Four ways to succeed with influencer outreach

Influencer outreach is a step-by-step process during which impeccable planning and execution are necessary.

It can even be said that the planning is a bit more important, due to the fact that poor targeting can completely ruin your campaign.

With influencer outreach, marketers are able to promote their brand and content by connecting to influencers (popular individuals with a sizable social following). Instead of building their brand from scratch, they rely on their own contacts and scaling the process.

This term can be used for several things. However, let’s look at it specifically from an SEO standpoint. In order to succeed with influencer outreach, several things are necessary:

  • You have to know the basics of SEO
  • Proper targeting is a must
  • It is much better if you’re acquainted with the industry and influencer
  • You have to have some experience with email templates and negotiating

Now, let’s review the main steps and how you should manage them.

1. Keyword research

Everything starts with keyword research.

Like always, you need to find phrases that are potentially beneficial to your website. Due to the fact that this approach is tailor-made for influencers, you will also have to consider their reactions.

Basically, popular and trending topics will attract more attention and will convert better. So, it’s not only about things that are good for you; it’s also about topics that are interesting to other bloggers.

During keyword research you need to find the so-called “medium-tail keywords”.

These keywords are too long to be highly competitive and too short to have a low search volume. They are the middle of the pack.

In a normal situation, you will focus on two main factors: volume and difficulty.

Here, you need to find keywords that either have high volume with medium difficulty or low difficulty with medium volume.

Research can be performed with various tools such as:

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Nevertheless, you shouldn’t solely rely on tools. You also need to check first page of Google. If the results are full of high authority websites, it will be really hard to penetrate them.

You also have to pay attention to the type of articles.

For example, if there are Yahoo! Answers, Quora or forum posts in the top 10, you can easily determine that Google is yearning for good, informational articles on the topic.

2. Finding influencers

The next step is finding the influencers.

During this phase, it is necessary to create sheets with names, emails and websites.

Word of caution: you shouldn’t add the industry’s influencers by default. Instead, it is much better if you focus on individuals who actually wrote on the topic. This also means that once they’ve read your article, they will have content of their own to link out to yours from.

Ideally, influencers should be interested and have a critical opinion regarding the subject. Let’s face it: if the person is not into your topic, there is a low chance of success.

How do we you actually do this?

  • By scraping the results from Google (enter a search query and then eyeball each site while extracting names and emails)
  • By using some of the top tier tools (I would recommend BuzzSumo and InkyBee)

You will constantly have to use this sheet so make sure that all the data is correct. I am a big fan of Google Spreadsheets. I always import all the contact information I’ve collected there and put notes so that I don’t forget anything.

Perhaps the biggest issue you might have is with the contact info. You should focus on personal emails and if they do not work, you can even try contacting the person through contact form or social media.

3. Warm up process

Now that you have all the data, you probably think you should start your email outreach.

Wrong.

Before you can pitch influencers and ask them for a feedback or a link, it is necessary to create a meaningful relationship. No matter how awesome your article may be, most people will not be compelled to link to you if they do not care about you or your blog.

The warm up process can be done in several ways:

  • By commenting on influencer’s blog (make sure that the influencer responds first, opening a direct channel of communication)
  • By adding them on Twitter, retweeting and commenting on their posts (again, you should go for a response)

During this opening phase, it is necessary to become a familiar face. Always, always give before you receive! Next time you ask for a favor, the influencer will recognize you and will be much more inclined to help out.

There is another great value to the warm up process.

Besides setting up the basis for influencer outreach, this is an amazing way to enlarge your contact list. Most people forget this fact as they are totally immersed into outreaching and getting links. However, this secondary effect should never be neglected.

The biggest issue with the warming up process is the time between your initial contact and your request.

In other words, complimenting influencers one day and asking them for a favor the next day can seem rather dishonest. This is actually one of the main reasons why such outreach fails.

4. Emailing

Lastly, we come to the emailing phase.

Have in mind that you will need to contact all the influencers during this stage whether you manage to make the initial contact or not. Logically, those who answered you will more likely to convert. Nevertheless, you should still contact everyone.

Your first email should be used to break the ice.

You can ask for a feedback, opinion or something else. In general, you should not send the link instantly. This is usually seen as a bad practice and it pushes people away. Always ask permission first!

Here are some tips for better email outreach:

  • Be brief and to the point
  • Use intriguing title
  • Email should be easy to read
  • Use friendly tone
  • Flatter but don’t go overboard
  • Personalize your emails as much as possible
  • Try not to include links in your initial message
  • Send message from your website’s email address
  • Follow-up once if you don’t get a response

Basically, your email needs to attract attention and to be provocative. Similarly, it needs to present a topic that will be interesting to influencers (you’ve probably got it covered if you performed your research properly).

If your initial email is not too aggressive and if it doesn’t go against the influencer’s interests, there is a higher chance of it being read and answered.

In your second email, if you got a positive response, you may ask for a link or whatever other favor you were looking for. Again, be polite and accept their decision.

Bear in mind that some people will not even read your initial message, so make sure to follow up once.

Conclusion

Even though influencer outreach can be very beneficial, you shouldn’t overdo it. If you are too persistent, it can only lead to negative consequences and people will start ignoring your website.

This method is amazing for new blogs as a way to get the initial traction. After that, your relationship with influencers should change and you should slowly start working on becoming friends. Remember, unless this relationship is a two-way street, it will quickly turn cold and you will lose all the future benefits.

What is your biggest problem when performing influencer outreach? How do you do it?

Nikolay Stoyanov is the founder of NikSto.com, an SEO company that specializes in white hat link building and blogger outreach services. You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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