Blogging has been a trusted marketing strategy since 1999, and has proved to be one of the most effective ways to build brand awareness, educate your audience and drive traffic to your site.
Many brands now include blogger outreach programs in their marketing mix as a cost-effective strategy to reach their goals.
What is blogger outreach?
Blogger outreach is when you approach relevant influencers, bloggers and journalists that have a large following and try to persuade them to promote your business in exchange for free access to your products or services. By reaching out to people who already influence your target audience, your business benefits from their trust and authority in a given space.
Influencer outreach is a natural evolution of blogger outreach and is based on the same premise of convincing celebrities and influencers to promote your brand, primarily on social media platforms.
Some interesting statistics came out of Nuffnang's blogger report about the impact of blogs:
- 95% of people have considered a brand as a result of reading a blog
- 89% have shared information learned 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 businesses in Australia can do a lot more in this space by creating a blogger outreach campaign.
What are the benefits of blogger outreach for small businesses?
There are four key benefits of blogger outreach:
- Build trust
- Effectively reach your target audience
- Increased brand visibility
- Link building
1. Blogger outreach builds trust
The great thing about having a blogger talk about your product is that people already trust them. Each individual blogger has their own audience that follows them, listens and cares about what they say.
2. Effectively reach your target audience
Consumers don't feel like they are being sold to, they feel like they are being shown something new and exciting. As they already trust the blogger, it works as more of an endorsement of your products or services.
3. Increased brand visibility
One of the best things about blogger outreach is that you gain brand exposure across multiple platforms as more people become aware of your business.
4. Link building
A major benefit of blogger outreach is that you can acquire backlinks from other sites. This is really important for SEO as it tells search engines that your website is trusted, authoritative and worthy of ranking on Google.
How do I create a blogger outreach program?
Follow these steps to create a successful blogger outreach program:
- Plan your outreach campaign
- Find bloggers or influencers
1. Plan your outreach campaign
It's important to identify your goals and what exactly you are setting out to achieve in your outreach campaign. This includes defining your customer personas and the types of bloggers/influencers they may follow. You can also do a Google search on your product keywords to find out who is talking about what.
2. Find bloggers or influencers
Ask for recommendations from people in your network or search for bloggers in a particular niche online. Most bloggers have an email or contact form on their blog so that businesses like you can contact them.
There are also blogger outreach tools such as BuzzStream, Ninja Outreach and Mailshake. These tools help you send and manage outreach campaigns and make the process a little smoother.
When reaching out to bloggers it's important to personalise your emails and not be too salesy. Make sure you are clear on who you are, what you're offering and what you would like them to do for your brand.
Here are some key things to include in your outreach campaign emails:
- 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 much longer than expected because the above points weren't covered in the initial email. Make sure you are clear about all of the above when you approach a blogger.
What are blogger outreach best practices?
Below are some basic things you need to consider before you approach a blogger for an outreach campaign.
1. 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 is time taken out of their day, so make sure you compensate for it, you'll get a much more positive review in return.
With smaller bloggers, a free product is usually 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 dollars for an "advertorial". If you are a start-up, I would try approaching a variety of smaller bloggers.
2. Ensure your 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 won't have the time to let you know.
3. Share their 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 to the blog post, you may get some extra content from the blogger's 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 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 you, 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.
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