The ROI of creators: An inspiring influence marketing case study

influence marketing case study

Scottsboro, Alabama, (population 15,750) is a sleepy river town known for its First Monday craft fair, Payne’s Soda Fountain, and hot, muggy summers. It would not be considered a hotbed for influencer marketing. Well, not until Sarah Stahl made it into an influence marketing case study.

Sarah is the marketing director for ReTreet, a glamping (“glamorous + camping”) site in the woods outside of town. Faced with a 30% occupancy rate and a tiny marketing budget, she needed to build awareness on the cheap and turned to influencers to spread the word.

In what could be a travel industry first, Sarah created so much positive buzz around the tiny 17-site resort that influencers pay her to stay there. How in the world did she do that? In a word, attention to detail. Sarah delivers such an outstanding experience that influencers can’t wait to get there, even from distant states. Her approach includes:

  • Partnerships with local attractions and restaurants that enhance the influencer’s storytelling possibilities and boost local tourism.
  • Luxury amenities such as hot tubs, outdoor showers, saunas, and fire pits ensures visually appealing content.
  • Founding a ReTreet influencer community so creators can stay in touch with each other and the resort. This community-driven approach has helped spur additional content creation and more bookings from their audience long after the initial stay.

Content is the key

influence marketing case study

Retreet resort post from influencer @petitemamalife

“I knew we needed quality content in volume,” she said, “and that consumers might not trust us or understand the idea of glamping at first. With a small startup budget, it would be tough to convince them without help, so working with trusted travel influencers was our best choice.

“I also knew that consistency is key. We’ve averaged about one influencer visit per week over 52 weeks. And as they shared their experiences, we’ve received more interest. We now have a three-month waitlist for content creators to stay with us. Since they are always looking for new angles for their audiences, the content about our resort is always fresh and relevant.

Results in Sarah’s first year:

  • Revenue and occupancy doubled.
  • The advertising budget was cut in half, and the ROI of their marketing spend more than doubled from $13 per dollar spent to $28 on each dollar spent.
  • Increased ReTreet’s Instagram account by 650%, making it the top source of leads.
  • Had Instagram Reels that reached 1 million views
  • Each influencer visit resulted in an average of two more influencer requests for accommodation.
  • Expanded the resort to include a glass dome event space.

Perhaps Sarah’s most important success is the rapid momentum she gained from the effective influencer content. “We’ve moved beyond the struggling startup phase,” she said. “We’re at a point where we’re expecting reservations to be made a year ahead of time.”

An influence marketing case study

Sarah Stahl at Retreet

Sarah Stahl at a Retreet tiny house

I love Sarah’s story because it’s so improbable. A resort in the middle of nowhere propelled by influencers? And yet the success is undeniable.

Most of the time, influence marketing is in the news for something silly, like a creator falling off a wall in search of the perfect selfie. But creators are crucial to our marketing future because they are believed and often adored. Chances are, your business is neither believed nor adored, so partnering with talented and trusted creators might make sense.

I asked Sarah if she’s ever had any problems with divas who were hard to work with. The creators who have come through her resort have been professional and appreciative. If you’re going to make it as an influencer these days, you’ll have to be business-savvy. I think Sarah’s experience reflects a growing professionalism among creators.

The creator economy is massive and growing. Is it time for your business to become an influence marketing case study?

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