This Influencer Marketing Guide consists of answer of questions related to influencer marketing by our readers.
Last week we went out to our audience and asked people for their most difficult influencer marketing questions.
We organized those questions into this ultimate guide, and provided answers to all of them.
Below is table of contents which summarizes each question and links to the full question below, with our answer.
Check it out and let us know what other questions you have about influencer marketing!
Table Of Contents
- Can you avoid paying bloggers for product reviews?
- How can you politely educate bloggers about FTC guidelines and still build DoFollow links?
- What's the most important step in getting an influencer to share your brand?
- Is blogger outreach right for me?
- How do you get busy bloggers to notice you?
- How can we avoid getting our outreach emails thrown to spam?
- How can you promote your blog content without a decent number of followers?
- When’s the right time to give up on a prospect?
- How can you optimize the clickthroughs from our instagram or whatever social media site to your webpage?
- I would like to know the difference between BuzzStream and NinjaOutreach software. Why is NO better and why should I choose NO rather than BuzzStream?
- How do you find influencers when you're in a slightly obscured vertical that doesn't have many prominent bloggers?
- Do we need to offer a different spin or story to each blog or can we simply promote ourselves to them in hopes that they will agree to feature us?
- How do I get my emails responded too (that I know are being opened)?
Question 1: A difficulty with blogger outreach is this - it's advertising.. It doesn't look like it and it doesn't sound like it, but it is. If you want a blogger to rant or rave about something, most of the time, you have to pay them to do it. In fact, I've learned bloggers get very offended when you send them something or ask them to post something for free. I understand it. Blogging is a job. It is a business that brings in a lot of money for people to do what they enjoy and have a flexible schedule. But, those bloggers need to keep in mind that for many others, it is a hobby. Some bloggers actually enjoy getting a story to post with some pictures because they love it or it fits their niche. I'm a blogger and I see both sides, but as a media relations specialist, I have stopped pitching bloggers for this reason. While many will post something if they like it, too many fire back right away with the "You're not working for free, so I'm not working for free either" attack. For me, it's easier to steer clear. -- Christina
I get this question in one form or another all the time. Usually it's something to the effect of
"How much does it cost to work with bloggers?"
Firstly, my personal opinion is that in one way or another, bloggers deserve to be compensated for their efforts.
Yes, there are many people for whom blogging is a hobby, but in most cases that is not who you're after.
It's the bloggers that actually command a large, engaged audience, that you want to work with, and if they are presumably providing value to you, you should be providing value to them.
Now - what constitutes value?
Many assume that is must always be monetary, but that is not the case.
Just as an example, at NinjaOutreach we've published over 50 guest posts and had several dozen product reviews go live.
Additionally several giveaways, white hat link building, etc.
We've done it on 0 budget (that is, we haven't paid bloggers anything, it has certainly taken time and the help of our own assistants to manage those campaigns).
How did we do it?
Often, it comes down to a few things
1) We targeted blogs that we felt would be the most receptive.
These blogs had a history of publishing guest posts and doing product reviews.
2) We offered bloggers free use of our product and a few to giveaway to their audience.
In reality, most bloggers weren't interested in doing a giveaway and I would venture to guess that many of them have not used the product that much.
It's more the statement that matters here.
3) We offered them access to an affiliate program.
This is a way for bloggers to potentially earn money from the endorsement.
Some have, some have not. Many, I suspect, have low expectations of earning significant money from an affiliate program.
That said, when you combine all of that together, with quality content to back it up, people get onboard.
Understandably, this strategy might not work for you.
I have talked with businesses who, for example, sell perfume, which is too expensive to be giving out free product to the blogger and the audience.
If that is the case, in all honesty, blogger outreach may not be the best strategy, and I would focus on a more hybrid approach of content marketing and influencer marketing, whereby I wrote great content and featured influencers and asked them to share my posts.
We've done this is expert round ups and large listicles and it's work equally as well as the other things.
In short, blogger outreach by no means requires cold hard cash, but for some businesses it is more difficult than others.
Like all marketing channels you have to evaluate it in context to your own business and not what everyone else is saying.
Question 2: I've noticed when dealing with bloggers that there is a lot of confusion surrounding the FTC's disclosure requirements and Google's Webmaster Guidelines on exchanging product for links, and that a lot of bloggers are either using no-follow tags when they don't have to, or not using them when they should be. What is a polite yet effective way to educate bloggers on the current rules in place while still building do-follow links for my clients? - - Brett Bastello
Firstly, it starts with defining what the proper FTC disclosure requirements are to begin with. There is a lot of documentation around this. The short answer is that if the blogger is in any way compensated for a post (either with money, free product, or some other means), they should disclose that to their audience, and should use nofollow links.
For this reason, I find it is a lot easier to build dofollow links through creating great content and promoting it, as you can generally get a blogger to link to a great resource without any sort of payment, just on the basis that it is a great resource alone.
In regards to politely educating bloggers on the current rules, I would clearly state your expectations in regards to linking based on the request, and then link to a credible source that substantiated your expectations.
Question 3: What's the most important step in getting an influencer to share your brand? - - Akaash Prasad
In my opinion the most important step in getting an influencer to share your brand is identifying the right influencers before outreach.
Yes, this is probably counter-intuitive to what you would normally think.
Many people assume it is about building the relationship, writing an effective picth, providing value to the blogger, etc.
Now, don't get me wrong - these things are important. They are very important, in fact.
But the truth is, the most effective efforts I've had with getting an influencer to share my brand, is by simply identifying the people that would want to regardless of whether they got paid or not.
For example, in our case, we sell a blogger outreach software. If we can identify bloggers who:
- Have an audience that would be interested in our software.
- Frequently reviews new tools.
- Is likely doing blogger outreach himself (maybe they're using a competitor tool).
- Are interested in earning money through affiliate programs.
Then I have a winner.
These people are often on board to try out the product and review it without any direct compensation whatsoever, they just want to share something cool and useful to their audience, and maybe earn an affiliate commission.
I find this is a much easier approach than trying to figure out how I can get blogger Y to share my brand, even though it isn't really a great fit for his audience.
Question 4: We are a big innovator when it comes to new products, and we are really big on customer support. That being said, we work in a very niche industry. Our products (access flooring) are a drop in the bucket when you look at the world as a whole. But within the construction, telecom and IT industries, our products and services are a very essential part of many buildings and construction projects. The challenge is that our online market is fairly small, especially compared to more generalized business and pop-culture topics. How can we reach a wider online audience in a very niche industry like cable management access flooring? -- Ryan Hulland
There is a lot of chatter online about things like SEO, content marketing, blogger outreach, etc.
What many people don't understand (and I don't blame them, because no one is saying this), is that while these marketing channels work for some businesses they simply are not met for others, and the more niche you are, the more difficult it is.
How do we know if it is a good fit for you?
1. When your audience is easily found online. This means your target market is actively looking online for what you have to offer, and that there is a related blogger niche through which you can reasonably market your services. I would start by checking keyword volumes for what you offer. If they are small, that means your audience is probably not going online to find your business.
2. When your audience buys online. This means that they actually make purchasing decisions online as opposed to more traditional high-end B2B decisions which tend to be a lot more relationship driven.
3. When you have a low marketing budget. Content, SEO, blogger outreach, all have relatively low marketing costs. They are high time investments. If you have a lot of time but not a lot of money, these are good candidates. This is important for businesses that must have a low cost of acquisition, usually dictated by having lower-priced products and a low customer value etc (think $19/month software or a large social community).
If none of the above really fits well with your business - you're probably wasting your time with them and online marketing in general.
From what I gather about your niche and your product, I would not recommend blogger outreach, not at all.
Here is what *could* work. This is in order of preference.
1. Referrals - Focusing on word of mouth referrals from my current customer base.
2. Networking - Going to networking events and marketing my services.
3. Paid Advertising - This gives you the capability to truly target buyer keywords for what you're offering. Chances are you have a relatively high customer value which would allow you to spend a hefty amount on paid acquisition. If you find that there is just a low search volume for your keywords, it's just another reason why online marketing is not a good fit for your business as this time.
4. Cold calling/emailing - this is where some knowledge of online lead generation would come in handy. For example, I see you did a project for Notre Dame. You could turn that into a nice piece of content (videos, pictures, text, etc) so that it was a full on case study, and then send emails out to other college campuses including that.
5. "Basic" Content Marketing - just to the extent that you write some articles which would address the basic questions that people have about access flooring.
Question 5: How do you get noticed by bloggers who have personal assistants managing their emails or who get tons of emails daily? -- Louise Hendon
There are a couple different ways to think about this question.
Firstly, if someone is that big of a blogger, it's just incredibly difficult to break through without a personal relationship.
If you look at the products that say, Pat Flynn, reviews, it's generally:
- Products that he uses already and which provide him a ton of value.
- Products from people who he knows and trust to promote, like Ramit Sethi.
Relationship driven marketing is excellent but it really requires you to be in the market you're promoting to.
We get help at NinjaOutreach because we're already digital marketers, and have been for several years.
I even have a personal digital marketing blog that is completely separate from NinjaOutreach, which has allowed me to build a reputation among marketing bloggers that I can leverage for promotion.
If you aren't able to do that, then you will have to step down a level to people who are not so overwhelmed with requests.
This is why we are working on building up a database of millions of influencers, to allow you to have many people to choose from, not just the top 1%.
Outside of that, if you are still bent on targeting the top tier bloggers, I think timing plays a significant role.
For example, if Pat Flynn launches a case study on his Food Truck niche site, and then I send an email to the effect of "A tool that will help Food Truckr get noticed", I probably have a better than average shot of getting looked at.
This strategy requires you to be following their updates.
Avoiding spam usually can be accomplished by:
- Sending out personal emails, as opposed to bulk impersonal emails
- Having a clear, non spammy subject line
- Avoid spam trigger words
- Use the email for purposes other than pitching, so as to build up a quality reputation where people read and reply to your emails
If you want to promote your blog content but you don't have much of an audience, then I recommend including a lot of influencers in your content and effectively leveraging their audience for your promotion. What I mean are:
- Expert Round-Ups
- Lists posts with articles, blogs, or tools
Essentially any post that links out to a lot of influencers. You can then email these influencers, let them know they've been featured, and more often than not, they'll share.
See 126 Traffic Generation Case Studies as an example.
The right time to give up on a prospect is when the amount of time you are spending on them is offsetting the actual value they can provide.
After all, your time has value and wasting it is effectively negative value that cancels out with whatever positive value the blogger can provide.
I don't want to say that you shouldn't chase prospects. I strongly recommend sending follow-ups and engaging over multiple time periods.
But at the end of the day if they aren't interested then there isn't likely much you can do in the short term to change their mind. It might just not be a good fit.
Question 9: I strongly believe that our material is strong enough to draw attention and views on our website or blog page. However, majority of our following comes from our instagram because our publications revolve around photography and art. We have a fair amount of following for only being a year in, but we want try and get our following on instagram to visit our website more often to check out the stories and collections we feature. I understand how influencers on instagram can attract followers to your page, but how can you optimize the clickthroughs from our instagram or whatever social media site to your webpage? -- TJ Rinoski
Instagram is not a fantastic social media platform for driving clicks back to a website. More or less, the general areas where you can drive clicks back to a website in Instagram and other social media websites are:
- On your profile page (often there is a place to list a website)
- In your profile description
- In images, you could put sort of a watermark to your website
- In descriptions for images posted
- Images themselves being hyperlinked (ex. Facebook)
The key is also to make it relevant so that someone would want to click.
For example, given a post, linking to the recipe as opposed to just the blog itself is more likely to drive traffic.
Another way to look at this problem is, how can you make the visitors that DO come from Instagram more engaged in the long term?
For example, a 100% increase in engagement from your current visitors would be equally as effective as a 100% increase in visitors.
For this, I would advise you to look into how you are capturing visitors (i.e your email opt in rates and email marketing strategy).
That might be more low hanging fruit than increasing Instagram to website conversions.
Question 10: I would like to know the difference between BuzzStream and NinjaOutreach software. Why is NO better and why should I choose NO rather than BuzzStream? -- Barbara
Also a great question - we've written a whole response to this here.
Question 11: How do you find influencers when you're in a slightly obscured vertical that doesn't have many prominent bloggers? For example, I work in the electronics recycling industry - my company is one of the first few to implement a content marketing strategy, which makes outreach and guest posting difficult. How can we find people to help promote our content? -- Ronnie
We get clients interested in NinjaOutreach all the time who come from relatively obscure verticals, and it always makes things difficult.
This is why I don't recommend influencer marketing for everyone.
The online world has just not evolved yet to the point where every niche has great coverage for bloggers.
Essentially the solution I've come up with is asking clients to try one degree removed, and really focus on the niche that the blogger might operate in.
That is,it's unlikely that there is such a thing as an "electronics recycling" blogger, but there may be bloggers who deal with electronics, or recycling, or the environment.
The less niche you go, the less relevant it will be, but the more you'll have to choose from.
At some point you just have to find the balance and decide if you can make progress on your marketing initiatives with somewhat less relevant bloggers to choose from.
Question 12:My name is Serena and I am working for the new app tradr being launched out of the Harvard Innovation Lab. We have been reaching out to different Boston blogs, especially those interested in tech and startups. We have had two successful blog post so far, but most blogs just don't even respond.
My question would be: do we need to offer a different spin or story to each blog or can we simply promote ourselves to them in hopes that they will agree to feature us?
Is it our job to create a unique narrative? -- Serena
In our experience what bloggers want to see in a pitch is value for them and value for their audience.
If the value proposition is more or less the same to each blogger, then I would not advise crafting a different story for each blogger.
What could be unique is simply the personalization that you use for each blogger.
For example, is there a reason why you think this particular blogger would be a good fit to promote what you have?
Maybe they have written other articles on the topic or reviewed similar products.
Perhaps in these instances their audience responded well (a lot of comments and shares).
Or at the very least just being friendly and personable and referencing something recent they did, regardless of how connected it really is to the pitch.
Inevitably it's up to you as to how personal you want to get with each outreach.
I have seen people send completely form template type emails (and done so myself), and gotten results.
I have also gone above and beyond with personalization and gotten great results (but it takes time).
I would recommend split testing your outreach, with one or two standard forms, and then another with personalization, and then measuring the success rate for each one, and weight that against the time investment involved.
Question 13: I get a lot of my pitches opened as I can track that. But not much get the response. I know I have the perfect copy but it still doesn't move my "response percentage metric". So, how to go about it -- Mansi?
There are really only a few ways to improve your response metric, assuming the email is already being opened.
Firstly, follow up. A lot of people don't follow up, or only once. Following up 2 or 3 times is a necessity and will increase your response rate.
Secondly, try to build a relationship with the blogger before pitching them.
This can be engaging with them on social media, commenting on their blog, subscribing to their newsletter and maybe sending them some emails before you pitch them to create some natural dialog.
At this point, if you pitch in the middle of a conversation, you're much more likely to get a reply, even if it's negative.
Finally, carefully consider who you're targeting.
Are you only after the most influential bloggers?
If you are targeting the wrong people to start with, then it doesn't matter how good your pitch is, it will fall on deaf ears.