Are you a fairly new startup that has all marketing aspects working perfectly? Your SEO is stellar, your paid ads reach a lot of leads and the content you create is valued and praised by your visitors.

But somehow, your sales are not as high as you anticipated. Something is missing and you are eager to find out what it is. After all, you didn’t start your business just to give up at the very beginning.

You have probably heard of influencer marketing, but have you ever actually tried contacting an influencer? If you haven’t, this is the time to do it and it is so for a very simple reason ‒ the longer you wait, the more time you will waste, which means lower sales. Unless you do it right away.

‘But how am I supposed to do this? Communication has never been my cup of tea, especially if I have to ask someone to do me a favor.’

If these and similar thoughts are rambling in your head right now, you should know that you couldn’t be further away from the truth. First, reaching out to influencer is simple and everyone does it (with more or less success).

And second, nobody is doing you a favor. Influencer marketing is beneficial for both sides, and you are about to find out why.

In this article, you can read about the ten steps that will make any influencer want to promote your product.

But before we start listing the steps, we want you to understand why influencer marketing is so important.

Why Do You Need Influencer Marketing?

Influencers are people who are very active on social media and blogs. And since in the digital world both good and bad news spread like wildfire, whatever influencers say makes a strong impact on their followers.

For this reason, influencers are also (in most cases) niche promoters and brand advocates. They use their popularity to advertise products and services created by various companies and thus earn money or get another type of compensation.

Even though you have perfect SEO on your website and your team strives to set your traffic on fire, you have to reconcile with the fact that your team is not enough. From time to time, you have to reach out for help, and in this case, an influencer may be exactly what you need.

In spite of the fact that we live in the digital era and spend crazy amounts of time reading online ads published by brands themselves, people still believe third-party recommendations more than anything else. This is just like in real life ‒ if a complete stranger and your friend tell you the same thing, who are you going to believe first?

Well, in this case, my friend, you are a stranger and the influencer is a friend. After all, they are followed by hundreds of thousands of people who trust everything they say. And instead of thinking how this is unfair, you should see the situation for what it is and turn it to your advantage.

When an influencer promotes your product, it is not only their audience that gets to know you but their audience’s network too. Through a recommendation or a personal story, an influencer can drive traffic to your website, increase your social media exposure and help your sales skyrocket, and all this thanks to the loyalty of their audience.

To illustrate the great power of influencer marketing, it is enough to mention that a couple of years ago a beauty brand Glossier increased their sales by 600%. Not bad at all.

When it comes to targeting influencers, fashion and beauty ecommerce websites are the masters. They are professional influencer headhunters. Of course, it is not that difficult to find an influencer in the fashion industry, but if you know what you are doing, you should be able to find them in any industry without too much hassle.

Now that you know how important influencer marketing is, you can move on to the first of the ten steps that will get your product promoted by an influencer and launch your business into the stratosphere.

We warn you, it is a long journey. But in the end, it will be worth it ‒ we promise.

1. Do your research

If you were a fashion model, would you advertise toothpaste? Okay, maybe you would if you were in dire need of money, but that is not the point.

What we are trying to say is that not all influencers will promote all types of products. This means that you can’t just go around sending cold emails to random influencers asking them to mention your brand.

This is why the first thing you have to do is to come up with the characteristics of your perfect influencer. These are the people who share the same values, messaging and brand image as you. They need to be honest while mentioning your brand in order to be true to their audience.

So, when thinking about your perfect influencer, you should have your campaign goals in mind and envision a person who will be in line with your ideas. Actually, this process is very similar to creating a perfect customer profile, with a few exceptions, of course. But the point is that you need to go through every detail and see what kind of person is the right for you.

Once you have come up with a list of desired qualities, you can use tools like Buzzstream or Grin to discover the best influencers according to location, category and social platform.

The four basic qualities to look for in an influencer are:

–        authenticity towards brands,

–        reach

–        engagement

–        expertise

In addition, it is important to evaluate the quality of the content developed by the influencer.

And when it comes to the key questions you want to keep in mind while looking for your ideal influencer, consider these:

–        What is their engagement rate? In other words, how much will they charge for promoting your brand?

–        Is the person relevant to your industry?

–        Does he or she deliver quality content that actually influences their followers?

Also, you should not confine yourself only to the best-known people in your niche. Influencers who have significant but not earth-shattering followings can be extremely valuable for you as well. The more people you reach out to (within reasonable limits), the more chances of success you have.

Once you have found a few influencers you really like, it is time to move on to the next stage of your influencer marketing journey.

2. Get an introduction from a mutual connection

Networking, networking, networking.

If you have valuable connections in your industry, they will very likely know a number of influencers they can introduce you to.

Make a list of all the people you know in your industry and check whether they could put in a good word for you with your potential influencer. You shouldn’t refrain from this, as it is the most natural way to get noticed.

It’s just like being at a party where you know nobody. But luckily, you came with a friend, so you can rely on them to get you mingling with the crowd so that people don’t see you as an intruder.

Well, guess what? Digital marketing is this party, only incomparably bigger. Mutual connections are priceless, and the sooner you realize this, the better. Using your existing network to get in contact with new people is one of the keys to growing a successful business.

So, you should never be shy, especially at a party. Ask someone who you already know to introduce you to the people you want to connect with.

Building a personal relationship

Now that you have got in touch with a group of relevant influencers in your niche, it is time to start building personal relationships with them. As popular as they may be, they are still only human, which means that sending them a warm introduction with a personal touch is the way to go.

There are countless ways to build a personal relationship with an influencer, but we have decided to list the six most effective ones.

3. Engage with them on social media

Social media does not exist only for business promotion. The word ‘social’ means that its main purpose is for people to get social. Or at least, that used to be the case.

Connecting with your future influencer on social media platforms is extremely important, especially if that is how they primarily reach their audience.

So, the first thing you should do is follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media accounts they have.

The next step is to engage with them. Sharing their Facebook posts, commenting on their YouTube and Instagram posts and retweeting some of their tweets means that you truly appreciate what this person does and the way they do it.

However, many people use this tactic, so influencers have become almost insensitive to it, and you can’t blame them. If you want to stand out, you need to go the extra mile. For example, you can create a custom infographic for their post and then share a summary on social media. If you want to swipe them off their feet, you could even create a video summarizing your favorite pieces of their content.

It is important to do this before you even think of reaching out to them. Not only will this help you learn a lot about your future influencer but it will also grab their attention.

The more engaged and creative you are, the better. But again, keep it within reason ‒ you don’t want them to think you are stalking them.

4. Write about them

When you write a blog post, make sure you mention your influencer in it. You can also link to one of their posts in your blog or social media posts.

When you link to somebody’s website, they instantly get a notification on their WordPress comments dashboard. Also, they will see your link so that they can visit the post and see how you have linked to them.

This takes a little bit more time, but it guarantees success. Acknowledging and appreciating their work will get you far and establish a firm relationship with your influencer.

Sometimes it is enough to provide a quote from the influencer and link to their blog, but you can also create a custom graphic and add a ‘click to tweet’ button.

If you do this properly, you will make a great impression on them. They will think: ‘Hey, this guy knows what he is doing!’

Apart from that, if you feature them on a high-authority website, this will add more value to the link, getting them more traffic, exposure and credibility.

5. Comment on their blog posts

Another thing you could do is comment on their blog posts and share them. This especially goes for all those influencers who use blogs as the main way to express themselves.

But don’t do this just to get noticed because it will have a negative impact on your outreach. Influencers can smell this from far away. Make sure your comments are honest and precise.

When you comment on their posts, you need to be thoughtful and make your comments valuable and interactive. This means showing appreciation for their posts, thanking them for what they do and maybe even sharing your story to show how they have helped you solve a particular problem.

Learning from influencers can be a great thing in and of itself, and it is one of the best methods to increase your social media ROI. Plus, it is a bonus if you can tell them that their post has been helpful since it makes your connection stronger.

On the other hand, if you want to get noticed quickly, you could indicate an error or broken link in their post, of course, if there is one. If your influencer is a true professional, they will respond to your question or comment, which is a great way to start a conversation.

And, of course, never leave anonymous comments. Always post comments under your name and use a photo. The best thing would be to use a Gravatar account so that your influencer can recognize you on other platforms as well.

6. Meet them face to face (if possible)

Connecting with someone on social media is important and valuable. But meeting someone in real life is a different thing altogether.

You can meet your influencer on various occasions such as conferences, events or, if you are really lucky, at a café.

If you attend leading conferences in your industry, try to find out who else is going to be there.  Even if you are a startup, meeting someone face-to-face can be a big thing. So, if there are some big shots attending a conference, make sure you appear there and make your presence known.

Attend your influencer’s speech or presentation and try to strike up a conversation if you have a chance. Ask them a couple of questions about the topic they covered or just mention some of their previous work and how much you admire it.

If you want to do something memorable, hold an event and invite them to appear. Or invite them for a cup of coffee once you have established regular communication online. If you can’t meet them live, create a webinar or virtual conference and ask them to participate.

As you can see, there are so many ways to get your relationship a step further and show that you really care about your influencer’s personality and expertise.

7. Send them a personal email

Communicating on social media has become a norm for many people, both for personal and professional purposes. But emails are still the first choice when it comes to one-on-one communication.

For this, you need to have a professionally branded business email so that the influencer knows that you are serious and paying attention to every single aspect of your business.

If you run a startup, you know how important it is to personalize your emails. How many emails do you receive in your inbox every day? And how many of them do you actually read in their entirety?

When writing an email to your influencer, you should make every single part of the email personal. This is the way to show that you actually dedicated some time to them.

Mind you, we are not talking about the email that contains the proposal. No, no, no. It is still too early for that. You have to build such a strong relationship with your influencer that they cannot deny you. And your first emails are definitely not the ones that should contain your proposal.

You are probably getting impatient and wondering if the time for making your proposal is ever going to come. Well, patience is the key word here. Communicating with an influencer is like wooing a girl. You have to be patient and persistent, show that you really want to get to know them personally and truly appreciate them.

Then, after exchanging several emails with them, you should be able to estimate if you can kick in with your proposal or you need to spend more time with them.

If the latter is the case, then you should consider taking step number eight.

Alternatively, if you want to try sending your influencer a cold email, you should include some social proof and mention your expertise. Take a look at some effective email templates, make sure you modify them and you are good to go.

8. Work with them (and help them if you can)

This is a big one. If you ask your influencer to work with them and help them any way you can, they will see you mean business.

This is a game changer and it can be the moment when the influencer starts to see you as a friend instead of a business partner. But make sure you have exchanged a lot of emails, comments and messages before you do this so that they know what you do and whether you can actually help them.

Once you have established regular email communication with them, you can ask them this simple question: Is there anything I can help you with?

And you can help them with anything, like sending them business referrals, pointing out broken links or other issues on their website or letting them know of helpful tools or opportunities that they could use (without advertising your own product, of course).

If they have a great number of followers on social media, you can give them a tip on keeping their posts personal enough, for example. On the other hand, if they often write blogs, let them know about the best blogging platforms they can use.

It is a simple psychological rule ‒ when you help someone, they will feel much closer to you, even if they are unwilling to admit it. That is why you need to give before you take.

Remember, a friend in need is a friend indeed.

Writing a proposal

By this time, you should have already established a great relationship with your influencer. And guess what? Now is the time to write your proposal.

You have only two steps left. Make sure you execute them like a pro.

9. Create a win-win proposal

When drafting a proposal, keep in mind that both sides should get something out of your cooperation. If you are getting your product promoted, then you should offer adequate compensation.

This can be monetary compensation, but don’t discard other types of compensation:

–        a free sample of your product

–        free giveaways for their followers

–        discount coupons

–        affiliate links

As the matter of fact, the best thing to do is give the influencer several options and let them make the final choice.

It is important not to create a one-size-fits-all proposal. Each influencer is unique, so let that be your guide.

Before you actually write the proposal, you should consider the number of followers the influencer has on their social media accounts. This is essential because your compensation plan should not be the same for someone who has 1,000 followers and someone with 20,000 followers.

Also, share your goals and expectations from the partnership to help the influencer understand their role and responsibilities.

And whatever happens, maintain transparency. Always clearly describe the goals and objectives of your influencer marketing campaign.

10. Always follow up

Remember one thing: It’s not the end of the world if the influencer failed to reply to your first email or your proposal. This happens much more often than you would expect.

With so many people sending them emails and proposals, it is normal that they can’t read them all. Maybe they even read your email and wanted email you back, but something interrupted them before they even clicked ‘Reply’.

That is why you need to be persistent. After all, this is the final step. Don’t you give up now!

If you are wondering how soon you should follow up, a couple of days is usually good enough. Unless you get an out-of-the-office reply, wait for two or three days before sending a follow-up email.

When it comes to the content of the follow-up email, make sure you include the following:

–        a reference to your previous email

–        a brief summary of your offer

–        a call-to-action describing the next steps

However, this is not the only follow-up message that you should write. Once your influencer does their part of the job successfully and your marketing campaign is over, remember to thank them and mention that you would like to work with them again.

Conclusion

Quite a long list, wouldn’t you agree? Well, you can’t say we didn’t warn you. Reaching out to influencers is a long and complex process, but if you do it correctly, you will be glad you have taken that road.

These ten steps are a sure way to achieve success with influencers. Remember, everything starts with thorough research. You want to know as much as possible about your ideal influencer such as their niche, engagement rate and the quality of their content.

Once you find a few people who match your criteria, ask a mutual connection to introduce you to them. Keep in mind that parties are there for people to mingle.

Then, once you have got in touch with the influencer, it is time to build a quality relationship with them. Like all of us, they are people too, so you need to show them some attention and appreciation before you ‘ask them a favor’.

Building the relationship is usually the longest part of the entire outreach process, which is why we divided it into six different steps. If you want to win the heart of your future influencer, you should write about them in your blog posts and comment on their posts, engage with them on social media, meet them face to face, personalize your emails and help them if you have a chance.

Finally, it is important that you create a proposal that will be beneficial for both of you and never hesitate to follow up on your emails and proposals.

When you complete all these steps with a few influencers, not only will you become a master of influencer outreach but you will also see your business grow at the speed of light.

About the author:

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Dave Schneider is the founder of LessChurn, churn reduction app. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries. In his spare time, he writes about SaaS and business at DaveSchneider.me.

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