Product seeding or gifting campaigns are a central component of most influencer programs. However, marketers can run into a few challenges when it comes to developing and running efficient influencer product seeding campaigns. Whether you’ve been struggling to find the right influencers, avoid product waste, or improve ROI, we offer a few solutions below that can make your product seeding campaigns a success.
4 Product Seeding Challenges and How to Solve Them
The challenges presented below are taken from Traackr’s State of Influencer Product Seeding report, which surveyed 305 marketers from brands and agencies in the US, France, Germany, and the UK. If you haven’t seen the report yet, we highly recommend giving it a read! It also reveals how marketers run influencer product seeding campaigns (from budgeting to execution) and provides a snapshot of the impact these types of campaigns have on different business objectives.
Now, let’s dive in!
Product Seeding Challenge #1: Finding top influencers
In Traackr’s State of Influencer Product Seeding report, marketers ranked “finding the right influencers” as the number one challenge for producing successful influencer product seeding campaigns.
This is actually not that surprising at all. In fact, many marketers discover that finding influencers that are high performing and a good fit for their brand is a key challenge for campaigns of all types (paid, affiliate, etc). What’s even more interesting? Creators feel that this is a challenge too, and want to encourage brands to be smarter with who they send products too.
“The biggest mistake that I see brands make in product seeding campaigns: they send products to creators without really researching them. Personally, I want a brand to take the time to get to know me before working together. Watch my content, evaluate whether your products fit my personal style or needs, and check out my audience! In the end, it all comes down to authenticity. If i like the product, I’ll be more likely to post about it and my audience will be able to feel my excitement.” — Naomi Hearts, influencer (@naomiheartsxo)
To find the right influencers for your product seeding efforts, use data to evaluate:
- Interests and common topics. If you’re already using an influencer marketing platform, you can do a keyword search of topics, hashtags, and phrases to search through influencer bios and past content. However, it’s important to note that not all influencer marketing platforms are able to do this with the same granularity. Traackr’s influencer marketing platform is well known for its powerful search parameters (here’s an article that dives deeper into how to find influencers with Traackr for your influencer program).
- Performance metrics. Does this influencer have high reach, engagement rates, and video views? And does this content include mentions of other brands’ gifted items? If so, how did those posts perform compared to the influencer’s other posts?
- Audience demographics. Does your target demographic make up the majority of this influencer’s audience? More specifically, is the influencer’s audience in a location where they can easily buy your brand’s products?
- Brand affinity. Have they previously shown your brand love or worked with similar brands? Or have they talked about products or topics that are well aligned with your brand?
Tip: Want to learn more? We have a ton of articles on this topic, including one that details important influencer statistics to evaluate and one that shares three examples from real brands that have successfully found top influencers for their influencer programs.
Product Seeding Challenge #2: Influencer outreach
In the report, marketers ranked “writing outreach messages/receiving responses” as the third biggest challenge and “managing inbound gifting requests from influencers” as the fourth biggest challenge.
The truth is, a large part of running an influencer program comes down to influencer communication and relationship building. And it’s not uncommon to get ghosted.
The reasons for this are numerous — maybe your message got buried, maybe the influencer feels like your brand isn’t a good fit, maybe the influencer is only interested in sponsored partnerships or feels that the campaign timing isn’t right. This is why it’s critical to hone your outreach writing skills!
“When it’s clear what you’re trying to achieve from both the talent and brand side, it makes the whole process easier.” – Alice Hampton, Founder of ACP Management
A general, but good golden rule for influencer outreach is? Be clear and transparent to ensure that you are on the same page from the very beginning. Here are some other guidelines to follow:
- Clearly label the type of campaign. It sounds simple, but make sure that you clearly note that the campaign is gifted (non-sponsored). This allows the influencer to make an informed decision about whether they want to participate, and will ultimately save both of you time.
- State the desired deliverables. Don’t just highlight what kind of content you are hoping to earn, but share your timeline, desired platforms, hashtags, and links. Remember that influencer product seeding campaigns don’t guarantee that an influencer will post! But in the event that they do, it’s always a good idea to try and encourage ways for them to include brand messaging.
- Include an “opt-in” option. Make sure that you confirm that influencers are satisfied with the terms before they proceed! You can do this manually (by having them confirm in writing) or by using something like Traackr’s influencer marketing platform, which allows you to send branded landing pages to influencers so they can opt in/”accept” the campaign.
- Be explicit with usage rights. Many brands will post their influencers’ content across their social media. If you plan to reshare any content from your partners, be sure to request their permission in the initial outreach.
If you’re looking for a great example of a brand that has done this well, check out Bite Toothpaste Bits. The brand answered this product seeding challenge by using Traackr’s influencer marketing platform and creating a branded influencer toolkit. Using Traackr, Bite Toothpaste Bits was able to get influencers to opt-in to the campaign, read the creative brief, and share their product preferences ahead of time (leading to a 67% increase in influencer responses).
Tip: Here is a more in depth guide on how to write briefs that will inspire your creators and take your influencer program to the next level.
Product Seeding Challenge #3: Product waste
Traackr’s influencer product seeding report revealed that product waste still runs rampant. In fact, 65% of marketers at least somewhat agreed that their brand will still send product to an influencer, even if they didn’t post after receiving a gift. And, 61% of marketers report that less than half of the influencers receiving gifted products actually post on social media.
Not only does this indicate that brands are wasting valuable time and money, it has major implications for the negative impact that product seeding campaigns can have on the environment.
So what’s the solution? Smaller influencer lists and/or personalization.
Many brands have answered this challenge by being more selective with the influencers that they reach out to (a “less is more” tactic). Having a smaller, more focused influencer list allows brands to personalize each package, and, in some cases, brands have even given influencers the option to select their own gifted products. The latter of these strategies can be difficult to do manually, which is why many use an influencer marketing platform like Traackr, so they can provide creators with a custom product catalog from which they can select their own gifts.
“We leverage tools like Traackr’s Shopify integration to give creators a direct way to browse and pick exactly what product they want. Not only does this save our team hours of work, but it helps us live our brand values of sustainability and empowering every person to celebrate their individuality.” — Natalie Kathleen, CEO and Founder of Jibs
More specifically, Traackr’s influencer marketing platform has a Shopify integration where marketers can select products from their store to add to their product seeding campaign. Creators can then be invited directly to Traackr to select the product of their choice. This curbs product waste by only sending to influencers who are interested, and sending only what they want.
Tip: Learn more about how Traackr can help you save time and money on your product seeding campaigns.
Product Seeding Challenge #4: Measuring ROI and setting goals / KPIs
Last but not least on the product seeding challenge list — measuring ROI and setting goals/ key performance indicators (KPIs). Again, this is not a unique challenge to product seeding campaigns, but is something that can be difficult for all types of campaigns. (We have a helpful guide on setting goals and KPIs for influencer programs, by the way).
Before you get around to measuring the ROI on your influencer product seeding campaigns, it’s critical to make sure you have a clear understanding of what your goals are. Are you looking to create immediate buzz / awareness on social? Are you trying to drive sales for a specific product? Or are you looking to use product seeding as a way to build strategic relationships with specific influencers?
“Determining success goes back to what your goals for the campaign were. Of course, there are standard things you can look at general social metrics like number of posts, potential impressions, and engagements. However, depending on the size of your campaign this type of metric tracking can get tricky. This is why I use Traackr to measure the success of my product seeding campaigns. Not only does it do a lot of the manual work of pulling metrics into one central view, you can also invite influencers to opt-in which allows you to see things like actual impressions on content.” – Bette Ann Fialkov, influencer and entertainment marketing consultant
This all being said, brand influencer programs typically run product seeding campaigns with the goal of driving top-of-funnel awareness, in which case it’s important to track KPIs like: number of posts, number of engagements, number of video views, and engagement rate percentages. Some additional KPIs that can also be helpful include:
- Number of posts from new influencer groups/tiers. Are you experimenting with different influencer groups and audiences? This would be a great way to determine which ones are good to invest in further vs which ones you should avoid next time.
- Number of views on a branded hashtag. Branded hashtags can help determine how much awareness your brand is getting.
- Sentiment on gifted posts. Are the audiences from each influencer truly engaging with the #gifted post? Do they seem interested, and are they asking interesting questions? Or do they seem annoyed/disengaged?
- Spend efficiency metrics. This includes metrics like cost per engagement (CPE), cost per video view (CPV), cost per post (CPP), etc. Even though you are not directly paying a creator to post content, there is still a cost associated with the product, packaging, mailing and effort. With these metrics, you can determine who your most efficient partners are and consider them for upcoming paid initiatives. (Learn more about how to use spend efficiency metrics and techniques to improve your influencer program).
By establishing clear goals and KPIs for your product seeding campaigns, you should be able to track progress in real time, examine successes and/or failures, and optimize your strategy for next time.