If you had to point out one thing that all content marketing campaigns have in common, that would most likely be blogger outreach. As an essential part of most content marketing strategies, running a successful blogger outreach campaign can be a challenging project during which you can run into many different obstacles.
It is said that you should learn from your mistakes, but if you let us inform you, there is a high chance you won’t have to 🙂
We have been running blogger outreach campaigns for years and decided that now is as good time as any to share some insights and tips we picked up along the way.
1. Having a routine helps
We have been through a lot since we started building the Point Visible agency. Since first clients up to today, we have changed several different tools for communication, task organization, and project management, as well as several different ways of documenting and organizing things.
One thing we always tried to accomplish is to have some kind of default routine for simple tasks that are common for all clients and across all projects. That is why we set a standard for:
- creating project structure in the project management tool based on the type of campaign
- naming and assigning tasks
- tracking content creation process
- notifying clients about new developments
- time tracking
- budget tracking
This allows us to spend less time setting up a project and tracking the progress of each task and concentrate on more valuable activities that will actually make a difference during the outreach campaigns.
Long things short, if you are planning out a bigger blogger outreach project, you should seriously consider using a PM tool to track the whole process.
2. Good research is half the work
Surely you ran into this advice before but it never hurts to repeat a good thing!
As with any marketing activity, getting to know your target audience should be the first thing on your list. On top of that, if you want to promote a product/service to the best of your ability, you need to make sure that you know what exactly that product does and how it solves the problem it is designed for.
That is why during our campaign set up and first contact with the new client, we always send out a simple questionnaire that helps us understand their product/service better. We ask some basic information, discuss their past and current marketing activities, and ask a few things about their target audience. We appreciate any answer, no matter how short or elaborate it is.
The questionnaire is just the starting point. A target audience analysis should also include:
- researching niche forums
- reading Q&A sites like Quora and Reddit
- doing competition research (their blog and social media channels)
- reviewing top blogs in your niche
- conducting a survey if you have the resources for it
The goal is to find out:
- what kind of challenges and problems your potential clients/consumers are dealing with
- what are their pain points and how you can help alleviate them
- what kind of content they are interested in
- where do they get their information (which blogs/forums/magazines…)
These days, we are mostly doing full content marketing campaigns and our research is actually way more detailed since it is a base for the whole content marketing strategy and not for just one or two blogger outreach campaigns. Here is a link to our complete guide to target audience analysis if you are interested in how to do an in-depth research of your target audience or you just want to see how we do it.
Research is probably the most time-consuming part of the whole campaign, but it really pays off.
3. Blogger outreach is 50% organization
We probably don’t have to explain that running any type of successful marketing campaign is dependant on having decent organizational skills.
However, when it comes to blogger outreach, there is one unique thing that we want to highlight – work composition.
If you just started doing blogger outreach, you will quickly notice that the whole process is not especially complicated, but that it consists of a few tedious and time-consuming tasks:
- Doing the research
- Coming up with a list of guest post titles
- Finding relevant sites
- Writing the pitch
- Email management (personalizing and sending out pitches and follow-ups; all kinds of negotiations with the editors)
- Content creation
All of these tasks can wear on you with time so you should always look to populate your schedule with different types of tasks. It’s not smart to do research for one project during a whole workday or send emails for 5 straight hours. You are bound to lose concentration over time which will drop the quality of your work.
Instead, look to mix things up. Even if you have to spend 4 hours sending pitches that day, break that up with other tasks like tweaking your guest post pitch, putting content into production, coming up with additional guest post topics, designing a feature image for the last article or anything else really. It is the only way to stay sane during intensive blogger outreach campaigns 🙂
4. Set some ground rules
A blogger outreach campaign can quickly go off the rails if your team has no idea of what you are trying to accomplish.
To keep your campaign on the tracks, here are some things you should define before the emails start going out:
- what kind of sites are you targeting (in which niche, with what sections)
- how many posts are you looking to publish on a monthly basis
- what metrics does the site has to have to qualify (domain authority/domain rating, organic traffic, number of social media followers, ranking for certain keywords…)
- what pages are you looking to rank and what kind of anchors do you plan to use
- are you accepting sponsored posts
- are you interested in link/post exchange
- how do you track interested opportunities
- how do you track content creation process
- who has the final word on potential issues and is responsible for leading the project
It should be pretty obvious what kind of problems can block your way if you don’t get these things sorted out at the beginning of the campaign.
Oh, and make sure the whole team is familiar with these ground rules as there is no point in setting them otherwise.
5. Don’t be an island
…unless you are a freelancer and working alone and don’t have coworkers. If you are, like us, working in an office with people around you – talk to them. Blogger outreach (and content marketing in general) is all about ideas and creativity and it’s not uncommon to get stuck.
This is when talking to your co-workers can be just the thing you need to jump-start your creative juices. A fresh mind, that didn’t just spend 3 hours looking at same 3 keywords and Google results is likely to have a perspective you didn’t think of.
Of course, not all ideas will be good, and you don’t have to accept everything your coworkers throw at you, but we have found inspiration more than once while talking to each other, either in person or using Slack.
Coworkers are here to help with any other problems as well – from determining why is WordPress adding extra space in a blog post, to which toppings to put on your lunch pizza.
Another thing you might consider using if you have a whole team working on the blogger outreach is what we like to call workshop Wednesdays. Once a month or so, we have a workshop where team members share some tips they learned in their marketing projects. It helps us improve team collaboration and increase the quality of our work across the board.
No reason you why you couldn’t utilize something similar for your blogger outreach campaigns.
6. Think outside of the box
While blogger outreach is still a very effective link building method, there is one problem with it – everybody is doing it.
That means you have big competition out there and editors have a lot of options to choose from. Why are YOU the one whose content they should (re)publish?
It is not always easy to answer that question and sometimes you need to think outside of the box.
Maybe you need to add a quote from a famous person in the pitch. Maybe you need to write a crazy subject line, come up with a controversial title or do something else that can give you a competitive edge. The options are vast, you just need to get a ladder, climb out of the box, and look around.
7. Don’t shy away from using different tools
It is probably redundant to bring this up again, but blogger outreach, when done right, requires a lot of time and effort. Tools that can help you speed up any part of your campaign are welcomed. To be quite honest with you, we don’t see how you would even do a campaign without some of them.
Besides project management tool we mentioned at the beginning, here are some other must-have tools for blogger outreach:
Blogger Outreach Tool
Really unexpected, we know 🙂
You think that you can find relevant sites through Google search?
Well, you can, at least for the first few months. After that, this becomes an unbearable grind.
So do yourself a favor and start using an outreach tool right from the start. A great blogger outreach tool will not only let you find relevant sites but it will also:
- help manage your emails through templates and automated replies
- allow you to filter out sites based on preferred metrics
- try to find active contact info for every site on the list
- A/B test your guest post pitch and subject lines
If you did come to your senses and now you’re panicking because you don’t know which tool to use, we got you covered. Here is an in-depth review of the best blogger outreach tools on the market. Grades and screenshots enveloped in over 8 thousand words just to help you find the right option for your business.
Backlink Analyzer/Keyword Research Tool
If you want to see your content published on relevant sites with decent traffic, you can’t just scrape the web to make a list and just send your pitch to everyone. You need to actually inspect the website you are reaching out to.
This leans on the metrics we mentioned before. Depending on your resources, you might want to only reach out to websites with certain traffic and authority. And to be able to do that, you need to have a tool that is capable of analyzing websites for said metrics. We personally like to use Ahrefs and MOZ but there are other tools that can help you analyze a wide range of SEO metrics.
The downside is that some of these tools can be fairly expensive. However, they offer extensive features that go way beyond showing a couple of simple metrics so it gets hard to complain about the price. Options like keyword research, backlink profile analyzer, and top performing content are just some of the additional features you will be able to utilize in your blogger outreach campaigns.
8. Analyze and adjust
After you send out a certain number of emails, spend some time to analyze what happened. Note which emails got the most replies, which topics were most popular, and when did people reply to your emails the most. It will help with your future campaigns, and could even jump-start the one you’re currently struggling with.
One of the worst mistakes you can do in blogger outreach is to be stubborn. You might think you have a great pitch and that you are suggesting excellent topics, but if the data shows you have a really low response rate, it is time to rethink your approach.
As Dhruv (the co-founder of SalesHandy) puts it: “If you are re-visiting the campaign to make improvements that help increase the response rate of your outreach campaigns then it is always advisable to see if there is still a further scope of personalization you can achieve by segmenting your email list, upgrading the call-to-action, and giving a more targeted value proposal.”
There is no shame in admitting that something doesn’t work. Even if you can’t figure out the reason why it doesn’t work, you are only making things worse by prolonging the unsuccessful strategy.
On the other hand, it is also important not to get too comfortable when the outreach is going well. Just because something works now, doesn’t mean it will work in 6 months. Be on your toes so you can quickly react to the first signs of trouble.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you base your decision on a relevant sample. Sending 10 emails isn’t enough to see which subject line works best. A sample of 50+ sent emails will give you a more accurate representation of what does and doesn’t work.
9. Get personal – but don’t take it personally
Two parts in this lesson.
First, most bloggers appreciate when you are familiar with their site and you leave a feeling that you are not contacting them just to get a link. So take the time and browse around the website, learn the name of the blogger (or bloggers) and write a personalized email. At a bare minimum, you should have a pitch that doesn’t scream “premade template email” as soon as it is opened.
According to our own research on how to write a perfect guest post pitch where we asked over 80 editors about their personal preferences, having a highly personalized pitch was cites as one of the most important elements alongside interesting topic suggestions.
The more you personalize the email, the higher the chance you will get a positive reply. However, you have to draw a line somewhere. Top blogs in the niche might deserve a fully personalized email but you will get nowhere if you plan to write emails from scratch even for low authority sites.
What to do then? Simple: compromise.
Write a template that has some personalization fields like bloggers name, the section of the website you want to write for, an URL of their post you just read and so on.
The other part of this lesson is: don’t take criticism and rejection personally. In any bigger outreach project, you are bound to get a negative response. Maybe the editor had a bad day or just received a ton of spammy submissions and decided to take up that built-up frustration on you because you had a spelling mistake in the title.
However, don’t get complacent either. If you are getting multiple complaints about the same thing, you are probably doing something wrong and should look into it.
10. Give back
The last thing we learned has a very broad meaning so let’s explain it with an example.
Whenever you win a guest post and it goes live, most of the bloggers will ask you to share it on social media. If you are proud of your content, there is never a reason to refuse that. It really helps in building the relationship, reputation, and even social media following, for both you and the blogger that published your article. It’s a win-win situation.
There are other many other opportunities for collaboration that can arise from quality blogger outreach and it is up to you to decide if you want to chase them or not.
Another way you can “give back” (if you are working for a client) is to keep the client updated on everything that’s happening. People love knowing how their investment is going, what is happening with their campaign and when can they expect some positive movements. Just put yourself in their shoes, you’d want exactly the same.
Blogger outreach campaigns are one of those things where the effort you put into it directly correlates with the result you’re going to get out of it.
Just remember – be creative, don’t be afraid to ask for help, stay organized, and don’t hesitate to adjust your approach when things are not going according to plan.
If all of this seems like too much trouble for you but you still want to reap all the benefits great blogger outreach campaign provide, don’t hesitate to get in touch and see how we can help you on that front.
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