“Influencer marketing” is a tactic that is commonly used by ecommerce businesses, although perhaps not so much by Amazon sellers.
However, there are many Amazon sellers who have tried working with influencers and found that they did have a good impact on their sales. The key, as with any influencer marketing campaign, is to be clear about what you want out of it and to choose influencers wisely.
“Influencer marketing” is quite simply finding someone who has a sizeable audience and paying them to market your products to that audience. You can see why you’d need to be choosy – not every large audience will be “your” people!
Let’s take a quick look at influencer marketing and how an FBA seller might leverage it:
When does it make sense to work with influencers?
First of all, it makes sense to have at least 15 – 20 good reviews for your products before engaging an influencer to help with marketing. There’s a different dynamic going on as compared to search marketing, where someone is already of a mind to buy a similar product. Potential customers who see an influencer promote your product are often not actively shopping at all – they may look more out of a FOMO (fear of missing out) mentality. When they do check out your product, it can help to push their purchase decision if your reviews are excellent. (Remember, people are generally savvy to the fact that an influencer is probably getting paid to promote!)
Secondly, you need to have some kind of budget available. Most influencers are paid per post that they create. How much they get paid varies depending on their following and how well-known they are. For example, some influencers might get paid as little as $50 to $100 for a single Instagram post, while for others, it is often calculated as a rate per 10,000 followers per photo. The rate of $100 per 10,000 seems fairly standard here, so an account which posts one photo to 40,000 followers would get paid $400.
Top influencers are making many thousands of dollars per post, and in some cases, they might make a percentage of sales that they draw in. There’s no one right answer, besides ensuring that you work with someone who makes sense for your business.
You might also consider working with influencers either to add to your PPC and other efforts, or even instead of them. A study found that the ROI of influencer marketing can be 11x higher than traditional digital marketing.
Where can you find influencers?
You’ll find influencers on most social media platforms, although when it comes to marketing products, Instagram and YouTube tend to be very popular options. The most important thing is not snagging the person with the biggest following, but finding an influencer who directly engages with people who would be interested in your product.
This means that as a first step, you should have a very clear idea of who your target customers are. You should have developed customer personas which detail information such as demographics and interests. Of course, if you’re using other digital marketing strategies such as PPC or Facebook advertising, you should have done this to create a solid foundation already.
The ideal influencer is likely to be someone who falls within your targeted customer group. For this reason, you might want to define your search by creating a profile of the ideal influencer too. This might include things like age, gender, location, audience size and the vertical/s they cover. You don’t want a beauty blogger advertising your kitchen products, for example, however there are plenty of healthy cooking or lifestyle bloggers who may be a good fit.
Another key is to look at how well their personal brand is a match for yours. Does the way they speak or conduct themselves represent a good fit? The influencer you use can be a reflection on your own brand, which is why this should be a consideration.
You should also look at how they conduct their online activities. If an influencer is constantly using their account to monetize and promote, then their audience can become somewhat numb to the promotion. An influencer who provides a good range of interesting or informational posts mixed with a few promotional posts will tend to do better, otherwise, they can be seen as not being genuine.
With an ideal influencer profile in mind, you might either search for a good match yourself, or use one of the many services that have popped up to help match brands to influencers. These include platforms such as Influence.co, Grapevine or Openslate. Of course, you will have to pay fees to any service that you use.
How many followers should they have?
We could probably get on virtually any social media platform and point to accounts with millions of followers, but that doesn’t mean those accounts will be any good for promoting products. With the prominence of bots, fake accounts, and bought followers, there are still many accounts out there that simply aren’t as popular as they claim.
The key thing to look for is engagement. A rule of thumb for Instagram tends to be that post likes average 5% or more of the person’s following along with some good comment activity, while on YouTube, you’d expect to see 15% to 30% of their following engaging. Some of the really skilled YouTubers have engagement of 35% to 40%.
Look at what those engagement numbers mean in terms of audience reached. Five percent might not sound like much, but it is 5000 people out of an audience of 100,000. You may even be happy to reach 1000 people out of an audience of 20,000.
When it comes to paying someone a rate per 10,000 followers, of course, you want to be sure that most of those are genuine. One thing you can do is look out for unnatural spikes in their following which would suggest they might have paid for followers. There are tools such as Social Blade, which graph followers over time. Usually, the graph will follow a fairly regular upward climb, but if you see odd spikes and drop-offs, this is a good indication of buying followers.
What can you expect from influencers?
One thing that you want to be sure to nail down early is the expectations of both yourself and the influencer for what needs to happen. The best influencer posts tend to be those that look “organic” among their other posts. This means that it will be more likely to get attention.
For example, the post should follow their usual style, format or composition, while still clearly displaying your product. An influencer who cooks might create a cooking video where they are using your kitchen product as part of the preparation process.
It helps if you have clearly defined goals for what you want to get out of working with the influencer, this way, you can measure your results. Also, the influencer will have an understanding of how to craft the post to drive those results. For example, do you want to drive brand recognition and more followers on your own social media accounts? Do you want to drive sales? Would you like people to sign up for some kind of lead magnet you have made?
What about Amazon’s program?
If it hasn’t crossed your radar yet, Amazon has recently created their own influencer program. This allows influencers who qualify to get their own Amazon page and URL which showcases their product recommendations.
Influencers across any category can currently participate, as long as they have a qualifying YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account. It helps them to direct traffic directly to Amazon, particularly as this is difficult with some mediums (like Instagram).
As a seller, this is potentially great news, especially if you can find relevant influencers who have been accepted into the Amazon program. Currently, the program is in Beta and doesn’t have a huge number of influencers, but this is definitely a space to watch for potential future collaboration.
Influencer marketing can be a huge revenue generator, with more and more online sellers turning to it as a means of driving recognition, traffic and sales. FBA sellers can find this strategy just as relevant, as long as you are careful about selecting the right influencers.
Remember, it’s not about the size of their following, it’s about how engaged their followers are! There are plenty of accounts that appear massive, but in reality, have just a few truly engaged followers.
Keep an eye on Amazon’s Influencer Program over the next little while too. If this takes off, it could be a significant way to directly drive sales.