You’ve found the perfect influencer to promote your ecommerce products. They have the right audience, great engagement, and they’ve even promoted other products in the past. Now you’re trying to figure out how to approach that influencer in a way that will actually yield results.
Approaching influencers can be a labor-intensive process. It takes time and effort. You need to build a real relationship before you ask an influencer to work with you, and even then, you’re likely to run into your fair share of silence and rejections. But, if you focus on influencers who truly match your brand and follow the steps below, you’ll develop fruitful relationships with influencers who drive traffic to your store and ultimately boost sales.
Step 1: Plant some relationship seeds
Your first step is to engage with the influencer softly before you send a pitch to work together.
Soft engagements put you on the map. They help the influencer become aware of your presence, so when they see your pitch later, they recognize you as someone interested in their brand. They may even check out your store and get a feel for your products before you ever approach them.
It’s important to engage softly so the influencer feels like you’ve provided some value to their brand ahead of time. You don’t want to come right out the gate asking for a favor. Plus, you need every advantage you can get to stand out from the countless other pitches many influencers receive every day.
So what is a soft engagement? Soft engagements are any natural touch points you can create with an influencer outside of your ask. You softly engage with influencers by connecting through whatever channels the influencer prefers.
If the influencer is big on Instagram, you should follow them and regularly like and comment on their posts.
If they have an email newsletter, subscribe to it and reply with something that you learned from one of their emails.
If they publish blog posts or videos, comment on their posts with genuine, thoughtful comments that show you got value from their content.
If they use Facebook or LinkedIn groups, join and participate in their communities. Engage with their fans and try to provide some non-promotional value.
When your pitch arrives in their inbox, you want the influencer to think, “Oh, I know them. They’ve been engaging with me for a while now.”
Step 2: Create and send your pitch
Your pitch is a simple email that proposes a mutually beneficial arrangement for you and the influencer. Your goal with a pitch is to…
- Connect with the influencer
- Highlight the benefits of working together
- Propose and outline a partnership
- Tell them what to do next to move forward
Generally, it’s best to contact potential influencers through the platform on which you want them to promote your products, unless they specify an alternative channel. Sometimes, for instance, an influencer prefers you email them so they can leave their social media direct messages for their fans. Other influencers may work with an agency and prefer that you get in touch through their representatives.
Above all, though, you want your pitch to lead the influencer to take action—usually a next step, like responding by email or setting up a phone call to talk specifics.
Personalize your pitch
It’s tempting to blast out the same pitch to a hundred influencers. It’s easy, but it’s also ineffective. Most influencers will insta-delete stock pitches, especially if they’re in demand.
Most influencers will insta-delete stock pitches, so make sure yours is personalized and unique.
Influencers want to work with brands who understand them and their audience, not just any store who found their email address. If you want them to care about your partnership, you have to show them you care about them. This is why personalization increases your chance of getting a reply substantially.
How do you personalize a pitch? By learning as much as you can about the influencer you’re reaching out to before pitching. Find out what they like and what they value, then blend those insights into your email.
Cold email open rates are pretty low for every industry, so spend time on your subject line (just like you would for an email marketing campaign) to give yourself the best advantage.
Focus on the benefits of the arrangement
Unless you’re asking the influencer to promote you purely as a favor—which, we’d caution, is going to be very rare—you’re offering them some benefits in the deal. It’s important to leverage those benefits in your pitch so the influencer feels like there’s something in the deal for them.
Sometimes the benefits are as simple as free product or compensation. If you think your influencer is motivated by those things, bring them up first. In some cases, however, you’ll have to point out more abstract benefits.
For instance, if your store uses cause marketing to benefit a nonprofit or advance a social issue, you could explain why the influencer’s fans would like to know about your work. If you have a unique product, explain why sharing it would make their page or profile stand out.
You can also provide benefits for their audience, which has ancillary value for them. You could offer to give them an exclusive coupon code or discount that they can send to their fans.
One way to add value to the relationship is to give the influencer a coupon code they can share with their fans.
Offer to extend their reach
An easy way to sweeten the deal with an influencer is to offer to share their review or promotion on your pages to help them grow their audience. If your audiences overlap well, this could be appealing to any influencer. Offer to…
- Share their review/post on your blog or social media profiles
- Include their testimonial with a link on your website
- Email your list about their review/approach
- Promote them in any other way you can
Get straight to the point
Most influencers don’t have the time or aren’t willing to read an 800-word essay on why the two of you should work together. Very popular influencers are especially allergic to wordy messages (just like your customers) because they get dozens of pitches every day. So you have to hit the important points quickly.
According to data from Prospect.io, the ideal cold pitch is about 900 to 1,000 characters. Remember, these are characters, not words. Your pitch should likely fall in the 175-250 word range.
Be specific in as few words as possible. Outline exactly how you envision your relationship to progress in actionable terms.
For instance, you might say something like this:
“Here’s what I propose: We’ll send you a free product, then you post a photo of yourself using it on Instagram with your honest review, as well as a link to the product in your Instagram bio for one day. We’ll share your post across all our channels.”
Open yourself to a counter offer
There’s always the chance the influencer will refuse your pitch but instead, they may have their own idea for how you two could work together. Add some language to the end of your pitch that signals you’re open to different kinds of collaboration. You might say, “PS – I’m totally open to other ideas”
Think beyond today’s promotion
If you’re approaching an influencer in the first time, don’t ask for too much. Keep the “transaction” simple, easy to manage, and quick to complete.
But you should definitely mention that you’re open to a long-term relationship if the promotion works out well for both parties. You could include something like, “If this works as well as I expect, we’d be open to continuing the partnership in the future.”
Set a deadline (and mean it)
A deadline may seem rude, but it’s important. If you don’t give your influencers a deadline, they may take weeks or months to decide whether to work with you.
Besides, you don’t want to be the eCommerce store they promote when their business is slow. You want to work with people who want to work with you. Most influencers know pretty quickly whether they’ll work with a brand.
That said, don’t be rude about it. Say something like, “Let me know by the end of the week, otherwise we’ll move on to other opportunities.”
Step 3: Follow up (just once)
Following up is an important part of working with other people. Nevertheless, many people never do it, especially when they reach out to a new influencer the first time. They assume the influencer “must be busy” or “doesn’t like my brand.” Neither is necessarily the case, so you should shoot them a quick follow-up email if you don’t hear back within a few days.
That said, there’s always the chance that the influencer has chosen to ignore you. That’s likely the case if they don’t respond to your follow-up. Continue to monitor their activity and engage them online, but don’t keep sending follow ups.
You don’t want to come across as pushy. It won’t help your case to follow-up six times and pester them all over the web. You can try to re-engage the influencer again in the future when your circumstances have changed and time has passed. For example, maybe you double your audience and become more attractive to the influencer, or maybe you launch a new product that is in even closer alignment with their fanbase.
Don’t grow dejected if you don’t see quick results
Influencer marketing is hard. If you don’t already have a popular brand, there’s a good chance the popular influencers will ignore you. Even if you’re a big ecommerce store, most influencers won’t respond unless the terms of the partnership are right for them.
Keep sending your pitches. Eventually, you’ll build a network of influencers you can count on to promote your brand.