Zemanta knows bloggers. And that's not just because we create a tool that over 120,000 bloggers use. Like many other businesses, we have to reach out to bloggers and develop relationships with them to get Zemanta in front of a diverse audience that we would not be able to do otherwise.
Unfortunately, blogger outreach is not the easiest process. It is one that requires a lot of work, planning, and practice—and even when perfected, it will still fail on occasion. So, with that being said, we decided that we would put in our best effort to explain how to start a blogger outreach campaign to anyone who is interested in doing so. help those who are either beginning a blogger outreach campaign, currently engaged in one, have recently completed one, or just looking for some advice. And we will be providing that advice over the next few weeks in our newest blog series, Everything Blogger Outreach, with the first part being about how to start a blogger outreach campaign. We hope that you will enjoy it, find it useful, and share it with anyone that will do the same!
So what is blogger outreach?
Though many have different answers for this question, the overall definition is the same: it is the process of developing relationships with bloggers to offer them something of value to their audience with the goal of improving your brand. And improving your brand is left vague for a reason—as with most marketing campaigns, each is unique, and each have their own end goals. That doesn’t mean that blogger outreach campaigns can’t be organized into a set of steps and processes. In fact, save for a few processes, most blogger outreach campaigns are very similar. And it all begins with planning.
Planning and finding bloggers to reach out to:
Like most things, planning is of utmost importance and if skipped, many of your efforts will be for nothing. That is why it is extremely important to establish your overall goal in the beginning of planning to make sure, in the case of blogger outreach, that the appropriate blogs are selected. Once a goal is established, there are several ways to go about finding the right blogs to reach out to.
First, I would suggest starting a spreadsheet where you can drop in all of the prospects. This spreadsheet will be your “media list” where you keep track of what blogs you have contacted, their contact information and any responses you receive. This will be a good way to organize everything and will prove to be very useful down the line when you decide to start additional campaigns.
Your next stop is Google’s Blog Search Tool. This tool allows you to use search terms that align with your goal and provides you the order in which the blogs rank in Google (hello, SEO) on the keywords you are searching for. This tool often gives the most diverse selection of blogs and provides you with blogs that you wouldn’t normally come across using some of the more popular tools.
If you are searching for bloggers to review your consumer product or service, then conduct a search for those blogs who have reviewed competitor products or items within the same product category. Alternately, you can tailor your search to find those bloggers who cover topics or live a lifestyle that suits your product or service. For instance, if you have a new improved shampoo for long-haired dogs, plugging “my shih tzu” or “giving my dog a bath” into Google’s blog search will pull up posts written by a pet owner.
Something that is important to keep in mind when searching for blogs is that although you may want maximum reach from the most influential bloggers in your target niche, doing this is not always plausible or achievable. These bloggers receive dozens of pitches a day from other bloggers, businesses, and agencies so although it may be worth it to begin to establish a relationship for long-term goals, short-term blogger outreach goals are best completed by straying away from these types. Of course, if you have the time, energy, patience, and resources, it doesn’t hurt to try.
After using Google’s Blog Search Tool, there are several other tools and services that are useful for finding influencer bloggers in your target niche:
Things to keep in mind when looking for bloggers:
Now that your goals are established, and you have an arsenal of blog search tools at your disposal, you are going to need to know what to look for from the thousands of blogs that you may come across. Of course, you want to look for blogs that most closely align with your goal, but there are a few things to keep an eye out for:
- Post Frequency: I would say the first thing to look out for is their post frequency. Not only does this show how dedicated they are to their blog, but it also hints at the likelihood of them responding to any kind of pitch. If they haven’t posted for months, keep them off your list.
- Audience Engagement: The next thing to check out would be the audience engagement—this is especially true unless your only goal is link building. Look to see if the blog receives comments (and if the blogger responds to those comments) and if they have a strong social presence (don’t fall for fake twitter followers).
- Potential Reach: After you’ve established that the blogger is both active and has an engaged audience, begin to look at the potential reach that a blog post from them may have. There are many tools for assessing a site’s traffic, but our favorite is Compete. Another number to look at is the amount of subscribers that blog has (also a good indicator of audience engagement).
- Relevance: Finally, consider if the blog’s subject matter is relevant to your brand’s goals. Does the content fit what you are looking for? Does their brand align with yours? If the answer to either of these questions is no, move on.
Finish your list:
Now that you have a list of bloggers (the number of blogs on this list is completely up to you, though 50 or so is a good amount to shoot for) in your media list, begin collecting data that will help give you your ideal list of prospects. How you do this is dependent on the goals of your blogger outreach campaign, but normally we use a blend of the following metrics:
- Traffic: Monthly traffic, % change over month, and % change over year.
- Social: Amount of Twitter followers and Facebook fans.
- Subscribers: Amount of RSS subscribers.
- Influence Klout Score.
- Other Ranking: SEOmoz Rank and/or Google PageRank.
- Relevance: Relevance to goal/business/brand as expressed by a percentage.
Of course you don’t have to use all of these and most could get away with using a few of the more important. But it is nice to have a media list full of data on any blogs that you are considering developing a relationship with and can prove to be a valuable resource when pursuing other blogger outreach campaigns. Other qualitative factors like post frequency, niche/blog focus, etc. are welcome as well. If you are looking to do outreach for a consumer product, add in details like whether or not the blogger hosts reviews, giveaways or posts a holiday gift guide which can be their biggest, most heavily promoted posts of the year.
And that’s it! After gathering all of this data I like to sort it using a weighted (based on importance) point system that uses the standard deviation of each metric. From there use your best judgement and choose from the top performing candidates. Again, this are our suggestions—be creative, develop your own algorithm based on what you need, or simply choose from whichever blogs you like the most. Whatever you do, be happy, you are officially done the first step of blogger outreach!
Now that you know how to start a blogger outreach campaign, you are going to need to know how to develop relationships with the bloggers that you have selected. So, come by next week for the next part to this awesome series, and be sure to leave any tips, feedback, or advice you may have below!