Influencer marketing is a hot topic these days, but is it actually worth the time and money you’ll invest to do it right? As with most return on investment (ROI) questions in business, there isn’t a straight yes or no answer to this question. There’s nuance involved, and most of an influencer marketing campaign’s success or failure depends on the marketing team that puts that campaign together.

Analyzing the Potential for Influencer ROI

Marketing of any kind is all about strategy and quality. You can only get good ROI from influencers and other marketing techniques through proper planning and careful execution. So while it’s possible that influencer’s ROI may end up being good, you can also end up wasting your investment if you aren’t careful.

Successful influencer marketing campaigns require that you strategize everything from the products you want to feature to the demographics you want to reach. You can then use this information to find the right influencers to partner with. If you want to reach middle-aged women with kids, for example, a mommy blogger with teenagers would be the best influencer fit.

But ensuring good influencer ROI requires a lot more detail and consideration than that. Does the influencer create content that makes sense for your brand? Is their lifestyle a good match for that of your customer profiles? Simply finding that mommy blogger with teenagers may not be enough. If the influencer in question focuses on frugal living and you’re a luxury brand, their followers will probably balk at the prices on your products. This means you won’t get a good ROI, simply because the influencer’s audience isn’t a good fit for your brand.

Tracking and Measuring Is Key

Strategy isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to ensuring a good ROI on an influencer marketing campaign. Your work doesn’t stop once the post goes up. You need to carefully track and measure performance as well.

No one can decide for you whether you’re getting your money’s worth in collaborating with an influencer. Your team needs to take responsibility for measuring performance. Don’t go with a gut feeling or assumptions, either. ROI isn’t measured in “I think” or “it seems.” It’s measured in accurate, measurable data. So you’ll need to make sure you structure your influencer marketing campaign to allow for data tracking and measurement.

Make sure you have systems in place to measure influencer marketing content performance before the content actually goes live. Instead of having the influencer post a generic link to the product they’re promoting, for example, give them a personalized link or a discount code so you can actually see how many purchases or referrals originated with that specific influencer.

You can also look at things like traffic or social media engagement spikes within an hour or two of an influencer posting sponsored content from your brand, or look at demographic shifts in who’s visiting your site. For example, if you brought on a micro-influencer who has a lot of followers in their local area, you can see whether you’re getting more visitors and purchases from that specific place in the aftermath of a sponsored post.

With data like that, you can measure whether you’ve recouped your initial investment in influencer marketing. That can tell you whether it’s a good idea to continue working with that specific influencer, and whether influencer marketing in general is effective for your brand.

Defining Goals to Measure Influencers ROI

What do all the above ROI measurement ideas have in common? They’re tied to specific goals. It’s essential that you have a specific goal in mind when you start strategizing an influencer marketing campaign. Increased sales is a fine goal, but it’s not the only one. It also may not be the most effective goal when it comes to working with influencers, though that depends on the specifics of your campaign.

Other potential goals include things like visibility. This is especially useful if you’re a relatively new business, or you just launched a new product line that you want more people to know about. Yes, increased visibility should result in increased sales, but it may not be an immediate translation.

So how do you measure something like visibility? You can look at your number of unique website visitors before and after the campaign, or see if you’ve gotten a significant number of new followers on the social media platform to which an influencer posted your sponsored content. You can also look to see whether you’ve gotten increased mentions on social media.

In other words, it can be useful to look beyond sales alone and look at other metrics. This kind of holistic view is better for determining the success or failure of an influencer marketing campaign. If a customer makes a single purchase from your brand after seeing an influencer’s post, that’s great. But if they forget about your brand and never buy from you again, that’s not an ideal result. Visibility can result in long-term customer relationship building, so it’s worth thinking about as you calculate influencer marketing ROI.

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