The ability to get people to respond to e-mails, in my opinion, is an underrated talent and if you can do so without being accused of harassment or giving up an appendage (I do not suggest either), then you’ve stumbled across something. I haven’t had a restraining order filed against me yet and all my limbs are intact, so I’ll suffice to say that my methods for establishing relationships with Bloggers have been somewhat successful. It can be frustrating to send out e-mail after e-mail with crickets resounding loudly in the background, so when you find ways that work, you’d be selfish not to share.
Before I get into the specifics, let me give you a little background about how and why we seek to engage Bloggers. We do quite a bit of Blogger outreach for clients to create buzz, support social media campaigns, and secure some valuable links. When I am e-mailing these individuals, I am usually looking for them to either host a giveaway, conduct a product review, or for guest blogging opportunities. Although each case varies, here are some general strategies for how to get Bloggers on your side.
Identify a Target Community
First and foremost, you have to know where your content or proposal is going to be best accepted. It might take a couple tries before you settle upon a realm that is best suited for your product or query, but trial and error will give you more information to pull from in the end.
One of our clients sells horse and dog supplements. So naturally, the dog and horse communities were a shoe in for what we were looking for; passionate groups of people that regularly update their Blogs. For this particular client, it was somewhat of a no brainer, but alas, not all clients are so easy.
We have another client that serves as a portal to the web’s eGift cards. The company had quite a bit of start-up buzz, but identifying a group that would work best with them proved to be a more difficult challenge. It took us a while to pinpoint the best strategy. Initially, we tried Tech blogs, after all, they are a tech start-up, but at the day of the day, we weren’t tech-y enough for their liking. We went after eco-friendly blogs; Our company seeks to eliminate the use of wasteful plastic by offering a virtual way to send and receive gift cards. We gave them the statistics: Each year, 75 million lbs of PVC is dumped into landfills due to plastic gift cards. Although we thought the service might interest their readers, they were less than receptive.
It’s not to say that we didn’t find outliers in these communities, but for the most part we were having difficultly leveraging these particular groups of people to get our product/service out there. Just when we thought that there was no one who thought the service was cool besides us, our Mothers saved the day. Not our mothers, exactly, but Mommy Bloggers. Not only did they think the service was awesome, they couldn’t wait to work with us when approached the right way.
Now, we have Mommy Bloggers contact us asking for reviews. This is ideal, in that you can be more selective about the blogs you work with and is a sign that particular community of Bloggers has accepted you into the club.
We use tools (Ontolo) in the office to locate guest blog opportunities and places to review products, but sometimes I use other methods. Obviously, you can take a look at your competition and see where they are getting links and blog reviews or you can just go in blind. I like Google Blogs for this particular task.
For our client that specializes in horse and dog supplements, Blogger is where all the cool kids hang out. Doing some initial research on the target community you are going after and getting a sense of their culture will prove to be useful when you’re selecting specific blogs to contact. Overall, Google Blogs works rather well for identifying which blogs will work the best.
I really like the “Related Blogs about” function because I’m not really looking to identify specific posts about horses. Rather, I want blogs that are based around horses. Once I locate a blog that posts relevant content, updates regularly, and has an attractive page rank, I locate an e-mail address and take a look around at their policies. If no e-mail address is present, I use a comment form. These Bloggers read their comments.
Also, if I have luck with a specific blog or want to find more like it, I check out their “View my Complete Profile” to see which blogs they follow. Normally, if they are actively posting, the blogs they follow will be good matches as well.
Contest sites work really well for finding Bloggers who like to conduct giveaways and reviews. For this, I like to use Online-Sweepstakes to identify Bloggers that are readily adding contests. Normally, if they currently have giveaways running, they will be interested in learning about more.
What To Say
So, I’m not the first one to say this, but this is the most important step in that you can locate awesome blogs all day long, but if you fumble here, it won’t matter. So, instead of shrugging this off, try your best to think about how you want to be addressed in an e-mail.
People who write blogs are passionate about what they do and they want to be treated with respect. It isn’t cool to get their name wrong or be completely off about the focus of their blog. It is common courtesy. I’m not suggesting you sit and read for hours, but getting to know whom you are e-mailing will benefit you in the long run and give you a better chance of receiving a response. If they have a PR policy, but sure to read it. The About section usually helps identify within a couple seconds whether or not this blog is a good fit for you.
The information you provide will depend on who you are contacting. However, no matter the blog type, you will need to establish credibility. Some great ways to do this include offering links to previous articles or blog posts you’ve been featured in, similar reviews or giveaways you’ve sponsored, or a section on the company website that includes some basic information about who you are and what you do.
Once you’ve gathered some information on them and have some basic information to provide them with, try this:
Hope all is well in [where they are from]! I stumbled across your site– awesome content! You are certainly a wealth of information on [topic]. I am writing on behalf of [name here], a leader [what you do]. We are currently seeking to engage Bloggers by offering samples of products for review. You can view current endorsers here: [link] I invite you to check out the products on the sit and help me know your thoughts. We can also recommend products if [X, Y, & Z]
Please let me know if you’d be interested or anyone you know might be interested in conducting a review!
Look forward to hearing from you,
Asking a simple question can also be a good way to ensure a response. Just because a blog doesn’t readily say that it accepts guest posts doesn’t mean that it won’t. Sometimes, shooting them a simple question works extremely well.
Took a look around your site and couldn’t locate any information on guest blogging opportunities. I was wondering if you are currently accepting guest posts. Thanks!
Look forward to hearing from you,
Questions to Ask
Ideally, in order to maximize the reach of the giveaway, review, or guest blog opportunity, you want to make sure that these blogs will be making your links DoFollow and that they engage their readers using social media. A lot of Bloggers aren’t even aware of the difference between types of links, so you might have to give them the rundown. Normally, once you get a response, they are pretty proactive in getting the giveaway or review together and will gladly oblige when you ask for DoFollow links. Anchor text is usually never a problem either. In order to find an ideal fit, knowing the blog’s stats will prove useful, so don’t be afraid to ask or check it out yourself.
Social media is significant in that it stimulates further buzz. Checking out their social media presence and asking if they will promote your X, Y, or Z via their social media channels won’t hurt. In fact, most of the time Bloggers love using social media to spread the word so it won’t be a stretch to get them to include this in the write-up.
As you continue your search, you will definitely run into some Bloggers who will want to be compensated for their review. There are ways to work around this, but often times, to illustrate your credibility, throwing them the same prize you’re giving their readers helps immensely. Not only will this aid in establishing a working relationship, it allows the reader to directly use (and love) your product and/or service.
Lasting Relationships Are Key
I keep all my e-mail threads with Bloggers so that the next time I have a product or project that I think might be a good fit, I can simply respond from our last correspondence. Not only does this keep a record of all of our exchanges, it refreshes their memory and extremely increases the chance of a speedy response.
I also use Rapportive so that I can see their social media presence on the sidebar. It helps me connect with them on different platforms and show that I am immersed in the blogging world too.
Once again, these are just a general few tricks that I’ve used that seem to work well. Obviously, your efforts will differ based on what you are attempting to accomplish. Share your tips.