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Influencer marketing has become one of the most used marketing strategies in recent years. Content creators are able to tap into niche markets and reach specific audiences. But, with so many brands fighting for attention from influencers, it can be hard to stand out. Below are 10 of our best tips to help you perfect your influencer outreach strategy to make some great mutual partnerships.
1. Have your strategy down
In today’s world of social media, getting noticed in someone’s flooded inbox can be a struggle. You may only have a few seconds to make an impression, so your influencer outreach tactics need to be on point before you even hit send. These tactics not only determine whether or not you will work with good influencers but they will also lay down the foundation for your whole relationship. This means that you should know what you are looking for and how to communicate that from the beginning. If you’ve decided to work with a full-service agency, then they will most likely take care of your influencer outreach for you. If you are working on some of it yourself, here are our tips for standing out (in a good way)!
2. Start building a relationship ASAP
Strong relationships are at the heart of influencer marketing, so it’s never to early to start building some! By creating real, authentic relationships with brands, you are opening the door for more mutual efforts, and when outreach is mutual it can feel a lot less like work.
Take it from Karolis Rimkus, a successful dropshipping entrepreneur who built a trusted brand with the help of influencers:
This authenticity will then spread to the sponsored content. The audience will see that the influencer genuinely enjoys working with you, giving your brand great returns. A great example of this is Chris Klemens’s partnership with The Herb LA. Chris has been working with the brand for a while now and constantly posts about how much he enjoys their products/company, even when he isn’t paid to. As a result, The Herb will often gift Chris with personalized products, which turn into even more posts. Chris makes it very clear that the relationship he has with The Herb is over the top, so much so that his friends bought him many of their products for his birthday. This kind of authenticity is great for both Chris and The Herb, resulting in a beautiful, mutually beneficial partnership.
3. Learn more about them
Part of creating a relationship with an influencer through your outreach efforts involves getting to know them. And no, we don’t mean knowing their statistics. Although follower count and engagement rates are important, make sure you are getting to know the influencer on a more personal level. Take a look at their accounts and who they follow. What do they value? What do they gravitate toward? Try to see the person behind the posts and tailor your pitch to them.
4. Start small
Start with small-scale interactions to gradually build your relationship. Start by doing the obvious and following their accounts. Instagram, YouTube, and blogs are a great place to start. Engage with their content, like posts and leave comments, carry conversations with them if possible. This will help increase your exposure to them. The best thing to do is to show respect and interest in their work. If you have mutual contacts, you can ask for a formal introduction!
5. Use templates
When initiating influencers, using a general template can be extremely helpful, but to remain authentic, try to personalize them as much as possible! To do so, don’t just copy and paste the same generic message over and over again. Include their name, brand, and something specific you pulled from their online presence. If you have a specific type of partnership in mind, feel free to include that from the beginning. Below are some template ideas:
Gifting for Review or Mention
Subject line: Collaboration Opportunity with a New [your product/service type] Brand
Hi [influencer’s name],
I’m [your name] from [your company]. I’ve been following your [blog, Instagram, YouTube, etc.] for about a year now and I love your work!
It seems to me that we both share a passion for [common ground].
Overall, I think my brand really aligns with yours, and that your audience would be a great fit for [your product]. I’d be glad to send you one for free in exchange for a [review/mention] on your [blog, Instagram, YouTube, etc.].
Please let me know if you’re interested.
Subject line: [Influencer’s Name], would you like to be our brand ambassador?
Hi [influencer’s name],
I’m [your name] from [your company]. I’ve been following your [blog, Instagram, YouTube, etc.] and I’m consistently impressed with it.
What sticks out to me most is your [name 2–3 positive traits].
I’m looking for brand ambassadors that really fit with my brand. I think you’d make a fantastic partner!
As an ambassador, you can expect to:
- Receive [your products/services] for free
- Discuss them on your [blog, Instagram, YouTube, etc.]
- Get an extra commission for [sales, new leads, social media growth, etc.]
- Work with us for a few months to start, then extend if we both love it
The terms are flexible, so I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
Would you be interested in working with us?
Product or Collection Collaboration
Subject line: Let’s build something together! [Influencer’s Name] + [Your Company]
Hi [influencer’s name],
I’m [your name] from [your company]. We’re dreaming up a new [product/collection type], and we’ve been hoping to partner with an expert influencer who wants to help us develop it and make it their own.
I’ve been following your [blog, Instagram, YouTube, etc.] and I think you’d be the perfect fit.
Here’s how the process would work:
- We’ll ask for your unfiltered input on designing and producing the [product/collection]
- It will be released as YOUR exclusive line – you can even name it [influencer’s name] if you’d like
- You’ll receive 10% of all sales!
Do you have some time this week to chat about what this partnership could look like?
Look forward to hearing from you,
6. Follow up
If you haven’t heard back from your influencer within 5-7 days of sending your initial message, feel free to reach back out. Chances are they are busy and have a full inbox so they may have missed you the first time! Some other influencer outreach tips include:
- Mention what you have in common. Maybe you have a shared interest in sustainability or vegan food. Let them know!
- Tell them why you value working with them. What made them stand out to you?
- Leave the conversation open-ended. Present your partnership idea, but leave room for them to come up with their own ideas too.
- Know when to cut your losses. Sending one or two follow up emails is fine, but at some point, you start to look desperate. If they haven’t engaged, move to your next prospect.
- Look at it as a networking opportunity. Even if they aren’t interested now, remain cordial. Who knows, they might change their mind in the future!
7. Create a clear, goal-oriented campaign brief
Once you’ve confirmed that your influencer is interested, you should send them a campaign brief that clearly outlines your goals, rules, and requirements for the partnership. The biggest part of your success will be in creating attainable goals.
Style and travel blogger Kara Harms recommends that brands choose one key performance indicator (KPI) to focus their campaign on. When she can use this approach with her own clients, she feels better positioned to help the brand succeed.
8. Make guidelines/requirements clear
In order to make your campaign brief effective, make sure you are outlining exactly what is expected for the duration of the partnership. These are some things you probably want to include in your brief:
- Key points about your product or service that you want to be mentioned in the post(s)
- Your desired timeline for the posts (Ex: They must post within 2 weeks of receiving the product)
- The deliverables you expect such as:
- 1 Instagram post including a photo of a product. The caption must include company @tag and campaign #hashtag – posted January 5
- 1 Instagram story including a product in use, as well as verbal mention of product name – posted January 10
- 1 blog post reviewing the product, including product photo and special discount code HOORAY123 – posted January 15
- General guide of what you do and don’t want
- Some visuals or examples of types of posts/past campaigns that can help them plan their content
- An overview of the approval process (if you plan to approve their content before it is posted)
- A reminder of FTC guidelines including the requirement of #ad or #sponsored
- Other details to include like the brand’s handle or branded hashtags
- Personalization– change the brief to be personal to each influencer and their audience
- Contact information for who the influencer will be working with the most
Overall, your campaign brief should be clear and detailed so everyone is on the same page with what to expect. Try to anticipate any questions the influencer may have and answer them in the brief.
9. Give your influencer creative freedom
One of the biggest goals of influencer outreach is to keep your influencer coming back. By allowing your influencers to have creative freedom over the partnership you will:
- Show that you trust their vision/creativity to effectively promote your brand
- Create a strong relationship and level of authenticity with the influencer and their audience
- Get some really great and creative content that you and your team may have not come up with
Although you should be outlining requirements and expectations in your campaign brief, remind the influencer that the rest of the campaign is up to their creativity. If an ad feels too staged, the audience will know and the influencer will probably not enjoy the process. Let their style influence the visual and written content as much as it would in any of their other posts.
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10. Keep the relationship going
Just because your partnership ends doesn’t mean your relationship does! Keep in contact with influencers you have worked with in the past because you never know when you may have another partnership opportunity with them again. Plus, the hope of influencer outreach is that you are creating genuine connections with influencers, so don’t be afraid to reach out and check up with them even after your campaign has ended. Personal touches like this show that your brand actually cares about them and enjoys working with them, which is hopefully how they feel too!