Recent research confirms what content marketers have always known: Blogs steer business. Nearly half of all online shoppers read and review blogs before making a purchase. 13 percent are directly influenced by blogs, and a full 84 percent turn to social media before buying. Other research shows that influencers and bloggers are the same people — 86 percent of influencers have blogs and 88 percent blog for themselves.
There is a blog for every industry. By establishing relationships with bloggers, convincing them of your worth, and enlisting them as brand ambassadors, marketers can widen the net and scoop more quality leads into the tops of their funnels.
Get the influencers of your industry to speak on your behalf by developing a blogger outreach strategy that focuses on the creation of lasting, symbiotic relationships.
Get noticed — but let your product sell itself
The first step is get on the radar of the bloggers you’ve decided to target. As a marketer, it may feel natural to launch a pitch — don’t. The initial contact can’t feel salesy or disingenuous. The single best way to get your foot in the door is to send a sample of whatever it is you sell — and that’s it. The product should come with no strings, no ultimatums, and no promises of reciprocation. Don’t regurgitate your press release and don’t parrot the language of your sales material.
If the blogger chooses to give a sincere and positive review of your product, that one post — which is an endorsement from a credible source — can go a long way to establishing your brand with your target audience.
Worst-case scenario, you’re out a widget. Don’t stress about getting a bad review. Most bloggers won’t review a product just to shred it. Reviews are generally positive or neutral. Some tips on initial outreach:
- Know the blogger, immerse yourself in their content, and tailor each outreach message to the individual.
- Be passionate and positive!
- Use brief, simple language.
- Be creative and work to set your brand apart from your competitors (who are also likely to be pitching the blogger).
- Interact at last 8 times with the blogger on social media by liking, retweeting, and resharing their content.
Help the blogger help you
If the influencer you’ve targeted wrote a positive review of your product, congratulations! You’ve crossed the biggest hurdle, which is gaining a foothold and establishing a place in the mind and on the website of an influencer.
From here, you want to extend the blogger’s endorsement by offering them the opportunity to offer their readers a free run at your product. Reach out to the blogger and — again, using informal, non-salesy language — offer some of your merch as the prize in a contest or giveaway, or offer to supply your product at an event the blogger sponsors or hosts.
Research shows that bloggers love to give their readers merchandise after they’ve already developed an affinity for the brand. Reach out while the initial review is still fresh in their minds — and help them by making it easy! Give them the option of pre-selected physical merchandise, or create a gift certificate template that allows their readers to go to your website and pick a product on their own.
Cement the relationship by hosting an online event
Invite your target bloggers to an exclusive, invitation-only Google Hangout — or whatever your preferred platform — that explains and demonstrates your product while informing them about how the product offers value to their readers.
Have a few crucial, charismatic players from your business join the Hangout, and provide time for a Q&A afterward — but keep it short! Influencers get a lot of invitations. They likely don’t have an hour, but they probably can give you seven minutes if it’s worth their while.
Once you’ve become familiar enough with your industry’s influencers that they’re responding to Hangout requests, your outreach campaign has crossed a precipice, and you are now in a position to discuss content hosting and guest posts. But it all starts with product affinity. Remember not to reach out until your branding is professional and consistent across all channels. Before a blogger writes a post about your product, he or she is certain to check out your content, your website, your social pages, and of course, your blog.
Want more marketing best practices for today’s competitive business environment? See How To Track Leads From Marketing To Sales.