You’re already producing content. So are your competitors. Why does some of this content engage with potential customers while other content is ignored?
Quality material is important, of course. Potential customers want information-heavy, engaging blogs, videos and more – and they want a lot of them. You’ll need to understand your audience and present your content in a way they’ll respond to.
But publishing great content isn’t enough. Your content needs to reach readers. This is where guest blogging and Outreach can be a tremendous asset.
Here’s your complete, in-depth guide to Guest Blogging and Outreach. You’ll learn everything you need to know about guest blogs, including the specific steps to take in order to succeed.
Included are six marketing outreach templates and a complete fill-in-blank strategy guide for your entire guest blogging campaign. All of these tools are free and can be used today!
guest blogging is an easy and powerful way to help increase brand awareness, customer engagement and sales. Let’s get started:
- The 3 Stages of guest blogging
- Benefits of guest blogging
- Creating a Buyer Persona
- Creating a Conversion Funnel
- Specific Scenarios for Marketing Outreach:
- Link to Custom Landing Pages:
- Step 1: Finding Influencers
- Step 2: Connecting with Influencers
- Step 3: Develop Long-Term Relationships
- Template for Initial Outreach
- Template for Blog Post Promotion
- Template for Requesting Content
- Template for Guest Blogging Pitch
- Template for Influencer Mention
- Template for Invitation
- The Importance of Influencer Reach
- 1. Identify Your Industry
- 2. Narrow Your Target Market
- 3. Identify Your Most Popular Type of Content
- 4. Search for Similar Content
- 5. Connect with the Influencer
- 6. If You Don’t Get a Response, Send a Follow-Up Email
- 7. Create Content
- 8. Promote Content
- 9: Send a Quick Note
- 10. Develop the Relationship
- Email Hunter
- Tools for Sending Files
- Tools for Organization
- Educational Resources
- Use guest blogging to Succeed
An Introduction to Guest Blogging
In essence, it’s connecting with people who have a lot of influence in your industry in order to promote your brand and products.
People don’t necessarily trust brands. After all, what brand isn’t going to say they’re the best? People do trust other people, however.
Specifically, people trust those within their social media networks. While everyone in the network is trusted somewhat, there’s a special type of social media user who is more trusted than anyone else. They’re called social media influencers.
An influencer is anyone who is somehow tied to an industry in a relatively impartial way. Influencers blog, post on social media, create podcasts or otherwise regularly comment on a market space.
If an influencer highlights your company or product in a positive way, you can expect to see a pretty big increase in brand exposure. Even better, you’ll be reaching an audience already interested in your niche.
The 3 Stages of guest blogging
Here’s a general overview of the entire process:
1. Identify Influencers – Who are these influencers? How do you find the right person? There’s a combination of techniques and tools which will show you the right people to target, and why.
2. Outreach – You only get one chance to make a first impressions. You’ll learn the different strategies used to introduce yourself and make your pitch.
3. Develop a Long-Term Strategy – Learn how to establish a win-win relationship with influencers. You’ll also learn how to maximize every influencer mention.
Benefits of guest blogging
guest blogging is a relatively new term, but the idea has been around since well before the internet ever existed. Basically, you’re providing positive PR for your business.
Sometimes, you’ll use traditional public relations techniques, such as press releases and news conferences, which have been used since the dawn of both journalism and advertising.
Other times, you’ll need to make adjustments for the medium. After all, you’re not connecting with traditional media outlets, you’re connecting with influential bloggers and social media personalities. Understanding their needs is the key to getting your content in front of them.
Here are the main benefits of influence marketing and outreach:
This is a benefit not found in other types of ads such as TV or radio. With blogs, you’re able to really zero in on niche audiences. Connecting with specific demographics with a targeted message is far more effective than large scale ads directed towards a general audience.
No matter what product you sell, there’s likely a very specific audience online where your brand will be right at home. Over three million blogs are posted each day, so you can get reach a very detailed target audience.
As your brand’s base of potential customers expands or changes, you can adjust the type of influencers you work with. This lets you move with your audience very quickly.
Influencers usually each have their own personal style. You can adapt your content to what works with that audience.
Most influencers will have a style guide to follow. Aside from this, there might be fun ways you can interact with the blogger. You can collaborate on a giveaway, offer and more.
Often, you can use a contest as a way to obtain an opt-in email addresses from your audience. This is your first step towards developing a conversion. Simply require an email address for one free entry.
People are more likely to enter a contest if an influencer is somehow involved. There’s much more of a guarantee that the contest is legit and the entrant’s personal info won’t be abused.
Pleasing to Customers
Customers follow influencers because they want to. Usually, the influencers are a combination of entertaining, knowledgeable and topical. So brand mentions and product discussion are welcomed.
Common sense, and market research, tells us that people respond better to a soft sell through a trusted source than a direct, unwanted advertisement.
As all SEO pros know, the more you can measure, the better. guest blogging has many metrics you can use to drive your course of action.
You can track customers from the moment they first follow a link from an influencer to your content. Over time, you can develop strategies for different audiences.
For instance, people who find you through Blogger A might be interested in the features of your product, while people who find you through Blogger B care more about the warranty. You can tailor your marketing efforts accordingly – and easily.
Develop a Personal Connection with Your Customers
Influencer marketing is a great way to connect with potential customers. An endorsement from someone they trust can go a long way. Up to 82% of people say they’re highly likely to follow the recommendation of a social media influencer.
Even if you don’t get a rave review, the mere mention of your brand or product can be beneficial. Your influencer’s audience is already at least somewhat interested in your product, or else they wouldn’t be following the influencer.
Think of this as similar to advertising during a TV show. Advertisers have a pretty good idea of what demographics are watching different shows. So ads can be designed with the target audience in mind.
Influence marketing is like that, but better. With influence marketing you pinpoint that group even further. This is because the internet allows for smaller and more specific niche communities of highly interested users.
Remember: A deep collaboration with a smaller-scale niche influencer is almost always better than a shallow connection to a large one.
A Lot of Kick for Your Dollar
Influencer marketing and outreach is pretty cheap. You have to do the research, and develop an effective campaign, but you can do that on even a limited budget.
So, guest blogging involves a lot of work up-front until you’ll see results. But the right mention by the right influencer can be a gigantic boost to your brand.
You’ll see an increase in brand awareness, SERP and conversions. Influencer outreach and marketing is one of the best forms of organic and in bound marketing.
When I first started influencer outreach, I was a bit intimidated to approach influencers cold. I didn’t know any of these people, and maybe they wouldn’t be interested in my content at all?
Here’s something to remember: Influencers want brand connections. Regular contact with a brand helps influencers stay on top of the industry, which is appealing to their readers. Exclusive product access on occasion is also really great for an influencer. They get to showcase something new their readers can’t see elsewhere.
So when contacting an influencer, always remember that both you and the influencer have something to gain. A top blogger is always on the lookout for industry connections, product access and other benefits your brand may bring.
Influence marketing is a win-win for both you and influencers. That simple fact really made me feel much less anxious approaching bloggers and others cold.
So, what do you say to an influencer? And how do even find them in the first place?
guest blogging and Outreach Strategies
Before we start looking for influencers, first we need to set ourselves up for success. We want to be ready to go with a plan whenever we hear a yes.
Proper preparation means creating:
- a buyer persona
- a conversion funnel
Here’s a look at each:
Creating a Buyer Persona
First, you’ll need to identify who is buying your products. This is done by analyzing your site visitors, past customers, your competitors, social media profiles and more.
This information is used to create a Buyer Persona. Also known as a Customer Profile or similar, this is a fictional person who represents your target customer base.
The profile will be pretty detailed and include:
- Geographic Location
- Education Level
- Interests and Hobbies
- Marital Status
You’ll develop a Buyer Profile for every different group you’ll market to. Check out The Power of Buyer Personas for a complete guide.
Creating a Conversion Funnel
Once your Buyer Profile(s) are created, you’ll then develop a conversion funnel. This is a series of steps where you’ll engage with your potential customer. You’ll move from providing useful information to increasingly promotion-based material, finally prompting your reader for a sale.
The conversion funnel is developed based on your buyer profile. The voice, topics, format and all other aspects of your content should be designed to engage with your target audience. Boost Sales by Building a Conversion Funnel has an in-depth look.
How Influence Marketing Relates to Buyer Personas and Your Conversion Funnel
Influencer marketing is directed towards your buyer persona and introduced at points throughout the conversion funnel.
You need to define clear goals about what you want from your guest blogging. Your goals dictate your strategy.
The ultimate, overall goal is a lifelong brand loyalist and repeat customer. But guest blogging doesn’t always lead directly to conversions in that way. Influencer marketing is often a more subtle part of the overall conversion strategy.
Specific Scenarios for Marketing Outreach:
If an influencer loves your product and writes a great review about it… well, that’s ideal. You can usually anticipate a positive, direct sales boost following a rave review from a popular influencer.
A mediocre review isn’t the end of the world, either. You’re still likely to gain some positive brand awareness over time, if not for the specific product in question. Customers tend to forget small failures if a company otherwise has a lot of wins.
An occasional negative review isn’t great, but can be managed. Of course, if you’re getting a lot of different negative reviews, you might need to step back and focus on the quality of your product!
Quick Tip: If you ever have a problem with negative publicity, check out The Positive Way to Deal with Negative Reviews.
Reviews usually require sending out a free sample, but the potential benefits usually far outweigh the immediate financial cost. You want your product to be reviewed as often as possible.
When you publish a blog post on your own site, you’re helping increase your position in the SERP while providing content to people who are already aware of your brand. But you’re not really reaching a new audience.
Guest posts are articles you write which are then published on a different site, run by an influencer. This boosts your credibility, because the influencer has decided to publish your material on his or her site. Your post will also be seen by a whole new audience.
For more information on guest posts specifically, check out Connect with Bloggers Using these Top Outreach Tools.
To potential customers, a credible brand is reliable, knowledgeable and trusted. Customers know they won’t be ripped off or lied to. Influencer marketing is a great way to build brand credibility.
Influencers put their reputation on the line with practically every post. The whole reason they’re an influencer in the first place is because they’re honest with their audience. So if an influencer says your product is good, their audience will take notice.
Marketing New Products or Services
Influencers want to provide their readers with the latest and greatest info. If you’re launching a new product, influencers will likely want to know. After all, a product launch could be big news in your industry.
You might want to provide new product access to all of your influencers. If you want to help create a connection with an influencer in particular, consider providing exclusive access. This might help you end up in the influencer’s good graces.
Creating Targeted Landing Pages
When your content is featured by an influencer, you want his or her target audience to be able to easily learn more about your brand.
Avoid putting too many links within your content. Quality content will encourage people to seek you out. Excessive links will often appear too “salesy.”
At the same time, you can usually include a few links to other relevant content which you’ve created yourself. You’ll also list your brand (and a link) in your author’s bio.
Link to Custom Landing Pages:
If the influencer is writing a review, create a link they can use. This will be a link to a custom landing page. The page should be geared only towards the product being reviewed.
Also, you can use your customer profile to further tailor these pages. Determine the connection between your audience and the influencer’s audience.
For instance, suppose you sell handmade sweaters. The influencer discussing your new line of sweaters runs a blog called “Best Discount Sweaters Online.” Since the blogger’s audience is at least somewhat concerned about price, the landing page you link to from the review should emphasize the low cost of your sweaters.
guest blogging, done well, is able to address the specific concerns of your audience.
Now let’s look at the concrete steps you’ll take to make it all happen:
3 Key Steps to Developing an Outreach Strategy
There’s a series of steps involved in developing your guest blogging campaign. That said, prepare to be flexible as you go. Use these steps as a guide.
You might find opportunities to introduce your brand to a receptive audience you never considered – or even knew existed! Also, you might find that you have expertise in an area you never really considered before. Don’t be afraid to pick and choose strategies as you learn what works best:
Step 1: Finding Influencers
When searching for influencers, you want to start by casting a wide net and then narrowing it down. Ultimately, you’re not necessarily searching for influencers with the most social media followers.
Instead, you’re looking for influencers whose followers most closely match your customer profile. This is why developing an accurate customer profile is so important. Your audience can end up being a relatively small group of people who are highly receptive to your content, product or message.
But first you cast your net wide. This means searching for the most popular influencers in your industry.
Start simple with some Google searches related to your industry:
- “Best Travel Instagram Accounts”
- “Top Vet Blogs for Pet Health”
Different industries tend to gravitate towards different social media platforms. Don’t forget to look beyond Facebook. Industries which feature a lot of visuals often find a home on Pinterest and Instagram.
Quick Tip: Check out The Best Social Media Platform for Your Brand for more.
Aside from major search engines, you’ll want to use the internal search tools within social media. For instance, YouTube is the second largest search engine on the web. If your audience is already on Youtube, connecting with a YouTube influencer should be a top priority.
Another tool I find very useful is Buzzsumo. This free software lets you search popular blog posts by topic. SocialMention is another site I recommend which functions in a similar fashion.
When you find popular blog posts with a relevant topic, check out where that content was originally posted. After you do this for a few different topics, some publisher trends should start to emerge. Those are blogs you’ll want to investigate further for marketing opportunities.
- search engines,
- search tools,
- and social media search
…all together should give you a pretty good starting group of popular blogs related to your industry.
Now that we’ve found influencers which are a good fit generally, next we want to a deeper look and narrow down our options:
Review content the influencer has already published. Does their tone and style match – at least somewhat – the image you want to convey for your brand? Take a look through their content archive to double-check there’s nothing you find offensive or otherwise objectionable.
You also want to look for general relevance. If the influencer only posts about your target topic sporadically, that’s probably an influencer you want to skip.
Try to get a sense of how much content they publish from other sources. Do they review or discuss products? Do they publish posts by others? Don’t automatically move on just because someone doesn’t seem to use a lot of guest content. They still might be responsive to the right pitch.
Check out where the influencer is linking out to. This is a way to gauge their overall influence.
Check out their social media pages, too. At minimum, read through a few weeks of their Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts.
After looking through all the above factors, you should be able to narrow down your choices to a handful of influencers who seem like they’ll have the biggest impact and best connection with your brand.
Step 2: Connecting with Influencers
Unless you have a compelling reason otherwise, you’ll want to send emails for your initial outreach. Emails are generally less intrusive than a cold phone call. Plus, you can craft your email to ensure you highlight all the important points.
The best address to use is the contact info from the influencer’s main site. If that address isn’t available, Facebook is usually a reliable option. Many social media personalities will also include a business contact in their Twitter profile.
You’ll want to send an initial email. The specific structure of the email will depend on what your goals are, and we’ll cover all that in a series of templates later on.
Right now, let’s just focus on tone. When approaching an influencer for the first time, be honest. Remember, influencers are looking for brand connections, too. Don’t pretend you’re just trying to make friends with the influencer or that you’re emailing simply to flatter them with praise.
Explain in detail why your brand is something the influencer’s audience will likely be interested in. Also be very specific about what type of content you want to provide. Influencers are busy, so you want to get right to the point and provide as much info as possible right up front.
Step 3: Develop Long-Term Relationships
Never take a collaboration for granted. After every guest blog, review or other event, reach out and thank the influencer. A quick email is always appreciated. For bigger events, you might want to send a small gift (preferably something with your logo on it).
Maintain the relationship by following the influencer on social media. Like and engage with their posted content. Try to keep your brand somewhat fresh in the influencer’s mind.
The specifics of your relationship with the influencer will determine what you do next. Ideally, you’ll develop a long-term relationship where your brand will regularly be featured in some way.
6 Free Templates You Can Use Right Now
The most successful outreach efforts will occur when you can create a personal connection. This means understanding the influencer’s site, their audience and how your content can benefit them.
Fortunately, just because you’re making a personal connection doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch every time you reach out to a new influencer.
Here are six different templates you can use to get started. These each provide guidelines for an email you can send. They’re tailored to the six most common goals and situations.
Remember: You’ll need to fill in the blanks with specifics. You want to be as detailed as possible. Show the influencer you understand their brand and why your content is the perfect fit.
Here are the six templates:
Template for Initial Outreach
This is the basic email you’ll send to an influencer when you want to make an initial introduction. You’re not looking to set up anything specific. You just want to create an initial point of contact.
You’ll want to keep your subject line short, descriptive and to the point. Here are some sample subject lines:
- quick introduction from a fellow industry professional
- wanted to talk more about your great brand
- suggestion for a mutually beneficial brand opportunity
Note the use of all lower case letters. While this is a personal preference, many marketers believe lower-case subject lines appear more personal.
Keep the tone light and casual – but always professional. Even if the blog itself is comedic and off-beat, keep your content free from excessive jokes and tangents. Remember, top influencers receive a lot of emails.
Here’s a standard template to follow:
Hi [First Name], I’m [your name] from [your brand, as a link to your website]. As part of the [your industry] industry, I follow and regularly read [influencer’s blog]. I’ve been a regularly reader since [year]. I especially enjoyed your recent post [title of blog]. I shared the post with my audience on social media and my email subscribers. They enjoyed the article just as much as I did! I wanted to introduce myself, since I’m in the same industry as you are and really enjoy the work you’re publishing. I think we each have an audience with many overlapping interests and sensibilities. I’d like to discuss some ideas I have for collaboration. I have several [blog posts or other content] which I think you and your followers will enjoy. If you’re interested, please send me an email [link to email] or call me at [phone number] so we can discuss some ideas. Thanks so much for your time! Hope to hear from you soon! [Your Name and Contact Info]
You don’t really need anything longer or more complicated than that. This introductory letter creates awareness of your brand. Also, by mentioning the idea of an overlapping audience, you’re showing the influencer what benefits you potentially bring to the table.
Template for Blog Post Promotion
This is the email you’ll send out to an influencer when you have a specific blog post you’d like to promote.
You want to keep your subject line short, descriptive and to the point. For example:
- quick question about your blog
- guest blogging question
- new post from [Your Brand] which might interest you
The first part is the same as the general intro email…But now you switch to more of a guest blogger approach:
Hi [First Name], I’m [your name] from [your brand, as a link to your website]. As part of the [your industry] industry, I follow and regularly read [influencer’s blog]. I’ve been a regular reader since [year]. Recently I published [blog post, with link]. I got a positive response from my readers – including a large number of likes on my Facebook page. Your audience and mine have a lot of overlapping sensibilities. Because you and I are in the same industry, I wanted to introduce myself – plus, I’ve been a fan of your blog for a long time and wanted to reach out. If you think your audience would enjoy the post [second link to post blog], please feel free to share it with them. I’d also like to discuss some guest blogging opportunities you might be interested in. I have several [content ides] which I think you and your followers will enjoy. [your name and a link to your site]
Template for Requesting Content
Guest content flows in the other direction, too. Influencers might want to contribute content to your site. This template gets right to the point.
Hi [First Name], I regularly write blog posts on [industry] and was hoping to feature you in an upcoming post. I’d like to feature your expert advice on [topic]. This interview can be conducted by email. Here’s what I’d like to know: [List of questions] As part of the blog post, I’ll mention your brand and include a link to wherever you like. Also, if you’re too busy to take part right now, I completely understand. If you’re interested, I’d appreciate if you got back to me within a week. Please let me know if you any questions. Thanks so much! [your name and a link to your site]
Template for Guest Blogging Pitch
If you have a guest blog ready to publish, influencers are likely to move. But writing a post before pitching isn’t always necessary. After all, a guest blog which hasn’t been published anywhere else – even on your own site – certainly has an appeal.
The basic strategy is to find a popular blog post, identify a related topic which isn’t covered on the site, and then offer to write a guest blog on that topic.
Here’s an approach to take:
Hi [Name] My name is [name] with [brand], a [describe company.] Recently I read your [blog post] and was quite impressed. I especially liked [specific details]. Reading your post got me thinking about [related topic.] I searched through your blog archive and didn’t find any posts on that topic. If you’re interested, I’d love to write a guest blog on [topic] for you to publish on your site. I have [x] years of experience in [niche]. Check out my archive of blog posts for some samples. Please let me know if you’d be interested in [title of proposed blog post]. If possible, I’d love to hear from you in about a week. My social media readers would likely be interested in this content as well, and I’ll be sure to direct them over to your site. Thanks for your time! I look forward to all your latest blog posts! [Your contact info]
People always like free content, especially if it directly relates to something which has already been popular on their site. Even better, this type of post lets you link to the influencer’s post within the body of your post. This will help with your SERP.
Template for Influencer Mention
If you mention an influencer in your content, send them this notification email:
Hi [Name], Thanks again for participating in our recent interview. I just wanted to drop you a quick link to the live post: [insert link] Check it out when you have a chance. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Also, if you could promote this post on your own channels, I’d really appreciate it. So far my followers have had just great things to say about the article, and many of them are now following you as well. Thanks for your participation! [your name]
An article featuring an influencer helps him or her establish credibility and authority. You can even go beyond an email interview and try for a video interview or podcast. Obviously, this requires a bit more preparation, but this can result in some high quality, long-form content.
Template for Invitation
This email draws attention to your products for a possible review in the future. You’re introducing yourself while offering up a free product.
An additional option here is to not only offer a free product for review, but also a few additional free products as part of a giveaway. You’ll have to be willing to part with a few free items from your inventory, but a contest is a great way to get contact info from an interested audience.
If you offer up a contest, be prepared to do most of the work. This includes running the contest and all related web pages and social media accounts. The influencer is busy enough. You’re just looking for the promotion and reputation the influencer brings to your contest, not their labor.
Here’s a general template for soliciting a review, including an optional guide for contests.
Hi [name] I’m [your name] from [brand with a link to your website]. I’ve been really enjoying reading your blog posts about [topics related to your brand]. At [your brand], our [product] is a very popular item. I think your readers might also be interested in [product]. Would be interested in reviewing our product for your site? I can send you a free product for review and, don’t worry, I won’t interfere with the review at all. I want your 100% honest opinion. I know that’s what your readers love about you. I can also send [number] of additional products if you’d like to give them away to your readers in a contest. I would run the entire contest, including all related web and social media pages. Please email or call me if you’re interested. Thank you for your time! Best of luck with [brand]! [Your name]
General Guidelines for Sending Outreach Emails
The templates above are a great starting point. For the absolute best results, you’ll want to customize each email with details and specifics. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you craft outreach communication:
Keep Your Message Brief
Influencers are busy people. You’re not the only person trying to establish a connection. You want to get directly to your point – and don’t be shy about explaining the tangible benefits a collaboration with you will create for the influencer.
At the same time, you don’t want your message to be so short that you sound like a dud. Add some personality to your pitch. What is it about your brand which makes you unique?
While always keeping brevity in mind, don’t be afraid to share a bit about yourself. What personal path brought you to this industry? What do you feel you have in common with the influencer?
There are a lot of people attempting to create a connection with an influencer. You can stand out from the crowd by highlighting what makes you and your brand unique.
Reference existing material on the influencer’s site. This could be a blog post, infographic or other content which you a) liked and which also b) relates directly to your brand.
Don’t just say you thought a post was “great.” Instead, describe how you used the techniques and how they helped you. Connect specific aspects of the influencer’s content to traits found in your product or service.
I like to think of this as “targeted flattery.” There are aspects to your influencer’s site which make them a natural partner for your brand. Explain how these aspects make a potential collaboration a “win win” for both your brand and the influencer.
I get it: Sometimes, you have to approach a lot of influencers before someone will say yes. Crafting unique emails for each potential influencer can be time-consuming. But you want to take your time and put some care into each email.
Not only is this simply the right way to approach any professional relationship, being polite is also good marketing. After any successful interaction with an influencer, send an email. Thank the influencer for reviewing your product, participating in your interview, etc. This helps create a positive, personal connection. Plus, it’s simply good manners.
The Importance of Influencer Reach
What’s more important – the influencer or the followers? Well, they’re actually both pretty important. You want an influencer who has a sizable amount of followers, but you also want those followers to have a lot of reach.
Social media reach is a person’s ability to affect the people in their network. Some metrics to look for include a person’s:
- Activity Level
- Follower Numbers
- Popularity Level (Does the Content They Share Get a Lot of Likes?)
- Personality (Are They Too Outrageous or Offensive to be Connected with Your Brand?)
Every social network has influencers. While you’re targeting influencers based on your niche, the idea is to find influencers who are followed by other influencers. When enough influential people share your content, your content just might go viral.
Types of Influencers
A network of active social media users is important. But the biggest influencers are almost always bloggers. They product more high quality content, engage more followers for a longer period of time and generally have more influence overall.
Not all bloggers produce written content. Video blogging is very popular, with the big v-bloggers connecting with hundreds of millions of viewers each month.
Fill-in-the-Blanks Strategy Template
Here’s a complete rundown of the 10 steps you need to take. Nobody knows your brand and customer base better than you do. So you’ll be able to go through the template and fill in the specifics.
Let’s get started with this handy template:
First, you need to know a few things about your existing brand.
1. Identify Your Industry
Start with the broadest overview. What industry are you in? Sometimes also called your “niche” or “market space,” this will be a big, general category. If you sell chairs, you’re in the furniture industry. If you sell lizards and frogs, you’re in the pet industry.
Some types of products and services belong in several industries. For instance, skateboards will be marketed as sports gear and also sometimes as toys.
You want to keep your niche in mind, especially when you’re searching through influencers. You won’t gain much traction if there’s a mismatch between your influencer’s market space and your own.
For instance: Your skateboard is reviewed on a blog about toys. But most of the other reviews on the site are about toys such as board games and books. A great review is nice, but it’s not a target audience who is expecting (or necessarily wants) active toys like a skateboard.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out your niche, look to your competitors. You’re in their same market space for sure. Ideally, you can also identify a few underserved markets your competitors are missing.
My Industry is:
2. Narrow Your Target Market
If you sell hand-crafted artisan chairs, you’ll market them differently than a big stack of foldable ones.
Now we’re going to zoom in on a target market. Some of this is just common sense. You’ll know your product better than anyone.
Be careful, however: Also verify that the people you think are buying your product are actually the people who are buying your product. Pay attention to your fans on social media and elsewhere.
A Cautionary Tale about Your Potential Target Audience:
For instance, I once had a client who sold a variety of nail care products. They were mainly marketed to women. But after some research, I found one type of nail scissors was mentioned a lot in several auto repair forums. After some reading, I learned this particular shape of scissor was extremely useful for a certain type of belt removal and replacement.
In this case, I created an entirely new Buyer Profile for a male auto mechanic in his 50’s. This opened up a whole new customer base. Custom landing pages related to auto repair, which were kept relatively separate from the larger site, led to a pretty substantial increase in conversions.
Note that this is an outlier. For the most part, you’ll narrow your customer base down in a more direct way such as “custom furniture” and “exotic pets.”
My Target Audience within My Industry is:
3. Identify Your Most Popular Type of Content
What’s the most popular piece of your existing content? This could be a blog post, video or even an email subject line which had a high open rate.
Does this content directly relate to your specific target audience?
For instance, say you sell fancy, custom made chairs. Your target audience is adults with a relatively high income who live in urban apartments. That’s the biggest demographic of people who buy your product.
The most popular piece of content you’ve ever published is How to Safety Transport Furniture when Moving Across the Country. This is a large guide about furniture moving in general, with only a brief mention of your brand near the end.
This guide has been shared a few hundred times and has pretty positive feedback. But the people who read the guide aren’t typical of your general customer base – who, by and large, aren’t interested in moving furniture. Instead, they’re interested specifically in high end artisanal chairs.
Your second and third most popular pieces of content are two blog posts titled Chair Design 101 and The Best Looking Chairs of 2016. The audience for these posts is very similar to your Buyer Persona and average customer. This is the type of content we’re going to focus in on when searching for influencers.
My Most Popular Content among My Largest Customer Demographic is:
4. Search for Similar Content
Using search engines and tools such as Buzzsumo, you want to search for everything similar to your most popular types of content as determined above.
You’re looking for two types of matches:
- Content with a Similar Topic
- Content with a Similar Format
Buzzsumo will show you a list ranked by popularity. What types of content seems similar to yours? Where is this content published?
Take a closer look at the sites with similar content. Specifically, look at who is responding to this content. Do they match your Buyer Persona? If so, this site is an influencer you’ll want to pursue.
List Five Sites Which You Think are Worth Connecting With:
If this is one of your first campaigns, I recommend choosing just the top five influencers to start with. This is a manageable number. You’ll be able to craft personal messages and stay on top of your various marketing duties.
Don’t worry. As you learn the process, and become more familiar with some of the automated tools (listed further down), everything will go much faster. A professional internet marketer will normally start with 10 active marketing influencers.
5. Connect with the Influencer
Identify what you want from the influencer and select the appropriate Free Template above. Spend some time crafting these emails. Your ability to demonstrate the specific benefits your brand brings will be a key to getting a positive reply from the influencer.
The Best Email Template for My Goals is:
6. If You Don’t Get a Response, Send a Follow-Up Email
There are several tools you can use which will show you the status of your email. For instance, you can not only see if/when the email was opened, you can also see which links within the email were clicked on.
The middle of the week is usually the best time to send out cold emails. I send out initial emails in the mid-morning on Tuesday.
Then I wait exactly seven days. If I get a response, great! I immediately move on to the next step below.
If I haven’t heard back by the following Tuesday, I take a closer look. Did the recipient open the email? Did they click on any links?
If they opened the email, I’ll send a separate email with a different emphasis. If they clicked on links, I’ll see where those links led.
For instance, suppose they clicked on a link leading to a product I submitted for a review. If they saw the product but didn’t contact me further, I’ll assume they weren’t interested in reviewing the product. Maybe they didn’t like it. Maybe they’d already reviewed similar products.
That’s fine. What I can do is send them a follow-up email with a link to my entire product catalog. I’ll mention how it seems the initial product wasn’t interesting to them, but maybe there’s something else in my product catalog which catches their eye. Then I’ll offer to send them something in exchange for a review. (Note: You only want to offer up products which you’re comfortable sending out for free.)
Or I’ll try a different tactic from whatever I’d originally suggested. If they weren’t interested in a blog post, then I’ll offer a product to review. If they weren’t interested in a product, I’ll suggest a guest blog or solicit an interview.
If I get a negative response, or no response at all, I’ll move on. I’ll also document the exchange on a spreadsheet, so I don’t forget and contact the people again too soon.
Even if an influencer isn’t ready for a collaboration right now, I still pay attention to them on social media. You never know when an opportunity might present itself.
I’ll Send Initial Emails on This Day:
I’ll Send Follow-Up Emails on This Day:
My Follow-Up Emails will Focus on:
7. Create Content
Deliver whatever content you promised. If the influencer agreed to a blog post, you should already have that prepared. If you promised a product for review, ship it off as fast as you can.
Proper planning is key here. You’ll want everything ready to go whenever you hear a “yes.”
The Content I’m Ready to Send is:
8. Promote Content
When the influencer publishes your review, blog post or other mention, let your followers know. Link to content on all of your social media platforms. If possible, you’ll want to give your followers advanced notice.
Both you and the influencer will effectively be working together to promote the content across as large of a potential audience as possible.
I’m Ready to Promote My Content in the Following Ways:
9: Send a Quick Note
Once the content has been published, don’t forget to send a quick thank you note. If the influencer had a major positive effect, you might even want to send over a little gift.
My “Thank You” Message and Gift are:
10. Develop the Relationship
Follow influencers on social media. Like and comment on content when appropriate. About once a week I’ll spend a few hours in the afternoon catching up on the social media activity of my influencers.
Create brand-specific accounts for each of your social media profiles. This helps create brand awareness. Obviously, you want to use these accounts only for professional industry talk – keep political opinions and so on to yourself when promoting your brand.
Maintaining a low-key connection with your influencer makes approaching them with additional collaborations much easier. After all, if you and your influencer worked well together once, there’s really no reason not to try again.
Influencer Outreach and Marketing in Action
A successful approach to guest blogging includes the ability to identify the specific goals you want to achieve, yet also maintaining enough flexibility to recognize opportunities. Here’s what I mean:
Let’s look at “The Reptile Hut.” This is a brick-and-mortar store which sells all sorts of reptiles, amphibians and related pet supplies. They have a thriving online business, too, where they ship pets and supplies all across the country.
Part of their online presence is extensive informational content. They have a ton of info on reptiles, pet care and so on. There are blogs, videos, podcasts and more. Most of this content is published directly on their site and across their social media pages.
This content is robust enough to draw in organic search traffic. But they’re really only drawing in traffic from two ways:
- People who search for a product they provide. This is usually someone in the nearby area, who will come to the physical store.
- People who are already aware of the brand, such as a previous customer to the store.
That’s great, but we want to expand on that. To do this, we’ll use guest blogging.
Their most popular content is How-To Care Videos such as “How to Care for an Iguana” and “How to Care for a Box Turtle.” These videos are produced in the store and regularly draw in hundreds of views on YouTube.
There’s a problem, however. These videos aren’t seen outside of YouTube at all. Their social media pages are pretty bare.
People who watch the videos online don’t buy a lot of pets. Instead, they already own the animal in question and want to know how to properly care for it. So while the videos are considered pretty useful, they aren’t helping to increase the company’s exposure to more potential customers. The customers who liked the videos on YouTube weren’t then going onto the site to buy products.
Customers are more likely to be engaged through social media. This is because social media posts come to them. The other type of engagement – where the customer visits the brand’s site to read a new blog post – is usually unappealing to most people. A post they see on social media is more likely to engage them.
I decided the best strategy for this client was to try to get those popular videos to gain traction on social media.
So, I searched through the two major sites where videos are the most popular: YouTube and Facebook. I was looking for influencers on social media who had an emphasis on reptiles and amphibians.
Reptile Hut had developed several Buyer Personas which helped me narrow my focus. I found a few different social media personalities who were focused on reptiles and amphibians.
Interestingly, some of these personalities actually were reptiles and amphibians! Just like Grumpy Cat, Bub and others, there were actually quite a few pages dedicated to specific pet lizards, frogs and so on.
Finding the owners of these sites – the humans who actually did the work – was a bit difficult at first. Fortunately, there are a variety of tools mentioned below which can help with this.
I used Email Hunter and Rapportive to find professional contact information. Then using the Template for Blog Post Promotion as a starting point, I created a few emails. Instead of a blog post, I was promoting specific videos. For instance, I approached Larry the Lizard with the idea of hosting my How to Care for an Iguana video.
In many cases, these partnerships were a great success! The influencers weren’t competing with Reptile Hut directly – they didn’t sell pet supplies or pets – so they were very receptive to my request. Plus, I’m sure the high view counts on my videos didn’t exactly hurt, either!
Reptile Hut gained a ton of new followers on social media. People would watch the video and then click through to my Facebook page, where they’d become a follower.
From there, I used a variety of social media optimization techniques to engage with these new followers. The potential customer base expanded. Engagement with the brand increased.
Many of the followers of these “famous” reptiles and amphibians liked the animals, but didn’t own them as pets. This was a different base from the group who found the videos through organic searches on YouTube. The social media followers were much less likely to own a pet currently, but far more likely to be interested in owning one soon.
Finding the right connection with an influencer isn’t always a neat, organized affair. Sometimes your potential audience will show up in the unlikeliest of places. The more you understand all the available strategies, the better you’ll be able to use the right ones when the opportunity presents itself.
Tools and Resources
Influencer marketing can be a pretty large project. Fortunately, you don’t have to do everything yourself. Here’s a complete list of tools and resources you’ll likely find very useful.
The first step is to connect with the influencer. To do that, you’ll need an email address. If you’re having trouble finding the influencer’s contact info, try these tools:
This is a free, easy-to-use tool which searches for all emails associated with a domain. Simple visit the site (emailhunter.co) and type either the website or company name. You’ll get a list with emails, names and departments in return.
Sometimes locating the right contact email is simple. Other times, finding reliable contact info is seemingly impossible. This happens more than you might think. Some social media superstars – especially those who have gained a ton of popularity in a relatively short time – simply don’t have a system set up capable of handling a high volume of requests and messages.
When I can’t find an email, or am not getting a response from the email address I do have, I’ll usually turn to Email Hunters. This tool helps find specific email addresses within a domain or company. For instance, if I’m dealing with a large organization, I’ll use Email Hunter to search through the various departments to find, for example, email@example.com.
- Job Title
- LinkedIn profile
- Shared communications
Rapportive is really more designed for emails you already have. But I’ve found it useful when trying to track down an unknown address, too.
Specifically, Rapportive is very helpful when one email address within the company and want to find another, such as a different department.
With Rapportive, you can also search for emails by trying these common formulas:
You’ll know you’ve found a working email when Rapportive pulls up profile data.
Can’t Find an Email Address? That Happened to Me, Too. Here’s What I Did:
I once optimized a large ecommerce site dedicated to model trains. This is a fairly niche market and, by using the techniques in this guide, I was able to connect with a few solid influencers online. There’s actually a pretty large and vibrant model train community online, so I was able to really zero in on some influencers and target potential customers.
One influencer eluded me, however. There was a popular e-newsletter dedicated to trains. Called “Tom’s Trains,” this twice monthly e-newsletter was long, informative and loved throughout the model train community.
The problem? Tom’s Trains was created entirely by one guy, Tom. He was hard to get in touch with. I think the issue was the sheer volume of material he received, all through one email address. My client was relatively new in the market space, and I think the emails to Tom just never broke through.
While doing some research into influencers, I happened to find Tom’s LinkedIn Account. He was a member of quite a few LinkedIn Groups, including many related to model trains.
I joined a popular train group (using the LinkedIn account I created for the client’s brand). LinkedIn lets you message any other member of the group. That’s how I sent Tom a short introductory email and was eventually able to build a marketing relationship!
To be clear, I think a significant part of my success was due to timing. I didn’t just join the group and immediately send Tom an email. I contributed to the LinkedIn group for a few weeks, and got to know the members. Not only did that help with brand awareness overall, but I had a positive reputation within the community.
This reputation, combined with the easier access to Tom, is why I think I was able to create a connection. My client’s business was eventually featured in an article on Tom’s Trains which led to a lot of exposure and new customers.
Sometimes you’ll have to think a bit outside the box in order to connect to an important influencer. Keep your eye out for opportunities!
Tools for Sending Files
Now that you’ve found the right emails, let’s put those addresses to good use. These tools will help you write pitches, schedule follow-ups and generally stay organized:
This is an email plugin from HubSpot. Similar to Rapportive, Sidekick shows you a brief profile of whoever you’re communicating with. This profile shows you background info and social media profiles connected to the email address.
Like Rapportive, you can use Sidekick to guess unknown email addresses. However, Sidekick does a bit more than that, too.
Sidekick also tracks email engagement. You can see who opens your email and what links inside of it they click on. This is info you can use to determine the best course of action.
For example, say someone has read your email, clicked on all the links and still doesn’t reach out to contact you directly. You can reasonably assume that they’re aware of your brand but aren’t interested in your product enough to take action.
You’ll want to follow up with a second email emphasizing something involving a limited time offer. This type of offer is meant to encourage a potential customer to take action. Limited time offers and special “online only” sales are often very effective in reaching customers who are on the fence about making a purchase.
If the recipient only clicks on one of the links in your initial email, you can use that information to determine a different course of action. Suppose they click on a link related to your product’s price, but never click on any further links. You can send them a follow-up email with info on a sale or limited time offer.
Dropbox and Google Drive
You should have a few pieces of longer content ready to go. This could be long-form content, video webinars, podcasts and more.
You want to get this content in front of influencers. But you have to do so in the right way. Avoid attaching large files to initial emails. This is not only a hassle, but many people are reluctant to open attachments from unknown sources.
The best way is to create a link to a cloud service. Dropbox and Google Drive are usually the best options. Create a shared folder in either. Then include a link to that folder inside the email.
Dropbox and Google Drive are easy to access and dependable. People don’t want to click on some weird, little-known cloud storage site.
Plus, when you store your copy in the cloud, you can update the document whenever you want. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve corrected something minor which I only noticed after I send an outreach email.
Tools for Organization
This is an email management program. They promise to help you get to Inbox Zero. The platform offers a few solutions such as follow-up reminders and a snooze function.
The program works in a pretty clever way. Each email is BCC with a special FollowUpThen email address. For instance, say you wanted to send a follow-up message to someone one week after you sent them an email you sent earlier.
First, you’ll send the initial email. This is your request for an interview, promotion of a guest blog or other outreach effort.
Before sending that email, you want to BCC FollowUpThen. There are different addresses available, each one corresponding to when you’d like to send the second email. For one week, you’d send the email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and so on.
You can customize your notices for a variety of situations such as:
- Only send email to people who haven’t responded
- Send emails to others within a thread
- Sending multiple follow-ups over time
- Sending different follow-up emails based on specific conditions
FollowUpThen has a variety of bells and whistles. If you’re not into that sort of thing, the basic email reminders are simple and effective.
You want customized landing pages related to the content used by an influencer. For instance, suppose an influencer gives your product a great review and mentions all the great features. You’ll want to create a landing page which provides even more detail on those features.
Are you and the influencer working together on a contest or other promotion? You should do most of the heavy lifting yourself. The less work the influencer has to do, the more likely they are to agree to the proposed partnership.
You can also create a landing page specifically for the influencer. This is often easier than asking the influencer to constantly refer to information in an old email. This type of landing page wouldn’t be promoted to the public. It’s just for the influencer’s convenience.
There are many types of landing pages which can help with your influencer outreach. Instapage is an easy way to create landing pages quickly. The platform is simple and intuitive to use – and certainly beats creating a bunch of landing pages by hand.
This is a Customer Relationship Management platform. Think of this as a one-stop-shop for organizing all of your public relations and marketing efforts.
Features available include:
- Outreach templates
- Performance tracking
- Email tracking (inbound and outgoing)
- Follow-up reminders
- Chrome plugin
- Gmail integration
Each campaign can be designated as a separate project, making this a platform suited for medium to large sized teams working with multiple clients simultaneously. So, I recommend this program for larger SEO companies.
It’s also a good choice if you have a lot “PR irons in the fire” at any one time, because the organizational capabilities of Buzzstream are pretty impressive.
However, I don’t recommend Buzzstream for every SEO pro. If you work mainly by yourself, and deal with only a few clients at a time, BuzzStream might be more trouble than its worth. Here’s a simpler solution…
Personally, I find Google Sheets works fine for most of my guest blogging campaigns. For especially large campaigns, you’ll need multiple people and a CRM platform. But I find a reliable spreadsheet is enough to keep most of my campaigns organized.
Plus, there’s something to be said for the simplicity of a traditional spreadsheet. For a campaign of roughly 10 active contacts, a spreadsheet works just fine. I don’t need to add on more programs with login info I need to keep track of, and other hassles. Sometimes the best tools are the simplest.
Ultimate SEO Research Guide – Everything you need to know about SEO
The Business’s Owner Guide to Hiring an SEO Expert – You’ll almost always get better results when you hire an expert.
A Note about guest blogging and Organization
Influencer marketing success also can show up suddenly in a big burst of popularity.
You can spend weeks and months developing a contact, and nothing really happens. Then one day an influencer mentions your product in a way which exposes your brand to a whole new audience – and it can happen literally overnight!
You want to always stay as organized as possible. Create a spreadsheet or fire up your CRM software right away, even if you don’t have a lot of info to fill in. If your brand suddenly explodes in popularity, you don’t want to waste time dealing with application setup.
Use guest blogging to Succeed
Influencer’s have a reputation as being trustworthy, informed and loyal to their readers. While potential customers will approach a claim from a brand with skepticism, they’ll respond well to a position mention from a trusted influencer.
Finding and connecting with an influencer isn’t done overnight. You have to understand your audience, and their needs, before you’ll be able to find the right influencer.
Connecting with influencers involves creating a personal rapport. You’ll also need a clear understanding of what actions you want from the influencer, and have a plan for achieving those goals.
Influence marketing involves equal parts technical know-how and an ability to create a personal connection.
With over a decade of experience, I’ve created many successful influencer outreach and marketing campaigns. I’ve developed a wide range of both technical and creative abilities in web development and promotion.
No matter what niche you operate in, I can identify and connect with the most relevant social influencers. I’ll create and run campaigns which target all of your key audiences, with strategies custom tailored to create conversions for your brand.
Additionally, I use the latest tools and platforms. This means a quality campaign can be started quickly and maintained indefinitely. As an SEO pro, I’ll be able to monitor your campaign in real-time and make adjustments so you’re always reaching your target audience.
Target a potentially large and loyal audience with the tools and strategies described above. Influencer marketing can take your brand (and your sales) to a whole new level.