I can tell you that bloggers are great for your marketing and communications strategy or I can show you why and back up my claim with the bullet pointed list below of studies and statistics. I can tell you to implement smart blogger outreach because all of the big brands are doing it or I can show you how the big brands are doing good blogger outreach with real life examples and my favorite case studies.
Showing not only gets a point across in a more well-rounded way but also makes it stick and hold more value.
Just as I’ve hand curated research and blogger outreach case studies below to illustrate why bloggers should be part of your outreach marketing strategy, brands need social influencers to tell their story for them and illustrate just how they integrate the brand’s service or product in to their everyday life. This has a much greater effect than the brand trying to explain how cool they are themselves.
- A Digital Influence Report from Technorati reveals some key information about influencers:
- Bloggers provide some of the most effective word of mouth marketing, especially when a blogger turns in to an advocate for your brand. This happens as a result of an ongoing relationship which leads to continuous brand mentions.
- Bloggers are some of the most sought out resources when consumers are researching brands and products. In fact at least 81% of the digital population trusts advice they get from bloggers.
- They are active on a variety of social channels so they are a great springboard for campaigns that span across many digital channels.
- When searching for influencers, bloggers are easiest to search for contextually and on a granular level than on other social platforms. You can then use these influencers as a springboard for your multi-channel approach.
- Bloggers write about niche based topics instead of genre so you can find influencers in the form of bloggers who are an uber perfect fit with your brand.
- Bloggers fall in to that sweet “mid-level influencer” spot. Most of the ones you will work with are not huge influencers like Justin Bieber, instead they are in the middle of the spectrum and studies show that working with more mid-level folk is more beneficial than working with the higher reaching people.
- Read this analysis on “the power middle.” A study on word of mouth campaigns found that action and social mentions are driven more effectively by what they call the “power middle.” These mid-level influencers have a smaller but more loyal audience and drive 16 times more engagement than paid media and “mega influencers.”
- “Though blogs and influencers don’t get a large portion of a brands’ digital spend, they rank high with consumers for trust, popularity and influence.”
- Blogs are in the top five sources of trustworthy information.
- “Influencers are most active on blogs, as 86% say they have them and 88% of those say they blog for themselves.”
Strategies to Acquire the Best Content Possible
- Proper Blogger Vetting: To make sure that a blogger is going to offer brand lift and move your project forward it’s important to thoroughly research all bloggers before reaching out. This also ensures that you know how the blogger wants to be contacted and you can pitch them on a personal basis instead of mass emailing.
- Set Expectations: Make sure you have a policy and document to give the blogger concerning disclosure and only require an authentic and honest post—even if it’s a negative review. Tell the blogger from the beginning what they get out of working with you and what you want from them.
- Stay in touch: Bloggers who talk about a brand on an ongoing basis increases audience trust. Stay on bloggers’ brains by sending them free product or occasional email updates with exclusive information. Make them feel part of your brand instead of an extension of your brand. This way they can take ownership and really stand behind you.
- Contextual over numerical: When vetting bloggers, look to content over numerical qualifiers. Does the blogger post on a regular basis and interact with their audience? Do they write about a niche your brand falls in to? These are all priority considerations and should be explored before other qualifiers such as social following and traffic numbers.
- One to one to many: Don’t forget that bloggers are active across many social channels and are a great springboard to work with on these channels—not just the blog. With that said, make sure you have a plan ahead of time in which to utilize these channels and provide bloggers with images and ideas they can use to talk about you across the social web.
Exemplary Case Studies
To take any marketing or communications tactic to the next level, it’s best to explore innovative examples of other people doing a good job of said tactic.
Here are my favorite blogger outreach case studies. Even if your brand doesn’t fall in to the same genre as one that you like, think about what makes it a good example and see if you can apply a similar tactic to your own strategy.
Goal: Florida Marriott wanted to increase their online reach while spreading the word about their 14 hotels in Florida.
Strategy: Florida Marriott chain teamed up with Diamond PR to work with bloggers to gain authentic online coverage to a group of people showing an affinity for travel because they are following these bloggers in the first place.
How They Took it a Step Further: In order to give bloggers an experience to score authentic recommendations, they only worked with 8 bloggers and sent each one to a few hotels.
The team spent a lot of time and resources researching each blog and giving them really personalized experiences at each resort. One blogger had a golf affinity so they scheduled a round of golf. Other bloggers were given spa treatments and reservations at the best foodie spots. Point being that Diamond PR allotted time for personalization and research instead of trying to scale their campaign.
Results: This case study shows us that less is more. By working with only 8 bloggers, Florida Marriott made a huge bang reaching over a million unique monthly visitors via just the blogs. This doesn’t include all of the tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram posts.
Goal: Unclaimed baggage has a unique business model—their entire retail store is full of luggage that was never claimed from the airports. Full of clothing, jewelry and other “goodies,” the store in Alabama wanted to attract local families by appealing to them as a fun and family friendly place to visit.
Strategy: This brand used GroupHigh’s blog search to locate bloggers who appealed to families and that were located within a three hour radius of their store.
How They Took it a Step Further: Instead of giving the bloggers info or even inviting them individually to the store, Unclaimed Baggage hosted an event for 30 local bloggers. Instead of focusing on their own brand—focus was on the bloggers.
A mutually beneficial relationship was established through an awesome event worth attending which included a guest speaker who talked to the bloggers about “using storytelling for better blog writing,” a behind the scenes tour of the store, a $150 gift card to spend and a free breakfast and lunch.
Results: The blogger catered experience was mutually beneficial in the sense that it was an awesome experience for bloggers so it resulted in more dynamic and interesting content for their own networks which then resulted in more appealing word of mouth recommendations for Unclaimed Baggage.
Through careful tracking, Unclaimed Baggage tracked over 2,000 store visits from the bloggers’ posts and thousands of mentions of the event and the brand were passed through the social grapevine.
Goal: Thirty-one Gifts has been using blogger outreach on an ongoing basis to move and lift their brand of purses.
Strategy: Not only does this brand focus on ongoing relationships instead of “campaigns,” they also focus on authentic relationships and score all of their content from genuine product reviews. They simply send bloggers purses from their latest catalogues and ask for sincere reviews. Simple yet extremely effective.
How They Take it a Step Further: In addition to the free bags for reviews, Thirty-One Gifts recognizes that bloggers are successful when they foster strong relationships with their audience. Because of this fact, Thirty-One Gifts also gives bloggers additional purses for them to give away to their own audience.
Results: Because gift guides, back to school features and posts on trends are so popular, working with bloggers has been one of the most beneficial tactics to move Thirty-One Gifts in to a very popular brand.
Additionally, bloggers regularly take pictures of themselves using the bag which leads to awesome exposure for the brand across many social channels in addition to blogs.
Goal: Ford works with bloggers on a regular basis. They look at bloggers as storytellers and work with them to simply get different aspects of their brand’s story told.
Strategy: Before making contact with bloggers, Ford’s social team spends a lot of time reading through the blog paying close attention to how often they post, how much their audience interacts with the posts, going to their social channels to see what they like and finally actually reading their “about” and “contact” pages to see how the bloggers prefer to work with brands and how they like to be contacted.
How They Take it a Step Further: Ford makes sure that every pitch they send out personally appeals to each blogger. The research takes time but is rewarded with awesome response rates and strong blogger relationships.
For one campaign, Ford appealed to bloggers by creating individual video pitches catered to each bloggers’ interests.
Another way that Ford takes blogger outreach to the next level is that they really emphasize authenticity. They send cars to bloggers to test drive and ask for honest posts—even if they are negative. This leads to a ton of trust in the word of mouth recommendations from bloggers circulating about the brand.
Results: Ford has a blogger outreach program that is exemplary to all brands who take part in this tactic. All of the mentions that they score are honest and through bloggers, they have reached millions of targeted audiences.
Bloggers are a fantastic source to tap in to when enlisting people to help tell your brand’s story. Their presence across all of the digital platforms makes them extra desirable to use as a springboard to reach many audiences with different content types.
The most successful outreach campaigns embrace ongoing relationships and weave creative elements in to the work that they do with bloggers.
Look to brands that do blogger outreach well so that you can implement new and innovative ways of working with influencers to move your brand forward.
Do you do it with bloggers? Share your tips from experience in the comments below!