Bloggers have a lot of power over their audiences when it comes to consumer purchases. If you’re running an eCommerce business, get them onside and you’ll be laughing!
Utilising bloggers and social media influencers is one of the best ways to help break into the crowded online market and get your products seen.
With so many new eCommerce companies appearing every year (eCommerce websites make up approximately 10-12% of the entire internet) bloggers represent a HUGE resource for startups looking to gain a foothold in their niche market.
So, What Is Blogger Outreach Anyway?
Blogger outreach is a digital PR strategy commonly used for eCommerce businesses to increase their online presence. It involves building relationships with relevant, influential bloggers and asking them to write about a particular product, service or experience to promote your brand.
Bloggers have a great deal of influence over their readers. Persuade a high authority blogger to feature one of your products or services, and you’ll likely see a sizeable spike in sales and enquiries of that product or service shortly after.
How We Used A Blogger And A Biscuit Tin To Increase Visitors
Case in point: Last Christmas and New Year we ran a successful blogger outreach campaign for one of our eCommerce clients.
NuCasa sell awesome vintage and retro style kitchen and homeware products and represent the perfect type of business to utilise bloggers to boost their sales and online following. We contacted a tonne of lifestyle and home decor bloggers, offering them a free product in return for featuring the item on their blog alongside a giveaway for the same product.
Melissa who runs The Diary of a Jewellery Lover, hosted a giveaway alongside an awesome article about party pudding ideas for New Year’s eve.
The article had useful content for readers and included great images, which linked perfectly to the vintage biscuit tin from NuCasa being offered as a giveaway prize.
The giveaway attracted over 3,000 entries in 10 days and resulted in a significant spike in visitors to NuCasa’s website at a time when online retail spending is at its peak.
That’s Awesome! But I’m Only A Tiny Business With A Tiny Budget. How Can I Afford It?
Many savvy companies utilise bloggers to help get their products noticed, including big names like Huggies, NowTV and Bernard Matthews. But you don’t have to be a ‘big dog’ to work with some of the most highly influential bloggers out there. We’ve delivered multiple successful campaigns for small businesses with no monetary outreach budget whatsoever.
In these instances, the businesses simply set aside a number of product samples that could be offered as an incentive/compensation for the bloggers time.
It’s all about your approach and making sure what you’re offering is something the blogger and their readership are interested in.
Target Audience: Hitting The “Mutually Beneficial” Sweet Spot
Remember this term: mutually beneficial.
One of the key things to remember when embarking on outreach work is that the offer you put out there needs to hold some benefit for your target audience, as well as for you. We like to call this ‘hitting the mutually beneficial sweet spot’!
Asking high authority bloggers to review your products or host a giveaway for free, or offering your products to bloggers that have no interest in your business, is a waste of time.
So, be smart about it!
If you’re selling products for children, for example, you need to be targeting the people who are most likely to buy these products — namely parents and family members of children. There are literally thousands of mummy and family blogs out there that you can tap into, many of which are PR friendly and always on the look out for free stuff for their kids.
Case Study: Playing To Your Brand’s Strengths – The Cute Factor!
One of the easiest ways to work with bloggers is to offer a complimentary product for them to keep, in return for reviewing the item on their blog. If you happen to be producing and selling products with added cute factor, so much the better!
Bathing Bunnies design and manufacture adorable baby towels and gift sets. We realised early on that the cute factor of their products would pay huge dividends when it came to our outreach campaign.
Within a week we had mummy bloggers across the UK clamouring to work with us to review their products and run giveaways for their readers.
One such blogger was Donna Wishart who runs What the Redhead Said.
Despite having children that were too big to utilise the product on offer, she was still delighted to run a giveaway for Bathing Bunnies as the product was ideal for her readership. The giveaway garnered over 2,500 entries in 3 weeks and traffic to the Bathing Bunnies website shot up by over 200%!!
Breaking Into And Standing Out In A Flooded Market
The issue many new eCommerce businesses have is that they’re trying to break into, and stand out in, an already saturated market. In order to stand out, you need to do something different if what you’re selling isn’t particularly niche.
Outreach work with bloggers ‘humanises’ your brand. It gives your product or service a ‘face’ and your company a personality as you interact with bloggers to secure features, reviews and giveaways.
Let’s throw you another case study here to show you what we mean!
Case Study: How clever Halloween DIY lanterns gave generic LED tealights a spooktacular sales boost
PK Green Shop sell various battery powered LED lights and solar powered products. We wanted to target their LED tea light candle range as the competition for these items online is fierce (there are literally hundreds of online stores that you can buy them from!)
We decided that in order for PK Green to stand out in such a crowded market, we needed to do something that would make them and their product notably different from all of the others out there.
As part of their Halloween campaign, we created a number of DIY decorations using their LED candles and pitched the tutorials to bloggers to share with their readers, alongside a competition to win a set of the same tea lights.
Not only did this competition gain over 1,000 entries and a considerable amount of coverage on social media, but PK Green moved up the google rankings by 63 places for the search term ‘led tealight’ in the space of a month!
OK, I’m Sold! This Is A Total No-Brainer… Where Do I Start?!
We’re not going to lie to you, successful blogger outreach is time-consuming and requires ninja communication and organisation skills (there’s nothing more frustrating to a blogger than being offered a killer deal and then having to wait 6 weeks before they get their hands on anything!)
If you’re serious about it though and have the time to commit to an outreach campaign, follow a few simples rules and you’ll be nailing it in no time!
Set a budget
This can be a monetary value or a maximum amount of products that you’re happy to send out each month/over the course of your campaign (make sure you factor in postage costs!) Either way, make sure you set yourself an affordable budget and stick to it.
Blogger interest, like anything, will fluctuate from month to month so at times it may be necessary to look at the bigger picture and be flexible with where you’re spending your budget.
If you’re having a killer month, interest is high and you’re on a roll, reallocate some of your upcoming budget (if you can), and then scale it back the following month to keep things on an even keel.
Make a plan
TARGET PRODUCT: One of the things people trip up on with blogger outreach is they try and cover all the bases in one fell swoop, and end up falling flat on their face.
Pick one of your more popular products or services and focus on that for your outreach work to begin with. This may seem counter-intuitive, but your popular products are popular for a reason! Use their popularity to help get you started and then you can begin to target less popular products or services later.
TARGET AUDIENCE: Decide on one specific demographic and focus your attention on them for the duration of your outreach campaign. Ideally, this will be the main target market for your chosen product or service.
For example, in the three featured case studies we only ever had ONE product type and ONE corresponding blogger demographic at any one time:
Vintage kitchen wares = Home and lifestyle bloggers
Baby towels = Mummy bloggers
LED tealights = Family and parenting bloggers
TIMEFRAME: This will no doubt be linked to your budget and available time, but having a set timeframe for your campaign is crucial too.
We find anywhere from 3-12 months is a good starting point to commit in order to generate a successful blogger outreach campaign, but the really savvy companies build outreach into their ongoing digital PR strategy.
Do your research
Most bloggers have ‘work with me’ sections and will state whether they are open to offers from businesses and brands for PR opportunities. Some may also have downloadable media packs with relevant information about their blog demographic, monthly visitors and social reach.
Make sure you look for these things and read up BEFORE you contact any bloggers. If you go charging in with a pitch before you’ve even looked at their blog properly, the likelihood is you just won’t get a reply.
Extra Ninja Tip: Blogger networks can be a super useful resource for fast-tracking your blogger outreach and finding blogger partnerships that suit your business in a flash!
Nail your pitch
Get your pitch right and you’ll be inundated with bloggers that want to work with you to promote your brand:
- Be friendly; the great thing about pitching to bloggers is you don’t have to be too formal with it, so something like, ‘Hi Jo, I hope you’re well’ is fine as an opener.
- Include a one sentence background about your business, with a link to your website, so they can see immediately who you are and what you’re offering.
- Most importantly, get to the point quickly and succinctly: make your offer, outline your budget and invite further conversation if they’re interested. If they see something they like on your website and their interest is piqued, they’ll reply to your email and that’s when you can go into full detail about your offer and negotiate terms.
Keep on top of those comms!
As we’ve said before, there’s nothing more frustrating to a blogger than being offered a killer deal and then having to wait a week before they get a response to an email! The only place that will get you is to the bottom of their work pile.
If you’re doing things right, you’ll be inundated with emails from interested bloggers so keeping up to date with them is really important. Setting up a tracking system, or using an email plugin like Streak will help you manage your inbox and keep on top of things.
Link into your social media
Social media can be a great way to find bloggers to work with initially, but it’s also paramount when it comes to promoting the work you secure with bloggers too.
Most bloggers will have sizeable social media followings and are active across their accounts daily. Once you’ve secured a feature with a blogger, make sure you’re sharing it on your own social media accounts too.