When everyone is competing for social media attention, SEO standing, and business between similar brands, developing a good influencer marketing strategy can be key. This is especially important for small businesses that not only have to compete with bigger brands but also need to gain enough attention to become respected industry leaders themselves. Getting this respect and enforcement can lead to furthering brand awareness and ultimately boost online traffic.
So the big question is then, of course, how do you approach industry specialists and make sure you can capture their interest? The challenge arises when you aren’t sure how to plan, feel as though you are at your creative limits, or are not quite sure who to reach out to for networking to begin to happen. Fortunately, creating an influencer marketing plan doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it seems.
Creating an Influencer Marketing Plan as an eCommerce Company
For those who are unfamiliar, an influencer marketing plan is exactly what it sounds like: It’s about creating a strategy by fostering relationships with industry leaders who have pull or influence over your target audience. The goal here is to then get you to think critically about finding your target influencers and keeping them invested in spreading the word about your product or service.
When you begin to network and start to identify potential brand influencers, you need to begin by doing some research on your industry. There are a lot of ways to approach this, but the two most important questions to ask are:
- Are they recognized, industry leaders?
- Do they have access to one or more of your target audiences?
If these two things are clear then you know you should be making a connection and building a relationship in any way you can. However, if you cannot identify if one or the other is true, then you may very well be wasting time with that brand. This makes creative research important so that you can see every aspect of an influencer.
One thing you can do to think outside of the box in your research is to use some industry-specific tools. Three great tools include ahrefs, SEMRush, and even Hootsuite. These are all popular tools for finding out who is producing the most popular content about your industry and what they are saying. First, you should try to identify people who are commenting on your industry and secondly look for people who are talking specifically about your brand and its competitors.
Remember: Don’t limit yourself to industry-specific voices.
While industry experts are a good starting point, you also don’t want to limit yourself because there may be influential people outside of your immediate industry. Let’s say for example you own a small brewery. While it makes sense to get some kind of endorsement from a brewer at a better-known brand, why not instead reach out to a sports venue or a pizza brand to endorse your beer. Ultimately, you are going to be reaching your target audience of beer drinkers, while not immediately competing with other brewers. If the sports venue or pizza place endorses you then you could enhance your brand to a target audience and still be getting an enhanced reputation from an influential brand.
In other words, you need to think outside of the box. Be sure that you consider all possible targets as influencers in route to enhancing your brand’s reputation.
Create a Plan of Action
Depending on what you decided the next step should be, you need to create a plan of action. A few ways to do this include crafting emails, asking for blog contributions, following up on their initial commitment, and offering to share your content with them. Below is a checklist to help get you started creating this plan:
Crafting the perfect email
- Make sure that when you initially write to your influencer that you are up-front and write easy-to-digest pitch emails.
- Tell them what you need from them and how they will benefit from participating.
- Avoid asking obvious questions and be resourceful. Do not leave very obvious questions to be asked
- Start with something easy like a social post or blog post, and as you gain trust and your relationship with them improves, you can start to ask for (and give) more in your relationship.
Make it personal
Ask them to participate in something that interests them personally. For example, ask them to contribute stories about an experience that is related to your business that you can post on your blog or share on your website.
After you have established initial contact with your influencer, it’s important to make sure you stay in contact with them regularly. Offer to work as a collaborator and establish yourself as someone who is not just looking out for their own best interests. This component is all about building relationships and networking (hello conferences!).
Sharing your content
- Send them content ideas for their blog that have no ties to your brand or connect them with a hard-to-reach expert in their industry.
- Share their content on your social media outlets when it’s relevant to your audience, and comment thoughtfully on your favorite posts or updates.
- It is important to ask for nothing in return because, keep in mind, their mention of your company to their entire network is valuable!
The truth is that it may take you months to establish a good rapport with an influencer, but if you invest time and effort in the right places, then it can turn out to be a mutually beneficial relationship.
Utilize and Approach Your Connections
When you are trying to get the attention of a big-name influencer, it is sometimes better to be introduced by a mutual friend or a lower-level connection of some kind. This person can be someone you already know in your industry who has a connection to them, or perhaps someone you can reach out to before reaching out to them directly. A few ideas of how to approach utilizing connections include:
- Try to target several smaller influencers in their network (i.e, via LinkedIn or other social media outlets).
- Be careful to do your research and make sure your connection actually does have a relationship established.
- Ultimately, smaller-level contacts tend to be less jaded and more likely to respond favorably to a content partnership.
- Once you have established a healthy relationship with these lower-level influencers, ask them to introduce you to your target influencer.
- This establishes a baseline of trust and allows you to build your influencer network more organically. It also can offer you initial rapport, since you are being introduced by someone who knows you.
Need an Extra Boost? Consider an Influencer Marketing Agency
Believe it or not, you actually don’t always have to go out and find your own influencers. There are tons of influencer marketing agencies nowadays that can connect you to micro and major influencers for brands with various types of budget sizes. If time is a more valuable resource to your company, this is an excellent way to go — it also helps you test the waters with an influencer program in the first place to see if it is something that works for your business before you commit a lot of time finding someone to work with.
You can find some of the most popular influencer marketing agencies here.
Why Influencer Marketing Plans Work
There are several ways to approach influencer marketing, and there is no doubt that influencer marketing gets results. The major downside to consider is that influencers are being pitched to daily for endorsements, and it can be especially hard to genuinely gain their attention. In other words, it’s important that you really spend time creating a plan to make building these connections more realistic. The best advice is to make your approach personable and relevant to their audience as well as your own. That way you have a mutually beneficial relationship established.