Reaching out to influencers and not getting the response you hoped for or nothing at all? Here's some advice that can help you up your outreach game
Influencer outreach is arguably one of the most important parts of the influencer marketing process, because without it, you don’t have a campaign on your hands. Nailing your influencer outreach emails is super important because they are the first point of contact between yourself and the influencer and if you don’t get it right, you won’t get a reply.
So, next time you are contacting influencers on behalf of your brand or client, take these actionable outreach tips on board and tweak your process to get more replies.
Make it personal
With so many email tools and applications available to help you optimize your email marketing, it is easy to fall into the habit of using a generic template, customizing the name field and hitting send. But if you want to get a response, you’re going to have to do a lot more than that.
Influencers receive emails thick and fast about events, collaborations, campaign opportunities and content pitches, so you have to make yours stand out by ditching the templates and focusing on personalization. It will definitely take longer and is more tedious, but you will have a much better hit rate, and you will also start building a genuine connection with the influencer.
A couple of ways to personal your outreach emails is to include a line about one of their recent posts (whether that is an outfit, a personal Tweet, a holiday or new restaurant), and do it in a genuine way. Instead of “I loved your post 5 Tips For Travelling Europe!" you could try “Thanks for sharing your travel tips for Europe… I’ll definitely be taking them on board when I travel with my partner next month!” Demonstrate that you have genuinely taken the time to read their content and see value in it, and show a little of your personality (no one likes talking to robots).
One of the worst things a marketer can do when contacting influencers is be rude, demanding and obnoxious. There is no bigger turnoff than someone like this, and influencers can spot it from a mile off, and I can guarantee they will ignore your emails.
Influencers should be treated with professionalism, and never should you expect them to do anything for free, or worse, to do your work for you. Treat them as a small business, because after all, they put a lot of time, effort and money into growing their community and creating great content. When you are constructing your email, think about whether you would send the same email to an editor of a magazine when pitching your brand, or a journalist from the local paper. If the answer is no, perhaps it’s time to rethink your strategy.
Another great way to ensure you come across polite is to show your appreciation for their time and also finish with “hope to hear from you soon.’
Communicate the benefit
In your first outreach email to an influencer, ensure you communicate what the benefit is for them. Influencer campaigns should be mutually beneficial (in fact, there is no other option), so be sure to outline what value they will receive by reading and responding to your email. The benefit could be compensation, complimentary product, affiliate revenue or something else, as long as there is something in it for them. Much like you wouldn’t expect your local cafe to cover your breakfast in exchange for “exposure,” you shouldn't expect influencers to promote your business and drive leads to your sales funnel for little or no benefit to themselves. If you are the only one receiving value from the partnership, then you need to re-evaluate your influencer strategy.
From an influencer's perspective, nothing is worse than receiving an email about a potential opportunity that is vague, confusing and unclear. If they have to decipher the email and work out what is being requested, then they will probably just delete and forget.
Be clear and concise with your outreach emails, and communicate the value and your request without rambling on. Influencers are busy people, often juggling work, their blog, brand collaborations, family life and their own health and fitness, so make it as easy for them as possible to understand your email and decide whether it is something they are interested in.
Don’t be demanding
This should go without saying, however unfortunately, influencers do receive demanding emails full of expectations from marketers on a regular basis. What would you do if a brand emailed you saying “can you post a picture of our product on your account tomorrow?” You probably wouldn’t reply, would you?
Follow up after 7 days
There is nothing wrong with following up an outreach email, but don’t do it right away. I like to give influencers 7 days before I follow up. Like I said, everyone is busy juggling life, so following up 24 hours after your original email is useless, and actually quite annoying. Give them time to reply, and if they haven’t within a week, politely follow up.
Most follow up emails have a good hit rate if they are worded correctly, so take care and just give them a little nudge. If they don’t reply on the second follow up, it’s time to abandon ship (at least for the time being) as they are likely not interested and don’t have time to reply to every email.
Ensure the influencer is relevant
This is influencer marketing 101 - only ever contact influencers who are relevant to your brand, product and industry. If they aren’t, collaborating with them won’t make sense to either of you, nor will you have potential to drive ROI from the partnership. Relevance is one of the most important parts of selecting influencers for your campaign, so ensure you are a good match before you outreach. It’s also a good idea to include a short sentence about why you think they would be a good fit for the campaign, activation or engagement - this will help them understand where you are coming from and what the partnership might look like.
Connect on more than one platform
While it is best practice to email influencers with a collaborative opportunity, it is also a good idea to connect with influencers across platforms before you send the first email. This way, you may already be on their radar, or they may recognise your name. You should start following them on social media and engaging with their content when you genuinely love it. Even better if you can do so from your brand account (rather than your personal one).
I’ve never met a single person who loved a spammy email, and I don’t think I ever will. Spam emails are annoying, crowd your inbox, and they’re just annoying (did I mention that already?). If you don’t have anything worthwhile to say, there is no point emailing an influencer (especially if that email is a just a press release). Which leads me to my next point…
Don’t dangle the carrot
Contacting an influencer with a “potential opportunity” or expressing your keen interest in working with them when you actually have no intention of collaborating is terrible practice in the influencer marketing space. In fact, it’s probably the worst thing you can do when it comes to influencer marketing. If you don’t have a campaign but are genuinely interested in learning how you might be able to work together, make that clear in your outreach email. Never dangle the carrot, and then rip it away again.
Outreach is a networking opportunity
Don't forget that influencer outreach is a networking opportunity, and to make the most of it, you need to put your best foot forward. If they are not interested in the campaign this time around, that doesn't mean it is the end of the relationship. Instead, take the time to let them know that it isn’t a problem, and you would love to reconnect in the future when the timing is better/new product launch/more budget available etc etc. It’s just like networking, but in the digital space.
Make it exciting
If you don’t truly believe the pitch is exciting, neither will the influencer. A boring, bland email is not appealing, nor does it spike curiosity and interest. If you want an influencer to support your brand, it has to be something that is genuinely exciting, so be creative and think up an opportunity that will make them listen.
Include a briefing form
When doing your influencer outreach, it can be a good idea to include a briefing form or scoping document as an attachment for additional information about the campaign or collaborative opportunity. This helps the influencers get the big picture, and also helps them submit a quote for the work involved. In addition, a briefing document also makes it very clear that you have a real opportunity for consideration, which is important when contacting influencers for the first time. You can see an example of a briefing document here.
For some ideas on how you can work with influencers, have a read of these 13 types of influencer marketing campaigns.
Don’t just send press releases
Press releases are a tried and tested PR strategy and may still have an impact in the world of news and journalism, however, in influencer marketing, press releases have almost had their day. In the past, I have worked as the editor of a blog and I can tell you that if it’s just a press release with the generic “feel free to share this with your audience” I would hit delete almost every time (and I know a lot of other influencers are in the same position). A press release is not much use to an influencer, as their focus is on sharing high-quality content, their personal opinions and things they genuinely love - a press release rarely falls into that category if it is not accompanied by an interesting collaborative opportunity.
Do your research
Finally, if you don’t have time to do your research before you start outreaching, then you definitely don’t have time to be outreaching in the first place. Do your research before you send an outreach email and ensure you know the influencers first name (their real name), where they are based (if this is important to your campaign) and what their content is all about. Even better, know what they love and what gets them excited - whether that is cute toddler clothes, the latest fashion trends, an exotic location or anything with Nutella on it. The more you know, the more effective your influencer outreach will be.
I hope these 15 actionable outreach tips help you to kick-start your influencer marketing campaign and ultimately get you more replies from influencers you would love to work with.