3 tips to improve influencer outreach response rates

51 marketers share how they reach out to influencers. Here are the takeaways.

Read time: 5 minutes 42 seconds

Eleni from Modash here with Issue #3 of Return on Influence. The internet’s favorite newsletter about influencer marketing.*

*Don’t try to verify this claim. That’s just a positive affirmation I chant before I hit send.

This month, Ryan and I surveyed 51 marketers to find out what’s happening in the world of influencer outreach

If the right influencer selection strategy is the gas that’s powering your whole influencer car-paign, then outreach is the key that unlocks it.

Without getting a yes, I’m in! to your collab offer, you can’t even get started. 

So, what tips did I pick up for you?

Keep reading 👇

(I promise there are no more car puns ahead.)

Tip #1  Default to a soft CTA

The most popular CTA mentioned in our survey was the soft CTA like: “Are you open to collabs?”

Buuut, a strong contingent of marketers prefer starting with a clear ask: “What are your rates for [x deliverables]?”

Each can work depending on your offer and strategy.

The soft CTA 🪶

Nikola Sokolov, who outreaches 1 million creators a month on behalf of his customers, told us that the soft ask is more likely to get a response.

The reason? It’s easier to say “yes” to. Once the creator has replied and you have an open line of communication, you can explore the details.

Dmitri Cherner, former Head of Influencers at OneSkin & Ruggable, agrees.

“It allows more flexibility in the partnership. If you ask for specific deliverables, it pigeonholes the opportunity. Plus, it allows you to consider partners that you may be on the fence about initially. If they respond and it turns out they already love the brand, the partnership comes more naturally.”

Another example of a soft CTA is “Can we send you our product?” Again, this is an easy question to say “yes” to. Once you get a reply, you can ask the influencer for their address and explore other types of collabs further down the line.

 Piper Philips, Former Director of Marketing at Tru uses this approach

My first step in outreach is always offering a free product. To even consider a paid collab, we need the creator to actually enjoy our product. My go-to line is: ‘If you're interested, I would love to personally send you some Tru! (No strings attached of course)'.

Takeaway: The soft CTA is probably the best place to start. It’s also appropriate when you’re flexible with your offer or if you start your collabs with a free product. When you’re unsure about the nature of a collab, the soft ask is great at opening the communication line.

In terms of resources, soft CTAs will require more emailing back and forth. So, you may want to factor that into your decision.

The clear ask

Noah Bloom, founder at Silicon Viral takes a different approach.

In my experience, starting with a clear ask and overview of the paid opportunity helps align expectations upfront and speeds up the process. I've found creators appreciate understanding the compensation structure right away, as well.

The CTA here will sound like: “What are your rates for [x deliverables]?” or “If you’re in, let me know by replying to this email.”

Takeaway: Take this approach when you have a specific offer and a very narrow room for negotiation or none at all. When you take this CTA approach, don’t forget to include all of the information a creator needs to make a decision in the email.

Another reason to consider the clear ask is if you’re a small team recruiting a large number of influencers. This will be a time saver.

🤓 Read the full survey 51 Marketers Share How They Reach Out To Influencers to get even more insights about influencer outreach.

Tip #2: Start with a pre-vetted list

When you start outreach with a highly targeted list, you’ll very likely get better response rates.

Malou Deuber, founder at socialrelation, hits 90% response rates, which she attributes to sending outreach emails to a list of influencers she’s confident are a right fit.

As I said in the previous issue of ROI, your choice of influencers is EVERYTHING in influencer marketing. And Malou’s epic response rate is just one example of why.

So, if your response rates are low, check that the list you’re working with is targeted.

  • Are these influencers in the right demographic?

  • Do they share psychographics (interests, hobbies, lifestyle, personality, values) with your brand?

  • Are they creating the right kind of content?

You can make sure your list is targeted by either using an influencer search & analysis tool or spending 5-10 extra minutes scrolling through a creator’s content.

This will take some time. But it’s not a time suck.

This analysis will help you in outreach because you’ll know how to personalize your message. Personalization = more responses.

A targeted list also means you can even send a fully templated email with no personalization and still get a good response rate.

Take Ben Williams from Blast. He sent this long and fully templated email without any personalization. It includes the offer and a clear ask. The influencers can either RSVP or not.

And it worked for him!

Why did this work? One factor was his list. He started with a list he’d already filtered using Modash. So he knew in advance that every creator fit their requirements (location, niche, audience).

Pre-vetted list = more responses

Tip #3: For the love of your response rates, please send more follow-ups

Yes, we all agree that the average person’s inbox is a busy place.

One stat I found said it could be around 120 emails a day (this includes personal, work, promotional, & spam). This number doesn’t include all the messages we’re getting on other apps.

Think about how many emails you opened today – uh-uh-uh, not so fast – how many did you open from a person or company you didn’t know? 

See where I’m going with this?

How do you say no to Bernie?

72% of the marketers we surveyed send between 1 and 2 follow-ups.

Gang, think about those 120 emails your follow-up is competing with.

It’s entirely likely that the creator you really want to work with will miss your first follow-up. It’s entirely probable that as their eyes are about to get to your second follow-up, the doorbell rings! Their dog does something cute!

As long as your emails are relevant, polite, and respectful – you’re probably not being as annoying as you think. You’ve got room to send at least one more.

Enelin Toneva, CEO of Vivian Agency and Partnerships consultant at SafetyWing, told us that this is a common mistake she sees.

“When our clients first come to us, they’re surprised that people don’t answer them. When I look into it, they’ve only reached out two times.”

Enelin sends 4 emails in 2.5 weeks. There’s the initial outreach email and 3 follow-ups.

Circumstances change, and you might reach the person at a different time. An influencer once replied to one of Enelin’s old emails ONE FULL CALENDAR YEAR later.

Have I convinced you that you’re allowed to add one more follow-up to your series?

It might be the one that gets through.

What’s everyone else doing?

48% of marketers use emails (over DMs) when they first reach out to influencers. While 46% of marketers say, “It depends.”

When to use email: If you have an influencer’s email address, use email. No matter where you make initial contact, business should be done by email, where it’s easier to keep track of all the details of a collab.

When to use DMs: If you can’t find an influencer’s email, you’ll need to slide into those DMs. Once you’ve established a line of communication, though, move to email.

DMs are also appropriate if you’re personally active on the social platform and you share something in common with the creator.

In this case, build the relationship in DMs but manage the partnership by email.

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