In managing a community of 250 bloggers, I’ve noticed recurring patterns, pain points, and desires many bloggers possess when working with brands and considering campaigns to join. Being a blogger myself, I can also empathize with some of these frustrations and have received my fair share of horrible pitches, campaign proposals, and outreach emails from brands. Being on both sides, I’ve noticed that there are brands and agencies that have nailed the art of blogger outreach and have run some pretty killer blogger campaigns, and there are many that haven’t. Below are five tips to help create mutually beneficial campaigns that bloggers actually want to be a part of.
Serve value to their readers
According to a recent study from Econsultancy and Fashion & Beauty Monitor, 60% of marketers surveyed believe ‘relevance of brand in relation to own area of expertise’ is what influencers most look for when partnering with brands. Choose bloggers that align with your brand, and make sure that what you’re offering provides value to their audience. While this may sound basic, you’d be surprised with the amount of emails I receive from companies with a product completely irrelevant to my blog and audience (I’m sure your spiralizer is great, but I don’t think my makeup-obsessed community is going to find a vegetable slicer as thrilling and interesting as you might). Not only do these emails usually go straight to my trash, but it just shows me that you didn’t do your due diligence when researching bloggers to be a part of your campaign.
Make it easy for bloggers to provide relevant and interesting content to their readers. Whether that be by hosting a giveaway for their readers, giving the blogger a first-look at a new product, or putting a twist on your campaign to make it more unique and appealing to both the blogger and their readers, make sure what you’re pitching will be well-received by the blogger.
Think outside the box
Think outside the box; easier said than done, right? A good place to start can be researching your competitors in the space. Are they working with bloggers? Observe what kinds of campaigns your competitors are running to see what’s working and what’s not, and then do it better. Take the time to research, look through different blogs, and familiarize yourself with the space you’re in; this can give you valuable insight into trends and popular topics. You can also use Buzzsumo to quickly find the most-shared content surrounding a particular topic.
When researching, think of each blogger niche (fashion, beauty, tech, etc.) as having their own culture, and take note of specific jargon used and any “cultural norms.” The best campaigns have a clear understanding of the niche they’re in, and use that to their advantage. For example, in 2014, “shelfies” (or shelf selfies) were all the rage in the home space. If you’re not an avid DIY blog reader or engulfed in the home space, you’ve likely never heard of the term. But Wayfair took notice of the trend, asked bloggers to show off their shelfies using Wayfair product, and then hosted a #holidayshelfie Instagram contest.
While the campaign itself isn’t a revolutionary idea, Wayfair used a popular trend to their advantage in order to create a campaign that they knew was going to resonate well with both bloggers and their readers.
Once you’ve done competitive research and have identified interesting trends, grab a cup of coffee (or two) and begin the ideation process. For me, this means scouring Adweek and browsing through brand feeds on Instagram for inspiration. Then I sit down with a sketchpad and pen and let the ideas flow.
Provide adequate compensation
When working with bloggers, it’s important to remember that for many of them, this is their full-time job where they expect to be compensated fairly for their time. In many cases, product alone isn’t considered fair compensation. Of course, this depends on the amount of product you’re offering, and if a blogger has a particular need or interest in your product.
If you’re unsure what to compensate each blogger, ask for their rate and compare it against industry standards for similar bloggers. But if you don’t have the budget to offer monetary compensation, consider any value-adds you can offer that may either alleviate extra costs or help lower them to fit your budget. For instance, does your company have a large Facebook following that you can feature the blogger on, giving her/him added exposure? Or can you include the bloggers’ post in an email newsletter and feature them on your company’s blog, again providing added exposure?
When considering compensation, you’ll find that if you think of it in terms of providing a mutually beneficial arrangement–one that benefits you as well as the blogger–, recruiting bloggers will become much easier.
Offer group incentives
Getting creative with how you incentivize bloggers can cut campaign costs and provide additional value to the blogger. One of the ways to do this is by organizing a blog hop, which are organized collaborations usually surrounding a single theme where bloggers share their project and then link to the next blogger in the hop.
For example, when I lead the blogger program at Porch, we hosted a Porch Thanksgiving Home Hop, where nine bloggers were challenged to come up with a DIY project under $30. They were assigned “link partners,” so each blogger was able to form a new connection with a fellow blogger and also receive some new readers and traffic from their link partner.
Image via East Coast Creative
Forming a blog hop can be a great way to tap into bloggers’ communities and allow them to collaborate with other bloggers that they may not have connected with otherwise. If you get a few big name bloggers on board, others will be more likely to participate in the blog hop and join your campaign. This campaign was also featured on Huffington Post, which the bloggers weren’t too sad about either!
Co-create an idea
Rather than pitching the blogger a specific post idea, open the floor up to them! Often times, the most original ideas come from bloggers themselves. After all, bloggers are closest to their audience and can have a better idea of the type of content that is going to resonate well and perform the best overtime.
In order to hone down on a topic, give the bloggers a theme to stay within. Hayneedle does a great job at this; rather than having bloggers write single product reviews which can be mundane, bloggers are given a theme, such as “fall entertaining ideas” and then set free to come up with their own idea for approval, like this Fall S’mores Station by The Blissful Bee. Allowing bloggers to take part in the content creation process gives them the creative freedom to integrate product in a way that is often more authentic and well-received by their audience.
- Do competitive research. A quick search to see if/how your competitors are working with influencers can help kickstart your ideation process and familiarize yourself with the space.
- In many cases, product isn’t considered compensation. Be fair, and recognize that for many bloggers, blogging is their full-time job.
- Think through any value-ads you can offer the blogger– like featuring them on-site, and sharing their content on social or in email.
- Allow bloggers to take part in the content creation process.
Even if you’re planning the coolest campaign in the world, there’s nothing like a horrible outreach email to deter a blogger from wanting to participate. The Outreach Marketer has some great tips on how best to draft an outreach email, so make sure you check out these tips before pitching your next campaign.