The Psychology of Influencer Marketing: How to Use Hidden Triggers to Gain Influencer Favor

Gaurav Sharma
July 23, 2018 ·
The Psychology of Influencer Marketing: How to Use Hidden Triggers to Gain Influencer Favor

Influencers receive tons of pitches every day. Their inboxes are often bursting at the seams with outreach emails from brands and marketers. Some influencers go through them, rather painstakingly, selecting some and rejecting others.

But why do they pick some over others? What is it that grabs their attention? And what can you do to be at the top of the pile? You’d be surprised to learn that the answer to most of these questions lies in basic human psychology.

If I ask you to not think about elephants, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Elephants. We jump when we hear a loud noise and withdraw our hand quickly when we touch a hot item. Every day, our decisions are affected by multiple conscious or unconscious stimuli. The same applies to influencers when they make decisions about pitches to consider.

Here are 4 actionable steps you can take to ensure that your requests become “sticky” and “influencer worthy”.

1. Choices, Choices

We’re presented with a myriad of options every day. From the type of cereal to buy to choosing what outfit to wear to work, we’re always navigation a barrage of lucrative choices. But as it turns out, when it comes to choices, less is more.

In a research study conducted by Stanford and Columbia universities, they found that most people prefer having a variety of choices. Yet, consumers are ten times more likely to make a purchase if there are a limited number of options as opposed to a more expansive list of choices. The brain overwhelms they experience when they confront too many options is often labeled “Analysis Paralysis”.

This same principle is true for influencers. Think of them as a consumer and take into account the number of pitches they receive daily.
They’re often making impulsive decisions as they skim through their emails. By leaving your request to collaborate open-ended, you’re sealing your own fate. Instead, make the call easy for them.

If you’re pitching them a guest post for their blog, for example, pique their interest with your subject line. Give them the impression that you’re offering them a range of choice. In the actual pitch, however, limit yourself to a few well-researched topics and why you feel their audience could benefit from them. In short, try following these tips:

  • Offer them a choice of what you bring to the table. For instance, you can give them a choice of infographics, articles, videos or even gifographics.
  • Suggest a few topics you can write for them with a brief. This way they’ll get a better feel for the value you might add.
  • Give them more details about your other work, especially if it’s something that aligns with their interests. Link out to your TOP performing piece of content to bolster your credibility.

2. First Impression is the Last Impression

Goes without saying that the if you’re contacting an influencer completely cold, you won’t get too many chances to impress them. With the number of emails, they go through, it’s imperative that you make a good impression.

Otherwise, you might end up in the pile of “rejected” please – like this one below. Bulk emails such as these ones are definitely not going to leave that lasting impression you want. Plus, it also has a number of typos that works against the sender.

Bulk emails such as these ones are definitely not going to leave that lasting impression you want

Remember you must overcome their initial reluctance to commit time to you – a stranger and win their trust.

Piquing their interest though the subject line is the first step. The body of your email should have ample evidence of the research you’ve done to prepare your pitch. Influencers are humans – when they see someone investing time in them first, they are that much more likely to return the favor. It’s called reciprocity.

Leverage social media to learn about their work and areas of interest.

Demonstrate that you’re an avid follower of their work by talking about their published articles or posts. Try providing insights about topics they’ve already covered. Discuss how their work has impacted yours. And you’ve laid the foundation of a genuinely rewarding relationship.

3. Take a Page out of Your Sales Team’s Book

A good way to go about your influencer outreach is to look at them as consumers of a product. The product, of course, is the content that you want published on their high authority sites.
Or your product or service that you want them to help you promote. This is where you can learn a thing or two from your sales team about conversions and about AIDA marketing.

AIDA is an acronym used to describe the progression of techniques sales pros use to persuade consumers. You can apply the same concept to your outreach process:

  • Attention: You need to grab your influencer’s attention right off the bat. Use an intriguing yet short subject line.
  • Interest: To get them interested, make the pitches all about their work and your take on their expertise. Remember – the human brain feels the most rewarded when it hears its own name spoken.
  • Desire: Once interest is out of the way, the feeling needs to intensify with desire. If the choices you give them are not adding value to their persona in any way, interest may fizzle out quite quickly.
  • Action: Remember to add a proper call-to-action at the end of your pitch so as to trigger an action. Ask them if they would like to read a draft on the suggested topics. Something concrete that comes with a sense of conclusion.

4. The Influencer is Always Right

Now, we’ve all heard the adage that the “Customer is always right.” That’s also applicable to influencers. Confirmation bias can be incredibly helpful when it comes to content promotion. Be honest, you’d be more receptive to engaging with a person who has the same beliefs as you, wouldn’t you?

You can add a more persuasive edge to your pitch by reaffirming the influencer’s opinions. It goes back to the need to research the influencers you are reaching out to. You should gather information about how they view certain trends and interpret these in the same way as them.

Reaching out to influencers who belong to your niche, or who are aligned with your brand’s values is a good place to start.

Confirmation bias is the tendency of a person to search or interpret information according to their preconceptions. By applying the concept to your pitches, you can increase the chances of your campaign getting placed. So, remember to offer them content or an opportunity that reaffirms their ideas.

So, What does a Good Pitch Look like?

Here’s one pitch that I have to admit gets a lot of things right. They’ve done a good job incorporating the concepts we’ve discussed so far. They make a good first impression with their research work and they’ve added AIDA to their pitch.

Here’s one pitch that I have to admit gets a lot of things right

Although it’s in a different context, the sender offers choices when it comes to answering the most important question. It’s a swipe-worthy trick to engage the recipient in further communication as well.

It’s All in the Mind

We often fail to realize that most of our decisions are a result of some conscious or subconscious trigger. This applies to everything we do.

So once you get a grip of these basic theories of psychology, you can elevate your influencer outreach game. You’ll surely see a rise in the number of people who engage with you if you apply these methods.

Originally published July 23, 2018 - Updated November 01, 2023
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Gaurav Sharma
Gaurav Sharma Gaurav Sharma is the Co-founder of Attrock, a Digital Marketing Company.

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