There’s a reason why INFLUENCER MARKETING is the hottest buzzword in the PR world and marketing industry at the moment. The truth of the matter is, Influencer Marketing as a recognized theory in marketing has been coined as far back as 1940 in a study entitled “The People’s Choice” by Lazerfeld & Katzbut. Today, #InfluencerMarketing is enjoying a massive resurgence as everyone and their cats and dogs (We love this, this and this!) are influencers now. Why? Because in a world of TOO MUCH NOISE and social media clutter, working with the right influencers in the right campaign can have a massively wide range of positive benefits for your brand and that kind of gift of marketing is a gift that keeps on giving and we’ll tell you WHY!
But before that, let’s have a quick background info on marketing with influencers. A Lesson in Influencer Marketing 101, if you will.
What is an Influencer?Who is considered an Influencer?Can anyone be an Influencer? Answering the first question right off the bat… YES, ANYONE can be an Influencer! An influencer is someone who has an audience’s attention and have the ability to ‘influence’ or shape their opinion, choices or perception of products or services. Technically, aside from celebrities, influencers can be athletes, experts, academics, journalists, etc. In other words, when these individuals speak, tweet, blog or post, PEOPLE LISTEN. From a company or brand’s perspective, collaborating or partnering with influencers is GOLD. They can be great assets to their marketing strategy as ULTIMATELY, they can influence the brand’s target market to buy the products and services they recommend.
“Influencer Marketing then, is when a brand engages said Influencer to promote their product to their audience with the intention of growing awareness or making more sales.”
In addition to the tangible return of investment on actual sales conversions, brands can benefit from #InfluencerMarketing in so many intangible yet just as diverse and valuable ways such as: increased brand awareness, improved SEO, exciting content creation, more engaged and excited social media following and of course, this all leads to a gift that keeps on giving. A notable rise of your brand’s relevance and online presence, which have a cumulative effect to your brand’s bottom line, meaning your brand don’t just benefit today but it keeps on reaping the benefits until after the campaign is done. Which is why it SO crucial to KILL it with your influencer outreach as your initial e-mail might be the make it or break it factor in your #InfluencerMarketing strategy.
DO THESE 5 TIPS TO GET MORE REPLIES AND ENGAGEMENT FROM INFLUENCERS AND BLOGGERS
I’ll be honest with you, I delete A LOT of e-mail pitches from brands and PR agencies if they don’t take into account the following 5 TIPS TO GET MORE REPLIES AND ENGAGEMENT FROM BLOGGERS and INFLUENCERS. So here goes…
INFLUENCER MARKETING TIP #1. DO YOUR INFLUENCER RESEARCH
A couple of years ago, it was called Blogger Marketing or Blogger Relationsand though it’s really a similar concept, the biggest difference is that in the past, the sole focus of marketing campaigns was on bloggers. Thanks mostly to Instagram, nowadays, these marketing campaigns now engages Instragrammers, Vloggers, Youtubers and other online personalities who have creative a significant social media following and thus, have real or perceived influence over their followers.
What does it all mean?
It means more work for you as you have to conduct a thorough research to find the right influencer, for the right campaign. Depending on your client or the brands that you are promoting, ONLY contact influencers who are relevant to your brand, product, service and industry. Obviously, if you’re working on a fitness apparel, it’s logical to contact fitness bloggers, Yoga teachers, athletes or Body Builders but perhaps not DIY Craft Bloggers or Home Improvement Influencers. It’s essential to pick the RIGHT INFLUENCER in terms of brand relevance, feel, aesthetics, reach and most especially, niche or target market.
Once you’ve found the perfect match, it wouldn’t hurt to include a brief rationale on why you think this influencer is a good fit for your campaign. This will not only help them understand your selection process (which led you to them) and demonstrate that you’ve done your homework but it would also provide them with a vision of what your partnership together might look like.
INFLUENCER MARKETING #2. DEVELOP A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE INFLUENCER OR AT LEAST CONNECT WITH THEM PRIOR TO REACHING OUT
Ideally, you’ve taken the time to either tweet at your influencer or left a comment on their blogs or liked their Instagram posts before you even drafted that e-mail pitch.
Why is this important?
Because developing relationships should be chief to everything you do. Yes, the most ideal influencer outreach are those that clearly indicates a collaborative opportunity, in other words, PAID OPPORTUNITY (Nothing else catches an influencer’s attention that those TWO MAGIC WORDS!) visibly written on the subject line like BOOM!, it’s not always the reality. We get it, sometimes, you really do not have the budget to do so. Therefore, it is a brilliant idea to connect with influencers across other social media platforms before you even send them your first email. Can you engage with them IRL? Even better!
This way, by the time you e-mail them, you’re already on their radar or they recognize your name or better yet, they already feel like they have a connection with you. Cold call VS. Warm Call, which one do you think influencers prefer? Follow them on social media, engage with their content and leave genuine comments. It’s even more strategic if you can do this from the brand’s account rather than your personal one!
I can’t tell you how much of a BIG THRILL it is for bloggers and influencers to get a notification that your fave brands are following you in social media! The Ottawa REDBLACKS follow me? Whaaat?!!
INFLUENCER MARKETING Tip #2 is perhaps the easiest of all these tips as you already should be doing this on a regular basis if your job involves influencer outreach!
INFLUENCER MARKETING #3. PERSONALIZE YOUR INFLUENCER OUTREACH
This is perhaps the number one filter that determines whether or not I will reply to an e-mail pitch or simply delete it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve deleted many an e-mail because it was written to a Dear Sir/Madam, a Hello There or a Hey! None of those is my name!
We get hundreds of e-mails everyday so we need to be able to sift through the good, the bad and the ugly and believe me, there’s been a number of ugly!
Do address the influencer by his/her name, Do NOT use generic templates, Do NOT copy and paste (we can tell, surprise!), Do review and proofread and Do include a line or two that indicates that you have read the influencer’s latest blog post, tweet or watch their Instagram stories.
Does this sound tedious and more work? Sure it does but by putting more thought and personality into your outreach, you increase your chances of getting a more POSITIVE replies and engagement from influencers.
An influencer is: “A third party who significantly shapes the customer’s purchasing decision” (Brown & Hayes, 2008) and “has a greater than average reach or impact in a relevant marketplace.”
– Word of Mouth Marketing Association Handbook
INFLUENCER MARKETING #4. OUTLINE THE INFLUENCER BENEFIT AND COMMUNICATE THAT CLEARLY
WHAT’S IN IT FOR THE INFLUENCER?
This I cannot STRESS ENOUGH: Influencer campaigns should be mutually beneficial. There’s something in it for you and there’s something in it for them!
Whether it’s cold, hard cash, products, travel and accommodation, affiliate revenue, a cool opportunity, etc., always ensure that there’s a “compensation” for the influencer and communicate that clearly. Influencers and Bloggers are businesses in their own right and are performing a service for you and that could range from event appearances (YES, I do get paid for Event Appearances. It’s a thing, ask Kim Kardashian!), social media coverage, product promotion, guest segments on TV, sponsored blog posts, hosting an event in person or online such as moderating a Twitter party. These services cost money, time and a lot of effort on their part and it is BUT JUST to pay them accordingly.
Like I said, although ACTUAL MONEY still remains the BEST WAY TO PAY YOUR INFLUENCERS but of course there are other types of compensation you can negotiate with them. This is a business transaction, which means one thing is exchanged for another. Think of other ways you can provide value to influencers you want to partner with AND MAKE SURE YOU COMMUNICATE THESE BENEFITS to them.
BE CLEAR as there is nothing worse than receiving an email about a potential opportunity that is either vague, confusing and unclear. If an influencer have to decode your email pitch to determine what is it about, there’s a good chance that they will ignore or delete it.
For the record, I DO NOT consider inviting me to events or sending me products as payments. In fact, products are necessary for me to do my job. How else can I flatlay and promote your latest lipstick if I do not have your product in hand? How can I describe your delicious food if I’ve never been to your restaurant to actually taste it? How can I talk about your exciting event if I’m not there experiencing it? So paying me with tools I need so I can do a good job for you is not compensating me. It’s a basic requirement.
Like a basic human right.
p.s. In case it isn’t clear, that last line is a JOKE! I do not actually believe lipstick is a basic human right! I understand there are those that prefer lipgloss! ?
Please think about that the next time you’re thinking of sending an influencer shampoo and conditioner as compensation. That goes for high-res images, miniature samples and especially, EXPOSURE!
So, just before you HIT SEND, take a seat back, review your e-mail pitch again to ensure that it answers ONE VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION: did you CLEARLY COMMUNICATE… What’s in it for them?
Because if you’re the only one benefiting from the partnership, then it’s time for you to re-evaluate your influencer marketing strategy. It needs to be beneficial for them as it is beneficial for YOU.
INFLUENCER MARKETING #5. BE POLITE AND BE RESPECTFUL TO INFLUENCERS
DO NOT BE DEMANDING… OR RUDE OR CONDESCENDING.
Amongst the many things I cannot stress enough is this: RUDE and UNPROFESSIONAL outreach to influencers. Be nice, be polite and always be respectful and considerate. I think this is especially true when you don’t have actual money to pay them or don’t have that much to offer. Especially when you are asking a favour, I would be extra nice if I were you!
Although far and in between (Thank Goodness!), I have received my share of completely unprofessional e-mail pitch. The one that I will never forget… I have been asked to write about a drink that will be featured at this hotel’s grand opening party. A party that I was not invited to. A drink that I was not invited to try either BUT was sent a recipe card so that I can go to the groceries and the LCBO or SAQ to buy the alcohol and the ingredients required to make drink, in my own time and my own dime.
I was also supposed to style and shoot said drink, review it, write about it and share it all over social media. What’s in it for me? Well, they DID NOT OFFER TO PAY ME, they did not invite me for a drink, they did not invite me to the party, they didn’t even send me the ingredients to make the drink! I thought that was the rudest and most inconsiderate influencer outreach that I’ve ever received. Needless to say, I did not, do not work and do not support that brand.
And by others supporting them despite that bad behaviour does not send the right signal. They shall go on sending their sh*tty pitches because no one else stood up and said NO. You cannot do things that way.
Arguably, the top notch way to show respect to bloggers and influencers is to PAY THEM. Pay them for their time. Pay them for their effort. Pay them for their klout and definitely pay them for their influence. They are a business, they perform a service for you (Read Tip #4 again to learn about all the wonderful things bloggers and influencers can do for your brand!) and therefore, YOU NEED TO PAY THEM.
And please, please, PLEASE DO NOT invite bloggers and influencers to cover your amazing event and send them the link to buy their own tickets! C’MOOOOON!
On a side note, the most polite, courteous and professional e-mail pitches I’ve received are actually those that PAID ME with real cold, hard cash. Imagine that!
“Because if you’re the only one benefiting from the partnership, then it’s time you re-evaluate your influencer marketing strategy. It needs to be beneficial for them as it is beneficial for YOU.”
– MARILOU MOLES, INFLUENCER, TWENTY YORK STREET
LASTLY, MAKE YOUR INFLUENCER OUTREACH TRULY EXCITING
Sometimes, you can do all the 5 tips I’ve mentioned above and your pitch still falls flat. Why is that? Well, influencers, just like you, are really busy people. Everyday, hundreds of e-mails and invitations come in about the hottest and the coolest events, products, collaborations, campaign opportunities and content pitches, so you really need to work hard to craft something that catches their attention – FAST!
Be personable, be authentic, be EXCITING! Do you truly believe your pitch is exciting? NO? Then neither will the influencer. Review your pitch again! Better yet, have someone else review and look for out for boring, bland and long emails! These are not appealing or exciting and sadly, will not generate your desired interest and response. If you truly want influencers to support your brand, put your best foot forward and be thoughtful, considerate and strategic with your influencer outreach.
If you have more tips and ideas on how brands, companies and PR Agencies can improve their blogger relations and Influence Marketing, please leave us a comment below. If you’re a brand, company or PR Agency, I hope you find these tips useful and valuable!
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