Although the “build it and they will come” strategy might have worked in Field of Dreams, it turns out to be an ineffective approach when it comes to content distribution. Companies that fail to set strategies, goals and checkpoints for ensuring their content is seen by the right people will end up struggling to drive traffic and to build an audience. Here are a few ways to improve your outreach efforts so you can engage with influencers and grow your brand.
An influencer is someone who has the ear of the community
Identify influencers within your niche
Before you can start planning and evaluating your outreach success, you’ll need to make a list of industry-specific influencers and file them into three different columns: influencers with whom you have a relationship, influencers with whom you could connect, and influencers who are long shots. An influencer is someone who has the ear of the community. That could be bloggers, journalists or successful business people who have earned respect in their field and built a large following social media following as a result.
Take a step back to see how your list looks. Do you need to build more relationships, or do you need to improve the ones you currently have? This will help you create a targeted plan for how you want to grow your outreach program.
Analyse the average pull of your influencers
Now that you have a list of names that work within your niche, it’s time to measure their influence. Most companies start by ranking their influencers socially: How many Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers do they have? How many blog hits per month do they receive?
Most companies start by ranking their influencers socially
As your outreach strategy starts to evolve, you can become more advanced with your analysis and tailor your success metrics based on personal experience and needs. For example, you might rank your influencers by amount of traffic driven per mention, number of backlinks within a month of posting and even conversions or leads generated. You might find that your most powerful influencers aren’t the ones with massive Twitter accounts but those with medium-sized, highly engaged audiences. In the same way that setting goals lets you determine your outreach success, tracking results makes sure that you’re not wasting your time.
Find a personal reason for getting your influencer involved
Often content creators are so focused on hitting their KPIs and getting influencers to say yes that they’re not focused on creating a long-term relationship and finding a reason for sharing. While it’s good to track your outreach conversion rate, being obsessed with doing so could actually hurt your efforts. Along with your influencer rankings, consider assembling “personality files” on your influencers, noting their likes, dislikes and other important information. Whenever they post something that’s important or that falls in with your brand, bookmark it or make a note in the file. That way, you can use it when the time comes to reach out to them.
Your influencers are getting pings, tweets and emails throughout the day. Crafting a personal message is the easiest way to stand out in a sea of copy-and-paste outreach messages.
Plan different approaches for challenging influencers
Your outreach efforts shouldn’t involve cookie-cutter emails in which you just replace recipient name. While that may work when you’re starting out and looking to build your network, the big fish will see right through your copy-and-paste efforts.
Instead, create a multipronged approach for reaching out to difficult influencers that will help you stand out from everyone else. This could involve everything from attending their events to asking questions during a webinar that they host. Both these activities will give you an icebreaker to help you get the conversation going.
Along with different approaches to start the conversation, identify different ways that they can use their influence to assist in your marketing strategies. When Florida Marriott sent eight bloggers on personalised trips that were tailored to their interests, this provided a unique outreach opportunity that differentiated Marriott from other hotels that offer traditional familiarisation tours.
Show that your relationship is a two-way street
There’s no reason for an influencer to take interest in you if all you do is demand that he or she publish something. Marketers that take the time to give back will find that their connections are more willing to help out.
That could take the form of a simple like or share on social media, or you could attend an event they’ve organised or sign up to a newsletter or other piece of content. Not only will the blogger appreciate the gesture, but he or she will also see you as an influencer as well.
Marketers that take the time to give back
Take the time to follow up with a thank you
In the same way that your marketing campaign isn’t finished until you conduct a post-campaign review, your outreach campaign isn’t complete until you properly thank your influencers. So many people take influencer shares for granted that taking a few moments to acknowledge the help and benefits of their promotion can go a long way towards building a healthy relationship.
Furthermore, offering a sincere thank you is a painless way to set up your outreach campaign for success in the long run. One study found that sincere expressions of gratitude in the office increased employees’ willingness to help their co-workers by 50 per cent. On the manager side, employees perform almost 50 per cent better when they’re shown gratitude than when they’re not. You don’t have to be an outreach expert to take advantage of this advice.
You can’t expect to build a strong influencer outreach program overnight. It takes time to develop professional relationships, and you might experience more slamming doors than welcoming ones. Accordingly, take this final piece of advice: Give yourself room to fail. Your conversion rate will never be 100 per cent, but if you follow these steps, it will continue to inch upward — and the rest of your KPIs will follow.