When discussing SEO and strategies for increasing website traffic, what often gets lost in the shuffle is the fundamental element at the heart of all marketing: people.
You can optimize your blog posts for the right niche keywords, improve your headlines, and write better image descriptions all day –and it’ll boost your numbers plenty.
But it’s all in service of the ever-fickle robot that is Google’s web crawler – not the real human beings who will (hopefully) be making their way to your site.
If you’ve never done influencer marketing or community building, you’re missing out on a major source of traffic: People telling other people about things (and specifically your thing).
And while it’s hard to slap a number on relationship-building when you first get started, even small successes will boost your numbers in very real ways.
Influencer Outreach and Relationship-Building Tips
Here are a few things you can do.
Shore up your content
“I thought we were talking about influencer outreach and relationships,” you might be thinking – and we are.
But while this is all about getting people to your website, the influencers you’ll be reaching out to are also people.
And they need to like your content in the first place.
This doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul – just double-check that your writing is crisp, your content is shareable, and, you know, your site loads smoothly with everything in its proper place.
Know thyself – and thy audience
Okay, okay – we still haven’t emailed anyone yet.
But you have to know who to email and what you can offer them. For any kind of relationship-building, you need to know what kinds of things you can reasonably be an authority on, and where.
To do that, put your audience front and center for a moment, and build your entire relationship-building strategy around them.
Get an understanding of what kinds of media your audience consumes – are they spending time on YouTube, participating in forums and reading blogs, or highly active on Twitter?
Consider your brand, as well. What do you offer people, and to whom? Don’t just consider the demographics of your audience – learn how to create personas and get an understanding of how you can appeal to them.
When you know what you have to offer and how your audience engages, come to them. Find the crossover of influencers who are both within your niche and have a wide reach on the right platform.
You’ll also have lasting information about your audience, what you can offer them, and who can convince them you have what they need.
Reach out in good faith
Influencer outreach is all about give-and-take. You can’t just ask for something; you need to contribute something as well.
For each of the influencers you’ve identified, research what will be valuable to them. Sponsorships, tweets, guest posts, mentions – all of these are worth something to the right person.
Whatever you settle on, put it front and center in your email. If you make it clear you understand how you can benefit them, they’ll have an easier time believing it.
Get your logistics squared away, too. Be sure to:
Email at the right time
If you schedule emails for when your chosen influencer is busiest, they might miss it entirely.
Get as good an understanding of their schedule as you can and email them during workday downtimes.
If specific information seems unavailable, go with general rules of thumb to maximize replies: email in the middle of the week, ideally during meal times like breakfast and lunch, and schedule follow-ups.
Get the right email
Sliding into your influencer’s DMs isn’t generally advisable, but it can sometimes seem like the only option if you can’t track down their email.
Perhaps not surprisingly, there’s a tool for doing just that: Email Hunter. Rather than combing through all of the influencers’ social media channels yourself, this tool streamlines the process, saving you a massive headache.
Find all the influencers you can
No matter how much personalization you put into it, cold emailing can still take a lot of patience and a lot of leads.
If your list of potential influencers is dwindling, Buzzsumo can help you find plenty more, as well as helping you keep track of where you are in the process with each lead – saving you the embarrassment of sending a follow-up to someone you never emailed in the first place.
Build local relationships – and be an influencer yourself
People engage so well with influencers online because they seem like real, trustworthy people.
But if you can be a trustworthy influencer yourself, you can cut out the middle man and drive traffic just by being someone your audience wants to engage with.
It all comes back to relationship-building: If your company is merely a product being offered, and your only engagement is occasional keyword-optimized blog posts, you’ll want to consider more personable ways to build local relationships.
This includes things like:
Joining industry Facebook and LinkedIn groups
And not only joining, but engaging – answering people’s questions, boosting people’s posts, and generally being an involved presence and a good representative of your brand.
Responding to comments
If people are commenting on you blog posts, that’s excellent! Use that to create inroads and foster a community within your audience. Respond to every comment you can, not just with a canned “Thanks for reading!” but with thoughtful, conversational replies. Spark conversation among your readers.
Creating content on the right platforms
Learning what platforms your audience cares about isn’t just good for choosing the right influencers – it’s good for becoming one yourself. If your audience loves Instagram and you aren’t on there, you’ve found your next avenue for improving engagement with your audience.
Building relationships with others in your niche
People love influencers, but they love it even more when influencers they love are friends. On platforms like YouTube, collaborative videos are hugely important and massively popular, and that can be applied to other platforms as well.
SEO improvement strategies like keyword optimization are important, but the typical tactics often share the same fundamental flaw: Google’s algorithm is constantly shifting, and everyone is racing to keep up.
But while the names of important influencers can change with each passing week, month, and year, the basic principle of relationship-building retains its importance.
Truly, using person-to-person engagement to keep people engaged with your brand is the most timeless of all marketing tactics.
Benjamin Hopper is a marketing strategist and writer. He enjoys growing companies online using advanced marketing strategies. His hobbies include reading, writing, and watching documentaries. You can reach him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @pushtocart.