In this overcrowded online world, you know it’s not easy to get your product in front of raving fans.
Sure, you can push a boulder up a hill. Marketers can brute force just about anything with enough resources behind them.
But is it worth the cost? Not money costs, but time costs too.
What if you could connect with someone who already has access to your customers? And what if access to those raving fans was a simple email away from a new world of opportunity?
Even better, this person has more than access to your customers. They’ve also built up the necessary trust to drive sales, fast.
These people are “influencers.” The art of growing your business by working with influencers is called influencer marketing.
Influencers are incredible people who have spent a lot of time building up a tribe based on connection and trust.
At the end of the day, she is a human, like you and me. But what she can do to grow your business is breathtakingly magical.
|An ROI of 6.5:1
On average, for every $1 invested in influencer marketing, businesses receive $6.50 in return. (1)
|5.2x Purchase Intent
Twitter reported a 5.2x increase in purchase intent when people were exposed to content from a brand and an influencer. (2)
|49% Rely on Influencers
49% of Twitter users say they rely on recommendations from Twitter influencers when making a buying decision. (2)
In this guide, first you will discover if influencer marketing is right for your business. Then, you will learn how to align influencer marketing with your goals. Finally, you will learn how to find, qualify, and connect with influencers to scale your business.
Step One: Is Influencer Marketing Right for Your Business?
No marketing program is a magic bullet. Before you use influencer marketing to grow your business, it’s helpful to make sure there’s a good chance it will work.
Here are nine questions to decide if influencer marketing is right for your business:
- Do you have an affiliate or referral program?
- Are your customers talking about your app or business online?
- Are there experts in your industry who have active blogs, podcasts, or social media followings?
- Are you looking to get press coverage for your business?
- Do you have an upcoming product you are launching?
- Do you have a podcast or blog which will benefit from co-content creators?
- Are you advertising on social media channels?
- Do you have an upcoming event and looking to increase ticket sales?
- Are there people or companies that your customers trust?
If you answered “yes” to one of these questions, then influencer marketing can improve your business. If you answered “yes” to three or more questions, then influencer marketing can greatly improve your business.
I’ve seen influencer marketing work in many industries. Here are some industries influencer marketing has been more effective in:
- Consumer packaged goods (i.e. food/beverage, clothing, and household products)
- Fashion and beauty
- Travel and tourism
- Big data
- Business, marketing, and tech
Step Two: Align Influencer Marketing With Your Business Goals.
It is good to know that influencer marketing is right for your business. Now, you will need to figure out if influencer marketing matches your goals.
|Goal||Description||Common Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)||Tracking ROI|
|Direct Sales||A direct sale from an influencer is one of the quickest ways to see if influencer marketing is working. This goal is powerful for impulse purchases or items with short sales cycles.||Primary: Revenue.
Secondary: Social and referral traffic, social engagement, and backlinks.
|Give influencers exclusive coupon codes. Use affiliate, tracking links, or UTMs.|
|Increased Social & Referral Traffic||When a sales cycle is longer, it can be better to focus on social traffic and nurturing a visitor over time.||
Primary: Social and referral traffic.
Secondary: Emails/leads, and social engagement.
|Google Analytics to track traffic, social monitoring tools to measure engagement.|
|Increased Search Traffic (SEO)||SEO is a long-term play. But a link to your site can increase ongoing traffic, even after you’ve finished working with an influencer.||Primary: Search traffic and backlinks to your website.
Secondary: Emails/leads, social and referral traffic.
|Improved search traffic. Total links to your site, measured by domain authority.|
|Improved Return on Ad Spend||By working with influencers, you can improve your return on ad spend by targeting the influencer’s audience.||Primary: Return on ad spend.
Secondary: Social and referral traffic.
|Give influencers exclusive coupon codes. Use affiliate, tracking links, or UTMs.|
|Press||Influencers can help you receive press coverage on your dream publications.||Primary: Press coverage.
Secondary: Referral traffic, and backlinks to your site.
|Use brand monitoring tools to track PR coverage.|
|Brand Equity||By associating your brand with prominent influencers, trust is given from the influencer to your brand.||Primary: Impressions.
Secondary: Influencer’s view of your product, and the audience’s view of the influencer.
|Check social media platforms that give impression estimates.|
Step Three: Find Influencers to Work With.
You know your goals. Now, who are the influencers you should work with?
I recommend starting with a list of 100 influencers. Not every influencer will work with you. They may be pregnant, on vacation, or not interested. Or, they have different goals than you do.
Listen to what Nadav Dakner, CEO of Inbound Junction had to say:
I’ve found the best results come when you treat each relationship as its own.
What are your influencer’s short-term and long-term goals? How can you help her achieve what she wants?
If want to create a win-win relationship, you need to keep her goals in mind as much, if not more, than your own goals.
In this step, your goal is to get a large list of names. Don’t worry about who is on the list. You will learn how to find influencers and qualify them in the next step. For now, focus on quantity, not quality.
1. Start by surveying your customers.
Want to know who influences your customers? Start by asking them.
These influencers will have the highest chance of influencing new customers too. Because birds of the same feather, flock together.
2. Brainstorm with your coworkers.
You work in your industry. Who are the people you turn to learn more from? Add these influencers to your list.
3. Use Google.
Many bloggers and journalists have created top lists for you. Simply Google “top [niche] [influencers] to follow on [platform]”.
For example, you could look up “top whole food influencers to follow on Twitter” or “best fashion bloggers to follow”.
4. Watch your campaigns for new influencers.
If you launch an influencer marketing campaign correctly, it’s likely you will create a snowball effect. In other words, if 10 influencers tweet your article, one or two new influencers will also tweet it too.
By using social media monitoring tools, you can find new influencers to work with.
5. Ask for referrals from influencers you know.
This step sounds simple. But many people forget to ask the influencers they know who they recommend.
Step Four: Know Which Influencers to Target, and Why.
Influencers are unique, just like your business. What works to connect with one influencer, may not work for the next influencer.
One influencer may expect to be paid. Another influencer would be offended if you gave them money. And if your values are not aligned, you may severely wreck your brand.
With that in mind, here are three key questions to know the right influencers for your brand to work with:
1. What’s the influencer’s potential impact?
An influencer’s impact depends on the goal you chose in step two, and the type of influencer she is.
Typically, when working with bloggers, you should look at their blog. Do they have a high number of comments? This is a good sign that the people on their email list care about the influencer’s advice.
For social media influencers, it’s valuable to look at their engagement. Look at the likes, shares, and comments of five posts. Compare that number with their followers or subscribers. This gives you an idea how engaged their audience is, or if they bought fake followers.
Truth-be-told, you won’t know the exact impact until after you work with an influencer. You can manipulate any of these stats.
But an estimation will get you a higher ROI than a random, shot-in-the-dark guess.
If you plan to invest a large sum of money on an influencer, you can also ask for references. That way, you can find out from other businesses what results they saw.
2. Is the influencer’s audience relevant for what I’m offering?
Reach without relevance is a recipe for ruin.
I have seen influencers with a Twitter audience of 5,000 have a higher impact than an email list of 300,000.
That’s not to say that an influencer’s reach doesn’t matter. But do not forget to check the influencers relevance with your business, and brand.
Misha Talavera, Co-Founder of NeoReach had this to say:
An influencer’s profile is only half the story. The other half is their audience data.
If you’re not looking at an influencer’s audience demographics (such as age, gender, and location), you will squander your money reaching followers that are not relevant to your product.
One of the best ways to determine relevancy is to see if the influencer keeps sharing about the same topic, or if they share about multiple topics. Although it’s common for people to share about multiple topics, usually an influencer keeps to a couple main themes.
Also, look at the influencer’s bio or about page. Do their values line up with your own values? If not, it’s not worth reaching out to them.
Again, reach without relevance is a recipe for ruin.
3. What can I do to create value for an influencer?
I hate to break it to you. But influencers aren’t going to help a random business without an incentive.
For some influencers, the best incentive is to pay them. For other influencers, paying them would be an insult.
In 2016, the Swiss Tourism Board hosted a basketball game with Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs on the world’s largest glacier.
As an added incentive to attract photography influencers, not only did they pay their way to Switzerland, but they rolled out the red carpet with free tours, a catered sushi dinner, and drinks at a bar beneath a local 5-star hotel.
Here are a few other things you can do to provide value to an influencer:
- Send traffic to their site.
- Support projects they are working on.
- Link to their site from your blog.
- Make a useful introduction.
- Make it simple to work with you.
Even if you pay an influencer, it’s valuable to think about other ways you can give value.
Step Five: Connecting With Influencers.
You have a list of influencers you want to work with. How do you reach out to them so you can start working with them?
There are many ways to start. To be effective, think of it less like a marketing task, and more like building a friendship.
Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing had this to say:
With an abundance of influencers ready for hire, many marketers overlook the “human” aspect of working with them.
If you work with influencers in the same way you buy media ads, you will lose sight of a more important benefit: relationships that inspire organic and meaningful advocacy.
To start connecting with influencers, you can use an influencer marketing platform or you can do it by sending out an email.
Here are five simple ways to find an influencer’s email address:
- Check their profiles and website.Many influencers want to connect with you. As such, they will leave an email to reach out to them.
- Subscribe to their newsletter.Influencers who have a blog collect email addresses for their newsletter. When you subscribe to their newsletter, they often send a confirmation email using their email address.
- Use a tool.There are tools available that find someone’s email address for you. Viola Norbert and Email Hunter are two of the fastest and most accurate tools.
- Connect them on LinkedIn.After connecting with an influencer on LinkedIn, you can export your LinkedIn contacts. You will find their email address that they used to create their LinkedIn account.
- Guess-and-check.We are creatures of habit. Many people use the same email format with their email address. Here’s a list of the most common formats:
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Flast@website.com F.email@example.com firstL@website.com first.L@website.com firstname.lastname@example.org Femail@example.com first-L@website.com firstname.lastname@example.org F_last@website.com first_L@website.com
first = first name
last = last name
F = 1st letter of the first name
L = 1st letter of the last name
Website = website they use
You can also try common email providers instead, such as outlook.com, yahoo.com, hotmail.com, and gmail.com.
You found the email address. How do you send an effective cold email to connect with the influencer?
There are many emails you can send, depending on your goals. Here are five tried-and-true principles to increase your email response rates:
- Be specific. The more generic your email, the less likely your influencer will be to respond to you.
- Use a clear subject line. There’s only one goal of your subject line: get the influencer to open your email. Clarity beats creativity.
- Keep your email short. I aim for no more than 100 words.
- End with a question. Questions open up a dialogue.
- Follow-up at least once. People are busy. Emails can land in the spam folder. We recommend you follow-up three days later, at a different time of day than the first email.If you know how to follow-up in a polite manner, our outreach sequence also sends out emails on day 7, day 10, and day 15.
If you send many emails at once, I recommend using an email outreach tool like Mailshake. Outreach tools help you personalize emails in bulk, automate follow-up, and look at email replies.
Step Six: Test First, Scale Second
Once you have made contact with influencers, it can be tempting to start spending your entire budget on different influencers.
Before you do so, you need to set up small tests first. This will allow you to learn what worked well, and change what failed.
Here’s Misha again:
Like any marketing channel, you can optimize influencer marketing.
A good influencer program should start campaigns in small chunks. This allows the brand to measure results, optimize the influencers selected, and improve their overall campaign strategy.
The NeoReach platform not only helps you accomplish this, it makes the optimization process easier. By using machine learning, the platform highlights your best-performing influencers and strategies, then recommends similar influencers to work with in the future.
A good rule of thumb is to reach out to 10% of your pool of influencers. You should get a few influencers interested in working with your brand and start.
Once you run for your first campaign, tweak your results, and reach out to another 20% of influencers. As you work out the bugs with your campaign, you should keep increasing the number of influencers you work with.
Like anything you want to become great at, influencer marketing takes hard work and discipline. But if you successfully apply these tips, tricks, and tools, you will be well on your way to that $6.50-to-$1 ROI.