Watch out! Those pesky PR people are coming.
That’s so far from the truth—if you’re smart.
Blogger outreach is a vital component of a content or inbound marketing campaign. For many agencies, blogger outreach is the forgotten strategy because of its roots in PR—something traditionally outside the inbound marketing best practices umbrella.
But companies that integrate blogger outreach as part of their normal campaigns can tap an ocean of opportunities from backlinks, ranking, social, blogger coverage and traffic. PR can help with lead gen as well.
Here are 6 things to keep in mind when developing your blogger outreach campaign:
1) Identify Your Targets
You’ve got to know your target audience. Based on that target audience and what blogs they’d read, you can make a list of potential bloggers to reach out to. You want to cast a wide relevant net.
There’s no way to guarantee responses, so the broader the target list, the more responses you could receive. Make sure that the blogs/bloggers you have identified as targets would be interested in the “news” you are promoting. If it’s a new cooking app that you’re promoting, it obviously makes sense to send to tech blogs, food blogs and possibly mommy blogs. But if you have an education app food blogs aren’t going to be interested. By tailoring your list, you’re showing bloggers you know and care about what they cover. Find these blogs by doing a Google search using keywords like: Mommy Blogs or Tech Blogs, etc.
Check out the blogs yourself to see if they look legitimate. Look into what kind of authority they have, social media following, etc. Get the Blog names, URL, name of the blogger and contact info and input into Excel spread sheet. Now you have a “media list” to work with.
2) Develop a Plan of Attack
Outline your plan of attack before you begin outreach. A lot of blogs will want something in return for your post. Some will ask for money, some will ask for free product. Some will want product (or discounts) to give away to their readers. Be prepared with what you can actually offer up before beginning outreach. You want them to talk about the product so give them the incentive to do that. If it’s a really good blog I would consider payment as an option, but I wouldn’t pay every blog to write a post. I’d gauge based on how many readers and social media followers they have. If they are big enough to make an impact and get the word out to thousands of people (think 15,000 and up), it could be worth paying for a sponsored post.
3) Tailor Your Correspondence
You want to create a customized email “pitch” for your blogger outreach. Make sure you include their name or call out something specifically of interest to them, or something that resonated with you from their blog and why you think you’re product would be great for their audience. The more tailored, the better. You want the blogger to know that you are familiar with their site/writing and that you are talking directly to them. The more you show you know about their blog, the more likely they’ll be to read your email and cover your product.
4) Ask for Social Media Coverage
A lot of bloggers will have large following on Facebook and Twitter. In addition to pitching them to cover your product on their blog, make sure you ask about posting on their social media as well. Because they may have thousands of extra readers on social media, where you can extend your reach even further. Ask them to link to your social media pages, include your Twitter handle, etc.
5) Follow Up
Make sure you stay on top of all the bloggers you’ve reached out to or “pitched” and don't forget to keep track of who requested product or additional info. Follow up with the bloggers to confirm the product arrived (if you’ve sent to them), ask if they have all the info they need to write their post (they might ask for images and make sure they include your website) and ask them when they plan to post their write up about your product so you can share it with your community as soon as it goes live on their blog. Follow up to say "thank you" after the blog post goes up. Maintaining your relationship is important because you going to want to reach out to them again in the future to write about another campaign.
6) Keep Notes
Tracking all feedback and recording that feedback in your Excel spreadsheet, aka media list, is important. You’ll find out that certain things work for certain bloggers, note who is paid, who likes giveaways, who doesn’t like certain things. Those notes will be helpful in the future when you do another campaign.
The key to a solid program is knowing your audience, tailoring your outreach and building relationships you can use in the future for other campaigns.
About the Author: Ryan Malone is the founder and CEO of SmartBug Media, a strategic inbound marketing agency based on Southern California. Go Lakers.