Influencer outreach has many benefits for online business. It helps grow your audience, improve your brand exposure, and since it also brings backlinks – it can boost your rankings. Establishing quality relationships with bloggers can help you in engaging their loyal audience.
A good influencer marketing strategy includes identifying individuals who can deliver your content to their audience and help you spread your message across many channels, contacting those individuals and building relationships with them. And those relationships should be mutually beneficial for both parts.
Here’s a simple yet effective step-by-step strategy that should help you attract the attention of the key personalities in your niche, build good relationships and get the exposure you need.
Start with Top-Notch Content
The reasons are clear: to get the attention of influencers, shares, and backlinks, the quality of your content should be exceptional. If you target a particular keyword, first check the content that already exists for this keyword.
Rand Fishkin from Moz once said that you could not win people only with “good unique content.” Your content should be 10 times better than the one that already exists. That’s why I recommend you:
- Research the keywords that you wish to target and find the best-fitting one for your website. It’s better to target long-tail keywords with maybe lower search volume but the reasonable amount of traffic and clicks. Check out its difficulty too, because you will need to build more links for a high-difficulty keyword than for that with low difficulty;
- Check out the SERP for a given keyword and carefully examine the Top 10 results for it. Learn the structure of that content, the information it offers, visual elements, backlinks, and its relevance;
- Create the content that targets the given keyword and includes the best ideas from the best existing articles, but add more value by digging a level deeper, providing more insights, guiding tips, strategies or specific tricks.
Only when you have great content, you may start pitching the influencers.
Identify Your Influencers
One of the core marketing tactics in every business is finding your target audience. You can’t sell the ice to Eskimos because they have plenty of it. That said, you can’t sell your products to the wrong audience.
The same is with influencers. You should only pitch the right influencers who may be interested in your offer, be it your product or content. They should be in the same niche as you. And I can give you a tip where to find the best influencers for your business. It’s your competitors! In short, your competitors target the same audience as you. And they may have already found some influencers to establish good relationships. So, why not to borrow some good connections from them?
Say, you’re running a coffee store that sells fresh-roasted coffee. Hope, you already know your primary keywords. All it takes is to drop your target keyword into Google and check out what sites may provide keen competition to your online store.
Here, I highlighted a few sites that might be your online competitors. Now you have to check their backlinks and how are they mentioned online. I use Ahrefs Site Explorer, but you may use any other backlink checker you like.
You may find many blogs that link to your competitors or mention them in their posts. Those are the primary influencers that you may reach out to ask for a mention, backlink or other types of collaboration.
Creating a sales pitch or asking for something off the cuff is the best way of spoiling your relationships with the influencers from the very beginning. You have to build relationships first.
Start with learning more about those people you’re about to contact. Read a couple of their blog posts to assess their writing style and topics they prefer. Follow them on social media, like their posts and leave a few meaningful comments about the content.
In this case, when you contact influencers, they will be already familiar with you. They will know that you are in a related niche and share relevant ideas. Such non-pushy and friendly approach will help you to gain the influencer’s trust.
Find the Right Email
Almost all websites have generic email addresses (like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) or contact forms. But using these contacts to approach influencers is not the best idea. It makes your emails less personal. Worse, sometimes you may end up with the following message in your inbox:
The result? You waste your time and resources without reaching your goal. To avoid frustration, you should take your time to find the right email address. Many services allow you to find email addresses associated with a site, people or social accounts.
One of the most popular is Hunter.io that checks the site for the available email addresses and also suggests the personal addresses for the given domain that follow the site pattern. Other email finders include Clearbit Connect (Chrome extension), VoilaNorbert, FindThatEmail, and others.
Another cool option is looking for an influencer’s email on LinkedIn. You will hardly find a person’s email disclosed in their contact info. But with the help of the ContactOut extension, you may see an email associated with this account.
And don’t forget to verify those emails with LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This Chrome extension checks if an email is associated with a person’s LinkedIn profile and helps avoid sending emails to non-existing or wrong emails.
Craft a Perfect Email
There is no “ideal” formula of an email that an influencer will open, read and react the way you need. But there are definitely some elements that make an email “good” or “bad.” Most of the outreach-email mistakes include:
- No (or wrong) name of the recipient;
- Boring subject line;
- No win-win situation.
- When you email someone, you should always mention their names at the beginning. Thus you make it more personals and respectful. Unfortunately, sometimes I get emails that ignore that rule and don’t even care to use my name (that is clearly stated in the email address):
As you can see, I marked this email as SPAM. And I assure you, your email may end up in the same folder if you don’t bother to state a person’s name.
- The subject line should attract attention and indicate the main idea of the email. The good old KISS principle works here too. Keep your subject line short, sweet and to the point. Just a clean “about [topic]” message works nice and saves your email from ending in the SPAM folder.
- The body text of your email should not just go to the point of your offer, but also describe what’s in it for the respondent. Show the value of your proposal and briefly state what benefits the influencer gets. Why your influencers should care about your blog post? It may be a better study that provides the all-in-one information on the topic that may be helpful for influencers’ own researches. Or they may provide a better value to their audiences. And they should offer credible resources their users can trust.
Thus, if you are reaching out to bloggers to share your latest guide or case study and hope they share it, you don’t have to ask them for the link or share directly. Just show them the value of your content and ask for their feedback. Valuable content speaks for itself. If it is really that good, influencers will share and link to it even if you don’t ask for that.
Tip: If you wish to learn more how to craft a nice outreach email that won’t end up in SPAM, here’s a video-tutorial for you:
Don’t Forget to Follow-Up
You may get no replies even to perfectly-personalized emails with catchy subject lines. And there is no fault of you. Emails may get into the SPAM folder automatically; they may be lost among many other emails, the influencer may get busy and forget about your message. That’s why you should use follow-up emails.
Nutshell’s study shows that 70% of email responses are generated by follow-up emails. Crafting follow-ups is easy: write a short respectful pitch to ask an influencer if they had a chance to check out your previous email. No excess information, no waffle. And stick to only one follow-up email!
Outreach campaign, like any marketing activity, will bring the results only if tracked and appropriately analyzed. I recommend you to use BuzzStream to automate your outreach campaigns and monitor its results. Thus, you may create and keep all your email templates there. And see how your emails performed to make some A/B testing and see what subject line/body text performed better:
You can also see if your email was opened (and how many times) to know if an influencer read your message or not. It may help you to update your text or subject line to make it more enticing and improve open rate.
Measure the performance of your campaign and see how it impacted your ROI and how the brand awareness increased. Establish deeper relationships with those influencers who became your friends. Keep up the practices that worked for you but always look what can be improved.
Hope these practices will work for you as they worked for me and you will build a good base of influencers. If you have more outreach ideas to add, please, share them in comments!
Helen is a content marketer at Ahrefs. She explores new things every day to impress her readers with catchy stories. Apart from all that marketing stuff, Helen loves listening to rock music, reading and traveling. A lot! Feel free to follow.