Blogger outreach can be both a highly effective and time-consuming tactic to promote your company and develop relationships with those who influence your target markets. Cutting corners when researching or contacting your ideal brand advocates will save you time, but it can also lead to a low response rate, alienate potential supporters and likely hurt your reputation in the circles you hope to enter.
So, how do you save time without compromising quality, accuracy and general helpfulness?
Answer: Outsource to India.
In all seriousness, consider implementing some of the following suggestions:
1. Confirm That You Are Reaching Out to the Appropriate Bloggers
This may seem pretty obvious, but many marketers still struggle with understanding who we need to develop relationships with based on our campaign goals. Blogger outreach shouldn’t be a one-size-fits all approach to getting your brand mentioned. That list you spent more time than you planned building will produce inadequate results if you don’t segment bloggers by more than just topic; you also need to identify the opportunities they provide to your company and how you can help them.
For instance, you wouldn’t pitch a guest blog to a website that states that it doesn’t accept submissions, but you can pitch a company representative as an expert source on a topic relevant to its blog. After creating your list, you may forget this information, so it is important to record opportunities when researching. Depending on your current budget and available tools, you may want to document this with a category column in a spread sheet for easy filtering or by using a tagging system within a software such as BuzzStream.
How it saves you time:
By creating a system that is easily searched, you save time identifying which bloggers you need to contact and make your pitches more relevant, thus more successful.
2. Make Sure You Have the Right Contact Information
So, you’ve invested time into finding the perfect bloggers for collaboration. Great!
Unfortunately, you cannot locate their contact information or failed to record it when doing your initial research.
Although you know these bloggers are worth revisiting your previous research, manually searching a site to no avail often leaves you feeling like you’ve been stood up by a Tinder date and foolishly irresponsible with your time.
Fear not – real people are on the other side of that website, and if they are worth the collaboration, you’ll find them!
Luckily for you, there are some tools that can speed up this process:
This free tool also features a Chrome plugin that crawls website pages for email addresses.
Speed up your email research by using this tool to search a website. Here’s an example of how it phrases Google queries for my email address:
Similar to the tool above, this website tells you the possible email formats for a domain; however, it also provides the email formats in order of popularity and known emails for the domain. If you know the first and last name of the individual you are trying to reach, you can likely identify their email address.
If their social profiles are available, you can use their Facebook email address to contact them via the email address used for account set up. Use your best judgement when choosing to do this. If they haven’t displayed their email address, it is likely that they do not like to be contacted. Some websites, however, are not set up with easy correspondence in mind, and if they have chosen to make their Facebook profile public, there shouldn’t be a problem with you using it to contact them, even if it is not sent as a Facebook message.
It will look as if you sent it from your email address, except it does mention that it was forwarded from Facebook within the email:
That being said, you can use this format for the Facebook email: username on profile URL@facebook.com
How it saves you time:
You avoid re-performing most of your manual research.
3. Use Consistent Outreach Channels
“We usually tend to outreach mainly via email, but we also connect with bloggers via Twitter and Facebook to make introductions and to build relationships. We find that this, along with keeping organized lists and tags in Buzzstream, has cut down our time hugely as we can quickly find specific and targeted influencers who already recognize that we’re able to provide them with good, relatable content for their channels.”
Laura Brassington, Digital Media Executive at Bronco
It may be best to stick to one or two of the following:
- Work Email
- BuzzStream – email contacts within the tool and schedule follow-up emails if you do not receive a response.
- LinkedIn InMail
- Twitter tweets and direct messages
How it saves you time:
You keep communication history in one location and begin to do it faster.
4. Find Out What They Like
“It’s easy to find popular blogs via search metrics but you need to research their blogs a bit deeper and see what content they are linking to. For high profile blogs we contact we now first use scrapebox to extract all their articles related to our topic. We’ll then scrape the outbound links to see what type of content is being linked to. Is it research papers, youtube videos or infographics? Scrapebox will give us a good indication. Sometimes we’ll tailor content to specific blogs”
Paul Manwaring, Design & Marketing Consultant at Outsprung
Record & Reference Articles
Finding relevant articles is best done during the research stage, but if you didn’t include any, it’s worth doing a quick search and opening your pitch with an association that is helpful to both you and the blogger. This shows that you know their thoughts and previous work and have taken the time to find the best person to collaborate with. Plus, recognition of work makes people feel appreciated and accomplished.
How it saves you time:
You discover what types of websites and content the blogs are interested in so that you can better tailor your content and pitch to them. By recording and storing this information in one location, you can easily access it later and reference it during your pitch.
5. Have Something to Offer (That’s Actually Useful)
You can have all of the white papers, infographics, videos, industry research, products, free trials, free downloads, guest posts, expert advice and usable quotes in the world, but sharing them won’t be effective if they aren’t aligned with the blogger’s needs.
Ask yourself what your goal is and what they want from you, and then align your offer to save yourself from a bad pitch.
6. Templatize Before You Customize
Create different pitches based on offering and channel
“The most significant time-saver I’ve found for blogger outreach is using
customizable email templates. For example, in my Gmail’s Canned Responses, I have fill-in-the-blank templates for scenarios such as asking an
influencer to check out a blog post, inviting a blogger to guest post on
our blog, and pitching news to a journalist. These templates take 99% of
the work out of email outreach – instead of typing up 5 paragraphs over and
over, I’m just changing a few words here and there. Just last week, I was
able to send *personalized, non-generic* outreach emails to 40 different
people in about 10 minutes.”
Brittany Berger, content & PR manager at Mention
Use an email template
I recently saw your [article] on [publication]. [insert something personal
about the article and its relevance to what you’re communicating].
We, at [your company name], do [service/product description] and provide
[benefit to the customer]. [insert how it relates to the influencer in a
I’m reaching out to you because [your company name] can really help
[benefit to the influencer].
I’d love to [desired outcome = get your blog post featured, set up a call,
etc] to discuss how we can benefit from [what you want from them]
From Lidia at aboutLife
Test your templates and offers
What has your email response been like lately? How about your open rates? Click-through rates?
Without using an email service provider, such as MailChimp or Emma, we often fail to gather this information that is so insightful; information that will certainly affect your offerings and messaging.
Find out if/ when bloggers open and click-through in your emails by using HubSpot’s free email tool, Sidekick. This useful tool can be installed directly into your Outlook, Gmail or other mail client.
This will also help you identify the people who you should not follow up with.
With a bit more work, you can even track open and click through rates with Google Analytics by creating a new custom metric and API call.
Here’s an example of the code that would be inserted into your email:
<img src=”http://www.google-analytics.com/collect?v=1&tid=UA-XXXXXXX-YY&cid=*|UNIQID|*&t=event&ec=email&ea=open&el=*|UNIQID|*&cs=newsletter&cm=email&cn=062413&cm1=1″ />
This tracking code works as an image. So when the mail client tries to download the image, it sends data to Google Analytics.
To find out more, read this step-by-step guide to tracking emails with Google Analytics by Lunametrics.
How it saves you time:
Gather the information you need to determine your most effective subject lines, email templates and offers. With this information in hand, you can begin to see trends and correlations between blogger type and response to specific offers. Once you have identified the best offers for each blogger type, you can guess less and pitch more successfully.
7. Track & Evaluate Metrics Post-Pitch
Even if you successfully received a brand mention, had a product reviewed or published a guest post, your overarching goal still may not be met if you are not getting traffic to your website.
To determine if you have a healthy ROI, you should evaluate the success of past and future blogger outreach by tracking the following:
- Referral traffic coming from domain
- Conversions coming from referral domain
- Returning visitors from those websites (cookie them upon first visit)
Use your website referral data to determine if certain types of blogger (categorized by niche topic, audience demographics, estimated traffic, domain authority, Alexa rank, etc.) are successfully driving traffic to your website, generating leads or converting customers. If not, your efforts will be more cost-effective once you adjust your blogger strategy.
How do you save time during blogger outreach? I’d love to hear your story. Please comment below or tweet me at @rchapdel.