Have you ever seen a brand with thousands or millions of fans and wondered how they got there?
While they’re attracting customers from all walks of life, you’re struggling to get your first few newsletter sign-ups.
It doesn’t seem fair. How did these brands get such a large audience?
Just like you, they started from the bottom and worked their way up. They started with a handful of customers and grew as word got out about their brand.
And fortunately, many of these brands want to help you follow in their footsteps. They know they’re influencers in your niche, and with the right strategy, you can use their audience to bring more shoppers to your brand.
No, this doesn’t mean hacking into their website or social media accounts and asking their followers to buy from you. Influencer marketing (sometimes known as outreach marketing) is a long process, but it can mean tremendous results for your brand.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
To understand influencer marketing, we’re going to look at touring rock bands as an example.
I’ve always been fond of concerts. Live music is a great experience, and I’ve found some of my favorite artists from seeing them live in concert.
Sure, I bought tickets to see the headlining band. But over the years, I’ve fallen in love with some opening bands as well.
This is the general idea behind influencer or outreach marketing.
The headlining band knows it will attract a large audience. These artists sell millions of copies of their records each year, and they could sell out arenas whether they have opening artists or not.
So why do most live music tours feature opening artists?
Because it gives them massive exposure.
People come to see the headlining band, and walk out of the show wanting to hear more from the first few artists. This is how unknown musicians can skyrocket to mainstream success – by reaching the audiences of bands like them.
Influencer marketing for business works almost exactly the same way. If a periodical like Forbes featured this blog post on its website, we’d expect far more new page visitors and email sign-ups than usual. The same trend works for social media, wherein we might expect a spike in engagement if a popular brand were to re-tweet our content.
The idea is to appeal to your competitor’s audience, and use their platform as a springboard for your outreach. They’ve already got the audience, you just need to find a way to reach it yourself. You must convince influencers in your niche to recommend your product to their audience. Once they do, you can expect a proportionate increase in your sales, engagement, and leads.
How Can I Find Influencers?
Before you can start outreach marketing, you need to identify influencers in your niche. Sure, you can reach out to Coca-Cola if you sell soda, but you might have a problem actually earning their recommendation. Finding the perfect influencer means finding someone with a similar target audience that’s larger than yours, but not so much so that you’re in over your head. If your brand has 5,000 followers on social media, look for influencers with 15,000 or 20,000 to get started – don’t reach out to brands with millions of followers right away and hope for results.
It might sound easy, finding influencers in your niche. But according to eMarketer, most online business owners feel the opposite way – over 75% of digital marketers believe finding influencers is the hardest part of outreach marketing. Luckily, you only need a few effective influencers to give your brand a boost in exposure.
So what should you look out for as you’re choosing your influencers?
1. Their Audience Should Be Engaged
Brands with an engaged audience make the best influencers. An engaged audience will be more willing to approach your brand on the influencer’s recommendation than those who don’t pay attention to what the brand has to say.
2. They Should Be Active
Active brands have a better relationship with their audience. They consistently earn new followers through social media and content marketing, giving you an ever-growing audience to market to once you’ve paired up with your influencer.
3. They Should Be Relevant To Your Brand
If your store sells shoes, it won’t do any good to pair with an influencer who sells snack food. The two niches are too unrelated. There are times when you might find an influencer who doesn’t directly relate to your brand, but typically you want to find someone with a similar product and mission statement to your own.
How Can I Team Up With Influencers?
Once you’ve identified a number of influencers you want to partner with, it’s time to start building positive relationships. Would you want to promote a brand you’re unfamiliar with? It’s ill-advised to recommend a product or brand you aren’t personally familiar with, so don’t expect influencers to do so with you.
Before you can ask someone to be part of your outreach marketing program, you need to have an established relationship. This doesn’t happen with one well-worded email. Before you even send your first influencer pitch, you need to connect with your target brand.
Connecting with your influencer will depend on their platform and your niche. If you’re reaching out to bloggers, comment on their work and link to it in your own content. Re-post their content on social media, and make your presence known.
After you’ve spent some time being an attentive and active member of their community, you can start crafting your influencer pitch. This is your main tool in connecting with influencers. We’ve talked about effective influencer pitches and tactics to impress them, which you can find in our guide.