At GroupHigh, I have worked with both brands and agencies on blogger outreach strategy. No matter the goal or the end result, a blogger outreach strategy that works has key components and crucial ingredients.
Because I live in the world of blogger outreach, I’m always asking what other marketers are doing in order to see outside my world and stay an expert. This week, I’ve asked fellow marketers to share the innovative strategies and tips they have accumulated from their own blogger outreach experience.
To round out my perspective and provide a blogger outreach view from an agency stance, I talked to Devon DeMars and Brent Gleeson, social media director and CMO respectively of Internet Marketing Inc. (IMI), one of the top digital marketing agencies.
IMI has been a client of GroupHigh, so I’m familiar with their work. However, more recently I came across a post Brent and Devon had contributed to Forbes on what marketing teams should know about working bloggers.
It was a great post. Everything they had to say lined up with my own marketing philosophy, so I figured the three of us could combine forces and put together a goldmine of a guide for all things blogger outreach.
Their words and experience, combined with my background here at GroupHigh working with hundreds of clients on their blogger outreach projects, makes this post comparable to a definitive guide, if I do say so myself.
Blogger outreach is my preferred mode of influencer outreach, since I view bloggers as a springboard for the “one-to-one-to-many” approach. Bloggers are active on many social channels to stay relevant and to promote themselves.
Not to mention, bloggers as influencers are easiest to search for granularly and by specific topics that their network tunes in to learn about.
As a result, I recommend working with a blogger on all of their channels. This means equipping them with the right assets to create visually driven content on Pinterest and Instagram, something to link to in a tweet, something worthwhile to share on Facebook, and of course, an entire experience to write about for their blog posts.
Bloggers are highly trusted resources. The Spark Notes analysis is that when making a big purchase decision, the average person consults 11 consumers reviews (many of which are via blogs), and 80% of the online population trusts bloggers (highlight to tweet).
If you want to dive in deeper, check out this curation of blogger outreach facts.
Why Blogger Outreach is a Necessary Skill for All Marketers
Devon explained, “Blogger outreach is one of the strongest forms of word-of-mouth marketing that exists. One blogger can reach thousands of people with one post, and consumers relate to these bloggers, trust them, and rely on them for assistance with purchase decisions.”
When chatting with Devon and Brett, we agreed that blogger outreach is ideal because it achieves many goals by working with one influencer.
The primary marketing areas that blogger outreach improves include:
- Brand awareness
- Social media buzz
- Online sales
When it comes to blogger outreach, I see clients take one of two approaches. As an agency, IMI offers both approaches to their clients, so they’re quite familiar with both.
Campaign Approach: The campaign approach allows marketers to scale their outreach. Usually, the campaign approach is used to create a quick spark. When buzz is trying to be achieved via a lot of influencers in an organized amount of time, the campaign approach is used.
Ambassador Program: An ambassador program is when a brand’s agency or marketing team owns blogger relationships. Relationships are ongoing, posts are more than once, and the shout-outs are more authentic and trusted when consumers see a brand as part of a blogger’s “regular life.”
When going with the ambassador approach, it’s best to mention your goal in the initial pitch. At IMI, they ask the blogger right away if they’re interested in working together for a year or other length of time. From there, they promise to “continue to provide them ongoing benefits such as products, services, recognitions, rewards, etc.”
Score the Best Post for Your Brand
Consumer are drawn to an influencer’s experience with a brand, as opposed to simple shout-outs.
The best blogger outreach strategies provide bloggers with enough creative freedom to demonstrate how a brand, product, or service is used in their everyday life.
Though creative freedom is a must, so are a few guidelines. I recommend trying to find that balance of being a “helpful” partner to your bloggers instead of a controlling one.
Some strategies to work with bloggers without driving yourself or them crazy include:
- Make yourself available for questions and check in with them to see how things are going.
- Equip bloggers with the facts to write a great and accurate post without overloading them with content.
- Provide good links and images for them to use in their posts.
- Tell them exactly what your goal is with your outreach efforts.
- Be up front about deadlines.
- Give bloggers a few weeks to write their posts.
Where to Find the Right Bloggers
As I mentioned before, I met the folks at IMI because they use GroupHigh to find bloggers and organize their blogger outreach efforts.
When the budget doesn’t allow for a blogger outreach tool, you can find bloggers by Googling for blogrolls on a topic orby using a tool like Tweepi to tap into bloggers on Twitter. It’s also great simply to ask bloggers with whom you have already have a relationship if they have any other bloggers the recommend.
A great rule of thumb when vetting a list of bloggers is to think quality over quantity.
Though you do want your bloggers to have some reach so that your mentions are heard, run your bloggers through contextual filters first and then numerical ones, after it’s been determined that a blogger is a snug brand fit.
- Actually read a blog post to get a feel whether or not the writing style is a match.
- Check out the homepage. Is it visually driven?
- What topics does the blogger write about? This is how you identify a niche within a genre.
- Are there comments on the posts? This gives you a feel for how actively they engage with their audience.
Check out the following metrics to measure their presence:
- UMVs (number of visitors the blog gets per month).
- Social followers (be sure to evaluate the entire digital footprint).
- Domain Authority or MozRank (gauge how well they’ll rank in Google).
When reaching out to bloggers, never forget that the pitch is your only chance to make a good virtual impression.
Combine this with the fact that bloggers get hundreds of pitches a day, and you can understand why pitching bloggers is one of the most important yet time consuming parts of the blogger outreach process.
Each pitch should be personalized with the first name of the blogger. Include the reason why you chose them. Devon and Brett agree that it’s “disingenuous to give a vague reason, like ‘I’m a fan of your blog’,” as this will not be appealing to the blogger.
A great way to stick out is to include any commonalities the two of you share. Devon recommends to include this in the P.S. section of the pitch to add a personal touch and increase response rates. I thought this was such a great idea!
Because pitching is so important and so time consuming, check out this ebook with actual pitching examples.
If You Only Take Away One Thing…
To wrap it all up, I love Devon’s advice to fellow marketers because it’s the same tip I always give, too:
“Give yourself enough time to do outreach right. It’s a time consuming process, but if you use a little more time to do everything the best way, you’ll get the best results.”