As much as many bricks and mortar retailers may wish otherwise, Amazon has had a massive impact on the world of retailing. Each month more than 197 million people around the globe visit Amazon.com. That’s more than the entire population of Russia. Amazon’s impact on electronic sales is even higher – Amazon’s share of the US eCommerce market in 2018 was 49%.
Like many businesses, Amazon engages with influencers to help promote its products. Because of Amazon’s sheer size, they do things differently to most companies. Amazon influencer marketing is centralized, well organized, and surprisingly easy to participate in.
Influencers have reported earnings from a few dollars to more than $1,500 per month. It clearly is an important revenue source for some more popular influencers.
Amazon Influencer Marketing:
An Expansion of the Amazon Affiliate Program
Amazon created its Amazon Influencer Program in 2017. It grew out of their very success Amazon Affiliate Program, which rewards people willing to market Amazon products on their behalf. With the Affiliate Program, virtually anybody can apply to join. If Amazon accepts you (they do some checks, mainly whether you operate a legitimate website), you can advertise their products on your site. If people click through to Amazon and buy something, the Amazon affiliate will receive a proportion of the sale as an advertising commission. The rate varies by product but is up to 10%.
The Amazon Influencer Program works on a similar basis, although it is more exclusive and harder to become a member. If you are accepted into the Amazon Influencer Program, you are given a free vanity URL to your own Amazon storefront, filled with products that your social followers will hopefully like.
Amazon was quick to spot the power of social media influencers. Sure, influencers can use affiliate links like anybody else (if they have a website), but they have more ability than the average person does to make a dollar online. They already have a ready-made audience, who trust them, and who are likely to accept and take note of the recommendations that the influencer makes.
Requirements to Join
Amazon initially set up a beta version of the program. At this point, they sent invites to select influencers to trial the program. These included Mark Cuban, What’s Up Mom’s and Felicia Day.
You can now apply to join the program, using one of your YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts. Amazon can give real-time approval for those who apply with their YouTube or Twitter accounts, although it may take up to five days for Facebook and Instagram. Influencers across any category can participate in this program.
Amazon looks at the number of followers and other engagement metrics of your social media presence when it decides on your eligibility. Amazon is happy to accept micro-influencers, and even nano- influencers, if their engagement metrics check out.
If you don’t qualify right away, Amazon encourages you to come back in the future as the eligibility requirements may change over time. Once you’ve qualified, you can start curating your page right away.
You also need an Amazon account. Assuming your social performance is acceptable to Amazon, you will link your social account(s) with your Amazon one.
Creating and Customizing Your Store
Once you’ve been accepted and filled in your contact information, your next task is to set up your virtual Amazon store. You can use this to promote the items you want and create lists of your recommended products.
Of course, you will need to customize your store, to make it identifiably yours. Most influencers will have already created a style and visual look, so it makes sense to follow it through to your Amazon virtual store. You customize your store in much the same way you do your social profiles.
You organize your store with lists of featured products, so you will want to identify the types of products that your followers will adore. You can create lists by typing in relevant keywords, and Amazon will suggest products to add to your lists.
How to Promote the Amazon Influencer Program
If you’re careful when you compile the lists in your Amazon store, you should have collections of products that will appeal to your followers. If you are an influencer, the odds are that you focus on one particular niche and attract a specific type of person as your typical follower. Therefore, it shouldn’t be too hard to promote your Amazon Store to your followers, in a similar way that you recommend any other products to your followers.
If you’re a YouTuber, for instance, you could create unboxing videos for the products on your lists, ensuring your followers know precisely what they could be buying. If your preferred social network is Instagram, share some photos of yourself using the products in question.
You can put your Amazon Storefront link in multiple places. These include:
- Your website About page, Recommendations page, and at the bottom of relevant articles
- Your Facebook About page. Also, on individual Facebook posts, and (where appropriate) in comments on Facebook groups. You could create a Shop Now button at the top of your Facebook page.
- Your Instagram bio (possibly using your only link, depending on whether you have an essential need for it elsewhere). You can also include it in your Instagram Stories
- Your Twitter bio and in a selection of relevant tweets
- Your YouTube About page and in relevant video descriptions. You could even place it on some videos.
- As a link in any emails, you send your subscribers
Earn Money from Bounties
Amazon has various programs and services that influencers can promote within their virtual store. Influencers will earn a varying amount for each customer they attract to these programs/services. This money is referred to as bounties. One example of a bounty is if an influencer manages to get his/her followers to sign up to an Amazon Business account. In this case, Amazon gives a bounty of $US15 to the influencer.
Track Your Sales
One thing Amazon has learned from its Affiliate Program is the ability to track sales easily. It can tell when somebody has come to Amazon via your store and made a purchase. When that customer buys something, Amazon will give you a payment at the agreed rate.
You can keep track of all your sales commissions/bounties on a reporting tab within your Amazon store. It includes full details of your sales, bounties, payments, fees, and any transaction information.
Getting Paid by Amazon
Amazon varies the commission it pays for different types of products. For example, you will receive a 10% commission on sales of Amazon’s private-label fashion line. Sales of video consoles and video games will only earn you a 1% commission. Every other type of product fall between these two extremes.
Before you can receive any money from Amazon, you will first need to provide payment and tax details. You can opt to receive payment from Amazon in several ways, including, direct deposit, an Amazon gift card, or check, depending on your country of origin. You need to earn $US10 before you can access your funds, although this is considerably less than the minimum you need before you can access Amazon Affiliate funds.
How Successful is the Amazon Influencer Program?
The program has taken off since its inception and proved successful for both Amazon and the selected influencers. Amazon provides help and assistance to its influencers (just as it does to its affiliates). Influencers are earning a commission of up to 10%, depending on the type of product.
Amazon has clearly found that influencers encourage their followers to buy enough product to warrant their investment in the program. Influencers are clearly making enough commission to warrant their time and effort, and risk damaging their reputations with their followers.
There may be issues when influencers also have arrangements with other brands. They will need to consider how they deal with their other sponsors’ products in their Amazon store. Do they include that product there? Do they show competing products? There may be a need for negotiation between an influencer and his/her sponsors when there is an Amazon Storefront.
The Amazon influencer Program also changes things somewhat for influencers. Previously they may have promoted the odd product in their social feeds, written a glowing review, or perhaps made an unboxing video. Now they effectively run an online store and use their social clout to “invite” potential customers to their store.
The Amazon Influencer Program is a Real Bonus for Brands
In many ways, the real winners here are the brands who sell on Amazon. If their products appear in the influencer’ stores, these products suddenly receive considerable exposure to the followers of the influencers. Sure, they already appear on Amazon’s site, but so do millions of other goods. If they show on popular influencers’ pages, they appear before many more eyes, presumably people who are likely to take an interest in that product.
These products appear in influencers’ stores at no cost to the brands. They effectively benefit from influencer marketing without having to take on the influencers directly – Amazon covers the marketing costs. The program provides a way for creators of knowledge products, in particular, to gain passive income without doing any extra work.
Influencers may suggest to brands to promote their products in their Amazon Stores, even though the products aren’t yet listed on Amazon. This allows brands to find a larger market for little additional outlay.