The Swings in Influencer Marketing ROI Interest

Key Article Takeaways: 

  • Pre-covid, ROI was a huge interest point in influencer marketing across the board 
  • Right before Covid hit, the topic died down and brand managers wanted the influencer “fad” to die down 
  • Covid increased social consumption, indirectly skyrocketing influencer 
  • After the bulk of Covid, the industry began looking at different ROI standards again, taking influencer more seriously.

From around 2018 to early 2020, ROI was the hottest topic in influencer marketing. Then, circa 2020, with the onslaught of COVID, the topic died down. What happened? Was the mystery solved? Was ROI proven? If so, what is the secret formula to ensure I have positive ROI in my campaigns?
Let’s pick the story up right before COVID hit. Influencer marketing was still growing and not only were there widespread calls for better ROI measurement, but a lot of brand managers were tired of giving their marketing voice to a influencers. I was at a brand marketer conference in late 2019 when a panelist said their hope for 2020 was that the influencer marketing “fad” would finally die the horrible death it deserved. As a result, it seemed like the entire audience erupted in applause. 

Then COVID hit and suddenly every piece of marketing collateral was out of date, but no new ‘professional’ content could be created because of isolation guidelines. At the same time, social media consumption and eCommerce behaviors exploded. Like it or hate it, influencer marketing became an obvious – THE obvious – tactic.  

Suddenly, the idea of repurposing influencer content for the variety of a brand’s needs became not a rarely used tactic, but a production necessity. Brands and agencies were rediscovering the benefits of influencer content as a production resource by considering factors such as: 

  • Influencers offering a more authentic voice for sponsorships 
  • There's a lower overall need for scripting and storyboarding 
    • One of the truly under-appreciated benefits of influencers is that they themselves are often passionate consumers in a vertical. They tend to understand the industry, and sometimes even the product, better than the brand. 
  • Lower all-in costs compared to the massive undertaking of professional content production
At the same time, all of the traditional influencer marketing metrics were also exploding, including: 

  • Views and impressions 
  • Clicks and down-funnel traffic 
  • Directly attributed ecommerce sales 

No matter what metrics you were looking at, they were all moving in the same direction…up. 

So what is influencer marketing ROI? Well, this wouldn’t be much of a content series if we answered that question definitively in the second post, but let’s start here: 

For eCommerce managers, influencer marketing is a cost-efficient production resource that provides unique, differentiated content across your ecosystem. 

For Brand Managers, influencer marketing is a uniquely scalable activity with a virtually unlimited range of executional options that allow you to customize incredibly unique campaigns with a sea of measurement options. 

For Shopper Marketers, influencer marketing allows you to tell your brand story even while you support your retail partners with traffic and content. 

In short, influencer marketing is what you need it to be and the options for measuring success are as fast as the industry itself.