How to Leverage Influencers to Build the Best Content Upgrade

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A Content upgrade is a powerful way to capture leads, as you’ve probably heard before. Influencer marketing is a powerful way to increase your reach and, ultimately, your bottom line.

I propose combining these two methods into a single, potent strategy.

Here are few quick statistics to warm you up to this idea:

Convinced? Good.

So, what happens when you combine these two incredibly powerful tools?


Now, this post is split into 3 sections:

  1.  The kinds of posts that attract influencers
  2.  How to create a content upgrade that catches an influencers eye
  3.  How to get influencers to talk to you

Here goes nothing!

Kinds of posts that attract influencers

Before you can create a content upgrade to attract influencers to your brand, you first have to create the content you’re going to upgrade from.

The kinds of posts that attract influencers in the first place are those that involve the influencers themselves.

Of course, before you can involve your influencers you must first find them. You can use Ninja Outreach to do just that!

Now then, what are the kinds of posts influencers like?

It’s simple if you think about it – people love feeling important. Not a single person on Earth doesn’t want to feel important on some level.

Write posts that make your influencers feel important!

That could mean posts like:

  • List posts of the best tools
  • Interview posts with the top influencers
  • Roundups of the top content from influencers

Let me explain these in further detail:

List posts of the best tools


This one may not seem like a good idea for influencer outreach. Why would listing tools attract influencers?

The key is to include tools made by influencers.

While you can simply list their tools and write some BS about how great it is even though you’ve never tried it, I suggest actually using their tool first. Most of them have a free trial (Ninja Outreach does!)

Once you’ve tried their tool, write about it. What makes the tool so great? Try to include quotes from the influencers that made them for maximum impact.

Interview posts with the top influencers

Interview posts are awesome as well because being asked to be interviewed is incredibly flattering; It must mean you’re doing well.

I’ve had a lot of success with this method. The best part is that it’s easy because you don’t have to actually write any content – the interviewee gives it to you!

You can choose to interview just one person or multiple people. I like interviewing multiple people because it’s interesting to get a lot of different perspectives. Alternatively, you can interview multiple people and turn each interview into its own post!

The hardest part here is getting the person to take 20 or 30 minutes to sit down and talk with you. You have to make it a no-brainer for them – give them two or three dates and times, and promise not to take more than 15 minutes of their time.

I find that 15 minutes often turns into 30 or even 60 minutes. People love to talk about themselves!

One thing to keep in mind when writing interview posts – don’t give away the full interview in the original article. You’re going to want to hold the full thing back for use in a content upgrade (which I’ll explain in the next section).

Pro Tip: If you can’t get them to agree to an interview, then create a list post of “The Top X Experts in [Your Field]”. Mention them, link to them, and talk about their achievements. Then, let them know you mentioned them! They’re likely to share a piece writing about them as an expert – wouldn’t you?

Roundups of the top content from influencers

expert roundup using Neil Patel
Here’s an example of an expert roundup using Neil Patel

This is another super easy strategy because, again, you don’t have to write as much of your own content.

The easiest way to do this is by going to your list of influencers and checking out their blogs. Look for what seems to be great content, then add that content to your post.

Be sure to write a quick summary of each article with a few key takeaways. Don’t give away the whole article, but talk about why you picked it for your roundup.

I also like to add a mention of each of the writer’s names directly with their Twitter handles afterward.

For example, my friend Jacob McMillen (@jmcmillen89) wrote an interesting article about the 7 skills every entrepreneur should develop, and one of them was being able to balance hustle and life. I couldn’t agree more – it’s such a difficult thing to balance, yet so crucial to our happiness.

You’ll notice a few things I did in this mention:

  • I called him my friend (we’ve only exchanged a handful of emails, but I still consider him a friend).
  • I used his name.
  • I added his Twitter handle to make it easy for others to follow him.
  • I mentioned his article.
  • I talked about a key takeaway and expanded on it slightly.

When this article is live, I’ll mention it to him and, hopefully, he’ll return the favors by sharing this post with his followers. (Hi, Jacob!)

Pro tip: Look for someone who is an authority on the subject, but isn’t so huge that they won’t be pleasantly surprised at your mention of them. Someone who has seen success, but not so much that they’re mentioned everywhere and won’t care that you mentioned them.

How to create a content upgrade that catches an influencer’s eye

content upgrade checklist

Now, to the heart of the article – getting not just your content, but your content upgrade to catch an influencer’s interest.

Depending on which article type you chose in the last section, there are a few different things you can do in order to influence the influencers.

If you chose to showcase the best tools, then an in-depth guide to using one of the tools, or multiple tools together, would make an excellent content upgrade. For added benefit, you could have the influencer help you create the guide with insider tips, a few quotes, or even a video or audio piece with some extra help.

If you chose to conduct interviews, then your content upgrade could be the full interview, with one specific person or multiple people. You did hold back some value for this like I mentioned in the last section, didn’t you? For example, you can post snippets or key takeaways from the interview as a main blog post, then release the full interview as a content upgrade in exchange for the viewer’s email address.

If you chose to do a roundup of the top content, then your content upgrade could be a condensed list of your key takeaways from all the articles. Alternatively, you could create an in-depth explanation of one of the topics on the list, or even an interview with one of the authors of the content on the list.

Out of all three article types, I find the list of tools to be the most effective. The reason is because it’s very flattering (and highly beneficial) to the influencers who created them, and it’s fairly easy to get them to give some extra tips for your content upgrade.

How to get influencers to talk to you

Mentioning influencers is only half the battle. You have to actually *gasp!* reach out to them!

I know, it sounds daunting if you’ve never done anything like this before. However, you’ve already made it easy for yourself – You already gave them the credit.

The rule of reciprocity is one of the golden rules Dale Carnegie talks about in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

You did something for them, so they’re more likely to want to do something for you. You also made them feel special, which will make them like you even more!

However, there are a few things you can do first to make this cold email outreach easier.

Comments and shares

Bill Widmer response in comment section

There are two things every blogger loves: Comments on their posts and shares.

We work hard on the content we produce. We want to feel appreciated for it.

So, find the influencers you plan on reaching out to, and start commenting on their blog and social media and share their posts. Be sure to mention them when you do.

You’ll notice a few things about the Tweet above.

  1.  I directly mentioned the writer’s name, not just the blog they wrote for.
  2.  I talked about a direct takeaway I gained from their post (understanding how powerful expert roundups are).
  3.  I expressed that others should take a look at his work through my enthusiasm.

Wouldn’t you feel warm and fuzzy inside if you got a mention like that? I know I would.

And again, the rules of reciprocity and making the other person feel special are critical.

Don’t stop at a Tweet, though. Comment on their blog with some key takeaways too! You can also engage with them on their Facebook page, if they have one.

Now, it’s on to the next step…

Reaching out via email

It’s time to actually reach out to your influencers and get some of that coveted influencer love. If you’ve taken all the previous steps, the person you’re reaching out to should recognize your face and name, at least a little bit.

There are 3 things to keep in mind when reaching out to an influencer using email:

  1.  Mention them by name, if possible. A person’s name is, to that person, one of the sweetest sounding words in the world. Thanks, Dale.
  2.  Keep it short and sweet. Influencers are some of the busiest people in the world. (Or, at least, they like to think they are and you should assume so as well.) Your email should be no longer than a 15-30 second read.
  3.  Make it skim-able. Just like it’s important to format your blog posts for easy reading, it’s also important to make your emails easy to read. The easier you make it for the person you’re sending it to, the higher the chance they’ll say yes.

Not sure what to say when you reach out? Click here to download Ninja Outreach’s free influencer outreach email template. It already has all the things mentioned above so you can just copy-paste with a little bit of personalization each time you send it out.

*Hint, hint – in case you didn’t realize, that free download is a perfect example of a content upgrade!

Once you’ve sent the emails, give them a few days to respond. I like the 3-5 day rule – remember, you’re asking them for a favor, so don’t be too pushy.

If 3 days have gone by and you haven’t heard anything, feel free to reach out again. You can say something along the lines of:


Like many of the digital marketing tactics these days, influencer outreach can be a numbers game. Don’t expect that everyone you reach out to will get back to you. The more emails you send, the better your chances will be.

As long as you keep in mind that people like to feel special and are more likely to reciprocate favors when you do something for them first, your chances should be fairly high.

I hope this article helps you get through to some of the influencers in your industry and helps you increase your traffic and grow your business! If you have any questions or need help with your influencer outreach, leave me a comment below!

Bill is a content marketing expert and freelance writer. He created a free cheat sheet to landing guests posts like this one, which you can download here.