiative, project or campaign was successful.
One of our favorite influencer marketing stats is from a study done in 2015 by influencer marketplace Tomoson. They surveyed 125 marketers and found out the average ROI from their influencer marketing was on average, $6.50 for every $1 invested. That’s 6 times their investment, which is considered huge.
This means that when done correctly, brands can see a big ROI in their influencer marketing initiatives. And when brands see that influencer marketing yields high ROI we should all jump for joy because it not only strengthens the validity of our industry but also means the company will likely create more influencer marketing opportunities in the future…which means more work for all of you!
Understanding The “Investment” Part In ROI For Travel Partnerships
Let’s just have an off the record conversation really quick. We find that some travel influencers don’t fully understand what it costs to send them on a trip. When a hotel, travel brand or tourism board sends you on a press trip it is usually EXPENSIVE. Imagine how much you pay out of pocket just to book a trip to a nearby state or another country.
With press trips, these are things that are typically covered (which all add up trust us):
- Luggage Fees
- Tour Guide
- Welcome Gifts
And while some trips have multiple partners who are sharing costs, the total value is typically a lot. So basically even when you are accepting a press trip, the company or organization sending you on the trip is using their marketing budget to pay for you to travel (and everything else that goes with it).
So when figuring out the ROI that the company is looking for, a good place to start is figuring out the total value of the trip. Is the trip a $2,500 trip? $5,000 trip? $10,000 trip? If you were allowed to bring a plus one, don’t forget to factor in the costs for them too. And even though it was a trade, the brand is looking to recoup that value (and more) with the deliverables you will be providing so keep that in mind. :)
And since many times press trips or travel based influencer initiatives are unpaid (and we completely understand you guys can’t pay your rent with free trips), we’ve created a list of ideas on how you can leverage your travels to earn some money along the way!
How Brands Track Influencer Marketing ROI
Fully capturing the ROI of an influencer campaign isn’t always as simple as tracking sales and conversions. There are less tangible metrics that also need to be considered. Whether your brand partners want to see an increase in brand awareness or engagement, collect re-usable pieces of content for their social media or online marketing initiatives, or be part of the social media conversations, the metrics used for calculating influencer marketing ROI can vary widely.
So we’re sharing some of the types of metrics brands use to measure success and an influencer’s impact to help you better understand what they’re looking for and also help you figure out what to include in your partnership report and even case study!
AUDIENCE REACH: Some brands will measure a campaign based on the audience reach of the influencers they work with. This approach can be really tricky. Let’s say you have 250,000 followers, but only 15,000 people are seeing your posts (impressions), then it should be based off impressions – not total audience count. This goes for micro influencers too. If you have 20,000 followers but are receiving a super high number of impressions per post, it’s important to let the brands know this as well. Also, audience reach doesn’t take into account reshare accounts. If you have 30,000 followers, but Beautiful Destinations, an account with 3 million, reposts one of your photos, this is also super valuable to the brand.
IMPRESSIONS: We love measuring campaigns by impressions because it’s a certified eyeball that saw the post. We don’t value impressions as high as we value engagements, but at least with impressions on social it’s a tangible metric. As an influencer, you can be like X number of people saw this post and feel good about it.
ENGAGEMENTS: Likes, comments, and saves oh my! True engagements on your account are really exciting for a brand because it shows them that people are reacting to what you’re posting/talking about. If you’re in a comment pod on Instagram where you and other friends are doing comments for comments, then obviously this devalues the engagement. Something you should also consider is that the more you grow on Instagram, the lower your engagement may be. Once you’re at a certain “social media celebrity” level, people may not like your content or comment because they don’t think you’ll ever notice or see it, verses when you’re engaging with a smaller account. Another Instagram engagement we absolutely love is “saves” – which is something a brand can’t see on the front end but only you can via a business account. We look at saves as a “super like” because people are saving the content for later, which shows they are highly interested in it. This is especially important for travel “products” because travel is such a long lead purchase. People don’t just book a trip on the spot, so a save is a great indicator for potential future bookings.