Did you know that 17% of businesses now spend more than half of their marketing budget on working with content creators?
Swap the term ‘content creator’ for ‘influencer’, and you’ve essentially got the same person; someone who has worked hard to build an audience that matches your own. By working with them, you gain access to that carefully curated audience.
However, finding the right influencers isn’t easy. It’s why nearly 70% of marketers say that discovering the best content creators to help amplify their marketing campaigns is “a struggle”.
Then, when you do find the right influencer for the task, you need to reach out and catch their eye. In today’s blog, we’re going to reveal how to do that by covering:
- the thorny topic of paying influencers;
- the importance of collaboration; and
- some examples of what to include in your influencer outreach.
Let’s get into it!
Paying influencers: is giving them a product enough?
Clearly, if you want an influencer to speak enthusiastically about your product, you’re going to have to give them access to it.
This is where things can go horribly wrong. If you simply send out a bunch of products to influencers in the belief that it’ll be enough for them to feature you in their content, you could end up with nothing more than depleted stock and zero coverage.
Paying influencers is part and parcel of working with them. Sometimes, sending a product is enough to pique their interest and grab yourself a spot on their next video or blog. But not always.
Clearly, from your perspective, it’s far more cost-effective to use the product as some form of payment, but before suggesting that, you’ll need to do some homework. So, take a look at the influencer and ask yourself these questions:
How big is their audience?
- Do they appear to be accepting free products already?
- Are they being sponsored by other brands?
For instance, if the audience is relatively small but still big and engaged enough to be of interest to you, the influencer may still be in the early days of building their own brand. And, if they don’t appear to have any sponsorships just yet, if you pitch it right, they probably will ask for nothing more than a review unit.
Look out for mentions of press packs on their website, too. If something like that exists, their brand has probably evolved enough to warrant payment for sponsored content.
Lastly, remember that you can offer different methods of recompense. One of the most popular is to provide the influencer with a share of revenue, via an affiliate program. This means there’s no up-front expense from you, but the carrot of future, recurring revenue for the influencer if they manage to help you sell your products.
Getting your head around collaboration with influencers Before you reach out to an influencer, it’s important to get into the right collaborative mindset.
Influencers want to keep their feed consistently active and full of relevant content. You can help them do that by offering to feature your products, but that’s not enough; you can’t simply send them something and sit back while you wait for the referrals to flood in.
Remember that the better you pick your influencers, the better the relationship will be right from the off. But that can only happen if you go in with a clear desire to work directly with them.
This doesn’t mean taking over the content creation process (they certainly won’t warm to that), but it does mean taking an active interest in what they’re doing (both historically and potentially with you in the future) and offering constructive feedback on their content.
If you get this right, the relationship will blossom, and you may even find that the influencer continues to promote your products in the future without any advertising spend on your behalf.
Related guide: How to Find and Work With Influencers to Promote your Venue
What to include in your influencer outreach
Reaching the point when you’re ready to contact your chosen influencer is very exciting. If you’ve done your homework correctly, it should be the start of something big!
It’s also scarily easy to get wrong. So, it’s vital that you include the following elements in your initial influencer outreach.
An enticing introduction. Treat this like your elevator pitch; explain who you are, what you do and why it’ll benefit them as quickly as possible. Why you want to work with them. What drew you to the influencer? Talk about how great they are and how aligned their ethos is with yours - they’ll love that (we all do).
An interest in their previous work. Don’t make this up - actually go and watch, read or listen to their content. Note that you’re impressed and, if you can, highlight one piece in particular that caught your eye. This makes a huge difference.
What you’re offering. Get straight into the nitty-gritty; what’s the compensation on offer and how quickly can you get a product to them (with no strings attached)?
Timescales. Every influencer will have some form of publishing schedule and a backlog of content to work from. You need to be not only interesting enough to fit within it, but timely, too. So be honest about your timescales and how elastic they are (or aren’t).
Adherence to the rules. There are strict rules governing product placements in online content, and while you may wish to leave this element out of your initial communication, you may at least want to hint about the importance of adherence (and, obviously, go into it in more detail if you receive a response from the influencer).
Be honest, open and transparent with influencers right from the start. Make sure you talk more about them than your brand but make it equally clear that you have something which will genuinely benefit their audience.
Examples of DMs that’ll encourage a reply
There are plenty of ways to reach out to influencers, but ‘sliding into their DMs’ on social media remains one of the best tactics.
This is because they’ll likely be very active on channels like Instagram and Twitter, therefore you have the unique opportunity to grab their eye. Here are examples of fast and efficient DMs that’ll encourage a reply from an influencer.
1. Affiliate / Brand Ambassador Invitation
Hey, [influencer name]. Loved your last video on the [insert subject] 😊 We wanted to ask whether our new product could help inspire some more content?
We’re keen to collaborate and help you to develop your own ideas in your authentic style.
We would also like to invite you to our affiliate program, there’s a great rate of commission so please let us know if interested and we’ll share details, we’d love to have you on board.
Depending on your product, it’s often a good idea to drop swap ‘affiliate’ for ‘brand ambassador’. For all intents and purposes, the campaign will be the same thing but becoming an ambassador can be a more attractive proposal. Influencers who become brand ambassadors of yours may even display their affiliate links on their social media bios and profiles.
2. Paid sponsorship opportunity
Hi [influencer name],
We’ve been watching your channel for a while and we’re super impressed [influencer content] which we thought was [your genuine reaction after watching it].
We’ve got a product that’s gaining recognition for being a great alternative and were wondering if you’d like to feature it as part of a paid sponsorship deal?
Let me know if you’d like to explore this opportunity.
3. Free Product / Sample Product
Hi [influencer name],
You’re building an amazing community - I’m so impressed with how you’re approaching your Instagram account. I also have a product I think you’d be interested in.
We’d love to get your thoughts and for you to potentially share your opinion with your followers. Could we send one to you to get your feedback?
4. Venue Invite
Hey [influencer name],
Amazing shots on your insta! That [insert recent example] looked incredible, we’re big fans of that place too.
We’d love to invite you to [business name] on the house so you can try some of our [insert your product / service] and get your feedback and have a chance to appear on your accounts.
5. Influencer Event Invite
Hi [influencer name],
Are you free [insert date and time]? We’re hosting an exclusive preview event of our [insert product] and would love if you would consider attending? Of course, you’ll get to try [insert product] on the house and there’ll be plenty of photo opps.
We’re really looking to create a big buzz on social media for the launch so knew that we had to invite you! Please let me know if you can make it and the name of your +1.
6. Product Giveaway / Competition
Hi [influencer name],
Great to see your YouTube account growing! Your latest video about the [reference influencer work] did the rounds in the office!
My name is [your name] and I work for [your company]. For the launch of [your product] we wanted to engage with the community and partner with influencers who really know their stuff.
We’d love if you would consider hosting a giveaway for [your product] on your channels as we think it would generate a lot of engagement and you could have some fun with your followers’ competition entries.
All we ask for (alongside the usual compliance stuff) is your honest assessment of the [your product]. We’re fans of how much effort you put into each professional and considered review.
Let me know what you think.
Go find your influencers!
It’s thought that 93% of brands have now used influencer marketing in one form or another. Do you sit among them? If not, it really is time to explore this amazingly cost-effective form of brand promotion, and our tips above will help you get the responses you need from some of the best friends your business could hope for.