Your influencer campaign is so close to the official kickoff. You’ve built your strategy and, thanks to some influencer research, your targets have been acquired. Get ready, because it’s finally time to make those connections.
Time to send some outreach emails. This is where it starts to get really fun.
This is where planning comes to a close and you’re getting closer to launch. It’s time to go down the list you made after reading last week’s post, and start reaching out to the people on it.
It seems simple, but you quickly realize it’s not. At least one target will have an email address you can’t find anywhere. Another will respond immediately, super excited to get started – never to be heard from again.
Things can get hectic really quickly.
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That’s why it’s so important to have a great arsenal of tools to turn to. Some will do heavy lifting for you, while others just keep you organized. And others will be crazy simple yet save you hours of time.
Have I sufficiently hyped these tools yet? Yes? Great – now that you’re curious, let’s move on to the list!
Part 1: Finding influencers’ contact information
Influencer research frequently leaves you with a list of names, websites, Twitter handles, etc. But actual email addresses can be hard to find. These tools will be a lifesaver, I promise you.
EmailHunter.co – find any email address
If you know the company or website of someone you’re reaching out to, just type it into EmailHunter.co. It will look around online for all the emails associated with that domain. Once it’s done, it’ll spit out a nice little (or big) list, and you just look for the name or department you need to contact!
I like EmailHunter because you don’t need to know much about a company to use it. For example, say you want a quote from a company’s marketing department – but don’t have names. Search for the company and you’ll probably find a group email like email@example.com. You can use that instead of a name, if need be.
Rapportive – find emails and social accounts
Rapportive isn’t technically for finding emails, but it’s still really easy to do so. It’s a plugin that brings up a panel in Gmail showing you information on the person you’re communicating with. Things like their interests, job, LinkedIn profile, and any shared connections.
If you can find the email address of anyone at the company (through a press release, LinkedIn profile, etc.), then you already know the structure. If not, try some of the common formats, like:
- First name (i.e. barney@GNB.com)
- First name + last name (barneystinson@GNB.com)
- First initial + last name (bstinson@GNB.com).
You’ll know you’ve found the right address when Rapportive can pull in profile data. And it will be legendary. (Okay, that might be exaggerating. But we are emailing Barney Stinson here).
LinkedIn Groups – message connections and influencers
At one point, if you can’t find an influencer‘s email, it becomes counterproductive to keep looking. Yes, you’ll finally be able to reach them. But how many other people would you have been able to contact in the amount of time it took to find their email?
With a very quick trick, you can send them a LinkedIn message instead. You can send a message to any member of a LinkedIn group you’re also a member of. So head over to their profile. If you’re in the same industry, you might have groups in common already.
If so, you’re good to go and should be able to message them from their profile. If not, look for a group they’re a part of that sounds interesting (you shouldn’t just join, send the message, and leave), and wait for your membership to be approved.
Once you’re a group member, you’ll be able to message them – either to pitch them there or briefly introduce yourself and ask for a better way to reach them (such as email).
Part 2: Contacting influencers
Email addresses: acquired. Sweet! Now it’s time to start sending some messages. But if you’re planning on writing new pitches, tasks, and follow-ups from scratch for every influencer, I hope you’re ready to give up sleep. Instead, use some of these tools.
Sidekick – see when someone read your email
I had trouble deciding where to put Sidekick (Now Hubspot Sales) – it can do so much that it would work in any section of this post. An email plugin from the folks at HubSpot, it both tracks email engagement (clicks and opens) and shows you a brief profile of who you’re emailing.
Because of that profile showing you the background info and social profiles connected to an address, it makes guessing emails really easy. You would use it the same way as Rapportive. But aside from that, it tells you which influencers have opened your email and clicked on any links inside.
How does this help you? It can help shape how you’re going to follow up. If someone’s opened an email a few times, clicked every link twice, and still hasn’t responded, they might not be interested. Don’t have that stop you from sending a second email, but you might want to follow-up less aggressively than with someone who hasn’t seemed to see your email at all.
Gmail’s Canned Responses – build outreach templates
While I’m not a fan of completely canned emails, this underrated Gmail feature is the simplest way to build outreach email templates.
The meat of your outreach emails is going to be the same from influencer to influencer. That’s the part where you give them all the information they need to make a decision. The rest – your intro and signoff, personalization throughout, and things like that – you can use a fill-in-the-blank format for.
Sure, you can copy and paste from a word document, but wouldn’t it be easier to keep everything right in Gmail? This way, to insert a template, just click the down arrow in the bottom right corner of the “Compose” window, hover over “Canned Responses,” and select the template name from the “Insert” menu. It literally takes two clicks.
Influencer pitches can be long, but templates make it so that each one takes just a few seconds to customize.
Dropbox / Google Drive – share large files
Throwing a bunch of large attachments in an email for the influencer to download isn’t the best way to start off your campaign.
A lot of people are wary of attachments from people they’ve never heard from before. Plus, we’re livin’ in the future, baby. Time to embrace the cloud!
Instead of attaching documents and images to each individual email, create a shared folder in Dropbox or Google Drive, and include a link to it in your email template. This way is more polite, plus if you need to make any updates to the documents you won’t need to send a new copy. Cloud magic!
FollowUpThen – follow up on influencers
Hate when you can’t get to inbox zero? Ever have a hard time remembering to follow up on the emails you sent last week? Me too, for both counts. But FollowUpThen helps. You can use it to “snooze” emails in your inbox, as well as remind you to follow up on messages.
Here’s how it works: let’s say you wanted to send someone your initial pitch, then follow up one week later. In the first email, you could BCC “firstname.lastname@example.org” and receive a reminder a week later.
You can also get a lot more complicated than that, with reminders only if the person hasn’t responded, sending reminders to other people in the email thread, and recurring reminders. But FollowUpThen can also be as simple as you’d like it to be, which I love.
Bonus tool: OutreachPlus – save time on outreach
OutreachPlus in an email outreach tool that will help you manage your outreach efforts. You import a list of your influencers and then set up a campaign to send a series of highly personalized emails.
OutreachPlus tracks opens, clicks and replies and you can process and track all responses through the inbox.
One of the great features is being able to track the relationship status through “prospect temperature:”
This gives you an idea of what is the status of your outreach to each of the influencers.
Part 3: Staying organized
Now that things have really kicked off, you’re going to start getting responses, participants, and lots of questions. Make sure you have a way to keep track of it all.
Google Sheets – plan your campaigns
It’s 2016, so spreadsheet-based campaign management isn’t ideal for large campaigns or long-term efforts. But if you’re still testing the waters of influencer marketing or don’t have the budget for a CRM, Google Sheets is perfect.
Plus, there’s something to be said for simplicity and familiarity.
For example, a quick, one-off campaign with 10 contacts definitely isn’t worth shelling out dough for a monthly subscription to something. In that case, a Google Sheet shared between your team will do the trick just fine.
Your team won’t have to learn how to use another tool, remember another set of login credentials, or more your older contact lists over to a new platform.
BuzzStream – manage influencer outreach
BuzzStream is a CRM for PR and marketing, and our contact database of choice at Mention. It lets you keep track of anyone your team might be working with. You can create projects for different campaigns, but easily copy contacts from one to another for people you have ongoing partnerships with.
View your contacts by project, by website, or alphabetical order. Build outreach templates, track their performance, keep track of all emails sent / received, and set reminders to follow up.
Once an influencer has mentioned you in something, you can even attach the link to the appropriate contact and website, and you also have a place to track coverage and performance!
There’s also a Chrome plugin and Gmail integration that makes it easy to add to your database while browsing.
Pitchbox – track campaign performance
Pitchbox is an all-in-one influencer platform that looks great for larger-scale campaigns and projects. I love that there are so great many tools to help you get away from spreadsheet-based campaign management.
It’s definitely a heavy-duty CRM for influencer campaign management, with some pretty unique features. For example, it’ll chart emails sent vs. responses received to help you measure the impact of your emails and different templates you’re using. You can also automate outreach and follow-up through personalization fields in the email templates.
Instapage – create landing pages
When I talk about staying organized, I don’t just mean for yourself. Make it easy for the influencers as well. Imagine how impressed they would be by a landing page that housed all of the information and assets that they would need to participate.
Later on when they’re ready to go, they won’t need to search through their old emails or Downloads folder – they can simply visit their bookmarks or head straight to the page’s URL.
With a landing page builder (one example is Instapage), you can create one in a few minutes and update it as the campaign changes, use it to accept participant applications, or feature the influencers participating with you.
I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t believe me when I said outreach can get complicated. We might have different definitions of complicated. But can you really that these tools wouldn’t save you time on your next influencer campaign?
What tools do you use for outreach? Share your own recommendations in the comments.
Note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and the tools and information have since been updated.