Outreach: A Balancing Act

Clare Dyckhoff

You only have to type ‘influencer marketing’ into any search engine to be greeted by a wealth of industry news coining a shift from marketing campaigns with macro influencers to smaller, more specific influencers deemed ‘micro influencers’.

So, what does this shift mean for our teams working with micro influencers? It’s pretty simple maths…swapping one macro influencer for a number of micro influencers means that more time will be required communicating with them. Which, in an increasingly busy industry suggests a need to shift to automation. But it is worth considering, when this area of work is all about people and relationships, how much of what we do should remain personal?

Take a look at a typical outreach process. Whether pitching content we’ve created to journalists or asking bloggers to take part in an outreach campaign, one would follow a similar pattern: Discovery, communication, creation, compensation, measurement.

Seeing that ‘influencer marketing’ as we know it dates back as far as 2012 and we’re now in 2017, it’s no surprise that companies, tools and software parties are appearing left, right and centre.

Specifically designed to help automate and target at least one aspect of this process, these tools all pride themselves on facilitating process ease. Whether it’s Whalar, helping match brands with influential creators, or Traackr, whose USP is to help scale influencer marketing in a way that quantifies and justifies ROI on content creation, there is a tool to help ease the process from concept to completion.

What we need to determine is not what these tools are, but how we use them. And most importantly, when and to what extent.

The level of automation needed all comes down to the scale and timeframe of the outreach project. Say a client is looking to work with 20 micro influencers operating in a really niche and specific sector, with a particular criteria and a short timeframe (e.g. domain authority of 35+, social following of 10,000+) then using a discovery tool is a great way to effectively discover relevant, potential collaborators, that may have taken too long when done manually.

However, if the timeframe is wider, spending time in the initial stage to manually find potential collaborators that best fit the outreach campaign, or the journalist most likely to be interested in covering the content we’ve created, is always going to be time well spent. This is when taking the time to research the influencer or journalist and their previous work and interest can be the best way to inform your approach and angle when it comes to pitching them. It tells that person that we’ve taken the time to assess whether our brands are right for them, creating more chance of success in terms of participation and response. This in turn can only contribute to a more genuine and authentic collaboration when the content is created and published; because the campaign is tailor made and completely centric to that person.

However, one aspect that should never be automated is the email process itself. Slightly tweaking a template email to send to a variety of bloggers or journalists is not the best course of action to excite them about a campaign we’re running or a fresh piece of data-led content they need to publish ahead of their competitor publishers.

Taking a few extra minutes to personalise the email, in a genuine manner that isn’t fake personalisation (the latter such as ‘HEY *insert name*! I loved your latest piece, want to share what we’ve created?’) is best practice to connect with them. Following up via Twitter to let them know an email is on the way is also another way to boost success; both things that an automated process would lack.

Kick starting a rapport in a way that is fuelled by context and effort could even be the difference between them choosing to work with us or one of our competitors who might have emailed them the very same day, but with a more haphazard email approach.

Being time-efficient where it is feasible while keeping the human interactions human is of paramount importance when it comes to delivering successful and brilliant outreach work.

Using a tool to automate the population of data (email addresses, twitter following etc.) that if done manually may have taken twice as long is understandable and time-efficient. It also frees up time for us to do what we do best; being creative and producing exciting campaigns.

Combining automation and personalisation is the best way to ensure our outreach campaigns are running smoothly, efficiently and with maximum chance of impact and success for our clients.

Because ultimately, although automation can open the door, real-life rapport and relationships are what helps keep that door open for campaigns to come.