Need I tell you blogger influence is growing? 84% of consumers now buy products or services they’ve discovered on a blog.
The findings revealed by Research Now show this influence extends across household items (54%), personal purchases (45%) and gifts (30%).
A quarter of 25 to 34-year-olds read a blog daily and 18-34 year-olds rank it as their most important decision-making source. But it’s not just for the youngsters; the over-55 category turn to blogs after seeking the purchasing opinions of friends/family/colleagues and editorial features.
Now I think we agree your products and services need to be appearing on quality blogs, but how do you achieve this?
1. Understand why it’s your job
You’ve just read the stats, now surely you’ll stop palming blogger relations off to the PR department/marketing intern? That’s not to say you can’t get others involved, however, you should have a firm hold on the way bloggers are approached and dealt with.
Read on and consider how you can weave points two to 11 into a formal blog communications strategy.
2. Rethink the relationship
It’s easy to think of the blogger relationship as ad hoc for times of need. That’s fine and you may get some coverage, but are you going to get the same level of coverage as your competitors who prioritize a long-term approach?
You want to cultivate brand confidence and loyalty, which is built over time.
3. Read the damn blog!
Sorry to get heavy-handed with you, yet there’s nothing worse than the furniture brand who approaches the fashion blogger with a random story idea.
You don’t have to read each piece – just enough to get the gist of the blog’s purpose and how it fits with your own.
Most bloggers make your job rather easy and detail this on their ‘About’ page. A quick skim also makes it far easier to achieve point 4…
4. (Genuinely) personalize all communications!
Nobody is called ‘blogger’ – at least not that I’m aware of – so you shouldn’t be addressing them as such.
Open each email with the blogger’s name and remember we all have egos we like to please. Give them a compliment, and make it genuine.
You don’t have to be an avid reader or from the target audience to do this. Find something you like about the site, or mention a piece that caught your eye and made you get in touch.
Show them why your product or service is relevant to their content and audience.
5. Be more original
Newbie bloggers may be excited to receive the same product as the rest of their community, however, experienced and professional bloggers are unlikely to feel the same.
Try not to target too many competitor sites with the same product: handpick the best sites and tell them why they’re the chosen few.
6. Understand the process
It may surprise that bloggers aren’t sat twiddling their thumbs and waiting for your email. Many have full time jobs, families and interesting lives of their own!
Don’t expect to send a sample and see it reviewed the next day. Furthermore, remember you’re unlikely to be the only brand communicating with that blogger and they may have a content schedule your feature will need to slot into.
Be organised and give the blogger time and space. If there’s a deadline on your feature – say an exclusive event or competition – let them know.
7. Never underestimate time or value
We’ve agreed bloggers are busy, and promoting your brand takes up precious time. To get your mention, the blogger has to go through a process of research, trial, photography, writing, editing, scheduling and promotion. Show you appreciate this!
Too many companies expect bloggers to fall goggle-eyed over a free sample, yet bloggers’ inboxes are rammed with such product offerings.
Remember the power of a blogger’s influence is often more valuable to you than your one or two product samples is to them (unless of course you’re a huge brand with guaranteed click-through potential!).
8. Ask questions
This ties in rather nicely with points 5 to 7 and makes for a serious brownie point-winning opportunity!
Want to know how your blogger works; which features they’re focusing on, how busy their schedule is, what the expected turnaround time is and what else is going on in their life? Just ask!
Showing an interest will not only deepen your marketing understanding yet further your long-term relationship.
9. Send thanks
So you’ve done it: the feature has gone live and you’ve got your coverage. Drop the blogger a quick note of thanks. Of course, it’s great to show you’ve clicked through and spotted something you’ve liked – be it their snazzy photography or reviewing prowess.
10. Share it around
Never think it stops at the ‘live’ stage. Your blogger will likely include direct brand mentions in their social media promotions. Watch out for these and give them a like or retweet.
It benefits your brand to send additional audience the blogger’s way. Your audience gets to read some genuine praise from a neutral source, the blogger will like you for doing it, and the increased click-throughs will stand out in their analytics (motivating them to work with you again).
Two bonus tips: popping a link on your brand blog or press page will earn serious points; getting someone from the brand to leave a comment of appreciation on the original post offers a memorable extra!
11. Keep in touch
We’ve mentioned the long-term relationship and encouraging bloggers to work with you again. This means you need to keep in touch. Newsletters are fine, but personal emails introducing new services are a whole lot better.
Gem Bolton is a CIM/CAM qualified digital content marketer, freelance writer and lifestyle blogger [http://www.buff-beauty.com]. Gem welcomes your connections on Twitter @buffbeautyblog.