Is there a right way and a wrong way of conducting blogger outreach?
I prefer to think that there are right ways and then there are better ways. Customized blogger outreach campaigns, when done strategically, can lead to greater brand awareness, higher web traffic and increased sales as this e-commerce case study shows.
Jerky Dynasty, an online retailer of exotic and gourmet jerkies, wanted more quality links to its online store to improve search rankings, build traffic and drive sales, especially on peak periods like Father’s Day. The company was already using Dallas digital agency, Globe Runner [disclosure: an agency I work for], to manage its search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.
After doing thorough research, Globe Runner recommended blogger outreach, specifically focusing on male bloggers interested in outdoor recreation and hunting. All had large followings for their sites (we used a tool like SEM Rush to determine organic traffic) and social media accounts.
A list was created and Jerky Dynasty product samples were offered to bloggers on the list, some of whom company founder Chris Miller started chatting with on Twitter and Facebook. He wasn’t prepared for the reaction from an unexpected audience.
“The big surprise was that it was women who loved our products,” Chris recounted. The trend for fitness food, carb-free eating, and Paleo diets may have played into this. Female bloggers who reviewed Jerky Dynasty’s products were also more likely than men to post their feedback on Facebook and other social media platforms while linking back to Jerky Dynasty’s website.
In addition, a unique subset of Jerky Dynasty fans emerged: Women who were into hunting, fishing and the great outdoors. Not only were they open to trying the products, they also left glowing reviews.
Discovering this small but devoted niche of users allowed Jerky Dynasty to discover promotional opportunities that are sometimes missed by mainstream brands. One of these is Hunt Chat, a Facebook group of over 1,000 hunting enthusiasts, which Jerky Dynasty found through reviewers like Camo Candace. The jerky retailer has put sponsorship dollars into Hunt Chat which unites hunting fans on social media through the use of the hashtag #huntchat.
Jerky Dynasty’s revenues started rising around the 2014 holiday season, with significant year-on-year increases into 2015. There were significant bumps in business during December 2014 (holidays), February (Valentine’s Day) and June (Father’s Day) as the site’s Google Analytics show.
Jerky Dynasty’s sales were so good that it was designated by Shopify, on which the store is built, as belonging to the top 4% of stores which launched around the same time on the platform. According to Miller, they are expecting a 50% jump in holiday sales this year.
Start early in blogger outreach
The results are not immediate when approaching bloggers. If you’re looking at blogger outreach for seasonal campaigns, make sure to start activity at least six months ahead. Jerky Dynasty started their campaign well before the 2014 holiday season; it is still feeling the positive impact of their blogger outreach a good year after.
Pick the right bloggers
Before you even contact a single blogger, conduct thorough research to make sure that you’re targeting the audience with the most potential for amplifying your message. Sometimes serendipity happens: Jerky Dynasty’s master list of male outdoor recreation and hunting bloggers grew into a male and female list. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations too: The initial bloggers were tapped for suggestions on who else to contact for a review, and they were generous with suggestions.
Test the waters
Not all bloggers are open to reviewing products. A good indication of whether bloggers would consider a review or a sponsored post is a link on their site for advertising rates and policies. Send an email or strike up a conversation on social media.
Write an effective email
If choosing to reach out via an email, keep your note short, friendly and ask an open-ended question (we’ll get to that in a bit). The blogger will most often respond.
Here’s an example of an actual email sent by Chris:
“Hi there. Love for you guys to sample our product. Is there a particular type of jerky that you want?”
Open-ended questions in market research are queries that solicit unprompted answers (as opposed to close-ended which are multiple choice answers). The human brain is wired to provide an answer when questioned. Use an open-ended question to prolong the conversation.
If they don’t respond, just move on.
Don’t obsess over reviews or links …
A blog post about your product and/or a link back to your site are not the only ways to get people talking about you. Chris asked for Twitter shoutouts for Father’s Day, for instance, and bloggers who were active on the platform were happy to oblige.
… and don’t forget the basics
While blogger outreach was in progress, Globe Runner was building Jerky Dynasty’s shopping campaigns and fine-tuning the site for optimal SEO. Putting all your eggs into one marketing basket is not only risky should it fail, it also passes up opportunities that could help the overall effort.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community