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The New Rules of Influencer Marketing To Maximize Creator Retention

Mar 27, 2023

In 2021, Traackr found that US creators delivered 32 billion video views and 270 billion impressions for beauty brands — a clear indication that creators have awareness-building superpowers. As brands look to raise their share of voice with these creators and invest strategically to scale their collaborations,Traackr researched how “creator retention” impacts the success and ROI of influencer programs and what brands can do to maximize their performance. 

First let’s define creator retention: the percent of creators that have mentioned a brand in a given quarter and then mention that same brand in the following quarter. What we found is striking: not only is retention critical to build scale, it is also a key driver of your influencer program’s ROI.

Low creator retention indeed dramatically increases the cost of your influencer program. Or, high creator churn = low influencer marketing ROI. A brand that maintains a stable community size with a 75% creator retention rate, has an acquisition cost that is 3 times lower than a brand with the same community size and a 25% creator retention rate. Similarly, your acquisition cost is multiplied by 5 if you are a brand who is doubling their community size year over year and has a 25% retention score. 

Unfortunately, many brands are performing very poorly on retention. For U.S. beauty brands, we found the median quarter over quarter creator retention score is a mere 35%. If you’re looking for a way to beat out your competitors, this might be it. 

So what next for brands? Three main areas of attention will drive success: setting up a new KPI framework for creators, providing a unique Creator Experience, developing a unique Creator Engagement strategy 

Use these influencer marketing KPIs to guide your creator strategy 

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. There are 3 main categories of KPIs needed to measure the success of your creator strategy. 

  1. Creator Experience 
  2. Creator Performance 
  3. Creator ROI 

Creator experience KPIs contain your creator funnel (or acquisition strategy) and creator satisfaction. 

  • Are you acquiring your creators and developing them into long-term partnerships? 
  • Would your creators recommend working with you to other creators? What is your creator NPS score?

Creator performance KPIs consists of:

  • Network growth: # of new creators you need every quarter 
  • Frequency: # mentions by each creator per quarter 
  • Saturation: # of brands your creator mentions per quarter 
  • Retention: % of influencers who mention your brand quarter over quarter

Creator ROI KPIs include:

  • Cost per Engagement (CPE)
  • Cost per View (CPV)
  • Cost of Acquisition (discovering, vetting, brand safety analysis, negotiations, etc.)
  • Programme CPE: Includes all program costs including acquisition costs, not just paid sponsorship fees 

Guided by these KPIs, brands can focus on developing a great creator experience strategy that improves their ability to attract and retain creator talent.

Develop a great experience in your influencer program

The advent of platforms like Substack, Patreon and OnlyFans has made creators less dependent on brand sponsorships for revenue. But, from the brand perspective they still remain important and impactful partners. This is why retention matters.

You want to ensure that creators are getting the optimal experience when partnering on your influencer marketing initiatives. From the creative brief to payment delivery, every interaction with your brand counts. 

Here are some surprisingly simple things to enhance the creator’s experiences: 

  • Find influencers that actually fit your brand. The creator's experience suffers if the partnership is not a good match. A common example of this is fast fashion brands reaching out to sustainability creators.
  • Clearly state your influencer marketing campaign goals and details. Are you setting your creators up for success with your briefs? Or are you stifling their creativity?
  • Nurture creator relationships with good communication. Do your creators hear back from you in a timely manner? Do you send friendly follow ups after the campaign is over?
  • Get your administrative processes straight. Were you transparent about how the influencers are getting paid? Are they getting paid on time?

Tip: Great experiences ultimately come down to great relationship management. Check out the 4 relationship management tips that Maybelline and Club Med said have improved their influencer programs.

Build a creator engagement strategy 

If you look at your creator community, you likely have a wide spread of folks ranging from micro and mid-influencers to VIPs/celebrities. Having a mixture of creators within your influencer marketing program is healthy, but it’s a big mistake to treat them all the same. Each tier (and individual creator) has their own strengths.

Give each creator tier the attention they deserve by creating customized engagement strategies. For example, you might create special experiences (trips, dinners, etc.) for your mid to macro-tier influencers because they are great at drumming up awareness, excitement, and engagement amongst their audiences. On the other hand, you might offer influencers who show your brand a lot of love fun online experiences like social challenges and giveaways so they can interact with your brand and community from home. This customized approach will help keep creators engaged with your brand leading to stronger relationships. 

Tip: Learn what a talent agent and VP at Shiseido Makeup have to say about building successful influencer programs through strong creator relationships. 

If you want to grow your program, you need to be more aggressive in targeting the right creators and creating the best possible experience for them. Creators are highly sought after and in limited supply. You simply will not be able to grow your program if you lose 60% of your creators quarter over quarter. In a time when budgets are tight, yet brands are setting ambitious goals, the more focus you should give to creator retention.


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