A Guide To Building A Simple Influencer Outreach Strategy That Excels
When it comes to strategies for marketing your business, there's no arguing with the fact that influencer outreach is extremely powerful.
Both Google and audiences love it, and if you're not convinced by those two factors when building or growing your blog or online business then you're probably in the wrong job.
But it's beyond the scope of this article to discuss every aspect of this subject because influencer marketing is a broad and complex topic that we could spend months picking apart and studying.
But, don't let that fact overwhelm you.
You don't have to know everything there is to know about influencer outreach or to obsess over the fine details because when you do that, you're just avoiding getting started.
You just need to know about the topics that apply to you and your online business right now, and this article is going to show you the steps you can take in creating one of the simplest influencer outreach strategies that works effectively.
Remember, it's infinitely better to have a simple influencer outreach strategy that is up and running, rather than a perfect strategy that doesn't ever make its way from scribbled notes to reality.
So, I'm going to show you how to get started on a very simple and doable influencer outreach strategy:
Your First Step is to Plan Your Communication
Working with a 'persona' that is right for the organization is of vital importance whether you're helping to promote another brand or if you are doing the work directly as a brand.
If the outreach that you're doing is on someone else's behalf, then the simplest way to do it is to use an email address or a domain that is linked to the business that you are representing.
It certainly looks more natural when the requests for sharing content or links back to the site come from the actual company in question rather than a third party company which may not even share the brand's values or their eye for detail.
Monitor Your Results Effectively
You have to understand the best way of monitoring your results.
Any influencer outreach campaign has to represent value, and considering it a 'funnel' is the only way that you can discern any real value from the process. A funnel is a process where a certain amount of effort is applied at the very top and at the bottom, you see the return on that investment.
In order to achieve this, you have to have the right analysis tools in place.
This not only gives you an understanding of how your work is going to continue impacting your site, but it also gives you a good understanding of where your site currently is in relation to general SEO performance and links.
Determine What You Are Working With
You have to do an SEO audit for the particular site that you're working with.
Whether you can do it fully or if you intend to have someone else do it for you, it's vitally important that you know what you are working with. But don't worry, this doesn't mean that you need to get into a full nuts and bolts walk-through of all the technical stuff.
We just want to check if the SEO strategy that you're currently using (whether you're using it accidentally or intentionally) is not showing your site as being over optimized or as having any penalties imposed on it.
There are a number of different reasons why over optimization of a site can occur.
One of those reasons has to do with outdated ideas surrounding what allows a piece of content on a site to rank high in the search engines. You should already know that too many links with anchor text that is an exact match and over repetition of keywords are not going to help you get the results that you want.
You need to ask yourself what it is that you want to achieve, and then make sure that you're not impeded by the current content that is already on your site.
You should know what good anchor text profiles look like, and how poor anchor text profiles look. Good anchor text profiles have a lot of pages with natural internal links, and poor anchor text has a lot of unrelated link text.
Create Superb Content
Everything you do, from blog content to site copy and guest articles needs to be of the best quality if you are going to build upon the quality links that will come in through appealing to an influencer.
It's like this: influencers and sites with higher authority got to that position by producing and linking to top quality content and they are not about to change that just for you.
So if you don't have the necessary writing skills or the time to create the content that you need, then you have to find someone else who does. Leverage their time or skill to craft top quality content for your site.
There are some truly great freelance content producers that you won't have to pay the earth, but make sure that you choose a capable content creator over a cheap one.
With these types of things you generally get what you pay for, and so even if it has a huge impact on your budget, to begin with, you will see immense benefits in the long run.
If you're running a campaign on behalf of someone else's brand, then you may find that they already have excellent writing talent in-house.
If that is the case, then you may want to reflect that in the price that they are paying for your services.
Tactically Pick Your Content and Keywords
You must keep in mind that for any of the marketing work that you do, there will be an expectation of the return on investment whether it's your own (if you're doing it for yourself) or that of a sales or marketing manager (if you're working on behalf of a company).
This is why it makes a lot of sense to promote low-hanging fruit pages straight away.
Take a look at what is close to ranking already, and start your focus on those pages. They are the ones that are likely to have good content on them already which mean that you won't have to make as much of an effort to push them up quickly.
That is not to say that you have to ignore the terms that are highly competitive. Rather, consider the strength of the site as a whole and then focus on building that instead of hoping for the huge wins that take too much work.
Find the Right Sites and Influencers
Finally, it's time to do some actual outreach.
Open up a spreadsheet to start with. This is where you will be recording everything that you are going to do. It's all a part of the funnel that will eventually provide you with a basis for pricing, effort needed, staff required, budget required, and so much more.
There are various ways of finding sites and influencers. Here are some of the things you can do:
Talk to personal acquaintances
Reach out to social media follows/contacts
Search on social media for influencer blogs in your market
Look for guest posting opportunities on social media
Search on Google – This process warrants its own discussion and will probably take up a few tabs in your spreadsheet
This is because there are just too many different possible results that could bring something useful.
Become a Contributor
Submit an Article
Submit a Blog Post and this is all before you've even mixed things up using the Google Wildcard operator
Create a Comprehensive To-do List
If you want to nail the idea of this process, then you have to treat it as you would any other process. Use defined steps, tick-boxes, deadlines and more.
This could be another tab in the spreadsheet that you opened.
When you keep a written record this way, it's particularly helpful for outsourcing any elements of the work that you are doing.
It's hard enough trying to keep everything balanced without having to remember where exactly everyone is at each stage of this process.
Time to Get Personal!
If your plan is to fire out a bunch of generic emails to influencers and sites that you have identified in your niche, please don't do that.
There is a much better way of doing things – by being human. You already know how canned emails come across, and how impersonal they are, so why would you even consider sending them out?
Personalized emails are going to have a greater impact on your conversion rates.
Don't believe me? Try it out for a few months and I can guarantee that at the end of that period you will be totally convinced that what I say is true.
The level of influencer that you are hoping to connect with will have a direct impact on the results that you are going to get. Do you want to be a guest poster on a celebrity influencer's site? Well, you're going to have to bring your A game.
Just make sure that you start with realistic expectations. First get a few links under your belt coming from decent sites. You could even use these to name-drop with other influencers or sites when you get in touch with them (using a little leverage never hurt anybody...)
Do your homework before getting in touch with the owner of the site.
This will have a positive impact on your conversion rates. For example, you could take a look at what they are doing on social media.
If you have already used a couple of shares, likes, or comments to make yourself a familiar face then your email is more likely to be better received and you are more likely to be better able to gauge the kind of communication that person responds to.
Obviously, there aren't any hard and fast rules here.
Rather, the goal is to get a feel for the levels of humor, formality, tone, and topics that seem to work with the people who are communicating with that person.
Write Effective Emails
It's vital that you know how to write emails that are as effective as possible.
As previously discussed, if writing is not your strong point, then outsource the work to a skilled writer. Either way, ensure that your emails adhere to the following points:
1. Your emails should have a strong subject line
The key is to write subject lines that are direct and concise. Do not, under any conditions, use gimmicks such as 'YOU MUST read this EMAIL TODAY'.
Just imagine that you are summing up the email in about 6 to 12 words.
2. Your emails should be direct
No one has the time or inclination to wade through the entire history of your life or even why you want to link with their site.
They already know that you are there to get the link, so just put your proposal forth without waffling around.
3. Your emails must show some credibility
This is where you mention some of the similar influencers or sites that you have already posted with. If you managed to meet their standards, it's more than likely that you will be able to meet this site's standards as well.
Consider it a sort of reference.
4. Show them that you did your homework
You should know the name of the person whenever possible (that goes without saying), but you also have to go with a line proving that you have read their stuff and that you're familiar with their particular site.
For instance, this is what you could say:
“In the past, you have posted some great information about … and so I was wondering if you would be interested in the information I put together on …”
5. Do not pressure them for a reply
If you ask for a reply, you're less likely to get one. That's just how it is with these kinds of things.
It's strange but very true. So rather than trying the old, "I look forward to hearing from you" stunt, just go with the less pressuring, “I'd love to hear from you, but I completely understand if you're busy”.
6. No doesn't always mean no
There are times when you've meant to reply to a message but you've forgotten or gotten distracted. It happens to all of us.
So when you don't hear back from them, just follow up and then keep following up until they give you a yes or a no. This is going to boost your conversion rates in a huge way.
Track your results
Now that you have the entire process for creating a simple but effective influencer outreach strategy, it's time to track the results that you're getting.
Tracking your results is the only way that you're going to be able to improve on what you're doing. You should log everything that you do. This includes managing the potential sites on your list as you would the hot sales leads.
Each and every influencer or site that you have identified counts as a possible link to yours as long as you get the process right.
But remember, it does not have to be perfect. You just have to get it going and before long, you will start to see the links coming back.
Now you can work out what makes for a success.
Is it that you found an obscure site that others didn't? Or maybe you did a great deal of relationship building before you asked the big question?
When you log everything that you do, you know exactly what makes your outreach campaign extraordinary, and now all you have to do is to build some scale into it and go bigger.
Feel free to post your comment below. An email address is required but it will not be shared with anyone, put on any list, or used for any kind of marketing, just to alert you if there are any replies. Thanks and happy hunting!
Updated: Originally published June 24th 2018