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Shreyansh Bhandari (Left), Veda Bashishtha (Right)

Return on investment (ROI) is one of the paramount metrics that marketers ought to leverage not only for influencer marketing campaigns but also for their comprehensive marketing strategy. With changing times, ROI can no longer be calculated at the end of a campaign.

With more and more brands partnering with social media influencers, influencer marketing ROI as a key performance indicator is perhaps more important than ever, for getting the most out of marketing strategies and justifying the corresponding marketing spends. 

Influencer marketing is thriving in India- the market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25% till 2025 to reach a size of Rs 2,200 crore (source- GroupM INCA's India Influencer Marketing Report). As per research undertaken by Washington State University’s Master of Business Administration program, by 2022, brands will be spending up to $ 15 billion on influencer marketing. For every dollar spent on an influencer marketing campaign, the brand earns $ 6.5. With such a high ROI, it's clear why more brands are turning to influencers. 

Even in current times, one of the biggest mistakes brands make is to forge an influencer relationship without determining a desired outcome or setting expectations. Are they looking to leverage the influencer relationship to drive brand awareness or action? How does the influencer measure engagements with brands with one or both of those outcomes? Before engaging with influencers, marketers ought to set their goals and go after the influencers with proven outcomes matching theirs. 

Moving on, while evaluating their ROI, marketers largely focus on their audience reach, followed by sales data. There are some evolved KPIs which should be tracked for evaluating a campaign’s success this year. 

Impact on overall leads, revenue and conversion

The efficiency of tracking this rests on the size of a campaign- it should be a decent-sized campaign in order to reach out to a large volume of the audience. One way to track sales is by providing influencers with a unique promo code or custom URLs, which can then be tracked within specific dashboards. Even though tracking sales made through affiliate links or promo codes is key, the scenario becomes different, when a customer engages with a brand for the first time through/on their own website. Such variables will always be at play. In 2022, social networks are expected to continue developing means for influencers to close purchases within the social media networks themselves- which hopefully will make tracking the ROI straightforward. 

While conversions or sales continue to be the most common metrics used by brands to measure the success of an influencer marketing campaign (source- Influencer Marketing Hub 2021 survey), marketers need to go beyond it, especially if they are launching a new product, store or a brand all together. Impressions are the best indicators of ROI for new launches- considering brands are looking to present their new product or service to the widest targeted audience possible- after all, more eyes on a content correlates with increased opportunities to engage, new followers, and potential new customers.

Views & reach in most cases stand at the top when brands evaluate ROI from an executed campaign. That's where marketers get to understand how the content created for their brand has performed among the audience which was targeted. This is the point where awareness, recall and affinity is building among the audience and hence this provides us with a good understanding of the performance.

A social media influencer campaign undertaken by a large multinational computer peripheral company in India in Q4 ‘21 was rolled out after selecting creators based on three major criteria- quality of audience, quality of content and relevancy. The campaign over-performed, earned an engagement rate of over 21% and helped in pushing the content's reach and views to a much higher level than expected (since social media channels also give higher visibility preference to high performing content/reels by default; as per current trends observed across various brands and influencer profiles). The brand was able to achieve better awareness and recall along with building more affinity for itself than generic content. 

Similarly, a leading Beauty Accessories and Personal care brand initiated a campaign where each selected Category A creator was directed to create unique content while keeping the relevance of the influencer's persona in mind. The brand witnessed 30% more views than expected and it was a very successful campaign both in terms of quality and awareness.

Whenever a brand plans an influencer campaign where the objective is to bring more audience, the idea funnel should be created in a way that it leads the audience to the brand profile/channels. Only then can that audience make a choice (or not) of subscribing to or following that brand’s profile. If brands can create a place where their audience feels empowered, educated or engaged, then they can definitely see more percentage of that audience following them. Hence, profile visits along with follower growth should be tracked as an important KPI to validate stickiness of the brand’s profile.

Collectively these main KPIs can help brands to validate the content pull of the influencer and stickiness of their profile/channel.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)