I do a lot of networking in my local business community, and inevitably at each of the meetings I attend, someone will ask me about what I do. I give my company’s “elevator pitch," which includes, “helping companies generate leads for their salespeople, utilizing digital marketing tools and tactics such as blogging, social media, and search engine optimization.” Today, most people understand what I am talking about and mention something about either reading blogs or having a blog.
Blogging Has Become Mainstream
As blogging becomes more mainstream, it has become an increasingly important part of many companies' strategies to increase sales leads and raise awareness of their products and services.
Even though the two stats below are from 2010, they both do a good job of emphasizing the importance that blogging plays in the marketing mix. As more companies begin to blog, there are more readers, and thus a wider reach and influence on consumers, both B2B and B2C.
This is why many companies, including both B2B and B2C, are turning to bloggers to help promote their products and services. After all, with the number of readers that some of these B2B blogs have, many of them outnumber the readership of many niche publications. But how do you go about finding, getting in touch with, and convincing these influential bloggers to write about your product or service?
3 Steps to Reaching Influential Bloggers
The Internet is a pretty big place, and with the increase in the number of bloggers actively writing, it's a challenge to find these bloggers and figure out how to contact them. The steps that we outline to reach influential bloggers are: cultivate a list of websites / blogs, craft your pitch, and then execute and follow up.
1. Cultivate a List of Websites / Blogs
The first step in crafting a blogger outreach campaign is to develop a list of websites and blogs that cover your industry or product / service category. One way to do this is to set up an RSS reader or Google Alerts that focus on your industry or specific keywords. If someone is writing about these topics or keywords, it should trigger an alert and notify of a new post about that. There are dozens of tools that can help you find bloggers in your industry, and a simple Google search can also get you heading in the right direction.
While you are cultivating this list, you will want to include email addresses and links to their contact and social media pages if you can find them. While you are doing your research, it's not a bad idea to like or follow their social media accounts. That's a very soft way to let these bloggers or companies know that you are interested in what they are doing or have to say.
Another way to cultivate a list is to ask your customers and employees which blogs they read or where they go for industry information. This is one of the best ways to find good blogs, because you know that those in your industry are actively reading and following these sources.
It's a lot of work to come up with this list, and you might want to consider leaving this up to an intern or a freelancer as it is the most time-consuming part of the process.
2. Craft Your Pitch
The importance of crafting an effective pitch can't be understated. Let's face it... if you come off as sounding like a spammer, you won't get very far with any of these influential bloggers, and you might actually harm your company's reputation in the process. After all, most of these bloggers are very successful with what they do and are known in the industry. If you come off as someone less than reputable, they can easily share their story with other bloggers.
Each pitch should have three components: the approach, the reason why, and the benefit or thank you.
In order to connect with influential bloggers, it's important to let them know that you understand what they are writing about and provide a specific reason why they would want to write about your company.
For example, I recently wrote a blog about the tools that inbound marketers need to have. A few days after the blog was published, I was contacted by a software company asking if I would consider including a mention of their software product in my blog post. The email they sent included a link to my original blog, mentioned that their software was similar to a few of the others I shared, and recommended that I use their free trial to check it out.
I had never heard of their product, but since they included a link to it and they had a free trial, I used it for a few days and decided it was something that was worthy of inclusion. So I rewrote part of the blog post and included them as a resource. Since then, I have actually become a power user of their software and highly recommend it. So their blogger outreach campaign worked in this case.
Having a reason for a blogger to write about your product or service is crucial to the success of your blogger outreach campaign. You have to easily convey how the product or service you are pitching to the blogger relates to what they normally are writing about. You also have to communicate why your product or service is unique or solves a problem that other companies don't. Without a good reason to include your product or service in a prior blog or to write a new blog about it, chances are you won't get any traction.
The Benefit or Thank You
The best blogger outreach campaigns include a specific benefit for the blogger's readers that can easily be expressed in the first contact. Explain how your product or service can help the blogger's readers accomplish something that other products or services can't. For example, if you have a product that is new or revolutionary, most bloggers would want to know about it and be able to be one of the first to start the conversation about it online.
Offering free trials or samples can help educate the blogger about your product and provide them a thank you for checking out what you are pitching. Note that some bloggers receive compensation for writing or reviewing specific products or services. You can always go this route, but bloggers do (and should) share that they were compensated for sponsored posts. We firmly believe that transparency is best when dealing with any paid placements.
So after you have perfected your pitch and have determined how to explain the benefit to your target bloggers, it’s time to execute and then follow up on your campaign.
3. Execute and Follow Up
Most blogger outreach campaigns have a grassroots feel to them and only include email and social media. That’s not to say you can’t include phone outreach or sending items through the mail, but this can easily become very costly.
Sending emails that contain your pitch to the list you cultivated is the first step. These emails should contain your well-crafted pitch and a way for them to follow up with you. If you don’t hear anything after a week goes by, it’s okay to send a follow up email as well. Make sure to change the subject line to make it more compelling, and revise the content of the email slightly to reference that you have been trying to reach them because you think their readers would be interested in your product or service.
If you choose to use social media to reach a blogger, please do so carefully. It’s okay to reference their Twitter handle in a Tweet or to post on their Facebook page, but only do this once. You are probably better off sending a direct message (DM) on Twitter or a Facebook message to their page rather than making a public post. After all, you don’t want it to seem like you are stalking them on social media.
By following the steps outlined above, you should be able to get in touch and start to build a relationship with a few key bloggers in your industry. And if your product or service is new, something different from your competitors, or revolutionary, you might just get a nice mention in their next blog or inserted in a previous blog post.