All too often, influencer outreach is seen as a dynamic alternative to traditional marketing. In reality, it should form an integral part of all contemporary marketing strategies. Capable of promoting brand awareness and boosting credibility at the same time, influencer outreach is all about using the position and influence of others to sell your products, your services and your brand.
Though every influencer outreach campaign is unique, the crux of the whole thing is essentially the same. Your goal is to connect with an individual or group thereof, who have already established their reputation and authority with your target audience. Or perhaps, a new target audience you intend to attract and engage. Ultimately, it’s a case of being advocated by a person who has the trust and respect of the people you as a brand still need to convince.
How Does Influencer Outreach Work?
By far, the most common approach to influencer outreach is to simply pay influential individuals to promote something on your behalf. Famous faces having been used throughout recorded history to get new customers on-side. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that paying for influencer input outright is the most effective strategy.
For one thing, you could be looking at paying a seriously high price to get a decent famous face on board. After which, you’ll need to recoup these costs in one way or another, or risk harming your bottom lines. In addition, you cannot pay an influencer to ‘like’ your product, or believe in you as a brand. If they’re not on board with whatever it is you do, the best they can do is pretend.
All of which opens the door to disaster, if it’s pretty obvious they’re supporting you only for the money.
Though it’s far from the easiest option, the most effective approach to influencer outreach is to do whatever it takes to build an authentic working relationship with an authoritative third party. They have significant influence over an audience of value to you, but they also share your interests, your views and your general outlook.
Suffice to say, it’s far from a quick and easy process. Nevertheless, your influencer outreach strategy can be simplified by way of a few universal tips and guidelines:
1 – Know What Your Objectives Are
As with any marketing strategy, you need to establish concrete goals before you can hope to achieve them. In this case, you’ll be thinking about who you want to target with the campaign, what kind of message you want to send and which USPs you want to highlight. Are you trying to boost traffic to your website? Are you simply looking to close more sales? Is it more about reputation enhancement and exposure? The right influencer can help you achieve almost any objective, but it’s up to you to determine where your priorities lie.
2 – Identify Appropriate Influencers
Just because an influencer has enormous authority and a sizeable audience doesn’t make them a suitable match for your business. An appropriate influencer is one who has some kind of relevance to your niche, along with a vested interest in whatever it is you do. Some influencers – celebrities, famous faces etc. – can get away with promoting just about anything to anyone. If you’re setting your sights on a slightly less A-List influencer, you’ll want to think carefully about their audience, their reach and their relevance. You also need to consider how you will appeal to them enough to win their support, given how they’re most likely approached by dozens of businesses like yours every month.
3 – Establish a Relationship
This is not the time to resort to the hard-sell, or any of the usual marketing spiel. You’re attempting to win the support of the influencer by establishing a relationship – not by essentially begging them to take you seriously. You’ll therefore need to plan your approach strategically, avoiding bad first impressions at all costs. Get to know them via their work, their social media accounts, their blog posts and so on. Approach them authentically and honestly, focusing more on general conversation than selling your products and services to them.
4 – Involve the Influencer in Your Strategy
Roughly translated, don’t simply approach the influencer with a long list of demands and requests. It’s worth remembering that by this point in time, they probably know how to address and engage an audience better than you. Precisely why it’s worth involving them in your strategy at a slightly deeper level. It’s a good way of showing them you respect them, value their opinion and acknowledge their experience. Be willing to consider ideas and initiatives you may have never come up with independently.
5 – Measure at Every Stage
Some influencer marketing campaigns are more effective than others. Realistically, only you can decide whether or not your influencer outreach campaign is working. Rather than taking things for granted, measure the performance of the campaign at every stage and make adjustments where necessary. Establish KPIs in accordance with your objectives and do whatever’s necessary to ensure you achieve them.
Influencer Outreach Campaign KPIs
The KPIs you establish should be a clear, directed and measurable representation of your goals. Your overall objectives may be unique, but there are typically five major KPIs that will give you a good idea of how your strategy is performing.
Keep a close eye on the following and you’ll know if you’re heading in the right direction:
Of course, conversion rates only apply if your goal is to sell something. If you’re simply out to boost brand awareness or improve traffic volumes, conversions may not be your priority. Nevertheless, any business that sells any products or services online whatsoever should focus heavily on conversions. If the conversions you need aren’t happening, the viability of your entire business is thrown into doubt. Influencer outreach can be great for boosting conversion rates in a relatively short period of time.
2. Qualified Traffic
Qualified traffic refers to the visitors you attract that have some kind of confirmed interest in whatever it is you do. In practice, just 10 qualified visitors to your website could prove more profitable than 110,000 completely random visitors. One of the biggest benefits of influencer outreach being the potential to engage and influence a highly-qualified audience of potential visitors. It’s therefore useful to separate qualified traffic from generic traffic, analysing their behaviours and activities while visiting your website. Any campaign that simply boosts random traffic for the sake of it might not be worth the time or effort.
3. Reach and Awareness
Measuring reach and awareness is all about assessing your brand’s visibility and exposure. Again, one of the key benefits of influencer marketing is the capacity to reach enormous and qualified audiences with a uniquely influential message. A detailed inspection of website analytical data will reveal the extent to which your campaign is enhancing reach and awareness for the benefit of your business. How many new people found your website as a result of the campaign, how many have become aware of your brand and how many have returned on multiple occasions.
Engagement is different to reach awareness, in that it provides more detailed insights into your audience’s behaviours. Engagement is a broad category that encompasses Likes, Shares, Reactions, Clicks, Comments, Votes, Pins, Brand Mentions, Views, Downloads, Favourites, Hearts and so on. Some businesses team up with influencers with the main goal of collecting more social signals like these. Exactly which are relevant to your business and your goals is up to you to decide, but engagement is nonetheless the key to a successful website.
5. Cost Effectiveness
Last up, you’ll also need to think carefully about how much you expect/demand by way of a measurable ROI. For obvious reasons, an influencer marketing campaign that ultimately leaves you out of pocket isn’t worth bothering with. By contrast, a campaign that boosts your visibility and authority while generating fractionally improved profits could be the start of something big. Generating hard revenues isn’t everything – it all depends on your objectives. Nevertheless, throwing money down the drain in a vain attempt to curry favour with a famous face really isn’t the way to go.
Influencers have played a key role at the heart of contemporary marketing and advertising campaigns for generations. Today, it’s not just Hollywood A-Listers you have at your disposal. Nor are the usual famous faces necessarily the most influential faces for your brand.
Influencer outreach can be a complex and time-consuming endeavour. Nevertheless, get the right people on your side and it could turn out to be the best decision you ever made for your business.