How to Find, Reach Out To, and Work With Influencers (Without Breaking the Bank)

If there’s one golden rule of marketing, this is it:

It doesn’t matter how cool or revolutionary your product, service, or company is.

If you’re tooting your own horn and talking about how amazing your stuff is, that’s just… not very compelling.

If you have influential people within the industry saying all these nice things about your product, on the other hand?

That’s a different story altogether.

When it comes to influencer marketing and influencer campaigns, it all boils down to this one magical word:

Authenticity.

Think about it: 86% of the most popular beauty videos on YouTube are made by influencers (as opposed to the 14% which are made by beauty brands).

It’s crystal clear:

People prefer consuming content by influencers (whom they can relate to!) as opposed to doing the same by faceless, soulless corporations.

Want to jump on the bandwagon, and start working with influencers to promote your products?

In this article, you’ll learn all about how to find, reach out to, and work with influencers.

The best part? You don’t need to have a huge marketing budget to embark on your first influencer campaign.

Let’s dive right in!

Finding Influencers

The first step is to look for influencers who are a good fit for your brand.

No idea where to get started? Here are a few options!

1: Your Personal Network

Go ahead and stalk your friends and acquaintances (even your high school classmates whom you haven’t seen in ages). You might just find a couple of newly minted influencers in the mix.

Once you’re done, repeat the same stalking process, but now turn your attention to your friends’ friends instead.

Take it from me: the world is a super small place.

That influencer who posts on-point #OOTDs, and keeps popping up on your ‘Explore’ feed on Instagram?

She’s probably your high school friend’s ex-girlfriend. Or your cousin’s spin class buddy. Or your mom’s friend’s daughter. You get the point.

2. Influencer Platforms

Once you’ve sifted through your personal network, the next place to turn to is influencer platforms such as Influence.co.

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These platforms are pretty awesome, in terms of functionality.

They let you search for influencers based on their follower count, location, and more.

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Plus: you can sign up for their basic plan for free. What’s not to love?

3. Search Using Hashtags

This one’s pretty straightforward.

Go to Instagram, and search for hashtags such as #sponsored, #sp, #sponsoredpost, and #ad.

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Boom. Access to tens of thousands of influencers, all at your fingertips.

4. Monitor Your Competitors

If your competitors run influencer campaigns as well, a sneaky way to go about this is to follow their social channels, so that you know who they’re working with.

If you’re a smaller company who’s trying to establish yourself in the market, this might be a good tactic to employ. By engaging the same influencers as your larger competitors, you’ll be associating yourself with these more legitimate companies.

However, if you want to differentiate yourself from your other competitors, then skip this one.

Reaching Out To Influencers

Now that you have a list of potential candidates, it’s time to start reaching out to them!

Methods Of Reaching Out

Most marketers and entrepreneurs reach out to influencers via emails. (To get their email addresses, just check out their social media profile bios!)

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Alternatively, you can also tweet your influencer, or leave a Direct Message (DM) for them on Instagram.

I’d recommend this as more of a follow-up strategy, though – your influencer probably checks their business email more regularly, and you have a higher chance of getting a reply if you contact them through there!

What To Say When Reaching Out

In your first email to your influencer:

Introduce yourself, tell your influencer why you’d like to work with them, and give them some key details about your campaign.

(Key details include the deliverables from your influencer’s end, campaign objectives, deadlines, and more.)

Plus: in an ideal world, your emails should be 100% personalized to each influencer you’re reaching out to.

However, real life often gets in the way, and I get that you might not have the time to do this.

Don’t sweat it – by using these awesome templates, and just switching out a few sentences here and there, you’ll be able to craft genuine, personal emails with minimal effort.

Following Up With Influencers

If you never hear back from your influencer, it isn’t the end of the story.

Maybe your email got stuck in their Spam folder.

Maybe they meant to reply, but they got busy.

Maybe they’re on vacation.

There are a million reasons as to why you haven’t heard from them – so don’t give up hope just yet. Send them a follow up!

Pro-Tip: Follow up emails are a great way to display some personality, and show your influencer that you’re a fun company to work with.

For example, check out this absolute gem:

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Image from Blog.Close.IO.

Did you get a chuckle out of that? I sure did.

Working With Influencers

Now that you’ve found an influencer to work with, it’s time for the fun part: crafting your influencer campaign!

1. Identify Key Metrics And Goals

Once you have a clear picture of your goals and key metrics, it’s half the battle won.

Your goals might look something like:

  • 10% increase in sales
  • 20% more email subscribers
  • 100 new customers

And your key metrics:

  • Click through rate from links your influencer shared
  • Total revenue generated
  • Total profit generated

Under no circumstances should you skip this step. Without clarity on your key metrics and goals, it’ll be a case of the blind leading the blind!

2. Make Sure Everything Is Trackable

One easy way to track sales? Provide your influencer with a unique promo code which their followers can use.

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If you want to track the number of click-throughs that you get to your website, you can also provide your influencer with a unique link using Bit.ly.

Plus: make sure you’ve got your Google Analytics set up. GA is insanely powerful – you can really get down to the nitty gritty with this tool!

3. Get Your Influencer Invested

At the most basic level, make sure you get your influencer’s input on what type of content jives well with their audience.

Think about it this way:

The more creative freedom you allow your influencer in the campaign, the more stoked they’ll get about this project. The more stoked they get, the more enthusiastically they’ll share it with their followers!

If you want to go a step further, consider using an affiliate model or a performance-based payment system as well.

With an affiliate model, you’re giving your influencer a cut (say, 5%) out of every sale.

With a performance-based system, you can reward your influencer based on how successful the campaign is. For example, you might pay $300 as a base fee, and $200 more if the campaign generates over 100 sales.

With these two models, your influencer will be incentivized to ensure that the campaign is a roaring success!

4. Experiment with different types of content

Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room:

Instagram shoutouts by influencers are so overdone.

If you want to supercharge the effectiveness of your campaign, you’ll definitely need to come up with more interesting content.

Let’s say you’re a fashion eCommerce store. You could do something along the lines of:

  • Issuing your influencer with a challenge to style one item of clothing in ten different ways
  • Having your influencer join your next photoshoot – not as a model, but as a stylist

Both these ideas are super low-cost to implement, and they’re way better than a generic Instagram shout out.

5. Get People To Share Once The Content Is Live

Get your friends, family, and colleagues to share your influencer’s content, and engage with it. Bribe, beg, or coerce them if you have to – just get them to do it!

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Don’t forget: the more engagement a post generates, the more Facebook and Instagram’s algorithm will prioritize the post (and have it show up on the respective feeds).

When this happens, those people who see it on their feeds will also start sharing, and that’s how posts gain traction.

So start tagging, commenting, and sharing, ASAP!

6. Run Ads Using Your Influencer Content

If you don’t want to spend on ads, you could just call it a day and end your campaign here.

But trust me on this: ads featuring influencer content and testimonials are crazy effective.

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With these ads, your creatives can be fairly simple. Just feature your influencer in them (make sure their faces can be seen clearly, and that it’s a recognizable picture of them!), and slap on an impressive-sounding soundbite for good measure.

Go ahead and run your ads – I guarantee you’ll see a positive ROI.

7. Post Campaign Review

Last but not least, it’s time for your post campaign review.

Go back to your campaign objectives, and look at whether you’ve managed to achieve all these.

If yes, that’s great!

If no, take the time to evaluate where things went wrong. Was the campaign not compelling enough? Was the campaign duration too short? Or did the influencer bring you low-quality traffic which was super hard to convert?

Make sure you put some effort into troubleshooting so that you can understand why your campaign wasn’t as successful as it could’ve been.

Pro Tip: If you aren’t already, consider offering a subscription box on your store, and working with influencers on an ongoing basis to promote it. That way, you get recurring revenue every month – every business owner’s dream!

A final word on working with influencers

Given that influencer marketing generates $6.50 for every dollar spent, you owe it to yourself and your business to at least give it a shot.

And with so many free tools at your disposal (Influence.co, Bit.ly, and all that good stuff), you really don’t need a huge budget to get started.

If you’re in need of some inspiration, check out this Daniel Wellington case study.

The Swedish brand launched back in 2011, with just $15,000 in capital. They’ve grown into a multi-million dollar business since – and they owe a huge part of their success to influencer marketing.

Want to grow your brand to become a multi-million dollar company, too? Everyone starts somewhere – and in your case, your “somewhere” could be your first ever influencer campaign.

It’s time to up your marketing game, and bring your business to the next level!

If you liked this article, please share it with your marketing and entrepreneur friends!

Bill Widmer Bill Widmer is a content marketing and SEO expert who develops high-quality content for businesses. He has worked with many well-known brands like Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, and SEMrush.