People starting out in outreach marketing are often trying to come up with the right timeline for their campaigns. But the right approach is more of a guideline. This is not a rigid process; remember, flexibility is important but organization is key.

Below I breakdown the 6 main guidelines of influencer outreach and how to make this work best for you.

# 1: Plan It Out

The first step is to set your goals and define the opportunities. This could be increasing brand engagement, generate leads or driving sales, increasing your social following, improving loyalty, driving traffic to your site, or promoting a new product. Pick your top 2 key performance indicators and these will help guide the rest of your goals, including how you’ll measure success. At this stage you should allocate a budget. Branden Lattrell in an article for Business2Community states that costs range from around $5,000 to $25K, with over 50% of brands planning to increase their budgets in for the following year.

# 2: Influencer Personas

Developing influencer personas is one of the most valuable steps in the process of creating your strategy. The ideal here is to find people who are well positioned in the market that you want to penetrate by thinking about your target audience. Some key items to think about are relevant interest topics, geographic location, social presence, and posting style. You should also think of what your consumers monitor on the blogosphere or what they google for when making a purchase decision. Having these for each category of influencer you want to work with will later help tailor your pitches.

#3: Building An Influencer List

Now it’s time to focus on finding the right fit influencers based on your influencer personas and for your brand and campaign. Start by tapping into influencers who are already talking about your brand, your customer base or those that follow you on social media. Opt-In blogger networks are another great way to build out your network. Kristen Matthews points out “Since these influencers are already vetted as fans and as having an authentic connection to your brand – they can quickly be activated when needed”. When reaching out to new influencers the response rate is around 40-60%, so your list should be larger than the number you wish to activate for the campaign.

#4: Pitching and Setting Expectations

As you craft your pitch a few things to keep in mind is these are normal people with lives, you should be providing them with value and personalization is key. When pitching you should include a blurb about who you are and the company, why you think they would be great for the campaign and a call to action to learn more. Once a relationship is established, you should set the expectation for a mutually beneficial partnership. Make sure they know your KPI’s, information on the product/service, compensation and if you also want social amplification of blog posts. At this stage, remember to be flexible, but keep a hard deadline for better tracking.

#5: Creating Content

This step will make or break the success of your campaign as your influencers start to create the content based on your expectations. To help make it succeed give them content requirements, a few specific talking points, images you want them to use, FTC disclosure details and if desired, a trackable link or hashtags to include on the post. Let them have creative latitude to use their voice with organic integration into their blog, as that’s what their audience has come to trust.

#6: Monitoring Content & ROI

For this step refer back to the KPIs that were set in step one and stick to monitoring content and tracking on those key metrics. Don’t start this once the campaign is over, this should start to be tracked after you confirm your influencers to help show growth over time instead of obsessing over sudden jumps. A great method is to use your Google Analytics to see where web traffic is coming from. As Jeanette Mifsud points out you should measure amplification of your message through social monitoring, audience growth and the level of engagement with the content and your brand.

Embrace the idea of building on-going partnerships across multiple campaigns with your influencers. This will assist with easy activation for future campaigns.

I hope you find these guidelines useful as you develop your outreach strategy. Here’s an ebook for Influencer Identification Worksheet that will be a great resource as you work through these goals and guidelines.

We love to hear about what has worked for you or pitfalls you’ve experienced in the comments!