Blog outreach is a common topic among start ups these days. Most founders know the benefits to be had from engaging bloggers -but few companies launch a campaign. Here are 5 reasons your start up should engage bloggers:
- Generate buzz and introduce your product.
- Improve website traffic from search engines by obtaining links from respected blogs.
- Distribute beta invitations to find early-adopters and product advocates.
- Generate qualified lead sign-ups.
- Build a network of industry experts(the bloggers) who can offer invaluable advice on your product, competition, and industry.
The following are the results of a blog outreach project I conducted last April for the launch of my startup GroupHigh.
The goals for our campaign were to get 1) feedback on our product and 2) identify industry experts in the pr and social media space. A by-product of these goals was that many of the bloggers we engaged wrote reviews of the product which sent us lots of traffic and interest.
Targets & Lists
For our campaign we used a combination of Google Blog Search, our blog search, and several great human-compiled blogger lists I found floating around the Internet to build a big spreadsheet of blogs. You can read more about the tools and process I use to build blog lists in a previous post Building A Killer List of Blogs for Your PR Oureach.
Since I primarily copy & paste lists of blogs into my spreadsheets I only worry about recording the Blog Title and Blog Url fields in my initial list. We’ll come back and prioritize later.
One of the most difficult and time consuming aspects of blog outreach is determining which blogs in your target industry are worth reaching out to, after all we’re not mass emailing bloggers we’re building relationships.
A simple way to assign priority to a blog is to record each blog’s Google Pagerank by running your list through a free tool such as PaRa Meter . I used this technique for years before starting GroupHigh and while it has limitations it’s an effective way to spotlight the best targets for a campaign. There are many other datapoints you could append to your list such as:
- Monthly Unique Visitors from Compete.com
- Number of times a blog has been shared on facebook
- Inbound links from Yahoo Site Explorer
My complete target list consisted of more than 400 PR and social media bloggers to which I attached pagerank and Compete uniques. I proceeded as follows:
- Filtered my list to only blogs with a pagerank between 4-6
- Sorted my list by uniques and secondly by pagerank value
- Clicked on over to the blog on the top of my newly prioritized list.
A side note: The filtered group of blogs that I use is what I refer to as the “mighty-middle”. These blogs aren’t TechCrunch and Mashable huge but rather respected sites that have a high quality audience. The blog’s author is often accessible and open to competent introductions.
Blog outreach should be considered a relationship building activity similar to engaging strategic partners or performing business development. This focus is what makes blog outreach managable for even the smallest company. Given my prioritized list of blogs I spent 1-2 hours a week personally emailing 5 bloggers from my list. I used an email template but customized it to match each bloggers name, site, and expertise. I repeated this for a period of 2 months. Here’s the email I used:
My name is Andy and I came across your blog searching for thought leaders in modern/digital PR and thought it would make sense to reach out. I just launched a new company called GroupHigh which helpsPR pros find, prioritize, and connect with bloggers and social community managers.
I’m writing to ask for your feedback and to explore partnership opportunities if that’s something you are open to. Take a lookat our 1 minute overview video at http://www.grouphigh.com/overview-video
If that looks good, would you have 10 minutes early next week to chat?
Thanks and have a great Friday!
There’s nothing special about this email, it’s a standard introduction but it’s upfront, genuine, and enables the blogger to easily engage by watching out our 1 minute product video.
Over the course of 2 months I emailed 40 bloggers at a rate of 5/week using a template similar to the above. Here’s how things shook out:
- 30% of bloggers responded (12/40)
Of the 12 responding bloggers:
- 100% of bloggers provided quality product feedback (12/12)
- 41% of the bloggers I engaged wrote articles about GroupHigh (5/12)
- 100% of the bloggers I engaged wanted to be kept in the loop and re-contacted as the product evolved. (12/12)
- 20% of bloggers expressed so much interest in the prodct that they became casual advisors. We connect periodically to discuss major product updates and strategy. (3/12)
Several other results of note:
- All 5 articles written came from blog’s with a pagerank > 4.
- All of the articles linked to GroupHigh.com which contained a button to signup for a demo.(the lead conversion form).
- Over the next two weeks, we captured 300+ valid, qualified leads of which > 20% converted to paying customers.
Other Things I Learned During This Campaign
- Have product screenshots and your company logo file ready to send to the blogger.
- All of the bloggers that wrote about GroupHigh embedded our 1 minute overview video in their post. Video is a GOOD thing.
- While I certainly appreciate all of the reviews and articles that were written about GroupHigh, building an expert panel has been equally as valuable to the company as we evolve.
Hopefully, this article helps convince you that blog outreach is worth your time. For a cash-strapped, resource limited company I can’t think of any other marketing or sales strategy that would be more worthwhile. I spent approx. 10 hours over 2 months running this campaign and the payoff in lead generation and contacts is still relevent 8 months later. If you have any questions post a comment or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Used to bulk-lookup the Google Pagerank of blogs for basic prioritization.
SEO Site Tools Plugin for Chrome
Used for spot checking Google Pagerank and traffic stats during casual blog browsing and reviewing.
Used to lookup traffic for blogs