If you’ve been following trends in the marketing space, you’ll agree that customers rarely take brands seriously anymore.
As a customer yourself, there’s a good chance you’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve skipped branded ads on YouTube.
However, show people a customer testing your products and they’ll bring out their debit cards in no time.
Even better: show them their favorite influencer trying out similar products and their enthusiasm will shoot through the roof.
This is a better approach that you can leverage for your marketing campaigns.
Sounds like something you’d like to try?
Buckle up as we walk you through the process in this guide.
By the time we’re done, you’ll have learned about:
- Influencer product testing
- Its benefits
- How to test your products
- Factors to consider before you begin
Now let’s get this underway!
What is Influencer Product Testing?
Product testing, aka consumer testing, refers to content creators evaluating a product and its features to show customers how to use it and to help brands know how the product will perform when it hits the market.
It’s a form of market research where brands gather reports from consumers about their products or services.
Let’s use an illustration to explain this.
Product testing is a lot like clinical trials. You know, the type where pharmaceutical companies test their products on human volunteers to see their effects on people.
In most cases, it’s the outcome of these trials that determines whether a drug will hit the market or even get approval from the FDA.
If the drug eventually makes it to the market, advertising may not be too complicated because the company has records of people who’ve used the product already. The company can just leverage social proof.
That’s product testing, but instead of drugs, a sample of your customers tests different types of physical products like make-up kits, clothes, food items, or new software.
You get to see how they react to the product, usage behavior, and preference.
This way, you can ensure that your product or service meets the needs of your target market and has the features that potential customers wanna see.
Product testing is recommended before a product launch so you’ve got a good idea of what needs to be added to the product so you can exceed expectations.
So where do influencers fit into product testing?
Well, as social media users with huge followings, as well as authenticity and credibility, their followers respect their opinions and recommendations more than they would a brand.
More than 80% of consumers are more likely to buy a product that’s recommended by an influencer.
Also, according to reports, Gen Zs and Millennials in the U.S. are usually interested in products and services that are recommended by social media content creators.
That’s the power of influencers.
When you get influencers to test your products, that’s what’s referred to as influencer product testing.
Here, instead of regular customers trying out items, the influencers try products. As such, you need to ensure the creators you work with are in the same industry as your business, so they know what a typical consumer would like.
Before we move on, we’ve got something for creatives or bloggers searching for a side hustle because they might not be considered influencers yet.
Companies are willing to pay you to test products for them. Some of them include:
- Johnson & Johnson
To access brands like these, you may need to sign up to the testing panels of product-testing websites like:
- Vogue Insiders
- Pinecone Research
- InStyle Trendsetters
Just thought you should know … now let’s get back on track!
In influencer product testing, you send the product or service to the influencer(s) in question along with a detailed brief.
They’ll then produce a creative (videos or images) and perhaps a blog giving their neutral and fair opinion on the product.
When influencers test a product, it’s usually a way to advertise it and influence the customers’ purchasing decisions.
But I know I’ve got a great product, why can’t I just launch it already?
Let’s show you why you need product testing in the next section.
4 Benefits of Product Testing for Brands
Before you launch a product, you want to have different perspectives about it from people likely to use it.
Because it can help you identify features that need to be added or improved and it shows how customers will interact with it.
You know a product is successful if it performs well across several cohorts of your target market.
That’s where product testing comes in.
Anyway, here are other benefits that come with testing your product:
Benefit #1: Minimize product returns
In an article on product return, Dr. Regina Frei described product returns as complicated, prone to fraud, and able to result in huge losses for businesses.
For context, product returns are when customers take merchandise they purchased back to the seller in exchange for the payment originally made for the product, store credit (if they’ve got it), or another product.
Of course, there are terms and conditions associated with product returns, but either way, brands don’t like it.
Who wants to see products they’ve sold coming back to their store?
Simple: no one!
One way to avoid product returns is to start product testing before you launch it.
This way, you can work on any defects the product might have and ensure that your target audience enjoys the merchandise.
That’s what 5 Stars United, an Amazon eCommerce brand, did. They partnered with Insense, our influencer marketing platform, and sent their products to content creators for testing.
During conversations with the influencers, 5 Stars United got useful insights about their products that helped them to improve them. They were eventually able to raise awareness and increase conversion rates.
Benefit #2: Test the product’s strengths and weaknesses
With product testing, you get to know how reliable the product is before it gets to the market.
And this is important because, as the developer of the product, you designed it to be used in a certain manner and for a particular reason.
But the truth is, when it gets to the final consumer, there’s a good chance that they’ll use it for something completely different.
As such, you need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your product under different conditions before it hits the market.
How do you do that?
Through product testing!
Get people other than your employees to test the product in real-life situations, so you know its limitations and strengths.
For the record, irrespective of the kind of product in question, this needs to be done so you don’t over- or underestimate the capabilities of the product when advertising it.
It’s also important that you:
- Ensure it meets the quality standards that the product requires
- Know its life expectancy
- Minimize after-purchase needs of customers
Benefit #3: Evaluate the market’s demand
You can evaluate the market demand for your product or services with product testing.
Sometimes business owners think because they’ve got a great idea, their product will take off.
What they fail to remember is that they’re not developing the product for their use alone but for other people.
So, they need to ensure that whatever they put out is what their target market needs.
You want to see if the demand for your product is high, so you know how to strategize.
Partnering with influencers to test your product can help you test the demand.
Furthermore, the partnership can help you identify key things that influencers like about the product. Then, you can use the identified pros of your product as good hooks or angles when you run ads.
Benefit #4: Raise awareness of your product
Aside from helping you evaluate the market’s demand for the product, testing it with influencers can increase product awareness too.
Influencers will put out content after they finish testing the product, which can help you introduce it to an audience who looks up to these influencers.
They’ll understand what the aim of the product is and how it works.
…and since it’s coming from someone they trust, there’s a good chance the audience will share it with their network, leading more people to learn about your product.
This is a valuable effort as it will help you lay the groundwork for when you’re ready to launch the product.
If you’ve been sold on product testing, there are certain factors you need to keep an eye out for.
4 Factors to Pay Attention to When Testing Your Product
Product testing is a huge part of product development and even the launch.
But while you’re reaching out to consumers or influencers to test your product, what must you keep in mind to ensure the testing is successful?
Here are some things to look out for.
Factor #1: Choose the right channels
When you partner with influencers to test your product, there’s a good chance they’ll share their thoughts and opinions with their audience on a social media platform.
It’s usually a channel where they have more followers and influence.
What we’re driving at is this: you need to pay attention to the social media channels where your product will be tested.
It should be a social site where your target audience is active and where the influencers can properly review your product and show the testing process.
Examples of such platforms include YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.
These social media channels support video content which, as you know, is a popular and effective way to share reviews about a new product.
They’ve even allowed users to live stream their videos so the audience can follow the product testing in real time.
Factor #2: Set the right metrics
Product metrics are measures of quantitative assessment used to track the success or performance of a product and how your audience is engaging with it.
When testing a product, you need to set appropriate metrics because it will help you determine whether the endeavor was successful or not.
The right metrics can help you:
- Create a product roadmap
- Improve the product
- Determine the impact of the product’s features
- Predict revenue
So, what kind of metrics can you set for product testing?
Social media engagement: This metric measures how much the audience engages with the content that the influencer puts out about the product. Depending on the platform, it can include likes, shares, comments, clicks, impressions, and more.
If you find out more people are engaging with the post, it means they’ll likely be interested in your product.
Reach: This refers to the number of people who’ve viewed your post at least once. Tracking the reach metric can help you determine if there’s a budding awareness of your product.
It also means there’s a good chance that people will engage with posts featuring that product.
Net Promoter Score: NPS keeps track of the satisfaction of long-term users and the ratio of your loyal customers. You get to understand if there’s any possibility of clients recommending you to their network.
To measure, there’s one question you can ask your audience: how likely are you to recommend our products?
When you get responses, you can calculate the NPS by subtracting the percentage of detractors from promoters (% of promoters - % of detractors).
Conversion rate: This is the number of people showing any sign of committing to your product. This could involve contacting the business, opening an account, or clicking the Try Now button. The conversion rate is obtained by dividing the number of people who’ve taken such action by the number of visitors.
Factor #3: Gather feedback
One of the main reasons you wanna test that product is to collect feedback from your audience or influencers you’ve partnered with.
So feedback is something you need to pay attention to when testing your product.
You should consider having a framework with which you can gather feedback.
Of course, there is feedback software (such as SurveyMonkey, Typeform, or Mopinion) that you can incorporate into the process.
But beyond that, you could also use surveys to collect feedback or website feedback widgets, transactional emails, or suggestion boards.
Factor #4: Iterate based on feedback
Gathering feedback is good, but it’s just the first step. You don’t want to collect all that data only to archive it.
Remember, you’re testing the product so you know how well the market perceives it.
So, after gathering feedback from customers or influencers, you must use the new information to create better iterations of your product.
Ensure you address the important things arising from your findings.
With these factors in mind, you’re on your way to testing your product the right way.
2 Ways to Successfully Test Your Product
It’s time for the fun, hands-on part you’ve been waiting for.
We’ve put together two ways to start testing your product.
Way #1: Collaborate with influencers
To test your products with influencers, you need to find them first, and according to research, that can be a bit challenging.
About 60% of marketers say they find it difficult to identify the right influencer for their brand.
Perhaps it’s because they hadn’t heard of Insense like you’re about to.
Insense is a platform that helps brands partner with influencers and creators for different projects.
Simply put, with Insense, you can find influencers to test your product. Here’s how:
First, you need to sign up or log in with Insense to access our dashboard.
A brief is an online form where you describe the kind of influencer you want, including the type of content they’ll be producing.
The creator marketplace, on the other hand, is a virtual space where you can manually add influencers who match your requirements.
To create a brief, click on +New campaign, as seen in the screenshot above.
On the next page, you can start filling out the brief with the appropriate information about your brand.
The first thing you want to do is enter the name of your brand and campaign, so influencers know who they’re going to be working with.
Then specify the type of campaign you’re interested in: Influencer Partnerships or Just Content.
The partnership option is for people who want creator-licensed campaigns, while the latter is for influencer-created content.
Next, select the platform you’d like them to use – IG, TikTok, Facebook, or others.
Since it’s for a product test, you might need to hire multiple influencers. If that’s the case, specify the number of creators you need in the brief. Make sure to also include a budget range.
In the next section, you’ll need to provide information about the product in question.
Upload an image of the item, write a brief description of it, and indicate how you’ll get free products to the influencers.
In the next step, it’s time to define your influencer persona.
To do that:
- Choose if you want influencers who fit the persona to apply automatically (Public) or if you want to add them manually (Private).
- Use filters such as location, gender, categories, ethnicity, and more to define the persona.
Then, there’s the creative assets section where you can select your preferred creative type.
You can choose:
- Video format
- Video length
- Content type
…and when you’re done filling out the brief, you can click Send to review in the top-right corner.
When the brief is approved, you’ll be matched with influencers who fit the persona you’ve created.
You can chat with them directly on Insense about the product and the testing process.
If you’d prefer to manually select influencers yourself, the creator marketplace is the second option for you.
You’ll find it on the dashboard as shown below:
…and you should see this on the next page:
With the filters at the top of the page, you can begin the search for influencers you’d like to work with.
As you choose different filters using our influencer search tool, we will display influencers who match the description.
When you find one you like, look at their audience demographics and click on the + sign on their thumbnail to add them to the Creators list towards the right side of the page.
Then, you can select the Create campaign button to proceed. You’ll be asked to input a name for your campaign, and then you’ll be directed to another page where you can fill out a brief.
When it’s done, the brief will be sent to the influencers you selected and they can help test your products.
Way #2: Conduct surveys
Surveys are one of the top methods researchers use to collect data.
And they’re quite effective! So much so that 93% of consumers say online reviews have influenced their buying decisions.
The point is you can conduct surveys if you want to test your products, and they could be online or in-person.
But first, you need to find out who your target audience is if you haven’t done that yet.
Once you’ve figured that out, half of the work is done.
From there, you can proceed to do the survey in person if you’ve got a physical product.
To do that, produce a prototype of your product (that’s been approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies) show it to people, get them to try it out, and ask them what they think of it.
For the record, this is known as prototype-based product testing.
Either way, you can still ask people for their opinion even if the prototype isn’t ready yet. Preferably, you want to talk to people who’ll provide feedback that you can work with.
So, you could gather a focus group in your industry, describe the product or service to them, and ask them:
- Whether they’ll be interested in purchasing it
- What features they’d like to see
- How they’d like the packaging
Now, if you feel the number of people you’ve spoken to isn’t sufficient, feel free to switch it up to an online survey and get other people’s opinions.
You can ask questions similar to the ones above. But, remember to collect their age, gender, location (if possible), annual income, etc., so you can create a persona of people who might be interested in your product.
What are the Main Types of Influencer Product Testing?
If you decide to collaborate with influencers for your product testing, do you know what you should be expecting?
Videos, of course!
Yes, but what type?🤷
Here are some popular formats.
Type #1: Unboxing videos
In videos like this, influencers unwrap new products from their package for the first time. They talk about different features the product has, its branding, and more.
Here’s a good example of an unboxing video:
In this video, the influencer unpacks his new product and shows the audience how it works by using it himself.
You can see the excitement in his expression.
When you use unboxing videos for product testing, you’ll:
- Raise awareness for the product
- Spark people’s interest in it
- Help your target audience learn about what the product can do
- Learn about their opinions in the comments section
And since it’s coming from a product tester they like (an influencer) there’s a good chance that they’ll trust your brand when they see it elsewhere too.
In addition, partnering with multiple influencers will get you honest feedback from different people across the board.
You can then use that information to improve your product as you see fit.
Type #2: Hauls
Hauls are quite similar to unboxing videos. Here, influencers talk about their recent purchases (which are usually multiple products) on video.
They explain what makes the product exciting for them and share their thoughts about it.
It’s a good opportunity for them to give their honest opinion about your new products, like in the screenshot below.
This was a try-on haul video where the influencer was sent a free sample of a brand’s product. She went on to try it out and talk about it too.
Feel free to send some full-size products to your influencers and watch them do their magic.
Considering it’s a freebie, influencers will likely be open to product testing opportunities.
How’s a haul video different from unboxing videos?
Well, it comes down to the viewing experience.
In unboxing videos, both the influencer and audience are opening the product for the first time so there’s excitement, curiosity, and of course, novelty.
For haul videos, influencers can pick what they show, so there’s a good chance they know about the product already. Plus, they can showcase different products.
Type #3: Reviews
This type of video features influencers giving honest reviews about different types of products on their social media accounts.
It’s like what you read in discussion forums, but in this case, it’s in video format.
You can say reviews are a blend of unboxing and haul videos, but the difference is that the influencer’s opinion can be positive or negative, which is a good thing for your product testing program.
What you want is for people to give honest feedback you can go work with…like Chloe did in her review video of beauty products below.
She gave an in-depth evaluation of different skin care products after using them so that both the audience and brands can learn from them. She had before and after shots so everyone can see clearly the effect they had on her skin.
That’s what a product review video should look like – educational and filled with useful information.
Influencers get to test the product in front of their audience, explaining all the available features, while sharing their honest opinions even though they got free stuff.
Once again, partnering with multiple influencers means you can request all these types of videos, and you can track the analytics to have an idea of what people think about your product.
Of course, you might have to give out a lot of goodies but it’s a good investment, all things considered.
Just one more thing and we can bring this piece to an end. 😉
Now Over to You
We know you’re probably excited about getting influencers for your product testing.
Good news! Our platform is set up to help out with campaigns like this. We’ve got influencers across different industries who’ve got loyal online communities on different social platforms.
All you have to do is tell us what you need and the kind of influencer you’re looking for and we take it from there.
If that sounds like something you’re interested in, book a demo with Insense and make your influencer product testing process a walk in the park.