Influencers spend most of their time in their inboxes sifting through lots and lots of emails. This takes time, and no matter who the influencer is, there is one guarantee: They’re always short of it.
When you email influencers prodding them to take a look at your latest campaign, you’re asking for their most precious commodity – time. And it isn’t something most are willing to give away easily, so your pitch approach means the difference between no response, a response, and the ultimate goal: a placement.
Here, we’ll walk you through a comprehensive guide – featuring 30 surefire tips – on the best practices for influencer marketing pitches.
1. Do your research to determine which influencers attract your target audience.
Verticals are not the same across all publishers. In order to make sure your content lands in front of your target audience, research the publisher to determine if any sections align with your audience, and add the relevant influencers to your outreach list.
2. Maintain a list of your targeted influencers so you don’t overlap.
A successful outreach process relies on heavy organization, so keep a list of influencers, and update the stages of your outreach efforts regularly. You never want to pitch more than one influencer at the same publisher simultaneously; a list will help you avoid these mistakes.
3. Determine whether the publisher allows third-party content.
A great place to start is by looking at a publisher’s editorial guidelines, which you can usually find on an ‘About Me’ page or something similar. Some publishers do not allow third-party assets (or specifically curated visuals). Make sure you have a place in your promotions process where you can note non-participating publishers.
4. Target influencers who have placed similar content.
When list building, research where similar campaigns have been placed. These influencers will make great targets for your content.
5. Figure out whether a publisher can host your asset on its site.
Your goal is to make an influencer’s job as easy as possible, so be sure you offer an asset they will be able to publish. For example, some sites cannot publish iframes, so make sure you have a backup asset (e.g., a static asset).
6. Keep your initial contact short and sweet.
Whether it is via email or even a tweet, remember to keep your initial contact brief – especially if this is your first time contacting the editor. This is a great way to start your relationship without appearing to be only in it for the coverage.
7. Don’t send impersonal emails.
This isn’t just about getting the editor’s name right; this refers to your first impression as a whole. “Pitch” your best foot forward, every time. What’s interesting about your content to one influencer won’t be interesting to another, so you’ll want to edit your pitch to provide compelling statistics that are most relevant to each particular influencer and his or her audience.
8. Look at the influencer’s tone and mimic it in your pitch.
Even if it doesn’t end in a placement, a great way to ensure a response is to connect with the influencer on a personal level within your pitch. An easy way to do this: Craft your pitch in the influencer’s tone. Read his or her previous articles or Twitter feed, and then make your pitch sound like an extension of each.
9. Leverage anonymity and the identifiable “other” in your pitch.
The Northwestern Law theory on anonymity and the identifiable explains that “many of the features that are distinctive about electronic communication can create a context in which communicators experience the other person as more distant and unknown, and less salient and identifiable.” To overcome this unfamiliarity and increase the likelihood of dialogue, offer personal information that the other person will identify as similar to him or herself (i.e., create a personal connection based on something you have in common).
10. Analyze an influencer’s level of engagement to determine whether or not you should offer him or her the exclusive.
Aside from earning placements through pitches, another goal of the promotions process is to increase levels of natural syndication. When offering an exclusive, make sure you target writers and editors who have heavy social engagement – this will boost your levels of natural syndication.
11. If you’re offering the exclusive, say so.
Some influencers only accept exclusives, so if you’re offering it, be sure to include that in both your subject line and your pitch.
12. If an influencer does not publish frequently, save him or her for syndication.
Again, the best targets for exclusives write multiple posts per week that earn high levels of engagement. It’s always a good rule of thumb to avoid pitching someone who hasn’t written anything in more than a month.
13. Review previous posts and tie them into your pitch if applicable.
Besides determining an influencer’s tone, exploring previous posts offers a great way to connect your content. Influencers want to provide their readers with an interesting story that they can relate to; show them how your content can do this.
14. If your target has ever posted anything negative about your topic or brand, do not pitch him or her.
This is vital in order to avoid a negative response or worse – a negative placement. You’ll want to be absolutely sure that the influencer does not have any ill will toward your brand or the topic. You never want to lose total control of earned media, and a poorly researched pitch is one way to do just that.
15. Determine how the editor prefers to be pitched.
Although email is common, some editors may prefer pitches via Twitter or a contact form, so make sure you determine the communication preference before you send an email.
16. Give a story, not a sales pitch.
Your email should include more than just your content. Help the influencer write the story by providing context to your content; tie the message to a current event or a popular trend.
17. Highlight interesting statistics and facts in your pitch.
You only have a few minutes to earn interest from an influencer, so make sure you highlight the most interesting data. Bullet points are a great way to do this.
18. Double check that you have linked your asset.
Make sure your pitch includes an easily identifiable link to your asset, and if it requires a password, include that immediately after the link in parentheses.
19. Send a minimum of 10 pitches per day.
This is great starting goal for any promotions associate who wants to optimize outreach efforts.
20. Do not send pitches before noon on Monday, and do not send them past noon on Friday.
Always keep in mind: An influencer’s routine is probably similar to your own. On Mondays, influencers are likely playing catch-up with old emails; on Fridays, they’re sending out emails quickly so they can enjoy their weekend. Remember this as you’re timing your pitches.
21. When possible, time your pitches so they are sent earlier in the day.
Again, think about your own schedule and when you are more productive. Usually, individuals are settling into the office in the morning and going through emails – so time your pitch to meet an influencer’s eyes while he or she is still in the inbox.
22. Do not pitch an influencer on a holiday.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of timing when it comes to pitching an influencer. Holidays are stressful in general, so the last thing someone wants to see in his or her inbox is someone asking for input on an idea. A good rule of thumb: Create a “pitch freeze” around a holiday: At the minimum, allow no pitching at least the day before, the day of, and the day after a holiday.
23. Keep track of when you’ve pitched to time your follow-ups.
Be sure to keep track of who you pitched and when – this is essential if you want to check in with an influencer to see if he or she read your email; you don’t want to come across as desperate for a placement.
24. Wait at least two business days to send a follow-up.
Again, there is a fine line between curious and obnoxious. Influencers are busy and receive tons of emails daily – respect their time by giving them a chance to play catch-up with their emails before you follow up.
25. Be sure your follow-up offers something new.
Nothing is more boring than receiving the same message twice. If you want to nudge an influencer in your favor, offer something new in your follow-up email. You can do this by providing a new statistic or by connecting to your content to a new story that has developed since your last email.
26. Once you get to low-level syndication, shift to sending out templated pitches.
Personalized pitches are the best way to earn initial top-tier placements; however, once you near the end of your promotions cycle and begin to reach low-level influencers, it’s OK to send out templated pitches.
27. Craft a clear and concise subject line.
Your subject line is your first impression. Make sure it includes a brief, interesting stat – ideally one that’s between 45 and 65 characters. This will also ensure that it is optimized for mobile.
28. Make sure your pitch has an emotional appeal.
If an influencer experiences a strong reaction to your content, then he or she will want to share it with others – especially readers. You can forge an emotional connection either through your initial personal contact or by offering a shocking statistic.
29. Include a CTA at the end of your pitch.
Your pitch should end with an explicit call to action. Do you want the influencer to publish your content, or are you only looking for feedback? Be specific.
30. Proofread your pitch.
An error-free pitch is critical to earning a response. In fact, 33 percent of editors said they would delete a pitch with any grammatical errors. In other words, double-check your pitch before you send it – it can mean the difference between a earning a placement and being blacklisted.
Putting It All Together
Building relationships with influencers is essential to a campaign’s success, and how you work with these influencers can make all the difference. But keep in mind, they’re people just like you. They’ll appreciate learning about your latest research just as much as you enjoyed creating it, but it’s not always the statistics that stand out – it’s how you come across in your pitch. You’re more likely to start a relationship with an influencer by making a genuine personal connection, and these relationships are what earn you placements.