Maintaining a company blog is no small investment.
Content marketing expert Jay Baer once estimated that the average company blog post costs $900 to produce – and that didn’t even include promotion costs.
With expenses like that, you need to be generating significant results.
Ultimately, of course, you want revenue from your posts. That means they have to generate good leads. But to generate good leads, your blog posts need exposure: Links and shares and traffic.
To get those to happen, you need to do some content promotion. Because if one thing’s for sure in this age of “content shock”, it’s this: Just because you publish something doesn’t mean anyone is going to read it.
If you’ve been doing content marketing for any amount of time, none of this is new information. The reality of how little exposure most content gets was brutally driven home when a BuzzSumo study reported that half of all articles (aka blog posts) published get a mere eight social media shares. They also found that 75% of everything published gets no inbound links.
Once everybody picked their jaw up off the floor, content marketers started getting serious about promotion.
Kind of. Because even now, there are way too many company blog posts that barely clear 50 shares. And even more that don’t attract any inbound links.
We know from our own research here at Scoop.It that most marketers still don’t do enough content promotion.
Most of them don’t send newsletters out often enough:
Many of them don’t re-share their successful blog posts:
And often, they can’t even get their own team members to share their company’s content:
All this makes for diminished promotion. And that makes for diminished traffic, diminished revenue… and negative content marketing ROI.
Fortunately, there’s a really simple fix for this. I bet you know what it is.
Devote more time to promoting your content.
We’ve written a lot about all the ways you can get more readers to your blog, but we’ll focus on one particular tactic here: Influencer Outreach.
A recent survey of bloggers shows that influencer outreach is particularly effective. It’s not quite on par with paid promotion, but it also has the virtue of being free.
So no excuses about not having the budget for this.
Unfortunately, while influencer outreach can work very well for your blog, there are a lot of ways to make mistakes. And a lot of people make those mistakes every single day.
I know because I get some of their outreach emails. Only about 3-4 per day (which is nothing compared to what major influencers get), but enough to have a few opinions about how this should be done.
To help you save time, get more results, and not alienate the people you’re reaching out to, here’s a step by step guide for how to do influencer marketing for your blog.
1. Never promote anything less than awesome content
You’ve heard how “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Well, that’s doubly true for asking people to promote your content. If you ask them to promote a piece of mediocre content, they
- Will almost certainly ignore your emails (meaning you’re wasting your time).
- Remember you in the worst possible way – as someone who wasted their time before
Remember: About 2 million blog posts are published every day. Every single day.
If you want your post to be worth reading and sharing by the influencers in your niche, it will have to be at least good enough to be in the top 10% of what’s being published. Ideally, it should be “10x content” – content that is ten times better than what’s on the first page of the Google results for the keyword/topic the post is about.
So before you start sending outreach emails, consider spending another day (or maybe even another week) on your post.
Want to know the type of time it takes to create 10x content? Blogger Brian Dean of Backlinko spends 20 hours on his posts.
2. Only reach out to people you already have some kind of relationship with
Here’s the deal: People are more likely to say yes to your request if they know you.
So in the same way you don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date, you don’t ask people for content promotion favors if you’ve never had contact with them before.
Do people break this rule? Yep. All the time. Every day. If the outreach emails I get are any indicator, asking for shares and other content favors is happening most of the time without people having any relationship to the “influencer” at all.
Does this work? Kinda. But not as well as it could. And it’s a fine waste of everyone’s time.
So how can you make friends with influencers – or at least have them kinda know who you are? It’s actually really easy. Here’s a two-week plan for building a pretty good relationship with valuable influencers.
- Day 1: Pick about 20-30 influencers in your niche that you would like to partner with. You can add more later, but usually 30 is about the maximum number of people anyone can really build a content partnership relationship with at once. Also, think long-term for this partnership – beyond the particular blog post you want to promote.
Save their information on a spreadsheet, or use a more sophisticated tool like BuzzStream to collect their information. Gather information like this:
- Their website url
- Their website’s authority
- The handles of their social media accounts
- How many followers they have on those accounts
- Their email address
- The topics they focus on
- Day 2: Follow your influencers on every social media platform they’re active on.
Why “every” platform? Because different people have different preferred communication channels, and channels they tend to watch more closely. Some influencers are Twitter-centric. Others are all about Facebook. Others don’t really care what goes on beyond Instagram. Get the idea?
- Day 2: Sign up for their email lists.
Consider creating a folder for each influencers’ emails. It can be a good resource and organization tool later on. Tip: Be careful about setting filters to automatically move influencers’ emails into those folders. When the influencer actually replies to you, their reply might automatically get moved into their folder, where you won’t see it.
- Day 3 through the end of week 2: Start re-sharing their posts on those platforms, and share their content from your own social media accounts.
Don’t do this in a blitz. Sharing their stuff any more than three times a week looks, well… needy.
- Day 4 through the end of week 2 (and beyond).
Comment on one of their posts or videos once a week. Also consider setting up an alert so you know when they post on other blogs, too. Then leave comments on those guest posts. Hint: You are obviously reading their posts, too. Carefully and completely.
- Day 5: If they have a Kindle book or a podcast or whatever, leave a review for it.
- Bonus: Do a roundup post, or quote them in one of your blog posts. Share the post and include their name so they see it in their notifications.
- Bonus Bonus: Know of any conferences or events they’re going to? Try to meet them for a coffee.
After two or three weeks of that much activity, they will almost certainly know who you are. They’ll probably know you’re being friendly to ask something from them, but at least you’re doing your homework, which very few people do.
3. Send a good outreach email
Here are the basic elements of a great outreach email:
- It’s personalized. Heavily personalized.
You demonstrate from the opening that you really do know this person’s work. Be specific. Cite blog post titles, the name of a webinar, etc. Here’s an example of an email that’s got both my name and the name and link to an article I wrote:
- It’s brief.
No more than half a page, max. Ideally, you want one-line paragraphs, maybe a few bullet-points, and less than 200 words.
- It is complimentary, but not fawning.
- It includes the title and a link to your blog post.
I may get some pushback on this one. According to research from Siege Media, “two-step” outreach emails get a significantly better placement rate. One step emails, with the links included, are placed 4.6% of the time, compared to two-step emails that get placements 7.5% of the time. It may be I am just viewing this as the recipient – I hate wasting the time of the second step to ask for the link. It feels vaguely manipulative, and, as mentioned, it sucks up more time.
Here’s an example of the first step of a two-step outreach sequence:
Notice how this is in response to something I tweeted. Approaching people who have shared content similar to yours can work well. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find them easily.
- It includes the word “because”. This is a tip from Brian Dean. Studies have shown we’re more likely to say yes to a request if someone gives us a reason… even if it’s not a very good reason.
4. Follow up, but don’t harass
If you don’t hear back from someone and don’t see any evidence of sharing, it’s perfectly legit to reach out to them again about a week later.
But that’s enough. Don’t keep contacting them with email number three, much less email number four and email number five. If you do, it’s highly possible that you’ll be on their “ignore list” by email number four.
The results of influencer outreach
So how do you know you’re doing well? According to other research from Siege Media, writing for BuzzStream these are the type of results to expect:
- 70-90% is great.
- 50-70% is average.
- <50% may have deliverability issues in addition to weak subject lines and content ideas.
- 25-35%+ is great!
- 15-25% is average. Consider rewriting your email.
- <15% may have deliverability issues in addition to weak subject lines and content ideas.
- 15-20% of total emails sent is great.
- 10-15% is good.
- Less than 10% means your content may be weak, especially if there’s a big gap between opens and replies.
It might seem like outreach like this will take a lot of time. And you’re right – it does take a lot of time. You can, of course, skip the relationship-building part of this and just start blasting emails out. Expect a reduced response rate if you do that.
Or you can see your blog promotion efforts as the beginning of something bigger. Maybe you might like to guest post for these people, for instance. Maybe you might even want to ask them to write a post for your blog. Or partner with them on a piece of content, a webinar, or even a business joint venture.
How you approach them in these early phases will affect how receptive they are to those larger projects.
Back to you
Are you doing any influencer outreach for your blog? What’s your process? Leave a comment and share a tip or two.
Image by Thomas Lefebvre
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