Blogging has been a solid way to market products and this method of promotion has been around since 1999, so I guess it's considered a "mature" type of medium. However despite it being around for so long, it is still a relatively new concept in Australia and one that I feel hasn't been completely taken advantage of. I blog here a lot on SavvySME (e.g. this article), and also run a beauty and fashion blog as a hobby so I guess you can say I'm fairly passionate about this form of social media, and it's good to know I'm not the only one.
Many brands now include blogger outreach programs in their marketing mix, and this is particularly apparent in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industries but I feel like it hasn't really caught on in many other industries. Despite the small use of blogger outreach some interesting statistics came out of the Nuffnang's blogger report:
- 95% of people have considered a brand as a result of reading a blog
- 89% have shared information learnt from reading a blog
- 84% have made purchases as a result of reading a blog
These are pretty high percentages for a single marketing channel and I feel that small business in Australia can do a lot more in this space by reaching out to bloggers.
The great thing about having a blogger talk about your product is that people trust the blogger. Each individual blogger has their own audience that follows them and listens to what they say, they don't feel like they are being sold to, they feel like they are being shown something new and exciting! Best thing about it is that you get SEO and branding benefits too, as more people become aware of your products and links get built to your website.
How to get start your own blogger outreach
It's not that hard to start running your own blogger outreach program, you simply need to do a google search on your product keywords and find out who is talking about it. Most bloggers have a email or contact form on their blog so that businesses like you can contact them. Consider all the points mentioned below and start writing a friendly email to the blogger outlining as much as possible for them. Make sure you include:
- Who you are and what your company does and introduce the product
- Why you are approaching them (e.g. website launch, product review, advertising)
- Why you think they are suitable for your product (great place to compliment them)
- What you are offering them (product, money?)
- What results you are expecting (impressions, clicks, traffic?)
- When you will need the content up by (this is particularly important if it's for a launch)
I've had lots of businesses approach me, and the conversation took longer than expected because all of the above weren't covered in the initial email, and then it was a process of back and forth emails to establish it all before we could start. Make sure you are clear about all of the above when you approach a blogger.
Here are some things you need to consider when approaching a blogger
Make sure you offer something for their time
A blogger even though it feels like an easy free medium does spend time on each blog post. They need to try your product, find a way to express and perhaps take photos to show their readers. They then have to put it all together and sometimes a blog post can take up to 5 hours to produce. Next time you read a blog post, make sure you show some appreciation to the author and like or leave a comment. This time is time taken out of their day, so make sure you compensate for it, you'll get a much more positive review in return. Usually with smaller bloggers free product is enough to interest them as this gives them an opportunity to produce more content as well, so it's a win win. For larger bloggers that have built an audience, expect to pay up to several thousand of dollars for an "advertorial". If you are a start-up, I would try approaching a variety of smaller bloggers.
Ensure you're product is ready
Bloggers have a responsibility to report what they really think of a product. This is why their readers follow them. If a blogger starts lying to their readers for commercial gain, don't expect them to stick around for long. That is why you find bloggers will mention when a blog post is sponsored or is an advertorial - it's just blogging etiquette. That also means that you need to make sure your product is ready to be broken apart. Don't send them a faulty prototype - unless you plan on getting famous through bad press. Make sure you're product is ready to be scrutinised and be fairly sure it's going to come up as a winner. A tip to avoid bad reviews is to set a disclaimer with the blogger that if they didn't enjoy the product to not post up the review, let them keep the product regardless. Use the feedback to improve your product. Chances are if they didn't like it, a lot of other people won't too, and they wont have the time to let you know.
Share the content on your own channels
Once a blog article it up, it's a great piece of content to share on your own social media channels. It's a great way to build trust by showing your customers that other people are enjoying your product so much they are talking about it. In addition from the blog post you may get some extra content from the bloggers readers that have gone and tried the product themselves and decided to share their opinions too. It's a good idea to keep track of the comments and shares on each blog post so you have extra content to share and also people to approach for, for testimonials and feedback.
What are you waiting for?
If you aren't already including bloggers in your marketing plans, it's time to consider it. It's a very cost effective way to build not only your brand awareness, but your SEO as well. Not to mention when someone searches your product online, they'll have a bunch of different content to read that is not from your, which are great testimonials in themselves. For small businesses you may not naturally get blog reviews unlike larger brands that have lots of people using their products, so you need to get out there yourself and create some of your own content.
I'd love to know if any of you have tried this and what your experience is from it.