February 9, 2016
Blogger outreach can make or break the success of any marketing campaign.
Top bloggers come with a built-in audience of loyal, trusting followers. This trust buys influence – and that’s why blogger outreach can be such a valuable marketing strategy. It’s social proof on steroids.
If you can persuade a top blogger to write about and endorse your product, you’re instantly much closer to your marketing goals.
There’s a right way and a wrong way, though. These top bloggers are swamped with requests – thousands of marketers just like you, desperately hoping to leverage a blogger’s network to promote their product. Thousands of products, thousands of marketers and thousands of e-mails – and one very busy blogger.
I don’t say that to put you off. Blogger outreach is undeniably a brilliant marketing strategy, but you do need to know how to stand out from the crowd. A generic, grasping e-mail isn’t going to cut it. You’re approaching these bloggers because they’re pretty damn good at what they do – so credit them with some respect when you approach them or you’re not going to get a look in.
Having experienced both sides of the coin myself, I know what it takes to write a good blogger outreach pitch (as well as knowing what makes someone hit ‘delete’).
Want buy-in from the most powerful people on the Internet? Here are eight ways to do blogger outreach right.
1. Say My Name, Say My Name
Channel your inner Destiny’s Child and use their name. I can tell you from experience that nothing prompts the delete button more quickly than a ‘Dear Blogger’ message.
It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many people still mailshot tens of bloggers, hoping one will take the bait. They won’t.
Why are you approaching me, if you don’t even know my name? The whole point of blogger outreach is to target bloggers whose audience is aligned with your own ideal audience, who personally aligns with your brand. If you don’t even know their name, it’s unlikely you’ve done even the most basic research – and that’s a huge turn-off for bloggers.
Even if you’re not doing in-depth research, you need their name – this is the absolute bare minimum.
2. Think Personal
For the same reason you should use their name, you should personalize your message.
You’re (hopefully) reaching out to them for a reason, right? So tell them the reason.
Blogger outreach done well rests on the principle that a specific blogger has a synergy with a specific product. A top blogger doesn’t write about anything and everything (and if they do, that’s a pretty good sign they’re not a top blogger). Instead, they write about things that are aligned to their audience, their tone, their online personality.
If you can show the blogger what that synergy is, you’re much more likely to get their attention.
At the same time, some flattery never goes amiss. Make your first line a reference to something on their blog – be that a recent post, a picture, anything – that you loved, and they’ll immediately know your e-mail is going to be personal.
Here’s a great example:
3. Don’t Mass Mail!
This should almost go without saying, given the two points above, but I’ll emphasize it: don’t send mass e-mails. Or, at the least, don’t look like you’re sending a mass mail.
I get it – blogger outreach can be time consuming, and sending highly personalized messages to every blogger can be unfeasible. There are ways to cut down the time you spend on blogger outreach though, without committing the cardinal sin of obvious mass mailing.
Here’s an example of blogger outreach done 100 percent wrong:
Not only is this message obviously completely generic, they actually CC-ed other bloggers into it so all the e-mail addresses were shared – not a good move.
The major problem here is that the e-mail focuses on the benefit to them, not the benefit to the blogger. A good blogger outreach e-mail should make it clear what the blogger stands to gain from the proposition, as well as telling him/her enough about the product/offer/service so he/she wants to find out more. “Our new product” could mean anything, so there’s no reason at all that a blogger would be interested in discussing it.
4. Less Mercenary, More Relationship
Great blogger outreach shouldn’t be mercenary or transactional. A long-term relationship can pay dividends further down the line but, moreover, bloggers don’t like to feel used.
Aim to build and nurture the relationship wherever possible – ask questions, stay in touch, look to see where you can add value back to them.
Once a blogger has engaged with you – the first touch-point – make sure to grow that relationship. Look for common points of interest and build rapport. At the least, you’re expanding your professional network, and at the best, you’ll build a win-win long-term relationship that works for both of you.
5. Don’t Demand A False Positive
Many marketers use blogger outreach to build up their bank of product reviews. That can be a great strategy – but you can’t make demands as to what they write.
Fake reviews can be highly damaging to your brand, and most bloggers worth their salt would never consider writing one. In fact, many would be actively offended that you asked, and you might well end up with a piece of content posted on their site explaining exactly what you asked them to do.
Successful bloggers have worked long and hard to build up an audience of trusting followers – they’re not going to risk breaking that trust by endorsing a product or service untruthfully.
Instead, explain to bloggers why they might be interested in trying your product or service, and request that they write an authentic review of their experience. Be hands-on with customer service and try to make their experience as positive as possible, but never expect to actively influence what they write.
People can tell, too, if something is inauthentic. Bloggers who promote indiscriminately quickly lose followers, as their audience clocks what the blogger is doing.
6. Bloggers Don’t Work for Free
Would you do your job, just out of the kindness of your heart? However much you love what you do, everyone has bills to pay.
Bloggers have invested a huge amount of time and effort to build up a loyal following. It’s only right that you should give something back if you want to leverage that.
It doesn’t always have to be direct payment though. Many bloggers will look favourably on the chance to get early access to a new product, for example. The main principle is to make sure you’re offering something – any fool can work for free.
7. Always Follow Up
Standard e-mail etiquette applies to blogger outreach – don’t just send them an e-mail and ignore it. In my experience, a positive response is infinitely more likely after the second, even third, follow-up attempt.
From a blogger’s perspective, I’m much more likely to reply to someone if they get in touch again. It shows they’re really actively interested in talking to me.
Sending a follow-up email can sometimes feel awkward though, I know. Here’s how to do it right:
8. Ask for Feedback
If your blogger outreach isn’t going as well as you’d hoped, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Try asking what went wrong. If a blogger comes back to you saying they’re not interested – find out why. Ask bloggers you are working with what prompted them to respond.
Over time you can hone your blogger outreach strategy so you’re getting more and more positive responses – and banish that tumbleweed from your inbox.
There you go — eight tips from someone who’s been on the giving and receiving end of blogger outreach. Follow these tips and you’ll start to see a rapid improvement in your outreach response rates, and earn yourself some positive brand endorsement that counts.
Lisa Bollins joined the link building team at Receptional in October 2014, bringing skills in content writing and blogger outreach. When she’s not at work she can be found writing away on her beauty blog, drinking tea, on Twitter, or with deaf Jeff the cat.