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A Marketer’s Step-by-Step Plan for Influencer Outreach

Aug 31, 2016

Guest post by Shane Barker, digital marketing consultant 

Influencer marketing is gaining popularity by the minute. Marketers know and have seen examples of how influencers can supercharge a brand’s marketing campaign. So maybe you’ve decided to try it too, but it’s likely that you don’t know where to start.

That’s only natural because influencer marketing isn’t easy. Not only do you have to worry about which influencers to choose, you have to coordinate outreach and measure ROI. Here, you’re going to learn how to find the ideal influencers for your brand and how to successfully reach out to them.

Facing the challenge of identifying the right influencers

 There are many types of influencers that could become valuable assets for your brand. But to begin your search for the right influencers, you will first have to conduct thorough audience research. This is crucial because you will need to understand what kind of people your target audience looks up to. It’s easy to assume that just because you’re targeting a certain age group you’d do well to work with an influencer who is within that age group. That’s not always the case.

 A survey conducted by Variety found that among American teenagers (13-18 years), YouTube stars have the most influence. In the survey, it was discovered that the top five influential figures were all YouTubers, such as Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla of Smosh, who are well beyond their teenage years.

 Once you understand your target audience, you can get started with the rest of the influencer research process. Here’s how you do it:

  • Find potential influencers – When searching for influencers there are three main areas you will want to consider: reach, resonance, and relevance.  While the influencer with the most followers (or highest reach) is not always the best choice, audience size is certainly still a factor. Measuring resonance is critical because it will tell you how much an influencer’s content resonates with his/her audience. Finally, how relevant the influencer is to your topic or area of expertise is often the most important factor.
  • Check their content – It’s not enough to find influencers who have a significant following. Their content needs to be relevant to your brand messaging and the type of product or service you sell. If your brand is all about a fun and laidback attitude, the influencer you choose should also deliver content that expresses that attitude. If your brand sells organic personal care products, you need to aim for influencers who strongly advocate eco-friendliness through their content.

Facing the challenge of connecting with influencers

Even if you have a strong set of relevant influencers lined up, you might still fail to capture their attention or stir their interest. Take a look at the following tips to help you connect with influencers and successfully launch an outreach campaign

  • Use social media to initiate connection – Sending an email to an influencer out of the blue might work in some cases. But just consider yourself the influencer and think of how you would entertain the unsolicited request from someone you’ve never heard of. The idea is to first enter their radar through social media and then slowly build a connection with them. Follow them on Twitter, Instagram, or Linkedin depending on where they are most responsive.
  • Many influencers are active across various social sites so you can use that to your advantage. It’s best to start slow with simple retweets and comments. You could even share content recently produced by them and mention them in the post/tweet. Eventually, you can move on to asking them questions or seeking their advice. Here’s how Tom Whatley of Seraph Science attempted to initiate contact with Neil Patel by sharing his content on Twitter.
Tom Whatley and Neil Patel on Twitter
  • Craft a captivating subject line – After having established a social media connection with your potential influencer, you’re going to get started with your outreach email. It’s important to remember that you’re not the only one who’s reaching out to the influencer. They probably get hundreds of mails requesting for partnership, so you’re going to need something that stands out.

What works on one influencer may not work so well on another, so it’s crucial to experiment on various messages and see which works best. The general rule of thumb is for subject lines to be short yet straight to the point. 

Subject lines asking questions are often considered intriguing as well. For instance, “How have we not worked together yet?” or “Have you tried XYZ organic skincare products?” are some examples. Here’s a good email subject line example from Storeya’s Dave Schneider. As you can see, it gets straight to the point and asks a question as well.

Stoerya's Dave Schneider
  • Get straight to the point – When crafting an influencer outreach email, a lot of marketers try too hard to draw in the influencer. So they’ll write an entire paragraph explaining their product and how amazing it is. Some may even write entire mails simply commending the influencer in the hopes of establishing a relationship with them. Instead of trying to hide your end game, get straight to the point and let them know why you’re contacting them. You’re dealing with some of the smartest and most authentic people in the industry, so it would work out best to maintain transparency.
  • Show your credibility – Sometimes, giving influencers an attractive incentive may not be enough to draw them in. Your email body should start with a brief introduction about yourself, which will also include proof of credibility. The idea is to show the influencer that you are worthy of their time without sounding too full of yourself. 

A good idea is to begin the email with one sentence introducing yourself and your brand such as “My name is John from XYZ Organics, a brand that develops beauty products exclusively from organic ingredients.” That should be enough to let the influencer know what your brand is about and then you can add a brief message to show your credibility such as “Our brand has recently won the ABC Award for Best Organic Products 2016”. Here, you basically highlight anything that will prove that your product is worth a try.

  • Focus on them – How would you feel if someone reached out to you for a partnership but they just keep talking about themselves? Although the previous point mentioned the necessity to show credibility, it’s easy to go overboard when you’re trying to prove yourself to the influencer. You’re dealing with busy people who might not have the time to read every little detail about the conception of your product and the formation of your brand. Avoid writing more than three sentences about yourself and instead shift the focus of the mail towards the influencer.

After the introduction and credibility proof, you can continue your mail with something like this:

“We noticed that you consistently produce such insightful and unbiased content on organic products. And we feel that you have a strong commitment to doing your bit for the environment. How would you like to test our products and see if they pass your test? You’ll receive some free samples for yourself and a few you can give out to your audience.” 

While this email body is simple, it’s straightforward and it makes use of the second person pronoun “you” as much as possible. Instead of saying that you will be sending them free samples, you’re telling them that they will receive free samples. Even something as simple as that could work wonders in shifting the focus to the influencer.


Now you have a detailed plan for reaching out to influencers and building a connection with them. Once you establish a connection, make sure you nurture the relationship so your bond is authentic. People are smart and they can easily detect unnatural and staged endorsement content. When your influencer-brand connection is authentic, you have a much better chance to earn the trust of your target audience and succeed in your marketing campaign. Got any questions or ideas about influence outreach? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant that specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels, targeted traffic and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.