Meet the influencer agency that's helping Amazon merchants break free of the e-commerce giant

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Meet the influencer agency that's helping Amazon merchants break free of the e-commerce giant

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Jeff Bezos

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos.

  • Influencer agency Stack Influence specializes in working with e-commerce brands that are wary of betting their businesses on Amazon and are increasingly looking for new distribution channels like social media.
  • The firm doles out free products to influencers in exchange for asking them to post sponsored content.
  • For one campaign, brands often work with hundreds of "micro influencers."
  • Stack Influence also is signing up influencers for Amazon's recently revamped influencer program.

E-commerce brands that built their brand on Amazon are increasingly looking to diversify their revenue, and one agency is capitalizing on the move.

Stack Influence is a 1-year-old agency that matches influencers with small e-commerce sellers. The company has access to more than 10 million so-called "micro influencers" that have between 800 and 20,000 social media followers. Because each influencers' reach is small, a brand might work with as many as a few hundred influencers on a single campaign. 

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"We started Stack Influence after selling products ourselves on online stores and in Amazon for the past 10 years," said William Gasner, co-founder and CMO of Stack Influence. "We realized, 'Why not leverage this large community and offer our services to other Amazon sellers?'"

Gasner said the pitch is to help small merchants on Amazon by seeding free products to hundreds of micro-influencers. Influencers also often insert links to Amazon products in their posts.

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E-commerce brands are looking beyond Amazon

One challenge that Amazon sellers have is diversifying their revenue away from Amazon. A common fear among Amazon sellers is that the e-commerce giant can shut down accounts or storefronts because of poor reviews, he said.

While the influencers' social posts can still link to Amazon, the idea is to equip small merchants with marketing and content that they use off of Amazon to build a social media following, publish it on a website or distribute it in email marketing.

Read more: Amazon is now paying influencers big commissions to sell its products. We got a leaked document that shows how it all works.

"Even sellers that are making six figures a month don't have the strongest brands because they can find success by having good reviews or high ranking [listings]," Gasner said. "A lot of these companies don't have websites or social media in general."

He added that the engagement rates on content from micro influencers is higher than that of bigger influencers and that their partnership fees are lower. "Our influencers get a free product, and we get a post or a survey answered."

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Stack Influence charges brands to handle the logistics of the campaign and tracking the performance of campaigns. These fees run between $7,000 and $10,000 per campaign and can go up to $50,000 for brands with monthly campaigns that cycle through different influencers. A high-paying advertiser might work with 200 different influencers a month over six months, for example.

Health and vitamin supplement brand Eu Natural has been working with Stack Influence since last summer when it ran a test campaign with 100 influencers who review and post pictures of the brand's bottles and products on Instagram and Facebook. Now, the brand runs a campaign every month with 100 new influencers.

"We have always been looking for influencers for marketing, and doing it on our own was a bit difficult because it's very time-consuming," said Vinay Amin, the founder of Eu Natural.

Influencers get free swag from brands

Besides working with brands, Stack Influence also helps influencers make money from their posts - ironically, through Amazon's influencer program.

Most of Stack Influence's influencers are paid in products in exchange for creating social content for brands. If an influencer is picked to work on a campaign, Stack Influence asks influencers to buy the product (which they are later reimbursed for) and post a piece of sponsored content to their social media accounts, primarily Instagram. Gasner said influencers get an average of $30 in free products per campaign.

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Over the past few months, Amazon has been beefing up its affiliate-like influencer program that lets creators make money off of items that they recommend and sell. Influencers get paid a percent of an item's cost. For example, Amazon's private fashion line pays influencers 10% while video games and consoles pay 1%.

Gasner said that his firm has signed up 200 of its influencers for Amazon's program and plans to set up a Facebook Group for all its influencers to educate them on the affiliate program.

"It incentivizes them since they're only getting a free product," he said, because influencers don't earn money from Stack Influence's campaigns. "A lot of them aren't willing to promote a [post] without that extra commission."

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