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Before You Do Any Influencer Marketing, Check These Templates

For the many subscribers of Relevance, influencer marketing is a well-known, and perhaps, mature channel. Unfortunately, though, there’s still a significant swath of marketers still not leveraging influencers in their marketing mix. This is ill-advised, because studies show that for every one dollar invested, influencer marketing delivers six dollars of return.

And for many marketers who do influencer marketing already, there seems to be an understanding gap of what exactly it constitutes. Some believe influencer marketing is the run of the mill round-up post featuring industry experts and their insights. Others believe it’s an all-encompassing marketing strategy with a refined goal, and many prudent tactics.

So, which is it? It can be all of them at the same time. However, which path a marketer chooses can have a significant impact on marketing metrics, and ultimately, the bottom line. The most value provided is in an all-encompassing influencer strategy.

To make influencer marketing more easily understood, executed and rewarding for both the newbie and experienced, I spent many hours interviewing and researching a successful company that featured influencer marketing as its marketing strategy (not a one-off tactic) and tracked its performance all the way to revenue.

The results were astounding. YoY revenue was up 35% in 2017 and up 20% the year prior. This company’s unique approach to influencer marketing was highlighted as the reason for this growth. The case study is featured on Convince and Convert and should be considered the roadmap on how to implement an influencer marketing strategy that will positively impact revenue.

This was merely step one. Step two was to turn the most impactful tactics into templates any marketer can use to implement and execute influencer marketing. For the newbie or the experienced, the case study and the templates should be valuable tools to efficiently deploy tactics, gain more insight, get buy-in and understand the value of influencer marketing.

Want to start simple with a round-up post? There’s a template for that. Want to bring in influencers to contribute to a blog? There’s a template for that. There are five templates in total that not only help in the execution of the owned media side of influencer marketing, but give the steps to use earned and paid media promotion, too.

Using earned and paid media to promote influencer content helps influencers feel more confident in the value of their work. This added validation can keep them coming back to contribute more.

Influencer Marketing Template Orientation

The X axis of each template consists of the following: each step’s deliverable, tasks associated with each step’s deliverable, who owns it, and due date. The Y axis consists of each individual deliverable required to do that specific influencer marketing tactic.

The templates produced from the successful case study above have three major value propositions for marketers, among others.

  1. The duplication of a proven recipe for success – the results for the above-mentioned case study are too impressive to ignore. Implementation of the tactical mix has demonstrated success, not just for them, but for many others.
  2. Speed to proficiency of tactic(s) – rather than starting from scratch and learning by making mistakes over time, marketers can get a substantial head start.
  3. A complete checklist – keep track of all activities to maximize opportunities.

It’s also important to note what these templates are not – a one size fits all proposition 100% of the time. They’re meant to be the starting point for success across most industries. In addition, each deliverable and task associated with them have had their own blog posts and guides written on precise execution, for example, “how to construct an influencer outreach email.”

The purpose of these templates is not to do a deep-dive into the minutia of each step, deliverable or task, but rather, it’s to know they need to be done, when they’re due, and who’s responsible for them – remember, the goal is to replicate proven models and constructs of success in influencer marketing.

In order to keep the blog post reasonable in size and scope, I’m not going to go through all five templates. Instead, I’ve chosen two of the most valuable. The influencer round-up post template is often-times the quickest win in the tactical quiver.

Soliciting influential blog contributors is a sustained and constant campaign that over time produces some of the biggest value in influencer marketing. It’s also the core of the sustained strategy in the case study mentioned above. The entire bundle of templates is available here or from the last slide on the SlideShare embeds below.

Influencer Round-up Post

Let’s start off with the tried and true round-up post, since it represents the tactic, that often times, drives the quickest win. The concept is simple: target and feature several industry influencers to share their thought leadership on a blog (or some other form of content delivery system) to drive earned media traffic and brand awareness.

 

The below steps mirror the ones taken by the example mentioned in the above case study. It’s a shining example of what success looks like in a campaign. Following these steps gives the best chance for high-levels of campaign success.

Build an Influencer Outreach List

  1. Determine Blog Post Topic – Determine the “what” by figuring out what the roundup post is going to be about.
  2. Identify Influencers – When it comes to finding influencers to work with there are three main options:
    1. Use software like Buzzsumo, Littlebird, DemandJump, Cision or the software de jour at the time to uncover industry influencers
    2. Explore Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and/or LinkedIn (other social sites may be prudent, too) to identify influencers by hand
    3. Recruit influencers from conferences, networking events, and even your customer base. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.

Send Outreach Emails

  1. Draft Outreach Emails – The goal of outreach emails is to make it as simple as possible for influencers to contribute. A few tips include:
    1. Write a very short email
    2. Tell them who you are, why you’re emailing them, what’s in it for them, and give them clear instructions
    3. Include link to Google doc or Google form where they can put content, links, headshot, etc.
    4. Don’t forget a list (or partial list) of the other influencers that will be in the round-up post (if it’s available yet)
    5. If you can’t get their email address look on their website for their contact form. Social media can be used, but it’s less likely to be followed up on by some.
  2. Send Emails – Once influencers are identified and the outreach email is drafted it’s time to send out personalized one-off emails (do not use a marketing ESP or automation to do this) and gauge the response.

Create the Blog Post

  1. Blog Post Copy – Once the influencer content is collected it’s time to put it all together. Write an intro for the post and be sure to include a thought leader from your brand in the round-up.
  2. Blog Post Design – Create any graphics needed to support the blog content.
  3. Publish Blog Post – Give the post one last review and push it live (don’t forget to check the influencer copy for edits, too).

Follow-up with Influencers

  1. Draft Social Copy – To make social sharing easy for influencers, draft a Tweet, LinkedIn post, Facebook post (or whatever their social-site fancy is) for them to share with their audience. Include appropriate hashtag(s).
  2. Draft Follow-Up Email – Send a note to your influencers thanking them for their contribution and share the article with them. Include the social copy drafted for easy sharing.
  3. Send Follow-Up Emails – Send emails to all the influencers featured in your round-up post. Make sure these are personalized one-off emails and not volume or automated emails.

Use Social to Promote the Post

  1. Draft Social Copy – Write a series of social posts to share over time promoting the post. Tag 3-4 of your featured influencers in each post and include prudent hashtag(s).
  2. Schedule Social Posts – Influencers are more likely to reshare content multiple times if posts are spaced out appropriately over time. Keep in mind that sharing frequency is dependent on the social platform and prudent audiences.

Measure Performance

I am keenly aware that marketers use several different methods to measure performance online. However, since the stated goal above is to drive earned media traffic and brand awareness, traffic and social shares were chosen as performance indicators for this particular tactic. That doesn’t mean marketers can’t include their own performance indicators in the template.

  1. Track Blog Traffic and/or Social Shares
    1. Measure traffic and/or social shares to the round-up post. To gauge success, compare round-up post traffic and/or social shares with that of non-round-up posts. If it doesn’t outperform an average blog post, it isn’t a win.

Blog Contributor Campaign

Here’s something many content marketers have been exposed to – blogs that are more like industry communities. Many of their content contributors generally possess some level of industry influence. This approach can be quite fruitful for a brand because each contributor has an audience of their own and a vested interest in their content being successful. In addition, such authors can bring prestige and credibility to a brand’s blog or publication.

The award-winning publication, Relevance, which I helped co-found, was founded on these ideas. The below template outlines exactly how to recruit industry influencers to write original content for a publication or blog.

Build an Influencer Outreach List

This deliverable has some tasks that are identical or nearly identical to the previous template/campaign. However, make sure the influencers identified show a proclivity to produce the type of content needed for the blog. If the blog features videos, then try and identify influencers that are using video, etc.

  1. Determine Blog Post Topic – Determine the “what” by figuring out what the roundup post is going to be about.
  2. Identify Influencers – When it comes to finding influencers to work with there are three main options:
    1. Use software like Buzzsumo, Littlebird, DemandJump, Cision or the software de jour at the time to uncover industry influencers
    2. Explore Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and/or LinkedIn (other social sites may be prudent, too) to identify influencers by hand
    3. Recruit influencers from conferences, networking events, and even your customer base. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.
  3. Set Budget – Consider paying top influencers for content. This can be just the jumpstart needed to more easily recruit later. Set a budget before starting outreach.

Send Outreach Emails

This deliverable is very similar to its counterpart in the above template/campaign. However, there are some slight, but important differences. Take note below:

  1. Draft Outreach Emails – The goal of outreach emails are to make it as simple as possible for influencers to contribute. A few tips include:
    1. Write a very short email
    2. Tell them who you are, why you’re emailing them, what’s in it for them, and give them clear instructions
    3. If an honorarium is being offered to cover their time mention it, but don’t share a dollar amount yet.
    4. Include link to Google doc or Google form where they can put content, links, headshot, etc.
    5. Don’t forget a list (or partial list) of the other influencers that will contributing to the blog (if it’s available yet)
    6. If you can’t get their email address look on their website for their contact form. Social media can be used, but it’s less likely to be followed up on by some.
  2. Send Emails – Once influencers are identified and the outreach email is drafted it’s time to send out personalized one-off emails (do not use a marketing ESP or automation to do this) and gauge the response.

Create the Blog Post

Again, this deliverable is similar to the above version, but with slight differences of importance.

  1. Review Blog Content – Review the influencer’s piece for grammar, clarity, and alignment with your content strategy.
  2. Publish Blog Post – Give the post one last review and push it live.

Follow-Up with Influencers

It’s important to make sure it’s as easy as possible to get contributors to share their content with their audience. That’s why follow-up is important. It also helps the brand steer the contributor’s message to their audience.

  1. Draft Social Copy – To make social sharing easy for influencers, draft a Tweet, LinkedIn post, Facebook post (or whatever their social-site fancy is) for them to share with their audience. Include appropriate hashtag(s).
  2. Draft Follow-Up Email and Send – Send a note to your influencers thanking them for their contribution and share the article with them. Include the social copy drafted for easy sharing.

Use Social to Promote Posts

These two tasks should be pretty familiar to most content marketers. Note: Paid social promotion is certainly recommended, especially for well known influencers. However, that process is in its very own template included in the bundle available for download.

  1. Draft Social Copy – Write a series of social posts to share over time promoting the post. Use the contributors social handle on each post and include prudent hashtag(s).
  2. Schedule Social Posts – Influencers are more likely to reshare content multiple times if posts are spaced out appropriately over time. Keep in mind that sharing frequency is dependent on the social platform and prudent audiences.

Measure Performance

Marketers can certainly include additional performance indicators in this template if needed.

  1. Track Blog Traffic and/or Social Shares
    1. Measure traffic and/or social shares to the contributor’s post. To gauge success, compare contributor post traffic and/or social shares with that of non-contributor posts. If it doesn’t outperform an average non-contributor blog post, it isn’t a win.

The above merely represents two of five different templates in the bundle. It’s my sincere hope that the case study and this post, with the template bundle it represents, can serve as important references for those marketers new to influencer marketing and those with experience. This project was designed to help with influencer marketing across the spectrum – from one-off tactic to all-encompassing marketing strategy – for some time to come. Use the data in these resources to understand the value of influencer marketing and get buy-in, if it’s not gotten already. Use the templates to help with flawless execution.

A variation of this article was originally published on CMI.

Chad Pollitt

Chad Pollitt, a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former US Army Commander, is the Co-founder of Relevance, the world's first and only website dedicated to content promotion, news and insights.

​He’s also an Adjunct Professor of Internet Marketing at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and an Adjunct Instructor of Content Marketing at the Rutgers University Business School. Chad is a member of the Advisory Board for native advertising platforms, inPowered and AdHive.

Recognized as a top 20 CMO influencer, Chad authored "51 Things Your Mother Taught You About Inbound Marketing." He is a regular contributor to industry media outlets, including the Huffington Post, Social Media Today and Guardian.

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