Influencer outreach won’t feel quite as much like a pain in the ass after you implement these small but mighty tactics. If you’re feeling frustrated, find hope in the fact that others have been in this position and successfully pulled through.
Let’s fix up your influencer response rate
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.
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. 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.
In marketing, terms like retargeting are commonplace. Cross-platform, multichannel, blended CAC - all of this everyday marketing jargon implies it’s normal to reach our audience through multiple platforms. When it comes to reaching directly to creators, marketers forget this step.
When you’re implementing your partnerships with creators, you need to make touchpoints on multiple channels. If you haven’t heard back from an email, send a direct message. If you haven’t heard back to your direct message, try a comment.
We have seen huge success from companies who reach out through a creator’s alternative social accounts (platforms where they aren’t as heavily followed).
Make sure you implement a reasonable amount of pings outside of email and their core channel.
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 namedrop 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.
You can also use social proof when communicating your offer. Highlight how many creators you have in your program. Link some of the interesting ways you have supported them or how much on average a creator in your program can earn.
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.
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.
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.
Learning the fundamentals of negotiation and being mentally prepared to go back and forth a little is going to increase your win rate. If you say pay-per-conversion and the creator says $150 per post, the conversation doesn’t have to stop there.
Think about what they need and help them make a good decision. In the case above they are likely fearful that the return won’t be strong enough. Or they don’t trust that you’ll follow through on your promises. Share a case study or two of other creators who have earned significant income through your pay-per-conversion program. Offer an activation fee of $100 for the first piece of content. Offer to pay the difference between what they convert and their $150 fee on the first post.
Being flexible without throwing money around recklessly will make you more trustworthy, solidify strong long-term relationships and help you scale your partnerships efficiently. These are human relationships you’re building. Usually, when we make decisions there is a more thoughtful process than just yes or no. Have some empathy for your future partners and their needs and support them as best as you can.
In a world where marketing is data-driven, we’re often surprised how few marketers are measuring and optimizing their outreach metrics.
It’s very difficult to fix a problem until you identify the problem itself. In outreach, that usually means your open rate, clickthrough rate, response rate, or win rate (the number of creators who actually convert to your program).
If you’re using the right tools, most of these metrics should be measured for you. Once you have a tool implemented and you’re tracking the metrics that matter you can focus on the parts where you’re seeing a drop-off.
Once you know which metric is broken, you can fix it. Low open rates mean you need to make sure you’re not landing in the spam or promotions inbox and optimize your headline. Low clickthrough/response rates mean you need more compelling body text. If you’re getting positive responses but can’t close partnerships you need to improve your ability to move fast and close deals within 24 hours of response.
Every company needs to communicate a little differently. Every company has a unique superpower. Make sure you’re measuring what matters, running experiments, getting creative, and constantly evolving. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a world-class influencer recruitment strategy.
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