You’ve heard everyone talk about blogger outreach. You probably smiled and nodded when they told you how great it is. But maybe you’re still not entirely sure what it is or how you do it.
Fear not. We’re here to break it down for you.
Blogger outreach may sound like a campaign to coax bloggers back into society but it’s just another marketing channel. There’s no great mystery to it.
It works along the same lines as old-fashioned word of mouth marketing but the person doing the talking has a much bigger audience. It ditches the traditional campaign model for an organic approach that’s based on a blogger’s recommendations.
The idea is to develop relationships that benefit your brand in the short term and the long term. Sounds good, right?
The modern world bombards people with ads and marketing. You scroll past ads on your phone, drive past billboards without seeing them, ignore ads on your computer all day at work, and make tea during the ads on TV or Netflix. People have become immune to traditional advertising and they make brand choices based on research, reviews or recommendations.
It’s up to you to work your way into their conversations. One way to do this is to use influencer marketing and outreach channels.
It cuts through the noise and the distractions and gives you direct access to the people you’re trying to win over.
What is outreach?
As the name suggests, outreach is about exposing your brand or content to a wider audience. It’s all about building relationships with influencers who will convince people to buy into your brand.
The aim is to find an authentic voice to tell your story but one that is loud enough to reach a big audience. One of the best ways to do this is to target bloggers, who tend to be influencers in their own right.
Influence is all around us but you need to focus on the people who can actually help you. Don’t approach a heavy metal blogger if you’re trying to promote wedding invitations. That’s just common sense.
What you want from outreach is a blogger that fits the context, has a wide reach and can exert an influence on their audience. Once you find the right person, the next step is to use your winning personality to get them on side.
Outreach marketing is a way to bring people who love your brand into the fold. You need to invest in your influencers and incentivise them or reward them where possible. This is all about building a beautiful relationship so don’t be afraid to lay on the charm.
“If I have seen further, it is only by standing upon the shoulders of giants,” Isaac Newton famously said.
You can adapt this concept to try and understand the impact of outreach. By standing on the shoulders of a particular blogger or social influencer, you can increase your visibility and expose your brand to a whole new audience.
Why influencer marketing?
We’ve all heard the expression “Self praise is no praise.”
We tend to put more faith in an independent review than a brand’s press release. Are you more likely to watch a film based on an actor’s interview or a friend’s recommendation?
A blogger acts as a mutual friend between your brand and their audience. They can influence their own audience but they can also influence their audience’s audience.
Choosing the right blogger is not just about adding up their follower numbers. Who is the best person for you? What can they do for your brand? Influencers have credibility, which is just as important as their audience reach.
Think of them as the popular kid in school whose opinion can make or break your chances of fitting in. Their followers trust them and that trust is what you want to access.
The aim of influencer marketing is to tap into their audience and to use them to befriend potential customers. Peer recommendations can help you to get the right people chatting about your product. Marketing-inspired word-of-mouth can amplify the effect of paid media by 15%, according to a study by The Word of Mouth Marketing Association.
Getting the right blogger on board can amplify your message, increase your brand’s visibility, create engagement, attract more traffic and generate sales and shares. SEO rank, followers and social presence will all fall into place as a result of a well-managed outreach campaign.
How do I get influencers to notice me?
First up: we will use bloggers and social influencers interchangeably.
The first step is to divide your influences into major influencers, mid-weight influencers and smaller publications/influencers. Choose the right people to avoid wasting your time and theirs.
Target major influencers before production and get them on board with the concept. This is your opportunity to win them over.
Once they’ve committed to the idea, find out what you can do to make it even more attractive to them. It’s nice to be nice but this will also encourage them to push it out to their blog’s audience.
When it’s ready for launch, keep it personal and contact them directly by phone, email or social. Once you’ve contacted all the top targets on your list, target the mid-weight influencers but use the same form of personal contact.
Finally, hit the third tier of influencers. At this stage, you be a bit more relaxed and can combine direct contact with some template approaches like Mailchimp.
- Do your homework and look for people who are talking about your brand or discussing the topic you are trying to promote. Find out who is already chatting about what you’re doing.
- Use bookmarking submission sites like Inbound.org, reddit, Newsvine or BizSugar. This type of social bookmarking is a great way to develop backlinks and boost your SEO--and to get the word out about your product or content to people who may not have otherwise seen it.
- Networking remains an obvious way to get an influencer onboard. Make some new friends! If people know who you are, they’ll be more likely to give you a mention. Increase your visibility by following the right people on Twitter and sharing their content and engaging with them.
- Build relationships with people. Then build some more. Always remember to give something back. Relationships are not just a one-way street so get ready to reciprocate and to help them out in return.
- Outreach is not sending an email that says: "Here is my thing. Please promote it for me on social/your blog/platform." With influencers, you'll want to be useful to them too, or else you'll go on the pile with all the other people scrambling to be heard.
How do I write an outreach/pitch email that gets read?
The top bloggers get bombarded with offers so how do you convince them that you’re worth the time and the effort?
Take a polite approach and do your research. You’re looking to develop a relationship with these bloggers so be personal and make sure you know their name. This seems obvious but not everyone does it!
It also pays to show an interest in their work. There’s no point pitching a giveaway if they don’t do giveaways. Let them know that you’ve read their stuff and chosen them because you like what they do--or because they're looking for something you offer.
Be honest. Tell them what you’re looking for and what you can offer in exchange. Make sure you have an idea to pitch but it’s no harm to ask for their suggestions on the best way to work together.
Give them an incentive. Don’t expect them to do cartwheels at the thought of working with you. If you're targeting bloggers, don't be surprised if they want something in return. Blogging takes time and effort so you need to think about what you can offer them. If it isn’t money, it could be a story or a prize that appeals to their readers.
If you're targeting social influencers, make sure what you're pitching is hyper-relevant to their interests. If they're a publication (think Mashable or Buzzfeed), check their back-catalogues, find a writer who's looking for what you have, and politely write to them. They are helping you spread the word, but you're also helping them by giving them content to write a great article. Synergistic!
What about paying for reviews/content for advertorials?
A blogger can tell people you’re the best thing since sliced bread but disclosure becomes an issue if you’re paying them to say it.
Oreo previously got into trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority for paying British YouTube stars to promote its products in their “Oreo Lick Race” videos without making it clear that the videos were ads.
People think that the internet is lawless but blogs are subject to the same laws as traditional media.
One example is “advertorial” copy, which is editorial content that the publisher has been paid to promote. Newspapers or magazines box this type of content off and label it “Advertisement” or “Commercial Feature,” which makes it pretty obvious what it is. Blogs are meant to follow the same standards. Many don't.
“Advertisement promotions should be designed and presented in such a way that they can easily be distinguished from editorial material,” according to the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland’s code of standards.
However, it is also a criminal offence to fail to identify paid editorial content.
The Consumer Protection Act 2007 states that a trader shouldn’t “use editorial content in the media to promote a product (if a trader has paid for that promotion) if it is not made clear that the promotion is a paid promotion.”
The concept of “media” is not clearly defined but you can assume that this includes blogs and online posts. Honesty is the best policy if money is changing hands.
There’s nothing to stop a blogger from saying that your product is fantastic but, if you’re paying him to say those words, it seems only fair that you ‘fess up and tell the audience.
What tools can I use for outreach?
VoilaNorbert: This is a great way to track down an email address for any influencer or blogger. All you need is their full name and their company domain and you’re only an email away from making contact.
Cision: Cision is a tool for Marketing and PR professionals to help them create media lists. It will help you to target bloggers in specific locations and to narrow your search down using a specific set of criteria.
BirdSong Analytics: This is a useful tool that lets you analyse a person’s Twitter follower list. It gives you a breakdown of their followers’ name, bio, URL and “Verified” status to give you an indication of the influence and audience that your target blogger has.
Once you have the email addresses, a reason for contacting this specific person or publication, a press kit or press release, and any and all relevant content, you're good to go. Outreach is no easy victory so be prepared to send plenty of emails before you get a response.
Want to know more?
We know a thing or two about a thing or two. So if you need to know more about outreach blogging or you’re interested in doing your own outreach campaign, get in touch and we’ll talk you through it. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to keep up with all things content and digital media.