As marketers we are obsessed with finding new and innovative ways to drive results for our clients and improve their brand exposure online.
One of the fastest growing methods at the moment is to work with bloggers to promote your client. This is called Influencer Outreach, and if that's a new term for you, let me explain the thought process behind it, some methods for executing it, and the results you can expect.
What Is Influencer Outreach And Why Do It?
In the last decade blogging has exploded. There are over 152 million blogs on the internet, and growing.
But it's not just about volume, more and more blogs are driving consumer purchasing decisions. A recent study by Technorati found that blogs rank number 3rd amongst digital media for influencing purchasing decisions. Moreover, 61% of people claim to have made a purchasing decision based on the recommendation of a blogger.
And that number is growing all the time.
Although the days of the personal blog are far from gone, we are seeing a general trend shift to more authoritative blogs; blogs that are experts on niche targets and have large, engaged audiences to draw from.
We call these bloggers influencers, and the act of reaching out to them - influencer outreach.
The thought process is that if we can get a major influencer to back our brand (or our clients) we can potentially get in front of very large and engaged audiences who are directly in our target market.
This is very much akin to the idea of pitching a journalist in more traditional media, and it can be great for lead generation.
How To Perform Influencer Outreach?
Performing influencer outreach is not all that different than performing any sort of outreach.
To break it down, you want to
- Identify influential bloggers
- Build relationships with them
- Pitch them on your proposed topic
- Measure the results
There are, of course, a million and one ways to go about this.
I for one, am the founder of a tool, NinjaOutreach, which does all of this and more.
However a tool is only half the battle - the other half is the person wielding it.
So let's start by building out a basic process for identifying influential bloggers:
How To Identify Influential Bloggers
Now, like many things in marketing, there is no one size fits all way to go about this. What is important to you and your clients might not be important to someone else.
But if we can generalize, you are probably going to be interested in the following:
- Large social media followings on Twitter, Facebook, etc
- A large and engaged audience, which you can judge by monthly traffic, average social shares, and average comments
- Strong SEO metrics such as Google Page Rank, Domain Authority, and Page Authority
- The ability to contact the person, and their willingness to hear you out
If you can get all of those components together in one person, who is prominent in you target niche, you're on to a winner.
How To Build Relationships With Influencers
Skipping this part is the fatal flaw of most marketers.
We've all been on the receiving end of an email/pitch that completely missed its mark.
Maybe this person forgot to address us by our first name (or worse, got it wrong).
Maybe they showed no regard for my field of interest, and hadn't read my blog.
For one reason or another, this pitch ended up in my trash. It was a waste of time for the sender, and a waste of time for me.
How can we avoid this?
Well, the simple answer is to build relationships.
I think we can all agree that the closer a relationship I have with someone, the more inclined I am to help that person out and promote what they are doing. That's just common sense.
Of course, building relationships takes time and effort - but that's really the point, isn't it?
If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and we wouldn't have any time for the select few who really earned out time.
So if you really want to be successful, you have to start by building relationships.
In today's day and age there are so many avenues through which we can we can attempt to build relationships, and if you think about it, it's really the combination of all of them that result in the actual relationship.
Some things we can to build relationships with bloggers are
- Follow their blog and social media
- Engage with them through commenting, liking, and sharing their work
- Emailing them, but not so as to bombard them with useless stuff, but to provide them value.
- Inviting them to an event or conference that could benefit them.
- Introducing them to another acquaintance, who can provide value to them.
The list goes on and on, and in reality, it does take time, but it is also quicker than its ever been before - with more options too!
And the benefits can be immense.
How To Pitch Influencers
If you've properly built the relationship, it shouldn't really be much of a pitch at all.
Still, I like to break it down into a simple 5-step formula.
- Introduce yourself
- Define the relationship
- State your intent
- Explain your idea
- Convey the value
Let’s look at each part individually and then we will show it executed in one pitch.
Short and sweet - who are you and why do you matter? Cite a few instances where you've been building the relationship, such as some recent comments you left, or tweets you sent them, to remind them that you have been engaging with them for the last few weeks or months.
Define The Relationship
This is an extension of the first point, but be very clear about how you actually know this person. Know is a very loose term here. It's better than nothing to be able to see that you subscribe to the person's newsletter or social media.
State Your Intent
Alright, out with it already - what do you want?
Nobody likes to be yanked around. Eventually, you have to state your intent.
Personally, I like to call this out in a separate paragraph, and keep it to one, clear sentence - no funny business.
Explain Your Idea
I like to keep these separate. There is the intent, and then there is the idea.
For example, my intent might be to guest post. My idea is what I want to guest post about.
Separate these two steps and don’t let them get bunched together, otherwise your message might get muddled.
Convey The Value
This is the final step and it’s the one that 90% of people forget.
Why should this person care?
Introducing yourself and defining your relationship is not enough to catch a big fish unless you are an even bigger fish.
But that’s rarely the case.
You have to explain to the person what is in it for them AND their audience, because, without that, they have no reason to follow through.
Don’t make the assumption that the value is clear. State it.
What’s clear to you may be completely confusing to someone else – we know what kind of attention (or lack there of) people give to emails.
What Results Can You Expect From Influencer Outreach?
Now that you know how to find influencers, build relationships, and pitch them, you're likely to start trying.
But what kind of results can you expect?
Well, like most things in marketing - results may vary.
There is no way to know for sure what the ROI is on an given effort.
I suppose, that's part of the fun.
However, there are a multitude of case studies of brands who are working successfully with bloggers right now, and as bloggers and marketers grow closer we will start to see even more of an overlap in value that each part can provide to the other.
Moreover, if you think back on your life, probably in business and personal, I am willing to bet you'll find that some of the greatest opportunities and moments came out of building relationships with other human beings.
So it makes sense to continue and incorporate it into your marketing efforts, doesn't it?
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I stand by the fact that it is very, very early days in blogging, digital marketing, and the combination of the two.
We're really just building the tools, the analytics, and the niche audiences to allow ourselves to connect brands with the people who want to see them.
For that reason, it's never been a better time to start adding influencer outreach to your arsenal of marketing tactics.
Your clients, present and future, will thank you.