How to Reach Out to Influencers: 5 Steps, 2 Templates & More

Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi
20 minute read

Influencer marketing is a powerful way to promote your brand.

Especially if you’re a lifestyle brand, you need to add it into your marketing strategy.

Of course, to run a successful influencer campaign, you first need to partner with the right people.

Which means that you need to do influencer outreach.

In this guide, I’m going to share with you a 5-step process for: 

  • Finding,
  • Qualifying,
  • And reaching out to,

The right influencers for your business.

This guide can be the starting point of your influencer marketing strategy.

Let’s get into it.

What is Influencer Outreach?

Before you begin your process of reaching out to influencers, it’s first important to understand what influencer outreach is.

Influencers have gained popularity through the rise of social media channels and they’re defined as someone with an influence over a large audience and has the ability to promote a product or brand.

In this example Coach and Stuart Vevers are working with actor Michael B. Jordan to promote #CoachSS20.

Michael B Jordan Coach Instagram Post
Image Source: Instagram

Influencer outreach is the process of reaching out to those individuals to “develop credibility and raise awareness for your brand or product”.

This is a powerful alternative to traditional advertising or promotional tactics, as discussed by Digital Marketing Institute.

Influencer Outreach Definition
Image Source: Google

Although social channels have been around for the better part of 40 years, influencers really started trending in 2017, with a big spike going into 2018.

Influencers have continued to grow since, expanding from older social media platforms, like Facebook and Youtube, to newer apps such as TikTok.

Google Trends Influencer
Source: Google Trends

Social Media influencers have established an audience that trusts their opinions, so by taking advantage of that relationship, their audience may be more inclined to buy your products or services.

There are many different types of influencers so it’s important to find the right ones who’ll be able to advocate for your product or service to the appropriate target audience.

Although Addison Rae has over 24 million followers on Instagram, unless your target audience is young females it won’t benefit you to connect with her.

Addison Rae Instagram
Image Source: Instagram
Addison Rae Instagram Followers
Image Source: Instagram

For SaaS professionals, we suggest looking at influencers such as Brad Feld, managing director at the Foundry Group or Aaron Levie, and American entrepreneur and founder of the cloud company Box.

With over 500 connections and 59,076 followers on LinkedIn, Aaron would be a great influencer to reach out to if you want to connect with a very wide audience that’s interested in SaaS solutions, trends, and news.

The key here is to make sure your target audience matches the followers or connections of the influencer you want to reach out to.

Aaron Levie LinkedIn Followers
Image Source: LinkedIn

Author’s Note: The follower count of the influencers you’re trying to reach out to is, of course, important. However, there are other factors you should consider when reaching out to influencers. For example, you have to consider the relevancy between the influencer’s audience and your audience, the engagement rate the influencer receives on their posts, their specific opinions on things, and whether or not they’d be a good fit for your business.

Influencer outreach can be a tremendous addition to your company, but it’s also important to realize why it can add value to your business.

Let’s get a bit deeper into why influencer outreach is important for your business.

Why is Influencer Outreach Important?

Now that you understand a bit more about influencer marketing, let’s take a closer look at the specific benefits of working with the right influencers.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being opened.

If you’re a new brand, you may be struggling to build your audience and therefore have limited reach.

By connecting with influencers through influencer outreach, you can reach a larger audience and hopefully build up your own at the same time.

Newer or smaller brands typically don’t have a large marketing budget so this is a smart way to reach new people without having to pay lots of money.

A recent study shows that influencers are charging the following:

  • Facebook influencer pricing: $25 per 1000 followers
  • Instagram Influencer pricing: $10 per 1000 followers

The study doesn’t mention the pricing for LinkedIn influencers but you can follow the one cent per follower rule, i.e. the $100 per 100,000 follower rule, as a nice place to start.

Author’s Note: This isn’t to say that influencer outreach is cheap, but it is generally less expensive than traditional forms of marketing.

Connecting with the right influencers or bloggers can amplify your brand awareness, allow for precise targeting, and enhance the credibility and trust for your own brand through the relationships they have already established.

It can also increase your overall audience engagement through giveaways, polls, etc.

By integrating influencer marketing into your overall advertising strategy, you can boost the other forms of digital marketing you’re using as well.

Adidas is a great example of this. They worked with influencers like Iga Wysocka and Selena Gomez to introduce their #MyNeoShoot contest.

Selena Gomez Adidas Campaign
Image Source:Instagram

Through the campaign, they were able to get over 12,000 contest entries, the followers on their Instagram account increased by 41,000 users, and sales increased by 24.2% while their competition struggled.

The increase in brand awareness should also lead more people to your website and, depending on how your content marketing is shared, this could provide a higher number of high-quality backlinks.

Both of these things can improve your search engine rankings.

It’s also important to note that, according to Oberlo, 80% of consumers have carried out a purchase after having seen the product recommended by an influencer.

 That statistic alone is enough to see the importance of influencer outreach!

People are also blocking traditional advertisements so it’s important not to waste money on devices using ad blockers and focus on channels that people trust.

Now, let’s take a look at the step-by-step process for how to make your social influencer marketing campaign a success and, ultimately, grab the influencer’s attention.

Step #1: Make a List of Influencers – the Right Influencers

The first step of the process is to build your list of influencers, but where do you begin?

Start with these steps:

  • Know your audience — research them, understand them, and see who speaks to them in a way that drives a response
  • Talk to your team — they are already reaching out to so many people and these relationships could be potential influencers
  • Look at who your audience follows — ask them who they look to for advice. See who they are following on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. What posts are they sharing or engaging with?
  • Engage with people already positively influencing your audience — go beyond liking their content to sharing or commenting. This will create a genuine human connection and give you a better sense of the content they like to recommend.
  • Don’t reach out to everyone — this’ll be a waste of your time. Focus on the people most closely related to your target audience. It’s not enough to connect with influencers; you have to connect with the right ones.

Once you’ve considered the above, it’s now time to look at the details of how to find the right influencers for you to reach out to.

First of all, you need to make a list of prospects you’d like to engage with.

To understand this better, let’s use an example.

You are a SEO software company and you’re trying to find SEO experts to connect with and form a connection.  

To find these people, you can conduct a simple Google search using the following search operator:

Google Search Tag
Image Source: Google

Author’s Note: We’re using this search operator because we want to find expert roundups from SEO experts who share their opinion on a certain topic. You can research for potential prospects using other search operators as well.

Here’s what you’re going to see when you click search:

Google SEO Results
Image Source: Google

Author’s Note: Results may vary depending on your location, browser preferences, and overall activity online.

It’s important to look at the different types of articles that are appearing.

The ones that have a higher number of experts are a good resource to pull from and will make things easier on you.

Let’s take a look at one of the top results that was generated from our search.

SEO Influencer Experts
Image Source: Flashpoint Marketing

This is a great resource to get started with creating your list.

They provide you with the two most important pieces of information to get started:

  1. The individual’s name
  2. The company they work for with a link to the website

Here’s one of the prospects in our list:

SEO Influencer Expert Example
Image Source: Flashpoint Marketing

All you need to do is create a CSV file so it’s easy to keep track of your list and their contact information.

We recommend the following columns:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Referring URL (the URL of the post you pulled the information from)
  • Website URL (the URL of their website)
  • LinkedIn profile (optional)

Here’s what your csv file will look like:

List of Influencers and Experts

Now that you have a solid foundation of Instagram influencers and influencers from other popular social media channels,  what should you do?

Start crafting your pitch.

This is what we’re going to do next.

Step #2: Craft Your Pitch

Your next step is to craft a pitch that gets the influencer’s attention and expresses your reasons for contacting them in an engaging manner.

Your pitch should not ask the influencer what they can do for your brand.

Instead, figure out how your brand can help the influencer.

First, decide what action you would like them to take — do you want them to write about your product, attend your event, or share your post in social media?

No matter what your end goal is, you need to clearly explain the benefits in terms of traffic, influence, or cash as quickly as possible.

You’re asking influencers to take their time to perform these actions so you don’t want to waste their time with a lengthy pitch.

Next, you need to provide specifics.

You may think it’s better to be broad in your pitch so you aren’t sounding demanding or too specific, but you don’t want to create more work for the influencer so it’s better to outline exactly how you would like them to participate.

Lastly, include a deadline to create a sense of urgency.

Influencers should be used to working within a timeframe for their own marketing strategy so this shouldn’t be new for them.

You don’t want to have an open-ended deadline or allow them two weeks or more to think about it because it’s likely they’ll forget about it and move on to something else.

You can use the following two outreach templates to get started.

Influencer Outreach Email Template A

We’re big fans of your work

Hey {First Name},

[Name] here from [Company Name]. We’re [Description] and [What You Do].

 

We’ve been monitoring your work and see you’re doing a great job with [Topic of Interest].

Really liked what you said recently on [Channel] about [Topic].

Also, it’s interesting to see that your online audience is growing so fast.

We’re looking for people like you to partner up and help us spread the word about [Company Name].

Is that something you’d be interested in?

Let me know how that sounds and we can jump on a call to discuss things further.

Thanks,

[Name]

Ideal for: Brands who want to reach to popular names and industry leaders.

How to personalize: Do your research and mention an excerpt of something the prospect has said online, e.g. in an interview.

Influencer Outreach Email Template B

Interested in being our ambassador?

Hey {First Name},

[Name] here with [Company Name]. We’re [Description] and [What You Do].

Saw one of your recent posts promoting [Brand] and said to my team:
“We’ve got to bring [First Name] to work with us!”

We’re looking for people like you to partner up and help us spread the word about [Company Name].

Is that something you’d be interested in?

Let me know how that sounds and we can jump on a call to discuss things further.

Thanks,
[Name]

Ideal for: Brands who want to reach out to micro-influencers who are just getting started.

How to personalize: Mention one of their recent posts promoting a brand that’s relevant to yours.

Before reaching out to the influencers in your list, you need to do one more thing:

Connect with them on social media.

Step #3: Connect With the Influencers on Social Media

You have a perfectly crafted pitch that you’re excited to put into practice. The next step is sometimes overlooked, but it’s an important part of the process.

Before you reach out to anyone to try and sell your pitch, it’s always good to connect on social media channels or relevant outlets.

This way, when they receive your email, they can see that you’re already following their updates and can put a face to the outreach.

The majority of people do not respond to cold emails. In fact, Backlinko has found that only 8.5% of outreach emails receive a response.

Connecting with influencers before you reach out shows that you are really interested in forming a relationship rather than just cold emailing people.

You already have your list of influencers, so now you can easily go through that list, find the influencers on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, and start connecting with them in a real way.

Author’s Note: We’ll use LinkedIn as our example for how to connect with influencers, but you can apply these same tactics to any social media platform. All you need to do is find the influencer’s social media profile and reach out to them.

Start with a simple connection request or follow on LinkedIn.

Clayton Johnson Connect Follow
Image Source: LinkedIn

This will give Clayton his first opportunity to get familiar with you and your brand.

By following him, you’ll also see his posts in your newsfeed, giving you the opportunity to connect with him further.

Once you’re connected and following the influencers of your choice, look for ways to engage with them further.

What kind of content are they posting? Can you add any insights or did it spark some follow up questions?

Simply using the reaction emojis is a good way to start, but if you can leave a comment or share the content to your own followers, that will create a more lasting impression.

Connect Through LinkedIn
Image Source: LinkedIn

By commenting, you’re opening up a two-way conversation and by sharing their content, you show the influencer that you find value in what they’re sharing.

Author’s Note: Similar to LinkedIn, you can comment or share any of your prospect’s Tweets or any other social media channel they’re active on and publish content on.

By using one or more of these techniques, you allow the influencer to become familiar with you in an informal way so they’ll be more receptive to pitch when you start the actual influencer outreach process.

Now that you know how to connect and interact with your prospects before reaching out to them, it’s time to send your personalized email and start initiating some conversations.

Step #4: Send Your Influencer Outreach Email

To send our influencer outreach email, we’re going to use Respona.

What we’re going to do first is start a new campaign.

Start a New Campaign in Respona 4

From there, we need to give our new campaign a name.

Naming your influencer marketing campaign

Respona gives you two options when it comes to starting a new campaign:

  1. Search
  2. Import
Options for New Campaign in Respona 4

Since we already have a list of prospects, we’re going to choose “Import” as the type of campaign we want to run.

Next, we’re going to upload our csv file, as shown below.

Add CSV File to Respona

If you have a delimiter on your csv file, you need to choose it from the list or choose “Other” and add it there.

Choose Delimiter 1

Author’s Note: If you don’t have a delimiter, just leave the advanced settings as they are at this step.

Next, we need to map the attributes to Respona fields.

Respona will tell you how many of the attributes were successfully mapped and how many we still need to map.

As you can see, in our example, four out of six properties were successfully mapped.

Properties Successfully Mapped

In our example, the first one wasn’t successfully mapped because it was blank.

Thus, all we need to do is is map the “Referring URL” field that remains.

Now, we’re going to click on “Select” and then “Add custom fields”.

Select to Map Attribute 1

Next, we’re going to give a name to our custom field and click “Save”.

Creating a new custom field

Once we click “Save” and then “Continue”, we’ll see how many of the entries in our CSV file have been identified by Respona.

As you can see below, 17 entries were successfully identified, while 3 were identified as “Errors”.

Entries Identified Errors

From there, we’re going to click “Import”.

The next step of the process requires us to set up our email sequence.

Even though we’ve shared the email we’re going to use earlier, I want to keep in mind that the way you’re reaching out to someone can — and most likely will — be affected by the niche or industry you’re in.

If you’re running an e-commerce business and you’re reaching out to influencers in your niche, you’ll need another outreach approach than if you’re running a software business, as in the example we’re using as a case study.

For example, one difference may be that, in the first case, you might want to offer a free product to the person you’re reaching out to so as to get them interested in what you want to say.

In general, keep in mind that there’ll be differences based on the niche or industry you’re in.

Respona gives you two options when it comes to creating a sequence that’ll work as a pitch:

  1. Use one of the tool’s ready-to-use templates
  2. Create your own template
Create a Sequence 4

In our example, we’re going to create a new email sequence.

To do that, you have to click on “Personal Templates” and then “New”.

Create New Template 2

Here’s what  our email will look like:

First Email of the Sequence 1

Something important here is the variables we have in our email.

For example, one variable is the prospect’s first name.

Variables in Email

These are the exact fields we mapped earlier.

You can insert a new variable by clicking on “Insert Variable” and choosing the variable that you want to insert.

Insert Variable in Email

Once you’re done, you click “Save” and the email is added in the sequence.

Email Sequence for Influencer Outreach

Even though we only have one email in our sequence, you can add as many follow-up emails as you want.

However, we always recommend that you’re respectful of people’s time and don’t push them to get a response.

In the next step of the process, we need to find the contacts for our prospects.

Right now we have 16 prospects without contact information.

Respona gives you 2 options when it comes to finding the right contact information for your prospects.

  1. You can either find contact information for each of your prospects manually, OR
  2. Find contact information by using Respona’s Automation Setup.
Ways to Find Contact Information for Responas Contacts

In this example, we’re going to use Automation Setup, which means that we’ll let Respona do all the heavy lifting for us.

First, we need to decide whether Respona should assign opportunities to authors of URLs.

Assign Opportunities to Author URLs

Here, we have 3 options:

Option #1:

No, don’t assign any opportunities to authors

What is it?

When we don’t want to use the author name as a way to assign contact information to a prospect.

When to use?

This is particularly useful when you’re reaching out to magazines or publications that mostly publish content from contributors.

Option #2:

Yes, only if the authors work for the company associated with the URL

What is it?

When we want to assign contact information to authors, but only if they’re working for the company that’s associated with the URL.

When to use?

Use this when you want to add an extra layer of confidence when it comes to reaching out only to people who work for the company that includes the target URL.

Author’s Tip: This option is mostly recommended for link building campaigns because if the author is working for the company, then chances are she will have editorial access to the blog. 

Option #3:

Yes, only if Respona is over 90% confident it found the right person

What is it?

When we want to assign contact information based on the author identified for that particular page, but only if Respona is confident the information it found is accurate.

When to use?

Use this when you want to add an extra layer of confidence when it comes to reaching out only to people who still work for the company that includes the target URL.

Author’s Tip: This option is mostly recommended for PR campaigns. 

Next, we can choose to assign opportunities to people who work for the companies associated with the URL.

Assign Opportunities to People Who Work for the Companies Associated With the URL

Here are the options we have here.

Option #1:

No, don’t assign to people who work for the companies

What is it?

When we don’t want to reach out to anyone else from the company except for the opportunities we’ve assigned in the previous step.

When to use?

This is particularly useful when you’re trying to reach only the authors of the page you’ve chosen for your outreach campaign.

Option #2:

Yes, assign up to {1-9} person/s only when no author is assigned

What is it?

This is basically a way to reach out to multiple people from the same company, but only when we haven’t chosen an author in the previous option.

When to use?

Use this when no author has been assigned.

Option #3:

Yes, assign up to {1-9} person/s regardless of whether an author is assigned

What is it?

This is basically a way to reach out to multiple people from the same company, regardless of whether we’ve chosen an author in the previous option.

When to use?

Use this when you want to reach out to multiple people in the same company.

Author’s Tip: Use this when you’re reaching out to enterprises or companies that have many different divisions and employees that could help you achieve your goals.

Something really interesting here is that you can also choose the position these people should have in order for Respona to find and assign contact information to an opportunity.

For example, you can choose to reach out only to people who have “Content” and “Writer” in their job description, instead of reaching out to anyone from the marketing department.

Choose Position for Opportunities

Here are the positions you can choose from:

  • Content
  • Writer
  • Editorial
  • SEO
  • Marketing

In the same vein, you can choose a seniority for the prospects you’re reaching out to.

Here are the options that you have:

  • Manager
  • Director
  • Head
  • Lead
  • Senior

If you want to learn more about how campaign automation works in Respona, make sure to watch the following video:

In our case, since we’re not inserting blog posts (or anything else that could contain an author name), we’re interested in reaching out to the right people from inside the company or (ideally) the SEO expert herself.

This is why we’ve chosen the following options:

Final Options for Outreach Campaign

Once you click “Next”, you’ll see the number of prospects Respona is trying to find contact information for, as well as the number of estimated credits based on your selected criteria and the time estimation for Respona to find the best contact information for your prospects.

Review Campaign Automation

Keep in mind that if you choose to find contact information for more than one prospects, you’ll spend more credits and Respona will require more time researching the right contact information for your prospects.

In our example, we have 16 opportunities without contact information and have asked Respona to find contact information for 4 persons from inside the company.

16 opportunities x 4 credits = 64 estimated credits

In other words, the more opportunities you wish to assign contact information to, the more credits you’re going to need.

Always keep that in mind when running automated campaigns.

Here’s what you’ll see after a few minutes:

Number of Opportunities Assigned

Keep in mind that the number of prospects that have successfully been assigned with contact information heavily depends on the criteria you’ve chosen.

This means that you have to be sure as to what kind of automation you want to run, as this will help Respona find the best contact information for you.

Once you’re done, you can click “Next Step”.

In the last step of the process, you need to make any final changes to your email and make sure that everything is as it should be before launching the campaign.

Make Final Changes Before Launching the Campaign

When you’ve reviewed everything, you can launch your campaign by clicking on the button “Launch Campaign”.

Launch Campaign on Respona 1

What’s next?

Managing your inbox and starting building relationships.

Step #5: Start Building Relationships

So far, we’ve discussed the process of identifying and reaching out to influencers.

Influencer marketing may not be as popular as other marketing channels and activities, e.g. email marketing, but the interest around it continues to grow as the time passes.

Interest for Influencer Marketing
Image Source: Google Trends

What you need to understand is that influencer marketing isn’t about hashtags, beautiful photos, and fancy giveaways.

It’s primarily about building relationships with people and helping each other grow.

As I hope it is evident by now, influencer outreach is an integral part of this process.

Simply put, if your outreach process isn’t effective, you won’t be able to build these relationships and start using them to grow your business.

Using a tool like Respona, you’re able to find the people who might be interested in collaborating with you and start working with them.

Our new, updated influencer research feature helps you find influencers easily and without having to spend hours vetting them; similar to what tools like BuzzSumo do.

Be sure to give it a try!

What I want you to take from this section is this:

Influencer marketing is all about building relationships.

Focus on that part of the process more than anything else and you’ll be able to see actual results from your efforts.

Wrapping Up

I hope that this guide has helped you understand the steps to reaching out to influencers for your business.

Keep in mind that many times, top influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers may not be as interested in working with smaller brands, but there are many micro-influencers you can reach out to and partner with.

These folks may not have the same reach as top influencers, but they can still help you reach your target audience.

Also, they’ll be more cost effective than popular influencers.

Now, I’d like to hear from you:

Have you ever reached out to influencers? If yes, what were the means that you’ve used? Was it through a direct message on LinkedIn or Instagram, or through an influencer outreach email?

Let me know by leaving a brief comment below.

Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi is the co-founder of Respona, the all-in-one PR and link building tool that combines personalization with productivity.He runs the marketing efforts at Visme, where he helped the company gain over 5 million users and pass 1.5M monthly organic traffic. Since then, he’s been helping other companies achieve the same success via Respona.

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