Pitch Perfect: 3 Proven Pillars of Effective Blogger Outreach
When it comes to blogger outreach, one of the most common mistakes a digital PR can make is playing a numbers game. After all, with a mailing list of two hundred, it is reasonable to believe that the odds are in your favour.
However, bloggers are not numbers. What this kind of strategy fails to grasp is that the recipients of your vague, impersonal emails are actual people – and smart people at that. While anyone with access to an internet connection can create a WordPress account and start typing, it takes a particularly savvy, creative and determined individual to turn that into an avid social following, industry reputation and source of income. And they can see right through your bland, impersonal emails.
So, how does one contact one of these rising stars of the digital era properly? The process begins long before you even open your mailbox.
As mentioned previously, blogger outreach isn’t about firing out as many emails as you possibly can, or the marketing equivalent of throwing everything at the wall and hoping something sticks. Be thoughtful about your outreach, considering each of your targets carefully before getting in contact. The most important questions to ask yourself about each email you gather are:
- Has this person mentioned their PR/marketing policies on site? Lots of bloggers will note whether they are PR friendly, offer advertising or advertorials or just do not want to be contacted.
- Do they write about the sort of thing I’m promoting? A website might cover movies, but read through a few articles to understand their particular beat. For example, they might only cover indie films, or kids’ animations, and if you contact them asking them to attend the screening of a grisly Hollywood blockbuster, your outreach is going flop. Find websites with a natural fit.
- Who is their audience? Parents, teens, business owners, book worms? It’s also important to consider age groups and locations. For example, you might think that your new alcohol beverage would go down well on a pop culture blog, but if their demographic is typically under eighteen, you’re going to miss the mark.
- Where are they based? If you’re trying to encourage bloggers to attend a book launch in London, you won’t have much luck emailing bloggers based in Melbourne. Obviously, some products and aims aren’t limited to geographical location or can live purely on the internet, but do be careful about cultural differences.
Once you are confident that what you are contacting a blogger about is relevant to them and their area of interests, you can start to think about the second stage.
What do you have to offer a blogger?
You have to think of ways of offering value to bloggers. Whilst it can be tempting to offer cash-incentives, that’s simply not an option. Not only can it become really expensive (some blogs charge upwards of £500), it goes completely against Google guidelines and you risk a penalty. Even free products are risky as the relationship is still transactional and not natural or “earned”.
For example, in 2013, Interflora received a Google penalty for paying for advertorials and sending flowers to bloggers.
As you are unable to compensate bloggers for their time and effort, then you better be able to come up with some pretty good content. For example, you could write a fascinating, expert opinion piece about the future of your industry, or give advice to those just starting out in their careers. For some inspiration, we recently highlighted three of our most successful creative campaigns on the Digital DNA website.
Finally, time to put pen to paper (or keys to draft). Be personable, polite and professional, especially if it’s your first time speaking. Basically, send the email that you would like to receive.
If you’re struggling with how to structure your email, never fear. Much research has been carried out in regards to this, with helpful infographics and studies cropping up all over the web. Typically, you will want to hit the following markers:
- Don’t send via a personal email account like Gmail. Unless it’s absolutely necessary not to, use a professional email address to send your outreach from.
- Get their name right. Nothing feels quite as impersonal as an email addressed to XXX or NAME or, worse still, the wrong name entirely when it’s quite clearly in your email address.
- Show understanding of their website. When you are offering a blogger content, it’s a nice touch to mention why you chose their website. Maybe it was based on one of their most recent articles, a gap you saw in their content, or just their general vibe. Whatever it is, let them know. A personal comment is much better appreciated than a generic email.
- Be upfront. If you try to trick a blogger into accepting your guest post, you can pretty much assume that 1. They will not publish your article and 2. They will not want to work with you in future. So be upfront. Tell them you’ve got a great article, or product, or infographic and you think it would work well with their site, and ask if they’re interested.
- Ask before sending. Ask a blogger if they’d like to see your infographic, article or products. It lets them know that your content is valuable and allows them to engage with you positively before you get down the nitty-gritty of the offer.
- Close. Close your email politely, with “King regards”, “Best wishes” or another courteous phrase. Supposedly, “thanks in advance” is one of the more successful closers for emails, as it preempts a response. However, if a blogger likes what you’re offering, they’ll get back to you regardless.
- Sending. Be careful about when you send an email. Monday 9AM can be hectic for anyone, and your email could easily be lost in the mix, but you don’t want to email on a Friday evening. Try to send your outreach before between Monday and Wednesday during morning hours to be most effective.
As for following up, you are permitted to send one email after a suitable length of time has passed. Typically, one week is best, but if your content is time sensitive, it isn’t unreasonable to follow up within a shorter time. Your follow up should not be a repeat of your initial email. It should either provide new information about your product and why it is relevant to your target blogger, or be a quick “check in” to make sure your email simply hasn’t been lost in their inbox.
If you don’t receive a reply even then, assume the blogger doesn’t want to feature your product or be one of your ambassadors or anything else.
Once you have confirmed some sort of working relationship with a blogger, always remember that you should treat them with the same polite professionalism as you would any of your other colleagues.
If you’re still a little lost on how to craft an email to a blogger or influencer, check out our examples below.
SUBJECT: Do you know the best shade of lipstick for your skin tone?
Hope you’re having a good Monday!
My name is Laura and I’m working with NiceLipsticks.com. I was wondering if you might be interested in an expert opinion article from them about how to choose the right shade of lipstick for your skin tone?
I was reading your article about your favourite lip glosses for a night out, and was wondering if this might suit your style? We’d be happy to provide three free samples for you to try out at home as well!
If you’d prefer, I can send for review?
Thanks in advance,