Why are so many brands failing at blogger outreach?

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Rebecca Brown leads the content marketing team at DBD Media.

Despite the fact that most digital and PR agencies have woken up to the fact that bloggers can become powerful brand ambassadors, there are still numerous complaints from bloggers that outreach tactics are often poorly thought out. While some brands are dominating the blogging industry, for many there still seems to be a chronic case of miscommunication between brand representatives and bloggers.

Several of the UK’s top bloggers now have readerships to rival some major editorial sites, and many have built followings that trust their recommendations, reviews and advice implicitly. Clearly engaging bloggers can offer considerable return for marketers if approached well. Here’s the most common mistakes made along with some solutions.

Trying to push an irrelevant product onto an irrelevant audience

One of the common complaints I see from bloggers is the stream of pitches which are completely irrelevant to their regular content. The problem with the aforementioned explosion of influential bloggers is that everyone one wants to jump on the band wagon; but not everyone can. I’ve had industrial gardening companies approach me asking if they can use our blogger community to promote their products to fashion and lifestyle bloggers!

The solution: The first requirement of a successful blogger outreach campaign is that you at least have a product which is relevant to a blogging niche! If you don’t, then step away from blogger outreach all together, it’s not for you. The confusing thing about the request I received above, was that despite the fact I was unwilling to pitch this to our community, I couldn’t even see where the benefit would be for the client! The audience they were hoping to reach was absolutely not the audience that would purchase their products.

A lack of goals and a poorly thought-out strategy

One of the key complaints I’ve heard from brands who are thinking about blogger outreach, is that they’ve tried it before in-house and have seen very little return on their efforts. Again, I think this is likely a result of marketing and PR departments suddenly realising competitors are working with bloggers, and hurriedly sending some gifts out in the hope of some top quality coverage. Sadly the process is not quite that simple!

The solution: It’s important not to rush your approach. Take the time to work out exactly what you want to achieve from your outreach campaign, and how the bloggers you partner with can work with you to help you reach your goals.

It’s essential to measure the success of your outreach campaigns. Once you’ve planned your approach, work out how you will measure what you’ve planned. Keep track of referrals, traffic, and social shares at the very least- plus whatever metrics are important to you, your brand or your client.

Expecting too much and giving too little

When you’re working on a blogger outreach strategy it’s important to think of the influencers you’ll be working with as partners. The problem with devising a blogger outreach strategy is that this process often excludes the bloggers themselves, so when you begin outreach bear in mind you may have to compromise to get the results you first anticipated.

The solution: Finding someone with a great quality website, a relevant readership and an engaged social following is really valuable. Take the time (and the budget) to build proper working relationships with these bloggers.

In terms of allocating budgets, one of the common issues marketing and PR departments have is getting the sign off and budget to build strategies to attract the best bloggers in your niche. Again, measuring your work is key to overcoming this hurdle. If you’re able to report a successful campaign and have the numbers to back you up, then your managers will be able to back it up, then the value of outreach can’t be disputed.

So we have an overview of what a bad outreach strategy looks like, but what actually makes a blogger outreach campaign a success? Work out if you have a relevant product or brand. If you don’t, go back to the drawing board. Blogger outreach is not for you!

  • Understand exactly what you aim to gain from working with bloggers, and how this fits in with the rest of your marketing strategy. Do not treat blogger outreach as an add-on to the rest of your strategy.
  • Be prepared to measure everything, so you’re able to adjust future campaigns and prove the worth of the work.
  • Don’t just have your success in mind; think about what part of your campaign is actually going to make bloggers want to work with you.
  • Once you’ve worked on a campaign, keep those relationships you’ve build with bloggers going. They could be valuable brand ambassadors in the making!

Rebecca Brown is leader of the content marketing team at DBD Media.

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