There are plenty of influencer marketing strategies you could follow. But what will get you the best influencer marketing ROI? The answer depends on your revenue.

Billion dollar brands like H&M benefit from associating with household-name influencers like Gigi Hadid. But smaller brands like Metabolic Meals (under $5M revenue) would profit most from affiliate marketing and product seeding with relevant influencers. 

Source: Gigi Hadid and Abraham Corella on Instagram

So what’s the right path for your brand? 

How to Matchmake Your Revenue & Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

We outlined an influencer marketing structure you need to follow based on your brand’s revenue.

From <1M to 20M+, here are the exact things you need to focus on:

Under $1M/Year: Building Influencer Relationships Through Product Seeding

If your business garners under $1M yearly, your biggest lever will be building influencer relationships to spread the word about your brand far and wide. But without the added costs of affiliate marketing or signing macro-influencer contracts. 

Your strategy should be: 

1. Use product seeding to connect with relevant influencers

2. Secure usage rights for the content influencers posted for you 

3. Leverage influencer-generated content in your ads 

Step 1: Product Seeding Relevant Influencers

Product seeding is when you give away your products for free to influencers in exchange for … nothing. You read that right. Product seeding is purely a relationship-building activity — with secondary benefits like finding brand advocates and getting free influencer content.

Why not just pay the influencers for a post or two? Three reasons:

  • The pay-per-post model is dead. It builds a transactional relationship with influencers,  while product seeding lays the groundwork for starting a collaboration based on giving, not asking. 

  • Paying for posts fizzles out in the long haul. When influencers who have never even heard of you post about your products, they might become fake brand advocates, and the inauthenticity will reflect in their content.

  • Product seeding allows you to thoroughly examine influencers before entering into a long-term partnership. You can check how an influencer talks about your brand, whether or not they genuinely love your products, and test their content creation abilities without paying a penny (except the COGS of the product).

Further reading: How To Launch Your Own Influencer Seeding Campaign

How to reach out to your shortlisted influencers without getting lost in their inbox? Send a DM that mentions: 

  • Who you are: Mention your brand name and add one line about your business model. Get to the point quickly. Remember: It’s not about you.

  • Why you’re reaching out to them: Tell the influencer what products you want to send them and why your products would be useful to their audience.

  • What you want from them (Answer: nothing): Always add “no strings attached” to your DMs to ensure the influencer knows there’s no obligation to post about you on receiving the product.

  • Call-to-action: Don’t leave the influencer guessing what to do next. Ask for their address and add your email and/or phone number so influencers can contact you if they have any questions. 

Here’s an example of a product-seeding DM we sent at Kynship for one of our clients: 

Source: Kynship

DMs are much more casual, but you can also use email to reach out to potential influencers and follow the same structure. 

⚡Pro-tip: Don’t mention “free gift” or something similar in your subject line if you choose the email route. Influencers may think you’re trying to manipulate or exploit them, and your email might not even get opened. A simple “{your brand name} — Partnership!” subject works better. 

Learn more: A Start To Finish Guide For Contacting Influencers

Here’s a template you can copy-paste and tweak for DMing influencers: “Hey {name}! I’m a brand rep at {company name}, and I just wanted to reach out and say we love your content! We really wanna send you some {product} from {brand}. No strings attached. Just send us your address so we can get it to you!

The next step is tracking all the influencer content you get. 

Step 2: Secure Usage Rights for Influencer-Generated Content

We recommend seeding to at least 100 relevant influencers (meaning you should reach out to at least 500 creators). According to our data, at least 30% will post about your brand two to three times on average (for free!).

You want to run all of these valuable influencer-generated content as ads. But you need to ask for the influencer’s permission first and get usage rights. Most influencers would be happy to give the rights away for free in exchange for getting more exposure through your brand, but some creators might ask for a nominal fee.

Here’s what you can send seeded influencers who posted about your brand: 

"Hey {influencer name}! We're so glad you loved our product so much that you were willing to share this content with your audience. We'd love to be able to share this content with our audiences as well! Could we have the rights to use this content on organic and paid social for 30 days?"

Why ask for 30 days usage rights? Because one month isn’t an aggressive demand (like full ownership) and increases the probability of the influencer agreeing to hand over the usage rights. More importantly, 30 days is plenty of time to test your paid efforts. 

Step 3: Leverage Influencer-Generated Content in Your Ads

Next, you want to run this seeded content as Facebook ads. But do you log in and manually check each of the 100 influencer profiles to track what they posted about you? Heck no. Use MightyScout to track, capture, and download influencer-generated content

Source: MightyScout

Once you have all of it in place, run your Facebook ads. Don’t pick and choose which creatives to test — run all of them. Why? You’ll never know which ads will crush it on paid. Lean into Facebook’s machine learning system to identify the top-performing content for you — and double down on what works. 

After 30 days:

  • Go back to the influencers whose content was high-performing on paid
  • Let them know how much you appreciate them
  • Offer compensation to own the content in perpetuity

What payment should you offer? A maximum of $500 if the influencer has less than 150K followers (start negotiating at $150 if you want a good deal). The best part? You’ve already made far more than $500 in paid ads in the 30 days of usage rights itself. 

$1M — $10M/Year: Affiliate Marketing With Generous Commissions

If your business earns between $1M — $10M in revenue yearly, use the product seeding and usage rights strategy mentioned above, but also add affiliate influencer partners in the mix. 

Here’s a template you can tweak when you onboard influencers as affiliate partners: 

“Hey, {name}, we’ve loved working with you so far, and we’re super down to make sure you get properly compensated for any future posts for {brand}. 

If you’d like, we can onboard you onto our affiliate program and pay you {XX%} of all sales you make.”

Anytime an influencer posts about your brand through their profile, use Social Snowball to offer them their commission. Offer personalized discount codes or unique UTM links that affiliates can share with their audience easily.

Here’s an example post from an affiliate for Native. 

Source: Josh on Instagram

How do you out-compete other brands through your affiliate program? Offer extremely generous commissions. This could be as high as 30%, depending on the product — two to three times higher than what other businesses offer. 

A lucrative affiliate commission increases an influencer’s skin in the game — and they work harder to sell more and more products for you.

Another way to be ahead of your competition is to keep your affiliates engaged and active rather than humming in the background. 

Keep them in the loop about any upcoming company-wide sales and promotions via email or text messages. This way, you’ll always be top-of-mind for your affiliate influencer partners and help them get ideas to create better, more real-time relevant content for you.

Learn more: How To Get Started With Influencer Affiliate Marketing

$10M — $20M/Year: Turn Your Best Influencers Into Brand Ambassadors

You seed influencers, create some bomb influencer-generated content, and ask your favorite creators to become affiliate partners. What next? 

After following all the strategies mentioned above, make things official and turn your influencers into brand ambassadors if you make $10M — $20M yearly.  


Step 1: Evaluate which seeded influencers and affiliate partners are crushing the ROI through their organic and paid posts. Who are the influencers whose content is performing exceptionally well? Which creators genuinely love your brand? The influencers who fit both criteria are invaluable and should be rewarded. 

Step 2: Ask these creators if they’d be willing to represent your brand and turn them into brand ambassadors. 

Step 3: Sign a long-term contract with these brand ambassadors and receive ongoing services from them — like video content creation, organic posting, and whitelisting. Expect to pay between $60 — 110k a year for each influencer, depending on their audience size.

Workout wear brand, Gymshark, owes its success to ambassador marketing. They started with athlete influencer marketing and graduated to making their favorite athletes their brand ambassadors, including Lori Harvey. She already loves the brand, which made their partnership a no-brainer and much more authentic to their target customers. 

Source: Lori Harvey on Instagram

Continue reading: How To Create A Brand Ambassador Program From Scratch 

⚠️ Warning: We strongly advise against pay-per-post off the bat because it builds a transactional and loveless environment between you and the influencer. Building a brand ambassador program after seeding and affiliate marketing not only makes for a smooth transition but also ensures you only hire genuine product adopters as your brand ambassadors.

More Than $20M/Year: Make Relevant Household Name Influencers Your Flag Bearers

If your business makes more than $20M yearly, you can afford to involve some household names who become the flag bearers for your brand. Consumers will start associating you with the celebrity — which can help your business scale like rocket fire. 🚀

Think what Tim Ferris is for Athletic Greens. 

Source: Tim Ferris on Instagram

Obviously, you can’t get big-name influencers like Ferris to promote your brand with product seeding. 

But you must approach only those macro and mega influencers who align with your values. Why? Because even if these flag bearers become the face of your company, you still need your brand to speak for itself. You can’t just pay heavy moolah to any celebrity and expect your sales to fly through the roof. Brand and influencer alignment is crucial. 

If you just throw money at the problem, your influencer collaboration might look similar to when Kim Kardashian partnered with Beyond Meat. The whole setup looked fake, and it was clear that Kim was only in the video for the cheque. 

Inauthenticity is hard to hide — Kim’s followers called her out and began roasting her for the partnership

To avoid partnering with misfit influencers, truly understand your audience and find a flag-bearer influencer who can speak directly to them. These types of influencers take a lot of work to find. But when you spot one, remember they’re worth millions. 

Moving up the Pyramid Structure

The long-term goal for every brand is to get to a place where each level of the pyramid is utilized. At every stage, your company should ask relevant questions to influencers: 

  • Seeding: Do you want the product?
  • Organic Post: Do you love it enough to post?
  • Paid ads: Do you want to grant us the rights to use your content?
  • Affiliates: Do you want to work together further?
  • Ambassadors: Do you want to become a long-term partner?
  • Flag Bearers: Does your content perform well enough, and is your audience large enough for you to become the face of the company?

Use the right strategy to match your revenue tier, and as the sales start to increase, inch up the influencer pyramid of success. See who works best at the micro level and gradually move the top performers up the pyramid. Repeat the process to get the maximum ROI out of influencer marketing. 

Need help moving up the influencer pyramid? We can help — we’re experts at moving brands up tier by tier. Book a call with us today to see what we can do for you.