Influencer marketing continues to grow in popularity year after year. 93% of marketers who use influencers agree that they are effective, while 76% say that it helps boost customer loyalty. It’s also considered to be the most cost-effective channel for marketing, more authentic than traditional advertising (when done well), and allows you to gain easier access to a new target audience or larger customer base.
Jeff Bullas, the CEO Jeffbullas.com, a consulting, new media, and web services company, believes that “influencer marketing has moved from fad to a trend. The growing noise of a crowded web and ad blockers have made it a marketing tactic that gets cut through.” 70% of millennial consumers who are influenced by recommendations from their peers would probably agree with him.
While influencer marketing is effective, finding the right influencers to craft your message can be very challenging. Ideally, you will want to identify the influencers with the greatest authority, reach, and engagement in your niche. Learning who they are, however, is only the beginning of the process.
Influencers Lists vs. Influencer Marketing
To kickstart your influencer marketing campaign, do your research. Look at your buyer personas and identify those who are interested in your product. Create an extensive list of people that may be interested in your product, paying extra attention to those that have a mid-sized following and active engagement. Influencers with several thousand followers will be easier to reach than celebrities or influencers with several million. The more you find, the better your potential reach will be.
Keep in mind that creating a list is just the beginning. Just because you have a great product doesn’t mean that your influencer is going to want to work with you. Cold pitching may yield some results, but they will be few and far between. There are a variety of ways to improve your odds, but the best way is to build relationships with influencers.
Too often we think about how our products or services could benefit someone from a sales perspective and not a customer-centric one. Rather than just providing a product and boasting why it’s great, get to know your influencers: their interests and needs. What is in it for the influencer? Why should they take the time to determine if your product or service is appropriate for their audience or worth sharing on their social media platforms?
With a little digging, you may find that your initial approach with a cold pitch is way off base. For example, if your product is a new brand of running shoes and you reach out to a marathon runner with the promise that they will be able to cut their average mile time, you might get ignored because you didn’t learn that the runner is flat-footed and that you’ve mentioned nothing about arch support.
By getting to know your influencers, you will be able to craft a pitch that will speak directly to them and increase your chances of a response. Taking a little time to get to know them will make them believe that you are a worthwhile partner.
Creating an influencer list is just the first step, not the last. Influencer marketing involves in-depth research, similar to creating a buyer persona.
Now that you know who your influencers are and that there’s a significant value in getting to know them, here’s how you should reach out to them:
Step 1: Your Initial Engagement
By step 1, your research should already be done. If you’re trying to get a prospective influencer to blog about your book, you know what genre they’re interested in, what they have recently read, and what titles are their favorites. If you’re advertising for pet products, you know their dog’s name, etc. These details will help personalize your initial interaction whether it’s in the form of an e-mail, a direct message, or a compliment on a social media platform.
Find ways to continue to build a relationship with these influencers. Comment, share, and like their posts. Retweet their blog posts and offer to write a guest post for them. If they have a product, offer to use it or write a review. Influencers are much more likely to help others who help them.
Don’t lead with your ask. Start by talking about your mutual interests. Think of it as a cover letter of sorts. You’re not going to copy and paste your cover letter to any company that you want to hire you. You’re going to make adjustments accordingly, such as personal experiences and keywords that will entice your potential employer.
Step 2: Know Your Value
Before asking them for help, it’s a good idea to know what you can offer in return. What value can you provide an influencer that will make them see that this will be a beneficial relationship for both of you? Promoting their content to your audience is always an easy and great approach, but odds are you can do more than that. Are there ways that you could help them become better influencers or ambassadors for their own products?
By knowing your strengths and how they can compliment your influencers, you can start a conversation by having something of value to them already on the table. The influencer will note this and appreciate that you have taken the time to get to know their position. This will significantly improve your chances of having an influencer want to work with you.
Step 3: Personalize Everything
Influencer marketing is no different than other relationships formed in life. Whether you are a freelancer, a small business, or a corporation, the best way to attract an influencer is by having a personal relationship with them. People don’t want to work with companies. They want to work with other people that they can learn about, share experiences with, and build trust with one another. An influencer might be flattered by having a brand reach out to them, but they will be much more interested in talking with another human being.
Step 4: Give Back on Social Media
Don’t forget about your influencers while the campaign is underway. While you are promoting your product or service on social media, take 15-20 minutes a day to also like, share, and comment on your influencer’s platforms. It’s not only a good practice, but it will inspire influencers to want to work with you more in the future. This kind of promotion will also encourage more people to want to promote your products. In the world of influencers and social media, a little love can go a long way.
Step 5: Master Influencer Marketing by Being an Influential Marketer
The best way to attract influencers is by becoming an influencer yourself. Influencers know how to influence others (hence their title). If they see that you have social proof of being an influencer yourself, they will be much more apt to work with you. It is an inherent value that they can see that you’re bringing to the table. It will also give you an advantage over your competitors and help you attract a larger, more extensive pool of influencers in future marketing endeavors.
Once you have your Influencer Marketing campaign up and running and have started working with your first influencer partners, it’s time to start thinking about paid ads. Make sure your influencers agree that you can use their likeness, quotes, images and the videos they produce in advertisements. Assuming your audience knows and trusts your influencers, these are some of the most effective creatives you can run and can provide huge ROAS numbers.
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