by Fine F. Leung, Jonathan Z. Zhang, Flora F. Gu, Yiwei Li, and Robert W. Palmatier


Influencer marketing is a huge industry, with companies around the world spending billions of dollars on these partnerships. But do these investments actually pay off? To quantify the ROI of influencer marketing, the authors analyzed engagement for more than 5,800 influencer posts and identified seven key variables that drive a campaign’s effectiveness, including characteristics of both the influencer and of their individual posts. They further found that by optimizing these variables, the average brand could boost ROI by 16.6%, suggesting that many companies are designing campaigns that leave substantial value on the table. By adopting these research-backed guidelines, brands can move past anecdotal evidence to ensure that their marketing dollars go toward the partnerships and content that are most likely to offer returns.

In 2022, the influencer industry reached $16.4 billion. More than 75% of brands have a dedicated budget for influencer marketing, from Coca Cola’s #ThisOnesFor campaign in collaboration with fashion and travel influencers, to Dior’s award-winning 67 Shades campaign in which the brand partnered with diverse influencers to promote its Forever Foundation product line. But does investing in influencers really pay off?


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