Getting creators and influencers to promote your product is the be-all and end-all of influencer marketing. Without a positive response, your campaign won’t get off the ground.
So, how do you ask an Instagram influencer (or YouTuber, TikToker) to promote your product? And what do you say to increase your chances of getting a yes?
In this guide, we’ll show you a framework that’ll help you know exactly what to say to influencers, and ultimately boost your success rate!
The process is split into three parts: Before the ask, the ask, and after the ask.
Let’s see how it works 👇
Before the ask: preparation is key to reaching out to an influencer
“Before the ask” is where you should concentrate most of your time and effort. The prep work you do here can make your outreach a success – or not.
Do your research
Here’s what you’re digging for.
Find the right influencers for your product
No matter how well-written your email or how sweet the compensation, if you’re approaching the wrong influencers, you’re unlikely to get a response. An extreme example for clarity: you wouldn’t approach a vegan to promote a butchers shop, would you?
Choose influencers that have already shown interest in the general category of your product. This shows the creator you’ve done some basic research and understand their niche.
Include influencers with varied audience sizes
Don’t only approach the mega influencers! You’ll get more bang for your buck on most social media channels by reaching out to creators with varied follower sizes. Try nano and micro influencers (±1k - 20k) and a sprinkle of mid-tier influencers (±20k-100k). These ranges are indicative and will depend on the location and channel you’re targeting.
You can check follower counts manually, but the easiest way is to use an influencer discovery tool like Modash. It lets you filter influencers with your desired traits & audience.
Here’s an example. Imagine you’re an e-commerce store with a new (and tasty) meal replacement shake for busy people!
In the screenshot, we filtered by follower size first (1k - 5k) and then added the interests that we think make sense for our shake (coffee, tea, beverages, activewear, healthy living).
Modash gets to work and finds the influencers that match our criteria. Now, we go through and shortlist the ones we want.
Dig for contact details
Once you’ve chosen your right-fit influencers, you’ll need their emails. you can do this manually (e.g. by checking Instagram bios, or YouTube ‘about’ sections). Or, if you want to do this in bulk & speed up the process, you can export your influencer list in Modash to grab emails all at once. Add the email to your Influencer list, and you’re ready for the last step in the research phase.
Warm up the relationship & take notes
Once you have a list of influencers, it’s time to start working on those relationships. You’re more likely to get a response from a creator if you’ve already engaged with their content.
YouTube creator Erin on Demand reveals that influencers notice the names and accounts of the people who often engage with their content, even if they don’t respond.
So, follow the influencer accounts on your list (You’d be surprised by how many people forget to do this!). Then, engage with them. While you’re liking and commenting, jot down unique details about each person. Like their cat’s name, their feelings about cancel culture, or their favorite movie. Anything you can use to connect with them in your first email.
In the screenshot you can see how easy it is to keep track of notes in Modash, where anyone on your team can see the information you’ve collected.
Now, you’re ready to write your email!
Making the ask: What to actually say to an influencer to promote your product (with examples)
We're wary of using templates for influencer outreach because this tends to lead to spammy-sounding emails.
Instead of offering a template for you to copy-paste (although we also have those, which you can use/customize), I'll show you how to use a framework to tailor your emails or messages depending on your audience, product, or brand.
1. Use a catchy email subject line
Subject lines need to do one thing. Get the influencer to open the email. Take a look at the examples below for inspiration, and come up with a few you like. As you're writing, ask yourself: will this stand out in an overflowing inbox?
Some formulas and examples to get you started:
- The personalized subject line: [Creator’s name/handle] + [your brand name] = ❤️
- The direct subject line: We’d love to work with you! / Let’s talk about a partnership? / Paid post opportunity ($500)
- The gift headline: I’d love to send you a [item] to try 📦
- The ‘me too’ headline: I love [specific interest e.g. Dirty Dancing] too!
- The complimentary headline: We loved your [specific content influencer creator e.g. feta pasta recipe/different lenses video]
2. Be accurate
You'd be surprised by how many stories we hear of brands and companies approaching influencers and using the wrong name, handle or channel.
Don’t let this be you. Double-check that you’re sending the right message to the right person. Check your spelling and grammar. These mistakes are often a sign of spam.
3. Connect in the first sentence
Similar to subject lines, the job of the first sentence is to get the reader to read the next sentence. Relevance works well here.
- Your cat’s expression in your latest post is hilarious. He’s the cutest. I’m Kate from the Kat Kingdom, by the way.
- I loved your new room reveal. The blue you used on the walls is gorgeous! My name is Walter, and I’m reaching out on behalf of Wisteria Wallpaper.
- I had the same experience with fig plants, and your recommendation looks like it’s working! I’m Jamal from Green Garden, a subscription flower service.
These work because they show the creator you’re an active follower. You know them.
4. Be clear about the ask/compensation
This is it. This is what the influencer wants to know. What are you offering? How will you compensate your influencers?
Fair compensations will improve your response rates. So, be clear and upfront about your offer. For example:
“I noticed you’re super busy these days, so I thought you might love to try our new meal replacement shake.
We're offering $500 for 2 grid posts and a story.
We’ll send you a one-month supply in all flavors for you to try (valued at $120)."
This works because it shows you’re organized, professional, and can be trusted. You’re also acknowledging the value of that creator’s audience, which sets you apart from others who are trying to get free promotion.
Consider trying to negotiate a fee plus performance bonuses model. CPA in influencer marketing is really the key to scaling aggressively, because it’s low risk. You only pay for key results, like a new customer. Add in an ‘activation’ fee to make it worth their while to get started, and you have a fair, mutually beneficial partnership.
5. End with a clear CTA
Spell out the exact steps the creator needs to take next if they’re interested.
Here's a couple of quick examples.
- “If you’re interested, reply to this email and we can set up a quick call to discuss the details.
- “Sound good? You can start the process by filling out our intake form here. I’ll personally get back to you to set up a call.”
People are more likely to do something if they know what they need to do. Don’t be vague.
6. Keep it short
We recommend keeping your email below 300 words.
After the ask
Influencer marketing is built around relationships. And like all relationships, they need care and attention to flourish.
The first email you send to a creator you want to work with is just the beginning. Most often than not, they won’t reply to your initial outreach. Emails get lost in busy inboxes, DMs are filtered into the IG void, people forget, and life happens. Keep following up.
Track, tweak, and test
The best way to know which emails are working is to use email tracking software. But, it’s perfectly okay to do this part manually at the beginning using a Google Sheet.
To make sure you have everything you need, we’ve created a free influencer outreach scorecard for you. You can use this Google Sheet as a quick & free way to help you keep track of the number of influencers you’ve contacted as well as which email variation you’ve sent them.
Once you plug in your data, it will calculate response rates and success rates by email variation, size of influencer, and overall.
As you can see, in this hypothetical campaign, none of our mega influencers responded. And we had most success with Message A and our micro-influencers!
Keep the relationship alive
Follow up with creators that agreed to promote your product and deepen the relationship.
If your first engagement was a one-off (e.g. pay per post), you could propose other types of engagements. For example, you can add more incentives to the compensation play (from pay per post to pay-per-performance or affiliate deals). Your best influencers can even become brand ambassadors!
More often than not, influencer outreach is a numbers game. The more influencers you contact, the higher your chances of getting a positive response. Don’t let the negative responses stop you from reaching your goal.
Keep looking for creators who align with your product, keep engaging, and sending personalized, short, and clear emails.
Persistence pays off.