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Simple Tips for Writing an Email Style Guide

Every brand needs a style guide. The same goes for your email marketing program. An email copy style guide helps you keep your messaging consistent, which builds trust with your customers. It also saves time and helps preserve institutional knowledge.

To help you put an email style guide together for your company, we offer several tips along with questions you might ask your team to help flesh out your guide. These questions are by no means complete. They’re merely a starting place for creating your own email style guide.

1. Define your voice.

How do you want your emails to sound? Informative and professional? Creative and conversational? Hip and playful? Spell out your vision for your company’s voice in your style guide. Offer examples of what you mean. You might also express what your voice is not. For example, “informal but not sloppy” or “Quirky but not inappropriate.”

2. Describe your ideal subject line and preheader.

How long do you want your subject lines to be? Will you include emojis? Will you list sale information first? What purpose will your preheader perform? Give your team guidance into how you want your business’s subject lines to look and feel.

3. Make a list of all special style conventions.

Do you put headlines in title case? Do you use punctuation in headlines? What do you capitalize? Do you use an ampersand instead of “and”? Do you spell out numerals or use the number? How do you message your sales? All of these questions and more need to be clearly and concisely laid out in your style guide.

For example, here are two common style guide conventions that tend to apply across the board:

  • Use active voice rather than passive voice.
  • Use positive language rather than negative language.

Here’s a list of topics you’ll want to address in your email style guide:

  • Abbreviations (i.e. when to spell them out)
  • Acronyms (i.e. when to spell them out)
  • Numerals (e.g. two or 2)
  • Dates (e.g. Sun., Nov 24; 11/24; etc.)
  • Time (e.g. 3pm or 3 p.m., etc.)
  • Capitalization (title case, sentence case, etc.)
  • Contractions (yea or nay)
  • Emojis (yea or nay)
  • Decimals and fractions (e.g. two-thirds or 2/3)
  • Percentages (e.g. % or “percent”)
  • Ranges and spans (e.g., hyphen or en-dash)
  • Money
  • Telephone numbers (e.g. parentheses around the area code or not)
  • Temperature
  • Punctuation (e.g. apostrophes, colons, commas, dashes, hyphens, ellipses, periods, question marks, exclamation points, quotation marks, prime marks, semicolons, ampersands, etc.)
  • File extensions (e.g. uppercase, lowercase, with or without a period, etc.)
  • Pronouns
  • Names and titles (i.e. which to capitalize)
  • Slang and jargon (i.e. to use it or not to use it)
  • Text formatting (e.g. font type, font size, bold, etc.)
  • Words not to use

4. Create a spelling list.

Do you put a hyphen in “non-stick” or leave it as a single, non-hyphenated word? Is it “website” or “Web site”? From gray/grey to donut/doughnut, there are numerous words that have more than one spelling. Identify the ones that might relate most to your business and make a list of your preferred spelling.

5. Designate a house dictionary.

Prevent other spelling issues by designating a house dictionary as the one your company relies on. Many dictionaries are found online, so you don’t need to get hard copies for everyone on your email team.

6. Designate a house grammar style guide.

A house grammar style guide will address all the random grammar issues that arise as your team develops email copy. To keep the questions and confusion to a minimum, name a specific grammar style guide as your grammar style guide of preference. You have several to choose from, including the Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook, both of which are available online for a fee.

 

Have questions? Get in touch with Filament to learn more.

Why You Need a Brand Style Guide


Brands often have style guides that focus on the look and feel of the design of their content. It’s equally important to have a style guide that articulates the look and feel of the words you use. Such a style guide would include a set of standards for your brand’s written content. Those standards might include how you define your brand voice as well as specifics like when to use a hyphen (e.g. non-stick/nonstick) or whether you use serial commas. We’ll cover the nitty-gritty details of how to create your own style guide and what to include in our forthcoming May blog posts. Before that, let’s talk rationale. Why does your brand need a style guide?

1. Consistency

A style guide helps you communicate consistent messaging to your customers. You might have many people creating content for your brand. Each one of them will have their own way with words. However, you want your content to have your brand’s way with words. Documenting that way will provide your writers with guideposts so that your content sounds, looks, and feels like it’s coming from your brand. This not only makes your brand more legible to customers, but also makes your brand more recognizable because people will associate your brand with a specific style.

2. Builds Trust

This point follows from the first. Inconsistency is distracting for the reader, and it’s damaging to your brand. When your copy is all over the place with a seeming lack of orderliness, it portrays a lack of attention to detail and unprofessionalism that calls to question your very ability to deliver on the products and services you offer.

3. Saves Time

Style guides save time because they’re a helpful resource to answer questions about writing and formatting for your content. Everyone knows exactly where to go to find out whether you spell out numerals or use the numbers in your product descriptions, and you don’t have to keep answering the same questions over and over (and over) again. Plus, it’s a great on-boarding tool for bringing new members onto your team, especially when it includes information about your brand voice.

4. Preserves Institutional Knowledge

When your style guide resides in one person’s head and they leave your organization or business, the style guide leaves with them. Having a documented style guide not only offers a single source of truth for questions, but it means you’ll always have answers to style questions, even when your style guru is out of the office.

A style guide makes it easier for anyone in your company to communicate your brand to your audience in a consistent manner. Check back with us each Wednesday this month for info on how to create a style guide for your content marketing, email, SEO and social media.

Filament can help you create on-brand content that tells your story and connects with customers. Learn more about Filament.

Create a Successful UX Social Media Strategy in 5 Steps

User experience is a key element when designing a successful website. But good UX shouldn’t be reserved solely for customers already on your site. How can you translate good user experience into your social media strategy as well?

An excellent UX strategist thinks of the end-user first. In UX social media you must fully understand who your customer is and identify what they are looking for when they first visit one of your social channels.

Great social UX focuses on capturing the customer’s attention right away. Then delivers on what’s promised in a clear, concise way that is easily actionable and seen as valuable content to your potential customer.

Use these five key elements to define a clear UX social media strategy.

Know Your Customer

Always think of your end-user first. Know who your core customer is and try to answer their question before they ask it.  Think of the why behind each post you compose. Why would your customer need to know this information? How is it helpful in serving their needs?

Define Your Voice

Once you know who you are speaking to it’s important to define your brand voice. Create a personality for your brand that sets the tone. And know how to authentically engage with your customer through every interaction from “like” to comment to question.

Create Easily Actionable Content

Ensure that each post you create has a simple, clear and concise call-to-action that gets a customer to that next step. When composing a post be clear on what you want the customer to do. Shop now? Watch this? Learn more?  

With UX social media you are on the front lines of the customer experience. You need to ensure that the content you create, which is possibly the first glimpse a potential customer has of your brand, is simple yet attention grabbing with an actionable next step. Ensure your copy is easy to read and clearly shows the user what to do next.

Make Content Valuable

Your customer is coming to your social channel as a first engagement with your brand. Be sure to not only engage but also educate with each post you create.

It’s also important to understand the story you are telling your customer through both the visual and written elements of a post. There should be a balance between the two. With social it’s easy to put heavy emphasis on visual elements—video and images—especially when the dominating social channels are visually focused (think Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat). But an image can only explain so much. It’s important to add words along with the image to clearly define what you want your customer to do or learn. A photo is only part of the story you are telling. Copy with a direct message provides the added emphasis for the action to be taken.  

Optimize Your Current Social Strategy

Don’t disappoint your customer. Your goal is to create a reliable and trustworthy two-way conversation.  Part of this is posting on a consistent schedule to ensure that fresh, new content is being published on a daily basis giving customers a reason to come back.  

As with all user experience it’s important to test, test and test again. Create a cohesive A/B test plan across all of your social accounts to ensure that you know what works for that specific channel and what content your customer wants to engage with. When testing also be sure to remember the differences between each of the social platforms and devices, particularly mobile vs. desktop. With each post you should be aware of how the image is displaying on each and test what works best with your audience.

 

It is imperative to think about the user experience as a whole on social media. From the first post your customer sees to a timely response to their question, think of how your customer is engaging with your brand on social and how you can provide the best experience along each touch point.

Looking to improve your social media user experience? Contact Filament to create a cohesive plan today.

Why UX Copywriting Is Key for Email Marketing

UX copywriting is a must for optimal subscriber engagement. In this post, we offer questions to get you thinking from your subscriber’s point of view. We offer ideas for how to apply UX copywriting to different parts of the email. And, finally, we offer a few examples.
 
As with any of your content, knowing what your customers want and need is essential. This knowledge will shape the content for each part of your email. Start with the following considerations:
 
Consider the subscriber:
  • Who’s reading your email?
  • What background knowledge do they have with your business?
  • What are their goals?
  • What are their pain points?
 
Consider the context:
  • Where are they physically?
  • What device are they using?
  • Are they in a rush?
Consider the flow:
  • What can they do next?
Consider your business goals:
  • Ideally, what would you like them to do?
Consider the brand:
  • How do you want the experience to feel?
These questions set you up to create relevant content. That is, content that’s relevant for your subscribers and for your business. They also offer opportunities for segmentation and personalization. For example, you can segment your emails by level of familiarity with your business. Or you could segment based on geographic location. Then, create unique email content for each segment.
 
Each part of the email has a specific job to do. As a result, the answers to your questions above will play out differently in each part of the email.
 

Subject Line

Your subject line has a lot of work to do. In roughly 40 characters, it must summarize your email. At the same time, it must entice your subscriber to open the email.
 
How do you entice subscribers? By offering what they want. If subscribers want to know about deals, send them emails about your deals. Put the best deal in the subject line. If they want to know about trends in your industry, send emails about the trends. Again, be sure to communicate that in the subject line.
 

Preheader

The preheader offers an effective way to follow up on your subject line content. You can use it to feature another deal or highlight another service you offer.
Learn more about writing great subject lines and preheaders here.
 

Body Copy

Keep it brief, clear, on point, and highlight the most important information. Structure your body copy with headlines and subheads to make it easier to scan. Make calls-to-action clear and visible, so subscribers know what they can do next. Ideally, what they can (and want) to do next will align with what you want them to do.
 
In general, all copy in your email must be succinct, relevant, and well structured.
Now, let’s take a look at a few examples:

Subject Line: Up To 25% Off Nike, Under Armour & More!

Preheader: Shop These Amazing Deals In-Store & Online!

Dick's Sporting Goods Email

This email from Dick’s Sporting Goods has body copy that delivers on the subject line. It highlights the most important information with a large font size and the color red. Plus, it has a succinct call-to-action: “shop now.”

 

Subject Line: Oreos, Cheez-its, chips, dips & more game-time snacks

Preheader: Get ready for the big games. Pick up in store as soon as today.

Walmart EmailWalmart Email

Walmart keeps its copy succinct yet playful. The email highlights the calls-to-action in blue. The blue highlighting allows the writer to add playfulness to the copy. This playfulness fits with the casual tone of an email geared toward game day.

 

Subject Line: Introducing Member Inspired Gear + 20% Off Coupons

Preheader: Save on Trail Ready Gear at REI and REI Garage

REI Email

This REI email offers a good example of structuring copy based on priority. The main call-to-action is in a bright green box. It’s clear and brief. A second call-to-action appears in white and in a smaller font: “Not a member? Join today.”

 

Subject Line: Patio: up to 30% off. Ends Saturday.

Preheader: Get decked out for less.

Target Email

Target offers a succinct headline that summarizes the email. Its preheader offers inspiration with a playful pun. The body copy that describes the deal is straightforward and to the point. It highlights important information with bold type. Plus, it inserts a little fun with its call-to-action.

 

One of the great parts about email is that it’s easy to track. Since it’s easy to track, you can find out what’s working well with your email campaigns. You can use this information to answer the questions above. You’ll also want to use it to optimize your emails for better engagement.
 
Need a little help crafting UX copy for email? Get it touch with Filament. It’s what we do!

UX and SEO Copywriting: Optimizing for Your Audience

It’s tempting to believe that keywords/keyphrases have evolved to their highest level. With a focus on user experience, UX and SEO are finally getting the marriage they deserve. Even so, any SEO specialist worth their salt knows that this field is constantly moving and there are bound to be changes down the road. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bask in this honeymoon period.

 

This is  great time for copywriters. They’re no longer trying to stuff in keywords wherever they can, fighting every literary instinct they have. They can finally go back to being storytellers, writing logically and succinctly to their audience with, of course, a mindful eye on keywords.

 

The SEO specialist is also enjoying this shift. Legitimate practices are finally being rewarded and they appeal directly to the target audience. User experience (UX) is becoming the holy grail of SEO. This fits right in with quality optimization rather than the black hat method of racing around trying to find the latest cheat.

 

So, what best practices can you brush up on or implement to bring UX and SEO together on your website?

 

Keyword Research

If this sounds like something we’ve been preaching all along, it is! Keywords are the foundation of every website’s content. You need to know what words/phrases your audience uses and implement them. Keep in mind that your audience may use different terms than industry insiders and you need to write to the group you want to attract. Also, keyword research needs to be refreshed every once in a while. Trends change, language evolves, you may have new offerings so prepare to do fresh research routinely.

 

Meta Descriptions

While Google has denied that meta descriptions played into SEO rankings in the past, we’ve consistently encouraged you to write your own meta descriptions. Google does pull page descriptions off your content for you if you don’t write them. The analogy we’ve used all along is that the meta description is your first introduction to a potential customer. This applies more now than ever. You want to be your own voice here and put your website in the most favorable light. First impressions are as important online as they are in person.

 

Engaging, Optimized Copywriting

Filament prides itself on our ability to provide exactly this. This is where we excel in merging UX and SEO and it’s vital to your success and your user’s satisfaction. Whether you use Filament, another outside agency or go in-house for your copywriting; it’s vital that you use a professional writer who knows how to answer the searcher’s questions in a way that’s appealing.

 

Where to Next?

Finally, you have to “big picture” your website. Ask yourself where you visitor wants to go next. This may be a multiple-choice answer rather than one simple answer, but no matter what, you need to guide them there. The user wants to be able to check out quickly and easily. Maybe they want to buy or learn about related items without doing a fresh search; you need to anticipate that and take them there quickly. Or maybe they want to go somewhere entirely different. If you want to keep them, you have to take them there or change their mind.

 

The take away is that to fully enjoy the love affair between UX and SEO you have to be able to think like a user and give them what they want. With teamwork, the user is happy and the website achieves its goals and a lasting relationship is forged.

 

Contact Filament if you’d like to learn more about having us partner with you to create engaging optimized copy that appeals to users.

How to Produce Great UX Content

Is design the first thing that springs to mind when you think about user experience (UX)? That’s common. Yet, it overlooks that great copy is essential for great UX. Better UX copy means more shares, bigger reach, and more conversions. It makes it easier for people to convert. Great UX copy also decreases the cost of customer support. Why? Because people will have fewer questions about how to use your site. On top of that, great UX copy builds confidence in your brand.
 
So, how do you produce that great UX copy? UX specialist Melissa Eggleston once wrote, “The common principle in the UX field is empathy for the users really understanding what they want and need.” If you want great UX, you need to apply this to your copy, too.
 
To understand what your customers want and need, you need to look at your user data. User data can tell you which parts of your website are the most successful, i.e. get the most visits. It can also tell you which are the least successful, e.g. trigger the most customer service requests. You can also ask for feedback from your visitors to find out what they want and need from your website.
 
Buyer personas are another great tool for getting to know your customers. Buyer personas help you better understand the people who visit your website. To make your own, use sales team feedback or conduct customer interviews over the phone or in person. Then, keep your buyer personas handy when you’re producing UX copy.
 
UX copy takes many forms, including conversion copy and microcopy. Conversion copy includes headlines, calls to action, and product copy. Microcopy includes labels on form fields, commands, instructional text, error messaging, and confirmations. To be effective, it needs to follow these four guidelines:
 
  • Clear: The best UX copy clearly tells your visitors what to do next and why.
  • Concise: Say it with as few words as possible.
  • Relevant: To be relevant, you need to know your customers inside and out. This guideline requires listening to what your customers want and need.
  • Well Structured: Great UX content emphasizes important information. It makes copy easier to read by structuring it with headlines and subheads.
 
On top of these four guidelines, the style of your UX copy should match your brand. If you want to convey a playful and helpful vibe, your UX copy needs to be playful and helpful. In other words, UX copy is another opportunity for branding. At the same time, be sure you maintain the four guidelines above. For example, don’t sacrifice clarity just to be clever.
 
The goal is to make your website more usable to up your conversions, expand your reach, and cut down on costs. Great copy is key in making that happen.
 
As you can see, writing great UX copy involves juggling a lot of metaphorical balls in the air at once. Filament offers copywriting services to help you create great UX content. Get in touch with Filament today to get started writing great UX content for your customers.

Influencer Marketing & Social Media

Social media influencer marketing has been an integral part of strategic marketing plans over the past few years but is poised to be one of THE top marketing trends of 2017.

Why choose to work with an influencer?  The benefits are numerous, including the opportunity to partner with an authentic voice in your industry to drive brand awareness and generate sales.

First define your goals for creating an influencer campaign.  Are you looking to drive brand awareness, traffic or sales? Be sure to set goals and define metrics upfront so you are able to measure the success throughout your campaign.

 

How To Find An Effective Influencer?

The most impactful and successful social media influencer marketing campaigns are built on the foundation of an authentic relationship.  Search Instagram, Twitter and blogs for influencers who have mentioned your product in the past and are true fans.

Make sure the social channels where they are most relevant are also a good fit for your brand. And ensure that the content they are creating on a daily basis is professional, engaging and in line with your company’s image.

 

Reach vs. Cost

There’s been plenty of chatter about the skyrocketing cost of influencers.  Don’t let that scare you. There are plenty of influencers with small but eager and engaged audiences that will work for product or lower costs in the initial phases of a relationship.

Remember when selecting an influencer to partner with that likes don’t always equal engagement.  Likes are easy but reading the comments allows you to see the true engagement and trust that they’ve built with their audience to make your product truly resonate.

 

The Pitch & Professionalism

When pitching an influencer be genuine about why you admire them.  Be sure to note recent posts and why you think they’d be a great fit with your brand.  Remember that relationships tend to work best when it’s a two way conversation.  No one likes to receive a blanket form letter; think of your initial pitch in the same way.

Be sure to ask for a media kit, make sure they know their metrics, and watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes in their correspondence.  This person is representing your brand—it’s important to ensure that they are professional and will shine the right light on your product.

Once you’ve found an influencer to partner with be sure to provide on-brand messaging for them to incorporate into the post.  Also, ask permission to repost and share their post across your social channels to reutilize the content they’ve created with your audience.

 

Working with influencers can be extremely beneficial to your social marketing strategy.  It not only helps in amplifying your brand to a different audience segment, but also puts your product in front of new potential customers. Be sure to continue to nurture the relationships of past and present influencers to ensure that your brand is top of mind for years to come.

 

Need help creating a successful social media influencer marketing campaign?  Contact the Filament team today to create a social plan sure to generate results.

Influencer Email Marketing: What You Need to Know

When it comes to influencer marketing, most people think of social media, and rightly so. However, influencer marketing has a place in your email marketing strategies, too.

Influencer marketing is leveraging the credibility and audience of industry experts and authorities—aka influencers—to improve a brand’s credibility and/or reach a new or larger audience. The potential benefits of influencer marketing are many and include generating a wider audience, increased content reach, more authoritative inbound links, credibility and authority by association, and future content, client and partnership opportunities.

 

Influencers and Email Marketing

According to Litmus, there are 2 main ways that influencers can help expand your reach via email marketing: 1) email forwarding and 2) social sharing.

 

Email Forwarding

If you want influencers to forward your message, you need to make sure they’re well written and well designed. Start with a simple subject line that lets influencers quickly decide if your email is something they want to share with their network. Make sure your email is easy to scan and that it relays the most important info upfront. Last but not least, include a clear and compelling call-to-action.

Email personalization makes it more likely that influential subscribers will forward your email to their friends, family and followers. Make sure your email content is relevant to them by using previous influencer behavior and knowledge of influencer interests. This requires knowing your influencers well.

You can also garner more forwards by incentivizing them. Consider including a coupon or discount code right in your email.

If you’re offering an option to invite friends to a service, be sure to make it as easy as possible to invite friends and for the invitees to sign up. You can even offer options to personalize the invite, which has been shown to increase conversions.

 

Social Sharing

Social sharing is another great way influencers can help expand your reach. It can take the form of the influencer clicking on the social media icons embedded in your email to share your content. In this case, you want to make sure these icons are highly visible in your emails, instead of hiding them in gray at the bottom of your email content. Secondly, influencers can share your email itself on social. Or they can simply mention your brand on social as a result of a call-to-action in your email.

Social shares offer great way to grow your email list, too, since you can embed an email signup on your Facebook page.

 

Conclusion

While influencer marketing can be time consuming, influencer-shared content is more engaging than paid or owned content. As you progress with your influencer marketing strategy, track your success and optimize your strategy for your target audience and your key influencers.

 

Need help creating content for or with one of your key influencers? Filament can help! Get in touch with us today to start creating relevant content for your target influencers.

Influencer Marketing for SEO Success

In the world of SEO, we’ve experienced a huge shift from rank-centric SEO to influencer marketing SEO. Initially search engine optimization centered on highlighting those keywords and pushing them as hard as possible so Google realized that we most definitely were the authority because look how many times we say that keyword. Then Google changed the game because they realized we weren’t necessarily giving their searchers the best experience, we were just saying the words they wanted to hear. As SEO shifted the focus moved to the customer. Then, somewhere along the way we realized that an influential web presence could actually do the marketing for us if we appealed to them. From these experiences and this evolution, influencer marketing SEO was born.

 

So how do you tap into your SEO efforts and push them toward influencer marketing – how do you win in the influencer marketing game?

 

Go Social

The social realm is where all the cool kids play – literally! Make sure that your brand has a social presence and is working with what is relevant today. This can change quite quickly or it can hang on for years, you just need to have an eye and ear on the ground to stay on top of it. You also need to feel relevant in the social world so that people realize you’re out there.

 

Crowdsource

While your marketing team works diligently to create content that people want to share you can encourage the outside world to help in that aspect. Shake free of the sell, sell, sell mentality and come up with a way to invite people to share stories, images and video of themselves with your product.

 

Backlinks

Natural backlinks have huge SEO power and the best way to do that is to create something a market influencer wants to share. If you or I share a link, chances are it might get shared by a few people or it might not get shared at all but influencers have the prestige and authority that sparks an epidemic of sharing; reach the right market influencer and that content exponentially works in your favor.

 

Find Your Influencer

Do your research and find out who your target demographic looks to for information and entertainment. Then hire that person to work for you. While it works best if it appears that market influencers are organically promoting a product it doesn’t actually have to be that way. The key here is to actually find the right person who not only is a powerful source to your customers but one who also aligns with your company values. Share their posts so the relationship looks organic and mutual. Make this a long-term, lasting relationship with believability at the core.

 

Use the Influencer Fan Base

Don’t forget that if your target audience loves Celebrity Blogger X and you think they’d be a perfect marketing influencer for you then they probably have a pretty big fan base that may love your product/service/website but not even know it yet. You don’t have to rely on Celebrity Blogger X to hit their base, you can do it too by becoming a part of the conversation and introducing yourself to their fan base.

 

Influencer marketing SEO, in many ways, is a fresh approach to SEO and to marketing itself but it does all come back to the old idea getting a “celebrity” to promote your product. The catch is that in this day and age a celebrity standing up in a commercial talking about a product isn’t believable but a powerful market influencer mentioning an item or sharing a link from your campaign does strike the audience as not only believable but desirable.

 

If you need content that speaks directly to your audience and can echo the voice of your market influencer, contact Filament to see how we can help.

Influencer Marketing Strategy in 2017

Influencer marketing is a digital marketing trend that will continue to gather speed in 2017. As a result, we’re starting off the year by providing you with useful information about creating an influencer marketing strategy to strengthen your content marketing efforts.

Before we dive into strategy, let’s review a few influencer marketing basics. Influencer marketing is leveraging the credibility and audience of industry experts and authorities—aka influencers—to improve a brand’s credibility and/or reach a new or larger audience. Influencer content is content created collaboratively with an influencer.

The potential benefits of influencer marketing are many and include generating a wider audience, increased content reach, more authoritative inbound links, credibility and authority by association, and future content, client and partnership opportunities.

 

Goals

Before you begin, define the goals for your influencer marketing efforts. How do you want to use influencers to contribute to and promote your content? Do you want to drive traffic to your site? Drive sales? Build brand awareness? Focus on one goal and translate it into metrics you can track.

 

Research

As you prepare to contact influencers, you need to do research on your audience’s online behavior, potential influencers, and your potential influencer’s online behaviors.

Start by finding out where your target audience spends their time online, the kinds of content they respond to, and the influencers they listen to.

Then, put together a list of the influencers your audience listens to whose personal brand fits with your products and services. For example, you might read their content or check out their website and read their about page to find out if they’re a good fit.

Prioritize your pared-down list of influencers by those who engage most effectively with your target audience. Do they reply to Twitter mentions? Share other people’s content? Comment on blog posts? Reply to comments on their own blog posts? Influencers need not have a huge following, but they do need to engage effectively with the audience you want to receive your message.

Once you know who your key influencers are, find out who they are and what motivates them. Take the time to understand their focus, their audience, what they care about and why.

 

Relationships

Influencer marketing is largely about building and nurturing relationships. To start, pick 2 or 3 people from your list of priority influencers. In order to kick off a relationship with an influencer, you might begin by posting questions or comments to their blog posts. Follow them on social media networks and share their content. Send them direct messages with questions and comments about their work.

Later, after you’ve partnered with them on content, remember to thank them for any content they contribute to and ask them to share it with their audience. Follow up to let them know if the content performed well, if there are any comments for them to respond to, or to put out feelers for another content opportunity for the future.

Maintain the relationship by reaching out regularly and continuing to share their content and to comment on their material.

 

Collaboration

Influencer marketing is also about collaboration. As you get to know your priority influencers better, start thinking about original ideas for collaboration that make sense for both your target audience and your key influencers. Influencers are often intrigued by collaborations they haven’t participated in before.

At the same time, it’s perfectly acceptable to start out with tried-and-true influencer content, such as inviting an influencer to join you for a podcast episode, asking an influencer to contribute content to your site, interviewing an influencer for a blog post on your blog, and asking influencers to share your content on their social media networks.

Pick topics relevant to your audience and the influencer and define the form of the content—blog post, e-book, social media promotion, etc.—you want to produce based on your earlier research. Be willing to be flexible if the influencer throws out an alternate idea.

 

Outreach

Once you’ve established a good rapport with your key influencers, start crafting an outreach email in which you ask for what you want. In this email, you want to be clear, succinct, and straightforward. State outright what you want and what’s in it for the influencer.

How will the influencer benefit? Can you offer them access to new audience? Promotional perks? Whatever it is, state it upfront.

Make sure your influencer outreach email is personalized with key information about their focus and their audience in order to show that you’ve done your research. Schedule out your initial message, reply, and follow-ups to be sure you don’t miss a beat. When the best time to send your outreach email? It’s generally best to connect midweek, preferably on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Lastly, make it as easy as possible for them to help you. If you’re asking an influencer to write a social media post about your product, include a re-written post with embed codes, images and short URLs as needed.

 

Measurement

As you progress with your influencer marketing strategy, track your success with the metrics you defined with your goals. Optimize your strategy for your target audience and your key influencers.

 

While influencer marketing can be time-consuming, it’s a must-have part of your content marketing strategy in 2017. You can create a better chance for success by having an influencer marketing strategy in place from the get-go.

Need help creating content for or with one of your key influencers? Filament can help! Get in touch with us today to start creating useful content for your target audience.

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