7 best practise tips for better blogger outreach

Part art, part science, blogger and influencer outreach is an essential part of many digital strategies

Bloggers are now genuine media outlets, as valid as newspapers and magazines and just as valuable for brands looking to build their website traffic and attract more visitors.

With top bloggers in their fields earning millions of pounds a year, getting real estate on the right blog means access to a large and loyal audience. With this of course comes increased competition and just as fierce a selection criteria as any editor at a national newspaper or glossy magazine wields. If you’re approaching bloggers expecting them to cover your product / service / event (*delete as appropriate) because you’re providing them with free content, you’ve got a long way to go.

So what can you do to build genuine, mutually beneficial relationships with bloggers in your field? And most importantly, how can you leverage these relationships to win the hearts, minds and wallets of your target audience? The answer lies in following these best practice ground rules…

  1. Do your research

Over 70% of marketers believe that personalisation improves conversion rates – the same is true of blogger outreach. Always do your research before reaching out to any blogger, and prioritise basic information such as the blogger’s name. Starting your first email with Hi {{First Name}}, will kick things off on a much stronger footing than a generic Hi blogger!

Taking time to do your research also means identifying the blog’s niche – if you’re a food brand for example, it’s not enough to just Google ‘top food blogs’ as there are so many sub-categories within the genre. Properly doing your research means knowing which blogs are vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, raw food only etc. This will help you to naturally filter out choices that aren’t going to be relevant.

  1. Don’t build your campaign solely around free content

Top bloggers write for a living. Offering them free content isn’t the great deal you think it is. Focus on developing other suggestions and strategies for collaboration to sit alongside a guest blog. If you’re looking to promote a product or service for example, begin by offering a free product or a trial of the service for a review. You could follow this up with some exclusive content that focuses on that product or service but remember, bloggers very rarely promote or endorse something they haven’t personally tried so the initial review item is usually non-negotiable.

If you are genuinely an expert in your field, offering an authored piece can be done in conjunction with the product or service trial. Just don’t expect that offering a free blog post on its own will get the attention of top bloggers.

  1. Think about what’s in it for the blogger

You’re approaching the blogger to gain coverage or get a link back to your site so clearly, there is a tangible business benefit for your brand. If you’re featured on a blog with a large, relevant audience, chances are you’ll get more targeted web traffic and potentially enjoy a spike in sales. But what about the blogger? They have put time, effort and money into building their blog and maintaining a loyal and trusting audience. So, what’s in it for them? Be very clear about how the blog will benefit from any potential collaboration upfront. Put some thought into this and lay out what the pros are for the blog and its audience. Can you provide an exclusive interview with someone very relevant to the blog, such as a celebrity who endorses your product? Do you have an exclusive new way to do something that readers would benefit from? An attractive discount code or a wonderful competition prize to donate?

  1. Don’t follow up right away or re-pitch immediately

If you don’t get a response back from a blogger, resist the urge to follow up right away or send a new pitch out too soon. Pitching over and over will just annoy and send your emails straight to the trash folder. While some bloggers run their blog as a business, and others as a hobby, all will undoubtedly receive dozens of messages just like yours every day. As a professional courtesy, leave at least a week between emails before chasing.

  1. Take note of responses and tailor your strategy

Keep a spreadsheet record of any responses you do receive. Note important information provided in the reply such as the types of acceptable content or collaboration if you didn’t make the cut this time, sponsored post rates and lead times. Refer to this before the next round of blogger outreach so you can refine your approach.

  1. Be frank about expectations

Treat any agreed collaborations as a business transaction and consider having a written agreement in place. This can be e-signed by both parties to avoid confusion and misunderstanding further down the road. If you expect a product to be returned after a trial, don’t just state this. Clarify the duration of the loan and who pays for the shipping. If you expect the review to be filmed and posted on YouTube or Instagram as well as on the blog, set out this expectation. These details are often not raised because they appear obvious but, they are the basics of what you require from the agreement so should be laid out in a business fashion. It may be the way you always do things but could conflict with a blogger policy or have hidden costs – so spell it out upfront and put all vital and non-negotiable outcomes into a written agreement.

  1. Be up to date on Google policies regarding links from blogs

Google recently updated its guidelines for bloggers, recognising that blogs have significant sway with readers and a responsibility to be transparent about their agreements with brands. It states that bloggers receiving free products for the purpose of a review must flag up their content as a sponsored post. Links must also be made nofollow. Bloggers and brands not following these guidelines are likely to find themselves on the wrong end of a manual action penalty.

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