Whilst a well-targeted Facebook promoted post may yield positive return on investment and a celebrity endorsement on Twitter might increase your follower count; to take your brand to the next level, it’s likely that a combination of tactics is needed.
As you know, social media is a super-noisy place to exist as a consumer. You’re being shouted at from all angles by people, news outlets, and brands. It’s no wonder that people, and especially younger consumers, are becoming somewhat blind to online ads.
This means that the modern consumer needs to see your brand or product several times before they’ll consider investing in it. Social media, online adverts, the Google search results, digital press coverage, influencer marketing and review sites are all important elements of modern internet marketing.
Blogger outreach spans several of these areas and is a great option for a wide range of companies, especially consumer products. Today, we’re looking at one service we’ve used several times and how to go about making the most of your campaign should you choose to do one.
Bloggers Required is a service that pools bloggers for brands that submit a brief. It is a platform JC Social Media has used for several clients as part of their social media marketing efforts, so we’ve built up a system around getting the most out of them.
Blogger outreach is not just a case of sending out a load of samples to bloggers and hoping some will influence lots of members of your target audience.
You need a system and process in place in order to find the right bloggers for you. You can, of course, instruct a PR company to do this kind of thing for you, or you can search the net for bloggers that perfectly suit your needs. Bloggers Required is a platform that takes a lot of the legwork out of this process. Check out the site to see how it works.
[By the way, this post is totally unsolicited, so this is an unbiased piece telling you how to get the most out of your campaign – you can use whichever service you like, all of the below is relevant to you.]
But first, a word of caution:
The world of blogging has blown up over the last five years, or so. There are thousands of bloggers in virtually every sector, meaning there is a vastly different standard between the best and the worst. Blogger outreach can be a very rewarding endeavour, but done incorrectly, can be a massive waste of time and money.
Getting the most out of your Bloggers Required campaign
1. Do your research (find bloggers not blaggers!)
Before you get going, it really is worthwhile checking out if your competitors or similar brands have done blogger outreach. What kind of bloggers have they used? How many? What is the nature of the blogs? This may give you some ideas about what you’d like to have written about your brand.
Once you’ve submitted your brief, thoroughly research each blogger that responds. Sure, sending samples to every single one that replies is an option (it saves time on sifting), but each one incurs costs of stock, postage and packaging and time. There’s also the chance that the blog is poor quality or completely irrelevant to your product and might even damage your brand by association.
Does the blogger in question write regularly about topics your audience will find interesting? Are they churning out review after review after review? Do their blogs get any comments? If they have lots of social media followers, do they get good engagement from them?
2. Get the brief right
Bloggers Required gives you the opportunity to give a brief to every blogger. This is the perfect place to add details or stock copy that you need in the blog. For example, do you need to say that your company is not affiliated with something or that it is only suitable for 10+-year-old kids?
It’s also smart to stipulate the style of blog and maybe the angle the blogger should come from.
Whilst you might think ‘a blog is a blog’ – wait until you get your first few assignments back!
If you’ve not been clear on what you wanted, you’re likely to get wildly different blogs, some of which might leave you scratching your head.
Pro tip: If there is something important that needs to be contained within the blog, writing a paragraph that can be copied and pasted in makes the blogger’s job a whole lot easier and ensures they’re saying the important stuff word perfectly.
3. Create a blogger ‘CRM’ or ‘pipeline’
All this means is that you need to have a list of all your bloggers that you keep updated with key actions. If you go for the premium blogger outreach package with Bloggers Required, you are given the building blocks for this in their ‘blogger profiling’ excel sheet. (We would highly recommend the extra £25 for this element because it will save you several hours OR save you from sending samples to blogs with poor metrics!).
Why you need some kind of pipeline:
Have you sent every blogger what they need to get started? Do you know if they have received the sample product or have they logged into your new app? Knowing when to follow them up is crucial to get maximum benefit from the campaign, so get a system in place.
4. Don’t be afraid to chase the blogs!
Remember that the bloggers are obliged to write a blog for you once you’ve agreed on it. Don’t be concerned that you may annoy them and they’ll just not do it – there will be repercussions for them and, besides, it’s in their best interests to write a fresh blog for their audience to enjoy.
Some blogger outreach campaigns are time-critical – they have been timed precisely for a product launch, special offer, or something of seasonal importance. If so, you need those blogs now! Bloggers are used to dealing with demanding businesses so you won’t be alone and most will just need a little nudge to help them on their way.
5. Ask for reviews where they’ll matter
Got a great review from a blogger? Great – now use it to influence a many people as possible!
Here’s the thing:
There’s a good chance that at least some of your bloggers will have only small or slightly mismatched audiences to yours, but a product review on Amazon is incredibly valuable.
Accruing a host of four and five-star reviews is crucial for any product. It’s easy to get a few friends to leave glowing reviews but it’s much tougher to get 20!
The more you have, the more robust your average score too. Remember, even the most popular products, apps, hotels, and restaurants generate one and two-star reviews, but most prospective customers will side with the majority opinion.
- Hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions etc. – get reviews on TripAdvisor.
- Apps – the iOS and Android app stores
- Products, books, and games – if you’re selling on Amazon, get them on Amazon! If it’s another marketplace, get them there.
Now you’ve done that, you might as well do this:
6. Use the blogs or reviews as testimonials on your website
Time and time again, third-party reviews and opinions are shown to be heavily influential in people’s buying decisions. If you’re an e-commerce business owner or sell anything through your website (or want to!), having reviews and quotes from customers really helps the user journey.
You really need to show that your prospective customers are not alone in making the decision to buy your product. For most, you’ll simply be able to copy and paste the words from the blog to make a great-looking testimonial on your site. Some sites may even have a testimonial widget or scroller.
7. Have a policy on competitions…
Many bloggers will want to run competitions to win samples of your product or anything you can potentially give away as a prize. Competitions attract a lot of reach and engagement, which really helps bloggers with their page views, social media metrics, and sometimes, data collection. However, competitions create loads of noise on Twitter (mainly!) and lots of spam entries will be made (that’s why we alway recommend asking individuals to do that little bit extra to enter).
Unfortunately, whilst there may be hundreds or even thousands of entries into the competition, there’s really not that much value to you. Generally, what bloggers will want you to do is send out samples to winners, which often costs you even more than the original blogger outreach.
If several bloggers are running competitions at the same time, you’re also showing that there are lots of free ways of getting your product and this simply devalues it.
We recommend that if you want to avoid having loads of competitions, that you make this clear in the brief. Alternatively, you can say that the blogger can run a competition, but only to win the sample they have – not more samples!
8. Leverage social media
Social media is likely to be you main amplifier when it comes to maximising hits to the freshly published blog. Ideally, you should share each blog across multiple channels, several times each. Using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer will really help with this. You should also engage and interact with people who mention each blog or share it on their profiles.
However, as you can imagine, if you’re posting stuff about each blog, your channels will get congested and, again, you run the risk of devaluing your brand and even making the bloggers feel less special (seeing as you’ve given 100 bloggers your product!).So…
9. Consider staggering blog publishing dates
If you are having over 20 blogs written, it is worth staggering them in terms of publication date or when you choose to publicise them. This can be done in three ways:
- Send out your samples/free trials etc. in several batches (recommended)
- Stipulate with the bloggers a window in which they should publish and promote the blog (this is really effective because you can join each blogger in their promotion of the blog, there and then, but it relies on the bloggers cooperating)
- Choose the days upon which you will personally promote each blog. This means that even if you have 10 blogs land in a single day, you can schedule content over the next two weeks as if each one has only just happened (this is the least challenging to organise and you don’t need to put any restrictions on the bloggers)
Lots of people underestimate this one:
10. Leverage your blogger network (forever!)
You have created a bond with your blogger network. With each and every one of them, you entered into a trusted trade and this will serve you well. Whilst some of your bloggers will see your relationship as just the basics, many will show you loyalty in the months and years ahead.
One of the best things to do is to add them to a mailing list. This might form a sub-section of your main list, or be completely separate. The idea is that you can keep them informed of company news, updates, and new product releases, and ask them for small favours in the future. If you want them to share some great content or news, many will oblige because their audience is likely to want to know more about the product they once read about.
As an aside, bloggers may become useful members of an affiliate network. “Affiliate marketing” works so that people hitting your website from a unique link shared by the blogger are tracked by a cookie. If this someone makes a purchase from your site, that blogger earns an affiliate commission.
Naturally, your affiliates are incentivised to share their blog about you, tweet about you, and even put an advert on their site that sends visitors to your site via that unique link. This won’t work for every business, nor for every blogger, but there are examples on both side of the equation that do really well from this business model.
11. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better blog
The vast majority of bloggers will do a great job, especially those sourced on Bloggers Required. However, if you’ve happened to choose a blogger who has done a particularly slapdash blog, call them up on it. It is not uncommon to have a blogger copy and paste something from your website or write a description of your product rather than a well-conceived opinion and something unique.
You will have stipulated the kind of blog you’re looking for in terms of content (as per tip number 2), so the blogger does have a brief and something you can reference when asking for an elaboration. It’s really important not to criticise their blog directly and be specific with what you would like included. If they really have been lazy about the whole thing, the more you can signpost what you need, the more likely you are to get what you want.
Try something like:
“Thanks for posting your article about Product A. I noticed that most of it is a description of the product and some of the words are taken directly from my site. This is really great information but I’d be really interested to read about your personal experience with Product A and your opinion. Would it be okay to add a section on that?”
Quite often a blogger will understand what you’re getting at and will spend the time needed to rectify the blog. Sometimes they’ll have just posted something quickly because they have lots to get through or because you’ve chased them. It’s certainly worth asking for improvements if they’re needed!
12. Gain some link juice
Now, you’re not actually allowed to stipulate that the blogs must link to your website in the brief. This is because asking for backlinks is against Google link-building guidelines. However, many bloggers will choose to link to your site because it helps their readers find you.
There might be a page that you specifically want to promote, so if a blogger has linked to a page you’re not happy with, they’ll probably be happy to swap where it points. The power of a domain may also play a role in determining which bloggers you send your assignment to. Let’s say you’re only sending out 10 samples, but you have 50 bloggers to choose from. By using either the Moz or Majestic browser extensions, you can quickly get a good idea of the power of the website and, therefore, the power of the link you’ll gain from the site.
In search engine optimisation (SEO) terms, backlinks are super useful and will help elevate your page in Google searches.
13. Measure the campaign impact
It’s important to measure the impact of your campaign. It’s not just the fee paid to Bloggers Required that you need to take into consideration when looking at your total investment. You are likely to have stock and postage and packaging costs and a serious time and resource investment in instructing and chasing bloggers before spending time promoting the content.
This isn’t to say that trackable sales are the only thing to be concerned with, but you should at least have some success metrics in place. There will almost definitely be general, holistic benefits to your campaign amounting to ‘brand awareness’, but tangible indicators should always be used.
One of the most simple ways to measure the impact is to check your Google Analytics and see if there’s been a spike in web traffic. If the blogs have, indeed, been read by lots of the right people, you would expect to see a significant increase in traffic to your website. Even if consumers don’t purchase anything from your site, they’ll certainly be more likely to in the future.
Extra bonus tip…
Before doing any form of marketing activity that is likely to drive individuals to your website, install a Google remarketing pixel. You’ll need to set up a Google AdWords accounts in order to get your remarketing code and you’ll then need to install it on your website. This enables Google to collect a specific audience of people who have visited your site, in order to show them adverts in the future.
It costs you nothing to set up and install the Google remarketing pixel to begin saving an audience and it is pretty simple to sort out. For remarketing ads to run, you’ll need to create some graphics of specific sizes, which you can knock up on Powerpoint or Canva. Alternatively, it will take a graphic designer an hour or two to do these. For just a few quid per day (because you only pay for clicks!) you could have tens of thousands of impressions daily, making remarketing a fantastically good value brand awareness tool.
So there you have it. Fourteen ways to get the very most out of your blogger outreach campaign using Bloggers Required! Any more tips? Leave them in the comments below!