Influence marketing is a rather new field, brought to mainstream marketing thanks to a slew of new technologies and the disintermediation of the internet. One of the components of any advanced marketing program these days is blogger outreach. And, for the even more advanced content publishers looking for distribution and backlinks, many of the same principles apply as it requires engaging and persuading bloggers. While the purpose of the contact may differ, the approach requires, in my opinion, a combination of the below skills and criteria. However, as Krista Madden, CEO of HandpickedMedia* says,

Having a plan to market to influential bloggers sounds great, but even using all the correct, polite and respectful ways of approach is not going to guarantee you a mention of your brand / products or that the coverage fits your ideal plan.”

Best ways to influence influencers

  • Do the groundwork. Once you have identified a potential influencer, make sure that the person you approach is relevant, and has influence over your target audience.
  • Understand the influencer. Research his/her profile and understand the eco-system in which they operate (where and how often they publish, their publication style and editorial agenda, their audience, …).
  • Approach with relevance. If you want to engage an influencer, the more influential they are, the more the approach needs to be layered. Start by following. Then perhaps retweeting. Then perhaps engage in a relevant conversation.
  • Earn permission. Once you have gained some traction, you have possibly the earned the permission to ask in return.
  • Provide a WIIFM. Make sure the influencer understands the “what’s in it for me.”
  • Make your request frictionless. As best as possible, when you ask the influencer to do something for you, make it as painless as possible. For example, this could mean creating a widget where the “click this” action populates a well-written message.

Things not to do when approaching an influencer

Not that I am any big time blogger or influencer, but I do get approached on a daily basis by people wanting to cross promote, publish on my site (i.e. in exchange for a link back) and/or just get my business. Here’s an example of such an email.

Influence influencers - myndset digital strategy

  • Don’t send from an unclear or spammy email address. Ideally, the email address identifies you personally and the is clearly stated (and findable). A bland gmail address does not cut it.
  • Influence influencers - myndset digital strategyDon’t hide your identity. There is nothing more untrustworthy than a sign-off without any link! There is no attempt to establish social proof. This “Paul” has an entirely empty Google+ page (right) and nothing else to his name that I could find.
  • Don’t be lazy. Using form fields is just too easy. If you include a link to my blog, but do not include any surrounding material (as in why you liked this particular blog post), I consider this spam.
  • Don’t be cagey. Be clear and direct. In the case of the mail above (Ecom info…), they have a title that is slangy and then in the body of the text, they don’t provide the infographic, instead they want me to write back… UNLIKELY.

Before you can influence influencers, you need to engage with them. And, when it comes to connecting with influencers, it is much like in real life. You must show genuine intent.{Tweet this!} Actions will speak louder than words in this regard. This character Paul, whose company comes from NSW in Australia, has no idea about me or my audience. He has probably targeted individuals with a certain traffic ranking, for example, and created a form field email that is patently automated, totally impersonal and, worst, ambiguous. As much as mass marketing techniques are all about gaining the most efficient and effective drive to sales, when it comes to influencers and/or key opinion leaders, the automated process will surely only bring the lowest hanging (and probably rotten) fruit.

Engaging big influencers

Moreover, as the potency of the influencer’s reach rises, so too does the challenge. Krista Madden writes, “if you have done your homework and have identified a relevant influencer in your field, chances are so have 100’s of your competitors, maybe even in some cases in the same week. So, take a step over to the influencer’s inbox and consider what their options are. I represent some very big fashion bloggers who are constantly offered free gifts, which is great if they actually wanted them or had time to blog about 20 products a day. In reality, the brands that win free editorial are the ones that the bloggers actually genuinely like and are happy to write about without feeling compromised.” {Tweet this!} Getting their attention is one thing, getting them to spend time to write you up in a positive and cogent manner is a whole other game. Not only can this not be farmed out or automated, it will be a constant work-in-progress, like any real relationship.{Tweet this!}

Your thoughts and reactions!

*The business of Handpicked Media is to offer bespoke paid-for content on the blog that a brand wants to appear on, providing the blogger likes the brand enough to write about it for a fee. A respected and successful influencer will not write about a brand if they don’t like it even for money.

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