Take an extra sip of coffee, because you’ve stumbled upon the most comprehensive guide on blogger outreach.
Whether you’re a blogger trying to build some backlinks, an entrepreneur looking for new ways to promote your products or services, or a content manager trying to promote your newest blog post, we’ve got your back.
We’ll walk you through a step-by-step approach to developing an outreach strategy that breaks through the barriers and helps you stand out.
We’ll show you everything from spotting and qualifying targets to the actual emails you should send. We’ll even show you which tools and apps may be helpful.
You game? Let’s rock and roll.
What is blogger outreach?
Blogger outreach is the process of strategically communicating and building relationships with industry influencers and publishers to achieve a specific goal, including:
- Content marketing and SEO:landing guest posting opportunities, promoting new content, and earning new backlinks.
- Influencer marketing: building valuable partnerships with key influencers in the industry.
- PR: increase brand awareness and get more exposure through content.
- Partnerships: promoting your products and services to massive audiences.
And many others.
By finding the right bloggers and communicating a potential win-win for both parties, you can drive massive growth for your business in many ways.
For instance, let’s imagine that you’re the owner of a construction company and want to tap into blogger outreach to promote your services.
You could build a list of bloggers in related industries, like real estate or interior design, and partner with them to cross-promote your content.
Your audiences are pretty similar, but you aren’t direct competitors. This could be a great way to get more exposure and (eventually) acquire new clients.
In short, blogger outreach comes down to identifying the channels where your audience hangs out online and building solid relationships with the owners of such channels.
We’ll cover a specific approach to doing it a bit later, but first, let’s answer a major question…
Why should you adopt blogger outreach as a marketing strategy?
With so many strategies and tactics available, why should you spend your valuable time and resources on blogger outreach?
Because it works.
You see, it’s not a secret that getting new customers is more expensive than selling to existing ones. When your customers trust your brand, they’re more likely to come back for more.
Blogger outreach gives you the opportunity to borrow the trust others have built and use it to promote your own business.
In the words of Al Ries and Jack Trout, authors of Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind:
“To be successful today, you must touch base with reality. And the only reality that counts is what’s already in the prospect’s mind.”
Blogger outreach and influencer marketing are some of the best strategies to associate your products and services with what’s already in your prospect’s mind.
Bloggers and publishers have loyal audiences that trust them and like them. By associating your brand with those bloggers, their audience is more likely to trust you too.
That’s one of the reasons influencer marketing is dominating the market. Roughly 80% of entrepreneurs find influencer marketing effective.
Also, 7 out of 10 entrepreneurs state the quality of customers acquired through influencer marketing is better compared to other sources.
What does this mean for you?
If you’re looking for a marketing strategy that breaks through the barriers and helps you stand out, then blogger outreach is the one.
The psychology behind a successful outreach strategy
Blogger outreach isn’t all about collating a bunch of email addresses and reaching out to them out of the blue. To get results, you must take a strategic approach and create a plan before execution.
So, before we step into the actual process of building your own blogger outreach strategy, we need to talk about a crucial concept: “The bait.”
To better explain this point, we’d like to quote Dale Carnegie, author of the classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People:”
“I often went fishing up in Maine during the summer. Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people? […] So the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”
Blogger outreach is hard when you approach it from a selfish point of view.
If you want to get results, you must put on the shoes of your “prospects,” get a crystal clear understanding of what they want, and show them how partnering with you will get them closer to their goal.
Here’s one of the most crucial takeaways of this guide:
The results of your outreach campaign will be proportional to your ability to understand the other person’s core goal and communicating the value of your offer. What’s in it for them?
By taking an empathetic approach to blogger outreach, you’ll maximize your results and develop more genuine and valuable relationships for the long term.
A 9-step-approach to develop a magnetic blogger outreach strategy
Now that you understand the basics about blogger outreach, let’s walk you through a simple 9-step framework to develop your own strategy.
1. Set a clear goal
Like any other project, you should start your outreach campaign by setting clear, tangible goals. These goals will give you specific guidelines to measure success. Otherwise, you can’t possibly know whether your campaign was actually successful.
Even if you get good results, by comparing your performance with your baseline objectives, you can better understand your true performance.
Before you start crafting any outreach email or building a list of different bloggers, start by setting specific goals. What are you trying to accomplish with this campaign? More sales? Increase brand awareness? Build some backlinks?
At this stage, the SMART approach to goal setting can be helpful.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. This framework gives you specific criteria to develop solid goals.
- “Land 5 guest posting opportunities within 30 days.”
- “Build 10 new solid backlinks in the next 15 days.”
- “Build relationships with 3 major influencers in 3 months.”
- “Grow our blog traffic 15% by next quarter.”
- “Get 50 new customers within 60 days.”
Take a moment to define exactly what you’re trying to achieve, as the next steps will depend on your goal.
2. Define your success criteria
Once you have a clear goal in place, it’s time to define your success criteria. That is, describing what “the right” blogger actually means for you. You’ll use these criteria to build your list of bloggers in the next steps.
These criteria may vary depending on your industry and specific goals.
For example, if your goal is to land guest blogging opportunities, you might want to consider “blog traffic” and “audience engagement” as your main criteria to qualify different bloggers.
If you’re trying to build backlinks, though, you might consider other metrics, like Domain Authority (DA) or Spam Score.
We suggest you create a list of two to three elements to evaluate your prospects.
Popular criteria you can analyze include:
To evaluate the level of engagement of a specific blog, we suggest you pay attention to two things:
- Comments: does this blog’s audience tend to add comments?
- Social shares: does this blog’s audience tend to share content on social media?
For example, if we take a look at SmartBlogger.com, we can find their audience is pretty engaged. In the first page alone, we see a couple posts with dozens (even hundreds) of comments.
By using SharedCount.com, you can also calculate the number of social shares each post has. Simply enter the URL of the page you want to track, and the tool will give you the exact number.
For instance, SmartBlogger.com’s post “How to Start a Blog: Easy, Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners” has racked up 3.9K shares, which is a good indicator of engagement.
If my goal was to find bloggers with engaged audiences, SmartBlogger.com could be a great target.
Traffic is one of the best ways to qualify a target website. The question is: how can you know how much traffic a specific website is getting?
Here’s where SimilarWeb.com comes in handy.
SimilarWeb.com is a business intelligence software that gives you an overall overview of a given website. Some of the metrics you can monitor include:
- Traffic: the volume of traffic the website receives on a monthly basis, as well as the average visit duration.
- Organic: top organic and paid keywords the website is ranking for.
- Competitors: top competitors of the website in question.
- Audience: a general overview of the audience that’s visiting the website.
And many more.
Simply enter the URL of any website in the search bar, and SimilarWeb will show you different metrics about that specific site.
SimilarWeb is a helpful platform to spot potential targets for your outreach campaigns and make sure the bloggers you’re including are actually worth your while.
If you’re looking for bloggers with a high volume of traffic to promote your products and services, this is a good way to evaluate your potential prospects.
Finally, we have SEO metrics.
If your goal is to get high-quality brand mentions and backlinks for your business, some important metrics to consider include:
- Domain Authority: the level of SEO authority of a given domain.
- Page Authority: the level of SEO authority of a given page.
- Spam Score: an indicator of the level of “spam toxicity” in a given domain.
- Content relevancy: how relevant the backlink is in the content’s context.
These aren’t, by any means, all of the metrics you should consider when evaluating a website in terms of SEO value, but they are some of the most important.
To analyze these metrics, you can install MozBar, a free Chrome extension that evaluates websites based on Moz’s most important metrics. Simply install the extension, visit the page you want to analyze, and the tool will provide you with valuable insights.
It’s a simple yet effective method to evaluate your list of bloggers in terms of SEO.
Based on your specific goal, take some time to define what success looks like for this campaign. For example:
- “We want to target websites getting over 50k visitors per month.”
- “We’d like to find bloggers with a highly-engaged audience.”
- “We want to focus on websites with Domain Authority above 40.”
Being specific will help you evaluate your list of prospects much faster and make sure the people you target are highly qualified.
3. Identify the right targets
At this point, you already know how to qualify your target bloggers. Now it’s time to build your actual list of prospects. To do it, a simple Google Spreadsheet may be enough.
For example, you can create a table with five columns:
- Column A: Name
- Column B: Website
- Column C: Email
- Column D: LinkedIn/Twitter
- Column E: Context
- Column F: Monthly traffic
Your final document might look something like this:
This table may look different, though, depending on your specific goals.
For example, if you’re trying to build backlinks, you could replace the “monthly traffic” column for “Domain Authority.” You can also add or remove columns at will, depending on your specific situation.
The point is that you should build a spreadsheet to collate the most relevant information about your prospects.
Once you have this document in place, it’s time to start building your list. To do it, you can use one of the following methods.
Method # 1: Google
Simply head over to Google and type in one of the following search queries:
- Top blogs + “niche”
- Best sites + “niche”
- Top influencers + “niche”
- Major bloggers + “niche”
For example, let’s say that I want to build a list of bloggers in the health space. In that case, I could search for “Top blogs + health” or “Best sites + health.”
Then Google will provide you with tons of “Top sites to follow” kind of blog posts.
You can use these list posts to start building your own list of potential bloggers. Simply visit each of the sites listed in those blog posts and evaluate them based on the criteria you defined in the previous step.
For example, if your goal is to look for sites with high volumes of traffic, you could use SimilarWeb.com to analyze each blog and prioritize them based on that metric.
If you want to build backlinks, you can use MozBar to analyze Page Authority or Spam Score.
And if you’re looking for highly-engaged audiences, take a moment to analyze their most popular content and see if there are any comments and social shares.
Method # 2: BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo is a content discovery platform that helps you find the top performing content in your industry. This is especially helpful to find relevant bloggers, trending topics, and content ideas for guest posting.
One of the main benefits of BuzzSumo is a feature called “Influencers.”
Basically, you can find key influencers in your industry by platforms, including Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook, in just a couple clicks.
Simply head over to BuzzSumo, select “Influencers,” and type in a relevant keyword. Then, BuzzSumo will provide you with a list of relevant influencers based on the filters you selected.
Again, simply visit each influencer’s profile and analyze their website based on your “success criteria.” If a specific blogger seems like a good fit, add them to your list.
Other helpful tools to find influencers and bloggers include:
- Upfluence: Outreach management platform with over 4 million influencer profiles.
- BuzzStream: Outreach CRM suitable for link building and content marketing.
- Creator.co: Influencer collaboration platform ideal to build partnerships.
4. Find your prospects’ email address
Finding the email address of the bloggers you want to target is a crucial step. Otherwise, your results won’t be as good.
A few decades ago, you’d have to approach this process manually. Fortunately, tools like Voila Norbert make the process way easier.
Voila Norbert helps you find the email addresses of any person in a couple clicks. All you need is the name and website of the person and Voila Norbert will do the rest.
Simply enter the first and last name of your prospect, as well as the domain name you want to track, and the platform will analyze (and verify) all the emails available for that specific domain.
It’s a great and efficient way to find anyone’s email address quickly.
5. Create a detailed “target persona”
We’ve already discussed the importance of knowing your targets and understanding what they want. That’s why every successful campaign requires deep analysis and research.
Assuming that you already know your targets and not doing your homework is one of the most common mistakes in the outreach process.
Before reaching out to anyone, analyze that person’s background and personality to develop a clear “target persona.” That is, a representative description of each blogger in your list, including demographics, psychographics, and contextual information.
This profile will guide you throughout the entire process and help you tailor your messaging to each prospect.
Sure, this will take you more time than the traditional approach of reaching out to everyone with just a semi-personalized email, but will also give you better results. A solid blogger outreach strategy is more about quality than quantity.
The more you understand the bloggers in your list, the higher the response rate you’ll get.
A typical target persona might look something like this:
Some crucial elements you should consider when building these profiles include:
- Demographics: Location, age, gender, income, marital status, etc.
- Psychographics: Values, opinions, attitudes, interests, etc.
- Channels: Top channels for outreach (e.g. Twitter, email, phone, etc.)
Now the question becomes: how can you develop these profiles?
Here are two effective methods:
Method # 1: LinkedIn
At this stage, LinkedIn can be pretty helpful. A quick look at someone’s LinkedIn profile can give you valuable insights about that person, including:
- Background: Previous jobs, schools they attended, professional achievements, and more.
- Connections: Mutual friends, employers, and/or colleagues who might introduce you to that person.
- Personality traits: Identify the influencers they follow, brands they like, and content they recently published.
And some others.
Before contacting your prospects, take some time to review their LinkedIn profiles and write down any information that seems relevant for your profile.
Method # 2: Crystal Knows
Crystal Knows is a social selling platform that gives you valuable information about your target audience, like personality traits, motivations, and even communication trends.
Crystal Knows’ Chrome extension helps you analyze any LinkedIn profile and uncover key insights about the personality of your target audience.
This helps you know the approach you should take and the voice you must adopt to increase your chances of success, as well as tailor your message to each individual blogger.
By mixing LinkedIn with Crystal Knows, you’re able to build enhanced target personas to get the most out of your outreach efforts.
7. Develop an attractive bait
With a clear list of prospects in place and a deep understanding of their personalities, now it’s time to develop a bait. What can you offer that’s valuable for your prospects?
This can be anything from money to recognition — even the opportunity to save time.
At this phase, it’s time to don the shoes of your prospective bloggers and think of ways you can benefit them.
For example, if you’re looking to land guest post opportunities, doing your research and providing topics with great potential can be enough to see results.
If you’re looking to build backlinks, you might want to look for broken links you can replace.
And if you want to build promotion partnerships with influencers, then offering your products for free could be a good idea.
Whatever the case, think about anything you can offer that can be attractive to the bloggers in your list. Scheduling a meeting with your team to brainstorm ideas can help you come up with creative ways to “bait” your prospects.
8. Structure your messaging
At this point, you’re almost ready to launch your blogger outreach campaign. Now it’s time to develop your messaging.
The actual email you send will play a major role in the success of your campaign.
No matter how qualified your list is or how many emails you send, if your messaging isn’t clear, you won’t get very good results.
So, how should you approach this process?
Here’s a quick framework:
Step 1: Find the core of your message
Business author Stephen Covey once said that “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
Though redundant, that phrase contains a critical truth.
In hopes of impressing the other person, many people lose sight of the core and fill their email with elements that don’t add value to the overall narrative.
Your outreach email should be simple, concise, and straight to the point.
To do it, you should find the core of the message. That is, the overarching essence of what you’re trying to say. You need to weed out all the non-essential elements that may distract your prospect from the main message and keep it simple.
How do you find the core?
Focus on two main things:
- Your goal: What are you trying to achieve?
- The benefit: What’s in it for the other person?
If you keep your message focused around those two elements, you won’t miss the core.
One of the easiest ways to do it is by summarizing your core message in a sentence. For example:
- “If you promote my products or services (goal), I’ll pay you $X and give you free access to my products (benefit).”
- “If you promote my newest blog post (goal), you’ll get new social shares and your audience will grow (benefit).”
- “If you replace your broken links with one of my blog posts (goal), Google will reward you with better rankings (benefit).”
By summarizing your core message in a sentence, it’ll be easier to write a better email that’s concise and simple.
Step 2: Unbury the core
Once you’ve identified the core of your message, you just need to make sure to “unbury” it.
For example, take a look at the following outreach email example:
Hope you’re doing well.
My name is Peter and I work for a company called XYZ. We help business owners grow their revenue by developing strategic email outreach campaigns.
To date, we’ve helped over 1,000 brands grow their customer base. We are looking for new ways to promote our main course and expand our reach.
I’ve been following your work for a while and I think what you’re doing with your blog is pretty amazing. I loved your recent post on how to develop a better email outreach strategy.
Since your audience is made of seasoned business people, I thought we could find a way to work together. I was wondering if you may be interested in running a paid promotion on your blog.
Do you have some time tomorrow morning to chat about it?
In this example, the core would be: “If you’re willing to promote my product (goal), I’ll pay you $XX (benefit).”
However, the message is a bit buried.
To get to the core, the recipient has to read irrelevant information about your company, which might be counterproductive.
Let’s “unbury” the core:
I know you’re probably busy, so I’ll keep it short.
I’ve been following your work for a while and I think what you’re doing with your blog is pretty amazing. I loved your recent post on how to develop a better email outreach strategy.
Since your audience is made of seasoned business people, I thought we could find a way to work together. To be precise, I was wondering if you may be interested in running a paid promotion on your blog.
The product I want to promote is a course on how to land new clients through email outreach, so I thought it would be relevant.
And of course, I’d be willing to give you free access to the course.
Would you be interested in something like that?
As you can see, the second example goes straight to the point from the beginning.
And that’s pretty much the thick of it.
Next time you’re trying to write an outreach email, simply ask yourself:
- What’s the main goal of this campaign?
- How can I benefit this particular blogger? What can I offer?
The answers to these questions will help you craft simpler yet more effective outreach emails.
9. Organize and manage your outreach project
You should approach blogger outreach like any other project. Otherwise, your campaigns can become pretty chaotic. Here’s how you can approach the process:
Streamline the whole process
The main stages involved may include:
- Phase 1: Preliminary research and data collection
- Phase 2: Develop “target personas”
- Phase 3: Find the right “bait”
- Phase 4: Structure the messaging
- Phase 5: Launch the campaign
- Phase 6: Analysis and optimization
Break down each phase into actionable steps or activities
For example, “Phase 1: Preliminary research and data collection” could be broken down into the following tasks:
- Task 1: Define success criteria
- Task 2: Analyze each website based on established criteria
- Task 3: Create list of qualified prospects
By chunking down the main phases this way, you’re able to better organize your efforts, manage your team and, eventually, scale this process.
Organize your team and schedule activities
Once you have a clear list of tasks and activities, it’s time to assign responsibilities to your team and schedule them accordingly. You should define who’ll be doing what and when, as well as the estimated budget and time required to complete each task.
Leverage technology to increase productivity
At this stage, an outreach campaign management solution like Reply.io or SalesHandy can become a true competitive advantage.
This type of platform helps you streamline your outreach process and produce better emails through AI-powered features and tested frameworks.
You can also manage your outreach campaigns from start to finish, manage your team, and measure your performance with ease.
It’s a great way to get more control over your processes and increase efficiency.
10. Measure results and optimize your strategy
Peter Drucker once said that “what gets measured gets improved.”
Blogger outreach isn’t the exception.
If you want to get the most out of your efforts, you need a system to track and optimize your strategy.
Once your campaign is done, you should host a meeting with your team to analyze your actual results and compare them with your baseline plan. This way, you’ll be able to collect feedback and plan your next campaign in a more strategic way.
Here’s where Yesware might come in handy.
Yesware is an email tracking system that helps you monitor every time a prospect opens an email, clicks a link, downloads an attachment, or performs other important actions in your campaign.
This is especially helpful to understand the overall performance of your campaigns and also identify your most engaged prospects.
By analyzing your open rates and other important metrics, you’ll be able to improve the process continuously.
Let’s ramp up your blogger outreach game
So, what’s the key to building a successful blogger outreach strategy?
Simply put: Donning the shoes of your targets.
By building a bridge between your goals and their goals, getting results will be much easier. Start today by asking yourself three questions:
- What do my target bloggers want?
- How will helping me get them closer to their goals?
- What’s the simplest way to communicate those benefits?
Once you’ve got a clear answer to those questions, follow all the steps we outlined today and implement your strategy.
Sure, it’ll be hard and dreadfully time-consuming.
Yes, many people will reject you.
Of course, you’ll make mistakes — tons of them.
But if you stay consistent, it’ll all be worth it.