Amazon is a huge business. Launched in 1994 as an online bookseller, it now has 300 million registered users and last year sold $136 billion of products. Amazon made $2.4 billion income on it’s sales in 2016.
What is not so widely known is that Amazon relies heavily on affiliate links. There is an army of people who post content that includes unique, trackable links to Amazon. When someone reading some of that content uses one of these links to buy a product, the content creator receives a commission. And Amazon makes another sale.
Such is the importance of affiliate links, that Amazon has just announced the beta-launch of an influencer marketing programme.
At the heart of this new move are two things:
- Amazon recognises that influencers and content creators are looking for ways to monetise the value of their audiences and the content they create
- Amazon also sees that customers buy from people they trust. The mega-retailer understands that today influencers are the ones driving – or at least influencing – purchasing decisions
What does this mean for you?
If you are a retailer then Amazon’s move is a clear signal that you too should be thinking about how to incorporate influencers into the marketing that you do. After all, content creators and influencers are talking directly – and with authority – to your target market.
If you are a brand selling a large amount of your products through retailers, then you really want to be collaborating with those retail partners to make sure that influencers are involved in what you and they are doing. If influencers are one of the most trusted sources of information – which research report after report says they are (and Amazon’s behaviour suggests they believe that too) – then to ignore them makes no sense at all.
And if you are one of the brands that is selling directly to customers, then having your own influencer programme is essential. You will not only increase sales in the short term, but you will also make sure that when retailers start working with influencers, they do not cannibalise your sales. After all, who where you rather have customers buying from: your e-commerce platform or a third party retailer buying from you at a discount?
Where Amazon goes, others follow
One thing is certain; a company like Amazon has it’s fingers on the pulse. No company gets to a $300 billion valuation and #8 on the list of most innovative companies in the US (according to Inc Magazine, June 2016) without being at the forefront of sales and marketing. Where Amazon goes, others follow.
Amazon also presumably recognises the arbitrage in influencer marketing. It knows that in the future, influencers will increasingly recognise their value and look to charge accordingly (or will demand greater commission fees for driving sales). However right now it is possible to create immense value by supporting influencers, whether that is through offering the chance to be an affiliate, paying them directly, kitting them out or creating experiences that allows them to produce ever-more engaging content.
And best of all, there are influencers for every type and scale of business. Whether you are one of the biggest businesses in the world or a start-up trying to make a mark in the world, amplified word of mouth – also known as influencer marketing – is a powerful tool.
So what are you waiting for? Amazon has already started working with influencers. You probably should too.