Of all the internet marketing chatter that you will hear standing in the corridors of the World Wide Web, it will be difficult not to single out two phrases that just about everybody is discussing, namely blogging and outreach.
The world of SEO fell in love with Blogging, specifically Guest Blogging post the Panda and Penguin updates. These updates have changed SEO for the better, and if truth be told, also made life miserable for some SEOs. Guest Blogging emerged as an activity that is first amongst equals when it comes to building natural high quality links. Everybody’s doing it and it’s also become a primary content marketing activity.
It’s interesting really that blogging is being considered the most important link building activity. It’s almost as if the world of internet marketers begins and ends with publishing guest posts on high authority sites. While high quality on-page SEO, excellent website user experience, leveraging social media, video marketing, are given their due, it’s blogging that’s holding center stage.
This isn’t about discussing the merits and demerits of guest blogging as an SEO activity. In this article, I aim to take a close hard look at an important aspect of blogging that’s giving everybody, including me, sleepless nights – Blogger Outreach and more specifically Personalized Blogger Outreach.
(Image Credit: Billie Hara)
I have been in the internet marketing business for quite some time now and over time, there is one particular facet of the World Wide Web that’s hit me time and time again – The web is becoming humanized. And it is this humanization of the web that is driving contemporary internet marketing, SEO and activities like blogging.
I’ve also noticed something else. The lines between offline and online marketing activities are blurring. We are seeing a symbiotic relationship between the two and a convergence of benefits. The benefits of online networking or shall we say a web empowered relationship building exercise can be leveraged to provide offline benefits and an offline and a more traditional relationship building exercise can be channeled to offer online benefits.
For me, these two observations hold the key to understanding personalized blogger outreach.
What is Blogger Outreach?
The transformation of a blogger from a personal diarist to an online journalist, a niche specialist, an influencer and a brand advocate is the reason why we are even discussing blogger outreach. It is this evolution of bloggers that is the root cause of blogger outreach.
To put it simply, blogger outreach is the process of reaching out to bloggers for a guest posting opportunity. But, it’s much more than that. It’s about setting in motion the process of building long term and more collaborative relationship with the blogger. You aren’t contacting bloggers just to get a link from their site or a mention in their article, blogger outreach is about building a relationship with the blogger.
If you get it right, there are incremental benefits to be had, if you get it wrong, the benefits of blogging will evade you. Plain and simple.
What is Personalized Blogger Outreach?
While personalized outreach includes using social media, meet-ups and even phone calls to get in touch with a blogger, personalized blogger outreach is best explained by taking a look at the one of the most commonly used outreach methods – email.
A good personalized outreach email doesn’t come across like a form letter. It is something that is specifically composed for the recipient, who in this case is the blogger/blog owner. If you’ve been using an outreach email template, you’ve got a non-personalized outreach email on your hands.
Why is it Important?
Why doesn’t impersonal blogger outreach cut ice with bloggers? Why is a personalized approach so important? Why do I have to take time to know the blogger, before initiating First Contact?
You don’t need to be a genius to figure out an answer to these questions.
First things first, a blogger is a real person; you aren’t reaching out to a machine. This ‘person’ has her own likes, dislikes, interests, preferences, opinions, and world view. And to top it all, she has emotions. Personalized blogger outreach is the process of reaching out in a way that the blogger would like to be reached out to. It’s about outreach that resonates at multiple levels. It’s about outreaching in a way that will interest, engage and impress the blogger.
Secondly, you’re not the only person reaching out to the blogger. Popular bloggers receive thousands of outreach emails every day. Add to that, the outreach efforts made at various meet-ups and conferences and you’ve a scenario where they’re flooded with requests, so what makes your outreach so special? Why would they want to consider it in the first place? Yes, you got it right: personalization helps you get one foot inside the door. The fact that you’re subscribing to a personalized outreach campaign doesn’t mean bloggers will agree to publish your article on their blogs, or do whatever it is you have asked them to, but it ensures, bloggers at least read what you have to say.
Personalized outreach helps you cut through the clutter and helps you get noticed.
So, again why is this important?
Yes, cutting through the clutter, foot in the door is all well and good, but the point is personalized blogger outreach is a time consuming business; should it be done every single time you wish to get in touch with a blogger?
The answer is yes, it should be done every single time you get in touch with a blogger. It becomes even more important, if you want to target the big guns out there. I am talking about the blogs that everybody wants to be on, but who are really very choosy about who they let in through their haloed doors. I am talking about the Technoratis, the Business Insiders, the Smashing Magazines, and the YouMOZs of this world.
If you really want your post to feature on the top blogs in the industry, the highly regarded ones, the ones with a huge number of followers and the ones that only accept high quality posts, you need to personalize your outreach.
To put in a nutshell, personalized blogger outreach is important if you want to target the best bloggers in the industry.
Getting your Personalized Outreach Right
(Image Credit: Evan-Amos)
So, what makes for a great personally driven outreach campaign? Here’s why some people are really good at it. They:
Identify the Blogger
If your company is selling children’s clothing, you can’t approach a blog that’s catering to the SEO community. Or for that matter, if you want a blogger to review a product you are selling, you can’t approach a blogger who doesn’t do product reviews. So picking the right blogger is the crucial first step for your outreach efforts.
Know the Blogger
The web is notorious for reducing the six degrees of separation. So, it’s not all that difficult to find out what makes the blogger tick. “Stalk” the blogger’s web footprints. Go through his Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ profile, understand his preferences and his niche specific beliefs, know his work.
Pick the Right Approach
So, what’s your poison? Emails, conferences, meet-ups, product launches, phone calls, office visits, social media or something else. The most commonly used outreach approach is email, because its convenient and requires less effort. But there are other ways to approach bloggers too, and each one of them can be personalized to suit the blogger expectations.
Let’s pick each one of the outreach methods in isolation and see how you can go about getting them right.
Meet-ups, Conferences, Events
If you’ve got a blogger meet-up in your City, and you know a target blogger will be a part of this meet-up go ahead and attend this meet-up. Your ‘Know the Blogger’ drill might help you get a low down on the various conferences a blogger will attend or an event he is scheduled to speak at; make use of this information and attend these events if you can. And make sure you connect with your preferred bloggers at these events, exchange cards; if you can talk to them about yourself, what you do, and why you like their blog and their work, all the better. Make sure they know you are aware of their work, and that you appreciate all that they have brought to the table till date.
But this is just the crucial first step; make sure you stay in touch with the blogger on social media and then throw your “demand” at them. Whether it’s Twitter, or an email, make sure you remind them, that you had met them at a particular ‘event’ and that it’s nice to touch base again, and only then begin your pitch.
(Side note: You can actually talk to bloggers about publishing a “great” article you’ve written, or ask them for a link, through the course of your conversation when you meet them. But in this case, you really need to have some solid body of work/references to back you up)
There is no beating social media to interact with people you don’t know. This excellent article on Moz, tells you everything you want to know about using Twitter for blogger outreach. The idea is to leverage social media to identify yourself to your blogger of choice. So, when he receives a mail from you, he can put a face or Twitter profile to your mail.
A lot can happen over a Twitter conversation, if you get your Tweets right, an outreach email might not be necessary.
This is a dicey one and I have doubts whether you should actually try this one out. Popular bloggers are busy individuals and it just doesn’t seem right for you to reaching out to them over a phone call. You could give them a call, if you’ve hit it off at an event that you just attended and have exchanged numbers, but other than that I’ve my doubts. But, feel free to feel differently.
The Big One: Email Outreach
You could either start with an email outreach or you could lead up to it, but you can’t avoid it. The debate about personalized outreach, bad outreach and good outreach is sometimes limited to emails. That’s because other forms of outreaching by their very nature are personalized. But, you need to make an effort to personalize your emails.
Personalization doesn’t mean addressing bloggers by their name or getting their website right. This just sets the stage for a personalized email. Through the course of your short mail (yes outreach emails must be short and crisply edited), you need to tell them you’ve been following their work, interacting with them (on social media, if you’ve been doing that), met them (at an event, if that’s happened), made insightful comments on a post they’ve written (you should do this), share some common likes and dislikes; and above all else, tell them why you think they need to publish your post on their blog or write a product review for you or mention you or your client on their blogs.
That’s the essence of a personalized email.
Here’s an example of a nicely written outreach email with just the right amount of personal touch:
—– —– —–
My name is Liam Rhys and I am a consumer psychology writer from San Diego. I am interested in writing a guest post for your blog. Are you currently accepting guest posts?
It’s interesting that your focus is on emerging media at the moment, because I own/operate a very popular forum and blog; NewWaysToBuy.com. On behalf of my site I do quite a bit of guest posting and take pride in the fact that I don’t write the cookie-cutter “guest posts” that a lot of people churn out these days.
Is there any particular topic you would like to see me cover? I reviewed your archives showing the last 100 articles and here are a few ideas that popped into my head from looking at those…
Description of Idea 1
Description of Idea 2
Would you like me to write up one of these or something else? Just let me know what’s best for you.
By the way, congrats on being elected to Newport’s city council! Even though I live some three thousand miles away on the other coast, just want to say I dig local politicians… I feel they’re the only politicians who actually get stuff done.
—– —– —–
The mail is simple, personal, written well and does everything it’s supposed to do. You could say one thing for this mail: it won’t be ignored by the blogger. Its power lies in its simplicity and the fact that its author has been transparent and polite. The author also provides proof of his credentials.
Incentivizing the Blogger
(Image Credit: Nina Paley)
While this mail is good and could be called a textbook example of a personalized blogger outreach, it doesn’t offer the blogger an incentive for publishing the post. It is for this reason some bloggers might not consider it worthy of their attention. Some of the best bloggers want an incentive to give your post a space on their blogs. After all, you are trying to leverage their popularity and reputation to improve your client’s business visibility, so why wouldn’t they want something in return.
So, before you outreach think about what you can offer the blogger in return; it should be something tangible/intangible. Bloggers aren’t running a non-profit – they will only associate with you, if you provide them with value in some form or another. I know this is difficult, but who said outreaching is easy?
Are you an Individual or a Company?
Talking about incentivizing, if you’re outreaching on behalf of a firm or company, it’s far easier for you to dish out a few samples or discount coupons of your products for bloggers to try out, review, and then write about it. This is an effective and easy way to increase visibility and get certified by industry influencers at the same time. Obviously, the product or service you’re offering needs to be excellent, or admirable at the least.
If you’re a one-man operation, or are unable to officially represent your client outright for some reason, then it’s a different ball game altogether. You have nothing to offer, you have nothing to barter, and you’re nobody, as far as the blogger is concerned. That is where you have to bring out your best. I personally don’t believe that a person has nothing to offer to another, whatever the circumstances. If you can’t give an incentive, give your expertise. Give your effort. If you can create content that shows the blog owner in good light, there’s no stopping you!
Sucking at Outreach
(Image Credit: Philipp Roth)
Charlotte Varela has written a great post giving examples of Bad Outreach. Let’s face it, bad outreach happens not because you’re really bad at it, but you don’t think it’s important.
They think of personalized outreaching inconsequential to their scheme of things. But most importantly, their outreach efforts can be categorized as lazy at best. They haven’t taken time out to identify the right blogger, they aren’t aware about the content on the blogger’s site, and they haven’t sorted out their pitch. They think of outreach as a one off thing, which ends with the blogger publishing their post. That’s where they go wrong. For them, blogger outreach is just a cut and paste job. They send the same mail to everybody, they don’t leverage social media, and they will laugh right at you, if you talk about attending conferences to reach out to blogger. All I can say is good luck to them.
But to everybody else, I say do everything you can to come up with a powerful and personalized outreach campaign. If you want a blogger to be receptive to your needs, you need to make them feel you care about them and their needs. Get a deep idea of the bloggers, their connections, their work, and only then reach out to them.
It’s pretty simple, really. If you want to develop a higher value relationship with a blogger, you’ve got to get personal. The World Wide Web offers you the perfect environment to shed your inhibitions. So shed them and start building useful, valuable, and sustainable relationships with bloggers. All the best!
*This is a guest article by Brian Zeng*