Influencer marketing (or ‘strategic word of mouth’ as I like to call it) has grown and grown and grown over the past few years - the stats don’t lie. However, I still think there’s a huge chunk of small and online business owners that aren’t utilising this strategy - or ANY outreach-focused strategy for that matter.
If you’ve clicked on this post, you’re probably *thinking* about creating an influencer marketing strategy for your business this year. Or maybe you’re wondering what ‘influencer marketing’ is all about, or why you should even bother adding it to your to-do list that’s already as long as your frickin’ arm.
I’m not about to tell you that outreach is an essential step on the path of growing your business. I’m all about influencer marketing, affiliate marketing, and guest posting, but I’m also about honesty and sometimes this isn’t the best fit strategy for everyone.
That said, if you’re here and reading this post, you may find a way of tweaking and tailoring my information to create a customised influencer marketing strategy that works for you!
Keep reading to learn:
- 🤔 What I mean by ‘influencer marketing’
- 💎 Why an influencer marketing strategy could be a game-changer for your business
- 📝 How to create an actionable strategy for the next 6 months
- 💌 The resources you need to help you get started and stop procrastinating!
Plus, if you scroll to the end, you can get FREE access to my 30 minute workshop; Influencer 101!
What the heck is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is all about collaborating with authorities/influencers in your niche to create word of mouth around your brand. (Tweet this!)
An 'influencer' is somebody that has an authority and a level of influence within a certain niche. This could be a blogger, a YouTuber, a well-known business owner, or someone with a large Instagram following.
Influencer marketing traditionally consists of a brand working with a blogger to create a sponsored post to promote their product/service. In the world of online business, we can start smaller and get a lot more creative!
For you, influencer marketing could mean anything from:
- Starting an affiliate programme to sell more of your physical or digital products
- Sending a blogger or Instagrammer your product to try out/promote
- Inviting influencers to host a Joint Venture webinar with you during a launch
- Creating exclusive content for an influencer’s membership or course
- Getting guest posts published on influencer’s blogs
- Organising live trainings in an authority’s Facebook group
- Gifting an authority your digital product in return for a testimonial
- Collaborating with an authority figure to create a pop-up service or product
- Appearing as a guest on podcasts or interview series
Why do you need an influencer outreach strategy?
The most obvious answer here is to increase your exposure. By collaborating with influencers you’re going to be reaching new audiences and building brand awareness.
I have a full blog post about all the ways influencer outreach can help grow your business, but here’s a quick rundown for you! Influencer marketing can help you:
- Increase brand exposure
- Establish relationships
- Build a community
- Reach a new audience
- Increase SEO performance (who knew, right?!)
- Increase trust in your brand
- Create more shareable content
- And, ultimately, increase your income!
Related Post → 8 Ways Working With Influencers Can Help Grow Your Business
How to create a six month influencer marketing strategy for your online business
For some brands, influencer marketing is a quick win. You get a short burst of traffic, sales, and attention on your brand - but it fades. Instead, I encourage you to start small and think big with your outreach strategy. Take intentional baby steps and treat it like a long game! (Tweet this!)
That’s why I’ve outlined a six month strategy for you to take, tweak, and implement for your own business. There’s a focus of what to work on for each month so the whole process doesn’t feel overwhelming or chaotic!
Month One: Define Your Audience + Purpose
The short version:
- Define the purpose of your influencer marketing efforts - why bother with it?
- Set a goal for your outreach
- Define your ideal audience interests and who they are influenced by
Define the purpose of your influencer marketing efforts
You shouldn’t get started with any kind of strategy without defining your main purpose. Your ‘WHY’ has an affect on HOW you implement your strategy.
For example, if your goal is to drive traffic to your website, you might want to focus on bloggers, Pinterest, and Facebook instead of Instagram as you can’t have clickable links in captions.
You can start with one of the reasons above (e.g. ‘increase trust in your brand’) to help you craft a purpose statement.
Set a goal for your outreach
Before you start anything else, you should set a goal for your outreach. This could be based on the number of people you reach out to per month, the amount of traffic or sales you receive from each collaboration, or simply seeing a growth in your Instagram following.
Related post → The Ultimate Guide To Setting Business Goals
Define your ideal audience interests
If you’re looking into influencer marketing, you should be at a stage of your business where you have already worked on your market research and crafted an ideal audience avatar.
Go back to your ideal audience profiles and update yourself with all their interests. You want to get to grips with where your audience are hanging out online and who they look to for recommendations.
Some interests might seem irrelevant but keep note of everything you come across. For example, your ideal customer might be super into yoga - even if this doesn’t directly relate to your business, it’s still an avenue to stroll down in case you find a yogi influencer who is a perfect fit for collaboration!
Month Two: Start Your Research
The short version:
- Research by targeting your direct and indirect competition
- The 7-point criteria all influencers you find need to meet
- Start researching influencers to work with using Instagram, Facebook, and iTunes
Okay, this is a real meaty part of your strategy! I feel like this section should require a whole blog post on it’s own but here goes nothing.
I’m not going to go into depth about Googling influencers here but it’s pretty self-explanatory. To make it easier to get started, here are some search phrases you can use:
- Top blogs in [NICHE]
- Best [NICHE] Instagrammers
- Influencers in [NICHE]
- How to get started with [NICHE] - this will point you in the direction of bloggers/influencers that are teaching beginners in your niche
- [NICHE] tutorials - again, this will show you top hits for educational influencers in your niche
Research by targeting direct and indirect competition
So, I might have completely made up these terms because it just came to me on a client call once but this is what I mean by direct and indirect competition when it comes to influencer marketing research:
DIRECT competition - a person/brand/business who markets the SAME offering to the SAME audience (i.e. yoga for new mums)
INDIRECT competition - a person/brand/business who markets a DIFFERENT offering to the SAME audience (i.e. coaching/classes for new mums)
You want to use DIRECT competition on social media to find:
- Followers who fit your ideal audience profile so you can see who THEY are following
- Hashtags they are using to engage with their audience
- Influencers they are working with - so you don’t crossover
You want to use INDIRECT competition on social media to find:
- Related accounts and influencers that follow them
- Followers who fit your ideal audience profile so you can see who THEY are following
- Influencers they are working with - so you can reach out to them!
The 7-point criteria all influencers you find need to meet
When you come across someone you think would be great to collaborate with, ask yourself these 7 questions:
- Are they within your niche? Okay, so this is probably super obvious but you need to make sure the influencer is either in the same niche as you or that they target the same audience you do.
- What is their engagement rate on their largest social media platform? By looking at their engagement rates, you can get a good idea of how influential they are.
- Is their engagement rate higher than average? Is their content performing better than the average user? This is key to telling you if the influencer has an engaged community or not.
- Have they posted sponsored content before? If they have, you can ask them for some tangible results/case studies from that content and testimonials from the brand.
- If yes, did their audience respond well? If they have posted sponsored content before, you can have a look through their comments and see how it was received by their community. If their audience didn’t acknowledge the brand or provide any positive sentiment in the comments, maybe they aren’t leaning into the idea of sponsored content for this particular influencer.
- Do you brand values align with theirs? Pretty simple, really. If you are a faith-based brand, you could focus your efforts on influencers that put heavy emphasis on their faith.
- Does your brand identity align with theirs? This one is totally optional because it’s actually pretty trivial. It just really helps in an influencer collaboration if your brand identity will fit into the aesthetic of their content!
How to find influencers on Instagram
I have 3 key ways for you to find influencers on Instagram - let’s dive in:
- Use hashtags to find influencers on Instagram - Write a list of 10 to 20 hashtags that are within your niche or tags that your ideal audience are using. Search through these tags and look at the ‘Top Posts’ section within each tag. These posts are likely to be by users that have high levels of engagement. Take a look at their profiles and see if they are a good fit for a collaboration - use my criteria above!
- Search through ‘related profiles’ on Instagram - When you’ve found someone that is a good fit for your brand or you’ve found a brand that is indirect competition, head to their profile. Click the drop down arrow under their following count and Instagram will show you a bunch of relevant accounts. This is a great way to find more and more influencers that are in your niche!
- Investigate your own followers and see who they’re following - Alternatively, you can take a more grassroots approach and head to your own follower list for inspiration. Take a look through the following list on their profiles and you might see the same names popping up again and again. You can also head to your followers’ content to see what hashtags they are using themselves and head back to step 1 to find more influencers.
You’ll find that you’ll see a lot of the same names coming up but keep persevering and you’ll end up with a decent list of diverse influencers that will help you reach your ideal audience.
Related → Hashtag Hero
How to find influencers on Facebook
This is a fairly easy search process and it means you get to be super nosey by scrolling through your friends’ Facebook Page likes! Here’s how you do it:
- Find a Facebook friend that matches your ideal audience profile. You must have at least ONE Facebook friend in your target market, right? Head to someone you consider an ideal customer/client.
- On their profile, click More > Likes. This will show you all the pages this person has liked!
- Sift through these pages. Keep scrolling through these pages until you find an influencer that meets the criteria! OR you could come across some direct/indirect competition to get you inspired.
You can always plug your new found influencers/competition into Pinterest or Instagram to keep the search going!
How to find influencers on iTunes
This might not seem obvious but iTunes is actually a great place to search for authorities in your niche because of podcasts! Use iTunes to find influencers that host podcasts or look for podcasts within your niche and search through the podcast guests!
- Search keywords on iTunes. Have a look at see what podcasts pop up! If you’re not having much luck, you can always do a Google search for “podcasts for [insert niche]”.
- Look at who’s hosting the podcast. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find out that the podcast host is a great influencer that matches your criteria!
- Look at guests of the podcast. If the podcast is very niche specific, you’re likely to find a fair few influencers that match your criteria and can help you reach your influencer outreach goal!
Month Three: Prepare For Outreach
The short version:
- Create all the assets and files you need for your influencer
- Warm up the connection online
Now you have a list of influencers you’d like to reach out to, you want to make sure you and your business are ready for an influx of replies in your inbox, traffic to your website, and ALL the questions from influencers.
Create assets and files for your collaborations
This really depends on what outreach avenue you are going down but I’ve got some examples here:
- For affiliate programs - You want to be creating a welcome packet for new affiliates, an affiliate agreement (I recommend this one from The Contract Shop), promotional graphics, email swipe copy, and social media swipe copy. For an affiliate programme, you also want to make sure you have all the tech ready (i.e. are you using Tapfiliate, Gumroad, Teachable, etc?)!
- For sponsored posts or paid collaborations - You want to create an agreement and outline of everything you’d want to be included in the sponsored post as well as pulling together any graphics or guidelines for the influencer
- For guest post/podcast pitches - You want to have a list of blog post ideas/topics to pitch to the influencer as well as well as any questions you’d like to ask. Usually, they’ll ask for your headshot and social media links so you could pull those all together in a folder ready!
- For JV webinars - You should create an email sequence for the partner to send to their list, personalised promotional graphics, social media swipe copy, a JV partner agreement, and reminder emails to send to the partner when the date gets closer
Warm up the connection online
Before you go reaching out to any influencers, you want to start by warming up the connection with them.
Taking the time to warm up will help you stand out to them when you send your initial email as well as helping you become a recognisable member of their community.
So, how do you do this?
- Follow them on their social media platforms - if your fave is Instagram, follow them there!
- Turn their post notifications on and take the time to interact with their posts by commenting relevant and authentic thoughts
- Watch their IG stories and message them where appropriate
- Follow them across another social media page and interact with them over there
- Check out their blog content and comment on their posts
- Join their mailing list or FB group - perhaps even sign up for a webinar if they are hosting one soon
This should feel as organic and meaningful as possible so don’t go too overboard on all the comments and DMs. You want to be interested in what they’re doing without driving them away!
If you’ve pulled together a list of over 20-30 names, this step could seem a little overwhelming. Take it slowly and focus on 5 influencers at a time - when you’ve warmed up the connection with that group of influencers, start reaching out to them and move onto the next group!
Month Four: Start Reaching Out
Whether you’re in month four or week four, if you’re at this stage then you’re ready to start your outreach process, pal!
Hands up if you hate writing pitch emails? 🙋 I hear ya, pal!
We’ve all been there, staring at a blank screen wishing the words would just appear ready in time for you to hit ‘send’. Luckily for you, I’ve created an Influencer Outreach Bundle that gives you copy + paste emails to use in your outreach process. Click here to learn more!
There are three key things to mention whether you invest in the $5 bundle or not:
- Keep it personal - always use their first name and try to use information from your time spent warming up the connection to throw in something personal (i.e. ‘Hope you had a lovely holiday!’ or ‘P.S. LOVE your new puppy!’)
- Keep it concise - who knows how many emails these guys are getting every day?! Short, sweet, and simple is the way forwards.
- Email in batched - I try to email between 5 to 10 people at a time so my inbox doesn’t overflow and I don’t book clients up like crazy.
Month Five: Start Chasing-Up
This step is pretty simple, but there’s fortune in the follow up, my friend! Make sure you set aside time in your calendar to chase-up on all your outreach emails.
I know chasing up can feel annoying at times but, more often than not, influencers are usually grateful to get a reminder as their inboxes are so busy!
I recommended following up 3 to 5 working days after your sending initial pitch email. If you still don’t hear back, try emailing again a week after your follow-up.
Month Six: Get Back To The Research Phase
Now you’ve done one round of implementing your outreach strategy, you can go back and do it all again! Woohoo! 🎉
You’ll have had some practice with research and reaching out now so this whole process should be a lot quicker the second time around.
Make sure you keep up with all your outreach efforts with some kind of spreadsheet, or keep reading to grab my template!
BUILD BUZZ AROUND YOUR BUSINESS WITH THIS FREE WORKSHOP
If you’re more of a visual learner and you want to dig deeper into the world of influencer marketing, you can sign up to my free workshop and learn:
- The basics of influencer marketing
- How to get from idea to influencer collaboration
- My 7-point criteria all your chosen influencers have to meet
- 5 rookie mistakes to avoid when working with influencers
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links but I wouldn’t recommend anything I don’t wholeheartedly trust!