If you’ve found the right influencers to collaborate with, it’s time to reach out. As with so many other things in business, influencer outreach can seem intimidating. After all, you’re asking a complete stranger to help you with a business opportunity. With influencers, you’re requesting a personal service that can impact their reputation. Fortunately, I’ve prepared this guide to help you know how to reach out to influencers with confidence.
What Is Influencer Outreach?
In a nutshell, influencer outreach is when you contact social media influencers with the intention of collaborating with them. Typically, this collaboration is focused on raising brand awareness or sales for a particular brand as part of an influencer marketing campaign.
Outreach can take a few different forms. Most direct is sending an email or social media message to the influencer and asking them to collaborate. Another method is used by Amazon and a few other large companies: having a page where influencers who are interested in collaborating can sign up. Many other businesses do a combination of these techniques.
Also, keep in mind that sometimes you will reach out to an influencer in order to add him or her to an overall influencer program. In this case, you might not intend to collaborate right away. Instead, you want someone who you can count on at a later date. Either way, it’s critical to know how to reach out to influencers. Here, we’ll focus on the direct outreach method.
Step 1: Identify Relevant Influencers to Reach Out to
Before learning how to reach out to influencers, it’s important to find the right people. In this case, you’re looking for a short list, because you aren’t quite sure who will respond favorably to your pitch. Fortunately, if you do this right then there’s sure to be someone who is willing to help. I’ve written extensively on influencer discovery, but here are a few quick tips.
Determine relevance based on your target audience
For an influencer marketing campaign to work well, you need someone who is influential with your target audience. This isn’t always an example of the target demographic, just someone who appeals to them. As an example, you might choose a regional-level sports personality for your brand of athletic wear. This person might be older than your target audience, and likely makes more money than they do. But, your goal is typically to sell sports gear to an audience who plays that sport. By choosing a successful competitor, you’re going to appeal to that demographic.
However, there are other niches where the best influencer will closely match your target audience. In other words, it’s more than just a common interest. If you sell beauty products tailored to a certain subculture, then your influencers should be part of that community. Alternatively, if you’re trying to expand your reach, pick someone who fits your new buyer persona.
Compare levels of influence
Here, I’m talking about more than just follower numbers. Especially given that some influencers have a few fake followers, there’s a lot more to influence levels. No, here I mean the extent to which someone is influential in your industry. You wouldn’t pick an athletic influencer to pitch junk food, would you? Chances are, they encourage healthy eating. To pick a more subtle example, let’s go over to the travel industry. Some influencers pitch budget getaways, and you wouldn’t use them to hawk a five-star hotel.
How do you ascertain this level of influence? First, check out the hashtags they’re using. You want to ensure that their hashtag trail is relevant not just to your industry, but to the correct segment of the industry. In addition, you’ll want to analyze what they recommend to ensure that it’s suitable.
Put together priority list to pitch to
Finally, this information will help you narrow down the options. Pick the best handful of candidates and learn how to reach out to influencers. Then, have another couple of groups if not enough influencers respond favorably the first time.
Step 2: Preparing the Pitch
Next, you’ll want to prepare your pitch, because this will help you decide how to reach out to influencers. While some aspects of outreach are the same for everyone, others should be tailored to the individual influencer.
Confirm your marketing strategy
Pitching influencers requires that you understand your marketing strategy. This will allow you to ask for the right kind of help from a potential influencer. Nothing says “pass this up” like a marketer who is fuzzy on the details.
Know what to say when reaching out to influencers for collaboration
Writing that note to a potential influencer might feel like applying for a job, in that it can make you nervous. However, if you know how to reach out to influencers, this is less of a problem. Following these tips will help you succeed.
- Avoid starting the letter or message with “Dear influencer” or “To whom it may concern.” This impersonal approach has about a 99% chance of being ignored, according to Crazyegg.com. Instead, be more personal.
- Tell them what’s in it for them. In other words, what are the rewards? There may be some flexibility here, but make it clear they’ll be compensated.
- Mention something about them or their content. It shows that you are paying attention and helps build a rapport. Have something personally in common? You might use this if appropriate.
Step 3: Connect with Influencers on Social Media
Mastering the secrets of how to reach out to influencers is surprisingly easy. Ask yourself, what would you want someone else to do, if they were offering you an opportunity. Putting yourself in their shoes is a great way to boost your chances of success.
Before you begin, show interest in what they have to say. This can include following their social media accounts, liking or sharing their content, and more. By doing this, you’re building a connection before reaching out. This is a critical step: According to Backlinko, only 8.5% of outreach emails ever get a response. By connecting with an influencer on social media ahead of time, you’re showing interest in a relationship.
Step 4: Send Your Influencer Outreach Email
Now that you’ve built a relationship with your chosen influencers, it’s time to use my practical advice on how to reach out to influencers. There are several options for outreach, depending on your preferences and the intended platform for collaborations.
If you intend to use Instagram, the best way how to reach out to influencers is using Instagram DMs. These are easy to use, and let the influencer see your Instagram profile quickly. Also, feel free to link to the brand account if you aren’t using it to reach out.
Other social media networks
Many other social networks have the ability to directly message someone. In a few cases, like LinkedIn, you might have to pay for it. However, all of these are relatively high visibility ways to try and get your message read.
Outside of social media
With bloggers, or when in-network messaging is restricted, you can always send them an email. Of course, your first step is to find that email address. Sometimes, they’ll list it in social media profiles. If the influencer has a media kit, then they will list their preferred contact on that document. A link is often available on their profile.
Another option is to use Google. Depending on their off-network internet presence, you might be able to find some form of contact information. Just be aware that if you’re a B2C brand you probably don’t want to use their workplace to send collaboration pitches. This could get them in trouble at the day job.
Use outreach tools
If you’re looking for a blogger, or if you haven’t found the contact information you need any other way, consider using tools. For instance, Apollo.io is an email finding service that might be worth trying out. From there, you’d follow the other steps on how to reach out to influencers. Alternatively, try Respona.com. This one is a blogger-specific outreach tool with significant automation features.
Compose your note
Once you have the right contact information, it’s time to compose your pitch. There are two basic approaches. The first one is to present a specific opportunity. For instance, you might ask them if they’d like to prepare a single Instagram post on behalf of your brand. The second approach is to be more open ended. In this case, you’d ask if they are interested in discussing collaborations. If your intended influencer does a variety of collabs, this might be the better option. Unless, of course, you have something specific in mind.
Step 5: Didn’t Get a Reply? How do you follow up with an influencer
If you’ve ever sent out a whole bunch of resumes or CVs and not gotten a response, you know what it feels like. Thing is, like that hiring manager who ignored your application influencers get more requests than they could ever grant. For some of them, the sheer volume of requests means that they don’t even respond to everyone.
For that reason, experts agree that it’s OK to send a follow-up email or message. In fact, it’s considered best practice to do so. In this way, you show the influencer that you’re really interested in working with him or her. Combined with your earlier interest in the content they’re already producing, you’ll distinguish yourself from the competition. Finally, keep in mind that some influencers make a practice of only answering after the second contact.
Step 6: Start Your Collab and Build a Long-Term Relationship
When you finally get a response, you will have learned how to reach out to influencers successfully. Now here comes the fun part: collaborating! Once you’ve carefully negotiated the terms of your collaboration, you can enjoy the outcome of all that hard work. Hopefully, your influencer marketing campaign will be a success.
However, just because the campaign is over doesn’t mean you should end the relationship with your influencers. In fact, that’s not really a good idea. Consider adding successful influencers to a formal influencer marketing program. This may mean making them part of your network, and using them for future collaborations. Or, it could mean an immediate, longer-term engagement. Either way, you both win.
Bonus: Influencer Outreach Templates
Suffering from writers block? It happens to everyone. That’s why I’ve prepared these brief templates to help inspire your outreach efforts.
Sample Instagram DM
Hi [influencer name],
I’ve been watching your Instagram profile for a while and noticed that [mention something great about their content]. As a member of the [brand] marketing team, I was wondering if you’d be interested in a paid collaboration with us. I’ll be happy to talk about the creative possibilities and rewards with our brand.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
[name, title, company]
Greetings [influencer name],
I’ve been following [blog name or profile] for a while now, and I thought it was time to introduce myself. My name is [name] and I work for [brand]. As a member of the marketing team, I’d like to offer you the opportunity to [describe opportunity.] In return, we offer the following: [describe what’s in it for them]. I think you are an ideal match because [give reason]. If you’re interested, drop me a line and we’ll talk about it further.
Sincerely, [email signature]
So what are you waiting for? Go out there and start collaborating!
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash