Demonstrating ROI from a blogger campaign

Demonstrating ROI from a blogger campaign

Three things we need to stop talking about. Like. Now.

I’ve spent the last six years developing and implementing content campaigns for global brands.

The two things they have in common? They all want to work with ‘influencers’ to amplify their content / marketing messages

The other? They all want to know what the return on investment will be.

Proving ROI to a business is always a complex task, but in a digital world where everything is now track-able and mappable we have never been in a better position to demonstrate this, but there are some things we need to stop talking about. Like. Now.

  1. Let’s stop hiding behind total fans.

I’ve lost count of the amount of media packs I’ve been sent which add up all of a blogger’s social media followers and proclaim, “Your content will reach 700 zillion peoples”. Erm.. No it wont….But that’s ok.

Let’s put it like this:

Between my personal Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles I have around 3k connections, (popular huh?) but if I invite them all to my birthday party I probably shouldn’t cater for 3k guests. Why? Because we cannot assume a total audience is a captive audience, ever present and ever ready to receive information.

Some of my connections will have missed the invite, some are connected with me on all four platforms and so count multiple times, some don’t like that venue, some don’t like parties, some maybe don’t even like me anymore! So yes in theory I have 3k connections and yes in theory a blogger may have 3 million ‘fans’ but 3 million people are just as unlikely to see and engage with said blogger’s content, as 3k people are likely to come to my birthday party.

But, you know what? That’s ok.  Not every piece of content a blogger makes is going to reach, be read by, or even resonate with every one of their fans and followers, so let’s focus on the real numbers.  Whether you’re a a blogger or a brand –  work out how many people your social posts actually reached and how many people actually engaged as a true reflection of  content success. No longer such a big number? That’s ok.

When it comes to proving influence of your social content, proven quality of engagements and their propensity for continued positive interaction far outweighs an inflated anonymous quantity.  After all, who wants 3k random strangers at their birthday party anyway?

  1. Let’s stop talking about ROI

Calculating return on investment in terms of cash cash money money isn’t always an easy task, especially when trying to track long tail purchase decisions, like travel. People don’t just read an article, click a link and book a holiday to the Maldives. They just don’t.

However, reading that article and engaging with it is an imperative first step on that journey to booking and one that should not be overlooked as a form of return.

No, it hasn’t directly generated a booking (yet) but the content itself has provided a valuable return on objective: engagement and awareness of the destination/ hotel or travel brand.

When we start looking to prove return on marketing objective (ROO) as opposed to attempting to attach an arbitrary monetary value to an article, we can suddenly provide a significant number of proof points through which to showcase a return to marketing departments and brand managers. Outlined below are a few core ways to use data to prove return on marketing campaign objectives for any blogger or brand using only the free tools and insights available on-platform.

Objective: Generate awareness:

Data proof points: (calculated by the blogger)

  • Number of views on the article on blogger’s site (not unique visitors per month.. how many people viewed this content specifically)
  • Social media reach from blogger (not impressions…. how many people were actually reached with branded content on each platform)
  • EDM data – If the blogger included you in their newsletter how many people opened it?

Objective: Drive engagement with brand content:

Data proof points: (calculated by the blogger)

  • Time on page reading the blogger’s article
  • Social engagements – likes, clicks, shares, comments, photo views, re-tweets etc. – the number of people who engaged with the content on social channels.
  • EDM data – If the blogger included you in their newsletter how many people clicked to more content?

Objective: Drive leads

Data proof points: (calculated by the brand)

  • Referral traffic driven to a brand site from the blogger’s site
  • Customer journey through a brand’s website when referred in by the blogger’s article – how many pages do they explore? Which pages? How many leave their information?
  • Use of exclusive discount code provided to blog readers
  • Email data volumes and quality generated from blogger hosted competition
  1. Let’s stop this rumour that bloggers can’t drive sales.

So no, it’s unlikely a consumer will read a blog post, click on the link and book a holiday. But that is not to say that bloggers cannot be a crucial and measurable part of the buyer’s cycle if they are seen as an integrated part of the digital ecosystem. Outlined below are a few easy ways to ensure, as a brand, that you can start to relate sales to blogger programs in the long term

  • Ask your bloggers to add a tracking pixel to your content on their blog and social posts and provide this to your digital media buying team for re-targeting. The result: people who saw and engaged with your brand awareness content on the blog will be served tactical in market messaging elsewhere on the web, pushing them further towards that pointy end of the marketing funnel (where the money lives) and providing a measurable way to relate real sales success to blogger content in the long term:
  • Work with bloggers to host competitions that drive email data capture for your brand, add them to your CRM clearly tagged with being derived from a blogger campaign and ensuring that audience is part of your EDM nurture funnel long term as you lead them towards purchase.
  • Create special offers for bloggers to use exclusively and agree to them promoting them all year, enabling a directly attributable booking code to be tracked against each blog and blogger.
  • Work with bloggers on a long-term project/ recruit them as life long ambassadors. The first time a consumer hears about a new destination, product or service form a blogger they may be unlikely to buy immediately, but working with bloggers to plan long term sequential messaging for their audience, mixing awareness content and sales messaging over an elongated time period allows your blogger ambassadors to be part of the sales process from start to finish.

Let’s face it – how many people can resist hitting the link to the British Airways flash sales that Mrs O Around the World posts when you’ve read so many of her glossy, luxy posts about the business lounge, club world benefits and associated destination reviews over the past few years? The sales message feels real, because she’s made me feel like part of the journey.

As consumers turn away from traditional media formats, in favour of rich, immersive multi channel content experiences, the opportunity to work with bloggers has never been more promising, yet without some honesty and collaboration in our approach to reporting we’ll never be able to prove it.

Do you have any questions for Ruth? How do you measure the success of blogger campaigns? What have been your challenges in proving ROO?  Share your travel blogger related questions and stories with Ruth in the comments.

Tagged , .

Ruth Haffenden is Global Head of Social Media at leading content marketing agency King Content and is also one fourth of Traverse: an events company dedicated to educating, connecting and empowering travel bloggers and travel industry professionals through a series of conferences, festivals, meet ups, training days and hands on campaign support.


  1. Avatar Sarah Lee says:

    Really great points Ruth! Bloggers are bringing plenty of ROI to brands. I’ve worked on a number of campaigns as director of UK blogger group Captivate, and also as UK director for iambassador, that have delivered excellent results in both reach and sales.

    Two campaigns brought clients increases of 10% and 22% (compared to sales in previous years), plus lots of Return On Objective, which can and does lead to plenty of Return On Investment. I love the term ROO though because with such a long tail purchase as travel it makes much more sense, and if a campaign is focused on building engagement (perhaps about a lesser visited or maligned destination) then how can you put a monetary value on having changed perceptions? And in many cases that’s what most blogger campaigns aim to do – change perceptions, build engagement, or build awareness. But, as noted above, it’s not to say that working with bloggers can’t boost sales.

    On my luxury travel blog, LiveShareTravel, we have a long term relationship with a brand which has produced excellent results for them. We have a unique booking code for our readers to gain an exclusive discount and delivered 1,973 sales in the first two years. We’re now into the third year of working with them.

    As for social follower numbers, I also agree. But this is the figure the industry asks for – how many followers do you have, rather than how engaged is your following? But rest assured, this is tracked by the blogger collectives. A recent Captivate campaign I did for a major UK tour operator generated a reach of more than 325,000 (exposure was 2 million) on Twitter alone in just five days – compare that to our 14,000-strong following on there.

  2. Avatar The Fairytale Traveler says:

    YES, YES, YES!!! Finally someone said it! Thank you! The absolute BEST relationships I’ve had with brands have been (and still are) on a long term basis. Ex: I work with Ireland and Norway on a long term basis. I regularly blast out social content leading fans to current or past articles I’ve written. I strategically use the brand’s hashtag. The trust is there, the ROO is there, and return invites are there. They willingly share my content as well, and the ecosystem of content to consumer thrives.

  3. Avatar Wandering Carol says:

    This is such a clear article about an ill-defined topic and helpful for me, as a blogger, to know what to include when providing stats to a brand I’m working with. I love that it cuts through the hype of inflated numbers and imprecise measurements. The only difficulty I have is with the idea of measuring ROO using ‘referral traffic driven to a brand site from the blogger’s site,’ which of course is a good idea – it’s just that when I’m browsing as a consumer, and read a blog about a destination I’m interested in, I don’t tend to click at once on the brand site, but keep it in mind for later, maybe when I am booking a trip, or like you say, when I’ve had other messages about it. This seems to be impossible to measure, but is potentially a huge benefit to the brand. There seems to be far less pressure on a print publication to prove a direct line from brand to consumer. Any thoughts? And thanks – I’ll be bookmarking this.

  4. Avatar Travel Flat says:

    Hi Ruth,

    Very well written. However, i need a clarification on your last sentence, particularly this line ‘yet without some honesty and collaboration in our approach to reporting we’ll never be able to prove it.’

    Why do you say ‘never be able to prove it’ ?


  5. Avatar Nestor says:

    hello!,I like your writing so a lot! share we
    keep up a correspondence extra about your post on AOL?
    I need a specialist on this area to solve my problem. Maybe that’s you!

    Looking forward to look you.

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