Ultimate Influencer Gifting Guide [ + Free Templates ]

May 8, 2024
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Peter Nettesheim
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Influencer gifting or influencer seeding can be a powerful way for D2C e-commerce brands to run cost effective marketing campaigns and maximise ROI. If you are looking to start an influencer gifting campaigns this guide will explain to you step by step how to set up, execute and manage your campaign to maximise marketing impact.

What is Influencer gifting?

Influencer gifting is the process of offering free gifts to influencers with the goal to:

  • Start a partnership 
  • Get them to talk organically and share about your brand on social media 
  • Drive ROI  

The difference to a traditional influencer campaign is that you are not paying a fixed fee which often makes it difficult to make posting mandatory. These types of campaigns are often based on the principle of reciprocity, hoping that the influencer will share about your product with their audience in exchange for receiving it for free.

Do you have the concern that influencers don’t end up posting leading to high cost without results? Keep on reading as we will explain in this article step by step how to maximise posting rates and with it marketing impact and ROI.

What are the benefits of Influencer gifting campaigns?

Influencer gifting campaigns have various benefits and in fact is one of the way we always recommend to get started first if you are looking to build up a performance driven influencer program.

1. Cost effective

As you are not paying the influencers a fixed fee you can get exposure and reach their passionate audience without breaking the bank.

2. Allows you to test influencers

By combining your influencer gifting campaign with an affiliate campaign you are able to track which influencers perform well which in turn can lead to valuable long term partnerships. This is by far the most important point as it will allow you to build up a performance driven influencer campaign while being profitable. More on this later.

3. Get access to authentic UGC

Due to the casual nature of a gifting campaign influencers will often create authentic and compelling user generated content (UGC) which resonates well with your target audience. We always recommend trying to re-use this content as much as possible. You can re-use influencer UGC for: 

  • Paid social 
  • Organic social 
  • On your website 
  • For your newsletter 

By reusing your influencer content you 1). increase the value you get out of your gifting campaign 2). Create social proof which will lead to more customers over time. In fact studies show that 84% of buyers trust recommendations from their peers over all types of advertising.

Influencer Hero will automatically capture all your influencer UGC for you so you don’t have to do this manually. This includes stories, reels and feed posts, easily accessible through a content library where you can quickly find your best creatives and download the high resolution file to be reused.

4. Increase in brand awareness

We typically recommend having your influencer gifting campaigns always on throughout the year as it will lead to considerable brand awareness over time. Having several influencers constantly talk about your brand on social media will increase trust and awareness.

5. Driving sales

Probably one of the most important points for brands. Essentially you are running a business and all marketing activities are in some form or the other initiated to increase sales. The benefit of influencer gifting campaigns is that it actually touches the whole consumer journey. From top of funnel awareness explain in the previous step all the way to direct response conversions. Continue reading to learn how you can maximise conversions with influencer gifting campaigns.

How to implement an influencer gifting campaign

In this section we will explain step by step how to organise and implement an influencer gifting campaign to maximise marketing impact.

1. Identify the right influencers

Finding the right influencers to work with is one of the most challenging tasks brands and agencies encounter when starting an influencer gifting campaign. Although it might be intuitive to work with larger influencers they are also often more expensive and less likely to accept a gifting offer. Especially if they have a talent manager which acts as the gatekeeper. As the manager in most cases gets paid a % of the budget the brand spends they don’t have any incentive to accept gifting offers. 

That being said if you are managing the outreach manually we recommend reaching out to nano or micro influencers as they are more likely to accept gifting proposals. 

If you are using automated tools such as Influencer Hero which allows you bulk outreach to influencers (more in this later) we recommend reaching out to both smaller as well as larger influencers. Although larger influencers are less likely to accept the proposal by contacting a lot of them you will naturally find macro and mega influencers which are willing to partner with you even for gifting. It is important to structure your communication and negotiation in a certain way which we will explain in detail in the next section. We talked to many users which worked with a lot of creators from 100K - 1M followers in a gifting campaign by using our communication strategy and automation tools.

Other important metrics to consider when working with influencers for a gifting campaign

1. Engagement rate

The engagement rate is a metric which is often more valuable to look at to analyse the potential impact the influencer can provide for your brand. To analyse this you can use a free engagement rate calculator here.

2. Fake Followers

Besides analysing the engagement rate you should also look at the % fake followers to ensure that you are reaching real followers and not bots or followers which the influencer has paid for. To analyse this you can use a free fake follower check here

Manually looking for influencers can be very time intensive and isn’t scalable. We recommend to use Influencer Search Tools like Influencer Hero where you can use detailed filters to quickly find the influencers you want to work with.

Besides the search, Influencer Hero offers an all-in-one influencer platform allowing you to manage your entire influencer program in one central place. With a starting price of $249/month it is accessible to most businesses while providing all the tools needed to succeed.

Other Tools to find influencers

Upfluence

Upfluence offers a dedicated influencer platform to manage your entire influencer program in one place. Their search capabilities are sophisticated but their database includes slightly less influencers compared to alternatives such as Modash, Influencer Hero or Heepsy. The advantage is that it provides all the other tools required besides search but also comes at a high cost starting at around $2K/month. 

Modash

Modash is known for its search capabilities. Although it provides the same capabilities as Influencer Hero in terms of searching for influencers it lacks all the other tools like affiliate, automatic UGC collection, a sophisticated CRM to manage campaigns and automated outreach capabilities. With the same entry pricing as Influencer Hero ($249/month), the value of money is not the highest. 

Heepsy

Similar to Modash Heepsy has a strong focus on influencer search but lacks other capabilities such as affiliate, automatic product send outs and a sophisticated CRM which tools like Upfluence and Influencer Hero do offer. However, their pricing is also decent starting at $199/month it is suited for smaller businesses as well.

2. Start your influencer gifting campaign outreach

Now that you know which influencers you want to work with for your gifting campaign you need to start contacting the influencers to invite them to your campaign. 

There are two main ways to contact influencers for your influencer gifting campaign. 

  1. Direct Message
  2. Email 

Here are the advantages and challenges of both methods.

Direct message

Advantage: you will reach the influencer directly. Especially with larger influencers starting from 100K followers a lot of influencers work with talent managers which you ideally want to avoid.

Challenge: It is almost impossible to scale your outreach using DMs. The problem with DM’s is that Instagram allows you to send around 10 DM’s per day with the same message which in most cases isn’t enough to organise a sophisticated influencer gifting campaign.

Email outreach

Advantage: you can scale. Especially with tools like Influencer Hero you can send out hundreds of emails per day maximising your top of funnel. Especially with influencer gifting campaigns your drop off is quite high due to a lot of influencers asking for a fee. The simple solution is to reach out to more influencers so more influencers end up at the bottom of your outreach funnel joining your influencer gifting campaign. 

Challenge: the challenge with email is that especially with larger influencers (100K+ followers) you will often reach talent managers which act as the gatekeeper and often don’t accept gifting collaborations. A simple solution: try to bribe the gatekeeper by also offering a free product to the manager. Your COGS of the product is often a lot lower compared to the fee’s the agent will require and if this will get you the address of the influencer it’s definitely worth the cost.

How a typical outreach funnel looks like for an influencer gifting campaign

Example: let's say you reach out to 100 influencers.  

If we assume a reply rate: 35% (this is the average reply rate across all Influencer Hero users) you will have 35 responses. Out of these 35 responses typically you can expect around 15 Influencers to accept your gifting offer which is a 15% onboarding rate. 

This is if you follow our communication and negotiation strategy. If you don’t use the right tactics these numbers can be lower. But overall you can expect a funnel like the above. 

You are probably curious about these communication and negotiation strategies and how to implement them. Simply use our templates below. 

1. Influencer gifting outreach templates
SUBJECT: {{ firstname|default(influencer_handle) }} – ENTER YOUR BRAND NAME Partnership
Hi {{ firstname|default(influencer_handle) }},

{{personalized_sentence}}

My name is
ENTER YOUR NAME and I’m from ENTER YOUR COMPANY NAME. We are ADD ONE SENTENCE DESCRIPTION ABOUT YOUR BRAND

We are looking for potential partnerships and we love the content on your account {{influencer_handle}}!

It would be awesome if you could test our
ENTER YOUR PRODUCT

HIGHLIGHT YOUR USP AND YOUR PRODUCT IN ONE SENTENCE.

I’m happy to send you one
ENTER YOUR PRODUCT for you to test. We also offer a 20% commission or a discount code to give out to your followers. Please get back to me if you are interested in this opportunity.

Can I send you one of the
ENTER YOUR PRODUCT?

Thanks!

Best,

ENTER YOUR NAME

TIPS: to maximise your reply rate for your influencer gifting campaign
  • Keep it short, concise and to the point 
  • Adding the first name to the subject line will increase open rates by 30% 
  • Include a personalised sentence 
  • End the email with a strong CTA (call to action)

With Influencer Hero you can do all of this automatically. Simply create a drip campaign and the place holders marked in curly brackets in the template will auto fill. On top of this our Ai-powered personalised sentence guarantees hyper personalised messages leading to higher reply rates and improved relationships. 

Golden rule to maximise your reply rates for your influencer gifting campaign: use follow ups. Follow ups are probably the easiest way to increase your reply rates often overlooked by marketeers. Our analysis shows that campaigns using follow ups have twice the reply rate compared to campaigns without follow ups so make sure to add follow ups!

For the entire sequence access our influencer gifting outreach flow including outreach and follow up templates here.

The templates have been A/B tested across thousands of campaigns which will guarantee the highest reply rates or perhaps the average 35-40% reply rates Influencer Hero’s enjoy.

2. Negotiation

Once your replies start to come in, the work is just getting started. It is crucial to have the right negotiation strategies to get as many influencers as possible to agree to join your influencer gifting campaign. 

Here are some tips to maximise your acceptance rate for your influencer gifting negotiation: 

  • Highlight that this initial post is just to get a better understanding of the match towards the brand. 
  • Explain that you offer different compensation methods if this initial post goes well 
  • Explain that you are looking for long term partnerships 
  • Craft irresistible gift packages 

The point here is that you want to explain to the influencer that if the post performs well you are also willing to offer fixed payments. We typically recommend to use affiliate links and personalised vouchers to track the performance so you know exactly how much each of the influencers sell. The objective here is to identify high performing influencers with which you can build long lasting and valuable relationships. 

Read our full guide on how to optimise your influencer campaign for performance and ROI here

IMPORTANT: we recommend getting the commitment for a post verbally upfront. Get the influencer to agree to a post in exchange for the free product and affiliate. This will make a significant difference later down the line when you want to collect the posts. If you tell the influencers that there is no obligation to post it might increase the onboarding rate in your campaign but will also increase your non posting rate which will lead to higher cost and lower marketing impact and thus reduced ROI. 

Use our A/B tested negotiation template below in case an influencer asks if you have a budget or shares their rate card and mention that they don’t accept barter campaigns. By using this template you our users are able to get around 30% of the influencer which initially reject gifting to accept your offer.

Negotiation template to increase your influencer gifting onboarding rate
Hi {{firstname}},

Thank you for your reply.

We completely understand that you don’t work on an affiliate basis. However, we hope you understand that the first story post is only to get a better understanding of the match towards the brand.

We work with a wide variety of different compensation packages which include fixed payments and long-term brand ambassador programs. We have been collaborating with creators for a few years now and from our experience, we know that the performance varies widely which is why we work with an initial story post in order for us to make a fair offer. 

Based on the results of this initial post we would be making you an offer that includes one or a combination of the before mentioned packages.

IF INITIAL OFFER IS INCREASED

Usually, we only send out the
ENTER INITIAL PRODUCT OFFERED, however, because we value your work and accommodation, we'd love to offer ENTER UPDATED OFFER

Please let me know if I can send you the
ENTER UPDATED PRODUCT OFFER.  

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Best,

ENTER YOUR NAME

What is important in this process of your influencer gifting campaign is persuasive negotiation. You want to provide a feeling of FOMO and create the feeling that they will be missing out on a great opportunity if they don’t work with you. 

Important: Always incorporate follow ups in every step of the process.

Remember influencers are busy people receiving thousands of messages from fans, other brands and often having a normal life next to all of the content creation as well. In each step even if the influencer initially shows interest there can be drop off if you don’t follow up. 

The overview below shows the communication and templates involved in managing your influencer gifting campaign. 

You can access the full workflow from outreach, negotiation, awaiting post to posted here.

Should you use contracts for influencer gifting campaigns?

While you might think using a contract will guarantee a post we don’t recommend using a contract for influencer gifting campaigns. At the end of the day you are asking the influencer for a favour. Asking them to sign a contract will lead to a significant drop off as the influencer often doesn't want to go through great lengths if they are not getting paid. If you are still considering to use a contract we recommend to use a brief and shorter version so the influencer doesn't need to consult with a legal expert for signing it. You can access both a brief shorter version as well as a detailed influencer contract template for free here. 

For influencer gifting campaigns instead of using written contracts we recommend to use a “verbal contract” instead. By getting the influencer to agree to a post in exchange for free product and affiliate they verbally agree which although is not enforceable will lead to a lower non posting rate while it doesn’t significantly decrease the acceptance rate of your influencer gifting campaign. 

Sending out your gifts

Now that you finally got your influencers to agree to your influencer gifting campaign it’s time to send out your gifts. What you can do to improve the experience is to increase personalised notes. A handwritten card including the name of the influencer often works well. Are you working with a 3 party fulfilment centre or don’t have the time to do this one by one? We recommend using services like thanks.io which offer artificial handwritten postcards. By using blue ink it is almost impossible to detect the difference. 

Sending products to influencers especially if working on larger campaigns can be very time consuming. With influencer gifting platforms like Influencer Hero you can directly dispatch products to influencers form a centralised CRM. The system snychs with your CMS such as Shopify or WooCommerce and automatically creates a $0 order allowing you to quickly dispatch products to influencers. 

Collecting the posts

Now you might think, finally I have sent out the products, time to relax. Not so fast. Until you collect the posts the campaign isn’t finalised. In fact this is a crucial part to ensure that the influencer will post about your products. 

Use the following template once you have dispatched the products.

Hi {{firstname}},

Thank you for providing your shipping details. The
ENTER PRODUCT NAME is on its way and should be arriving in a few days!

You can use the following custom link and discount code to share with your followers.

Link: {{custom_link}}
Discount code: {{discount_code}}

Looking forward to your post! 

Best,

ENTER YOUR NAME

How to reduce non posting rates with influencer gifting campaigns

Once the package has been delivered make sure to quickly check in. With an influencer gifting platform such as Influencer Hero the tracking link will automatically sync with your CRM through which you can quickly see once a product has been delivered. We recommend to use the template below.

Hi {{firstname}},

How are you doing? I saw that the package has been delivered :)   

Regarding the story post, here are your custom link and discount code again for reference.

LINK: {{custom_link}}
Discount code: {{discount_code}}

Your custom link and discount code will be used to track the number of clicks and referrals. Based on this information, we offer different packages and brand ambassador programs. Because of this, we recommend using the sticker link and sharing the discount code in the post. 

Could you tell me on which date you are planning to post?

That way I can check your account as I am super excited to see the post myself :)

Best,

ENTER YOUR NAME

IMPORTANT: Make sure to follow up! If the influencer doesn’t reply and you have the feeling that they might not post make sure to follow up. As they verbally agreed to a post you can follow up to try to collect the post. Be careful however with the tone as you always want to formulate it in a friendly and optional way. Demanding can often lead to a negative impact on the influencer relationship. 

An example follow up template in this stage would look like this:

Hi {{firstname}},

How are you? I hope you're having a great week!

I wanted to make a quick follow up on the
ENTER PRODUCT NAME. Have you had the chance to use it already? :)

I hope you like it! We’re all so eager to hear your thoughts on it.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Best,

ENTER YOUR NAME

We typically recommend using multiple follow ups with 72 hours of waiting time in between. You can access all influencer gifting follow up templates here

With Influencer Hero you can schedule sequences of emails automatically so don’t have to send them out one by one manually. 

The overview below shows the respective workload in this stage of your influencer gifting campaign. 

3. Campaign Closing

Once the influencer posted make sure to thank them and initiate the next steps. If ROI is your main objective this is the moment you want to analyse the performance of the post so you can decide if it is worth your time to continue to invest in this relationship. 

We constantly stress the importance of the 80/20 Pareto principle in influencer marketing. Having helped brands to collaborate with over 20 thousand influencers over the past 7 years we know how that typically a smaller group of influencer make the majority of the sales. 

This is why we recommend to group the influencers into 

  • Low performing influencers ( < 3 conversions) 
  • Medium performing ( 3 - 10 conversions) 
  • High performing ( > 10 conversions) 

For your medium and high performing influencer it is important to build up a long lasting relationship as you have now identified that these influencers are able to sell. 

Use the template below for medium and high performing influencers.

MP & HP - Medium or High Performer

Hi {{firstname}},

Thank you so much for your beautiful post!

We would love to continue to work with you and send you our
ENTER NAME OF NEW PRODUCT for you to try! ENTER SHORT PRODUCT DESCRIPTION.

I have also sent you an invite to your dashboard where you can see your earnings. If you connect your bank details in your dashboard we can process the payment :)

Can we send you the new
ENTER NAME OF NEW PRODUCT?

Best,

ENTER YOUR NAME

For low performing influencers it is typically not profitable to continue to invest time in these relationships. Make sure to be polite, thank them for their post and move on. Use the template below for low performing influencers in your gifting campaign: 

P1 - Posted <3 Conversions
Hi {{firstname}},

Thank you so much for the beautiful post! Your participation in our campaign means a lot to us, and we appreciate your efforts. :)

We have left your link and code active so you will continue to earn affiliate commission. Feel free to use the link also on other platforms which will benefit your affiliate earnings :)

In addition, I have sent you an invitation to the Dashboard so you can create your log in, put in your bank details, and track your commission. 

Your collaboration is incredibly valued.

Thank you once again for your amazing support!

Best,

ENTER YOUR NAME

You can also access both posted templates for influencer gifting campaigns here.

Build valuable and long lasting relationships

Now that you have identified your top performing influencers through your influencer gifting campaign make sure to re activate them to maximise ROI. You can read in detail how to maximise ROI using seasonality campaigns with performing influencers here. 

If you find this valuable and want to discuss with us more in detail how you can best structure your influencer gifting campaign, you can schedule a free consultation with one of our media experts here.

FAQs
What is Influencer Gifting?
How Do You Approach Influencers for Gifting?
Is Influencer Gifting Worth It?
What Should You Include in an Influencer Gifting Package?
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