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Better influencer marketing

Influencer Outreach Guide: How To Contact Influencers (With Templates)

Better influencer marketing
14 min
read
May 10, 2022

Influencer outreach is often new territory for marketers. The first time the task ends up on your desk, it might seem frustrating. Nobody enjoys being ignored. 

If you’re feeling frustrated, find hope in the fact that others have been in this position and successfully pulled through, increasing their response rates.

This no-fluff guide will help you nail the 3 main steps you need to start & scale your influencer outreach strategy.

1. Collect influencer contact details

The first thing we need is email addresses. Influencer outreach strategy should be cross-platform, but email is the foundation.

We’ve seen companies with compelling copy and reasonable compensation convert 60%+ of their contact list into ambassadors. In other words, email works for recruiting influencers.

You can find Instagram emails or YouTube channel emails manually one by one if you’re starting out for free. If you want to find email addresses a lot faster, and in bulk, Modash can get the contact details you need.

All you need to do is make (or import) a list of the influencers you want to contact inside Modash, then hit ‘Export Contact Details’. If emails are publicly available anywhere, you’ll get them.

The other details you might like to have are their real name (in the case they use an alias) and their agent / management contact details which are usually listed in the bio or “about” section of the influencers most popular social media page. 

2. Prepare your pitch

If you’re used to a straight-to-the-point, no small-talk type conversation, buckle your seatbelt.

Influencers tend not to be robotic. Quite the contrary, in fact. They need (and expect) a personal touch with most of the brands they work with. They work hard to maintain their audience’s trust.

As you try to gain access to that trust, you can’t just send a $20 bill and expect to get everything your heart desires. You need to build rapport.

It’s worth getting to know the influencers you work with. This obviously isn’t possible at scale, but you can at least know their general characteristics. That they are mostly posting about parenting, they have an undying love for collectible guitars, or they actually are a college athlete. 

This will help you write contextual outreach and stay as human as possible in your manual interactions. 

Use our influencer outreach templates

Here’s some templates that you can copy/paste, and adapt to your brand to speed things up.

Email outreach example 1 (short-form initiation)

Subject line: You're the perfect match! Let's work together  👐

“Hey (name),

I'm (name) from (company name). Our mission is to deliver fresh ingredients to your door in 24 hours. 

We absolutely love your recipes! Especially the creamy lemon pasta one 😍

And we are looking for long term partners to join our creator program. I think you and (brand name) go together like bread and butter.

You'll have full creative freedom, a long-term partnership and a tight-knit community to join. 

If you love the idea, let's hop on a call this week and talk more!”

Email outreach example 2: (long-form initiation)

Subject line: You’re on our top 10 list. Let’s work together! 🌻

“Hey {Fname},

I’m {Your name} from {Company name}. We are a sustainable yoga equipment brand with a mission to change the world with one yoga mat at a time. 

We only want to work with the best! People that share the same values and understand our mission. 

That brings me to you, we’ve shortlisted our next 10 ideal partners, and you’re one of them. 🥳

We love your content on Instagram. The passion you have for fitness is remarkable and we really appreciate the effort you put into your content. 

Our offer (feel free to negotiate):

We are looking for long term creator partners to join our ambassador program.

We’ll start with a $200 activation bonus. From there, we’ll pay you 20% of the profit from every purchase that is made using your custom coupon code. 

Bonus:

We’ll highlight your content in our monthly newsletter, which has around 20,000 readers.

We’ll publish your content on our Instagram where we have over 50,000 followers. 

You can be the first one to try out every new collection we launch!”

For more templates, including DM & comments templates, see here for further reading: influencer outreach templates.

Use social proof

You need to be cool.

Creators have the privilege of making money from multiple income streams, they have their pick (and more) of brands to work with and the luxury to say no. Like with any audience, you need to compete for their attention. You need to be cool.

A tried and tested way to accomplish that is social proof. You should proudly name-drop creators you work with and their success working with as often as you can. If you implement a landing page for sharing info with creators - highlight some of the larger or well-respected creators you work with already. If you don’t have big names yet, that’s okay. Show that you let the little guys shine too.

It’s worth hunting one or two celebrity-level creators when you’re really seriously building an influencer program in a new market. Not necessarily because they will drive customers, but they will ramp up your respectability in the creator ecosystem. If they know, like, and trust you (or your creators) before you reach out to them your likelihood of winning a new relationship increases drastically.

Creative beats boring

Getting creative is super necessary. Especially if you’re trying to get the attention of a larger creator or reaching out to your first few mid-sized influencers.

Adidas creative influencer outreach

You don’t need to go as far as Adidas and put up giant billboards in major cities. But why not a sign on your retail storefront?

You can experiment. There are a million ways to get someone’s attention and add an extra splash of creativity. Whether it’s handwritten letters, a gift basket of your products, a custom push notification just to that one user or simply adding a splash of humor to your outreach you should work hard to stand out.

Think about what other brands aren’t clever or brave enough to do. Oftentimes, those things are simple. It could be as simple as putting “Hey @Creator, please DM us ❤️ ” in your Instagram bio and then liking every post they have ever published. Republish their content with major credit to them in your Instagram stories. Go just 5% further than every other person who contacted them has gone.

Test outreach subject lines

If your emails don’t get opened, you’re not going to be recruiting many ambassadors. Luckily, subject lines are super easy to A/B test and see which ones get the best open rates.

Here’s a few subject line ideas to inspire you:

  • You're the perfect match! Let's work together  👐
  • [Your brand] + [Influencer name] = ❤
  • You would be the perfect [brand name] ambassador!
  • We loved your creamy lemon pasta recipe
  • [Brand name] wants to sponsor you!
  • Brand ambassador opportunity ($1,000/month)
  • You’re on our top 10 list. Let’s work together!

3. Follow up, follow up, follow up!

You need to send at least 5 follow-ups. If you were looking for permission to be persistent, this is it.

A lot of the struggle marketers have when they first implement influencer outreach is a lack of sales experience. You need to put on your salesman hat. That means being prepared for rejection and being persistent.

One way this problem manifests itself is in simply not sending follow-ups. It’s incredibly important that you’re sending at least 5 follow-ups after your initial email outreach.

Growbots study on cold email outreach

The graph shows positive response rates with increasing follow-ups. If you’re actively recruiting creators you need to be willing to send numerous follow-ups. Your response rates (assuming you’re offering something of value to creators) should be well in excess of the numbers above. What we can learn from the Growbots outreach study is that sending less than 8 follow-ups might leave an opportunity on the table.

A lot of marketers are concerned by the idea of being annoying. It’s worth noting that the same growbots study showed that it wasn’t until the 6th follow-up that negative sentiment became significant.  

Send 5 email follow-ups in the initial outreach over 2 weeks. From there, take a 6-month pause before reaching out again with 2 additional follow-ups. Often, a creator was simply busy at the time we reached out or preoccupied with other things.

Implementing follow-ups into your strategy

Let’s look at a real example of how you could implement a very simple 14-day string of follow ups. Here’s more templates that you can apply to this sequence.

Day 1: First initial outreach

Day 3: Email follow up

Day 5: Instagram message + email follow up

Day 7: Email follow up

Day 9: Instagram message

Day 11:Email follow up

Day 13: Instagram message 

Day 14: Email follow up

Using this approach, you should start to see a minimum of 50% response rates, with scope to improve over time. You’ll start to learn what gets influencers excited about your brand, and what converts them into ambassadors.

All you need to get started is some email templates. You can use these to draw inspiration from, and adapt them for your brand.

It’s not completely necessary to hit every message perfectly on time. In fact, it might be worth spreading them out further with greater gaps in between. I’d encourage you to experiment, and figure out what works best for your brand in your niche.

It’s important to use multi-platform outreach for influencers, because unlike sales prospects they don’t spend all day in their email.

In our past agency experience messaging thousands of influencers, we found that reaching out on multiple platforms performed even better than growbots study of strictly email did. But it was important that we didn’t spam influencers on any one channel.

4. Optimize & scale up your influencer outreach

It will be very tempting to just throw some contact details into Mailchimp and hope for the best. While you will get there eventually, I recommend you handle recruiting the first 10-20 influencers yourself. The process of contacting them, consuming their content, onboarding them and interacting personally with them will make you better at your job. Just like a new sales guy shadows someone doing calls with clients, you need to interact with influencers first hand.

Start taking steps towards automation

After you’ve done that, you can start automating based on your learnings. Likely the first step to automate is all of those email follow ups. You can do that with any best-in-class email tool, but our favorite is Woodpecker.

Whatever tool you choose, it should give you data to use to improve your outreach and increase your base of ambassadors. USE THAT DATA. With information like open-rate, you can experiment with different types of Titles and get more influencers to open your email. With click-through rates you can get more calls booked or at least see the level of interest and improve it with a better pitch.

Use that data to form one hypothesis a week like:

“I think putting an emoji in the title will increase open rate 13%”

And then TEST IT! If it works, you just got WAY better at your job. If not, then you can revert back and try again. Make sure you’re regularly running experiments to improve your influencer recruitment efforts. A/B Tests are your friend. Don’t be shy with them.

Note: although we’re big advocates of A/B testing, be careful with low volume tests. If you don’t have enough data, your conclusions could be skewed and unreliable. Try using a statistical significance calculator if you’re not sure.

To scale up, you’ll need to start automating away the “customer support” of influencer recruiting. The best ways to do this are with a simple FAQ landing page with a link in your email signature. 

You’ll also need to start optimizing your campaigns and making sure your outreach is going to the right people.

Finally, you can automate more and more steps of the process. But always, always be focusing on constantly taking baby steps toward automating the process. That is how you grow faster, more efficiently and build a truly unbeatable influencer program. 

Remember, if you stick to the structure, write great copy and automate when possible - influencer marketing will become your top growth channel.

3 influencer outreach tools to speed up the process

1. Modash for finding influencers, collecting emails, and tracking progress

Marketers use Modash to manage their influencer discovery, analytics, and monitoring as efficiently as possible.

It does a bunch of cool things, but let’s keep this relevant to outreach. Here’s 3 things during the influencer outreach process that Modash can help with.

1. Finding the right influencers in the first place

Modash’s influencer database lists 200M+ creator profiles across Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. There are a bunch of advanced filtering options available for you to find the perfect partners, with the perfect audiences for your brand.

You can analyze audience demographics & interests, check for fake followers, and more. Once you find creators who are a prospective fit, you can add them to a list ready for the next step.

2. Finding influencer email addresses

After you have a list of influencers (you can import an existing list, or find them in Modash), you can export available contact details in one click.

3. Tracking statuses, adding notes, & updating teammates

Modash’s Lists feature helps you to keep track of your influencer recruitment pipeline. It can replace basic spreadsheets for this purpose.

You can set a status for each influencer (for example, ‘shortlisted’, ‘outreached’, or ‘negotiating’):

And you can also add Labels and Notes. These help you to organize influencers, remember important details, and save time.

Any changes you make in Lists will be reflected for all your teammates too, so everyone can see where things are, and benefit from your notes.

2. Woodpecker for automating email follow-ups

Woodpecker’s cold email tool is mostly built for business to business sales teams doing email outreach. That makes it perfect for pitching our campaigns to influencers. In the end, we’re selling our campaign to these creators.

Unlike other email tools, Woodpecker seems focused on being the best at automated email follow-ups. Many outreach tools build a huge number of features, but unfortunately don’t do anything that well. 

Woodpecker also gives you easy-to-follow but powerful stats to help you make optimizations on your outreach campaigns.

It’s super easy to use, and integrates with your existing email to send follow ups 1 at a time. Just as if you were sending them yourself. It’s like sending emails one by one while you sleep.

One downside is that it’s a bit pricey. $39 bucks per month per seat is a little high for some companies. However, you do get what you pay for.

Get a free trial of Woodpecker

3. Phantombuster for automating Instagram commenting

You can use Phantombuster to collect emails from Instagram, but it also has several other secret powers. My personal favorite for outreach is the auto commenter.

This can be used super effectively after you have sent emails or direct messages to your influencer. Automating simple comments like this one work magic for response rates.

My favorite thing about Phantom buster is how easy it is to set up and the millions of automations that can be built with it. There is one key drawback you should avoid, though.

When setting up automations like auto-commenting, Phantom Buster is piggybacking off your account. They warn you numerous times about this, and it’s easy to avoid any punishments from Instagram.

So when using phantom buster for auto-commenting:

  • Stay well within Phantom busters recommendations about how many comments to leave per hour.
  • Be aware that it is your account which is commenting in the eyes of instagram and the influencer.
  • Take breaks. Don’t run the automations continuously for multiple days.

Try Phantombuster for free.

If you’d prefer to delegate & stick with humans rather than tech, consider using virtual assistants too.

Delegation to virtual assistants

Virtual assistants are the unsung heroes of internet productivity. In fact, Tim Feriss uses them to outsource his life.

If you’re not interested in the technical work of setting up your automations, Virtual assistants can do it for you. Thickific has a great article on how to hire your virtual assistants.

The standout difference between Virtual assistants and technology is that they are a bit more flexible. Your Phantom buster API can’t switch tasks once it’s done and get back to finding influencers with Modash for example. A virtual assistant can, though.

This can be a superpower in your influencer outreach strategy as one or two well managed virtual assistants can help you quickly scale up finding influencers, collecting emails and responding to influencers who reply.

Final thoughts on influencer outreach

While it can seem painful at first, great influencer outreach can really accelerate your growth.

Do everything yourself in the beginning. Push through the initial phase of being ignored and being rejected. Learn, and figure out what is most effective.

Once you’re starting to see positive results, start thinking about scale. Figure out what you can automate (or delegate), and turn influencer marketing into your #1 revenue driving channel.

If you’re stuck, reach out for help. Our team talks to influencer marketers all day every day. We’ve picked up a thing or two over the years. Get a free consultation: hello@modash.io.

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