Six Keys to Effective Blogger Outreach

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.

Engage Advocates

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.

Be Genuine

Above all, remember that you’re dealing with other humans. Be nice, and be respectful.

Additional resources:

Raul Pacheco-Vega, creator of hummingbird604.com, developed a guide on he prefers to be pitched. It is geared towards his blog, but serves as a great example.

Dave Fleet’s Blogger Relations – Getting the Insiders Onside presentation provides excellent insights on communicating with bloggers and influencers.

Building Relationships and Winning Business Through Content Marketing

It’s well-known that the nature of sales and marketing, specifically effective strategies that fuel sales and drive business, has changed dramatically over the last several years. Digital technologies and social media have truly given customers a voice – an opportunity to engage with companies they do business with and share feedback, whether positive or negative. Further, the customer buying cycle has evolved with the firm establishment of online research as a critically important component. Customers are seeking information that informs and adds value to their decision making process, and they now have access to copious information from a variety of resources – including your competitors.

This shift has resulted in the need for companies develop a strategic focus on nurturing longer term relationships prospects and customers, as well as invest in content marketing.

Defining Content Marketing

According to Wikipedia, content marketing is “an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to engage current and potential consumer bases. Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering high-quality, relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action. Content marketing has benefits in terms of retaining reader attention and improving brand loyalty.”

Executed effectively, content marketing can significantly help you nurture relationships with prospects and customers – leading to a high level of customer loyalty and increased demand generation for your company’s products and services.

Becoming a Thought Leader

The motivation behind content marketing is the belief that educating the customer results in your recognition as a thought leader and industry expert. The focus is on informing customers and prospects about key industry issues and topics, sometimes mentioning the products and services you offer – but not overtly spouting their virtues. For example, you may chose to write a blog post that educates customers and prospects on data storage compliance regulations in industries such as financial services and healthcare. Or, alternatively, you could execute an email marketing campaign to provide customers and prospects with access to a white paper that provides detailed insights and information on a relevant topic.

A variety of tools can be used for content marketing, including:

  • E-newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Social media
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • White papers
  • Company website

Companies need to consider which tools are most appropriate based on their specific target customer.

Getting Started

Leveraging content marketing to cultivate thought leadership and build sales over the longterm requires a well thought out plan, hard work, perseverance, and devoted resources. It isn’t easy, but given the right focus, it is very achievable.

Consider the following questions when developing a content marketing strategy:

  • What information do prospects often ask you for, when evaluating your products and services?
  • What information can you provide, that would truly provide them with value and make their decision easier?
  • How can you best provide information to prospects? Via a blog? Emails? Videos? Webinars?
  • Do you have the in-house resources to create the content?
  • What other online resources, such as industry blogs, trade media, or association websites can you pull content from?
  • Are you prepared to share content on a regular basis?

If you would like to learn more, and you have some time to spare, please listen to this interview with content marketing expert Marcus Sheridan (aka The Sales Lion).