Blogger outreach! We’ve all heard about it, and most brands are making blogger outreach campaigns part of their marketing strategy. In a nutshell, blogger outreach is the process of building relationships with qualified, influential bloggers, asking them to write about a particular product, service or experience, providing an incentive for them and their readers with the goal of receiving brand recognition (or some call to action) within their networks.
Blogger outreach can be cost-effective and provide amazing results for your brand, if done the right way! It takes a lot of time and research to build a good blogger outreach campaign. Bloggers consider themselves as citizen journalists; they are experts in their own right and demand to be treated so. Bloggers have spent their time, money and talents to build a reputation with their followers, and expect to be treated with respect. For most, blogging is not a hobby, but a way of life.
Having been a blogger myself, here are five tips you can use when reaching out to bloggers, from a blogger’s perspective.
1. Be prepared.
It’s easy to start searching the internet for bloggers you think might fit the bill for your outreach. But if you don’t stop to think about what it is your brand really needs then you’ll be wasting precious time. Before you even start to pitch bloggers ask yourself the following questions:
1. What audience does my brand need to reach? Are you looking for women who write about fashion, stay at home dads, or mom bloggers who focus on product reviews for children’s toys? The more specific you are about whom your target market is, the easier it will be to conduct your search.
2. What value is my brand going to offer bloggers and their readers? Make sure you know the benefits that you are going to offer bloggers and their readers. The more of a win-win partnership you can create the better.
3. What does my brand want bloggers to do? Bloggers receive many pitches in a week; the best bloggers receive multiple requests in a day. Be clear about what you want bloggers to do if they decided to partner with you. Do you want them to review a product, attend an event, or try out a service? Also, be clear about how you want bloggers to share the blog post or information to their networks. Do you want them to include social media mentions on Facebook and Twitter? Live Tweet at an event. Include as many details as possible.
2. Do your research.
Time and time again, bloggers are turned off by PR companies and brands that blindly send out their pitches in a mass email hoping to get few bites. If you want to build rapport with the bloggers you work with, and I suggest you do (word spreads fast in the blogosphere), do your research! Find out the following.
1. The bloggers’ contact preferences (email, contact form, phone).
2. The bloggers first name. If you can’t find their first name, use the pseudo name they go by.
3. What topics the blogger writes about. This cannot be stressed enough. If you are looking for fashion bloggers, you do not want to send your pitch to someone who blogs about computer programming. That example might be a little far off, but you’ll be surprised. If your target is moms who write reviews on baby products, make sure that mom actually has a baby and is not an empty nester. Make sure your pitch is relevant to each blogger.
4. The blogger’s strengths. Bloggers have different strengths, some enjoy making videos, some are great at hosting events or Twitter parties, and others are great at just blogging or simply have a larger reach on social media. Make note of their strengths and use this information to customize your message.
Review their about me page and media kit if available. This is a goldmine for finding the information you need to pitch them. You will find that no two bloggers are the same!
3. Build rapport.
Building relationships with bloggers is the first part of our definition about blogger outreach. People want to work with people they know, and people who care about what they do. Get on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and find out where your target bloggers live. Don’t stop there, like them, follow them, engage with them and get to know them if possible. This way, when you reach out to them you won’t be such a stranger.
4. Develop your message and customize it.
Yes, customize your message for everyone as much as possible. Even if it just means addressing them by their first name, or including one line that mentions the name of their blog and why you think they would be a great fit.
Answer as many questions as you can. Provide the blogger with the information they need to move forward and participate in your program. Include how they can reach you for questions, more information, images, and key messaging. This will help make their jobs a little easier, offering yet another incentive to participate. The more detailed, honest, concise and straight forward you are the better chances you have with securing a good team of bloggers who will be willing to partner with you.
5. Follow-up and follow through.
1. Once your message has gone out, give bloggers some time to read your email and respond. If you don’t hear back, it’s okay to follow-up. Sometimes bloggers forget, sometimes they just aren’t interested, but you will never know until you ask.
2. When bloggers ask you questions, answer them with as much detail as possible. They are expressing interest and deserve a prompt answer.
3. Deliver what you promised at to bloggers. If you said you would send them a product for review, send it immediately after they accept. If you promised to share their blog posts with your networks, make sure you do. Send them a screenshot for proof or tag them when possible.
There are several ways to conduct and manage your blogger outreach efforts. You can decided to run the program yourself or use blogger outreach tools such as BlogDash or GroupHigh. Some tools include free options, but as always are limited until you upgrade to a paid membership.
Blogger outreach is important as everything moves to the internet and as we experience the paradigm shift of consumers relying more on the opinions of their peers rather than on the brands themselves. Bloggers are powerful partners so make sure you treat them that way. You never know, they may become your very best customers or even your best brand ambassadors.
We asked the community what they want in a pitch; here is what they had to say:
“I like to read brief pitches that are informative and outline why the opportunity is beneficial for you, me, and my readers. The “Dear Talented Blogger” pitches have got to GO!”
“Use my name, especially if it is on my about page. Show you read my blog and there is a reason why you want to work with me.”
“I would like more pitches relevant to what my blog actually focuses on.”
“I would love it when brands actually read my blog and approach me by name, read my review policy, and tailor their pitch to my niche audience.”
“I get pitched all the time to review baby products – my youngest child is 8 and I have NEVER blogged about anything related to babies. Anyone who even saw my blog would know that. I realize PR people can’t view hundreds of blogs, but I’d like to know how I’m getting on the “baby” lists.”
These smart tips from bloggers will help you create a successful blogger outreach campaign. Just remember to first read their policy and do your research, keep your pitch brief and to the point, and be relevant.