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Influencer Gifting: Tips To Grow Your Business Using Influencers

daily nouri/Unsplash - woman sitting on bed looking at cards that came with a gift of probiotics in a box - influencer gifting

Influencer gifting is an excellent way to grow your business and build community. Let’s review the how, what, and tools to help you win at gift-giving.

Everything you need to know about sending gifts to influencers

Influencer gifting—also known as product seeding—is when brands send free products to select influencers. If you have a great product, gifting to an influencer whose audience is the same as your target audience can be an awesome way to grab their attention.

This practice is called influencer gifting because it is just that; a gift. However, it’s important to be aware that gifting products may not necessarily lead to a post or share. As you are not in a paid partnership or under any contract, there is never a guarantee you’ll be shared – but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying!

Marketing teams can pair gifting and affiliates, gifting and sponsored content, or focus solely on gifting. 

Gifting has the potential to expose new customers to your brand. The average influencer has an engagement rate of 2.39%. However, micro influencers ( less than 10,000 followers) have a slightly higher engagement rate at 3.86%. This percentage decreases as follower count increases.

Therefore, if an influencer with 25k followers makes a post about your product, then about 1000 people will engage with the post. If 1% of those visits your website and makes a purchase, then around 10 new people would become customers. As a result, you’ll increase impressions and ultimately, sales.

What four steps are necessary when you send products to influencers?

Do your research

Before you start sending out your products to random PO boxes, it’ll benefit you to do your influencer research first. All influencers have a specific aesthetic and style of content to maintain – it’s what they’ve built their following from, so making sure your product and their brand is aligned is key to a successful partnership. You’ll be able to figure out fairly quickly if it will work by scanning your creator’s socials to see if they have done similar collaborations with products adjacent to yours.

It’s also beneficial not to put all your eggs into one basket, by having multiple creators (depending on the size and capacity of your product) to send your gift to. This will increase the chances of it being received and shared among their audiences. However, make sure you aren’t sending your gift to a group of related influencers with similar followings and also send slight variations if the product is the same—this could potentially saturate your product’s value if it’s shared by multiple creators, making the content feel disingenuous or repetitive.

Find address information

The most popular and experienced influencers will usually have a PO Box available on their YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram channels, but you can also check their Shopify Collabs. However, new or micro-influencers may use DMs (direct messages) or the Shopify Collabs app to connect with brands. Shopify Collabs has several gifting features that keeps address information anonymous and protects influencers private information. Marketing teams can easily send a gift and the influencer can redeem it using the details they have saved on their Shopify Collabs account. 

In general, it’s recommended not to send a gift without an email, DM, or some other form of communication in advance. Influencers (especially popular ones) are known to have some strange things turn up in their mailboxes, so communication is important. 

Send your gift

Before sending your gift, think about ways to make it memorable. Ideally you want to make the package stand out so they instantly know who it’s from. It’s also a best practice to track the package to ensure the package doesn’t get lost and receive confirmation when it’s been delivered.

Bonus tip: Add a special, personalized note to your gift. Little touches can go a long way when product seeding, and may increase the likelihood that the influencer will share your product on their platforms.

Be patient

Gifting free products to influencers does not guarantee a ROI, and these kinds of marketing tactics take time to receive any feedback or return – if any at all. Don’t be disheartened if your chosen influencer(s) choose to not share enthusiasm for your business – there are hundreds more out there who will.

What 10 tips should you keep in mind when gifting influencers?

We’ve seen many marketers and businesses set up gifting campaigns, but here are a few simple strategies that have worked well for Shopify Collabs users in the past. Use the strategies that work best for your brand.

1. Send birthday gifts

Influencers may feel closer to brands that take the time to do research and send personalized gifts on their birthdays or other special occasions. Teams can use Shopify Collabs to find an influencer’s birthday, or you can search online if the creator has a large enough following.

2. Offer a unique opportunity

One of the best ways to engage influencers in your business is to get them involved with your brand through events, product feedback sessions, and ad campaigns.

3. Show value

Understanding why a creator should care about your product is a very important part of the influencer gifting process. Breaking down the value proposition is valuable because some influencers get hundreds of gifts per month, and you need to stand out. Include some of these answers in your personalized note. 

  • Why would this person open my package over others?
  • Why would we make a great partnership?
  • How can my product benefit their brand?
  • What benefit will my product make to their content?
  • What kind of content could they make using my product?

4. Sending gifts to assistants or managers

Assistants rarely get recognition for their hard work. One way to engage an influencer with a large following is to send a free product to their assistant, then request they make the ask on your behalf. Finding an assistant or manager’s contact information might be difficult, but one way is to check out the business email for the influencer and cross-reference it on LinkedIn. You can also reach out via email first, and ask for an address to send your product.

5. Get an introduction

While introductions are an excellent way to make a connection and begin a partnership, they are fairly hard to attain and you usually have to be running in the right circles. Tools such as LinkedIn are helpful for those in the business world because you can see mutual connections, but there isn’t really a similar tool for creators. This means you may have to spend some time looking through mutual contacts on Instagram, or reach out to your network and see if there are any creators already partnered with adjacent businesses.

6. Make a clear and simple ask

Most importantly, be clear in what you want from your free gift. If you don’t ask to be featured, there’s a very good chance you won’t. Influencers won’t make these kinds of assumptions. One of the best ways to get what you want is to make a genuine request, and if there is also clear value for the creator, it’s much more likely your request will be fulfilled.

7. Run a competition

Simulating supply-and-demand through influencer-partnered competitions is a great way to create urgency and exclusivity. Incorporating gifting competitions is a great way to get user-generated content started, and it also provides creators with free content ideas and the possibility of increased engagement – a win-win for both you and your favorite creators.

8. Brag about your product

Keep in mind that influencers will also do their own research about you before sharing anything on their socials – and rarely will they partner with a product they don’t know or isn’t on brand. If it’s possible, send proof that your gift is a well-established brand and already popular among other creators – this creates a manufactured demand and priority. Influencers won’t want to miss out on being at the forefront of something hot and trending. As a result, they will hopefully post more often and feel special about the gifts they have received.

9. Gifting an event

Everyone loves a gift bag, and they’re a really good way for influencers and celebrities to get their hands on your product. People love SWAG and free stuff at events, especially if it’s high quality and shareable. One pro-tip is to make your gift bag or product stand out in a unique way since most brands will be competing for attention. Make your gift as special as possible.

10. Gifting is not a paid partnership

One thing to keep in mind is that gifting is not a form of payment unless you make it explicitly clear. Making expectations and asks clear from the start is the best way to remove any tensions and begin to build the groundwork for a solid working relationship.

How do I know if it’s working?

As mentioned before, there is no guarantee this tactic will bring in thousands of new customers, however there are some ways to measure the results from gifting.

  • Measure your UGC (user-generated content) after you’ve sent your gifts. You should see an uptick in impressions or engagement to know if an influencer has mentioned you in a video or post. If you don’t see any increase in engagement after six weeks, consider researching and gifting a new group of influencers.
  • Some marketers encourage influencers to regift their old clothes or products if they aren’t interested/no longer use them. This can lead to word-of-mouth sales and an increase in organic traffic.
  • Many teams include discount and affiliate codes alongside gifts for the influencer to share with their audience. This is an ideal way to measure sales and know who your most successful influencers are.

Gifting influencers is an effective, straight-forward, and low stress marketing technique used by some of the biggest brands around the world. When it works, it can bring huge organic growth to your small business or at the very least, provide great awareness and foster long term relationships that can be beneficial for both you and the creators you love.

If you're ready to grow your business and create an influencer campaign add the Shopify Collabs app.

Sending gifts to influencers FAQ

What can you expect when you send a gift to an influencer?

Gifting products may not lead to a post or social share. Since it isn’t a paid partnership there is never a guarantee you’ll be shared – but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying!

How do you decide what influencers to send your gift to?

Do your research. Making sure your product and the influencer’s brand is aligned will increase the chances they mention your gift and can lead to a successful partnership.

How do you make sure your gift stands out?

Some influencers get hundreds of gifts per month. Break down your gift’s value proposition in an enclosed note to the influencer by asking yourself these questions:

  • Why would this person open my package over others?
  • Why would we make a great partnership?
  • How can my product benefit their brand?
  • What benefit will my product make to their content?
  • What kind of content could they make using my product?
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