2015 was the year Outreach finally began to grow up.
No more templated email spam to a 1000 recipients, no more “Hey, just thought you might be interested in…” – right? Well, not quite.
Though Outreach has gone from a last-thought promotional technique to an integral part of any media strategy, people are still often making mistakes that can affect the success of their Outreach campaign. It’s time we made some resolutions to improve Outreach in 2016.
1/ Stop with the meaningless platitudes
We’ve all done it, sent that email to a blogger with a ‘love your site’ or ‘great work’ comment in there, intended to butter them up. It’s an easy thing to do, as we think this might make them more inclined to respond positively. The thing is, unless it’s actually meaningful and sincere, it just comes across as slimy.
Here’s what I mean:
I recently received an outreach email to my personal blog with 4 (4!) ultimately meaningless compliments in the space of one paragraph.
• “Just came across your fantastic site”
• “It’s so useful and informative”
• “You’ve really nailed it with providing value to your audience”
• “It would be awesome to work with such a great blogger as yourself”
Now I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the comments, but it’s not exactly a massive boost to my ego when I know they’ve probably said the exact same things to every blogger they’ve contacted.
It doesn’t make me want to work with them, because they haven’t taken the time to make any of it personal.
How do you expect me (or any blogger) to have passion about your product if you don’t explain how it’s relevant to me or my audience?
I’m not saying I want annotated feedback on every blog post of written, but perhaps a simple “we saw you wrote about this, and it did well on Facebook, and we’re looking to do something similar”. Something as simple as this makes it seem like you actually care about the project or campaign, and how it’s delivered, and that makes the blogger care too.
2/ Know what you want/Know what they want
I can’t stress how important this is.
The amount of times I’ve received Outreach emails that say something like “we’d love for you to come up with some ideas as to how to feature our product”. Eurgh.
No blogger wants to do your job for you. Coming up with campaign ideas? That’s your job.
Don’t get me wrong, some bloggers will want to tweak an idea, and some may well come up with their own, but it’s much easier to do that when you’ve already been given something to work with.
Know what it is you want from the campaign before you start emailing, don’t expect the blogger to tell you.
Likewise, convincing someone to work with you is a lot easier if you have some idea of what they want; what matters to them.
This isn’t always necessarily financial. For example, I’ve worked with bloggers who simply wanted to be able to guest post on the website I was working for, to increase exposure. Others may just want a product for review.
Knowing the wants of your Outreach targets will make your job one hundred times easier.
3/ Do your research
We’re not just talking about researching the blog here. We’re talking researching the whole topic and anything related to the campaign.
One of the biggest turn offs for bloggers receiving Outreach emails, is when they’re mis or un informed.
I’ve had emails from people asking me to review an event, with no date or location given. That’s basic stuff, and just comes across as lazy.
Knowing something about the topic you want written about helps too.
For example, even a simple – “Such and such (industry leading influencer) wrote this paper in 2015 about blah blah, which seems to have been considered a pretty controversial argument, we wondered if you would be interested in writing a response” – makes it clear you have taken the time to understand their industry and interests, and helps them have a focal point for their piece.
This is basic stuff, but it can make all the difference.
4/ Pick up the phone
This is a bit of a difficult one. In most circumstances, calling a blogger before any kind of email contact is a no-no.
However, at some point during a dialogue with a blogger, perhaps after an email or two back and forth, a phone call can be a really useful option.
• If a blogger is on the fence about collaborating, a phone call can be more persuasive.
• It allows you to respond in real-time to any concerns or questions they have.
• It’s more personal than an email, so an element of trust and a relationship is built.
• It’s not something many Outreachers do, so it sets you apart.
There’s a time and place for a phone call to a blogger, and you’ll have to read the situation to judge when that is, if at all.
Some bloggers will dismiss this immediately and may prefer to deal solely with emails, but for some, a phone call could be just what is needed to convince them that working with you is a good idea.
5/ Test. Measure. Repeat.
To get better at Outreach, you need to know how well you’re doing now.
The only way to do this is to test and measure. This is where using an email client like MailChimp can be useful, because it can automatically track your email campaign data (responses, opens etc.) as well as offering split testing.
However, you don’t want to go down the route of full automation because this doesn’t allow for personalisation.
The balance is testing things like subject headers, opening sentences and sign offs. These are things that can be replicated across emails without depersonalising them, yet can also have an impact on the response and open rate.
If you don’t want to use an email client, you can still test and measure things manually, with a simple spreadsheet or the like.
Either way, once you start tracking the success of each element of the email, you can start experimenting and eventually land on a winning formula. Remember though, every blogger is different, so don’t assume your winning formula will win for everyone.
By combining all of the above, you’ll have a great 2016 when it comes to Outreach.
• If you’re going to compliment, be sincere.
• Come up with ideas before you contact bloggers.
• Know your stuff when it comes to their niche and your campaign.
• Give them a call if they seem on the fence, though use your judgement.
• Track and test everything you do.
Here’s to a Happy 2016 of Outreach for everyone!