What is the Best Influencer Marketing Strategy?

Most of our clients come to us wanting one of two things: Either to create brands with their own major following, or to drive sales and awareness by leveraging the audiences already built by popular websites and influencers.

Influencer marketing is tricky, though. Look at it like the days of Mad Men, if instead of advertising on a few early television channels, you’re looking at buying ad placements on millions of early social media sites and blogs, many of which don’t know their own stats, much less value. 

In order to navigate the sea of social media accounts to find the best influencers to feature your brand, products and/or services, consider the following:

1.) Do your research with hashtags, web searches, and competitors.

Hashtags are the broadest and most expansive way to find influencers, so you’ll want to do hashtag research to uncover which are most relevant to your brand. We recommend coming up with a list of 50-100 hashtags that are relevant to your brand, products, and/or services. These will be a target list.

With web searches, it’s important to come up with a list of 50-100 keywords and key phrases you want to rank highly for. This should be synonymous with your brand’s SEO strategy. We recommend using Google to find social media accounts, blogs, and websites for each of these keywords and key phrases. We also recommend using YouTube to find videos for the keywords and key phrases. To do so, type in “site: Instagram.com + [insert keyword here]”, or “site: YouTube.com + [insert keyword here]”. We find this works better than searching on the respective Instagram and YouTube sites. 

Lastly, an excellent way to come up with influencers you should work with is to research what your competitors are doing. On a competitor’s Instagram profile, check photos they have been tagged in, and make note of which accounts are doing so. 

As with SEO strategy, it’s important to keep in mind that you want to go deep to rank high. Meaning, it’s better to try to rank for “physical therapy in 10001” than it is “physical therapy,” or to try to rank for “makeup brushes for rosacea” than it is “beauty tools.”  

In total, for three months, you want to come up with a list of 1,500-3,000 influencer accounts. (More on this later.) We recommend including microinfluencers (1000-10000 followers), influencers (10000-25000 followers), and major influencers (25000+ followers). 

2.) Build your network of influencers!

The first step here is to craft a message that is likely to resonate with influencers. Once you’ve come up with the list of influencers you’d like to feature your product or service, the next step is to come up with a message that will entice them to actually work with you. 

The best messages are simple. Most influencers are approached by dozens of brands per month (if not hundreds), and they don’t generally want to read lengthy messages, much less open pdf brochures or sit through a conference call to work with you. 

The best messages provide an opportunity for collaboration, but also let the influencer ultimately decide whether or not they want to work with you, and keep the door open for questions and further discussion.

We suggest the following:

Hi [influencer name — not handle, actual first name]

My name is [your name] from [company].

[Give a genuine compliment about the account], and I thought your brand resonated well with ours. 

We are currently looking for influencers whose message is on-brand with ours to try out our product. Would you be interested in checking out a free full-size sample? 

If you’re interested, please let us know where to send the product.

All the best,

[your name]

Once you’ve crafted your message, the next step is the most important. Of all the steps, this is where the rubber hits the road. This is the step that separates the men from the boys, the women from the girls. (You get the idea…)

To create a truly robust influencer network that is valuable, you have to send 500-1000 emails and social media messages per month. We recommend distributing outreach between microinfluencers (1000-10000 followers), influencers (10000-25000 followers), and major influencers (25000+ followers) equally to start. Over time, you’ll find which category of influencer responds most to your brand, which category of influencer fits your budget (or doesn’t charge at all), and which category ultimately gives you the greatest ROI.

3.) Keep meticulous records.

Marketers are creative. Marketers have genius ideas. Marketers are, indeed, often fun.

Unfortunately, when it comes to influencer marketing, a major part of marketing to influencers properly comes down to meticulous recordkeeping. In fact, you can look at this like you’re running supply chain and order processing and fulfillment for a miniature part of your brand: at any given point in time, you need to know how many samples you need to send, how many samples have been sent, who has been asked to review, who has been asked again to review, and so on.

We recommend using a project management system like Asana, or keeping track in a detailed spreadsheet like such:

If you don’t receive feedback after the first engagement, you need to stop bugging the influencer. Keep in mind that happy influencers will write about you once. That’s it. On the other hand, unhappy influencers will complain about your brand to friends, family, and possibly online at least ten times. It’s just human nature. Do yourself a favor and let it go if the influencer takes your sample, isn’t wowed, and doesn’t return your calls. Let it go.

4.) Get stats on the influencers who respond to and engage with you.

Once you have influencers who respond (typically 1-2%, so 5 to 20 per month, depending on how many emails and messages you send), you need to do more in-depth research on their stats. 

Key stats to know:

  • Follower count
  • # of engagements (take a sampling of the past 5-10 posts)
  • Engagement rate (# of engagements/# of followers)
  • Views on any recent videos

5.) Keep your influencer network engaged with your brand.

Once an influencer has posted about your brand, most marketers are happy and move on to the next target.

But this is the biggest mistake you can make! Just like it’s much easier to acquire a repeat customer than it is to obtain a new one, it’s much easier to re-engage an established influencer who already has proven they like your brand/product/service enough to write and post about it than it is to start anew with someone else.

To engage with your influencers, keep meticulous records (sigh) and schedule regular events and opportunities with them to stay active and re-engage. These may include:

  • Exclusive “pre-launch” events
  • Contests for influencers as well as their fans
  • Product demonstrations
  • Digital events and conferences
  • In-person events and conferences (depending on COVID status, of course)
  • Question-and-answer sessions
  • Interviews with them on your channels
  • Case studies
  • Journal clubs
  • Small group discussions
  • Develop free exclusive content for your influencers to post

6.) Develop content and opportunities for your influencer network.

Lastly, if you want to keep your influencer network happy, make their lives easier. You need to walk a day in their shoes. Instead of working for an entire media company, where publishers, editors, writers, designers, photographers and ad executives work together to create content and sell ads, the typical influencer is doing all of this themselves, most with very little assistance from others.

A common complaint from influencers is that they don’t have enough content, content ideas, ad revenue sources, or potential advertiser contacts after doing this for years. Burnout is real, even though the profession often looks awesome or easy to those on the outside. 

To be a brand that an influencer wants to continually work with, do the following:

  • Create high-quality content influencers can use on their own sites (should NOT sound like an advertisement for your brand, but instead, relevant to their brand)
  • Create content to be shared on their social media platforms and websites
  • Opportunities for influencers to consult/comment on marketing materials to make them more effective
  • Opportunities for influencers to become “the face” behind special marketing campaigns or social media initiatives
  • Opportunities for influencers to recruit fans for surveys and focus groups
  • Opportunities for KOLs to speak on panels or at events

Ideally, some (or all) of these opportunities will be paid. But, depending on the status of your own company, this may or may not be possible. At any rate, if the influencer likes your brand, products, and/or services enough to post, these are great ways to keep them engaged.

Bottom Line

Building and maintaining influencer relationships starts out being thoughtful (researching the right influencers, crafting the right message), then turns to being a pure numbers game (bombarding the social media networks with 500-1000+ messages per month), and then turns back to being ultra-thoughtful (creating content for your influencers, creating opportunities for your influencers to re-engage with your brand). 

Ultimately, it comes down to being diligent with your research, respectful with your follow-up, and understanding the importance of this part of your marketing. Realizing that today’s influencers are yesterday’s major magazine editors and television producers should make you wake up and pay attention to how you’re spending your time and money in this arena. 

If you want a top-notch influencer marketing strategy, or would like help implementing your influencer marketing plans,, reach out to us at AEK Solutions for a free, no-obligation Q&A session. AEK Solutions is dedicated to creating new sources of repeatable growth online by embracing a rapid-experimentation, funnel-based approach. We also utilize creative and technology, such as geotargeting, customer experience management, and moments of influence testing to develop solutions to specific digital marketing issues.

What is the Best Influencer Marketing Strategy?

Most of our clients come to us wanting one of two things: Either to create brands with their own major following, or to drive sales and awareness by leveraging the audiences already built by popular websites and influencers.

Influencer marketing is tricky, though. Look at it like the days of Mad Men, if instead of advertising on a few early television channels, you’re looking at buying ad placements on millions of early social media sites and blogs, many of which don’t know their own stats, much less value. 

In order to navigate the sea of social media accounts to find the best influencers to feature your brand, products and/or services, consider the following:

1.) Do your research with hashtags, web searches, and competitors.

Hashtags are the broadest and most expansive way to find influencers, so you’ll want to do hashtag research to uncover which are most relevant to your brand. We recommend coming up with a list of 50-100 hashtags that are relevant to your brand, products, and/or services. These will be a target list.

With web searches, it’s important to come up with a list of 50-100 keywords and key phrases you want to rank highly for. This should be synonymous with your brand’s SEO strategy. We recommend using Google to find social media accounts, blogs, and websites for each of these keywords and key phrases. We also recommend using YouTube to find videos for the keywords and key phrases. To do so, type in “site: Instagram.com + [insert keyword here]”, or “site: YouTube.com + [insert keyword here]”. We find this works better than searching on the respective Instagram and YouTube sites. 

Lastly, an excellent way to come up with influencers you should work with is to research what your competitors are doing. On a competitor’s Instagram profile, check photos they have been tagged in, and make note of which accounts are doing so. 

As with SEO strategy, it’s important to keep in mind that you want to go deep to rank high. Meaning, it’s better to try to rank for “physical therapy in 10001” than it is “physical therapy,” or to try to rank for “makeup brushes for rosacea” than it is “beauty tools.”  

In total, for three months, you want to come up with a list of 1,500-3,000 influencer accounts. (More on this later.) We recommend including microinfluencers (1000-10000 followers), influencers (10000-25000 followers), and major influencers (25000+ followers). 

2.) Build your network of influencers!

The first step here is to craft a message that is likely to resonate with influencers. Once you’ve come up with the list of influencers you’d like to feature your product or service, the next step is to come up with a message that will entice them to actually work with you. 

The best messages are simple. Most influencers are approached by dozens of brands per month (if not hundreds), and they don’t generally want to read lengthy messages, much less open pdf brochures or sit through a conference call to work with you. 

The best messages provide an opportunity for collaboration, but also let the influencer ultimately decide whether or not they want to work with you, and keep the door open for questions and further discussion.

We suggest the following:

Hi [influencer name — not handle, actual first name]

My name is [your name] from [company].

[Give a genuine compliment about the account], and I thought your brand resonated well with ours. 

We are currently looking for influencers whose message is on-brand with ours to try out our product. Would you be interested in checking out a free full-size sample? 

If you’re interested, please let us know where to send the product.

All the best,

[your name]

Once you’ve crafted your message, the next step is the most important. Of all the steps, this is where the rubber hits the road. This is the step that separates the men from the boys, the women from the girls. (You get the idea…)

To create a truly robust influencer network that is valuable, you have to send 500-1000 emails and social media messages per month. We recommend distributing outreach between microinfluencers (1000-10000 followers), influencers (10000-25000 followers), and major influencers (25000+ followers) equally to start. Over time, you’ll find which category of influencer responds most to your brand, which category of influencer fits your budget (or doesn’t charge at all), and which category ultimately gives you the greatest ROI.

3.) Keep meticulous records.

Marketers are creative. Marketers have genius ideas. Marketers are, indeed, often fun.

Unfortunately, when it comes to influencer marketing, a major part of marketing to influencers properly comes down to meticulous recordkeeping. In fact, you can look at this like you’re running supply chain and order processing and fulfillment for a miniature part of your brand: at any given point in time, you need to know how many samples you need to send, how many samples have been sent, who has been asked to review, who has been asked again to review, and so on.

We recommend using a project management system like Asana, or keeping track in a detailed spreadsheet like such:

If you don’t receive feedback after the first engagement, you need to stop bugging the influencer. Keep in mind that happy influencers will write about you once. That’s it. On the other hand, unhappy influencers will complain about your brand to friends, family, and possibly online at least ten times. It’s just human nature. Do yourself a favor and let it go if the influencer takes your sample, isn’t wowed, and doesn’t return your calls. Let it go.

4.) Get stats on the influencers who respond to and engage with you.

Once you have influencers who respond (typically 1-2%, so 5 to 20 per month, depending on how many emails and messages you send), you need to do more in-depth research on their stats. 

Key stats to know:

  • Follower count
  • # of engagements (take a sampling of the past 5-10 posts)
  • Engagement rate (# of engagements/# of followers)
  • Views on any recent videos

5.) Keep your influencer network engaged with your brand.

Once an influencer has posted about your brand, most marketers are happy and move on to the next target.

But this is the biggest mistake you can make! Just like it’s much easier to acquire a repeat customer than it is to obtain a new one, it’s much easier to re-engage an established influencer who already has proven they like your brand/product/service enough to write and post about it than it is to start anew with someone else.

To engage with your influencers, keep meticulous records (sigh) and schedule regular events and opportunities with them to stay active and re-engage. These may include:

  • Exclusive “pre-launch” events
  • Contests for influencers as well as their fans
  • Product demonstrations
  • Digital events and conferences
  • In-person events and conferences (depending on COVID status, of course)
  • Question-and-answer sessions
  • Interviews with them on your channels
  • Case studies
  • Journal clubs
  • Small group discussions
  • Develop free exclusive content for your influencers to post

6.) Develop content and opportunities for your influencer network.

Lastly, if you want to keep your influencer network happy, make their lives easier. You need to walk a day in their shoes. Instead of working for an entire media company, where publishers, editors, writers, designers, photographers and ad executives work together to create content and sell ads, the typical influencer is doing all of this themselves, most with very little assistance from others.

A common complaint from influencers is that they don’t have enough content, content ideas, ad revenue sources, or potential advertiser contacts after doing this for years. Burnout is real, even though the profession often looks awesome or easy to those on the outside. 

To be a brand that an influencer wants to continually work with, do the following:

  • Create high-quality content influencers can use on their own sites (should NOT sound like an advertisement for your brand, but instead, relevant to their brand)
  • Create content to be shared on their social media platforms and websites
  • Opportunities for influencers to consult/comment on marketing materials to make them more effective
  • Opportunities for influencers to become “the face” behind special marketing campaigns or social media initiatives
  • Opportunities for influencers to recruit fans for surveys and focus groups
  • Opportunities for KOLs to speak on panels or at events

Ideally, some (or all) of these opportunities will be paid. But, depending on the status of your own company, this may or may not be possible. At any rate, if the influencer likes your brand, products, and/or services enough to post, these are great ways to keep them engaged.

Bottom Line

Building and maintaining influencer relationships starts out being thoughtful (researching the right influencers, crafting the right message), then turns to being a pure numbers game (bombarding the social media networks with 500-1000+ messages per month), and then turns back to being ultra-thoughtful (creating content for your influencers, creating opportunities for your influencers to re-engage with your brand). 

Ultimately, it comes down to being diligent with your research, respectful with your follow-up, and understanding the importance of this part of your marketing. Realizing that today’s influencers are yesterday’s major magazine editors and television producers should make you wake up and pay attention to how you’re spending your time and money in this arena. 

If you want a top-notch influencer marketing strategy, or would like help implementing your influencer marketing plans,, reach out to us at AEK Solutions for a free, no-obligation Q&A session. AEK Solutions is dedicated to creating new sources of repeatable growth online by embracing a rapid-experimentation, funnel-based approach. We also utilize creative and technology, such as geotargeting, customer experience management, and moments of influence testing to develop solutions to specific digital marketing issues.