When I started blogging, back in 2015, I had just learnt that influencer marketing was becoming a thing and that a lot of bloggers were getting brand collaborations. Indeed, I had myself, as a social media intern, worked with influencers and bloggers, gifting them products in exchange for a shoutout on their social media. As I got more and more active on Instagram, engaging every day with a lot of people, and growing fairly quick, brands started to get in touch with me for partnerships and collaborations.
As more and more brands reached out to influencers and platforms popped up here and there, I realized that the best way to get more brand collaborations was to put myself out there. Even though back then Instagram wasn’t as saturated as it is today and growing your follower count was much easier, it was still hard to get noticed by brands you were interested in. Despite an all-consuming impostor syndrome and a huge fear of rejection, I started to do brand outreach.
Six Mistakes That Can Cost You Brand Collaborations
I am not gonna lie, I did not have extraordinary success to start with. Because I did a lot of stupid mistakes, which sort of ruined my chances to get brand collaborations and partnership. No one wants to see a generic email or be called another name. No one will get back to you if you think they are another brand. So yes, I had my share of silly mistakes that cost me brand collaborations. However, as time went by, as I worked in influencer marketing and improved myself as a blogger, my success rate increased.
As a full-time marketing manager and as a blogger, I was on both ends of blogger outreach. I drafted and sent emails to influencers I wanted the brand to work with. And I received emails from brands who wanted to work with me. But one thing I realized as I received dozens of influencers’ emails per day is that a lot of them made a lot of very silly mistakes that really did cost them brand collaborations. Because their mistakes rebutted me so much that I either did not even get back to them or just sent them a straight ‘no’ without even looking at their social media.
If you think about it, reaching out to a brand for a partnership is a bit like applying for a job. The first impression does count and will determine whether you are considered for the next stage. Of course, silly mistakes will rarely get you ahead. Now, those mistakes are avoidable. As per my experience both as a marketing manager and a blogger, here is a list of six very common yet silly mistakes that bloggers do when reaching out to brands that can cost them the partnerships they seek.
How to stupidly ruin your chances to get brand collaborations
1. Generic outreach emails
Sending generic outreach emails is something that I have been guilty of doing in the past. And I can guarantee you have been too. Tempting, isn’t it? To send the same email to everyone, while just changing the name of the brand and recipient? After all, curating the perfect email and personalizing it to the recipient is a lot of work. Why bother when a generic outreach email might work just as well and get you those prized brand collaborations? WRONG!
Brands are not stupid. The influencer marketing officers reading your email aren’t either. Sure, it is a strategy that may have worked in the past when influencer marketing was new. Or with really small brands who are not used to working with influencers. But people can tell when they are receiving a generic email. Especially if you start your email with “Hi there” or “Hi lovely” and do not mention the brand in the body of the email. Or when the email straight does not make sense to the industry from which the brand comes from.
Influencer marketing managers receive a lot of blogger emails every day. If they have to choose between a generic email and a tailored email, who will get brand collaborations do you think? Of course, the sender of the tailored email! Because it will show that this blogger put more research, work and effort into drafting that email and that they are really interested in working with the brand on a partnership. Beyond “feeling special”, a tailored email shows application and professionalism.
What to do instead: Do your research. Try as much as possible to find the person actually in charge of brand collaborations in the company. If you cannot find it (although Linkedin often gives in the information), try to email the broader office, i.e. press or marketing. Then, if you still do not have a good contact, you may reach out to the generic email but it should be your last resort. Make sure to clearly state what the email is about in the subject. Then, address the recipient by its name, if you have found it. If not, ask that your email be forwarded to the person in charge of brand collaborations and partnerships. Explain why you want to work with the brand and why you’d be a great fit. Suggest collaboration ideas and show what value you bring to the brand.
2. Multiple recipients in CC
I think this is the stupidest mistake of all, that I have seen so many times, and that really you should avoid at all cost. Not only because you will lose all credibility but because every other brand that you will have reached out with the same email, will see what you did. To be honest, that’s pretty embarrassing. Especially when the brand decides to reply to you while everybody else is copied in and they tell you that maybe you should not copy everybody in the same email. It never happened to me. However, while I worked at ADEXE London, I received an email from a blogger who had done just that. And another brand he had reached out got back to him with mocking words, which we all saw.
Although the blogger did a very stupid mistake, I felt bad for him. Frankly, that was quite embarrassing for him. Yet, that episode helped me make sure I was very careful when sending an email. Never copy in brands together in the same email. If you are really that lazy, you may BCC everyone so that no one knows the email have been sent to other brands. Although, let me assure you, brand outreach emails sent to multiple recipient are always generic emails and managers will know when they see a generic email that you probably have sent to more people.
To be honest, that unfortunate email also put me off and I did not get back to him nor check his social media. As previously said, a generic email is never a good idea and multiple recipients is even worse. That is one mistake that will 100% cost you brand collaborations no matter who the manager is. To be honest, if an influencer friend of mine did that, I’d have serious doubts on whether I’d want to work with them. After all, lack of effort and application before you ever start working with someone, is a red flag to be wary of. Indeed, it probably means that this lack of effort will carry on during the partnership.
What to do instead: Never ever copy in different recipients. Even BCC is risky. When reaching out to brands for partnerships, send one email at a time to one recipient. Again, try to find the email of the executive in charge of influencer marketing and brand collaborations. Address the email to them, mention the brand, explain why you want to work with them, show the value you bring. If you can’t find the email address, find the generic one but remain as specific as possible in the body of the email.
3. Email in subject title
Oh my god, this one! Something I always told myself while working and receiving outreach emails for brand collaborations is to never ever laugh or make fun of whomever is sending them. To be honest, sometimes it is very hard, especially when something is common sense to you. Why would you ever write the entire body of your emails in the email subject? Really, why? What do you think you will achieve doing this? I can’t tell you how many of those emails I received in the past! Not so much now since we are not as big on influencer marketing, but back then!
When you see the email in your inbox, you click on it thinking that maybe it is just a very long email subject. Once you open the email, you see that there is not body. Literally nothing. Everything is in the subject title. And that’s it. That’s the email. No need to explain why I’d not even read to the end of the subject. A negative answer sent straight back. I always try to answer all emails, even if the answer is a no. Personally, I do not like to be ignored or never getting an answer. I assume nobody does. That’s why I always answer, even if it might not be the answer you expected.
Anyways. Having the body of the email in the subject screams of copying and pasting a generic email in the wrong location. It shows rush, lack of consideration and professionalism. You did not bother to at least copy and paste your generic email in the body. Plus, you did not bother putting a few seconds more in this email. Thus, why would I bother working with you? There is taking, but there is also giving. And this sort of stupid mistakes will 100% cost you brand collaborations. No influencer marketing manager will ever answer back to that with a positive answer.
What to do instead: I told above that you should refrain from using generic emails that you send to everybody. The influencer world is small and people talk. However, if you are that lazy, please, at least, do make sure you copy and paste it to the main body of the email, not the subject title. Otherwise, you could just spend more time crafting a good outreach email like we said in the points above, which will increase your chances of getting brand collaborations.
4. Missing social and blog links
This next silly mistake absolutely cost you brand collaborations because it is missing the basics of even generic emails. To me, this is common sense and quite obvious. However, as I have seen the mistake many times, I can only assume that it is not the case for everyone. When an email catches my eyes and that I go further in reading a blogger proposal, the one thing I will check out is the blog or social media. After all, the media kit will act as a resume and those social media as the different jobs and experience on it.
Indeed, if a blogger is suggesting an Instagram collaboration, I will need to see their Instagram accounts before making a decision. Is the Instagram on brand? Are they a good fit? Is the quality of the content good enough? How many followers? What is the engagement rate? A lot of things to consider. However, if you do not include your social media links to your email, how on earth am I supposed to find you and check you out? And no, it is not my job to guess your handle nor copy and paste what you gave me to find you.
Giving away your Instagram handle will not be enough. If you want me to check out your social media, give me the link. When I receive so many emails and have just a few seconds to dedicate to each, I will of course focus on those who make my life easier, which includes adding your social links. You are emailing me for a partnership. Your job is to give me all the information I need to assess whether you could work together. The absence of social link once more shows little application (like sending a job application without resume). If I need to put in extra effort to check you out, it’s a ‘no’ from me.
What do do instead: When you send an email to a brand for a collaboration, make sure you link multiple times to your blog and social media. Either a native link as part of a sentence or the link itself. You may also link your social media at the end of the email. Influencer managers will need to see what you can do. Make sure you also mention your follower count as well as engagement rate (and growth rate if you have it), as those numbers may increase your chances of getting brand collaborations.
5. No clear business proposal
I know it can be very intimidating to reach out to a brand for a partnership. Fear of rejection may deter people from crafting a detailed and precise business proposal. You may also fear that the brand laugh at your idea. First of all, good influencer managers will never do that. They may think it is irrelevant to their brand, but will not dismiss bloggers reaching out to them. At least, not as far as I am concerned. However, it is important that you show your interest in the brand beyond saying “I love your brand”.
So you love the brand and want to work together. That’s great. You’re sending your Instagram link with your main stats. Amazing. Then, you write three four sentences saying you love the brand because x, y and z. And that’s it. But that is not enough, I am sorry. Some brands may accept that, but as influencer marketing becomes more scrutinized and managers get better at it, it is likely that it won’t be enough. Reaching out for brand collaborations is like applying for a job.
Your media kit along with your social media and past brand collaborations are your resume and experience. Your email is your cover letter. You need to tell me why you love the brand so much, how it resonates with you, how its message aligns with your values. It is important that you explain why and how you think you’d be a good fit and both you and the brand will get value out of this partnership. What are you bringing to the table? A very high engagement rate? High quality photos? A huge conversion rate? Try to think as per what the brand might be looking for in influencers. Do not be lazy, think of brands collaborations as job applications. You need to make your case.
What to do instead: Draft your email in word. There should be around three paragraphs. The first paragraph will explain who you are and what you want. The second paragraph will be about why you want to work with the brand and how its missions and values align with yours. The third paragraph is about the value you bring to the brand and what you can do for them. Don’t forget to highlight numbers and give examples of previous relevant work. The proposal does not need to be super detailed but there should be at least a sketch of an idea.
6. Bad grammar and spelling
Last but not least of those mistakes that can cost you brand collaborations is bad grammar, along with bad spelling. To me, this is obvious. Because good grammar and spelling are essential in life, whether professional or personal. You do not get to the next stage of a job application if your resume and cover letter are stuffed with spelling mistakes. This should not be a surprise to you but it is exactly the same when it comes to brand outreach.
Of course, influencer managers may be more lenient sometimes. For example, it has happened that non-English speakers got in touch for a brand partnership. In that case, if there was broken English or mistakes, I disregarded them. However, when an English native sends me a rag, they get a negative answer. Because they had the ability and time to proofread and remove those mistakes. But they didn’t, which shows a lack of consideration. If you use the same template each time, that you personalize for each brand, it should be pristine with excellent English.
Plus, do make sure that you actually change all the bits that need to be changed. How bad would it looks if you email brand A while talking about brand B in the body of the email? That is why proofreading is so important. Always make sure you give an extra minute to remove any spelling mistakes you might have missed. Spelling mistakes are seen by a lot of people as lack of professionalism. To many HR professional, a tiny spelling mistake might well make the difference between two identical resumes. Especially of you wrote in “attention to detail”.
What to do instead: If you use an email template that you change for each brand, do make sure that there is no spelling mistakes. Do not rush emails. Proofread them, many times if need be. Make sure that all brand-related information is actually relating to the right brand. If you are not sure, ask for someone else to give it an extra proofread. Because I can guarantee bad grammar can cost you brand collaborations!
Those six are the most common mistakes I see every day at work. Just to be transparent, I can confirm that I have been guilty of some of these upon starting blogging and reaching out for brand collaborations. I don’t do these errors anymore because I know how annoyed I get when I receive emails guilty of any of the above. And also because I have improved at brand outreach. Other mistakes include refusing to give blog statistics when asked for or shaming a brand online because they did not accept you. And probably many more.
How long have you been blogging? Have you committed any of these blogger mistakes? Did they cost you brand collaborations? Any other mistakes you’ve seen? Or advise you’d give to land brand collaborations?
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