How to reach out to influencers

How to Reach Out to Influencers in Six Steps

So you know you want to include influencers in your marketing strategy. Why wouldn’t you with returns so high? But you’ve come to an impasse. You don’t know how to reach out to influencers. Well if sending that perfect DM or email is your sticking point, read on! We have a step-by-step breakdown of how to reach out to influencers.

Why Reach Out to Influencers?

First, let’s backtrack. Why should you include influencers in your marketing strategy? According to the Tomoson Blog, 59 percent of marketers are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets over the next 12 months. And why wouldn’t they?

Influencer marketing has a proven track record of increasing conversions, brand awareness, and many other key performance indicators you may be working toward. In fact, according to marketing guru Neil Patel, influencer marketing has a $23 return on investment dollar for dollar. That’s more than 10x the performance of an average banner ad.

But we’ve written lots of blogs about why you should work with influencers. And if you’re reading this blog, we assume we’re preaching to the choir. So here it is, these are the steps for how to reach out to influencers:

  1. Identify the right influencer
  2. Split your influencers into levels of influence
  3.  Start a relationship
  4. Open communication
  5. Follow up
  6. Build your relationship

Step one: Identify the Right Influencer

Now we could — and likely will — write an entire blog on identifying the right influencer. But here’s the fast version: identifying the right influencer starts with identifying your target audience. Then seek influencers who have cultivated their own supporters within that niche. This means if you want to speak to twenty-somethings who care about DIY, you’re probably not going to be looking at Snapchat.

There are some easy tools to help you identify influencers online. According to Sprout Social, you can use free or freemium tools like Buzzsumo, you can search through LinkedIn, Twitter and other social channels manually, or you can use platforms.

Google searching. It’s the answer to everything because it works. While it’s a broad search, Google can link you with blogs that see high traffic and have good results. It’s a simple solution for everything for a reason.

Buzzsumo and other similar platforms identify top performing content across the web. Simple keyword searches can yield top performing content and influencers in specific niches. Buzzsumo isn’t free, but it does have a free trial you can blitz to find new influencers fast.

The manual mode of finding influencers is a bit tedious, but it still works. Simply search keywords on networks like LinkedIn and Twitter. Most social channels will suggest highly followed accounts that talk about these passion points. Then it’s just the time-consuming process of digging through posts and making sure influencer’s match the audience and tone you hope to work with.

A third option for identifying influencers to work with is to use an influencer marketing platform like Sideqik. Sideqik’s Discover engine searches all posts across networks based on keywords and interests. A few clicks of a button find you the influencers who talk about your keywords the most. These results can then be filtered based on influencer size, location, and relevancy, so you know you’re working with the right influencer.

Once you’ve identified a list of influencers that match your marketing goals, you’d think the next step would be reaching out, but there’s more.

Step two: Split your influencers into levels of influence

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, the next step is to segment your influencers. After you’ve built a list of 25 or so influencers in your niche, it’s time you categorize them. It’s best to categorize them by the number of followers, and if you have them, engagement numbers.

You’ll want to spend more time nurturing a relationship with bigger influencers than you would with small influencers because the returns will be much higher. By segmenting your influencers, you’re basically forming a battle plan for how you should move next as you consider how to reach out to influencers.

Step three: Start a relationship— Make yourself visible to influencers

While cold-calling can work, it’s often best if you have a bit of a relationship going. According to Quora, this means you should connect on the platform influencers use best: social media.

Follow influencers you are interested in across social channels. This not only may get their attention, it also allows you to make sure their style, frequency of posting, and interests are in-line with your brand.

Then start sharing! Share content the influencer creates. Comment on it. Like it. Whether it’s a comment, a like, or a retweet, engaging with an influencer is like an introduction in the social world.

We often look at working with influencers like it’s a relationship. In the world of online courting. Consider a like from your brand account a casual flirt from across the room before you work up the courage to introduce yourself.

how to reach out to influencers

Step four: Open communication

Alright, we’re finally here! This is the step where you actually introduce yourself to an influencer. Many influencers have business emails public on their profiles. If that’s available, definitely reach out through that channel.

When Sideqik interviewed Lifestyle/Beauty influencer, @McKenzie_Renae, she said a pet peeve is when brands slide into her direct messages on Instagram or Twitter.

“As a small business you should never DM, some big companies can get away with that, but it should stay professional. Like if you come to me like your home girl, that’s not cool. I prefer to keep it professional and DM’s comes off as not professional [to me],” she said.

Not every influencer agrees with this. When Sideqik reached out to luxury influencer Mario Monforte, he said he appreciates a personal touch. He said he doesn’t mind a message on Twitter, but what matters more is that brands are aware of what he posts about.

Across our interview series, all influencers said it’s important that a brand know what they’re about. Tech influencer Karl Conrad said he once was asked to review a baby changing station. No matter how high-tech that is, Conrad said it just wasn’t going to fit his channel.

When you’re thinking about how to reach out to influencers, let’s go back to our dating analogy. Make sure you have common interests and don’t just send the same message to everyone. People appreciate the few minutes it takes to craft a personalized pitch.

If you’re looking to go the form email route, Ninja Outreach has some great templates that you can personalize for each influencer. But the template still may save you some time.

Step five: Follow up

Here’s the only time our analogy about dating doesn’t necessarily work. If an influencer doesn’t respond at first, don’t give up! Be persistent and continue to try to reach out.

According to Mailshake there are seven errors that cause reach outs to fail. According to their expert, these are

Not doing a “1-2 punch.”

  1. Sending too few emails or no follow-up.
  2. Sending too many emails.
  3. Not making an ask or the ask is unclear.
  4. Thinking that one tactic works for everyone. Example – you need to tweet, comment, etc. everywhere before pitching. I often just pitch.
  5. Not having a clear goal in mind, short-term and ideally long-term. For example, is your goal getting more traffic to your blog? Building links? Or gaining a connection with a CMO?
  6. Not quantifying the relationship.

See how many of those are about following up? There’s a perfect formula for how many emails you should send. Too few and you don’t look interested. Too many, and you get annoying.

Other key points you can match in your follow up emails are goals of your collaboration and compensation methods.

Ugh Compensation

Yep. This is a business relationship. While some smaller influencers may be content with a shoutout by your major brand, for most influencers this is how they make their money. According to Crazy Egg, some common forms of compensation (that can fit anyone’s budget) include:

  1.  Good old fashioned cash.
  2. Free products
  3. Commission or profit sharing (ideal for e-commerce where an influencer can get a portion of sales through a trackable link.)
  4. Discounts, for luxury brands sometimes just offering a deal can be enough
  5. Travel or other accommodations when doing in-person events.
  6. Get creative! Maybe an influencer really just supports your brand. But if that isn’t the case, be prepared to offer something in return.

Step six: Build your relationship

Once a contract is signed, that isn’t the end of your relationship with an influencer. If you had to go through all these steps every time you wanted a social post, it wouldn’t be worth the time. The real value in influencer marketing is that you’re building a relationship with an influencer.

Be sure to continue communicating with them throughout your activation and beyond so you can work together in the future.

Phew, you made it.

Hope this helps you next time you’re wondering how to reach out to influencers!

Emily Overholt

Emily Overholt

Emily Overholt is a writer and marketing manager for Sideqik. Previously, she dug into news of all types while working at the Associated Press in Phoenix, Arizona. Now, she's treating influencer marketing as her new beat. When she's not getting you top-notch content on influencer marketing, Emily is trying to make her dog famous on Instagram.

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