Many of us now include blogger outreach into our SEO and Social Media campaigns, be it for link building, building brand awareness, product reviews or just getting the right bums on seats at our events. The problem with blogger outreach though is that the success rate can be fairly low if you don't take the right attitude and approach to how you put the strategy together.
Here is a selection of tips that will help you put together a blogger outreach strategy that won't fall flat on its face:
1. Research Your Niche Fully
When researching your niche don't try and scrimp and save by just putting together an excel spreadsheet together with the URL and email address. You want to make sure that the bloggers that you are going to reach out to you are going to be the rights ones, you need to know that they have the audience or site authority to deliver what you need.
First you need to set up a spreadsheet (or use one of the tools that I will mention later) and put in the metrics and details that you will need to track. As a guideline I tend to use all or most of the following: Name of site, URL, Page Rank, mozRank, number of inbound links, email, Twitter, Twitter followers, Facebook Fans, LinkedIn, contact us page, name, address and some interesting information about the site.
If you gather as much information as possible at this stage you will be able to use it later on other projects that require different metrics. In addition there may be other metrics that you want to track or are important for you.
But how do you find them? There are loads of techniques and tools for finding potential bloggers that you want to reach out to and here are a few of my favourites:
Google - Always start simple! One of my favourite ways to collect some raw URL's is to just Google phrases like "top blogs" or "list of blogs". What this will do is return a bunch of top class blogs that people have already nicely curated for you. You can use a tool like MultiLinks to grab all the data and drop it into a spreadsheet for you. Alternatively Garrett French has put together a nice set of tool at Citation Labs, one of which is the Outbound Link Scraper which does exactly what is says on the tin!
Blogrolls - Check out the blogrolls of some of these blogs that you have already find and grab the URLs of the people that they like. Spend time putting together a list with a lot of blogs on it and you can then choose more wisely.
Alltop - If you are thinking big then a great place to start is Alltop. There is nothing wrong with getting the details of some of the big guys at the start of the project but don't go contacting them straight away. Alltop is also a great place to start to follow the trails of blogs via their blogrolls and the guys that leave comments on those blogs.
What about finding the email details and social media details, isn't that a lot of work? Well, yes but it pays off in the end! A complete (or nearly complete) spreadsheet will give you more opportunities now and definitely more in the future - it is worth investing the time now! There are a couple of tools that you can use to make your life somewhat easier:
Buzzstream - Although it isn't perfect Buzzstream is the CRM for blogger outreach and link building. As well as helping you organise everything correctly it will also head off of its own accord and try and find emails and social media profiles for any prospects that you add to the database or project. Alas, you do have to pay!
The Contact Finder - For those who have to watch the pennies I would point you to The Contact Finder in Citation Labs that will do much the same for the URLs that you specify at a very reasonable price.
Hopefully these few pointers will allow you to put together a list of bloggers that you can make actionable and will keep you busy for months to come! There is however the little point of making sure that you outreach doesn't fail after you invested so much time in the research. Read on:
2. Personalize Every Email And Open In A Friendly Tone
Due to the fact that you will have spent a lot of time on the planning and preparation (!) you will have (in your master spreadsheet) a name that is associated with each and every blog and an email address. You must always, always make sure that you address the email to the person by name and include some relevant information of what attracted you to them in the first place (and no, the fact that their Page Rank is awesome or that they have links from some of the best sites on the web are not good reasons). Look at what they are passionate about, what they write about, make comments about some of their most popular posts.
Whilst it is not against the law to use a template of some sorts (for the offer and the details) you will find you have more success when the email have a high percentage of content that is tailored to them.
Don't forget to stay away from dry language, a business tone or industry jargon. For the majority of niches the guys that run the blog are likely to sociable people by nature (on successful blogs anyway).
3. Write A Great Subject Line
Make it snappy and short but never include the words 'link request' or 'product review'. Depending on the niche and the blogger this will change so I suggest that you don't have a seed list of subject lines that you have used in the past. Let the content of the email inform the subject line and you will be on to a winner.
4. Learn That Brevity Is Important
Bloggers are busy (high level ones have free parties to go to and mid level bloggers probably still have a day job or the kids to look after. Don't waffle on and on. Include the personalization and then include the pitch (in a subtle way that may even let them believe that they came up with this great idea to review your latest product).
5. Make It Easy For Them To Connect With You Or Your Brand
If you don't have a great email signature for your email it is time to get one. Make sure that if possible they can connect to you as a real person rather than an info@ type email. Include your Twitter details, your brands Twitter details, Facebook, Linked In and a link to the website. Not only does this make it easy for the bloggers to contact you and check your credibility but it offers up social proof. It shows that you are not one of the hundreds (thousands?) of spammers that contact that every single day. If you want to learn more about creating effective email signatures one of my colleagues has written an awesome email signature guide that you can get for the price of a tweet.
6. Make Them Feel Special
Making them feel special works especially well with the low and mid level bloggers (who realistically you want to be looking at first - save the big guns until later). Let them know that you have hand picked them for whatever it is that you are offering, tell them that only 10 people have recievd this offer. To get a resonse more quickly you can also attach a deadline for them to take up the offer.
7. Don't Tell Them What To Do
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is spending a vast amount of time in the research, personalise every email, engage the blogger and then include something along the lines of:
...and if you want to link to use feel free to use this code...
...make sure that you leave a glowing review of out rabbit hutch and link to our rabbit hutch page at...
Allow the bloggers to review as they see fit (most will give you good reviews anyway). If the outreach involves any kind of linking activity then allow them to link however they see fit as well (nothing look more natural in a backlink profile than er...naturally given links!)
8. Never Be Dishonest
If you are an agency then be upfront about what is happening. If you are inhouse never use little lies to get what you want. You are going to be working in a niche where bloggers may talk to other bloggers and you don't want to jeopardise any of the hard work that you have put in...that and the fact that it makes you cry a little inside every time you lie.
9. Connect Via Different Channels
This tip is more about the guys that are in it for the long haul and tends to apply to long term projects rather than short term projects. If you want your outreach to be more successful then you need to communicate with the bloggers before reaching out. You will, of course, have all the details of the bloggers activity in your spreadsheet. If they are not uber famous bloggers you can craft a relationship before you send your initial email. Follow them on Twitter. Retweet and comment on their Tweets. Comment on their blog. Comment on their Facebook Page. Some ground work like this will allow any outreach you do to be much more successful and in addition you will be creating last relationships, niche and contacts that will last well into the future.
10. The Tools Of The Trade
I have mentioned a few of them above but here are some of the tools I have used in the past for blogger outreach or am using now:
Buzzstream - paid for link building CRM
Citation Labs - web based tools for extracting and finding information for campaign
Multilinks - plug in for quickly grabbing links
Rapportive - see further contact details right in gmail
Black Canvas Email Signatures - only working in old gmail look at the moment
Wisestamp - email signatures
Business Hut Excel/SEOMoz API Mash up - get data quick!
BlogDash - opt in outreach dashboard
Followerwonk - find niche blogs via Twitter
Simply Measured - excel reports on social media profiles to help you make informed decisions
There are loads more! Let us know which tools you find helpful for your blogger outreach.
* Leader image made with photo by Marisa Vasquez