Companies that properly invest in blogger outreach have a significant opportunity to engage audiences with well-targeted messages, potentially leading to business growth. Given that the online space has become cluttered by brands vying for customer attention, essentially evolving into an ever-rising ocean of display ads, video ads, Facebook “Likes” and other promotional efforts, blogger outreach stands to become an important focal point for companies in their digital marketing efforts.
Blogger outreach requires commitment, resources, and a well thought out process. Often times companies don’t make the investment required, resulting in failed initiatives. Here are several key steps you can take in building an effective blogger outreach program.
Target Relevant Blogs
Conducting research to determine which blogs are most relevant to your product product or service offering is absolutely integral. Unfortunately many marketing and communications professionals bombard bloggers with pitches that are not relevant – with the consequence of making it more difficult for your offering to get noticed. Realize that bloggers are busy people, for many blogging is not their full-time profession, so focus your efforts accordingly.
Invest in Building Relationships
This point is so important I’m going to repeat it: invest in building relationships. Think of a relationship with a blogger like a bank account – you first need to invest some savings before making a withdrawal. Once you’ve found some blogs that are relevant to your target, take some simple steps like, for example, commenting on the blogs in a manner that contributes to the dialogue and conversation. You might also consider sharing relevant posts with your audience and network. A food and beverage brand could share a blogger’s recipe by posting it on the brand’s Facebook Page.
DO NOT wait until you are set to run a campaign before engaging with a blogger, you will most likely be ignored.
Don’t just target bloggers who have large audiences. You should also focus on bloggers that have a passionate following – regardless of size. This will help immensely in building a groundswell of advocacy for your offering. Realize also that bloggers with smaller audiences may not yet receive as many pitches as those with larger audiences, making it more likely that yours will get noticed. When evaluating a blog, consider it’s reach and relevance, as well as the level of engagement amongst the blog’s followers.
Focus on Value
When pitching bloggers, adopt a mindset that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and consider how you can provide value to both bloggers and their audiences. Study each blog and make note of any offers provided to the audience, before making the pitch. If you take the time to tailor an unique, interesting and relevant offer your pitch is more likely get noticed. For example, a company operating a local tourist attraction might offer a blogger a behind the scenes tour or access to a special event with exclusive privileges. The same company could provide tickets for the tourist attraction, for the blogger to give away in a contest for audience members.
Say Thank You and Follow Up
If a blogger does choose to cover you, be sure to send a personalized note of thanks. You can also use the opportunity to request feedback from the blogger, both on your pitch and the offering for the blogger’s audience. If relevant, be sure to keep investing in the relationship and continue the engagement – do not wait until you have another campaign you’d like to pitch.
Above all, remember that you’re dealing with other humans. Be nice, and be respectful.
Dave Fleet’s Blogger Relations – Getting the Insiders Onside presentation provides excellent insights on communicating with bloggers and influencers.