A Step by Step Guide to Influencer Outreach (for Unpaid Engagements)

Guide to Influencer Outreach

How do you connect with the top influencers in your field and get them to promote your content, partner with you, and invite you to be in front of their audience?

It’s a question I’m sure you struggle to answer.

The influencers you want to connect with have access to the audience you want to reach.

But not only do they have access, they also have the trust of this audience.

Influencer Trust Exchange

But…. you can’t figure out how to get access to them.

The answer could be in your approach.

The answer could also be that you can’t connect with the top influencers no matter what your approach is.

Jump directly to

Before you outreach

  1. Create your list
  2. Get to know the people on your list

Start your influencer outreach

  1. Promote something important to them
  2. Share their content
  3. Respond to their questions
  4. Invite them to be part of an expert post you are creating  
  5. Interview them
  6. Guest post on their site
  7. Provide useful feedback
  8. Compliment them
  9. Don’t forget to follow up

Track your outreach

  1. Why use an Outreach tool like OutreachPlus

This guide is not about finding influencers, it’s about the outreach process.

Later I’ll explain.

So…How about learning a new approach?

A helpful guide on influencer outreachClick To Tweet

Influencer Outreach Checklist

One report on influencer marketing claims that for every $1 you spend on influencer marketing you get $6.50 back and….

Influencer Marketing

According to the state of the influencer marketing report, 38% of marketers were going to invest more in influencer marketing in 2018.

Influencer marketing is big business.

A helpful guide on influencer outreachClick To Tweet


When I started my other company RazorSocial, I thought long and hard about how to connect with influencers.

I struggled to figure out a solution.


I had no budget for influencer marketing.

When I did figure it out it was obvious.

I needed to work harder than anyone else and have a different attitude than anyone else.

I focused on helping not hassling…

Focusing on how you can help the influencers instead of how they can help you means you’ll be in the 1% of people that contact them.

So are you ready to talk about a new approach to working with influencers?

Influencer marketing – paid or unpaid?

We’re going to discuss how you can reach out and build relationships with influencers which start off unpaid.

You may eventually end up with a paid relationship, but we want to start with unpaid because that is the best approach.

Prove it works and then pay for it if you have to!

That may rule out some influencers depending on the industry.


..let’s look at the 3 categories of influencers:

Celebrity – It’s hard to connect with celebrity influencers and they typically require payment. These folks have a large-scale reach and could be a good fit if you are looking to grow awareness for your brand.

Power and Niche influencers – these can be much easier to connect with. They have smaller but usually highly-engaged audiences that would be difficult to reach on your own.

Influencers could be:

  • Journalists
  • Thought leaders in their industry
  • CEO’s of powerful companies
  • Employees of important websites
  • People that have a small but highly engaged audience

The Influencer law of attraction

When you are at a networking event and someone introduces themselves, hands over their business card, and starts to promote their business, how do you feel?

Not good, right?

That’s definitely not the way to start a relationship.

So you need to approach the influencer in a non promotional way.

And here it is…

The Law of Influencer Attraction

The law of influencer attraction states that an influencer is attracted to someone they like, respect, and trust, someone who gives first before expecting to receive something from them.

Before you outreach

So now that your mindset is reset, it’s time to think about other tasks you need to tackle before you start your outreach.

1. Create your list

When I started out with outreach, I picked out 100 of the top social media/content marketing influencers in the world and focused all my efforts on the names on that list.

So the first thing you need to do is create your own list. Here are some links to tools and articles for building your list:

  • Brand24great for tracking your competitors’ mentions and then creating a list of influential people and websites mentioning them. These people could be talking about your brand/product, too!
  • GroupHigh – this is an influencer identification tool that lets you search through a database of blogs to find the bloggers that would be a good fit for your campaign.
  • BuzzSumo – use it to search for influencers based on a topic or a keyword. You’ll get a list of influencers with their Twitter handles and bios, plus you’ll see their DA, number of followers, and engagement rate.
  • Klear – this is an “influencer search engine” that lets you find influencers in literally any category across Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and blogs.
  • Traackr – good for both finding influencer and tracking all communication with them.

Here are 4 articles for finding influencers:

Creating a list of targeted influencers is only the first step towards a successful outreach campaign.

The real work starts after you’ve created your list!

2. Get to know the people on your list

The more you know about your target influencer and their work, the easier it will be to reach out to them and start a conversation.

Answering the following questions is a good place to start:

  • What are they focused on right now in their business?
  • What are their passions in and outside of the business?
  • Who are the people they influence and who are they influenced by?

Research your influencers online to find answers to these questions e.g. read their blog, follow them on social media, and subscribe to their newsletter. If possible, attend a conference they are speaking at or attending.

Start your influencer outreach

There are so many different ways you can reach out to influencers – you can do an outreach campaign to get noticed, help the influencers with something, or make some sort of non-promotional request.

Here are some ideas for influencer outreach with tips on how to do it.

Promote something important to them

Let’s go straight to an example.

If an influencer just published a new book, they’d love to see a good review on Amazon. So make an effort to read their book and write a review.

For bonus points, record a video review so that they get to see and hear you!

David is a content writer and he immediately got my attention because he promoted OutreachPlus when we launched it.

If David reached out after posting this, I’d be more open to responding to him.

Social Mentions

Share their content

Celebrity influencers can’t keep track of all the mentions they’re getting and it’s likely that they have a PR team doing the tracking for them.

But power and niche influencers like to see when and where they are mentioned.

a).  Mention their name/website in your blog post and you’ll get noticed

Social Shares

b). Mention them in the updates you share on social channels.

Respond to their questions

If the influencer sends out a regular newsletter, quite often they will ask a question and look for a response.

They know that if they want to build a community they need to be available for that community, so there’s a very good chance they will respond.

Compliment them on their work, ask them a question related to their latest content, or just reply and tell them how much you admire what they do.

Invite them to be part of an expert post you are creating  

When influencers see other influencer friends involved in a post, guess what?

They want to be included too!

When writing influencer roundups or expert posts make sure that:

  • The topic of the post is original, interesting, and relevant to the influencers you’re reaching out to
  • The influencers can benefit from participating by getting exposure to a previously untapped audience
  • You have similar-level influencers involved, so once a couple of them say yes, you can leverage that to get others to participate, too!

Email Example

Interview them

When I first started in this business, at the very first marketing conference I attended I did video interviews with speakers.  This was at Blog World.

One of those speakers was Syed Balkhi who is now an investor and advisor at OutreachPlus.

So there – It works!

Interviews give you a chance to chat and get to know the person.

If you can’t travel to a conference you could do a podcast interview or a featured post on your website.

Think about a podcast and how it can help you build a relationship with someone.

You get a few minutes before the podcast to chat.

They get to know you and your personality during the podcast.

You get to chat with them afterward.

Podcasts are a ninja-level tactic for relationship building!

Guest post on their site

If influencers accept guest posts they do so to add another great voice to their blog, but also to save time writing their own content.

However, you don’t approach an influencer with a guest post request until they get to know you, share your work, etc.

The best way of getting a guest post it to get invited to guest post!

Provide useful feedback

If you spend some time on an influencer’s website, you may find an issue that they didn’t notice – it could be something small like a broken link, a typo, or a buggy form.

Send them a message to inform them about it and they’ll most likely reply to thank you.

Or, if you have advanced Web design skills yourself, you can review their website and let them know about some improvements they could make.

Compliment them

This is a good conversation starter.  Everyone likes to be appreciated for their work.

But sending them an email like this is not going to work…

Influencers get these kind of messages every day. Try something a bit different, like:

Now, this is something they don’t get to see every day.

With an email like this, you are showing that their work actually drove you to take action.

You’ve implemented the tips they provided in your business and got some great results.

This is the most genuine compliment you can give to them and trust me – they’ll take notice!

Don’t forget to follow up

Influencers are extremely busy people who get bombarded by sales pitches and outreach messages all the time.

So if you don’t get a reply the first time around, just assume they didn’t get/read your email.

Most replies are triggered by the second or third email which is why sending follow up emails is so important.

Track your outreach

When you start your outreach process it’s important to track the results so you know what worked and what didn’t work.

You can do this simply by making a spreadsheet to track your outreach campaign progress e.g. number of emails sent to an influencer, positive/negative responses, etc.

But for a more sophisticated look at your results, you can use an email outreach tool such as OutreachPlus. Another aspect you can use a tool for is finding the emails, or checking if the ones you are legit or not. Bounce rates can harm your outreach.

Why use an Outreach tool like OutreachPlus

When you start doing outreach you’ll see how time consuming it can be and how easy it is to lose track.

With OutreachPlus you’ll save a lot of time, get better results and easily track everything.

With OutreachPlus, you can track the entire relationship with influencers and get all the data you need to continuously improve and become more efficient at outreach.

Only if you measure your efforts you’ll know if it makes sense to scale them!

Let’s wrap it up

Connecting with influencers is important.

The fact that too many people are simply bad at outreach gives you a huge advantage.

Follow our approach to influencer outreach and watch your results improve.

What influencer outreach tactics have worked for you so far? I would love to hear from you!

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