If you just write content and hope people will come you’re in for a surprise!
In this detailed article we look at the blogging outreach process and go through a selection of tools that can help.
What is Blogger Outreach?
Blogger outreach is mainly about building relationships. It’s reaching out to other bloggers to find out how you can help each other.
Blogger outreach can be done online or you might meet bloggers in other ways such as attending conferences.
Of course you may reach out to sites where you’ve no intention of building a relationship and you just want a link to your content. This is still useful if you provide really good content. People will link to great content and they want to know about it! But your success really depends on your approach!
When I outreach what do you want?
There are many different reasons you may do blogger outreach. Here is an example:
a). Guest Post – You see that they allow guest posts on their site so you reach out to offer a guest post.
b). Sponsored Posts – You want them to write a post about your product or service for a fee.
c). Build a relationship – You reach out to build a relationship and you have no short term agenda. The longer term agenda is that you will get to know the person and then end up helping each other, sharing each others content, etc.
d). Invitation – You may reach out to influential bloggers to guest post on your blog, appear on your podcast or webinar or just contribute to an article.
e). Generate awareness of your content – If you provide good content relevant to the bloggers audience they may be interested in reading, sharing or linking to your content.
The Free Approach to Blogger Outreach
We have outlined some tools later on in this post which are useful for blogger outreach but there is a cost involved. There’s also a free option but it’s more time consuming and is a manual process. So here’s the manual process:
1. Find People for your list
Install the Moz toolbar on your browser. When you are perform a search you will see the domain and page rank for any sites you come across. The domain rank specifies how important the website is with a rating from 0 to 100. The higher the number the more important it is. The page rank is a similar ranking but just based on the actual page you see in the search results.
Perform a search on Google based on the important keywords for your business. What appears in the top results are sites that Google thinks are the most important for those keywords. These are the ones that you want to start reaching out to.
Starting noting the sites in an Excel spreadsheet. Keep a note of the website, domain rank, when you reached out, why you reached out, response, and anything else you can think of.
2. Doing the outreach
Create a series of templates, write out your emails and if your email client supports this then create templates that you can re-use. This saves a lot of time. On Gmail there is an add on called ‘Canned Responses’. When you set this up you can create a series of templates you can select from when you write an email.
To set this up select the ‘settings’ option (top right) and then select labs.
Spend some time on each person you are emailing out to. Make sure you make the email personal, relevant, short and make sure you show that you have put some effort in. Record your results in your spreadsheet!
NOTE: I do not recommend that you blast out the same email to everyone. A personal email is important but sometimes you have a paragraph or two that is the same for every email and that’s why a template is useful (e.g. details about your company).
The above process will work. It will take you a lot of time but you will make progress.
What are the tools that can help?
There are a wide variety of Blogger Outreach tools. For this article we’ve picked 3 that offer different types of functionality and different pricing. By going through the 3 tools below this will also help you understand the process.
1. InkyBee – Blogger Discovery and Campaign Management at an affordable price
Inkybee is a very affordable blogger outreach tools with a starting price of $19 per month. The main features it provides are:
- Blog search based on a database of 800k blogs – You can set up searches or add a ‘discovery job’ which automatically finds the latest and most relevant blogs.
- Campaign Management – You can create a campaign and track your outreach process through the campaign. Once you add the relevant blogs to the list as you interact with the blog you can add your interactions to their profile on Inkybee (e.g. followed them on Twitter).
- Google Analytics integration – Through integration with Google Analytics you can monitor traffic back from the blogs you are targeting.
How does it work?
When you want to reach out to bloggers you need to create a list based on keywords you define. You can set up a discovery job which searches for new blogs matching your criteria on an ongoing basis or just run a search.
For the search you use you can search through blogs for mentions of particular keywords, for posts that are ‘tagged’ with keywords or just search for blogs that are focused on a particular topic (e.g. the title of the blog has the keywords).
Here is an example of results returned when you run a search like this.
When the results are displayed you can do the following:
- Filter the results based on the ‘Domain rank’. This is a proprietary ranking system developed by a company called ‘Moz’ and it’s a good gauge of how important the blog is. The rank is from 0 to 100 and the higher the number the better.
- Filter based on the last blog post – If this blog has not posted for months it may not be as relevant as a blog that has posted recently.
- Add to list – If you think the blog is an ideal candidate for your outreach process you can add it to a list.
When you view your full list you can view and filter on a lot more detail. Here’s an example of another list based on the search ‘social media tools’.
When you have your final list of blogs this forms the basis of your campaign. The campaign summary shows you the list of blogs with the overall campaign stats.
For each of the blogs on your list you can track interactions with the blog. For example if you mentioned a blogger in a tweet you can add this on to the campaign.
The campaign can also be linked to your Google Analytics account so Inkybee will start to track if you get any traffic to your site from the blogs in question.
Inkybee is a very affordable blogger outreach tool. Ideally it would have a much bigger database of blogs and more options related to campaign tracking but the database is expanding and there are plans for more campaign tracking functionality.
2. Group High – Extensive Content Discovery Engine based on 13 million blogs
Group High outreach marketing software has an extensive discovery engine which consists of 13 million blogs and can be used to automate research and track engagement.
- Extensive discovery engine – Group High has an extensive, ever growing database, of 13 million blogs.
- Significant detail picked up on each blog – When it retrieves blogs it retrieves an impressive amount of detail on a lot of the blogs (e.g. Twitter details, Facebook page, link to contact form, contact page, recent posts, etc).
- Crowdsourcing of contacting information – Over 60k contacts are updated monthly by users of the system and everyone gets access to this. This means you get a lot of accurate up to date information.
- Activity management – ability to track activities on each of the blogs you track.
- Keyword monitoring so you can monitor mentions of keywords in any blogs
- Enter in a URL where you have been mentioned and Group High will track comments, shares, likes, etc.
How does it work?
1. Set up your list and/or group
In Group High you create a list and this is where you add relevant blogs. You can also have a group and have many lists within the group. For example, if I wanted to track social media tools I might have a group ‘social media tools’ and have a list for ‘social media management tools’, ‘social media monitoring tools’, etc.
2. Find blogs to add to the list
When I have the list set up I perform a search on the blogs. Here is a sample of the results returned based on social media tools.
- Over 10,000 blogs were returned but out of them 36 blogs were identified as ones that focus a lot on social media tools.
- If you want to add items to a list you click the ‘star’
- Social media profile details are returned
- The latest blog post titles are retrieved
3. Research your list
When you ‘star’ items, which adds them to the list, Group High will retrieve more detail on the blog and display this. You can do a lot of filtering based on the list and you can also view a record for each individual item on the list.
Here is a selection the columns you can add/remove to your list:
- Blog Information – Most commented topics, frequency of posting
- Traffic Stats – Alexa rank, Unique visitors (retrieved from compete.com)
- Social Network stats – Klout score, Facebook Fans, Twitter ID
- SEO Status – Domain rank, inbound links
- Tactics – Giveaways, contests (this shows the blogs that use these tactics)
- Outreach – last activity, outreach stage
The full list is very impressive and extremely useful. When you open up an individual record this is the type of information you see:
4. Performing the outreach
Group High does not have any facilities for email templates and for performing the outreach directly within the tool. You can, however, track and monitor the activity of the outreach. You can also view the activity stage.
Group High Monitoring
You can set up ongoing monitoring to track any blogs in your list that mention specific keywords. This is useful to keep track of any new mentions that might be very relevant to your business.
If you get mentioned in any blog posts and you want to track engagement on that blog post you can set this up in Group High. It will track how many comments you get, Facebook updates, Twitter updates, etc.
Group High has a very extensive database and retrieves some very detailed information on the blogs. The filtering available for the results is extremely useful. Their campaign management is very basic but the strength of the discovery engine makes this a very compelling option.
I think it’s very smart that they crowdsource some of the content. Their user base adds in various details for blogs that they monitor and this information is shared amongst all their users. This is something that should be adopted by all blogger outreach tools. You will never get a complete database so crowdsourcing will help!
3. BuzzStream – Blogger outreach management
Buzzstream has 2 parts to the product, an influencer outreach package and a link building package. For this review we are focused on the link building. What’s interesting is that the old world of SEO link building was very much a shady practice. But now link building is all about relationships and more authentic blogger outreach.
Buzzstream does not have a database of blogs. Although there is ‘Link Prospecting’ functionality to discover blogs, most of the functionality is based around the management of the outreach campaigns.
Buzzstream‘s main features are as follows:
- Link Prospecting – Searching through Google based on Google search operators to identify relevant blogs to reach out to. So instead of their own discovery engine they are using Google for finding prospects.
- Full outreach management – You can create email templates for outreach, send and track all communication through Buzzstream.
- Link Monitoring – Once you get a link from an external website Buzzstream will monitor it in case it is ever removed.
- Automatic tracking of communication – If you set up the Twitter/email address (or it’s automatically retrieved) Buzzstream will track any @mentions or direct messages on Twitter or email communications, and add this to your profile.
- Quick addition of websites – You can add a button to your browser’s toolbar so when you find a site you want to track you just click on this button and it will automatically retrieve information about the site and create a profile in Buzzstream.
- Social Media Search – Ability to search through blogs, Twitter, etc, to find possible websites to add to your database.
- Task Management – assign to team members.
How does it work?
1. Define your groups
This is an optional step but you may want to group your blogger outreach programmes. If you do outreach for multiple clients you may want to separate the programmes for each client. In my case we were testing with one client but we created groups based on the type of outreach we were performing. The groups were as follows:
- Competitor Links – Websites that were linking to competitors that we wanted to get links from
- Blog Post Link Outreach – For any blog post we write we reach out to relevant people
- Link Roundup – To reach out to bloggers that do weekly roundup posts (e.g. top 5 posts for x)
- Broken Links – Reaching out to bloggers that have broken links to help build a relationship with them.
2. Build your list
You have 3 main options to build your target list:
- Import your list – You can use another tool for discovering your list of prospects
- Add manually – You can add items within Buzzstream or add items using the browser plugin. Using the plugin you click a button and Buzzstream will get as much information off the site as possible. You can then update relevant information and save.
- Search using Link Prospecting – Whatever search you run on Google you can run within Buzzstream. The only difference is that Buzzstream produces a nice list with very useful information relevant to blogger outreach. Based on the results you can remove inappropriate items and keep ones that are useful.
For examples: If I type in intitle:”social media monitoring” this produces a list (similar to the following) of blogs that have ‘social media monitoring’ in their page title.
3. Build your email templates
When you perform blogger outreach it’s likely that you’ll resend a lot of similar emails. To make this process less painful you should create some email templates in Buzzstream.
When you first select the option to create an email template Buzzstream will let you connect to your email of choice. This is really helpful because once you connect Buzzstream will track email correspondence with any contacts in your database even if you send the email from your normal client.
4. Start your outreach
Select the website/person you want to outreach to and select email. Now select the template, update the content and send.
5. Monitor and update progress
If you get agreement for the link you can add details of where the link comes from, where it links to, anchor text, etc, into BuzzStream. Buzzstream will then monitor this link to make sure it doesn’t disappear.
BuzzStream is a really great tool for managing the blogger outreach process. It doesn’t have a full discovery engine but the link prospecting module is very useful. If you are going to do a lot of blogger outreach this is a very effective tool for managing it.
If you are producing content it’s really important to have a blogger outreach program in place. It’s not enough just to write your content you need to get out there and promote it.
You can do a direct approach and use the blogger outreach tools or go indirectly and find people on social media channels like Twitter using tools such as Twtrland.
I have outlined some tools and some useful practices to go directly to the bloggers. Will you use the tools above? What is your outreach process?
I really hope this guide is very useful to you.