The last few years have been all about content – content is king phrase become so worn out that I actually flinch whenever I read the words.
But, there’s no arguing with that logic. People no longer respond well to traditional marketing. Banner blindness is rendering banner ads completely useless, we skip as many YouTube commercial as we can, and Google ad results only get clicked on if and when we know what we’re looking for.
Great, engaging content is paramount. It puts you on the map.
Unfortunately, there is a ton of good content on the internet these days.
More than 92,000 articles are published online every single day – blog posts probably surpass that number in less than an hour! According to some estimates, more than 4.6 billion new pieces of content find their home on the internet in the space of 24 hours.
Sure, a vast majority of it is fluff but going from the numbers alone there has to be some excellent content in that mix.
How do you compete with that?
One of the best ways to cut through the fluff is to reach out to influencers in your niche to harness the power of their social influence.
Here's what experts from Content Marketing Institute have to say about influencer marketing and why it's becoming so popular these days.
You can reach out to influencers for a number of reasons but one you should consider the most is this: reach out to get them to pipe in about a specific problem or to answer a specific question that’s keeping your audience awake at night.
Use their answers to create a round-up post, an infographic, an e-book that goes into great detail and helps your audience deal with their immediate concerns. This is one of the best ways to get exposure and social media traction.
However, getting influencers to answer your email can be tricky - after all, these hot shots are usually very busy staying at the top of the game.
The question is: how to attract influencer attention and get them to give you a couple of minutes of their time, especially when you’re a small fish in a big pond?
Finding the Influencers in Your Niche
Here’s a case where ‘if you build it they will come’ approach doesn’t do so well. In order to reach out to influencers, you first have to know who they are. You have to know your industry.
No one will be tripping over themselves to contact you.
If you know your industry then you probably already have a couple of favorite influencers liked on Facebook or Twitter. Find out with whom they interact the most and do your research – these people are a close-knit group and you will often find other influencers commenting on the posts of the ones you’re following.
Also, social media influence is a factor in page ranking. This means that top SERP results are contributions from social media influencers. In the above example, I googled ‘lifestyle blogs’ – chances are that writers of those posts are influencers in the niche. And to make things even better, all their posts are lists about other influencers in that same niche. You can easily get 30-40 influencer names just by pulling data from the first page of your Google search.
The third approach to finding influencers is using dedicated tools built for that purpose. One of those tools is Klout, a mobile app that uses social media signals to find relevant influencers and assigns them a ‘Klout Score’ based on their…well, clout. The closer that number is to 100, the more clout that individual has.
There are scores of other similar tools you will want to take a look at when determining who you should contact. This list compiled by Lee Odden makes a great starting point.
Get Ready for the Pitch!
When you’ve compiled a large list of email addresses (the bigger the better – not everyone will respond), it is time to write your pitch.
Here are several tips I can offer you for writing your pitch. This mix has worked for me well so far and I encourage you to give it a try if you’re not getting the responses you want and need.
Don’t blow your cover – that is, don’t show your hand in the email subject line. Most of the influencers you contact get tens, if not hundreds, of emails every day. Guess what: most of those emails go unopened. Keep the subject line vague-ish and personal without seeming spammy.In the image below you’ll notice that I immediately signaled to Tony that I know and follow his work – I also used his name, which might be enough to get him to open and read it.
Keep your introduction brief – state who you are and what you do with just a smidge of information on your company.
Acknowledge their expertise – appear knowledgeable and let them know you know they are and what they do – it means that you’ve done your research. A little ego petting might get you a long way; just make sure not to overdo it. This part is crucial and can be time-consuming but adding a personal touch to each of the emails shows that you’re not simply blind-copying everyone in the email and hoping for the best.
Ask your one question succinctly - in essence, don't beat around the bush and waste someone's precious time.
Let them know what’s in it for them – added promotion that you will be doing, links to their page or social media sites, a mention in the post/infographic/e-book, or whatever else you’re doing.
Persistence is Key
Now, you might recall that I’ve mentioned that not everyone will respond to your email and that it is a reason why you should reach out to as many influencers as you can. Well, that ‘not everyone’ was a gross understatement.
Chances are you won’t hear back from around 60 % of people you’ve emailed, give or take a few percentage points. That’s why that initial round of emails is so important.
Some of these influencers do not handle their own correspondence and chances are that your email was screened by a ‘gate-keeper’ or an assistant.
If you really, really want someone’s input but you’re not getting it then it’s time to get creative.
If the person has a popular blog then chances are that they are pretty active in the comments section. Reach out to them there and remind them about the email – maybe they’ve forgotten and just need a little nudge.
Also, you can take to Twitter and make things a bit more public. Send them a tweet with your question – the character limit might just be enough for that golden nugget you’re looking for.
Polish Up Your Content
When you have your answers it’s time to make your content pop. Regardless of what you’re doing – a round-up post, an infographic, an article featuring the industry’s best and brightest, or something else – make sure your content is well-written, engaging, and beats pretty much everything that can be found online on the subject.
Otherwise, who will want to attach their name to it and share it?
If you got a smaller number of good answers from reputable influencers than you’ve hoped for then run with what you’ve got.A headline that says ‘16 Tips on Direct Response Marketing from 16 Industry Giants Whose Ads Make Businesses Millions Every Week’ sounds great- but only if you actually feature 16 industry giants and their tips in there. If it reads as if there are 7 giants and 9 mediocre copywriters no one ever heard of…well, people won’t really like it, especially the influencers you depend on to spread it around.
Revise until it hurts – if it’s just 7 tips then run with it. Change the format – it doesn’t need to be an e-book, it can very well be a short post accompanied by a graphic.
Once you’re confident that your content will impress people who’ve contributed to it, it’s time to move to the next stage.
You’re Not Done With Outreach Yet
Sorry to say but your correspondence is far from over just yet. Once you’ve published your content it’s time to contact everyone who contributed to it.
Thank them for participating and let them know about the great feedback you’re getting regarding your piece. Throw in a sentence about how great their most recent post compliments your content – reminding them of the links you’ve included is never a bad idea.
At the end of your email, provide a live link to the published content and tell them how much you would appreciate it if they could share it with their social media audience.
And that’s the whole point of reaching out to influencers – creating content that they will be excited to share with their audience and give you the exposure that you so desperately need. Content then has added value for the reader as they are benefiting from pooled expertise of a number of industry leaders. It also has wider reach because it’s something that those people will want to share.
Influencer marketing is not as difficult as it might seem at first but even if it was, it doesn’t matter – it pays off! It works in the long run and costs way less than traditional marketing when you know what you’re doing.
It’s one of the cheapest ways to get unparalleled exposure and rub elbows with one of the biggest names in your industry. Don’t ignore it because you’re intimidated – buckle up and use it to your advantage!