By Neil Patel
The Internet is a noisy, overcrowded place.
Building momentum for your brand is often an uphill battle, and getting your audience to buy in can be daunting.
So, how do you get people to take you seriously?
How can you go from being just a little fish in a vast ocean to becoming a recognizable brand or even a household name?
One strategy that’s proven to be effective is influencer marketing.
The number of brands using this strategy has grown exponentially over the past few years.
In fact, “interest in influencer marketing has risen more than 90x from 2013 to the present.”
Here are some other stats to give you a better idea of the state of this strategy at the moment:
- “Influencer marketing content delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.”
- “Twitter users report a 5.2x increase in purchase intent when exposed to promotional content from influencers.”
- “40 percent of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine or YouTube.”
The list goes on and on.
I think we can all agree that influencer marketing gets results.
But when you get right down to it, the term “influencer marketing” can be a little nebulous.
There’s a lot of confusion about how exactly to implement it and take advantage of it.
How can you get an influencer to link to your website, share your content, promote your product, etc.?
I’m going to be brutally honest with you. It’s not easy.
There’s a lot more involved than simply cold-emailing an influencer and saying, “Hey, please give my brand a shout out.”
It doesn’t work like that.
However, like with most forms of marketing, there is a formula. It’s worked for me, and it can work for you too.
Let’s get right down to it.
A three-step process
Of course, there’s a lot involved with influencer marketing.
But when you really break it all down, it involves three basic steps:
That’s how I approach it anyway.
Let’s begin with step one.
Finding a suitable influencer
This is probably the easiest step, but it does require a fair amount of research.
How exactly do you zero in on an influencer?
Well, for starters, you’re probably already aware of at least a handful of influencers in your industry.
- Bloggers with sizable followings
- Popular YouTubers
- Industry experts
- Writers who regularly contribute to popular publications
But if you need a little help or want to know how likely a particular person is to share, I recommend using BuzzSumo.
One of the features I love there is “View Sharers.”
Let me show you how it works.
First, I enter a subject relevant to my industry/niche. In my case, it’s “content marketing.”
Here’s what pops up:
Next, I choose an article and click on “View Sharers.”
Here’s what pops up now:
Just like that, I get a list of people and companies that shared that particular article.
I can also tell:
- How many Twitter followers they have
- Their retweet ratio
- Reply ratio
- Average retweets
These metrics are important because I can determine if they could potentially be an influencer that I would like to connect with.
I also know what the likelihood of getting a response from them would be. And I can easily follow them or tweet to them for instant interaction.
Other tools worth considering, besides BuzzSumo, include Traacker and Little Bird.
I also suggest checking out this post from Kissmetrics for other ideas.
I’m not saying you have to use a tool for finding influencers, but it does streamline the process substantially.
How big of an influencer should l target?
A common question marketers new to this concept have is whether they should target a macro-influencer (e.g., Tim Ferris or Seth Godin) with hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of followers or a micro-influencer with say 15,000 followers.
I’m a proponent of starting small and working your way up.
From my experience, micro-influencers tend to be more receptive and much easier to get in touch with than major players who may get bombarded with thousands of emails every day.
But feel free to take the path that makes the most sense to you.
Reaching out to influencers
This is hands down the most difficult part of the process.
You have to somehow figure out a way to:
a) get in touch with an influencer and
b) build rapport with them.
You can accomplish this in several ways, but I’m a fan of simply sending an email or using the contact box on their website.
Most influencers (unless they’re huge celebrities) will have some means of contacting them. Do your research until you find an efficient means of doing so.
If you absolutely can’t find their contact info, move on to the next potential influencer on your list.
How should I approach them?
The specific request you have will dictate the template you use.
For instance, there’s a:
- curation template
- influencer mention template
- guest blog template
I recommend checking out this article from Entrepreneur. It will provide you with five basic templates so you’ll know what to say when making contact.
Here’s their initial outreach template:
The key to getting a response is to be authentic, personable, and honest.
Just remember that you need to make them an offer they can’t refuse (using my best Vito Corleone voice).
You may want to give them a shout out on your blog, send them a sample of your product, or maybe even compensate them if the situation calls for it—whatever you think would tickle their fancy.
However, I would tread lightly with compensation because it can make you come across as being insincere. But it’s definitely an option to keep in mind.
Now let me say this.
It’s ideal if you interact with an influencer on at least some level before hitting them up out of the blue.
For example, you might regularly comment on their blog for a month prior to asking them for a favor.
I know that I’m more receptive to requests from loyal blog readers than to someone “off the street.”
Have thick skin
There are a couple of other little pearls of wisdom I would like to share with you.
First, you should be prepared for rejection.
It’s not realistic to expect the first influencer you contact to immediately respond and cater to your every whim.
Most of these people are busy and already have their inboxes flooded with similar requests.
No matter how charming or charismatic you may think you come off, you’re probably not going to get many responses.
Don’t take it personally. It’s a numbers game.
That’s why I recommend creating a list of at least 10 potential influencers to get going. However, the more, the merrier.
If you expect to have success, it’s going to take perseverance and patience.
Just keep at it until you finally make a breakthrough.
And here’s another tip.
Use a free email tracker, like this one from HubSpot, so you’ll know who opened your emails and who didn’t.
It’s a simple way to see what type of activity has happened after you hit “send.”
If you don’t get a response from someone who most definitely opened your email, I recommend sending them a follow-up email after a few days or so.
Don’t be a pest about it, but a polite follow-up may get an influencer to take notice of you and get you the response you’re looking for.
Getting them to share your content
Finally, you need to ensure that what you’re delivering is genuinely providing them (and their audience) with value.
For instance, if you’re asking an influencer to share a blog post you’ve written, you’d better make sure that it’s top quality and highly relevant to their audience.
If they’re willing to let you guest-post on their blog, it needs to be A+ content. Nothing less will suffice.
In other words, you need to follow through and prove to them that they’re making a good decision by helping you out.
This is obviously integral to building a solid relationship and could potentially lead to other opportunities down the road. You never know.
Influencer marketing seems simple enough on paper.
Get in touch with someone influential, get them to promote your brand in some fashion, and boost your exposure.
Of course, it’s never this easy, and there are a lot of twists and turns along the way.
I’ll be the first to admit that influencer marketing is a tricky process.
But it’s definitely something you can do successfully, provided you take the right approach and have enough persistence.
And once you actually get it to work, it will boost your confidence, and you’ll feel much more comfortable with the process.
At that point, you can rinse and repeat to grow your brand even more.
Have you ever experimented with influencer marketing? What are your results?