The Real Definition of Influencer Marketing ROI: The Brand Halo Effect & More

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The ROI of Influencer Marketing

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For many influencer marketers, calculating ROI begins and ends with revenue. But the true ROI of campaigns and the creators who support them goes way beyond the cash flow generated from discount codes and links. 

To get a full picture, brands need to take stock of ROI from the entire marketing journey and have a complete understanding of the metrics they can use to calculate it. 

Beyond ROI: Why return on investment means more than just sales.

Every influencer marketer’s end goal is to generate revenue. Making money is the primary mission, after all.

But it isn’t feasible to recruit a content creator, have them post about your product, and expect their audience to complete a purchase immediately. 

Sure, it might happen occasionally. But successful influencer marketers are builders. And they need authentic, brand-aligned content creators to help introduce, educate, and eventually establish communities of like-minded people who truly believe in a brand and its products. 

To accomplish this, marketers need to divvy up their creators’ responsibilities. Most experts agree it takes about eight touchpoints to make a sale. That means you must station creators at every stage of the customer journey to maximize your influencer marketing efforts. 

Only when each touchpoint is accounted for and your influencers are generating ROI at every stage of the customer journey can a consistent revenue stream really begin to flow. 

The awareness stage: Introduce your brand to new audiences and broaden your reach. 

The awareness stage is at the top of your marketing funnel, where your primary goal is to inform, attract, entertain, and spark interest. This stage is an introduction to your brand, not just your product. It’s also where you share your brand story, connect with your audience, and start building a community. 

Content to help generate awareness ROI

In-feed posts

Feed posts are always an excellent start when you first begin generating brand awareness, especially with new influencers. Once you determine the creator’s audience is interested in the branded posts, you can start expanding to more dynamic forms of content. 

Unboxing videos

Unboxing content is a great way for creators and their audiences to learn about a brand and product together. This type of content gets a genuine reaction from the influencer in real-time and can even transition into a quick tutorial of the product’s features and capabilities. 

Contests/giveaways

Contests and giveaways encourage social sharing, increasing your reach and getting your name in front of new audiences. Announcing a “free product” also helps you get the attention of new consumers and gives you a chance to convert them into regular customers if they like the product. 

Branded hashtags

Be sure to include at least one branded hashtag that your creators can use for their followers to discover more information about you. This will also help users engage with you on social media and open up more opportunities to collect UGC from happy customers.  

The consideration stage: Stay front-of-mind with your audience and educate them on your product or service.

The consideration stage is in the middle of your marketing funnel, where your primary goal is to provide information on why your audience should purchase your product and care about your brand. This stage is where you get the most attention from your audience and where you can address their questions and concerns.

Types of content to help generate consideration ROI

Product tutorials

The best teachers are always the ones who know how to engage their students. Let your influencers educate their followers about your product in a way they know will resonate. By the end, their audience should understand everything the product has to offer and know it’s something that will add value to their lives. 

Blogs

According to research by GE Capital Retail Bank, 81% of shoppers do online research before buying. Often, this research involves a Google search that leads to a blog about a product or a list of the top products in that particular niche. These write-ups help consumers learn more about your products and often compare them to your competitors. 

Live streams

Setting up live streams at a specific time delivers a sense of urgency that fans might miss something if they don’t tune in. Live video also enables creators to answer questions in real-time and makes for more authentic content since there is no opportunity for multiple takes. 

The conversion stage: Time for your audience to take action. 

The conversion stage is at the bottom of your marketing funnel, where your primary goal is to get your audience to take the desired action. Sales fall into this section, but as we’ve mentioned, sales are not the end-all-be-all.

Video testimonials

Video testimonials often provide enough social proof to convince their audience to take action. By describing how much they enjoyed a product, how much it improved their life, or how much they learned from your newsletter or downloadable content, an influencer’s audience will be ready to test it out for themselves.  

influencer doing a video testimonial of a show showing beyond ROI what's valuable to a brand

Experiential collabs with influencers

The best experiential marketing should engage as many senses as possible to leave a lasting impression on consumers. Collaborating on these events with your influencers provides your audience with an interactive experience that compels them to take action by helping them better understand your brand, products, and what you stand for as a company. 

Product offers and promotions

Limited time offers and promotions add a scarcity element to your campaigns and give a little push in the right direction to consumers who might be teetering on the fence about buying your product. These promotions are also great for getting people talking about your brand and expanding your reach. 

The loyalty stage: Turn your customers into dedicated brand fans. 

You’ve now reached the retention funnel where building brand loyalty starts. Because your audience is now your customer, this stage should showcase the additional benefits of your brand and products.

Types of content to generate loyalty ROI

Loyalty programs

Let your creators run loyalty programs and special offers for your (and their) best customers. Shoutouts and discounts from the brand are nice, but loyalty rewards mean even more coming from the creators your audience love. 

Surveys

Surveys are always a good way to take the pulse of consumers. With influencers, live surveys can be an effective way to have a regular conversation with consumers, get their feedback, and answer any questions or concerns they may have. 

The advocacy stage: Your customers are now brand champions. 

This is the end of the journey. At this point, you and your creators have provided a consistently positive customer experience through your product and engagement opportunities. 

Types of content to help generate advocacy ROI

Advocacy programs

A customer advocacy program helps maintain relationships with customers with the social influence and brand love to promote your brand effectively among their peers. Be sure to include some benefits for joining the program, whether a free product, discounts, social media exposure, or some other kickback.  

Brand communities  

Encourage your influencers to establish brand communities with their audiences and your customers. These communities are the perfect place to share updates, educate your customers, and give a feeling of exclusivity to your biggest fans. 

Reporting ROI: Three pillars for proving success

Because you have committed to securing ROI at every stage of the customer journey, it’s important your reporting metrics reflect that. Don’t just focus on revenue generated at the conversion stage when determining the success of your campaign. 

Instead, break your metrics into three categories:

1. Social media metrics

This involves everything happening on the social media channels of your brand, influencers, and customers. 

Some common metrics include:

Follower growth on brand pages

If people like what they see when an influencer posts about your brand, chances are they’ll also be interested in content directly from the source. Additionally, collaborating with influencers who know how to capitalize on social media trends increases your chances of producing viral content and can greatly increase consumer engagement. 

Influencer reach

Keep an eye on the growth of your influencers’ collective audience size and how many people see their content through searches or recommendations. This will give you an idea of how many new potential customers are finding out about your brand. 

User-generated content 

People will start talking about you online as they learn about your brand and use your products. At that point, consider using social listening tools to be in on the conversion. If consumers are raving about you, see how you can use that content in ads or your branded accounts. It could also be an opportunity to establish an organic (and low-cost) partnership with an influential fan. 

Increased share of voice

Share of voice is how often people talk about your brand online versus your competitors. You and your influencers are clearly doing something right if you’re the brand most people are talking about—just make sure the sentiment is mainly positive.

2. Ecommerce metrics

These metrics involve everything going on inside your ecommerce store.

Some common metrics include:

Repeat conversions

Keep an eye out for influencers who consistently pull in repeat customers. These creators have clearly figured out how to get their followers to take action on your product, and you’ll likely want to try to find other creators with similar audience demographics. 

Cart abandonment

Items left in a user’s shopping cart should decrease with successful creator partnerships. Your influencer content should generate enough social proof for their audience to complete a sale without abandoning the items at the last second. 

Return rate

If an influencer promotes a product well, their audience will know exactly what they are getting when they order the product for themselves. With no surprises on delivery day, there should be no reason for them to return the product after buying. 

3. Web metrics

Web metrics mostly involve what’s happening on your own website but also include what other sites say about your brand (excluding social media).

Some common metrics include:

Web traffic

When web traffic increases, more people are learning about your product and hovering around a sale. Be sure to note your web traffic before you start working with a particular influencer and traffic volume after they join the campaign. You’ll also want to consider using UTM codes so you can understand exactly where your traffic came from. 

Earned media

People will talk about you organically if they love your brand. Look for blogs, news stories, and other forms of unpaid promotions that are singing the praises of your products as a result of your influencer marketing efforts.

Bounce rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who navigate away from your site after only viewing one page. Your bounce rate should lower as you work with influencers since users will be more curious about your content and brand story after seeing someone they trust promote it rather than navigating to your site from a paid ad. 

What is a brand halo effect?

The halo effect is the tendency for one positive attribute of a person, company, brand, or product to positively influence opinions or feelings in other areas. In a nutshell, the halo effect is the idea that if you like one aspect of something, you’ll enjoy other aspects, whether they’re related to the original or not. 

Brands use influencer marketing to leverage the connection and trust creators have with their audience. The creator transfers that trust over to a brand when endorsing its products. When other respected creators share their positive experiences with the brand, it produces an overall halo effect over the entire company. 

Beyond ROI key takeaway: Sales aren’t the end-all-be-all. Take a full-funnel approach to ROI for the best influencer marketing results. 

Influencer marketers do themselves a disservice by only looking at revenue when calculating the ROI of their campaigns with creators. To get a complete picture, brands must look at each touchpoint required to make a sale and delegate to influencers who can significantly impact the entire customer journey. 

Updated: December 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

Halo advertising occurs when advertising one specific product is so successful people start buying other products besides the one they originally clicked on.

Yes. Content creators are particularly helpful in creating the halo effect because the positive sentiment they create around a specific product extends over the brand as a whole. 

The halo effect affects perception because when someone likes one positive aspect of a brand or company, it also influences opinions or feelings in other areas. 

Marketers look at the return on investment (ROI) to determine if they made money on an investment. 

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Written by Quinn Schwartz

Quinn studied journalism at the University of Kentucky and now lives in Washington, DC. He’s particularly interested in storytelling in digital marketing and cost-effective creator strategies for smaller brands. When he’s not writing, you can find him at a concert, dog park, or debating whether or not to go on a run.