October 28, 2014/0 Comments/in Blogger outreach, Content marketing /by Jacqui Honeywood
I’m an avid reader of your blog page. I just love the post about *insert random post here*. I have a product that I want you to spruik about and share with your hard-earned audience and I’d like you to do it for free.
Meh. Sound familiar?
Every. Single. Day. Bloggers’ inboxes are filled with this inauthentic, impersonal rubbish like the email above. Sadly the people behind emails like these are better investing their time in handing out fliers to random strangers because they’re more likely to get a better response.
Engaging bloggers to promote a product, business, brand or service (blogger outreach) is a great way of building brand awareness, creating hype around a new product, increasing brand reach and improving SEO (amongst other things). Blogger outreach has the potential to form a powerful and integral part of your overall marketing strategy – but it should be approached with integrity and authenticity. It’s not rocket science, but it does take effort and a little bit of care. So if you want to know more about how to engage bloggers for your next campaign, read on…..
Firstly I think it’s important to consider what we actually know about bloggers – and when I say bloggers I’m specifically I’m referring to PR friendly bloggers – you know, the ones that are happy to work with brands and businesses.
Bloggers work really hard to build and maintain an audience. Many work very hard at their trade to painstakingly craft posts that are suited to the audience they’ve cultivated over months and years of online engagement. They research, they edit, they backlink and tag. And once they hit the publish button it doesn’t end there. They then invest time and effort into sharing that post across their various social platforms, engaging their audience, responding to comments. Commenting on other blogs. Curating other content so that they’re not just self-promoting. Then it’s a process of rinse and repeat.
There’s a lot of time, effort and passion that goes into crafting a blog post and maintaining a blog. Whilst that’s a little long-winded, it’s an important consideration before thinking about blogger outreach for business. An healthy appreciation of the work and the people behind the website goes a long way.
So now that we’ve considered what we know about bloggers, how do we engage them? How do you ensure that the effort you’ve made to contact a blogger receives a response? Here’s 7 tips to get you started.
Quality not quantity
Don’t: bulk email a bunch of bloggers with the thought that the more you contact, the more responses you’ll get. Noooo.
Whilst it might be tempting to bulk email hundreds of bloggers, chances are, unless you’re offering something pretty awesome (like money, money is pretty awesome for bloggers) chances are you’re not going to get a high response rate. Bloggers will see straight through an impersonal email and add it to the perpetual deleted pile.
Response rates are likely to rise if you take the time to select bloggers that fit your client/customer demographic, have the right type of audience for you and if they receive a personalised and authentic email from you. As a business, brand or PR, your best response rates will come from highly personalised emails to a smaller group of bloggers.
Do: Send a highly personalised and individual emails to a select group of bloggers (and by ‘select’ I mean bloggers that you’ve researched and fit with your product demographic)
Authenticity goes a long way.
Don’t: Fake being a reader if you’re not
We’re all busy people so let’s face it, chances are you haven’t read every single blog post of the bloggers you’re trying to connect with. However it’s important for your brand that you select the right bloggers with the right voice and the right audience to work with. That being said, it’s in your best interest to take a moment and read the ‘About me’ page of the blogger you’re intending to connect with. Also take another moment to read a few blog posts. Those moments are time well spent because they could prevent you contacting a blogger to review your fabulous new brand of nappy when their youngest child is in primary school (get that one a fair bit).
When you connect with the blogger, unless you’re an avid reader of their blog, don’t say you are. Be honest and articulate why you’re contacting the blogger and why you think your product is a good fit for their blog.
Do: Take the time to research every blogger you contact and articulate why you think their blog and your product go together like bacon and eggs..
Large versus small bloggers
Don’t: Just engage larger bloggers
It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers and followers of bloggers but when you’re talking building connections and connecting your brand to an audience, sometimes bigger is not necessarily better. Don’t get me wrong, chances are you’ll receive a larger reach if you hook up with a bigger blogger but it’s not just about eyes on your product, it’s about people connecting with it. Never underestimate the power of a smaller blogger. Some of the smaller bloggers we’ve worked with have highly engaged audiences that feel some level of personal connection to the blogger. In some cases, these smaller, boutique-style bloggers have a more finely tuned audience which can be pretty handy to tap into if that audience demographic is what you’re targeting for your campaign.
Do: Consider bloggers of all sizes
Don’t: Expect bloggers to ‘do it for love’
Paying bloggers for reviews and sponsored posts is a bit of a contentious issue and something worth discussing in another blog post. Many are of the belief that if you pay a blogger to run a review then the review is not going to be authentic because they’ve you’re essentially paying for that opinion. I disagree with that. Firstly paying a blogger (in cash anyway) is payment for their time to review a product and their time to craft a post about it. Not for the actual opinion itself. The reality is that every time a blogger publishes a post they put their credibility and reputation on the line. One inauthentic post about a product (or anything for that matter)has the ability to negatively affect a blogger’s brand for a long time so it’s not in their best interest to promote stuff that doesn’t quite sit right with them. So what should you be paying bloggers? Let’s face it, if you have the budget, paying cash for a sponsored post is preferable. To ask a blogger to do something for nothing for you is like walking up to a random person in the street and asking them to give you $20 just because you’re a nice person and you need the money.
Buuuut the reality is that many small businesses and start-ups would benefit from working with bloggers but don’t quite have the budget to pay them cash for the privilege. But don’t despair, there is more than one way to skin a cat (or in this instance, pay a blogger)
Product – depending on the value and usefulness of products or services, in some cases bloggers will post a review in return for a product to trial and sometimes even a product to run a giveaway with. Products don’t necessarily pay the bills but if you’re offering something that a blogger would ordinarily have to pay for and is useful (or just downright cool) then it’s pretty good blogger ‘currency’.
Traffic – for businesses who have great online presence, a link back to the blogger’s website is one way to ‘pay’ them for sharing information about your business. The link to their website from yours is good for their SEO and increases their exposure to a new audience. Links can be done through blog posts, advertisements, testimonials etc.
Followers – If a business has a decent social media following, tagging a blogger in social posts is another way of thanking them for sharing a blog post or reviewing your product. An increase in social media following is a nice alternative to cash payment and it fits with social networking generally.
Do: Value the time and effort it takes to craft a blog post for you and remunerate in some way, shape or form.
Don’t: Dump them once you have them.
Once you have a blogger on board with your campaign, it doesn’t end there. Take the time to appreciate and enjoy what they’ve created. There’s been many times as a blogger that I’ve crafted a sponsored blog post for a business and waited with baited breath to get some feedback from them after it was published. The occasions that I received feedback left me feeling chuffed that someone enjoyed my ‘artwork’. The times where I received nothing, left a feeling of being used. And that’s not the feeling you want to leave your bloggers with. An email as well as a public show of appreciation is well worth the few minutes it takes to draft them. It’s that appreciation that will ensure ongoing blogger relationships that are good for your brand.
Do: Express appreciation where it’s due.
Don’t: Be dissin’ our bloggers
Asking a blogger to work with you to promote your brand, business, product or service means that you’re asking permission to start a relationship with them. And the best relationships are the ones built on trust and respect. Oh man that sounds sappy. But it’s true. Taking time to get to know a blogger and build a relationship with them means that they’re getting to know you and your business better. And that’s got to be a good thing for your brand. Because at the end of the day you want people who believe in your brand, products and services to be talking about them. You want those opinions to come from a position of credibility and authenticity. The right blogger hooked up with a brand or business can do a lot for branding, awareness, SEO and social hype. Respect the people that have the ability and talent to do that.
Do: Take the time to build quality relationships with bloggers in your outreach campaign.
Engaging blogger outreach as part of your marketing strategy is a great way of branding, increasing your audience and building your SEO. Essentially it’s word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. Whilst it’s not rocket science, blogger outreach takes integrity, authenticity and time.
So over to you. Have you worked with bloggers for any of your campaigns? For our bloggy readers, what else would you add to our list?
If you need help engaging bloggers to work with you and your brand, don’t hesitate to contact us.