25 Key Steps to Influencer Marketing Strategy (13,709 wrds)
Today you’ll learn how to build an influencer marketing strategy.
It took me 2 years and 8 online marketing courses to learn it myself.
In fact: using the very tips outlined in this post, my friend Dmitry was able to:
- Get 1300+ press mentions
- Get a startup 40 million page views and eventually acquired by Google (in just 2 years).
Let’s jump right in…
Free Bonus: Download the step-by-step system I use, which organizes all the tips from this post in order.
I want influencer marketing tips that are (use Nick Julia plugin-jump links):
Strategies: Universal Ideas Tactics: How to implement them
SECTION 1: STRATEGIES
1. Use The “D to V” Method
This tip was inspired by my friend, Daniel Daines-Hutt.
Before I get into the meat of the “D to V” Method, I want to give you some quick context as to why it’s so important.
Regardless of whether you’re in B2C or B2B, you’re really in the business of B2P:
Business to People.
Unfortunately, most marketers approach people the wrong way.
Derek Halpern probably says it best:
“The internet has turned people into panhandlers.
People who wouldn’t be caught DEAD asking for a dollar on the corner are asking for much more than that in an email…
…You will you ruin your first impression with influential people, and they’ll ignore you forever”.
Let me explain.
You can think of any relationship as a point on a spectrum.
At the beginning of the spectrum you have an introduction.
And at the end of the spectrum you have a lasting friendship built on trust & they’ll have no problem sharing your content over and over again.
Now imagine this:
You’ve just started a new software company and you see Mark Zuckerberg at a conference you’re at.
Would you start your conversation with him by saying:
“Hi Mark, I’d really appreciate it if you’d invest in my start up or promote my company to your network 96 million Facebook followers.”?
Of course not.
You’d think this would be obvious, right?
This is EXACTLY what 99% of marketers do in their first interaction with an influential person.
They send a generic emails like this as their first email and wonder why they don’t get results:
They skip all of the relationship phase, and go straight in for the transaction.
Which is just plain stupid if you actually care about sustainable, long lasting growth.
And it gets worse…
People are especially sensitive over email.
Well according to Psychology Today, words are only responsible for 7% of communication, while body language and tone account for the other 93% during face-to-face interaction.
But with email, that 7% balloons into 100%…
Which means you have to be very strategic about how you communicate – much less build a relationship – with with an influential person.
As the PR legend, Dmitry Dragilev says about emailing influential people:
“It’s like dating really. How would you date someone?”
(They’re not prostitutes).
That’s where The D to V Method comes into play.
It’s a framework you can follow for building a relationship with anyone, over email.
It works like this:
The “D” stands for dialogue and the “V” stands for value.
You start a dialogue using the proven techniques I’ll show you later in this post…
…and once you develop a rapport, you then transition to adding actual value to your influencer (also using the proven techniques I’ll show you later in this post).
And once you’ve completed both of those phases, more or less you’ll have earned the right to ask a favor of someone.
Why does this work?
But here’s the key:
You need to earn the right to add value to someone too.
(That’s why it’s called the D to V Method).
Sounds strange, right?
Well let’s take this scenario, for example…
If the first thing you send to someone is free help to optimize their website, it can be sort of sketchy and offputting.
Yes, your intentions are good because you want to add value. I get that.
But put yourself in their shoes for a moment:
They don’t know you, which means your help will probably come off as a sketchy sales scheme for “free stuff”.
People of influence also get solicited A LOT for these type of services (I know I do, and I haven’t even really started my blog yet, haha)…so that doesn’t help either.
The bottom line?
Relationships need to feel natural.
That’s why starting a dialogue first is so important.
Once established, you should gradually turn up the value.
But make no mistake:
If you’re truly serious about growing your business through content marketing, this is very powerful.
Before I show you exactly how to do it, I want nail it home with a final, real life case study:
How I built a relationship, more or less, with Neil Patel.
I wanted to email Neil Patel – arguably the most sought after SEO expert in the world – my results from an SEO experiment around a technical topic because I had a very technical SEO question.
I esentially “nerded out” to Neil and he “nerded out” back by replying with 3 emails in return:
This is a great example of starting a dialogue.
I don’t have to tell you that getting someone like Neil – who has over 800,000 email subscribers, 900,000 Facebook fans, 5 businesses and clients like Google & Facebook – to respond to my email is pretty challenging.
It’s like asking Kobe Bryant for basketball advice.
But 3 emails? I must have peaked his curiousity by starting a good dialogue.
So I kept an interesting dialogue going, then I started to add value to Neil.
And this, because I knew he was trying to publish more content:
I even added a genuine, heartfelt compliment that I think made him feel good:
And many more.
Heck! I’m even linking to him like 5 times is this very blog post to add value to him!!
(Hey Neil 🙂 )
These are simple little emails that took me 5 minutes to write, but helped me build a connection with Neil and get him to like me.
There’s no immediate return here, and that’s why it works.
The moment you start being transactional rather than relational, your long-term results go out the window.
I built a relationship with Neil based on value to him…
…And because I’ve taken this approach, Neil answers my esoteric marketing questions almost every time while he probably ignores the other 99% of emails that go to his inbox.
And if I had a marketing blog or service, which I don’t, I’m sure Neil would be happy to share or link to my content if I asked to him politely.
And I’ve taken the same approach with several other people whose opinions I value, such as our friend Sujan.
(The fact that I’m writing this blog post is proof 🙂 ).
But here’s the thing:
Because you have to build genuine, natural relationships via dialogue and then added value, it takes several months to do it right.
In fact, for the business plan I wrote for my blog, I’m not even writing/promoting any content for the first 4 months because I want to build relationships with my influencers first.
But don’t get discouraged.
Again, you won’t get immediate return for efforts, but in the long run you will crush it because you’ll have friends that can help your business grow FOR LIFE.
Besides, succeeding through online marketing takes a long time.
It can take Google up to 24 months to index all your links, and you have to develop psychological elements like trust and authority with your audience.
So if you’re not thinking about the long run with your content marketing, you’ve already lost.
Ready to get started?
Awesome! Here’s what to do…
Step 1) Queue up “The Ultimate Warm Up”
I go into step in greater depth during tip #17 of this post.
Essentially what you’re doing here is getting on an influencer’s radar by strategically sharing their content on social and commenting on their articles when appropriate.
Step 2) Use your “IVP” and “D + VA” spreadsheets to write effective emails
I go into step in greater depth during tip #2 of this post.
Essentially what you’re doing here is doing a boat load of research to REALLY understand each your influencers.
With this information, you’ll know exactly how to engage them and how to add value to them.
Step 3) Send your dialogue emails
From the research you did in step 2, send at least 6 dialogue emails, each a week apart.
You don’t want to follow up on dialogue emails, otherwise it will come off as weird and annoying.
So if you send 6 dialogue emails, each a week apart, it should take about 6 weeks to get past the dialogue phase.
You can use any combination of the dialogue/conversation starter techniques I explain, later in this post.
A nice time saver here is to use Mailshake’s email drip feature. It’s simple and effective.
Basically you write all your emails at once, schedule them to send a week apart, and you’re done.
Rather than having to send remind yourself to send a new dialogue email every week, just schedule them all at once and there’s nothing else to worry about for the next 6 weeks.
Step 4) Send your Value Add emails
From the research you did in step 2, send at least 4-6 value adding emails, each a week apart.
You can, and should, follow up on emails that add value.
One follow-up is preferred, but two follow-up’s is also fine.
Let’s look at the time line again:
If you send 5 value-add emails, and each with 1 follow up, and a week apart – then it should take 10 weeks to get through this step.
Tack this onto the 6 emails from step #3 and you’ve got 16 emails so far…
…which equates to 16 weeks (or roughly 4 months).
You can use any combination of the value add techniques I talk about later this post.
Again, you can schedule your Value Add emails (and follow up’s) through Mailshake to save time and mental energy from organizing your efforts.
When you’re adding value though, it requires a more nuanced approach, so you want to be careful if you choose to automate this stuff.
If you’re adding follow up’s the mix, you’ll want to use Mailshake’s “Reply” feature instead of the “Email Drip” feature.
What’s different about the reply feature is that it gives you the option to only send the follow up unless someone opens or replies to your email.
Obviously you don’t want to send follow up emails for an email that’s already been replied to, for example.
After you’ve completed steps 3 and 4, you’re well positioned to do some link building or ask for a share, etc.
You’ve positioned yourself well to get an influencer to like you.
If you approach your “Ask” the right way, you should have very little issue getting a link or a share.
So how to you approach it the right way?
You add more value.
Here’s the deal:
While you have been putting in the time to add value to these people, the relationship is still in its youth.
You might succeed in just saying
“Hey, can you help me out?”
Then again, you might not.
So for now, you’re better off playing it safe than being sorry.
When you send your pitch, make sure you’re adding value.
So if you want a link:
- * Make sure you offer to write a guest post for them.
- * Find broken links on their website and offer your link as a replacement.
- * Create some industry data that compliments their post.
- * Make sure your content helps them build trust with their audience.
Any pitches you send, at least for a while, make sure you’re ALWAYS adding value.
Because you want to build reciprocity, not take it away.
Step 6) Continue the relationship
You just spent 4 months building a relationship with an influencer and got them to share your post.
Time to throw in the towel with that influencer, right?
They’re your friend now, and you want them to remain friends.
You want to leverage your professional network to grow your business continuously. Your network is perhaps your most important asset in growth marketing.
Keep the dialogue going, keep adding value to them, and keep commenting & sharing their posts.
Maintain and grow your relationships, and your friends will send you recurring shares and links for the rest of your blogging days.
2. Build your IVP & “D + VA” profiles
Note: I’m going to explain both in separate parts, then give you the “how-to” action steps in Part 3.
Part 1 – Building your IVP profile
I was able to glean this strategy after watching a bonus module from Brian Dean’s Youtube training course, First Page Videos.
To give some brief context, let’s talk about customers/audience for a moment:
You’ve probably heard of the term “Customer Avatar” right?
Well that’s the completely wrong way of approaching your customers.
Because there’s so many customer avatars you can target, there’s no way to position yourself to appeal to all of them.
So what ends up happening is you pick one customer avatar, and your copywriting doesn’t appeal to any of the others, losing 90% of your customers’ attention in the process.
Not very effective.
Rather, you want to figure out what all your customers share in common – particularly what they all value and what they all want – so you can appeal to ALL of your customers.
In other words, don’t just appeal to the “29 year old single mom with 2.4 kids” customer avatar crap.
Figure out what the 29 year old single mom with 2.4 kids, has in common with the divorced 55 year old science teacher.
And that’s where the “Customer Value Profile”, or “CVP” for short, comes in.
You build a list of the values and wants that all your customers have in common.
Now take that concept, and apply it to influencers.
Now you’ve got the concept of “Influencer Value Profile” or “IVP” for short.
Now you may be asking yourself: “What does this accomplish?”
Well by building out your IVP, you just gained a high-level understanding of what makes your influencers tick.
You’re essential leveraging researched-backed persuasion psychology.
You’re still going to want to go much deeper than that (more in Part 2)…
…but it’s tier 1, “top of the pyramid” stuff that you’ll use over and over again when engaging with any influencer in your niche.
This will impact the copywriting you use in your emails to influencers, the comments you leave on their posts, making your blog posts more “influencer friendly” and generally understanding them.
Part 2 – Building your “D + VA” spreadsheets
I learned this concept from Daniel Danies-Hutt’s promotion course, Amplify Content Promotion Process.
In part 1 you learned how to appeal to all your influencers in broad strokes .
Unfortunately, that’s not enough.
As I’ll explain in greater detail later, you only want to do this for your most important influencers because it takes a good amount of time.
But for those that do warrant special attention, you need to DIVE DEEP into each and every one of their worlds to understand each person.
Your “D + VA” spreadsheet is essentially your CRM for how to interact and help your influencers
Specifically, you’re recording:
- 1) Ways you can start a dialogue with them (D = Dialogue).
- 2) Ways you can add value to them (VA = Value Add).
This is necessary because every influencer is ever so slightly different, and you need to customize how you’d start a conversation and add value to each of them.
Pertaining to how you’d create a dialogue with each influencer:
You’ll be looking for things you have in common with them, which you’ll use to build a rapport.
This is obviously going to be different for each person.
Because every human being is different!
Think about the friendships you’ve built throughout your life. Each relationship developed differently right?
The same applies with influencer marketing. Each friendship you create requires personalization.
Remove the screen, and think about how you’d build a new friendship on the childhood playground or at a marketing seminar.
Seriously, I want you to visualize how making new friends in those setting would go down.
(It’s probably not the same how you’re currently engaging influencers, right?)
Pertaining to how to add value:
- *Some people want more email subscribers
- *Some people want more traffic
- *Some people want more sales
- *Some want more freedom/time/leisure and to travel the world.
And it’s important to make sure you’ve got all this information written down somewhere, so you can reference it any time you communicate with these people.
Now I’m not going to lie to you:
This takes a metric ****ton of work.
Usually 40 minutes or more per person.
But the key to really crushing it is to go super deep in this stuff.
Let me show you why all this work is worth it, with a real-life example:
It was a $99 marketing course (now free) that Neil sold to his audience.
There’s over 100 videos in there that Brian custom made for Neil.
He added MASSIVE value to Neil.
Now, I don’t know if Brian was paid for this (because the brand recognition from working with Neil alone is super valuable in itself), but look at all the love Brian is getting from Neil now:
That’s almost 1500 do-follow links from Neil Patel.
Is it good for SEO? Of course – NeilPatel.com is a top 5000 website in the world.
Does it send Brian thousands of visitors every month? You bet.
But the real value is in the endorsement.
These are 1,435 contextual links from arguably the most sought after digital marketer in the world (Neil Patel), directly endorsing the Backlinko brand.
So automatically, Brian gets to backpack off of Neil’s authority, and Neil’s audience becomes Brian’s audience.
That’s endorsed traffic from one of the best in the business, which can then convert into email subscribers or even customers that Brian has direct access to.
Boy, was all that work Brian did worth it (in the long run).
That’s the power only ONE influencer can have on your business, when approached the right way.
As my buddy Dan says, you can literally build a 7-figure business with only 1-3 influencers.
And you want to do the same with your influencer marketing strategy.
Are you starting to understand why going deep with influencers is so important?
Part 3 – Bringing it all together and taking action
Now you understand why all this work is worth it.
As the famous saying goes:
“To strike oil, you can’t dig 100 holes, 1 foot deep. You have to dig 1 hole, 100 feet deep.” – Anonymous
Now you’re ready to put it into action.
Here’s what you want to do, step-by-step:
#1) Create your IVP document
You need to decide between Microsoft Office vs. Google Drive. This is important because you want your IVP and “D + VA” documents in the same server to stay organized.
For what it’s worth, I recommend Google Drive because it’s free and stored on the Cloud. But either will work.
For your IVP, you need a document. Either Microsoft Word of Google Docs.
Create these 5 sections in your IVP:
This is where you’re going to list out all the values that you find during your ressearch.
(For example: Content marketers value growth, freedom and ROI).
This is where you list out their job titles and roles. The stuff they do day-to-day.
(For example: Bloggers, marketing managers and business owners)
This is where you list out what kind of traits these people have.
(For example: Analytical, tech-savvy, personable).
This is where you list out what their goals are.
(For example: Content marketers want to use influencer marketing to grow their business).
5. “Goals and Values Distilled”
This is where you’re going to take the things you found the “Values” and “Goals” sections, and break them down to the core goals and values.
Out of all or so values and goals you find, boil them down into ONE goal and 4-5 values.
- (For example: Content marketers want to grow their business organically
- They care most about: Inbound leads, ROI, sustainability, efficiency, and growth)
#2) Create your “D + VA” spreadsheet.
For your “D + VA” spreadsheet, you can use either Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
You want to use the same server that you used to create your IVP, so that everything is stored in the same place.
Since you’re going to need a “D + VA” spreadsheet for each influencer, I think the easiest way to organize it is to create one workbook with multiple tabs.
You can then name each tab for the influencer or website, and alphabetize them.
Create 3 columns in your “D + VA” spreadsheet
This is where you’ll try to identify what their unique goals are.
(For example: Sujan just released a SaaS company, he probably wants feedback and early adapters).
2. Dialogue ideas
This is where you’ll identify what common interests you have with yiour influencer, and how you can develop rapport with them.
(For example: Sujan lives in Austin. I went to Austin once. Maybe I can ask him about the Austin Music Festival).
3. Value-Add ideas
This is where you’ll list your ideas for how you can add value to your influencer.
(For example: I bought Mailshake. Maybe I’ll use it a lot and keep track of all the feedback I have and send it to Sujan).
#3) Research your influencers one-by-one and populate your IVP and “D + VA” profiles simultaneously
Well, there’s no easy way to put it, but this a lot of work.
Basically what you’re doing here is taking all of the influencers you found from prospecting (I go into how to do in the the 4th tip of this post), and individually research each of them.
From the research you gather, you’ll be able to fill in your IVP and “D + VA” profiles simultaneously.
There’s no particular order you need to do this in, but here are the 3 essential tasks you must do:
First, you need to go to an influencer’s website and read 5 of their articles.
Second, you need to read their about page and homepage.
Third, you need to troll their social media channels.
From doing all this, you should be able to:
- 1) Understand each influencer on a personal level (Your D + VA spreadsheets).
- 2) But also see the patterns that all influencers have in common.
It would be well worth your time to create a swipe file for all these different ideas to improve your copywriting.
As I’ll get into later, it’s important to make your content “influencer friendly”, and having a spreadsheet of words/goals/wants for all your influencers open while you write helps you use copy that appeals to them.
This doesn’t just work for influencer marketing either.
If you do the research to understand what appeals to your customers as well, you’ll be able to create a swipe file of words/phrases you can insert into your content to appeal to them too.
3. Compile and score your list to optimize effectiveness
More upfront work here (sorry), but doing this work is what’s going to allow you to use your time most wisely and maximize results.
Without your master list and importance metrics in place, you’re building relationships with no sense of priority.
It’s also going to be complete chaos trying to execute.
Not doing this is a HUGE mistake, because we all have limited time and we want to get the most out of it.
Let’s get into it.
1. Compile a giant list of websites up front
This is Funnel #1, and you’ll want to create a spreadsheet for this.
The first part is to put together a massive list of influencers. Leave no stone unturned.
You want to compile a list comprised of your direct niche and your broad industry.
So if you have a blog about purses, you want to figure out all the purse bloggers, AND all the fashion bloggers.
It takes a LONG time to do this, but it makes your life sooooo much easier down the line.
Trust me on this 🙂
Some ways to find influencers include:
- – “Article friendly” Google search strings (this is by far the best).
- – Twitter search
- – Linkedin search
- – Facebook and Linkedin groups
- – Alltop
- – Buzzsumo (reverse engineer the sharers also)
- – Ahrefs Content Explorer (also reverse engineer the linkers).
- – And asking your audience who they read
Also, keep track of how you found these websites too.
(i.e. what Google search strings you used to find the websites) and record all the queries you used in a separate spreadsheet).
That way if you ever go back to find more websites with different queries, you don’t duplicate your work.
Also, if you delegate this task to a virtual assistant or an internal resource, it helps the team stay organized and accomplish more.
2. Find the Influencers
This is funnel #2, and you’ll also want to create a new spreadsheet for this.
In the last step, you compiled a list of websites that could potentially/link or share to your content.
Now you need to figure out who the actual people are who run those websites.
You don’t have to do these in any particular order, but these are the techniques you want to use to extract the right contacts from these websites:
#1) Linkedin Search
You essentially look for the bloggers, marketers, founders, etc at a certain website who has your audience.
You can either look at “See all employees at company X”:
Or just google search for a job title:
#2) The Website
Often times, the person who writes the article will be listed in an author bio at either the top of bottom of the post.
If not, you can usually go to the “About” page, the “Our Team” page, etc.
#3) Contact Finder Tools
This plays into the next step, and is probably the most scalable and most efficient method to find contacts.
Basically, you just want to purchase a few tools to find contact information for you.
And since you’re doing all this stuff at once, you don’t have to pay recurring monthly fees for all these tools.
Use each of the tools –> export them to spreadsheets –> combine the spreadsheets–> remove duplicates
Here are the tools I recommend. By using all of these, I almost guarantee you’ll find the right person (and their contact information):
Combined, these should do the job. If not, there’s dozens of other good softwares out there too.
Add all these to your spreadsheet, and then remove duplicates.
Now you’ve got a list of every single influencer in your niche and industry.
Now you’re ready to get their information.
3. Get their information
All of this stuff, you’re going to create columns for and add to your “Influencers” spreadsheet.
Here are the 8 columns you’ll want to populate in your spreadsheet:
- 1) Their name
- 2) Their email
- 3) Their social media
- 4) Their website
- 5) Their domain authority or Ahrefs Rank
- 6) Their email list size
- 7) Audience Responsiveness
- 8) Social Media Following
1, 2 and 3)
To find their name, email and social media, you should be able to use the tools/methods I mentioned back in step 2.
However, some social media information you’re going to have to find manually.
Usually, by doing a Google search or by looking at their about page or author profile, you can find their Twitter and Linkedin.
Their website you collected in step 1.
To find their Domain Authority, you can use either Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs.
You can also use Ahrefs Rank as a good metric rather than Domain domain authority, though, because domain authority is on such a small scale.
Email list sizecan be hard to find, but usually by probing the site you’ll can find it.
Often times, influencers will use things like: “Join 300,000 other marketers” as social proof to convince people to sign up for newsletters.
This is just a simple “Yes” or “No” answer.
Audience responsiveness will be based on two things:
Comments and social shares.
Finding social media following is pretty simple, considering it’s usually public information.
Twitter is public, Linkedin is public, and Pinterest is public. Same with Facebook pages.
However, keep in mind that social media following is kind of a vanity metric.
Well, Facebook for example only lets you reach about 10% of your audience organically. Even though they are your fans, Facebook won’t let you access them very often. So usually you have to PAY to get in front of your fans.
It sucks, I know.
And the rest of the social media algorithms are designed that way too.
Not only is it harder to reach people, but email marketing is SIGNIFICANTLY more effective than social media marketing.
- 1. People are more responsive to email (better open rates, etc).
- 2. Email is where business goes down, while social media is where people go to view funny memes.
With that said, don’t discount it completely.
Multiple traffic channels is how you maximize the number of eyeballs to your content.
4. Filter down & Prioritize
Using the information you’ve compiled from the previous three steps, you’ll have all the information you need to decide who is worth your limited time.
When it comes down to it, there are going to be some people that you want to interact with more than others.
Some people really don’t care about building a relationship, aren’t that invested, and just want to pay the bills.
Others have a way bigger or more interactive following than the rest, and they can help you grow 10x or 100x compared to the other influencers.
Because relationship building does take a good amount of time, I recommend you create different pools based on your goals, and segment them by different spreadsheets.
Segment the top 10 from everyone else.
Segment the next top 50 from everyone else.
Segment the next top 100 from everyone else, etc.
This way when you go to do your influencer outreach, you’ll be able to prioritize you efforts by pool.
For example, if you get done with your weekly follow up for the first 10, move onto the next 10, then the next 10, and so on.
How to prioritize your influencers:
Metrics 5-8 (above) you can use to determine an influencer’s priority.
They’re your “importance metrics”.
Depending on what your goals are, some you want to give more weight to than others.
For example, if you want SEO value to your marketing article, a link from Search Engine Land is going to carry more weight than a link from Backlinko.
However if you want authority, email subscribers, sales, etc. then a link from Brian Dean carries much moire weight. He gets like 600 comments and 4000 social shares per article…
..In fact, since he’s such a respected individual in the field, the link may turn into multiple links because of association, which might end up being better for SEO at the end of the day.
This is sounds more technical than it actually is, but essentially what you want to do here is build your own algorithm to rank your influencers.
Luckily, it will be MUCH easier than you think.
It’s kind of like Google’s algorithm, where Google assigns a certain percentage of weight between over 200 factors.
1.Your first step is to decide what your goals are, so you can assign an “importance score” to each importance metric.
2. Next, you need to assign an “Metric Importance Score” (MIS), based on your goals, to each metric.
Anything from 1 to 100 will be fine.
0 being the least important, 100 being the most important.
So if SEO is your goal, then you’d give a higher “Metric Importance Score” to the domain authority metric.
But if increasing your social media following is your goal, you’d give a higher “Metric Importance Score” to social media following.
Create a column for this.
3. After that, you want to convert metrics 5-8 into common values.
This is the only tricky part.
Domain Authority/Domain Rating is on a scale from 1-100, but someone can have 400,000 social media followers.
These metrics aren’t on the same scale.
This means that you’d arrange your numbers into comparable values.
How do you do it?
You put them all on a similar scale, such as 1 to 1000, and rank them relative to each other.
4. Create your “Common Scale Scores” (CSS’s)
Create a column for this.
What you’re doing here is taking all the metrics between all your influencers, comparing them to each other, and assisnging a relative score.
Let me explain:
If you find a site that has an Ahrefs domain rating of 55, which is better than 95% of the other influencers you’re targeting, you want to give it a score of 95.
So if I want to assign it in a scale of 1-1000, I’d give it a score of 9500.
And if someone has a Twitter following of 25,000, which is better than 75% of the other influencers you’re targeting, you want to give it a score of 75.
So if I want to assign it in a scale of 1-1000, I’d give it a score of 7500.
5. Create your “Ultimate Metric Scores” (UMS’s).
Create a column for this.
You’re essentially combining the importance score and the influencers’ rankings for those metrics.
You’ll end up with a specific score for each importance metric, which you’ll pool together to create an “Ultimate Score” for each influencer.
Multiply your “Metric Importance Scores” (MIS’s) by their corresponding Common Scale Scores (CSS’s).
Do this for every single “Importance Metric”, so that you can have an “Ultimate Metric Score” for each.
6. Create your “Ultimate Scores” (US’s) for each influencer.
Create a column for this.
You combine all of the “Ultimate Metric Scores” from step 5, and turn them into a final “Ultimate Score for each influencer.
Just add up all the “Metric Importance Scores” to come up with your “Ultimate Score”.
7. Sort from highest to smallest.
By now, you should have an “Ultimate Score” for each influencer on your list.
The higher the “Ultimate Score” for an influencer, the better they’ll be able to help you achieve your goals.
Since all this information should be either on Google Sheets or an Excel Spreadsheet, you can just sort your “Ultimate Scores” column in order from highest to largest.
The end product will all your influencers, organized from most important to least important, so you can prioritize who you spend time with.
4. Create your killer organization system to manage your relationships
I’m not going to lie to you:
This can be pretty challenging, and there’s no turnkey solution as everyone organizes their “Monkey Mind” differently.
But setting up an accountability system to manage and execute your relationship building is something you only have to do once that will pay off for ages.
Successful outreach requires strict discipline and execution…
And without an organization system, you’ll have to keep track of more things in your head, which destroys productivity and wastes time and mental willpower that you could be spending on executing your goals.
Probably the hardest part of doing outreach the RIGHT way is the fact that you need to take massive action, but in a really personalized way that adds value to the other person most of the time.
Sending link building emails is easy to keep organized since there’s no empathy to it.
But keeping track of relationships with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people, and keeping it genuine, is a whole different beast entirely.
If you want to maintain a 4:1 give-to-ask ratio for example, you need to keep track of how many give’s you have and how many asks you have for each person.
You also need to make sure you’re not sending someone the same stuff multiple times.
This can be really hard to manage, but perhaps the defining element in a good influencer marketing strategy.
Why is this so important?
It takes months and months to build up genuine relationships.
These are relationships that can help your blog grow for the next 10 years, sending you recurring shares and links.
This is essential.
In fact, in the timeline section of the business plan I put together for my blog:
I’m not even planning to write/promote any content until the 5th month because I want to build up so much goodwill with influencers and my community prior to launch.
Short term I’m going to starve, but long term this is the way to play it.
But if I don’t keep track of these people and forget to keep sending them value, I’ll lose touch with them and all that compounded goodwill I’ve been building up to leverage, will be all for nothing.
I’m always trying to improve my organization, so I don’t want to pretend like I can give you some turnkey organization system…
but what I will do is show give you some recommended reading and the process & tools I use to stay organized and moving forward.
This way you can build a system that works for you 🙂
Here are my favorite organization articles:
- – How to Use Excel and Google Sheets to Organize Your Marketing Efforts by Neil Patel
- – My Personal Organization System for Productivity & Time Management by Noah Kagan
- – 5 Changes I Made to My Work Schedule That Made Me 2.66 Times More Productive by Sujan Patel
- – The Zero Based Calendar: Quit screwing off and get more done by Bryan Harris
Google Sheets: Excel spreadsheets is a far superior tool functionality wise, but the big problem is that it’s not on the cloud, so I can only access it from one computer. So Google sheets for the win.
Google Sheets is always my homebase. I have multiple folders and multiple spreadsheets.
Typically, I have one master spreadsheet with everything on it. This could be where I keep all my contacts and websites, without any filtering, and it may be thousands of rows long.
Next, I try to figure out how I can filter things down and group them into different spreadsheets so they’re easier to manage.
For example, if there are 10 influencers I REALLY want to be on top of, I’ll create a separate spreadsheet for them under a folder.
I also LOVE to use colors to keep highlight my different stuff and keep it organized. A great way to keep track of these colors is to create a build the key in the first row or two and then freeze those rows so they follow you as you scroll.
Where Google Sheets really comes in handy is the functions you can write and conditional formatting.
Basically, you can automatically program a cell to highlight red (or whatever color of your choosing) if you haven’t followed up in a week (or whatever timeframe of your choosing).
Lastly, I use the remaining columns to keep track of my relationship notes.
Gsuite (by Google): Gmail has the best interface in my opinion. Really good search functionality & filter abilities.
Also because…well, it’s Google.
They use AI for their spam filters for Heaven’s sake!
Google has the best in the world, and when it comes to something as important as email, I feel confident trusting Google.
Gsuite has a lot of great organization tools also.
To be honest, I haven’t gotten into it too much but the most useful thing I’ve found is putting all mail from influencers into a different folder. This way, I can keep emails from subscribers separate from influencer emails.
For example if I had 1000 influencers I wanted to keep a laser focus on, I could create a new folder for them and keep all my other emails separate.
You can also do everything Google does that Mailshake can, but it’s really quite confusing and not very intuitive at all.
Mailshake: I’ve tried 3 different email outreach tools, and I couldn’t even figure out how to set up a drip sequence on them.
But Mailshake is simple, which is why I use it.
I didn’t even need a call with support like I did with the other softwares I tested.
I was able to figure it out, and so were my colleagues when I gave it to them.
The key is to not get caught in the automation paradox, where you template everything (or even some of it) and use the field automations in the name field as an excuse for “personalization”.
People sniff out automated emails like bloodhounds.
Depending on how long term of an approach you’re trying to take, you’re best off going all in and just writing your emails all manually, as every person is ever so slightly different and requires little nuances for them to feel like you actually know them.
THAT is how you get their real attention, which will result in much better response rates.
What I do is that I write every single word within Mailshake manually, and then use the drip sequence through Mailshake to automate the follow up. What’s nice is that it gives you an option to not send unless they open or respond to the email.
Any responses I recieve from outreach, though, I go back and use Gsuite.
Mailshake can be used as an extra element to keep things organized, but honestly I prefer to just stick with Google sheets.
I like to remove as many variables as possible when it comes to organization, and because of Google Sheet’s linear row structure, it offers additional organization benefits that CRM’s simply cannot offer.
From there, I can break things into more digestible chunks and schedule them into my calendar.
I primarily use Mailshake to 1) Streamline my mailing efforts without being spammy 2) Monitor my open and reply rates to iterate and optimize my outreach.
Draw.io: I create month-by-month flow charts to help me visualize what broad tasks I need to do. Basically a to-do list, but one that’s step-by-step and visualized.
It synches with Google Drive so you can have it right in your dashboard.
Google Calendar: Once I have my flowchart and Excel spreadsheets filled out, I use a calendar system to schedule all my tasks into my calendar.
I’m not one of those “schedule every 5 minutes of my day” people, but I think time chunking is a good compromise.
1-5 tasks per day (I prefer 3) should be plenty, as fewer tasks will help you go deep in each task and not divide your attention so you can make REAL progress.
Scheduling your tasks in a certain order to follow is key to helping you execute.
Google Calendar is also on the cloud which is essential.
5. Trade up the chain to compound your amplification
This tip also came from my buddy Daniel Daines-Hutt.
It also build on a concept, which Brian Dean teaches in SEO That Works, called the “Eyeball Phase”, which is the processor getting in front of your influencer on an organic level prior to pitching them.
Also, Chase Reiner helped me realize how important Cialdini’s 6 principles are towards succeeding in marketing, which are abundantly present in this strategy.
Let me explain how this works with a cool metaphor:
Ever heard of the childhood game “Bigger and Better“?
If not, here’s the basic idea:
You start with something small like a paperclip, and go door-to-door to all your neighbors’ houses trying to trade your item for something “bigger and better”.
So you might trade a paperclip for a pencil, and a pencil for a ruler, and a ruler for a coffee mug, and so on until you end up with something crazy like a washing machine or a car.
It sounds like a pipedream, but it actually does work.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, because you want to leverage the same strategy when building relationships with influencers.
Your job is to create a ripple effect so large, that when you email your influencer your content, they already view you and your content as legitimate.
Bottom line, it’s pretty hard get Elon Musk to share your article about space travel from the start.
But if you trade up the chain to create a ripple effect to get in front of him, and use the Connection Tree Technique (as Derek Halpern would say), your odds of success are much better.
Whatever you can do to get on an influential person’s radar, provide social proof, gain their trust and look authoritative beforehand you want to do.
Do this, and you’ve removed any psychological obstacles preventing your influencer from sharing your content, as my friend Neil Sheith would say.
And it’s not limited to geographical locations, either.
To give you an example, here’s what Daniel teaches:
1) Go viral on the forums.
2) Use your forum leverage to guest post on smaller sites
3) Use that leverage guest post on a little bit bigger sites
4) Use that leverage to post on bigger sites like Forbes and so on.
Then by the time I go to do broken link building, resource page link building, etc – hopefully they’ve heard of my content.
If not, I’ve got the badges to prove why they should.
This is HUGE.
You’re leveraging the Compound Effect to amplify your content.
Why does this work and why is it important?
Well people don’t really talk about this (most marketing content today is about quick fix little hacks), but a large part of getting shares and links has to do with your reputation.
Psychological principles – such as trust, social proof and authority, play a bigger roll than most people realize.
All of these psychological principles become established when you trade up the chain.
Before I move onto the next principle, know this:
It’s because of building on psychological principles and trading up the chain that free user platforms have achieved the scale they have:
Look at Facebook:
Did you join Facebook because you found it through a Google search?
No. You joined it because your one friend, then another (Social proof) used it too, which put it on your radar organically.
Did you join Snapchat because you were searching the App Store for a new way to communicate with your friends?
No. The cool kids were using it (Authority), so you did too.
Why did I choose Gsuite from Google to host my email instead of cheaper services like Dreamhost or Secant?
Because I trust that Google knows what the heck they’re doing.
6. Leverage the “Ultimate Warm Up”
Here’s the deal:
Email outreach is like sales, and sales is a numbers game.
Not only does “warming up” you influencer improve your open rates and response rates, but it also makes you more likable.
Because you’re spending the time to interact with influencers on other channels (social) prior to interacting with them through their most precious communication channel (their email).
So what is “warm up”?
Warming somebody up is the process of interacting with someone on social so you can get on their radar prior to sending them an email.
Any decent marketer already does this.
So how can you stand out?
The answer: The Ultimate Warm Up Technique.
It works like this:
7. NEVER Publish or Promote Garbage
Your job, when pitching ANYTHING to an influencer, is to blow their socks off with your content.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:
A lot of succeeding with influencers is psychological.
I hate to throw around terms like “branding”, because they’re so overused in the marketing world by so called “experts”, but it’s important.
You need to create an aura of perceived value.
You need to look like an authority.
You need to have a fiend-like following.
People need to trust you.
And you have to have an element of scarcity about you.
Once reason why I value Brian Dean more than Neil Patel, even though Neil Patel is probably a more sophisticated marketer, is that Brian has about 40 posts and Neil has thousands.
Some of this is the principle of scarcity at play, no doubt.
Neil is probably generating A LOT more sales and getting A LOT more traffic because of this, but (and I hate to say it), it damages his brand.
When sends a new article in his newsletter every few days or so…yeah, sometimes I read it.
But when I get an email from Brian Dean?
I open and read it every. single. time.
This example may not directly be directly about influencer marketing, but I want you to understand just how important these psychological factors come into play.
And it starts with NEVER publishing and promoting garbage.
Because if you do, regardless of how tactical and strategic you are with influencers, you’ve just ruined everything.
This is why Apple is the most valuable company in the world (and why I just bought an Apple laptop):
The perceived value of their products beats anything else on the market.
Yes, you need to promote like crazy.
But if you promote crap, not only will your crap not succeed, but it will decimate all the psychological factors that made your brand what it is today.
8. In every relationship, remember Cialdini’s 6 Principles
I know, I know…I’ve referenced Cialdini’s 6 A LOT in this post.
But it’s so important, I need to include all these principles as it’s own influencer marketing strategy tip.
In fact, Cialdini’s 6 are baked into every single influencer marketing principle and strategy I’ve outlined in this post.
They’re the core foundation of everything you do.
Chase Reiner gave me this advice by the way.
Let’s get into it…
At the end of the day your job is to persuade people to want to help you.
You’re not going to have any success at all without being able to persuade your audience or influencers.
Fortunately for you, there’s no better set of cold, standards to live by than Cialdini’s 6.
So here they are:
Why do I keep telling you to add value to people?
because people they’ll feel obligated to give value back to you via sharing your content.
That’s what reciprocity is: the idea that humans want to help those who helped them.
People want to help people that they like.
By starting a dialogue, your influencers will like you.
By adding value to them, your influencers will like you even more.
It’s that simple.
This is also why you don’t want to publish too much content, and thus promote it too much (as I explained in Prciniple #7 of this post), because you burn bridges and they start to not like you.
Because they’ll start to feel used.
3) Commitment and Consistency
There’s no doubt about it:
There’s a lot of flakes in the world, and it’s hard to find someone you can count on.
If you don’t periodically follow up with a client, they’re not going to think you’re there for them.
Same goes for influencers:
If you don’t keep engaging with them and continue to add value to them, not only are they going to forget about you, but they’ll think:
“Ehh, another flake. This guy/girl isn’t serious, therefore I shouldn’t take them seriously”.
This is why I advocate for weekly follow up when starting to engage with influencers, and gradually tapering off on the frequency (without disappearing completely).
Scarcity is EXTREMELY powerful, but it needs to be used the right way.
You can’t just email someone and say:
“Respond to my email QUICK! I’m only doing 10 guest posts this month”.
Sure, you’re leveraging scarcity, but you look like an ass.
You have to be much more strategic than that.
A perfect example of scarcity used correctly is Backlinko.
Brian Dean has about 40 blog posts published in total, and has the #6,407 website in the world (and climbing).
Neil Patel, on the other hand, has almost 4000 posts published which is the #4,431 website in the world.
Don’t get me wrong:
Both of these guys are absolute bosses, and Neil probably has waaaaay more traffic and sales than Brian because he puts out so much more content.
Neil also publishes super high quality stuff.
But here’s the difference:
When I get Neil’s newsletter about an article he just wrote, sometimes I open it, and sometimes I don’t.
But when I get an email from Brian Dean?
I open and read it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
There’s not a single post of his that I haven’t read.
And that increases Brian’s percieved value in my mind for every one of his articles.
And you want to do the same when it comes to influencers.
Again, this isn’t really something you can “say” in an email.
I mean you can, and it can definitely work when you offer someone exclusive privilages, but you also run the risk of looking like a sleasy salesman.
Which I think is a bad idea.
Rather, make it psychological.
Only promote a few, “blow their socks off” type of content to influencers.
They’ll view your content as scarce and think of you as THE go-to expert.
There’s no question that people want to share stuff that comes from an authority.
Same with buying stuff. People are always inclined to buy the trusted brand.
1) They know it’s credible
2) It adds to their “social capital” by association, tying back to The Halo Effect.
This is why “Trading up the chain” is so important.
You get on people’s radar organically, which is THE best way to make an impression to an influencer (other than a referral) + you can leverage your social proof when you pitch them.
Authority goes beyond trading up the chain too.
If you publish really good, long and well designed content, you look authoritative too.
Again, this stuff is psychological “branding” kind of stuff that you can’t really say to anyone.
It needs to be imprinted in their minds.
6) Social Proof
I’ve mentioned this already, and you’ll probably notice by now a lot of Cialdini’s 6 principles play on each other.
9. Be Brief & Clear
According to Fractl, journalists want pitches to be 100-200 words.
However, I think this is wrong.
Because I think it should be even shorter than that.
100-200 word emails are fine once you’ve established a relationship with an influential person…
…But early in the relationship (where you should be sending them dialogue and value), I think around 50 characters is PLENTY.
As my friend Richardo Martinez would say:
“Emails never make someone’s life easier.
Whenever possible, I try to limit how much attention people need to spend on me”
And it’s true.
Do you know how much internet usage has grown since 2000?
About 1000% (and growing).
Do you know how much Google’s index has grown since 2000?
About 130,000% (And growing)
Between Facebook, email, and everything else that makes up today’s internet – attention is THE greatest commodity avaiable.
It’s because of attention why Facebook, Youtube Instagram, Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Linkedin and more are all billion dollar powerhouses.
And you need to realize how precious someone’s attention is when you email them.
You’re asking them to NOT be looking at cute cat videos or spending time with their family.
Add action steps.
10. Don’t be weird
SECTION 2: TACTICS
10. Use Forums to Start a Dialogue
I learned this technique from Dmitry Dragilev.
I know what you’re thinking: Forums are so 1995.
But the truth is, that couldn’t be more wrong.
Forums are the place your audience goes when they can’t find the answers they’re looking for on search engines, which makes it a watering hole for your target audience.
And forums are platforms that have stood the test of time and are reliable, unlike something like Google+ pages.
The best part?
It’s where your influencers often hang out too.
Here’s Gary Vaynerchuk (#1 top mentioned marketer in the world) on Medium…
Tim Ferriss (#2 top mentioned marketer in the world) on Quora…
And Seth Godin (#9 most mentioned marketer in the world) on Reddit…
All of these insanely influential people hang out on these platforms, and you can start a conversation with them through these forum communities.
It’s actually one of the first emails you can send them.
When using forums for influencer marketing, keep in mind that the goal is to add value to their life.
As I’ll talk more about later in this post, you’ll learn how to research an influencer to figure out what kind of value they’re after, so you can align your forum email to appeal to that value.
Here’s how to get started:
Step 1) Research the best forum opportunities
There are niche specific forums, and then there are bigger forums.
So for marketing, a couple examples of niche specific forums would Warrior Forum or Growth Hackers.
These are extremely targeted and everyone here is your audience.
It’s also important to keep in mind with forums there are different levels of concentration.
For example: At the top you’ve got the general industry of “business”, then you’ve got “marketing” which is a sub-section of business, then you’ve got something like “email marketing” or “SEO” which are even more specific sub sections of marketing.
On the other hand, there’s bigger forums like Reddit or Quora which have a much larger user base, but all these users are not necessarily your audience/influencers.
Now obviously, you want to test both forum types to see which resonates best with influencers in your industry.
But to start I recommend Quora, Reddit or Medium…
…At least with influencer interaction – whereas niche specific forums are usually better for audience interaction.
Simply because an influencer is more likely to know about, and thus trust a bigger site.
Which also means that they’re more likely to have an account for that forum and will actually benefit from + engage with what you send them.
Either way, you still want to poke around all the different forums and see which works best with influencer interaction.
Step 2) Compile a list of thread opportunities
Once you have identified the forum(s) your influencer would benefit from engaging in, you want to start searching for threads that you can pull influencers into.
Create a spreadsheet for all the good thread opportunities you find, then copy & paste the URL’s of all the best discussions into the spreadsheet as you go.
You can do this all manually, but I highly recommend Just Reach Out as a great way to streamline the process. Basically you type in a keyword and it gives you all the relevant threads to that keyword.
justreachout.io is a HUGE time saver, but it does cost money.
Step 3) Email the influencer about a thread that’s relevant to them.
Basically, once you find a really good thread you think would be relevant to the influencer and something they’d benefit from, just shoot them a quick email and tell them to check it out.
Tell them you’d love to see them contribute to the discussion because you value their thoughts.
You can also answer contribute and tell the influencer that you tried to contribute, but don’t think you did it justice.
If you really crank out an awesome answer, and your influencer sees that, this has ancillary benefits and your influencer will respect you.
It also can’t hurt if you subtly make it clear how it would benefit them.
This is not salesy and a great way to build an email thread with someone.
Step 4) Follow up (if necessary)
Following up is one of those controversial things people don’t want to do, but sending one or even two follow up’s in outreach is totally fine if what you’re sending is valuable to them.
Again, don’t want this to be a sales pitch or anything, but Mailshake helps streamline this process.
11. Give feedback on their products or services
This isn’t essential or neccessarily applicable to your industry, but it’s one of the most powerful – maybe the most powerful – influencer marketing strategies out there.
While unintentional, this is the exact method I’ve used to start conversations and build relationships with some of the best marketers out there.
Our friend, Sujan Patel:
and Neil Patel:
And make no mistake:
These guys do not mess around…
They’re some of the most sought after marketers in the entire world, with millions and millions of followers, and get hundreds and even thousands of email EVERY SINGLE DAY.
But because I bought their product THEN took the time to help them make it better, they made the time to respond.
And because of the straight up value I’ve added to them, I can ask them questions about marketing whenever I want and they usually respond FOR FREE.
(What these guys charge for consulting is not cheap).
And you can do the same thing to grow your blog.
Pretty sweet right?
Needless to say this is one of the more expensive approaches out there, and something that should probably only be used for the Tier 1 influencers, but sometimes necessary to get your foot in the door.
Whatever you can do to point out little tweaks, and give GENUINELY helpful feedback, you should definitely do because it will make their life easier and their revenue stream that much more sustainable.
Here’s how to get started:
- 1) Find out whether they have a product/service of some sort.
This could be an E-book, certification program, events, consulting service…really anything they generate revenue from or put a lot of work into.
You really just have to probe their websites one-by-one and see if they have anything you can buy
2) Purchase that product/service
Uhh, not much explainer needed here 🙂
3) Write them ONE killer email compiling a ton of different feedback
So just a few weeks ago, I emailed Sujan and gave him some feedback about Mailshake.
I sent him 3 different emails thinking I was being awesome, but instead I added to the list of Sujan’s already 600+ daily emails.
So while he appreciated it, he said something along the lines of “Thanks for the feedback! Please send all in one email next time :-)”.
And that’s an important lesson: when you’re emailing busy people and trying to add value, really knock it out of the park but remember that your goal is to make their life easier – not harder.
12. Reduce the errors on their website
Appealing to a similar sentiment as found in strategy #4, people also want their website to be as good as possible too.
Well in today’s digital age, your website is pretty much your headquarters, and by far the #1 thing that represents your brand.
Not Yellow Pages, but your website.
Unless you’re Nike and put out tons of commercials, people are probably going to remember you from your website.
So if you’ve got a typo or slow loading website for example, you’re going to lose credibility and people won’t trust you as much.
There’s all kinds of things you can do to point out errors on someone’s website – like I’ve even recommended to Brian Dean to update his terms and conditions page – but the key is this:
Don’t be too nitpicky.
If you point out small little imperfections that don’t really matter or add value, people can definitely find it annoying, take it as criticism, and even get offended.
Just make sure what you send is of value, add a “Hope that helps :-)” at the end of your emails, and you’ll be fine.
Here are three tactics that are scalable and repeatable:
1. Broken links.
First, plug their website into a free broken link checker tool.
There’s tons of them out there, just Google it.
You can also use something like Ahrefs if you have a subscription.
Next, send them an email with 2-3 few broken links.
Again, you’re here to add value to them, so you don’t want to flood their inbox with 5000 broken link emails.
Instead, put multiple broken links into one email.
Give them some replacement links if possible, but don’t include your page as a replacement link.
Also, try to use well-known sites they’re familar with like Forbes or New York Times as familiarity = trust.
2. Spelling and Grammer mistakes.
Blog posts are where you can find these in high volume.
First, go to their blog section and open a bunch of different articles in new tabs.
This will streamline your process because you’ll have several windows open, each with a different blog post to check in case the previous one contained for spelling or grammer errors.
Second, press “Ctrl + A” to select the entire text of the blog post.
Third, copy and paste the selected text into Microsoft Word or Google Docs and check for spelling or grammer mistakes.
Record any errors your find.
Fourth, send them an email with any mistakes you found.
3. Google Pagespeed insights.
Google Pagespeed insights is a free tool by Google that lets you plug in a website and figure out if there are general issues with the website.
First, head over to Page Speed Insights and plug in your influencer’s URL into the Analyzer.
Second, run the report and copy the URL of the report.
Third, email your influencer the link to the report.
The key here is not to come off as being some guy trying to sell them website services, as that’s how it can be interpreted.
Be casual and say something like “I’m not an expert on this, but thought you might find useful. Hope that helps!”.
13. Interview them on your Podcast to help your influencer get exposure
So this isn’t something you want to do right off the bat, since it’s kind of an ask and takes up their time.
This influencer marketing strategy works well it’s good for their brand by leveraging a psychological principle known as the Halo Effect.
When you put someone in front of your audience, who trusts you, you automatically trust the other people they assocate with.
Similar to the Brian Dean + Neil Patel example I gave earlier.
For example, Brian Dean the person who got me interested in marketing. He was the first person I read, and I think he’s an extremely brilliant marketer.
So I shot him an email asking some other authors he recommends.
I also paid close attention to who he associated himself with.
So I ended up with a list of people like Sujan, Noah Kagan, Bryan Harris, Peep Laja, Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi & Jon Morrow and now I read all their stuff too.
To tell you the truth, I don’t have a podcast yet and I don’t know much about it, so you shouldn’t listen to me for advice.
However, here is some advice from some of the best podcasters in the business:
- – Pat Flynn: How to Start a Podcast: Pat’s Complete Step-By-Step Podcasting Tutorial
- – John Lee Dumas: How to Podcast: The Ultimate Guide to Podcasting.
- – Noah Kagan: Growing a Podcast from 0-10K Downloads in 1 Month: Noah Kagan Edition
- – Tim Ferriss: How I Built a #1-Ranked Podcast With 60M+ Downloads
14. Use the “Applesauce Technique”
The Applesauce technique is a term coined by Brian Dean in module 3 of his link building course, SEO That Works.
The concept is this:
Add applesauce to your food, and it instantly makes your food better.
So take that kind of methodology and apply it to your influencer’s blog post.
For example, you might create a custom image for them explaining some data that they included in their post. And boom, you just improved their post by making it more visually appealing, memorable and easier to understand.
Who wouldn’t want a free custom image that helps their blog post?
What Brian teaches is to give them something like this that improves their post in exchange for a link.
But I also think this technique is great for relationship building too.
In other words, just send it to them and not ask for anything rather than trying to get a link out of it.
Does it work for getting some quick backlinks? Absolutely.
But can you burn your bridges by asking for a backlink without building a relationship first? Also yes.
That’s why I recommend using the Applesauce Technique, not as a link building method, but as a relationship building method at first.
Afterall, if done right, with a gentle push these influencers will start linking to you naturally and link building tactics don’t need to be used with them.
You essentially just need to find some way you could upgrade their post, and create that upgrade for them.
Since there’s so many different things you can do, the Applesauce Technique example I’m going to use here is me creating a custom image through Canva.
Let’s say I have a real estate blog.
Step 1: Find something that could be improved in a post
You can either go through their blog posts manually or use advanced query operators in Google.
Here’s the one I used to find the example below:
You can do the same thing with an influencer’s individual site if you want to do influencer specific Applesauce Technique building. Just use the [site:theirwebsite.com] query operator if you
Okay, so here’s a post I found from Trulia that is mentioning a bunch of statistics. You can easily make a custom graph in Canva FOR FREE within minutes to add some visual appeal to help data stick out.
Data is money in the blogging world after all.
2) Make the visualization
Then I head over to Canva and makea custom designed data visualizaiton in minutes:
3) Send them an email with the Applesauce
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:
The key here is to NOT ASK FOR ANYTHING.
Just send them an email and say something along the lines of:
- Hey NAME,
Great post about real estate prices. There was some really good data in there.
Since I like your writing so much, I decided to make a custom graph of the data for you to help the data stand out a little more.
No need to respond since I know you’re busy – I’m just a fan trying to help out 🙂
- Kind Regards,
15. Send them quotes and data
This is something you can use right off the bat. It can be one of your first emails to an influencer.
Why does this work so well?
Writers are ALWAYS looking for other sources to add credibility to their posts.
Credibility = quotes and data.
Actually. If you add quotes or data to your post, people take you more seriously.
So bloggers always are on the lookout for them so they can back up what they write.
But here’s the key:
Don’t send them YOUR quotes/data though.
Instead, send them quotes/data from someone they would know.
For example, if they’re a digital marketer:
Or if you’re going to send from publications, send quotes/data from the top marketing websites like Search Engine Journal, Hubspot or Kissmetrics.
Or even something from bigger sites like Forbes or Huffington Post works really great also.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Go through some of their recent articles and find a place where a where a quote or data would add value.
For example, if they write an article about how much more effective organic search engine traffic is than PPC, you could send them this data from Wordstream that shows the average PPC click through rate is only 1.91%
Or if they talk about how important it is to promote your content, send them this quote from Brian Dean:
2. Send them an email with the quote or data
Something like this should work fine:
- Hey NAME,
Just read your article about how important content promotion is.
Couldn’t agree more. I even read somewhere that Google’s index has increased by 130,000x since 2000. Crazy right?
Anyways, found this quote from Brian Dean over at Backlinko that I thought you might appreciate. It’s all about how important promoting your content is and could even make a good addition to your post:
Here’s the brutal truth about SEO:
There are WAY too many people in internet marketing today that think “great content” is enough.
They say, “if I publish great content, Google will rank me”.
If only it were that easy…
If you’re serious about generating high quality links, you need to be very systematic with how you create and promote your content.
Otherwise you’re taking the “cooked spaghetti approach”: throwing a bunch of stuff against a wall and hoping something sticks.
Hope that helps, and keep up the great work!
16. Leverage their social communities to interact for pre-warm up
This is an epicly great tip from my friend, Andrew Holland.
I’ve met soooo many talented marketers through Facebook marketing groups, and if I ever did want to release a marketing blog I’ve got maybe 100 connections I could leverage immediately because of it.
There’s two HUGE reasons this works so well:
1) It opens up the DM – A way more casual communication channel than email & something that gets a way higher response rate (especially Facebook messenger).
2) You get to warm them up TWICE. First, through the communities you belong in together. Second, when you share and comment on their blog posts (more on this later).
It’s basically like a warm up within a warm up:
Andrew has even used this strategy to get in touch with people like Neil Patel, and it’s work really well for his clients’ outreach too.
Here’s how to do it…
17. Give Them Lots of Exposure & Make them Look Good
So this is pretty standard, but if you do this RIGHT it can make a huge difference.
So you’ve probably heard of “warming up” an influencer, right?
If not, it’s the idea of sharing their stuff on social so that they’re familiar with you prior to you emailing them.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Thing is, you want to interact with them like 10 times on social and keep it coming.
You also want to link to them in your articles, forum posts, etc which also makes them look good in front of an audience other than your own.
Not only is this a good way to start a conversation, but in all likely-hood you’re going to send them some traffic too which is a great way to add value to them.
Who doesn’t like free traffic, right?
Here’s what to do:
#1) Queue up several social media automations
Twitter is GREAT for this.
Okay if you share 10 different articles from an influencer, with 10 different custom messages, and tag them in it – they’re going to remember you are 99% of the time.
Obviously this won’t work as well for someone like Justin Beiber or Barrack Obama who have tens of millions of followers, but for a blogger you’ll definitely get on their radar 99% of the time.
Actually read the article then write an awesome headline that talks about an interesting point the article made.
Rather than “Great read. Thanks @InfluencerTwitterProfile”
Say something like “Interesting point about X. What do you think will happen with Y? @InfluencerTwitterProfile”
Actually start a conversation over social.
You can use Buffer or Hootsuite to queue up automations.
Share their stuff once or twice per week.
#2) Link to them
Once you’ve interacted on social about 8 times, you’ve warmed them up and they’re ready to be emailed.
But again, you’re not pitching these people.
Rather, this is just one type of value-add email you can use:
“Hey I answered this question on this forum and tagged you in it. Great resource. Any insight?”
“Hey I mentioned your blog post in my article. Thought I’d reach out and see if you wanted to add some context”.
These kind of emails work really well for two reasons:
- 1) You’re linking to their stuff and they appreciate it
- 2) You’re getting them involved (more on this later).
18. Make Introductions and Network
Everybody knows the saying “It isn’t what you know, but who you know”.
I slightly disagree, because if you don’t know anything you’re just an idiot, but having a strong network can catapolt your success and open tons of new doors.
Networking isn’t limited to finding a job – it’s actually a really effective influencer marketing strategy.
For example, I know Derek Halpern spends a good amount on Facebook ads, so I introduced him to my buddy Dan who specializes in retargeting.
And one of my mentors, Dmitry (who I mentioned earlier), I introduced to my brother-in-law and now my brother in law is one of Dmitry’s clients!
19. Use Your Skills to Help them Out
If you have any skills that your influencer lacks (for most of you it’s probably marketing related), you can use those skills to help your influencer.
You want to do it for free.
And you don’t want to come off as some salesman trying to earn their business.
This approach can be EXTREMELY effective, but you have to be careful as offering someone “free help” can make people feel jaded.
Kind of like the podcast tactic I gave you earlier, this is a value-add that you kind of have to earn if that makes sense.
You need to already have a relationship somewhat established, because if you don’t and you pitch them “free help” they’re going to think you’re trying to sell them something.
Aside from having a dialogue established, you also want to be very casual in your approach, as speaking in professional language will also make them think you’re trying to sell them something.
Here’s an example of what I mean by “casual”:
How’s NYC? Did you see that article from Sujan Patel about the Hummingbird algo update?
Was looking at your site and noticed you don’t have an email marketing lead capture in place…Definitely something you should check out – it will help you get more (insert what they care about).
I’ve actually done it a couple times and I got 34% more sales.
Would be happy to show you the ropes, as it can be complicated starting from scratch if you’re not super familiar with email marketing.
Don’t need any money or anything, just wanted to help out a friend 🙂
The email isn’t perfectly optimized yet, but you get the idea.
It’s casual and friendly and isn’t awkward or pushy.
Talk to them like you would talk to an actual friend.
You can help them with web design, conversion rate optimization, editing their posts, etc.
Just make sure that you don’t charge them for it as that defeats the purpose.
20. Get them Involved
This strategy is what will help your post actually get shared and links.
It’s commonly referred to as “Content Pre-launch”.
Notice how I’ve been linking out to a bunch of people like Seth Godin, Neil Patel, Brian Dean and Larry Kim?
Well part of the reason I’m doing this is so I can get them involved with my content, which makes them feel invested in my content, thus increases the likelyhood that they’ll share or link to my content.
My plan is before Sujan releases this content, I want to tell people I linked to them and see if they have any feedback or want to add on to the parts that I mentioned them in.
Then they’ll think:
“Oh, not only is this a super awesome blog post, but I helped make it awesome”.
They feel invested in it’s success AND I made them look great.
And because of that, they are more likely to share it.
21. Make them Feel Good
People are emotional, and often feel underappreciated.
A genuine compliment can make a person feel validated.
Problem is, people tend to approach compliments the wrong way.
They send out templated email pitches like this, which isn’t a compliment:
I read your article (ARTICLE URL) and really liked it!
In fact, I wrote something similar.
I think it would make a really good resource to your blog post.
Would you link to it?
This is what a compliment looks like:
And yes, compliments (especially when you’re not being genuine about it) can make a person feel jaded.
Seriously – I don’t know how humans are so good at it, but we sniff out things like disingenuous compliments like blood hounds.
Don’t tell someone “Great article” unless you mean it, because influencers get those generic kind of compliments all the time and they smell the pitch coming from a mile away.
With that said, there is a right way to compliment people.
First, don’t ask for anything.
Second, be genuine and talk about what you did like.
Third, be a human. Email them like you’d talk to a friend. You don’t need to be in super professional work-robot mode here.
As Derek Halpern says people are underpaid and underappreciated, and we can all use a little ego boost here and there.
Here are some examples of what I mean…
Me emailing Sujan when he told me I could post on his blog:
Me complimenting Noah Kagan and asking for advice:
22. Respond to newsletters
23. Follow their Advice, Implement, and Offer Proof
People LOVE it when you take their advice and follow through on it.
People, in general, feel under appreciated.
Take it a step further. Offer to write up a case study for them.
24. Casualize the dialogue at a certain stage (Strategy)
This is something you can do to maintain the dialogue.
You could send them a meme about your industry, etc.
25. Schedule weekly follow up’s
There’s no doubt about it: There’s a lot of flakes out there.
Fortunately, you can use this to your advantage.
Through Cialdini’s 2nd Principle of Persuation: Commitment and Consistency.
Now it’s your turn:
Taking this approach is definitely a long game, but investing in the long run is what will make your business truly grow.
However, I bet not even 1% of you will actually take action on this stuff.
But I’d love to see you prove me wrong: Take action, and let me know how things went in the comments below,
If you have any questions or maybe I left out some good strategies, you should also leave a comment and I will respond as soon as I can.
Also, don’t forget to download this free bonus (below) which explains 23 essential step to influencer marketing + a step-by-step formula for putting these principles into action.
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