You have a product, a piece of content, a deliverable of some sort that you need to get the right eyes on. How do you successfully do that while getting the best return on your outreach efforts? Influencer outreach is the way that most marketing companies succeed in gaining traction for content. This method can also be done with few resources and a limited budget. But, expect to do a little more than search a few hashtags to see results.
The following points are essential to hitting the bull’s eye on any outreach campaign. Do the research and get the answers to as many, if not all, of these questions. Organize it in a spreadsheet or Word doc so that you can find it quickly and track your progress.
Outreach Process Overview
- Before the Email
- The Email
- After you click send
Some of the answers that you will come across may be similar or even exactly the same. That could be a time saver. Here’s each step broken out into sections for you:
BEFORE THE EMAIL
Who is Your Target Audience?
Identify who you want your content to be shown to. Ken McArthur has a great post on the Top 10 ways to find your audience (IMO – it’s a great resource for putting together an audience profile). Read it later. For now, think about who would be interested in your content once it’s published. The more specific the better, perhaps a 25-40 year old single mother that needs to start saving for college or 18-22 year old college students with accumulated debt who want to start saving for cheap vacations out of the country. Save that profile so you can go back to it when you look for where they are online. Here are some key identifiers to start with:
- Key Interests
- Social Platforms they Engage with
Who is the Influencer?
Now that you know who your end audience is, search some key terms that your audience may be looking for. Now find who is writing about that? Search for influencers on Instagram by using relevant hashtags. Check out their blog – add them to your list. Don’t shy away from using social media to find influencers, there’s a pretty good chance you can connect with them on their blog and tap into their social audience as well.
Go to BuzzSumo and find more things written by that person or about that topic. . Find out if they have an active online presence anywhere and (boom) you have an influencer. Repeat until you have a nice size list of names. There are some great tools out there to find influencers, such as Klout, Followerwonk and Little Bird.
Here’s a quick sneak peek at one tracking sheet we use for outreach:
Who Are You?
Ok, this is a no brainer right? Well, sort of. <Open email> HI, I am Steve from QuipCo and I have an amazing opportunity, <DELETE>. What you need to do is be the influencer’s audience. You must find a common factor between you and the influencer and use that in your intro. Now, I am not recommending that you have an alter ego when you do your outreach. Keep your own voice and tone when writing the email, just be relatable to the influencer. You’re not selling something, you’re trying to share something that the influencer and their audience will all benefit from and enjoy. By being familiar you will likely receive a more positive response.
Why Should They Care?
So this is where doing all this preliminary research is going to pay off. For example, if you are reaching out for an e-cigarette company, you would never refer to it as “smoking an e-cig” because you would have noticed that no one calls it smoking. It is called vaping, get it right! My point is, they will care about you because you will be instantly identifiable as part of the community. It is in the best interest of the influencer to care about their community. By being a part of the community shows that you have their audience’s best interest in mind, not just sell something.
What are you Offering?
Do you have a product that is hot off the press? Is it something that has never been created before? That is awesome and will get you an attractive percentage of positive email replies. Most times, however, you won’t have it that easy. Sometimes the way you present something makes or breaks your offering. Let’s say you have compiled a significant amount of research that can benefit your influencer and their audience. Don’t just say that you have it and they can create anything they want. Have your concept fully fleshed out and make that clear to them, that this content or project will require little extra work on their behalf. This leads me to…
What do You Want From the Influencer?
You have the content and the concept completed, all you need is their take. This is much easier than asking them to come up with a great idea from your research. The same goes for graphics, blogposts or anything really. The person you are reaching out to has to consistently come up with creative concepts, here’s your chance to help. You’re providing them with quality information displayed nicely and all you want them to do is: comment on it, share it, explain it, give their opinion on it, etc… Let’s keep going.
When do You Want it?
Give your contact a target a date or a window of time to have a deliverable; this really helps in knowing whether or not the request is feasible with their current workload. Without a target date, you’re leaving them the opportunity to “get back to this after…” which almost always turns into “got lost in my inbox”. Set a time frame for when you want to have a completed deliverable, or more specifically when you would like for them to reply to you.
Is There a Call to Action?
“Can’t wait to hear from you,” is not considered a call to action. You took the time to do the research and make audience and influencer profiles and you left the target with no hard ask. “Tell me if this is something you would be interested in” or “Do you want to be involved with this?” Make a yes or no response necessary, so that there is a response. I would not recommend leading the answer to be yes or no response, i.e. “Can I count you in on this project?” Be genuine and forward and look for a reason for them to email you back.
Now you can use all of the information you gathered in that well-organized spreadsheet or word doc. Craft up a draft email that to use as a base email for your outreach. Don’t just copy/paste into new emails – personalize it. Just keep an email template handy to ensure that you’re hitting on all of the above tasks. If you need a little extra information about your influencer to help personalize your outreach, do the research. Find their twitter, blog or anywhere that publishes their work and read read read. Customize, click send and wait for the replies to start rolling in.
AFTER YOU’VE SENT
“No” is Better than Nothing.
Best case scenario is that your influencer loves the idea and would love to be involved. It happens often when you do the work to reach out to the right influencers and content creators. That said, you will still get people that tell you “No”, but don’t give up. Look past the answer and see the opportunity, they wrote you back! Take this time to see where you can improve or how you could have made this a more customized request. Ask why they are not interested, would they like a different level of involvement, or if the timing isn’t right for them and if they would be willing to work it in at a different time. Maybe it just is not the right piece for their audience and that would be insanely insightful. Ask what would be better for their readers and if there is a way to leverage that. No is not always no when it comes to outreach.
Plan for the Yes.
Back to that best case scenario, they said yes. Now you have the task of setting the wheels into motion. Have a plan in place:
- If you are asking for a product review, know who is sending the product, when they should expect to receive it and what you would like from them if you are looking for specifics.
- Have a timeline set in advance for how the project should run; it won’t matter if this outline is not finalized. However, be mindful that your target is not only working on your project.
- Set clear expectations for review and approvals, if you need to review the content prior to it being published – make that apparent to the influencer.
Delivery Is Not An Option.
Making that first email to your target was more than just a request for their involvement; you should consider it a contract proposal. Once they have agreed, make sure you both are holding up your end of the deal. Remember that one project can lead to many more, blossoming into a fruitful relationship for you and the content creator that you are reaching out to. Keep open lines of communication to ensure that there are no misunderstandings and that the project is completed successfully.
The most sought after content creators receive thousands of emails a week. People have a tendency to be forgetful, and busy, don’t take it personal when someone doesn’t respond to your email. You can help your efforts by setting up reminders for when you start your outreach to send follow up emails that fall within your timeline.
So there you have it, a full outreach email plan for reaching your target influencers and working with them to create content. Give it a go and let me know how it works for you and let me know how your outreach may differ.