Archive for the ‘Blogger Relations’ Category

Content Promotion Campaign Plan

Many content marketers view “promotion” as a phase that begins once content goes live. The truth is, promotion should begin much earlier than that, running parallel to production, and most of the promotion work should be completed before launch. Here’s a plan framework you can use for your next content campaign.

Planning

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A good promotion plan begins with audience research and the development of targeted messaging.

Audience Research

If you have the time and budget, doing research like survey analysis is really helpful. At BuzzStream, we’re a bit more informal. Our planning stage usually involves a discussion of who we’re creating the content for and what their needs are. We use analytics data from previous pieces, information about what we’ve seen performing well on Twitter, and insight from conversations we’ve had with customers.

We segment our audiences based on the value they’ll get from the content. For example, one group might be new to online marketing and would use the guide to level up their skills. Another group might be people in charge of outreach teams who could incorporate our guide into their training materials. A third group might be influencers who don’t really need to learn anything new but who appreciate good outreach content to share with their followers. These segments become the foundation for influencer lists and outreach messaging.

Messaging

Before beginning content creation, you should spend some time thinking about what you want to communicate to each of your audience segments. (Developing personas can be really helpful here.) Think about what benefit each segment will get from consuming your content. Ask yourself what will motivate people to share it, and then spend some time thinking about reasons why people might choose not to share.

If you’re a team of one, this process can be more of a mental exercise than a physical document. If you have a team, creating a shared doc that everyone can refer back to is extremely useful.

Here’s an example of some of the questions you’ll want to ask during this stage:

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Once you nail your audience segments and messaging, you can be more confident about content creation. You’ll know exactly how and why you’re benefitting the groups of people who are most important to your business, and that knowledge can guide you as you make important decisions about the piece.

2+ Weeks Before Launch

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As you’re developing the actual content, you should also develop a list of people and websites that you want to share it. The earlier work you did on audience development can is your foundation here. For each segment, create a list of top-tier and mid-tier influencers.

As you go, make note of what medium you want to use to reach each of the influencers (email, social, etc.) You should also figure out whether a cold pitch will work or if you’ll need a relationship first.

List Size

To figure out how big your influencer lists should be, think about what your coverage or sharing goals are. How many people do you expect to write about you? Take that number and divide it by your usual outreach response rate. That’s how many people you’ll need to send outreach to.

Good content marketers often begin with long lists influencers and then narrow them down to only the most relevant, targeted prospects for outreach. It’s a time-consuming but worthwhile process. If you want to work this way, your initial list length should be about 5X the length of your ideal outreach list.

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Engaging Before Launch

Next, take your influencer lists and make a goal to engage with each person or website on that list at least once before you pitch your content.

For those influencers that you think would be okay with a cold pitch, you can do something simple like a tweet a post and @ mention them. This will at least get your name on their radar.

Influencers who you want more of a relationship with will require more involved engagement. Begin monitoring them via Twitter lists or Feed.ly and look for opportunities to provide commentary on something they’ve written or shared. A single @ mention on Twitter isn’t enough. Try to reply to a tweet and spark a conversation or consider leaving a thoughtful comment on one of their blog posts. If you have the time and resources, look for opportunities to meet them in real life at conferences and events.

Week Before Launch

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The week before your content goes live should be a very busy one. This is when you’ll need to draft all of your social media posts, outreach emails, and customer messages. You may want to queue up social media ads and plan targeting, as well.

Pretest Content

One of the best things you can do before your content goes live is pretest it with influencers. You get the benefit of their buy-in and their good advice about ways to improve your content or messaging before you share it with the world.

You can be really strategic and send your content to a subset of influencers who you want to target, but we’ve honestly seen a lot of success just by asking for volunteers.

However you go about it, be sure to give the influencers enough time to actually look over your content and provide feedback.

Outreach Emails

You should plan to write at least two email templates for each of your audience segments. (If you have three segments, that’s at least six templates total.) The template variations should test elements like subject line or CTA. They should also leave room for personalization.

Your most important influencers (the top 5 or 10 people and websites on your list) should get completely custom messages. To save yourself time on the day of launch, write them in advance. Hopefully by this point you’ve chatted or engaged at least a few times, so that personalization can refer back to previous conversations you’ve had.

Personas

Influencer campaign framework

Day of Launch

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The day your post goes live, your goal is to share it as much as you can. This means post it to social media, put your ads live, and begin outreach.

Outreach

As you work through your outreach list and begin sending messages you’ll start to see patterns in the results. Certain templates will perform better than others. When this happens, kill the bad ones, go with the good ones, and then maybe even create a new variation to try.

You’ll also often find that you’re connecting with some groups better than others. If this is the case, invest more deeply in the segment that’s working. Expand your influencer lists and try more outreach to that group.

Moderate & Respond

Make yourself available to moderate comments on what you’ve shared, retweet the nice things other people have said, and reply to any questions that come up. This will help you build stronger relationships with the audiences you care about and give you opportunity to further amplify your content.

Week of Launch

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The initial buzz your content created will likely begin to fade out as the week continues. Use this time to do more of what’s working and claim some of the easy victories.

Paid Social

Look to see which of your paid social media campaigns performed the best on day one. Invest more heavily in those channels and that messaging. If you find that everything has flopped, try again with a different headline or different targeting criteria.

Social Media

Continue to share and retweet the nice things people have said about your content. Pay special attention to major influencers who say nice things during off-peak hours. A well-timed retweet could provide a nice traffic spike.

Easy Wins

Make sure you take the time to submit your articles to email newsletters and weekly roundups. Be sure it’s been shared within relevant subreddits and social bookmarking sites. These are simple things to do that can bring nice, qualified traffic to your content.

Reclaim Links

If your content went even a little bit viral, there’s a good chance people shared it without crediting you. Use reverse image search, tools like Fresh Web Explorer, and other link reclamation tactics to find all of those instances and secure the link.

On-going Opportunities

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As things wind down, don’t close the door on your content. Keep a Tweetdeck search running in the background so you’ll catch when people share it. Be sure to send a genuine thank you when they do.

Use the twitter and feedly lists you created to continue to engage with influencers. Odds are that if they were important to this campaign, they’ll be important in the future, too. The more you can do to build relationships, the better.

Monitor social media, email services like HARO, and the web in general for opportunities to repurpose or reshare your content. You may find opportunities to turn it into a case study or suggest it as a resource.

You could also use tools like BuzzStream to schedule regular site prospecting and get a batch of fresh contacts delivered to your inbox on a weekly basis. Scroll through these sites for opportunities to place your content.

Project Wrap-up

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After your promotion campaign draws to a close, spend some time reviewing metrics like shares, visits, and conversions. Call out things you’ll want to remember for next time.

You should also refer back to your original influencer lists. It’s likely that some people who you initially considered moderate tier 2 influencers proved to actually be tier 1 advocates. Reorganize the list based on the results of your campaign, so you can be better equipped to move into the next project.

Complete Content Promotion Plan

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Content Promotion Plan, from The Advanced Guide to Content Promotion

What do your content promotion campaigns look like? Let us know in the comments or tweet to us @BuzzStream.

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How to Pitch: Outreach Tips from Lifestyle Bloggers

We’ve talked before about best practices for pitching journalists and bloggers when you have news to share, but what should you do when your goal is partnering with a blogger to promote a product or brand? I reached out to a few lifestyle bloggers to see what they had to say about pitches, priorities, and PR people. Read their advice below.

How to Pitch (2)

First, A Little Bit About the Bloggers

I interviewed bloggers from Hither and Thither, OhDearDrea, PopCosmoand Small Fry Blog. According to Moz, the bloggers had Page and Domain Authority scores ranging from 34-54. Most have at least a few hundred linking root domains. Each of the bloggers had between 6K and 16K followers on Pinterest, 1K and 5K followers on Twitter, and 2K and 40K followers on Instagram.

Advice on Pitching and Partnerships

The bloggers talked about how many PR people screw up the basics - getting names right and making sure the blog is a fit for what they’re pitching – but they spoke more deeply of professionalism and authenticity. They don’t expect fake compliments about being a huge fan of their site. “Just be honest and be direct. We’re both professionals.” said Ashley from Hither and Thither. Bloggers expect you to respect their time, value the audiences they’ve built, and to be straightforward about your intentions.

What makes a good PR pitch stand out?

Ditch the mail merge. Personalized messages go a long way to earn bloggers’ trust. You can still use templates to save time, but you should do research and customize each message before sending.

pop-cosmo-oval

 

 “A concise, simple pitch combined with a personalized approach.” 

- PopCosmo

 

Small-Fry-Blog-Oval
“We respond to genuine, heartfelt correspondence. It’s easy to spot a canned email a mile away. Just take a moment to personalize it, actually LOOK at our site and gather intel before approaching.” 

- Small Fry Blog

 

How do you decide to work with a company you’ve never heard of before?

It’s easy for big brands, like Target, to partner with bloggers. It’s much more challenging for smaller brands to stand out. When I asked bloggers about what makes them want to work with new brands or brands they’ve never heard of, the overwhelming response was fit. They want a good fit, not just in the traditional sense of “Would my audience like this?” but fit in terms of aesthetics and brand values. They also appreciated the brands that compensate them for their time.

Hither-and-Thither-Oval

“If the product or service is relevant; if I haven’t already covered the same product/service by another brand;and if it’s clever. Sponsored posts are of course most enticing, because they value my time and support me to continue to grow the audience I’ve built.”

- Hither and Thither

 

ohdeardrea-oval

 

“Branding and style. Secondly, I do my research. If it’s not a quality company, I can’t promote it.” 

- ohdeardrea

 

Have you ever gotten unreasonable requests from PR people?

When working with bloggers, understand that they know their audiences best and understand that they’re doing you a favor. Try not to force them into a rigid promotion plan, and be respectful of their time.

ohdeardrea-oval“I’m not a blog that promotes-promotes-promotes— I like things to be thoughtful and planned out— or things that are incredibly fitting for my life. It always feels a bit off when I’m contacted from companies (big and small, but especially the big ones) asking for a lot of free or trade work. My blog isn’t one big ad— no one would stop to care about it if it was. What I write is valuable, to me at least, so I don’t like when companies act as if it’s not.”

- ohdeardrea

Hither-and-Thither-Oval

“Unreasonable… no. But if you’d like coverage free of charge, be clear about: “would you be interested in sharing this with your readers?” Don’t pretend like it’s a fabulous opportunity to hand out free advertising, even if I might be interested in arranging that.”

- Hither and Thither

 

pop-cosmo-oval
“We just had a PR company repeatedly asked us to promote an event in a city where we are not located. And we had another PR company that kept sending the same request over and over. We wanted to work with them and responded, but they never answered.”

- PopCosmo

Small-Fry-Blog-Oval
“We understand that every company has requirements and goals to meet for campaigns but flexibility is key! Don’t ask us to re-write a tweet because we said May 23rd instead of May 23. True story.”

- Small Fry Blog

 

What do you expect from the PR people you work with?

Blogger expectations for PR people are very reasonable. They want you to respect their time and do your research (a theme present in almost all of the interview responses.) They expect you to be reasonable, too. Putting posts together is a lot of work on their end, especially for beautiful, photo-heavy blogs like these.

Hither-and-Thither-Oval “[I want] respect for my time. Also, it’s nice when others are mindful about how quickly they send a follow-up email: I’m not in a traditional office (most bloggers are not), so if I don’t get back to you that day please don’t send the follow-up the very next day. Give it at least three, ideally a week, unless it’s terribly time-sensitive. Also, a pitch that doesn’t require a reply does not warrant a follow-up email.”

- Hither and Thither

pop-cosmo-oval

“Firstly, to know who we (Popcosmo) are. We are not just a teen site, although one of us is a teen! (Our blog appeals to moms, teens and everyone in-between.) With such a wide demographic, both moms and daughters visit, but a lot of 20-30 year olds love our site and are huge fans of our #ChicChat on Twitter… but some PR folks just see read the latest story and don’t check our “About” page. It’s obvious who takes the extra 2 minutes.”

- PopCosmo

ohdeardrea-oval

  “[I expect PR people to have] an understanding of the business. I want to work with companies that know the business well. Companies that don’t just see a large number, without looking in the engagement. And companies that understand that yes, maybe hashtags are useful and catchy, but different blogs and audiences work different ways— so there needs to be a flexibility at times.”

- ohdeardrea

Small-Fry-Blog-Oval“Flexibility, respect for the work, a genuine knowledge of what our site represents and promotes. One thing that is frustrating about blogging is that some companies want to put all their emphasis on clicks, and conversion etc. But, that same company is willing to pay top dollar to grace the pages of a magazine where they have no physical proof of any conversion at all. They’re paying for their presence. And their paying for taking up a page in that magazine. In a way it should be the same for blogging. Taking up a post or a day on a blog is worth something in and of itself. You can’t always track success for that kind of promotion.”

- Small Fry Blog

Bottom Line: Be Professional

Bloggers understand that you’re a marketing professional and not just a fan of their site. They’re professionals, too. Every blogger I interviewed said she spends at least an hour on every post she writes (in addition to the time spent taking and editing photos) and even longer on posts that are sponsored by brands. Be open to bloggers’ ideas about what will work on their sites and what will resonate with their audiences.

Additionally, think about how you can make these partnerships even more valuable. All of the bloggers I talked to mentioned monitoring traffic/pageviews, and many talked about having specific social media goals. You as a PR person have a lot of power to drive traffic via social media and promotion. If you can use your brand’s channels to promote their posts, you’ll help them meet their own goals… and everybody wins.

About the Bloggers

Here’s a little more about the bloggers I worked with and where you can find them.

mh-small

Small-Fry-Blog-Oval

URL: http://www.smallfryblog.com

About: Children’s lifestyle blog

Run by: Nicole, Emily, and Jenna

Instagramsmallfryblog -37K followers

Twitter: @smallfryblog – 4K followers

Pinterest: smallfryblog – 14K followers

 

 

mh-popcosmo

pop-cosmo-oval

URL: http://www.popcosmo.com

About: Lifestyle blog (for teens and moms)

Run by: Mother-daughter duo Kim & Chloe

Instagram popcosmo -2K followers

Twitter: @popcosmo - 4K followers

Pinterest: popcosmo - 7K followers

 

 

mh-ohdeardrea

ohdeardrea-oval

URL: http://ohdeardrea.blogspot.com

About: Lifestyle blog with a focus on natural living

Run by: Andrea Duclos (Drea)

Instagram: ohdeardrea  -30K followers

Twitter: @ohdeardrea - 2K followers

Pinterest: ohdeardrea - 4K followers

 

mh-hither

Hither-and-Thither-Oval

URL: http://www.hitherandthither.net

About: Lifestyle and travel blog

Run by: Ashley Muir Bruhn

Instagram: ashleymuirbruhn  -2.5K followers

Twitter: @ashleymuirbruhn - 2K followers

Pinterest: ashleymuirbruhn - 10K followers

 

Learn More about How to Pitch

Check out our previous post (by @kevin_raposo) on how to pitch journalists. If you’d like to see a certain group featured in our next round of interviews, or if you’re a blogger and have opinions to share, please get in touch: Stephanie@BuzzStream.com 

 

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Webinar Recap: 500 Writers and Editors on How to Pitch

Perfect Pitches

Kelsey Libert, VP of Marketing, and Ryan McConagill, Promotions Supervisor, oversee the Media Relations team at Frac.tl. Libert and McConagill partnered with BuzzStream for a webinar to share exclusive research on what publishers want for content creation and media outreach. They interviewed over 500 writers, editors, and publishers to present a story about a noise:value ratio that has gotten out of whack.

Libert created a survey that helps us master the art of the perfect pitch. Here are her findings:

 

And here’s the video from the webinar:

 

Did you know: In 2014 the US department of labor announced that for every single journalist, there are 5 PR professionals beating down that writers’ door. Editorial voices are outnumbered by PR professionals by almost 5:1 and on average, PR pros earn 40% more than journalists.

Q: About how many stories do you write per day?45% of writers write one story per day
The majority of people you’re pitching to only write ONE STORY per day. These are not favorable odds. Therefore, it is imperative that you craft a perfect pitch.

Q: About how many pitches do you receive per day?

How many pitches writers receive per day

Although most writers publish one story per day, 44% of them get pitched a minimum of TWENTY TIMES per day. According to Harvard Business Review, the average worker receives 12,000 emails a year, while writers at top tier publications receive 38,000. Because of this, many writers are unsubscribing – so make sure to never put writers on mailing lists unless they have given you permission. Make sure to wait until after big conventions to follow up or send a pitch- sending one while the writer is at a convention will be a waste of time.

Q: How often do you write a story based on something that was sent through a pitch?

How often do writers write a story based off a pitch?

Although writers are inundated with pitches, only 11% often write a story based on content that was sent through a pitch. However, 45% said sometimes, so there is an opportunity for change. Here are some tips on how to find out if the writer is a perfect fit for your content…

1) You want to make sure you’re doing your research. Go through the writers’ posts  from several months back, and go through publisher’s bio.

2) Look at their twitter timelines to get a sense of their personality.

3) The Principle of Liking, based off a Northwestern Law Study states, “The degree to which we perceive another person to be similar to ourselves in traits and attitudes and to be worthy of our generosity or assistance, depends on the extent to which we perceive a personal connection with that person, no matter how trivial.”

4) Do a cursory google search for the writer.

Outreach Strategies

Q: Would you rather be pitched ideas that you can collaborate on or get a finished asset?


Would you rather be pitched ideas that you can collaborate on or get a finished asset?

STOP spamming writers with poorly matched assets. Instead, collaborate on mutually beneficial ideas. Here are some tips on how to go about collaborating…

1) Tap into existing publisher relationships to see if they would be open to collaborating.

2) Try to collaborate with editors.

3) Always use a static asset, a lot of publishers have said that their content management systems can’t handle embedding interactive content

4) Have your standard assets smaller with your option to make them bigger upon publisher requests (work with designers, many publishers can only hold content 600 pixels wide).

5) Don’t make the pitch all about you, it should be about your relationship with the writer and how you’re connected in some fashion

Q: What characteristics does the perfect piece of content possess?

What characteristics does the perfect piece of content possess?

There is a vast difference between what writers prefer.

Q: What types of content do you wish you saw more?

What types of content do you wish you saw more?

Networking Lesson

Q: How important is it for a person to establish a personal connection with you before pitching content?

How important is it for a person to establish a personal connection with you before pitching content?

Strive to make a personal connection with every writer that you pitch. 64% of writers think it is of some importance that you establish a personal connection before pitching. Use Twitter as a platform to socialize with your prospects weeks prior to the pitch. Engage in blog posts. Try to get on their radar and connect on a personal level by favoriting or retweeting their tweets. Dig deeper than just “hey great post I really liked it.” Write them a friendly email if you’ve noticed an error or a typo to engage in conversation.

Q: Which of the following channels do you prefer to be pitched on?

Q: Which of the following channels do you prefer to be pitched on?

Put down your cell phone. Stop spamming on social media. Start writing sincere emails to the best-fit person for your campaign. Use CRM such as BuzzStream to manage your relationships.

Pitch Lesson

Q: What time of day do you preferred to be pitched?

Q: What time of day do you preferred to be pitched?

Use a pre-scheduling tool, like BuzzStream, to send your emails in the early morning hours. Pitches are generally more successful when sent during the mornings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Enable a pitch freeze around holidays and long weekends.

Q: What email length do you prefer?

What email length do you prefer?

88% of writers prefer a pitch be less than 200 words. Make sure to check your word count before sending. Get to the meat of the data as soon as possible. Make sure your intro has value and isn’t just fluffy.

Q: Do you open an email based on its subject line?Q: Do you open an email based on its subject line?

Test your subject lines in your inbox. What stands out? The golden rule is 45-65 characters. Have a call to action. Don’t be vague, be descriptive.

Q: Which of the following subject lines catches your attention the most?

Q: Which of the following subject lines catches your attention the most?

An overwhelming number said they want a subject line that is:

  • Direct
  • Concise
  • Descriptive
  • Includes keywords relevant to the writer’s beat

Q: How likely are you to delete a pitch based on a spelling/grammar error, regardless of the content’s quality?

Q: How likely are you to delete a pitch based on a spelling/grammar error, regardless of the content’s quality?

Avoid errors by clearing your head and taking a walk before sending your pitch.

Q: Do you auto-delete pitches that contain certain words?

Q: Do you auto-delete pitches that contain certain words?

Refrain from using these words in your pitches at all costs.

Q: If you could give 1-3 points of feedback to people who pitch to you, what would you say?

  • Do your research
  • Know the publication
  • Be relevant
  • Make it newsworthy
  • Know my beat
  • Don’t use all caps
  • Be personal
  • Be concise
  • Don’t cold call
  • Does it fit my beat?
  • Use spellcheck
  • No giant attachments
  • Don’t pitch on social media
  • Know my audience
  • Avoid phony friendliness
  • Get my name right
  • Avoid the fluff
  • Tailor your subject lines

Q: What characteristics does the perfect piece of content possess?

  • If your content isn’t top notch, the pitch isn’t going to matter
  • Breaking news
  • Exclusive research
  • Emotional stories
  • Timeliness
  • Relevance
  • Data
  • New hook
  • A story
  • Interview opportunities
  • Data visualizations
  • Useful information
  • Innovative
  • Interesting analysis
  • Storytelling
  • Well-researched
  • Meets editorial mission
  • Original content
  • Solutions to problems
  • Engaging
  • Amusing
  • Useful insights
  • Humor
  • Unique Angles
  • High-quality graphics

 

Do the findings match your experiences? Share them below or tweet to us @BuzzStream. You can also follow Kelsey and Ryan, our wonderful webinar speakers.

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Case Study: A Fish Story for Link Builders

This is a guest-post by Kelley Starr and contributor Jon Giacalone. Kelley is a partner at LeanTech Group, where he works as a growth accelerator and advisor to early stage digital companies seeking venture capital. You can connect with Kelley on LinkedIn, or Google+. Jon is the Digital Marketing Manager at Fishidy, a map-based fishing social network.

Drawing on Lessons Learned in a Startup Environment

In this post I’ll explore off-page SEO, link building and blogger outreach strategies in a dynamic digital startup environment. I cover venture-backed Fishidy, a map-based online platform for casual and serious anglers (60M in North America) in the $42B annual recreational fishing and angling market.

Connect with local anglers
Fishidy’s core business model relies on converting site visitors to free members and a percentage of those to paid subscribers – a classic freemium to premium business model.

Although Fishidy is an early stage digital startup, the link building strategies executed below can be leveraged by influence marketers building brands at any stage of growth.

Fishidy had identified more than a dozen online and off-line channels in its sales and marketing roadmap to drive customer acquisition – each with its own cost and conversion assumptions predicted. Fishidy needed to test each and determine the most effective channels, but also discard those with the highest costs or performance metrics outside conversion goals.

Digital advertising (PPC) programs were already underway. Conversion rates were being monitored and optimized as an initial baseline to gain early traction. These were measured against on-page and off-page SEO channels which would take time to deliver new members and subscribers.

It was assumed in Fishidy’s business model that link building, influencer distribution and referral traffic would be a key growth driver. Like most companies, link building’s customer acquisition cost (CAC) was expected to be lower than paid search.

Identifying Link Building Targets

As a unique, fun and social online platform, Fishidy was a natural for classic link building tactics including:
• Guest blogging – anglers love an edge and the latest tools
• Editorial article mentions and coverage (digital PR)
• Product reviews
• Blog commenting
• Resource page links (lots of government and tourist sites reference fishing resources)
• And more…

Fishidy Groups
Each of the above was defined as one or more “value exchanges” with the targeted publisher, blogger, social connection or partner. Each value exchange target required different sourcing techniques, tools, outreach process and resources to acquire.

In addition to acquiring guest blog and article posts, Fishidy wanted to establish a national network of angling writers and influencers (ambassadors) by location, fishing type (bass, pike, fresh, saltwater) that could contribute to Fishidy’s social channels, news feed, local community and blog. As a side benefit the link building outreach program would uncover social influencers and build their angling community.

The Marketers Challenge – Time and Resources

BUILDING THE TEAM

Fishidy’s CEO and recently recruited marketing team (including Jon) had plenty on their hands at the busiest time of the year. Link building and community outreach was just one of many critical activities. It was important to guard the time of the team, but leverage them at key points throughout the outreach process. To fill out the team, a marketing intern was assigned and two part-time outside consultants would assist in the execution of the off-page brand referral program.

Jon took the lead from Fishidy’s team. I collaborated with Jon to build the strategy and test the process and execution.

Creating Strategy

To build our execution strategy, we had a number of decisions and discussions to build around. We found Basecamp to be a great platform to create key tasks, monitor discussions and document the process. The team was in three geographic locations and allocated time as needed.

Defining Project Funnel Stages

Next we looked at the milestone activities needed to execute Fishidy’s link building strategy, analogous to stages in a sales funnel. This would be critical for monitoring progress and ownership of assignments as we developed our influencer partnerships. Key milestones are listed below:

Sourcing involved the tools and processes to identify site and influencer targets out of the 1,000’s of potential suspects. Example: Google advanced search: fishing apps inurl:guest. Or tools like Citation Labs Link Prospector.
Researching involved reviewing, scoring, prioritizing and segmenting each suspect to get from 1,000′s to 100’s.
Outreach strategies and followup to qualified targets – email, social, phone (yes phone!)
Engagement – engaging with those that had mutual interest and defining the value exchange, initially 100’s and over time 1,000′s .
Partnership Acquired – defined the point where we had successfully established a relationship and defined a specific value exchange, i.e. guest post, product review, mutual social engagement, initially dozens scaling to 100s.

Tools For Execution and Scale

It was clear that something much more sophisticated than a spreadsheet was required to stay organized. Fishidy had a marketing automation platform in place as one option, but after a review of specialized outreach management tools, BuzzStream was evaluated and selected.

BuzzStream’s focus on link building research, contact discovery, outreach integration with company email and team collaboration could operationally scale with Fishidy’s expected growth. It was essential to keep data organized at the critical hand-off points to the virtual team doing the work.

Taking the stage and funnel approach further, the team exchanged a number of ideas and put more detail into the stage definitions documented below. The lower stages represented deeper engagement.

Relationship Stages
BuzzStream’s custom fields were then used to build the milestone definitions into the system.

You can see in the Basecamp screenshot below, we had a number of iterations and online discussions to build our plan quickly. Jon makes a great point that a conversion on a resource page is different than acquiring a link from a strategic partner.

Viewing history

 

Assembling a Link Building Team With Roles

Using the defined relationship stages gave us a sense of what roles were needed for the team to move from 1000’s of targets, to selectively working with valued partners.

Defining roles was important since Fishidy would be adding staff with growth. Titles and names didn’t matter as much as what role would be used. This concept was important for the virtual team process as we launched. On any given day, any team member might have to jump into a role to move the process along.

Researcher – The researcher role could focus on a number of stages, including executing sourcing tactics, researching and reviewing targets and initial approaches through email/social outreach. Most of the work would be process and detailed oriented and required a full time effort. Automation could be used to scale. Fortunately this role could also be performed by a marketing intern at a lower cost.

Analyst – The analyst needed more experience than the intern and would assist on the outreach stage, developing relationships through email, social channels and phone, follow up and hand-offs to the strategic team (see below). Automated tasks were balanced with building one-on-one personal relationships. The analyst would also develop quality content as partners were identified.

Strategic Team – Focused on personalization and influencer engagement vs. automation. This effort required engaging with qualified targets, developing mutual relationships, defining partnerships and content development. The Strategic Team was time constrained and focused on the bottom of the funnel opportunities which were managed and handed off by researchers and analysts. The company opportunity cost is the highest with the strategic team.

With the roles defined, Jon assigned Fishidy’s internal team and external consultants (including me), to the project.

We used BuzzStream’s custom field option to map out the relationship stages. See below.

Edit custom fields
Jon and I played all the roles so we could go through each step of the process, determine friction points and modify as necessary so we could scale link building down the road.

For review, we built the ranking system below combining objective and subjective criteria.

Ranking System

Monitoring Progress Through Filtered Views

As I mentioned, the team worked virtually and in spurts. It was necessary to make it easy to login to BuzzStream and quickly determine the state of campaigns and next steps. With filters and column sorts, each team role could focus on their targets. The screenshot below shows various stages and the role assigned.

Adding stages

Campaign Illustration

To illustrate outreach process, I’ll cover a campaign we executed to test engagement in a localized market. Fishidy felt that each state had its own customer segment and local influencers to target. Many casual anglers stay within a two-hour radius of their home so locally generated content was of value to them.

A campaign was developed with the following goals:

• Target local angling bloggers and publishers for engagement. These writers may accept guest blogs, write reviews or create fishing reports and other content that could be developed for or syndicated through Fishidy.
• Some in this campaign could be recruited to publish their work as a “featured outdoor author” contributing to Fishidy’s national blog.

Sourcing

For this campaign, we targeted local outdoor, tourism and angling-related sites that used guest authors. This was supplemented with in-house lists from trade shows and local events. We created a CSV file and imported to a project within BuzzStream so the campaign could be managed.

Outreach

Outreach templates were created to scale the campaign. Along with email, we collected phone contact information for follow up. (Note: we found that phone follow-up increased our engagement by a factor of two.)

The image below shows a successful outreach and engagement with one of Fishidy’s eventual “featured outdoor authors.” All activity was captured through a BuzzStream email template and integration with Fishidy’s email environment. Following the email below, the Strategic Team was introduced to finalize the partnership expectations.

Response from high quality influencer
Getting Traction With The Model

Below is the Basecamp update on the campaign results with comments and additional feedback.

Basecamp exchange on campaign metrics
Measuring Results

With a strategy to test and scale link building strategies, Fishidy was able to validate the cost and effectiveness of referral and influencer marketing channels against other traffic building tactics.

On a year over year comparison period they were able to:

To Fishidy.com
• Increase overall referral traffic by 157%
• Validated a lower on target CAC for referral and social against a paid search baseline
• Increase traffic to fishidy.com from the blog by 660%
• Increase social referrals by 2,600% on Twitter and 292% on Facebook
• Acquire more than 60 resource links

To the Fishidy Blog
• Increase of 687% in organic traffic
• Increase in social by 630% on Facebook and 1,617% on Twitter

Whether you have a startup budget or the resources of a global brand, the strategies Fishidy used apply. Test your link building assumptions against other digital channels and make sure you have the tools and roles defined to scale for growth.

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How to Increase Your Guest Blogging Response Rate

Today’s Guest Post comes from one of our favorite BuzzStream customers, Adrienne Erin. Adrienne is a writer and outreach specialist at WebpageFX. Outside of work, she loves travel, practicing her French, and baking cookies.

Guest blogging has become the cornerstone of link building. Love it or hate it, chances are that if you need to build links for your own site or a client’s, you’re going to need to get in the guest blogging game. And once you jump into it, if you’re at all competitive like I am, you’ll want to do all you can to get better and better at it.

How do you get better at guest blogging? Well, improving the quality of your writing and the quality of your connections are both great, but they’re not always the most measurable of traits or easy to judge when you’re getting better. I’m a fan of numbers. And response rate is a number you can really sink your teeth into.

If you’re stuck in a rut of firing off email after email offering to guest blog and getting few positive responses, perhaps it’s time to reexamine your approach. Here are six simple tips to help you increase your guest blogging response rate. Go on, feed your competitive side. You know you want to.

Response Rate vs. Positive Response Rate

Too many people send off emails soliciting guest blog spots willy nilly without tracking which blogs they’ve approached before or what the answer was. It’s much smarter – and much more efficient – to track our response rate. Start a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Docs with the name of the blog you’ve approached, the date you sent the email, the response and any other notes you need to keep on top of things. If you’re using templates, BuzzStream can also track your response rate for you.

If you’re keeping track for yourself using a spreadsheet, when you receive a response to your query, record the answer you get – yes or no – in the line for that contact. After sending a few emails, you can determine your response rate. Divide the total number of responses by the total number of queries you’ve sent out. For example, if you’ve sent out ten queries and get four replies, your response rate is 40 percent. As your response rate trends up or down, you can see when your approach is working and when it’s not. If you’re working with a team, you can track everyone’s response rate to inspire some friendly competition.

outreach response rates

Positive response rate, determined by dividing only your positive responses by the total number of emails, is perhaps an even more telling statistic. This number will be lower than your response rate (unless no one ever tells you no!), so don’t be discouraged when you see it.

In my opinion, both types of response rate are very important to track and measure. After all, in the world of email inundation and countless distractions, it’s far easier to just ignore or delete an email than to take the time to respond. A negative response isn’t always a terrible thing. Perhaps your idea just isn’t there yet, or the blogger has a full editorial calendar at the moment. Something about your message still compelled a response, and that “no” you just got might really mean “not right now.”

1. Work Your Way Up the Ladder

If you’d never run for office before, would you start your political career with a run for president? No. You’d run for a few local offices, then the state level and so on. The world of guest blogging is similar, with perhaps the biggest exception being if you already run a popular blog. Don’t start by querying big names like Smashing Magazine or Search Engine Land if you have never guest posted before. With nothing to show for the quality of your writing, the answer will most likely be silence.

Instead, start with smaller, but well-respected, blogs where you have a better chance of being accepted. Work your way up to bigger blogs, and be sure to continue blogging high-quality content on your own site to prove you have the chops to handle a more important assignment.

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How to Approach Blogger Outreach in a New Market

Todays’s post come from one of our favorite customers, Lexi Mills. Lexi has six years experience in online marketing and communications and spent 2 and a half years at an International SEO Agency becoming an SEO PR specialist.  She now heads up digital for Dynamo PR.

She has designed and implemented PR, SEO link building, and social campaigns in the UK and USA for B2B and B2C clients.  Her client experience covers everything from the music industry to debt, insurance, travel, tech, and luxury goods for both small start-ups and big brands.

Outreach is a tricky game, if you promote yourself too aggressively, you will turn off the very people you were hoping to build relationships with. Having worked in PR and outreach for several years I have relationships in quite a few areas however I was recently set the tasked of building relationships in a new market, specifically with design and decorating blogs for my client Bathrooms.com

Bathrooms.com   Inspiration blog image1

I put a lot of thought into how I would go about doing this and thought it might be useful to share the strategy I mapped out with our head of social for contacting influential bloggers in a new market, so you can apply the tactics we used to your own outreach projects.

After the first few months of implementing the strategy I also went back and quizzed the key bloggers we were speaking to find out which parts of our approach made them want to engage with us.  I have summarized these into 6 key takeaways.

Our Outreach Strategy

1.) Build list of influencers

Attempt to build a list of the 100 most influential bloggers in your target niche. (We actually built a list of 200 to begin with and then eliminated a hundred further down the line.)

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Create Content, Not Clutter, By Changing Your Marketing Habits

Today’s post comes from Britt Klontz. Britt is a New Media brand journalist who believes that a successful marketing campaign is rooted in the interests and emotions of the target audience.  She constantly strives to develop content ideas and campaign strategies that integrate collaboration from online influencers and truly serve a purpose to those who matter most, the audience that the campaign was created for.  

As the popularity of infographics grew and were created in an abundance, so did the number of pitches sent to the inboxes of influential bloggers everywhere.  Companies quickly jumped on the infographic bandwagon, churned out visuals that have no real reason to exist, and contributed to today’s content clutter epidemic. 

clutter

When infographics that are not useful or entertaining are created in mass quantity, an insane amount of pressure is put on those whose duty is to perform blogger outreach.  Ultimately, a vicious cycle ensues in which blogger outreach specialists have to spend hours trying to receive coverage on content that was created in haste and had no other purpose than to keep up with the status quo.

From a content creation standpoint, we must remember the importance of quality over quantity.  Also, we must make it a habit to create content that caters to those intended to consume it.  Engaging content is now a leading form of advertising and the power of audience participation should never be underestimated. 

In order to avoid adding to the noise by creating another infographic that produces a low ROI, I like to incorporate two key habits into my brainstorming habits:  developing an audience persona, and incorporating influencer feedback. 

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How to Improve Your Guest Post Pitches (And How to Pitch BuzzStream a Guest Post)

Ah, the guest post pitch.  For busy publishers and blog editors (like the team here at BuzzStream), guest blog pitches are a mixed blessing.

We’ve had some truly awesome guest blogs from industry leaders and up-and-comers on our blog – like this one, this one, this one, and this one.  (There are more – just check out our Guest Author postings.) 

Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to guest post on some great blogs, like Marketing Agency Insider, KISSMetrics, and the John Doherty Blog.  So I love good guest posts – writing them, receiving them, reading them, introducing great guest posters to blog editors – and everything that goes along with them.

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Turning Blogger Relations into an Overall Inbound Strategy

 

 

Sarah Fudin

 

Today’s guest post comes from Sarah Fudin. Sarah is an inbound marketing manager at 2U Inc., an education company that supplies universities with the resources to go online. Sarah currently works with the the George Washington University on their online MPH programOutside of work Sarah enjoys running, reading, and Pinkberry frozen yogurt.

 

As a retired college athlete, turned coach, turned customer management guru, turned social media lady (I’m not ready to name myself a queen or guru at this point), turned linkbuilder slash community manager (is that even possible?), I’ve learned many things, but one thing has stood out to me: it’s all about building relationships.

I’ve realized in my short 25 years and even shorter 4 years in the workplace that relationships are king.  Relationships are what move you forward in your personal life, your career and your bigger aspirations.  I also have come to believe that it’s not actually who you know, but who you’re willing to get to know that will help to move you forward.

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The Psychology of Behavior Change: a Guide for Link Development Professionals

As marketers and link development professionals, we spend our days understanding how to change people’s behavior and take action.  Fortunately, we’re not alone in this pursuit – behavioral psychologists also study the phenomenon of persuasion, and come up with some fascinating findings.

Stanford’s Professor BJ Fogg has created a framework for analyzing behavioral change that’s particularly applicable to marketing problems.  In this post, I’ll give a brief summary of his theories, and show some examples applied to link development and online marketing.

The Taxonomy of Behavior changes

behavior grid

Image Courtesy BehaviorGrid.org

BJ Fogg divides behavioral change into 15 types via a combination of shapes and colors:

  • Dot Behavior
    • One-time Behavior Change
  • Span Behavior
    • Changing Behavior Over a Period of Time
  • Path Behavior
    • Permanent Behavior Change

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