How to Strengthen the Backbone of Your Blogger Outreach Campaign: List Building Best Practices

Let’s face it, organization can be boring but it’s the backbone to every task we set out to conquer. When it comes to blogger outreach, your key organizational component is creating your list of ideal bloggers before you reach out to them.

But when it comes to actually building the list, many marketers and PR professionals are groping in the dark. So, I’m here to share a plan of attack that has been successful for me and my clients. It’s a really logical four step process broken down in to these parts for each campaign:

  • The initial search where you will find a large amount of bloggers who are a contextual fit with your campaign that you will narrow down from in the next 3 steps.
  • 1st list which includes only bloggers who have mentioned your brand
  • 2nd list which includes bloggers who have mentioned your competition
  • 3rd list includes bloggers who have written about the niche your brand falls in to


Step 1: The Genre Search to Uncover a Big Pool

Your initial search for bloggers is going to uncover a pool of writers who fit in to a genre that you give your campaign. No, it’s not a good idea to just reach out to the thousands of blogs in your genre. You will want to get specific and only reach out to blogs who are a good fit. This will save you time and give you better response rates, I promise!

For each of the three lists that you are going to create, you are going to refine your search from the pool in different ways.

Many of us work best with examples so here is mine to illustrate how to construct your three lists: I’m doing blogger outreach for my home décor client. They want me to find and establish a relationship with bloggers who will talk about their new line of eco friendly décor. Thus my genre will be interior design and home décor blogs.

If you are a GroupHigh user, the easiest way to search for a mega pool of bloggers by genre in our search function is to use every keyword relevant to that genre.

If you’re not a GroupHigh user, Google blog search can allow you to find blogs by genre.

list post 1

Step 2: Build Your First List

Once you have a pool of bloggers it’s time to narrow down and make your first list. You’re going to search for posts that have mentioned your brand. Again if you’re a GroupHigh user, you can do this in the post content filter.

The logic: It’s going to be easiest to get mentions from bloggers who’ve proven their knowledge and like for your brand. This list is going to be the most successful of your three lists and it’s great to start off on the right foot.

To create a list of blogs that have mentioned your brand the manual way:

  • Google Search for your brand’s name
  • With social media monitoring you can try to trace Twitter handles who have tweeted about you back to the tweeters blog because everyone shares their own blog posts. From the blog you can often find contact information. Moral of the story: monitor your tweets!
  • IceRocket allows you to enter in your company’s name and search for blogs (as well as other social media outlets) that have mentioned your brand. This way you can contact those blogs for your campaign.

If you are a GroupHigh user, type your own brand’s name in to the post content filter of your search results.

list post 2

Reaching Out: When you reach out to them make sure reference their post about your brand as your reasoning for reaching out. Thank them for the shout out and tell them you’d like to establish a relationship with them.

Step 3: The Second List

After you’ve reached out to your first list, it’s time to start the search process all over again. It’s going to be identical to the one that I outlined above but you’re going to use your competitor(s) names instead of your own brand or client’s brand.

The logic: By searching for mentions of your competitor you are finding bloggers that are showing knowledge of the space your brand falls in to. It’s also a really smart strategy to expose an audience to your brand who has been exposed to your competitor’s brand.

Reaching Out: Reaching out to these bloggers will be slightly different. Instead of saying that you are writing because they mentioned competitor xyz, I recommend saying that you’ve read posts on something topic specific and you think the two of you are a great fit to work together. For example I would write “hey I’ve seen you have posted about ecofriendly décor before and I would love to introduce my line to you…”

Step 4: The Third List

As if you haven’t been working long and hard enough on your campaign, it’s time to create another list. This one is going to be niche specific. You are going to go into your genre pool of blogs and refine your search by a niche or two that makes that blog a snug contextual fit to your campaign.

Springing off of my example, I would go in to my pool of home décor blogs and determine that a good niche for my campaign is ecofriendly or organic décor.

The Logic: These bloggers are writing about the space your brand falls in to so the context is there. The reason why this step is last is because it’s probably going to be your longest and most time consuming list. The earlier list, especially the one with your brand’s mentions, will yield your best response rates so by the time you are at your third list, you are seeing some mentions and results of your work which will fuel this longer campaign.

If you’re a GroupHigh user, you will type your niche words in to the post content filter to show blogs that have written about these specifics before.

list post 3

If you’re not a GroupHigh user, this step can be time consuming but can be done. You have to read through the blog (maybe just by titles) to get a feel for whether or not that blogger is a good fit by niche.

Reaching Out: When reaching out to the bloggers in the third list, reference one of their posts that makes it apparent that the two of you are a good fit. Stroke their ego and tell them something you liked about their post!

Extra Filtering

Depending on your genre and niche, you may yield a high amount of search results. Using my example, I uncovered 2,800 blogs in the home décor genre that had posted about either ecofriendly home décor or organic home décor. This is way too many blogs to reach out to so I would refine my list by posting tactics, MozRank, followers, etc.

I may want my campaign to be visually driven and I want to work with authoritative bloggers. I could require my bloggers to be on Pinterest and have a minimum MozRank of 5 bringing me down to 287 blogs—a much more reasonable number!

Tips for All Lists and Outreach Tool Users

  • Nurture your relationships—blogger outreach is no one night stand. Who knows when that blogger may be useful for another campaign!?
  • Personalize all of your interactions, i.e. use first names and refrain from using cookie cutter pitches.
  • Some research shows that “mid level” bloggers are just as effective as famous bloggers because they have the time to nurture their relationships which creates stronger audience loyalty leading to their mentions causing more action than just awareness.
  • Above all, use judgment. If a blog is new but has really good content, you might want to get your foot in the door. Baby bloggers grow up to be big bloggers….


What are some strategies you use when determining whether or not a blogger will go on to your list of who to reach out to? 

This entry has 2 replies

Hey Kristen,

The concept of having separate lists is very interesting. I really only try and look for blogs that are as close to my niche as possible. Generally with the help Topsy and Icerocket.

Instead of using Icerocket to search for brand mentions, I used to just use Google Alerts, but the service no longer seems to be working as well as it used to so I’m going to have to give Icerocket a try.

Anyway, awesome post. Love the three list breakdown 🙂

– Mark T.

Hey Mark! I’m glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 I hope you can implement it in to your own strategy!

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