Nine times out of ten, the objective of influencer marketing or a blogger outreach campaign is for brand awareness purposes. Companies will approach individuals with an established following, either on social media or out in the blogosphere, and ask them to post content about their product or service. You’ll often hear of bloggers agreeing to do this in exchange for ‘freebies’ (usually the product being promoted) or they may request payment. As with digital marketing in general, influencer marketing and blogger outreach is a fascinating one because it’s constantly evolving and reinventing itself.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to write an A-Z guide of all things Influencer Marketing and Blogger Outreach. It includes useful tools, tips and tricks to use whilst doing it. Oh, and I’ve even thrown in a few classic* movie/tv quotes for good measure.
*Disclaimer – my definition of classic is potentially subject to debate…
A- Address the Right People
First off, it’s crucial that you set out knowing exactly what you want to achieve from your outreach campaign and who you want to aim fire at. Of course, it goes without saying, you’re targeting bloggers/influencers and their followers. However, for a far more granular understanding of your audience, it’s wise to spend time carefully researching, studying and familiarising yourself with influencers relevant to your industry. Find out what kind of content they produce and the things their followers are interested in and engage with. Create content off the back of this and bloggers will be biting your hand off to share it.
B – Buzzsumo
One way to make sure that you’re contacting the right people is to use a tool such as Buzzsumo.
We’re big fans here at SiteVisibility and believe it should be a staple tool in your outreach armoury. Not only does it allow you to easily discover powerful influencers, you can also narrow down and filter your influencer search by topic of expertise or location should you need to. It’s possible to see what content bloggers are sharing, how often they do so and which domains they share making the process of deciding whether someone is worth reaching out to is so much speedier and simpler. If they’ve written about similar products or look like they’ve done this type of promotion before, then they’ll likely be open to doing it again.
*Note: May, or may not, be the actual quote from Taken.
C – Creative, Concise & Compelling Subject Lines
Spending ages drafting an outreach email only to fall flat at the first hurdle (i.e. recipients actually opening it) is nothing short of disheartening. This is where the art of creating compelling subject lines truly comes into its own. Fitting something in this little bit of space which piques people’s interest can be challenging, but not impossible.
Here are some of my top tips for email subject lines and increasing your open rates:
- Make them personal
- Prey on people’s Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
- Rouse their curiosity
- Channel your inner Ricky Gervais and demonstrate a sense of humour. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a chuckle? (I know I’m certainly more inclined to open an email if the subject line is witty or amusing).
- Use words that imply urgency such as…well…’urgent’. They’re proven to increase email open rates.
One email subject line that we enjoyed collectively here at SiteVisibility was from Boiler Room, an online music broadcasting platform. Rather than send out a generic email to their list regarding changes to GDPR, like most companies did, their subject line was as follows:
With Cambridge Analytica recently in the news for the Facebook data scandal (in essence, personal information harvested from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without permission was used to target US voters with personalised political advertisements based on their psychological profile) Boiler Room capitalised on the public interest surrounding this, by cheekily suggesting they were merging with them. As a result, we wanted to find out what was going on! Surely that couldn’t be!?
Once we opened the email, however, the text within it was this:
A great example of how an intriguing subject line and thinking outside the box can help to increase open rates.
Have any subject lines caught your attention recently? Why not comment below with your favourite?
*Top Tip: A simple ‘hello’ in the subject line probably isn’t going to cut it.
D – Do the Hard Work for Them
Influencers are busy people. You know the ones, they’re off jet setting here, there and everywhere and documenting it all online. They’ve even updated their Instagram bio as ‘influencer’. Can it get any more official than that?
I jest but, in all seriousness, those who’ve succeed in making it their full-time job, and manage to sustain it, do so for a reason. They work hard. Even bloggers who aren’t so successful, in the sense that it provides them with an income, will still likely be pushed for time. Just like you and I, they’ll be juggling their passion project alongside multiple roles such as employee, mum or dad, husband or wife.
Try to make things as easy as possible for both and save them valuable time. For instance, do you have the perfect images to support your content? Provide the influencer with them. Perhaps you have some ideas for how they could position your product/brand to their followers? Get them excited by making suggestions. Remember, they probably receive a ton of very similar emails on a daily basis. Peddle away on their behalf and you’ll reap the rewards.
E – Email Tracking
It’s all well and good thinking you’ve created the perfect email to send to the perfect influencers, but email tracking will reveal whether or not this actually the case.
Here at SiteVisibility, we use a tool called Yesware to keep tabs on what’s happened once we’ve pressed send. Email open rates, link clicks and attachment opens are just some of the useful insights revealed with this tool, allowing you to test whether the messages you’re sending out are getting any engagement. If your emails aren’t even being opened, email tracking will highlight this. In which case, you’ll need to return to the drawing board and send out alternative versions of your message – and swot up on point C above!
F – Follow Up, Follow Up & Follow Up Again
Persistence and perseverance is key to blogger outreach.
In an ideal world, everyone on your outreach list would reply instantly but that’s not realistic. As mentioned previously, bloggers and influencers are busy people and you’ll be competing with others for their precious inbox space. If you don’t hear back first time round, allow a few days to pass and try again.
When doing so, however, don’t just simply regurgitate the same information. Instead, add something new and of value. It may well be that the person concerned didn’t immediately identify with your brand or think it would be of interest to their followers, but this added information might serve to convince them otherwise.
The stats also suggest that follow up emails are worthwhile. According to Yesware, you have a 21% chance of getting a reply to your second email if the first goes unanswered. Think of it this way – every email sent is another opportunity for them to read and reply and makes your brand that much more familiar. Just be careful not to overdo it. No one like receiving 10 follow up emails all saying the same thing!
G – Giveaways
Just like Raymond, everybody loves them.
Brands, bloggers, influencers and their followers – giveaways are usually beneficial to all parties. Not only are they a reward for current followers, it can also help to win over new fans for influencers and, if done well, incentivise their followers to follow you (have I said follow too much?). In essence, brands will run competitions in collaboration with influencers to increase their following and experience higher engagement rates with their posts.
You’ve probably seen this in practice as it’s a common way to get people engaging with a brand. Note the below* – an Instagram post from TV personality Megan McKenna who, at present, has 2.1 million followers. In a collaboration with Easilocks, a hair extension brand, she asked her followers to like their Instagram page to potentially win some of their products.
I have to say, I’m a sucker for these kinds of giveaways myself. I follow the Instagram accounts of far too many TOWIE, Geordie Shore and Love island contestants to mention (I know, I have debateable taste). They don’t half love a charcoal toothpaste giveaway!
When working with influencers, think about what you can offer that fits in with their audience. Offer it as a giveaway and you’ll see an increase in new followers, engagement with your posts and brand awareness.
*A public apology: Sorry this isn’t a meme.
H – Honesty & Hashtags
H is for honesty.
Previously, within influencer marketing, those with large followings haven’t always been so transparent when it comes to disclosing whether they were being paid to promote a product or if they were genuinely endorsing something for the pure passion and sheer love of a product.
In the USA, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) aims to protect consumers from this. They’ve recently cracked down on online influencers being secretive or dishonest with their followers. Now, they claim, the only FTC compliant hashtags are: #sponsored or #ad. The Competition & Markets Authority and Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) play an equivalent role in the UK . They too have started to enforce consumer protection legislation. Again, UK laws state that online influencers are obliged to use the hashtag ‘ad’ when they have been paid for a social post.
As well as using Hashtags to specify when your posts are sponsored or advertisements, they are also important to blogger outreach as you can discover who’s already creating content about your brand and reach out to them. You can do this manually or you can also use social listening tools such as, Hootsuite, BuzzSumo and TweetDeck which will help you to tap into popular online conversations.
I – In House vs Agency
Most companies tussle with the question of whether they should outsource their marketing to an agency or if it should remain in house. Undeniably, there are pros and cons associated with both. Conducting influencer outreach in house, naturally, means you’ll have a closer connection to the brand and valuable insider knowledge.
However, and I may be slightly biased here, an agency can offer many other advantages. This includes a team who come equipped with a wealth of experience and an expansive skillset, not only in outreach, but in digital marketing in general. Plus, an outside team can manage the whole process and are up to date on the best industry tools. The issue of insider knowledge can be overcome to an extent so long as you as a client are open and forthcoming with communicating information.
If you do decide to work with an agency, make sure you set out a very clear brief from the start. Decide what goals or outcomes you’re trying to achieve through outreach. This will help your agency to be more effective with what they put together and how they conduct and report on the outreach for you.
J – Jargon
Industry slang, buzzwords, lingo, whatever you want to call it – rein it in.
You want your outreach email to be simple, effective and to the point. Coming from a journalism background, I personally like to approach outreach emails as an editor would newspaper articles. Cut any words from your email that aren’t necessary or fail to add any meaning to what you’re trying to say. Replace buzzwords with simple terms or just omit them altogether.
Note – it can be appropriate to use jargon on occasions where it can help to prove your credentials and expertise in an area. In this instance, simply assess the situation and carefully consider what you think will work best.
Friendly Reminder: Don’t be a fool.
K – Kim Kardashian
Regardless of your personal views, there’s no denying that Kim Kardashian and her siblings have an unbelievable platform and reach. At present, she has 114 million Instagram followers and its alleged that she charges an eyewatering £250k for a single sponsored post!
Products she promotes range from vitamins and hair products to, more controversially considering her young appeal, diet products. Brands promoted by Kim K typically gain major traction in sales from a collaboration with the world’s most famous woman.
Nonetheless, despite being included on this list, authoritative influencers don’t always have to be celebrities. They can simply be ordinary people who have tapped into a certain niche or industry.
Once you’ve found relevant influencers to outreach to, you’ll want to do your research. Are most of their follower’s spam accounts or are they seemingly legit? How do their followers interact with them? Do they get good responses to live video on Insta or FB? Working this out can help you decide if you want to work with them and, better yet, how you can do so. Beware, just because someone has plenty of followers, it doesn’t mean that they are genuine. Spam followers are common, or often people have built up a following by following a large amount of people themselves. Therefore, it’s important to do your homework and look at the engagements they get with their posts.
L – Large Scale
As with any marketing efforts, it’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve given your budget. Many companies make the mistake of diving in head first and throwing all their cash at a large-scale outreach campaign, assuming that this is the best approach. Without a through or well thought out strategy in place, however, this can see businesses part with lots of money unnecessarily.
For small business, start-ups or entrepreneurs, when it comes to outreach, its generally best to start out small and then branch out if necessary. Indeed, targeting macro influencers with huge followings can be futile. Those who have amassed huge followings tend to be at the top of their field and receive an income to reflect that. Typically, they only partner up with large, global brands. Even if budget isn’t an issue, it’s worth considering that as macro influencers have such huge followings, this also means their following will be more diluted, and promotion of your product won’t be as targeted.
Micro influencers, on the other hand, are much more accessible and less expensive due to their smaller following. Their smaller following can even work to your advantage, with followers likely to be highly targeted. It’s also much easier for these influencers to engage with their limited audience, as they’re not overwhelmed by millions of followers.
Ultimately, collaborating with a small influencer can be just as beneficial as working with a large influencer. The main thing to take into consideration is how engaged the audience are and whether the influencer is interacting with them.
M – Me Mail
Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. You start a conversation with someone only for them to go on and on about themselves without once asking you any questions. It’s human nature to want people to be interested in us and attentive to our needs in a conversation. The same logic can be applied to outreach emails. Don’t start your outreach by rambling on about yourself. Get straight to the point and let the influencer or blogger know what’s in it for them.
Indeed, it’s time to scrap email and make it all about me-mail. Always consider your message from the position of the blogger who will likely be thinking, ‘what can you do for me’? Make it a little less ‘I’ and a little more ‘you’. Communication is a mutual exchange, make it balanced and focus on them instead of yourself.
Previous studies have found the main reasons influencers are happy to work with brands include the following:
– increased reach, helping them to expand their audience
– increased opportunity to create quality content for their audience
– extra help available to shape their image
– perks (free discounts, samples)
– new experiences (trips, events)
I.e. – they respond to what you can do for them! Make it extremely clear from the outset what you can offer the blogger.
N – Not Now
If a blogger or influencer responds to your email with a ‘No’, bear the following in mind – it doesn’t always mean just that. It can simply mean ‘not at this moment in time’.
Keep engaging and building a relationship with that individual. Check in on them from time to time, send them links to things that may be of interest to them and their followers. Like and comment on their posts.
Sometimes the blogger simply needs time to mull over your proposal or wants a concrete reason to promote your product. Of course, if someone has made it abundantly clear they’re not interested whatsoever in what you’re offering then, quite frankly, you shouldn’t continue to waste your time. However, just because someone hasn’t obliged with your request, that doesn’t mean a complete and abrupt end to that line of communication. If you were to do that offline, you’d be considered rude! Outreach is all about playing the long game and building relationships.
O – Organic Valley
Organic Valley, the organic food products, has demonstrated recently that influencer marketing isn’t all about Instagram (as many people think).
Their newest marketing campaign has seen them embark on a collaboration with culinary influencers on YouTube, with the aim of drawing attention to their new ghee product. It features 10 cooking influencers getting their meals ‘ghee-lished’. Foodies will recognise established YouTubers such as Donal Skehan, Kent Rollins, Momma Cherri, Billy Parisi, Darius Williams and Alyssa Gagarin.
Check out their unique influencer marketing campaign here: https://www.thedrum.com/news/2018/06/28/organic-valley-forces-ghee-the-hands-culinary-influencers-cheeky-campaign.
When it comes to your outreach campaign, think about the platform that’ll work best for you. Are you going to get better results from an Instagram post or a YouTube video? Look into what your competitors are doing. If you’re unsure then you can always run tests on a small scale and monitor the results.
P – Politeness
The three P’s – Politeness, Professionalism & Personality!
As in all walks of life, a simple please and thank you never goes amiss and can sometimes make a real difference to your outreach efforts. That being said, ensure you strike the right balance, as being completely formal and stuffy won’t always be appropriate. It’s possible to remain professional but also to show some personality. Think of it a little like you would a job interview. It’s all well and good preparing the perfect answers but sometimes an employer is looking to see that your personality will be a good fit for the rest of their employees. Ultimately, a balanced judgement based on who you’re outreaching to and what the subject matter is should inform how you compose your outreach email. It shouldn’t be too difficult to go wrong here as outreach is essentially all about human connections, with people responding best to a combination of all three of the above.
Lesson of the day: Don’t call anyone a fat lard.
Q – Quality over quantity
With outreach, your time is better utilised tailoring, honing and refining emails to a select few as opposed to sending out a standard batch email to hundreds of people. As mentioned previously, bloggers and influencers are receiving interesting requests in their inbox daily. Why should they take time out of their day to respond to you if your email is generic and mundane? It’s perfectly fine to use templates for your limited sample, just make sure that those templates have an added personal flavour. If you craft something that is more personalised and relatable, then chances are you won’t end up in the spam folder and will get more favourable responses. Admittedly, sometimes it can be a numbers game and the latter can work in your favour. However, quality typically trumps quantity.
R – Relationships
Build, develop and nurture them. Consider your relationship with a blogger as you would any other colleague. You wouldn’t simply walk up to your workmate first thing on a Monday morning and demand something from them. Not without, at the very least, exchanging some small talk or asking how their weekend was first.
Here are a few of my top tips for building and maintaining your relationship with bloggers:
- Regularly engage with their social media posts to get on their radar, show them you’re paying attention and build their trust – but don’t overdo it.
- Link to, and mention, their posts in your own blog content.
- Utilise the three P’s when it comes to any communication (see above)!
Many companies conducting outreach burn their bridges before they’ve even formed a relationship, as they hound bloggers incessantly and lack basic manners.
S – Stop with the Patronising
You may have read elsewhere that it’s important to personalise your emails. This is certainly very true. However, don’t just reel off the 3 most recent blog posts an influencer has written as proof of your interest and knowledge.
A lot of people make this mistake, often without reading the influencers work in detail. Try to find something authentic and genuine to complement a blogger or influencer about. It can be so obvious if someone is genuinely a fan of something they do or if they’re simply going through the motions for the sake of it.
A moderate appreciation is fine but don’t suck up – it’s transparent and kind of cringey.
T – Trust
Today’s consumers are difficult to sell to.
They’re savvier and less inclined to buy into hard-sell marketing. So, who are they listening to? The answer: their peers and other consumers. Online trust is a massive thing and it translates into plenty of pounds. Think Amazon and TripAdvisor reviews – they introduce the audience to a more trustworthy source and remove the barriers of traditional advertising.
In the same vein, trust must also be exercised with the influencer or blogger – as tempting as it may be to want to take creative control over what they produce. Allow them to make the piece their own and position it in a way that will appeal to their followers or readers. Of course, there are exceptions to this, and it doesn’t hurt to fact check, but requesting edit after edit will get tedious and test the relationship. It’s ok to steer the content but don’t control it.
Audiences and customers don’t want blatant marketing but authenticity. Influencers know their audience better and what works to result in high engagement, so trust them.
U – Use LinkedIn
At a very basic level, LinkedIn is a great (not to mention FREE) platform you should be using for your outreach and influencer marketing. Yet, it is often underutilised. It has an excellent search function, which can be modified and refined, to help you find influencers relevant to your brand. Admittedly, it is somewhat limited in the sense that you will only be able to directly contact those you have 1st and 2nd degree relationships with. However, it is still possible to build relationships and network via LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Groups offers one of the most powerful ways to do this. If you want to reach out to someone who is a distant contact, or you have zero mutual contacts at all, consider joining any groups they are in. Also ensure your profile is public and visible to them when visiting their profile. This way, they’ll be more aware of your brand when it finally comes to making contact via other means. Like, and share their posts and message them with insightful comments or feedback. Equally, attending blogger meetups offline is a valuable use of your time and should not be underestimated as a way of expanding your network.
You may find it worthwhile upgrading to a LinkedIn premium account, as it provides you with more options to refine your influencer search.
V – Vlogging
We’re in an era of video – Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, Snapchat, you name it, people increasingly love to consume their content in this way. By no means is that to say that written content is no longer of importance, but rather video can act as an impressive addition to your influencer marketing campaign.
Unlike a simple social post, video content usually focuses on how a vlogger incorporates a product/service into their everyday life. This kind of content also tends to be more insightful and less filtered than the written word, which adds an element of trust and authority and can have a hugely positive impact on your brand.
If you intend to work with vloggers, you must first decide what you want to get out of it. Are you looking for sponsored brand ambassadors to post videos about your product across all their social channels? Alternatively, if budget is a concern, a seeding campaign may be of more interest. This works by gifting a vlogger with your product in the hope they’ll create content about it. In contrast to a paid brand ambassador, however, you’ll have limited control over the message they put out. They may well accept the gift but not post about it as they don’t feel the product is a good fit for their audience! Being clear from the outset will influence your approach and the vloggers you outreach to.
A good way to get your feet wet with vlogging, is to simply refer to existing bloggers you work with and see which ones have a dominant YouTube presence.
W– Write Guest Posts
Once you’ve found relevant bloggers to outreach to and formed relationships with them, writing a guest post on their blog can prove valuable. If presented with a guest post opportunity, not only will you be able to position yourself in front of the influencers audience, it’s also a chance to establish yourself as an industry expert.
Take care here, though. There can be a very fine line, anything overtly salesy will be off putting for an audience interested in authenticity. It’s not an opportunity for free marketing. Instead, write about the same topics as the influencer, ensuring it is relevant and of high quality. Typically, you will receive a by-line for your post where you will be able to insert a backlink to your site. In this instance creating a specific landing page, customised for audiences who come to your site from this post, is best practice.
X– X Factor
In the words of Thierry Henry, sometimes things need that ‘va va voom’. That added wow. That X-factor.
Ok I’ll stop now but, seriously, thinking outside the box can really elevate your outreach A game from good to impressive and memorable. It might even be that you don’t use email as your main means of capturing a blogger or influencers attention! Get creative and send them something unusual, and then request they contact you. It’s a different approach to say the least but it will certainly make you stand apart from your competitors.
Allow me to provide an example. Say you’re a chocolate or sweet brand, you might send a blogger a clear box containing your items and provide them with a quiz or puzzle with the aim of unlocking it to retrieve further information (and, of course, the sweets). Once the blogger has opened the box, make your contact details clearly available and offer some reasons for why they should do so.
Warning: Very predictable meme usage ahead
Y – Yoga
Stay with me on this one! Yoga practitioners are often calm, relaxed and most importantly, flexible. Influencer marketing is not like other marketing tactics where doing X definitively results in Y. You’re working with people who may have drastically different ideas and input into how you can make the relationship work. Be flexible in your outlook, accept outside involvement and be willing to mix things up to see what works and what doesn’t.
Z – Zero Effort
Phew – we made it!
Z brings us to zero effort.
Your elevator pitch to bloggers and influencers should, ideally, be a simple and fast process. Most influencers will have dedicated pages on their website which details precisely how they like to be contacted. Make sure, at the very least, you read these! If you quite clearly haven’t followed these simple instructions to understand the bloggers preferences, it translates as making zero effort. Zero effort, means zero responses.
This final meme has absolutely no relevance, but I wanted to close on a high!
So there you have it, my A-Z guide to influencer marketing and blogger outreach. What do you think? Is there anything I’ve missed? Do you have any top tips to succeed? Feel free to send me a mail with your thoughts or leave us a comment below.
Peace out peeps and happy outreaching!
If you’re thinking of undertaking an Influencer Marketing or Blogger Outreach campaign and would like to talk to us before you begin, please feel free to call us on 01273733433 or fill out the form below: