Beauty products retailer Vanity Planet says that a startup affiliate marketing platform is helping it find influencers who are driving sales to its site.

Beauty products retailer Vanity Planet has a robust influencer marketing program that includes more than 4,000 social media influencers.

“Influencers play a big part in nearly everything we do,” says Mike Ponzillo, the retailer’s co-founder. Social networks, where influencers post content that highlights Vanity Planet’s products, accounted for 40.3% of VanityPlanet.com‘s traffic from December 2016 to November 2017, according to digital measurement firm SimilarWeb Ltd., outpacing other traffic sources, such as direct (30.3%) and organic search (13.2%).

Yet despite influencers’ importance on Vanity Planet’s bottom line, its programs are complicated. Agreements with individual influencers differ. Vanity Planet pays some via an affiliate model, it gives others only product and with others uses a sponsorship model in which the retailer pays influencers to produce content. “We haven’t settled one model,” Ponzillo says.

 

Earlier this year the retailer took a step toward simplifying its influencer program by testing, and later implementing, an influencer marketing platform developed by Indi, a startup that has former Bluefly.com and Buy.com CEO Neel Grover at the helm. Indi’s content platform enables consumers to create videos that they can share on social media, over email and on a brand’s website.

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The Indi platform is designed around an affiliate model, in which a consumer who records a video that leads to a sale is rewarded with a share of the sale (the percentage varies by retailer).

“The idea is to create a virtual salesforce that’s performance-based,” Grover says. The platform also enables brands to to leverage what Grover calls “micro-influencers,” consumers with relatively modest number of followers. Because the platform enables brands to add influencers at no risk, retailers can add a large number of micro-influencers to drive significant results.

For instance, in the first two months that Vanity Planet tested the Indi platform it added 1,000 new influencers. “These were people who we weren’t able to work with before because we didn’t have a platform to do so,” Ponzillo says. And those influencers delivered 2% of the retailer’s revenue in those first two months. “That’s all incremental revenue,” he says. “These are brand new people who are driving sales to our site.”

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