Want to work with social influencers? Here’s our guide to getting that first outreach communication right.
It takes time to find influencers you deem fit to work with your brand, which makes the initial outreach communication all the more important.
A successful influencer partnership will benefit both the brand and the influencer, and the first outreach email sets the tone for it all.
While reaching out to influencers on behalf a world-famous brand name may increase the chances of influencers working with you, having a thoughtful outreach communication will always long way in getting an influencer to say yes to your campaign.
The tone of the first communication and how the influencer partnership offer is approached leaves a lasting impression, and to help you get it right, we are going to share everything we’ve learned about contacting social media influencers since 2012.
In executing hundreds of campaigns over the years, Reelio's account management team has sent thousands of outreach emails to creators, taken hundreds of phone calls and spoken with creators at numerous industry events. As a result, we’ve optimized our language, approach and content as influencer-brand partnerships have evolved over the years.
Once you find the right influencers, use these tips to kick off a relationship that will leave creators wanting to work with you again when the time is right.
Approach Influencers as Future Partners, Not a Platform or Transaction (even if it’s just one campaign)
Before reaching out to
When You're Trying to Earn the Attention of a Few Select Influencers
It might not come as a surprise to many marketers these days that personalization is also key here if there are select influencer your brand has its eyes set on. If you are trying to earn the interest of a few creators, make sure you include why you choose to reach out to them specifically in the first place.
Even if the partnership is just for a short time, recounting why you thought they would be a good match vs. reaching out to them as just “another influencer” will help them feel more valued and ensure the authenticity between both parties that makes influencer marketing mutually beneficial.
It can be easy to view an influencer campaign solely as a business transaction for your marketing department, especially after outlining ROI metrics, (learn more about attribution techniques for your influencer campaign), that your boss may be hard-pressing you for; but the most effective campaigns are much more than that, they’re long-term partnerships.
“Influencer marketing is a person-to-person business.”- Paul Traficanti, Influencer Marketing Strategist
“In many cases, influencers are just as interested in developing long-term relationships with brands, especially brands they are already customers for,” Reelio account manager Paul Traficanti said. “It presents a huge opportunity for brands to form long-term strategies that work for both the influencer and the advertiser. At the end of the day, influencer marketing is a person-to-person business.”
This is true of both B2C and B2B influencer partnerships. When B2B influencer strategist Tom Augenthaler worked with large tech companies like HP and Dell, he invited influencers to events for more personal experiences, covering travel and hotel costs.
“We would invite [influencers] to events, whether it was a small internal event, special to just them, or whether it was a large industry event,” Augenthaler said.
Augenthaler also gave influencers early-access to new products and access to the company's staff and executives, all of which created opportunities to strengthen the relationship.
While many marketers don’t have control over whether the brand will have a long-term or short-term relationship with an influencer, (brands change and influencers may change), it’s worth considering - as you build a roster of reliable influencers who produce good work - which of those partnerships, if any, you want to put extra care and attention into as it will most likely result in long-term ROI.
Influencer-brand partnerships at their core, are all about good relationships that benefit both parties; and at the foundation of a good relationship is empathy and support for the other person. Thus, a thoughtful and personalized initial communication can go a long way.
What if I'm on a time crunch and don't mind sending a broader communication to a bigger pool influencers?
We know all too well the external pressures of getting a campaign off the ground quickly. To help offset time crunches and stressed out follow-up communications, we suggest starting your outreach 8-10 weeks in advance of your campaign to be safe. That said, we also understand wanting to cast a wider net if you're open to working with different types of influencers.
Use our influencer planning guide to help you map out when you should send your first communication.
We've provided two email templates below for initial outreach communication; one that's more personalized and another that's less personalized for those looking to cast a bit of wider net for a bigger variety of influencers.
Our Top 3 Tips for Writing a Great Influencer Outreach Email
After analyzing nearly 1000 influencer outreach emails from our account management team, we’ve learned how to get more responses from interested creators (big and small).
Social media influencers want to work with brands that they love. They also want to work with thoughtful people who respect their craft and share their vision, and much of that comes across in what’s initially communicated to them.
If an influencer has offers from other brands for the same time period or physically can’t go on location to work with your brand, the right communication could have them reconsidering or excited to work with you the next time you reach out. Here's what we've learned.
Tip #1: Quick Research Goes a Long Way
As said by co-author Jeremy Bernard in the book Treating People Well: The Extraordinary Power of Civility at Work and in Life, “preparation is a form of consideration.”
Doing a little bit of research before contacting an influencer can go a long way. Look through some of their Instagram posts, YouTube videos, or other social media channels to 1) see that they’d actually be interested in your product and 2) see that they align with your brand’s interests and values. You can then point to those specific posts that genuinely resonated with you in your outreach email, and it doesn’t hurt to add a little more detail.
Which message would resonate with you more?
“We saw your last post about toothpaste and are wondering if you’d be interested trying ours.”
|“We loved the approach you took your [linked post] about toothpaste; particularly the enthusiasm around the results of brushing your teeth and the photo choice which clearly showed the color and texture. We wondered if you’d be interested in trying ours for free?”|
This is especially helpful if your product isn’t an obvious match for the regular content of the influencer. Social media specialist Lilach Bullock brings up a great point in understanding an influencer's tone and nuances of their content before reaching out to them.
Let’s look at another example.
Say your company sells high-quality music speakers, and you’re trying to gain awareness amongst women in their early twenties. You find a makeup influencer who loves music and has an active audience of women in their early twenties.
While at first glance, it may not look like an immediate obvious match given the majority of her content showcases beauty and lifestyle images, however, the partnership could still be authentic and mutually beneficial for both parties through the appreciation of crystal clear music quality.
Suppose she had multiple Instagram photos with lyric captions; you could point to specific examples to highlight the relevance of your product and the alignment of interests in her audience. This shows the creator that you invested time looking at her content and are reaching out with the intentions of a generating a meaningful campaign for both parties.
A custom intro message could look something like:
Hey [Creator's First Name],
We were wondering if you'd be interested in receiving our latest portable mini speaker to take on the road with you and review this upcoming summer? Here are some details below: [insert detailed bullet point list we outlined in the next paragraph].
Make sure you clearly state why your product would be relevant to not only the influencer but also their audience. (Don’t reach out to that makeup influencer about a tech product, unless there is an actual tie-in).
If your product does naturally align with the influencers’ content, you might want to jump straight to the offer, see our example below.
Tip #2: Keep it Straightforward and to the Point
Influencers are busy, and the bigger the influencer is, the more emails they are likely getting from brands, fans, agents and more, so to increase your chances of an interested reply, keep your initial outreach brief and friendly (and personalized if you are looking for a "yes" response).
Start out with an introduction of who you are and what the brand sells (if it’s not a well-known brand). Then cut straight to the main reason for the communication; the campaign partnership offer.
Example Influencer Outreach Templates
Shorter, more personalized template for a large creator:
Hey there [Creator's First Name]!
Longer, less personalized template for broader creator outreach:
If you want to send out an email to multiple creators who would be obvious matches for the product, here’s a template email (modified to come from a brand) that’s gotten us a lot of success.
Looking forward to your response,
*At Reelio, we use a form to collect any other details including shipping address for product shipments, sizing questions for clothing, etc.
As for the subject line, being straightforward in the title with something like "[Insert Brandname] Sponsorship Opportunity" works best.
Details to include in your first communication to the influencer:
- 1-2 sentences on the brand and why it makes sense for the influencer and their audience. What caught your attention about the influencer, how do you align with the
influencer,and the major perks or discounts the brand could offer the influencer.
- A brief explanation of the concept of what you would like them to do. Some brand integrations are relatively quick and simple, others require more time and work. An unboxing is much different than going on site somewhere. Use this list to see the most popular kinds of video integrations.
- The social platforms you'd like to partner on. Are you looking to boost the number of followers on your brand Instagram channel? Do you want a video of your product that you can link to? Do you want to make a splash on Twitter? Let the creator know what platforms you’re thinking would be best.
- The compensation. Putting down a price can help give an influencer a point to jump off of for negotiations. For those of you who aren’t sure how to price the campaign, you can get pricing guidance on an influencer marketing platform like Reelio, you can ask other marketers on various channels or just ask the influencer themselves what their rate is for the kind of campaign you’re suggesting.
- A brief timeline. It’s important to state upfront when do you need the content to go live because that can be a big factor in whether an influencer can participate in the campaign or not.
What if I have more details about the campaign? Won’t that help them decide faster?
If you have more details on the campaign, leave them as an attachment. The goal of this first outreach is to simply get a reply from them stating interest or further questions which will move the communications along faster.
What Kinds Sponsorships Do Influencers Get?
Sponsorship compensation is another important part of an outreach email, and it's usually best to offer more than risk them feeling low-balled. If you're not sure what the appropriate rate is, it's okay to ask them and will probably ensure a smoother negotiation process.
Influencer sponsorships range from offering free products to payment (the most standard and usually desired) to elaborate experiences. Here are some things that influencers have been offered in the past.
Here are some combinations of what brands have offered influencers:
- Discounts for viewers
- Free product
- Payment. (Ranging from hundreds of dollars
,to thousands of dollars (more typical) to hundreds of thousands of dollars (think celebrities).)
- Experiences (Verizon flew influencers to Super Bowl 50 for a VIP experience to document).
Often times, brands offer a combination of more than one for a campaign.
Tip #3: Reach Out to Influencers Well in Advance of Your Campaign (we recommend 8-10 weeks from when you want the content to go live)
Sending your outreach email nearly two months in advance may seem like a century of time in our fast-paced world, but because influencer campaigns have a manual creative process element to it and execution can require multiple sign-offs, revisions, and edits, it’s best to give all parties more than enough time to ensure a smooth process on both ends.
You should also anticipate sending at least a few follow-up emails after your initial outreach.
Be prepared for follow-up emails. It’s all apart of the process these days.
If a creator doesn’t get back to you within the next hour, the next day, or even the next five days, don’t panic. As alluded to earlier, inboxes can get crowded and creators are busy, (as are we all). It’s best to factor in multiple stages of polite follow-ups from the beginning.
We suggest sending the second email two days after the first initial communication, and the next email two days after that communication. Remember the tools we suggested for automated sending? They also have great options for automated follow-up emails.
Here's some templates for follow-up emails.
First Follow-up Template:
A simple one-line email can work for the first follow-up.
Second Follow-up Template:
If you haven’t heard from them by the second email, it may be time to let them know that you’re moving on. This will either elicit a response or elicit nothing, in which case, it may be time to move on in place of badgering the influencer. Not spamming their inbox for one campaign will make it so that you can reach out to them for the next campaign.
What Not to Do in Follow-up Emails
Don’t show impatience; remember, you’re the one coming to them.
We recommend not giving them the impression that they are missing out on something.
Don't come across as desperate.
How Do I Get In Touch With Influencers?
Email is the most common way to get in touch with influencers these days and many influencers provide their own or their agents’ email on one of their social media platforms. Here’s where to look on each platform:
Instagram: Their bio.
YouTube: The “About” section.
Twitter: Check their bio (but it’s usually on another platform).
Facebook: The "About" section.
I can’t find an email, is it worth DM’ing?
If an email is not available but you're able to DM the influencer, keep it short and leave your email for them to respond to the details for a business email transaction.
What Should I Expect After Reaching Out to an Influencer?
It’s best to expect that what will come after your outreach email is more questions from the influencer(s). This is usually a good sign because it means they have some interest in your brand and your offering.
Typically, they are looking for more granular detail on everything outlined in the initial outreach email.
Follow-up responses we've seen:
influenceris on vacation during the initial timeline you mentioned, so they’d like to see if it’s okay for a different time can be arranged.
- Perhaps you asked an influencer for Instagram posts but they actually think their YouTube channel would be the best option for reasons x, y & z. This is all great feedback and a part of the process.
- They have more questions about your brand. For example, if it’s are an organic product, they might ask you if it’s also non-GMO, to ensure that they are being true to their audience.
After you’ve answered their questions you can start the process of sending an agreement, shipping the product and get rolling on the content creation.
Once the influencer has agreed, the next steps can require a lot of back and forth communications around contracts and content edits. Keep them organized, because details can easily get overlooked in cluttered inboxes and long email chains.
Reelio's platform enables marketers and influencers to communicate back and forth directly on the platform in addition to uploading attachments of content. On our platform, influencer partnership managers can:
- Keep all influencer communications organized in one place
- Simplify contracts with customizable templates
- Allow content to be uploaded for review
- Organizes creator recruiting
Treat Influencers With Care & You Can't Go Wrong
At the end of the day, you can't go wrong if you put the creator first. Lead with the benefits for them and their audience, and always respond with gratitude (and giving them the benefit of the doubt if needed). Download this infographic that recaps the tips mentioned above.
Partnering with influencers can lead to brand lift, engagement, brand follows, purchases and a bunch of other benefits.