Bloggers and influencers have become an undeniable part of a business’ online marketing strategy. Consumers continue to trust bloggers more and more; increasing a marketer’s dependence on them.
Getting a blogger’s attention can mean leveraging their influence to drive messaging around your business and products. Working with bloggers means reaching potential customers on a personal level.
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Brands have been integrating bloggers into their new PR strategies for awhile now, treating them as equivalent to major media.
While getting coverage in the New York Times or another major publication can be great, in the aggregate, a number of smaller blogs can command the same audience as major publishers. It’s the reason blog networks were born, to leverage the audience of multiple sites to create one huge audience.
PR experts leverage this opportunity to connect with a number of smaller blogs, to get their message out. The advantage to this strategy is that the likelihood of success can be better by reaching out to multiple small blogs versus one large media outlet.
Most major media outlets are difficult to convince to cover a small business and sometimes even a large brand. They require some kind of hook, something truly newsworthy, or something exceptionally special.
With smaller bloggers, however, the PR moment can be a lot smaller. Depending on the niche, a basic contest or in-depth article can be enough to justify coverage from smaller sites.
The Power of Blogger Outreach
Reaching out to bloggers can be extremely powerful for a business. It can have SEO benefits, increase your brand’s visibility, introduce you to a new audience, and more.
Building Links to High Value Content
When search engines rank the importance of a page compared to its competitors, it looks to a number of metrics. Some of these elements are on-site, the way your site is coded, and some are off-site, how people interact with your website.
One of the most important elements in off-site search engine optimization (SEO), is the inbound link. To search engines, when someone links to your website they see this as a thumbs up, a vote, for your content. The more people that “vote”, through links, for your content – the more important Google considers it.
Work with relevant bloggers by connecting with them and informing them of new content or campaigns your business is doing. This kind of outreach has a valuable impact on your authority in search engines.
Increasing Visibility within an Industry
Visibility among consumers is just as important as visibility in search engines. Branding is not a new idea and you can use bloggers to build your brand visibility.
Start with guest postings. It’s the act of writing articles to be published on a blog you don’t own. For example, sometimes, I guest post on Mashable or Search Engine Journal. This increased my online presence and grew my personal brand.
Outreach, on the other hand, is similar to link building, but instead of focusing on having the blogger link to your site, it focuses on just getting a blogger to write about you. This could mean, gifting product, giving insider information, or any other type of exclusive access, so the blogger dedicates an entire post or part of a post to your business.
Convincing bloggers to cover your business requires some ingenuity and hard work, but coverage from bloggers acts as a testimonial for you and your business.
Consumers trust their favorite bloggers and as an extension trust the businesses the bloggers cover.
Creating Relationships and Friendships
An often-overlooked yet just as important aspect of blogger outreach is the relationships you make. Bloggers are influencers, thought leaders, and popular people in their industries. They reach their readers and community on a personal level, compared to journalists who usually reach their readers through the publisher brand.
Befriending a blogger means befriending their community as well. Having access to this network means your next event, sale or promotion has a community within easy reach.
Building an Outreach List
When you start outreaching to bloggers, you’ll want to make sure you’re organized. There are hundreds of blogs and only so much time. Outlining an outreach list lets you easily determine how to allocate your resources to reach the most bloggers and create the largest impact.
When creating your outreach list, you’ll want to include the blog title, URL, blogger’s name, and contact information.
Aside from the basics, you should also include notes on previous conversations, important information on the blogger, and also some information about their blog.
You’ll want to keep track of things like: What kind of writing do they do? What do they truly dislike? Have they worked with others in the past?
Over time you’ll begin to learn whom your favorite bloggers are and you’ll be able to create tiered lists.
Identifying Valuable Targets
Once you have a template for your outreach list, it’s time to actually start filling it out and finding high-value bloggers.
With the number of bloggers, you would think it would be easy to find hundreds of relevant ones for you to reach out to. In some industries, this may be the case. However, you’ll quickly realize that there are really only a handful of professional and effective blogs in each industry.
Two places to start the search for valuable blogs are in the DMOZ Directory and Alltop. DMOZ is a hand-edited directory that is broken out by topic. It is considered one of the top directories online.
Alltop is a user suggested directory of blogs by topic. It’s great for finding not only the largest blogs but some smaller and newer bloggers as well.
These two are great starting points. The rest of the list comes from reading your original blogs and seeing who they interact with and link to.
As you become more ingrained in the online community, you’ll begin to know who the new players are and which bloggers receive the most attention.
Outreach is a game of numbers and patience. The bigger your outreach lists are the greater the likelihood for success. However, building large lists takes time and effort.
Making the Initial Contact
Surprisingly, the easiest part of blogger outreach is the actual outreach. Most people are afraid of reaching out to bloggers because you hear the horror stories of bloggers that have posted bad pitches. It’s true, they hate bad pitches, but it’s only because a good pitch is so simple to make.
Treat bloggers like your friend, write short personable but professional emails that are tailored to them. Bloggers are not low-class journalists; they appreciate the same respect and time you would afford a journalist.
Please don’t email a basic press release – these get spammed or junked instantly. Send an email that outlines important information that is easily skimmed and explains why you’re special.
Although it seems scary to pitch bloggers, don’t forget that bloggers are always looking for new content from brands. Brands can give bloggers exclusive access, information about upcoming events, and promotions to gift their readers.
Good blogger outreach programs create symbiotic relationships that help both the blogger and the business.
The impact a good blogger outreach program can have is immense. It affects search engine optimization, branding, and the business’ online reputation.
It’s an extremely powerful tool and gives a great competitive advantage. It’s simple to start and inexpensive to excel at.
Have you ever created a blogger outreach program or campaign for your business? Whose responsibility is it to connect with bloggers? Have a favorite outreach letter? Share it with us and let us know!