As humans, we’re psychologically programmed to follow the crowd. We naturally look up to others for cues; for guidance; for leadership. And that’s exactly why blogger outreach is so important in digital marketing.
‘Influencers’ have power. They act as digital leaders, helping others to discover new brands, new products, and even new ideas. They influence not just with their charisma, but the brands they deal with, the free giveaways they carry out for their fans, the potential learning curve they provide through their blogs and videos. Today, 81% of people say they trust information on blogs, while 63% say their purchasing decisions are influenced more by blogs and social media posts about a product than by any other form of promotion. Reaching out to these influencers is hugely important, but blogger outreach can sometimes be tricky to get right.
The 2 Stages of Blogger Outreach
Unlike other types of digital marketing, there are two very separate, very distinct stages that combine to create a comprehensive and successful blogger outreach campaign. The idea is to create a win-win situation for the bloggers and the marketer who pursues the outreach. However, many marketers don’t always realize this.
Blogger outreach is often thought of as identifying influencers, reaching out, and building links and relationships. However, that is only part 2 of the equation. Part 2 is unlikely to fully succeed unless you have first completed part 1: the necessary groundwork. These prerequisites are things a digital marketer can do now for long term success, ensuring that plans are in place to properly interact with and engage with bloggers.
Preparing to Reach Out
Imagine you’ve just spent a few hours working on a blogger outreach campaign. You’ve sent emails, you’ve had responses…. Great! Now what? Reaching out to bloggers without having anything to offer them — or without having any plan on what to offer them — is unlikely to result in a success.
So here are 5 prerequisites that all marketers should complete and be able to tick off their ‘to do’ lists before starting to reach out to bloggers and other major online influencers within their industry.
1. Create a Plan
When reaching out to bloggers, it seems to make sense that the more people you contact, the more success you’ll see. But this isn’t always true. In fact, taking such an approach may actually hinder your campaign, not help it. The problem, of course, is that your time and your resources don’t come free, so it’s somewhat wasteful to be putting your hard work, energy, and effort into less valuable prospects.
If we take a look at the above chart, for example, we can clearly see that the primary reason why bloggers don’t respond to marketers (or provide a negative response) is because that particular brand doesn’t fit in with their own audiences. Relevance is a key consideration in a blogger outreach campaign.
When it comes to blogger outreach, sending 10 emails to 10 carefully-selected bloggers (those that ‘tick all the boxes’) will often be more effective than sending 100 emails to 100 randomly-selected bloggers. Segmenting bloggers to the discipline or industry they belong (the cause they represent over their website or social media) to is a must. If you want to see a rise in your acceptance rates, make a plan that consider the types of bloggers you want to contact, how best to contact them, and what sort of content or angle they may be interested in.
Customization is a MUST.
Getting bloggers hooked to your content/product is challenging because 70% bloggers intend to provide potential value to their loyal followers and thus retaining their fandom. Thereby, try preparing different sample pitches for bloggers with different interests. Make sure you customize outreach methods for each kind of blogger.
2. Generate Great Content for Your Own Site
It’s all going great! You’ve got a positive response from a blogger and you’re drafting up your content… but where is that content going to link to? If you’re making the effort to increase traffic to your website, but have nothing of value to keep visitors sticking around, what’s the point? Creating high-quality content for your blog is just as important as the whole outreach process later on.
It is very essential to design the website landing page with a lean user interface and user experience. The influencers will make their audiences click your link which redirects users to your landing page, but it is your job as a marketer to retain that user traffic on the website with negligible bounce rates. If you are just starting with blogger outreach, having good content on your blog can be used as examples of your previous work which can improve the response rate of your pitches.
If the above reasons aren’t enough to convince you, think of it this way – building links towards you blog is way more effective and a few times cheaper than building links to your homepage/features page/landing pages.
To generate a sales lead, on average, you need at least 6 touches with your prospect. Having content on your blog is an excellent way to build the needed brand trust and authority to close the sale. Additionally, there is only so many keywords you can cover and optimize for without having a blog. With a resource section on your site, your options are practically unlimited.
Now to the more interesting part. Why is building links toward your blog cheaper? Well, the reason is quite simple. Most editors do not have a problem if you link towards valuable content on your website. However, if you decide to put promotional links in your content, any respectable blog will give you one of these 3 responses:
- your content is declined because it contains promotional links
- your link gets no followed
- you have to pay a sponsored fee if you want the article to be published
Paying $100+ for each article, in addition to the time spent on the whole blogger outreach process, will quickly blow through your budget.
3. Strategic Plan Based on In-depth Research
The importance of a good research should never be underestimated. When it comes to blogger outreach, here are the main things you need to analyze:
- Target audience (so you know what your potential prospects might be interested in)
- Keyword research (when you are creating content for your blog)
- Competition analysis (to see what kind of content works well in your niche and what has been covered so far)
To make a good plan, you need to know where you are now and where you want to be in a year or two. Only then can you plan on how to get there.
For example, let’s say you created content on your blog around some keywords you want to rank for. If you actually want to get that post ranking, you need to systemically build links towards it. You can’t let your link building team in the dark and just focus on getting links on random anchors to random posts because that way you might never get to increase your organic traffic.
4. Think Analytics
If you begin a blogger outreach campaign without having the necessary tracking, monitoring, and analysis tools in place, how do you know if your efforts are working? Quite simply, you don’t. It can be very difficult to see the results of your campaign unless you have the data in front of you. That’s why it’s important to think about analytics before getting started, and why this is an important prerequisite.
First of all, you need to define what do you want to track. Here are a few recommendations:
- Domain rating, authority, and traffic (something that can affirm you on the direction you’re taking.)
- Referral traffic you get from your guest posts
- Time on site and bounce rate for the content on your blog (to see if the referral audience you get is interested in your content)
- Open rates and click-through rates of your pitches
- Positive responses on your outreach emails
Tracking these things can let you know if you are targeting the right audience with the right type of content and it can also tell you if your pitches should be drastically changed. Through analytics you can inspect the consumer behavior by 360-degree angle.
As always, the purpose of tracking is to see where the potential problems lie so you can improve the effectiveness of your overall outreach and content marketing campaigns.
5. Leverage Some Tools
Today, you can find a tool for anything and almost everything. Blogger outreach is no different. In fact, there are some tools that are indispensable for any bigger outreach project.
First on the list are outreach tools. Some of these tools can:
- track which email templates have the best open rate
- track which email/post/page gets the most positive responses
- track who you already contacted
- help you find potential opportunities
- help you find necessary and relevant contact info
- vastly simplify all incoming and outgoing communication by helping you to personalize you pitches and send automated follow ups
As you can see, the benefits are enormous. If you are in the market for an outreach tool, here is an in-depth comparison of best blogger outreach tools on the market.
Another tool you want to have ready before you start sending suggestions is a something that can let you analyze the backlink profile of the websites you want to publish your content on. We like to use Ahrefs, but there are also numerous tools that can get the job done.
A backlink analyzer tool lets you:
- inspect the strength of the domain (of the website) you are reaching out to
- inspect website’s organic traffic
- review its backlink profile
Those are all important things that let you know if a particular website is a good match for your business and whether it is worth reaching out to.
The last tool we want to mention is a project management tool. It might not seem important at first, but when you have 5 content pieces already in production, you’re pitching new topics to new sites, have to follow-up with old opportunities, working with 2 other colleagues on the outreach project at the same time…it is very easy to lose a track of a potential opportunity, order 3 articles on the same topic or simply forget to send a finished article on review.
Having a project management tool ensures these mistakes don’t happen. You can try any of these below recommendations:
To try and test more tools, here is a list of 50 project management tools by Zapier.
Deriving More Value from Your Campaigns
In viewing blogger outreach as a 2-phase system, comprising of a prerequisites stage and a separate outreach stage, digital marketers may find that they are able to derive much more value from their campaigns. This can greatly help to boost return on investment by reducing overall time and effort, increasing positive response rate, amplifying click through rate, and ultimately improving sales/profits/conversions.
When it comes to blogger outreach campaigns, it seems clear that a little preparation before starting the campaign in earnest can go a long way towards making sure that the campaign is a success. It can also help marketers to identify possible challenges and obstacles that they may run into further down the road, to plan for the possibility of these events, and to create strategic plans to minimize potential issues.
Dario Supan is a content strategist and editor at Point Visible content marketing agency. When he isn’t neck deep in outreach projects and editorial calendars, you will most likely find him designing a custom graphic for his next exciting post.