It’s a common scenario: you find an influencer on social media, and you want to contact them for a project. Maybe you think they would make a great guest blogger, or you just want to feature their story on your site. But is it time for a cold email yet?
Cold emailing is still effective but by far not as effective as other ways to reach out to an influencer.
The thing is, influencers get tons of emails daily, so they better recognize your name on it; otherwise they may not even pay attention!
Here is your checklist of what to do before contacting an influencer (Of course, you can do more but I wanted to keep it doable!)
1. Google Them
The more you know about that person, the better deal you’ll be able to achieve. Look for their struggles, interests and hobbies and think how you can be useful to each other.
A templated offer “I’ll give you a free access, please review our tool” or “I’ll give you $xx, please endorse us” will be effective only if your prospect is really hungry for money. You need to find some hooks to pique their interest. Or better, you need to figure out how to turn that contact into the long-term relationship or partnership.
The reason this option is so useful is its scope. People will comment on blogs, have other social profiles, write in forums, and speak at the events. Browse around for at least 15 minutes to understand how to better reach out to them.
Tip: Look at all social media descriptions, author profiles, and interviews.
If they are active on one social network, they are probably at least signed up on some others. If you can hunt down different profiles, follow them everywhere. Facebook Pages, Instagram, and LinkedIn are usually great for this. The more they see they around, the better the chances your name will ring a bell.
Author profiles often share alternative ways to contact the author. Just look through where they contribute:
Apart from giving you additional contact info, this also tells that they don’t mind being contacted which is a very good sign!
A few Google searches will also reveal where this person has been interviewed (and since we are talking about influencers here, there might be quite a few places like that). Skim through: you’ll see more ground to start the conversation with this influencer.
[Examples of blog interviews done by FirstSiteGuide]
2. Start with a social media interaction
Starting with a quick Twitter RT and a Facebook or Instagram comment or a quick is a good idea for two reasons:
- They say it takes a couple of quick interactions before an influencer can really recognize you from the crowd. It’s not because they are “divas”, it’s because they deal with too many people online!
- Talking about divas, this is a great test if that relationship is worth working on. You want to contact those influencers who actually talk back (This means they have to build audience loyalty and will be more willing to work with you on a long-term basis). Don’t waste your time on divas who broadcast their social media updates all day long without paying attention who talks to them. You want real voices who care!
So only take the time to email once you hear back!
Tip: I also maintain a separate Twitter list of the influencers I am interested in reaching out to in order to see who and how they respond to, what kind of tweets trigger a retweet and how they tend to reply to requests.
Cyfe is the best way to monitor that Twitter list: It lets me keep in eye on my influencers right within my regular working dashboard.
3. Find More Ways to Email
It’s not easy to find an email address these days. Many influencers get bombarded with cold emails on a daily basis, so they prefer to hide their contact info to only be contacted by people they know well.
Or, maybe they prefer a different way of communication: Like a tweet or a Linkedin message.
Sometimes they won’t have an email listed on their About or Contact page, but they will have a contact form available. Sure, it isn’t ideal, but it gives you some way to get to them directly.
Finally, check the website their WHOIS data will probably have a published email address as a matter of public record.
Here’s a quick handy tool for that I am using (There are many similar ones that you can use.) Then look through the data until you find the email address registered to the domain.
Using this tool, you can find other websites owned by the same person. This is a great way to find other ways to discover additional contact info:
There are a couple of downsides to this method. For one, the domain may be registered to someone else and they just work for the site. For another, it might just be a site specific, or even business throwaway, account. So they might not check it regularly, or use it for correspondence. But it is worth a shot.
Finally, use the combination of Email Permutator and Rapportive.
This is definitely the long way, but great for contacting higher profile contacts, or those with a heavy online presence.
First, use the brilliant email permutator created by Rob Ousbey of Distilled Media. It will give you a list of common combinations that companies or people are likely to use for official email addresses. Unfortunately, this gives you more options than you probably want to sift through.
That is where Rapportive comes in. You download the plugin for Gmail and put all of the offered email addresses from the permutator into the To field. Then you click on one after another. Rapportive will give you any LinkedIn pages associated with that email. So you will know which one is correct.
4. Organize Your Contacts with NinjaOutreach or BuzzStream
If influencer outreach is something you are professionally and /or continuously involved in, you may want to invest in a Ninja Outreach or BuzzStream subscription. They are great for lead generation and engaging with crucial contacts, as well.
Keep in mind that this service is a bit of an investment. Both BuzzStream and NinjaOutreach starts at $29 per month and go up to $249 a month for enterprise users. But they may be worth it.
The hugest benefit of using this software is that it helps you organize your contacts and statuses effectively. You can create lists based on your projects, topics, clients, etc. You can add “relationship” (e.g. what type of deals you had in the past), contact info, save important links (e.g. “About” page link, important interview link, etc).
I use the tools to manage the contact list: I don’t really use the tools to email (I think a personal email works better!) but I am not a professional outreach or PR agent either. I also don’t have the preference between the two: I think they are both awesome, so use the free trial to identify your personal favorite!
Have a tip for reaching out to influencers? Let us know in the comments!
Anna Fox is the blogger behind Hire Bloggers, social media marketing enthusiast, and stay-at-home mom.