As consumers are no longer an extension of your brand but part of your brand, influential bloggers as advocates are becoming a necessity to any successful marketing strategy.
Because ongoing relationships are the most successful, more and more brands are seeing the value of owning blogger relationships in house.
Luckily with the dedication to learn the “outreach craft” and the resources instantly available thanks to all the bloggers and content marketers out there—you can absolutely develop an awesome blogger outreach campaign in house.
Choose Your Tool
A few things before you even begin thinking about bloggers and reaching out to them.
You are going to want to consider a blogger outreach tool. There are some really good ones out there that streamline, the entire blogger outreach process.
Read up on the most popular tools and find the one that best suits your needs and budget. Trust me, the time a blogger outreach tool will save you is worth the cost of the license.
Pick Your Pro
If you are going to be handling blogger outreach for your company or are going to hand blogger outreach over to someone already in your marketing department that works great! A current employee already knows your brand’s voice and product. Just make sure they read up on the topic of blogger outreach—they can do that here: Your Crash Course to Becoming a Blogger Outreach Expert.
If you are planning on hiring someone to takeover blogger outreach, try to hire someone with experience. Blogger outreach is something that gets better with practice. If you can’t find a blogger outreach enthusiast hire someone who has done influencer marketing, social media outreach or PR campaigns. (If you go with a PR pro make sure they read up on how blogger outreach is a tactic they’ve been doing for years with some minor adjustments)
What do Your Buyer Personas Tell You about the Bloggers They Follow?
While still in the planning stages of your campaign, use your buyer personas to determine which bloggers your target consumer follows.
What types of pain points would your buyer consult a blog to solve? What types of blogs would offer this solution?
Find Your Niche Bloggers
Start a search for bloggers by genre, narrow down by niche and then filter further by reach. (Hopefully you decide to pursue an outreach tool!)
Unlike traditional journalists, bloggers are niche based. Their audience comes to them for a very specific topic. You don’t want to waste your time or the bloggers time reaching out to bloggers who aren’t a snug contextual fit.
Determine Just How Far Your Bloggers Should Reach
After narrowing down your bloggers in to a niche pool, the next step is to narrow down by reach so that you make sure your juicy brand mentions are being heard all over the blogosphere.
Thus you need to have a target minimum reach in mind. Here are some common ones:
-Monthly visitors to the blog
-Twitter followers (or other social media channels that your brand succeeds on)
Keep in mind not to be aggressive with filtering by reach. Though you want your mention to be heard, keep in mind that since bloggers have a very specific audience, it’s an audience that is comprised of many of your target consumers. That is the beauty of bloggers being niche based. Not to mention, baby bloggers do grow up to be big bloggers…
How Will You Compensate Your Bloggers?
Whether you are going to compensate your bloggers financially or with a free product from your brand to review, remember that bloggers work hard to become influential and maintain their audience and thus often require compensation.
Not all bloggers take money for posts aka sponsored posts, but they will require something awesome to share with their audience. Reading through their blog will help you gauge this.
Bottom line—make sure the relationship that you propose when you reach out isn’t a one sided relationship. Those just aren’t healthy!
A Word of Caution: Never Mass Email Your Bloggers
Though it’s tempting, it’s not a good idea to mass email bloggers.
Personalized pitches that reference a post and are tailored to the blogger elicit way better response rates. Just ask Craftsy.
Sending a mass email to your bloggers could ruin all the hard work that you put in to your campaign thus far.
Picking the Right Post Tactic
Because you want to be clear and concise about why you are reaching out to the bloggers in your pitches, you should already know the post tactic you want to use and state it in your email. Here is a run down on the popular post tactics:
A sponsored post is a paid for post that either you write or the blogger writes. For legal reasons, the blogger should disclose that they took money for the post.
Pros: If you have a big budget these are the quickest posts you can score. If the blogger only takes sponsored posts for brand that they sincerely stand behind, than the audience trust should still be there even if it’s a paid for post. Not to mention, it’s nice to be able to offer such a hard working professional a little cash for the work they’ve put in to their blog and audience cultivation.
Cons:With the fact that the blogger has to disclose that they are posting content that has been sponsored, the audience may lose trust in the recommendation as they view it as a recommendation for money and not one derived from sincerity.
A guest post is a post that you write and the blogger allows you to publish on their blog free of charge.
Pros: You get to expose your brand to new eyeballs. You have control over the content being published and words being spat on to the web.
Cons: You have to be very careful not to make your post read like you’re trying to sell something. A good rule of thumb is to pick a relevant topic to be an authority on and include two sentences max with a link to your own brand.
With some of Google’s updates in the last year, brands who do a lot of guest posting need to be careful that they don’t post on sites with a bad reputation in order not to get penalized. If you’re only posting on sites who don’t partake in spammy tactics and you’re posting for the audience and not for the link, you should be just fine!
With this tactic, brands give something to the blogger to give away to their audience. Usually the blogger gets something for executing the giveaway, often the product being given away or money. The blogger will hype up your item or service with a post and have their audience members sign up for a chance to win it in various ways. The audience member may have to follow your brand on Twitter for a chance to win or simply fill in a form with their email address.
Pros: Hype is never a bad thing when it revolves around something from your brand and your product has the chance to get some good exposure to new consumers.
Cons: Sometimes this tactic is looked at as gimmicky.
Brands send their product to a blogger for free to get reviewed on their blog.
Pros: The review will be sincere and it will be a post of their actual experience which always carries a lot of weight.
Cons: In the event that the blogger doesn’t like your product or service they’ll probably write about how they don’t like it. This mention would be the opposite of marketing.
Monitor for Mentions and Track Your Posts
If you choose to go with an outreach tool, consider one with monitoring capabilities.
You’ll see that once your start doing blogger outreach, not all bloggers let you know right away when your post is up. It’s important for you to share your earned posts on your own social media channels so time is of the essence!
If you want to check out some free monitoring tools, here are some that may help:
Google Alerts: Google Alerts should pick up on all the mainstream blogs and articles that mention your brand. Sidebar, it’s a great idea to set them for competing brands too! I love Google alerts because once they are set, you can count on them to show up in your inbox every day.
Speaking of Google, Google Alerts isn’t the only Google tracking tool; you can use their blog search to look for mentions in blog posts about your brand by putting in your keywords.
IceRocket: IceRocket is a free search engine that brings up blog posts, Twitter and Facebook mentions of your brand. It’s pretty fun!
Talkwalker: You can sign up for emailed alerts whenever Talkwalker uncovers a mention of your brand. I heard a rumor that Google Alerts might cease to exist which prompted me to check out Talkwalker.
After you find your earned mentions, make sure you have a system in place to track their success. Things from social media shares, to website traffic to actual conversions should all be documented for your campaign.
This way you can know how successful the campaign was as a whole as well as compare your blogger relationships. Some may be more or less successful in comparison, all good things to know for future campaigns!
Blogger outreach isn’t a onetime tactic, it’s really effective when an ongoing relationship is established. A relationship that you keep up with and nurture.
Keep in touch with your bloggers by commenting on their posts, sharing their words on your social media channels and of course, communicating via email (you know, the old fashioned way).
A product or service that a blogger talks about continuously as opposed to a one time product review is going to be way more effective and sincere than a brand that is mentioned once.
Stay Inspired By Other Campaigns
The best blogger outreach campaigns have an element of creativity and a clear plan. Thus outline your goal, plan, creative element, etc. before you start searching for bloggers and emailing them.
Because creativity can’t be purchased, sometimes that is the hardest element of outlining a campaign.
Here are some creative campaigns to check out. For each one, ask yourself how you can implement a tactic like that in your own strategy:
Chuck E. Cheese’s harnessed the power of the mom bloggers to promote some awesome new programs they ran.
Check out Wendy’s blogger outreach campaign to see how they used nostalgia as their tactic.
Lee Jeans is a great example to use for anyone doing fashion blogger outreach
An overview of a blogger outreach campaign from Croc’s.
Expedia is currently doing a large campaign with travel bloggers (good takeaways here)
Blogger outreach is certainly a time consuming strategy but those mentions from influential bloggers make it all worth it. Does your strategy currently contain blogger outreach? Why or why not? Cheers to a good discussion in the comments below!