#9: How to get links, traffic and sales from bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers

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Bloggers and social media are the magazines and newspapers of the 21st Century. There’s a reason that the world’s biggest brands turn to online influencers when they want to sell a lot of product and increase the visibility of their brand. In this episode, Charlie and Stacey from Exposure Ninja’s D-PR team share how to tap into this influence using the same strategies that the huge global brands use. Best of all? Nothing we cover in this episode costs more than £100 to implement.

What sort of businesses does this sort of outreach strategy work for?

Any product or service targeted at a passionate audience.

This stuff works particularly well for e-commerce businesses. Parenting brands are a perfect example – Mummy bloggers can be powerful brand ambassadors and you’ll find a lot of successful parenting blogs have affiliate links or brand badges on their sites.

Any businesses with services that can be reviewed can use this type of technique. Hairdressers, teeth whitening, even interior design. Less so for more specific service businesses such as home maintenance.

The more bloggers there are in your target sector, the easier you’ll find it to pick up features. Parenting/family, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, health & fitness and travel all have a surplus of bloggers. Just make sure that you’re picky.

Are there any businesses that this really doesn’t work for?

Businesses in drier industries — ones which don’t have an extensive blogging circle or where the target audience doesn’t spend their time reading blogs.  Basically, if your buyers don’t want to read about the thing that you’re selling, then you might not be best placed. Likewise, dry B2B businesses might struggle to find a targeted blog audience, although blogs do exist for niches which on the surface sound very dry.

Why would these bloggers and influencers be interested in my business?

Sometimes they need stuff to write about. Imagine a mummy blogger writing 2 posts per week. For 4 years. That’s just shy of like a billion blog posts, and it gets tough keeping things fresh and interesting. If your product is actually cool, you can give them something they’ll enjoy featuring and their audience will enjoy reading about.

Sharing cool stuff makes them look good too. Everyone wants to be the first to share something awesome.

For some bloggers, working with brands is a chance for them to earn money from their blogging work. Some will charge a sponsored content fee in return for the exposure to their audience. Depending on the engagement and authority of the blog, this can be a very good investment indeed.

But remember these bloggers are real people and they’ve worked hard to build their audience. They’re doing you a favour, so be polite and respectful but also real. Learn about them – their name, their kids’ names, their interests. Take a personal approach – copy and paste emails will get you binned faster than a salmonella-riddled home economics F-grade project.

Same with press releases. The only people who like press releases are the antiquated press release companies run by people whose default phrase is “let’s do lunch”.

How do you find the influencers who are most likely to promote you?

You’re looking for a relevant audience. We’d take an audience of 100 mothers for a baby product over an audience of 5,000 18-25s interested in fashion any day.

Look for blogs that have an audience that matches your target market. Check their Domain Authority (DA), which signals how powerful the link from their site will be to you from an SEO perspective.

Next, check to make sure the posts they’re writing are actually good. Not just correct spelling and grammar, but do they actually make you want to read? Good bloggers build a bond with their audience through their personality. If they’re drier than a Ryvita in the desert, it’s unlikely that their audience is going to be particularly interested in what they have to say. Top bloggers have their audiences eating out of the palms of their hands.

One telltale sign that a blogger is doing a killer job is their social media and blog engagement. Did their last post get a tidal wave of likes or shares or did it slip into the lifeless but crowded waters of online obscurity with barely a splash?

Finally, if you have relationships with bloggers that you’ve worked with successfully before, ask for referrals. There is a lot of crossover and bloggers talk! Blogger networks are full of blogs in the same spaces, and many of the bloggers maintain close working relationships with each other, even if they’ve never met in person.

What do you say to them to introduce your business?

Did we mention that copy and paste blanket emails are – at best – a giant waste of time?

Be friendly and personable, be genuine, learn about the blogger and personalise each communication.If you know that you’re targeting the right person, then tell them what your product/service is straight away. Don’t hide this info in initial emails as bloggers tend to ignore generic emails.

“I was wondering if you’d be interested in finding out to see if there are any synergies with a product which I have?”

Cut the crap. These guys and gals are busy too, and the majority of them have other jobs as well as blogging. They don’t have 2 hours per day to read your convoluted emails. You’re here to promote your brand, they get it. Just be upfront about that.

It’s a good idea to connect with them on social media before sending out an email. If you can see that they’ve posted some relevant content, get into a habit of liking or sharing it. It shows that you’re not just another PR who is all ‘take’ and no ‘give’.

Will they reply immediately?

Often if bloggers are interested in the product/service you are offering and the pitch is on point they will get back to you pretty quickly. If they don’t, it means either that you repulsed them or that they are busy. The second is much more common.

It can take a couple of weeks or even a month, dependant on busy periods, so contacting mummy/parenting bloggers over the summer holidays will inevitably be a slower process as many have their hands full with kids off school. Likewise, contacting anyone at Christmas is a bit of a washout, as the mince pies and endless family gatherings are usually taking their physical and mental tolls. As much as they’d love to think about promoting your brand, awkward aunty Jean is banging on about immigration again and the dog has sicked up the turkey carcass under the tree.

It’s all about knowing your audience and figuring out the best times to ramp-up/scale back your outreach so that you’re using your time wisely

Will they ask for money? What do I say if they do?

This depends on the authority of the blogger and what you’re offering them. In the case of a product for review, most bloggers won’t ask for money. However, really high authority bloggers will ask for hosting/review fees, particularly if they aren’t personally in love with your product. Think of it like running an advertorial in a magazine.

When you’re offering to run a giveaway, it’s standard practice to provide 2 products — one for the blogger and one for the prize. You’re more likely to be asked for a hosting fee here, but not always.

With sponsored content (publishing an article with no contest or review) bloggers will require a fee, because you’re essentially buying the space on their blog. They’ll usually want to write the piece themselves too – and they should – because it’s their tone and style which their audience connects with.

Always negotiate.

Once their post goes live, what should I do with it?

Say thanks to the for a great post. Remember you’re being personal, not the typical PR person who never texts back after the first date.

You can comment in a friendly, non-promotional way on the post to thank them for the review/coverage. Share the post on social media too, if it’s positive about your company.

How many of these features should I be trying to attract?

This depends on your budget and business. What is effective and manageable for a small business might not be enough to move the needle for a large corporation, so think about how many products you’re willing to send out and what sort of sales volume you’re after.

In some cases, there may be other forms of online marketing and PR that you would also spend your time on and blogger work may only be a small part of that. If you’re getting featured in online magazines and news sites, for example, this blogger outreach work might only be one part of a larger social strategy.

In other cases, specifically if you want to create a massive buzz on social media or build trust in your brand quickly, you’ll want to feature with bloggers much more often

What you don’t want to do is send out thousands of samples to bloggers who haven’t agreed to try/review your product. This was cost you a lot in products and postage for very little gain. Come to agreements with bloggers beforehand and avoid sending out lots of free samples.

What Next?

If you’d like to see exactly how to use these strategies to promote your business, request a website and marketing review from us and we’ll walk you through the process. This supercharged review will also analyse your entire digital strategy (if you don’t have one, we’ll design one for you), and also snoop on your competitors and point out any juicy tidbits that they’re missing.


About the Author

Tim is Head Ninja at Exposure Ninja and Europe's bestselling online marketing author.When he's not Ninja-ing he's playing in his band, going to the gym with his wife or fixing the destruction caused by their two kitten children, Ninja and Samurai