Here we are. Ambitious 21st Century marketers in a bustling marketplace of influencers. Eager to break the internet and hit record sales with a single Instagram post, YouTube video, or TikTok skit. All you need is a collab with a few big influencers, right? That’s where influencer gifting comes in.
Well, you may not exactly have millions hanging around to pay influencers per post. And that’s okay. There’s always a starting point. And the starting point for many new to influencer marketing is to start small.
Smaller influencer marketing campaigns with smaller perks – like giving away free products.
And in case you’re on the fence about giving away free merch to your influencers because you believe that you’re wasting away resources and a commission-only reward structure will suffice, then this post is for you.
We’ll be unpacking all the benefits of influencer gifting. You’ll learn all there is to gain and you’ll understand the value of using this incentive in your next influencer marketing campaign.
1. Show Your Commitment to Influencers
Before we dive into all the other glamorous benefits of influencer gifting, I think this is probably the most crucial one of them all. Showing your commitment to influencers. Why?
Well before you think that paying out commissions will satisfy those top Instagram influencers, remember that they have to put in all the work first before any sales transpire.
You might ask, isn’t that fair after all?
Well, not entirely.
It’s absolutely fair when sales start rolling in, but what happens when not a single sale drops despite them investing their time and resources into a campaign? The lack of sales could be due to factors beyond their control.
This is how you’ll find many influencers contemplating if a campaign is worth their time and effort.
And it comes down to how confident they feel in the campaign and the incentives on offer.
Commission-only rewards mean that 100% of the burden is carried by the influencer – which may not be appealing enough to most. However, a simple offer of a free product or free service for your influencers can be a gamechanger.
As the brand, your seriousness and commitment to the campaign are critical especially if you are interested in attracting serious and committed influencers.
But why is this so important? Well, you want to attract quality influencers to promote your brand and so by increasing the quality of your perks on offer, you will get more yeses from influencers of interest to your brand.
Consider this to be a good influencer recruitment tactic. If you want to increase your chances of attracting good influencers and finding the right influencer, magnetize them with free product offers.
2. An Attractive Incentive for Nano & Micro-Influencers
The good news is that nano and micro-influencers are pretty easy to please when it comes to collaboration agreements and influencer gifting. They don’t ask for much. Well, you could say that they are yet to earn the position to ask for more.
Nano influencers may not qualify to earn cash payouts per post as yet due to their small audience. So, they’re basically hustling their way up through whatever sponsorships they can get. Since they mostly find themselves in commission-based agreements, when they do land a gig that’ll get them free merch, they’re quite enthusiastic about it.
In fact, these small-scale influencers would genuinely be happy to receive free products.
So if your marketing campaign is targetted at reaching nano and micro-influencers, giving away free products is an attractive incentive to win them in.
3. Lower Cost to Company (Cost Effective)
So maybe your budget is tight, or maybe you’re not too keen on finger flipping those hundred dollar bills per post just yet.
Offering free products as a form of influencer gifting is a cost-effective alternative to paying cash. Assuming, of course, that your products don’t include diamonds, luxury cars, or other high-value items.
We’re assuming that you’re selling products of low to mid retail value.
So, if you’re giving away products, how exactly is this a lower cost to your company?
Say, for example, an influencer is worth $150 per post. You could give them hard cash but you could also give them $150 worth of your products.
Rewarding influencers with the retail equivalent value of your products means that you’re only really paying for the cost of the products. So in reality, $150 worth of merchandise could only cost your business $80 – depending, of course, on your profit margins. This means that you’ve saved $70 in cash value simply by using this method as an alternative to paying out cash.
Essentially, this is a barter exchange system. And just by the example above, you can see the flexibility available as far as minimizing the cost to your company for the influencer campaign.
4. Produce Influencer Driven Product Photography & Videography
Many brands miss this opportunity because their entire strategy is distracted by the urgent need of driving sales through their influencer campaigns.
Giving away free products to your influencers is a chance to get them to create product photos and videos as part of the agreement.
Have you ever tried to hire a professional photographer and videographer for a product shoot? You probably discovered how costly this investment is. Something you don’t have the luxury to splurge on as frequently as you’d like.
This is where influencers come in very useful if you send them free products. They’re already equipped with pretty decent equipment and media editing skills that your brand could ride on.
Send them free merch and get them to produce custom product media. This could be in the form of influencer model shots, creative image compositions, and even brilliant product review videoes.
Does your influencer have an exotic holiday planned? Send them your products to take along with them on their trip and you could get some epic destination shots of your products.
If you engaged several influencers for this purpose, just imagine the media collection that your brand would have attained as a result?
And of course, these product photos and videos can be repurposed to use in your brand’s social media, ad campaigns, and even website content.
5. Increase Sales of Influencer Campaigns
Sales. Yes, ultimately, you’re here for the money as far as your influencer marketing activities go.
Sure, it all comes down to your return on investment.
So, how could sending free products to your influencers increase the sales of your influencer campaign?
Let’s explore two possible scenarios.
First scenario: you send generic marketing material for your influencer to promote and share on their social media.
Second scenario: you send free products to your influencer, they create their own custom photo and video content of your products and promote this to their followers.
Of the two, which scenario do you think will create the most interest in the campaign?
It’s clear. The influencer that is splashing their own produced content of your products on their feed is likely to generate more interest. For a number of reasons.
An influencer video review or product demo is likely to appear more credible than a generic advert. Their content feels more organic to their followers and may have more persuasive effects on buying behavior.
More interest + more credibility + more persuasiveness = more sales.
So, go on and send your influencers free merch and let them create awesome content to boost your product sales.
6. Engagement Through Influencer Giveaways
Influencer gifting can also extend to their audience through giveaways. Offer influencers free products to run social media giveaways and build your brand visibility even more.
You are not the only one trying to generate interest in your brand. Influencers are also trying to grow their brand as well and they’re always looking for ways to give their profile a boost.
Giveaways are a great tactic for building interest for your brand and for the influencer.
One of the main benefits of running a product giveaway is that you can build buzzing engagement on a campaign. A well-crafted giveaway campaign can help you achieve increased followers to your social media accounts, increased website traffic, build your subscriber list, and create valuable brand awareness especially if you’re a new business or if you’re about to launch a new product.
Giveaways are always a fantastic incentive for new audiences to connect with your brand and learn more about your products and services. Check out the below video for some influencer giveaway advice:
7. Increased Marketing Exposure – Online & Offline
Depending on the nature of your product or service that you’re giving to influencers, you have the potential to gain further marketing exposure beyond the initial campaign. This exposure extends offline as well.
While influencers have an obvious online following, their influence overflows into their real life too. If your products are great and are loved by your influencers, they’ll likely use or wear your merch. Think about their followers, friends, family, and anyone in their circle that could potentially discover your products simply because they’ve seen your influencer use them.
Here’s where you’ll probably realize that engaging with an influencer goes beyond the social media experience. And as long as they have people around them and your product is noticed, you’ll get additional marketing exposure for your brand.
So, seven benefits later and I’m sure you’ve learned just what giving free products to influencers can do for your brand.
But as with all good things, there are some factors to consider to ensure the success of your influencer marketing campaign by giving away free products.
- Your product or service must meet a satisfactory standard level. Remember that giving away free products is a perk to the influencer. This should be an experienced benefit to them. Avoid disappointing them with poor quality products or services. Not only will this demoralize them, but you could run the risk of bad publicity if they decide to take their opinion to their social media.
- Your free products should be of interest to your influencers. You could have a great quality product but if you give it away to the wrong influencer, they won’t see its value or effectively make use of it. And this could result in poor execution of the campaign, especially if you’re counting on them to produce great photos and videos of your products.
- Equip your influencers with necessary product support. If your product is technical, it’s critical that you extend adequate documentation, training, and support to your influencers – perhaps over and above what you’d offer your usual customer. Why? Your influencers are an extension of your brand, and you want them to be a confident representative when they engage with their audience. This is especially important in the event that they have to address questions.
- Create an influencer agreement that details deliverables. As we uncovered the benefits of giving away free products, some include specific tasks such as photo and video production. These deliverables should be outlined clearly in your influencer agreement to ensure you get the most out of your campaign. Specify exactly what you expect the influencer to produce and most importantly, as far as media creation is concerned, you should disclose that copyrights of the content are given to your brand. You want to ensure this is set out and agreed on before you send out any products to influencers.
- Boost sales more by offering commissions. So you’ve sent free merch to your influencers, and they’ve created beautiful product content to promote on their social media. To give your campaign all the push that it deserves, free products plus commission-based perks make a sweet package to offer influencers. Give them their own custom coupon code to share with their followers and your commission offer will motivate them to promote your campaign as much as they can.
As you’ve now learned, influencer gifting – giving free products to your influencers – can create and return value to your brand in a number of ways.
From showing your commitment to attract quality influencers, incentivizing nano and micro-influencers, saving money through flexible cost management, produce influencer-driven photo and video content, increase your campaign sales, promote engagement through influencer giveaways, to increased marketing exposure of your brand online and offline.
Are you ready to increase your influencer marketing efforts with free product perks through influencer gifting? Submit your influencer program on Afluencer, get promoted, and connect with thousands of influencers looking for collab opportunities.
Hero photo by Ekaterina Shevchenko on Unsplash
Influencer Gifting FAQs
Aside from being a form of compensation, gifting an influencer indicates appreciation. When giving a gift note to an influencer, it is critical to make it personal. A customized note shows your commitment and personal connection to the influencer. You also need to put a short description of the product included in the gift note.
Gifting collaboration is giving free products to influencers in exchange for the promotion of the products. The influencer can produce content like video review and product demo, or take a photo or video content of the product and share it to his social media accounts. Doing this can increase the sales of your brand/business.
Since any type of gift is a form of compensation, these gifts are considered income from a taxation perspective and need to be reported on your tax statements with the exception of gifts that are less than $100 in value. That being said, whether influencers are actually reporting and paying taxes on gifts will ultimately depend on the influencer.
Now that you were able to find the right influencer for your brand and reach out to them, how are you going to send him your products? First, you can send the products manually by asking for the influencer’s address and send it to him, or create a unique code on your website for the influencer to order the product by himself.
Reaching out to influencers can be challenging. You must get their attention and make a good first impression. When sending a message to an influencer — whether via email or direct messages, you need to detail your brand, products, and campaign. And most importantly, explain why you think the influencer is a good fit for your brand.