Bloggers can gain an impressive, loyal following on the social Web through excellent content, communication, and trust built through fellowship and familiarity. Their value to brands is in their influence over consumer purchasing, often in a very specific niche. A nod of approval from the right blogger can seriously increase sales, and having one as a brand advocate is invaluable. Successful Canadian bloggers are that much more valuable because they’re rare and often come with an impressive Canadian following. Check out our growing list of PR3+ Canadian-Owned Blogs for Blogger Outreach and Guest Posts.
Bloggers can have a significant impact on the success or failure of your products in this country and beyond. The benefits of appearing on a blog include actual or perceived endorsement, traffic directly from the blog post, and social media mentions. Working with bloggers is a remarkably cost effective way to reach your target market bullseye. Some big brands are even bringing their advocate bloggers into their TV commercials because their opinion is so trusted and valued by consumers.
Managing several blogs (both Canadian and international) has placed me on both the marketing and publishing side of blogging. I receive inquiries from companies every day and I have established relationships with other blogs for marketing purposes. Building relationships comes easily to me but that doesn’t appear to be the case with most people in sales and marketing. They may have a difficult time relating to bloggers on the proper level, instead addressing them as they would mainstream media, retailers or even customers.
Approaching bloggers isn’t difficult, it’s just different. The most effective approach is to offer them something of value.
Product Testing & Reviews
If you’re launching a new product or if you would like to have a product reviewed by a blogger, ask them. Don’t tell them you’re sending a product sample like you would with a retailer, ask if you may send them some products to be reviewed on their blog. Keep in mind that testing and writing reviews is time consuming and most bloggers aren’t willing to put all of that effort into reviewing your $4.99 product for the freebie. Offer extra products or company swag (promotional products) for bloggers to use for a contest or simply as a thank you for their effort. Be prepared for negative product points to be included in the review because most bloggers value their readers’ trust above all else. You’re not buying a good review, you’re asking for an honest review.
Bloggers quite often hold small contests that can be widely promoted over the period of a week or more. Offer your product as a prize (at least a $25 value) or double it up and have the blogger review your product at the same time. Company swag, such as branded clothing or products, are popular prizes as well. I have found that small prize donations rarely offer much benefit to the sponsor or the blog, so I recommend a prize value of at least $100 with a negotiated longer contest run. Consumers will be more interested and the contest will be promoted for a longer period, which results in a higher ROI (return on investment).
Guest Posts on Blogs
First and foremost, remember that a guest post is not a press release or an opportunity to promote your products. It’s also not a job for your average marketer. Even a Masters in Marketing does not mean a marketer can write effectively for blogs and social media, because both require talent as much as knowledge. Have a proven online writer research and compose useful content for blogs and offer each article to one blog exclusively. It is critical that you and your writer check the blog for guest post guidelines and follow them to the letter if you want them to accept your blog post.
The majority of bloggers allow a link in the author bio and that’s where the value for you is. If you want to feature a link within the article itself, you may have to pay a nominal fee. Purchasing “do follow” links will actually have a negative effect on your search ranking these days so we suggest you not go there. If advertising information isn’t published on the website, write to the blogger and explain what you’d like to do and ask for rates. Some bloggers have very creative options for advertisers. For example, a few will write a guest post for you and include the link for a fee. This is one of the most valuable methods because it appears as any other post on the blog, as opposed to being a designated guest or sponsored post.
Traditional press releases usually don’t fly with bloggers, unless it’s truly news that their readers will be interested in. When sending a press release to a blogger, tell them briefly why you think their readers will appreciate the information. If you can’t come up with anything more substantial than “we’re providing content for you at no charge”, it’s not something you should be sending to a niche blogger. All bloggers see through that “free content” thing, by the way, so don’t insult their intelligence.
Invitations to be interviewed are usually extended by the blogger, but it can’t hurt to mention that you’re available.
Blog monetization through sponsored links and banner advertising isn’t practiced by all bloggers. Look for advertising information on the blog or send a polite email detailing your requirements. Bloggers can get creative with advertising so don’t be afraid to discuss other ideas with them. For example, some bloggers are paid to appear in their videos or at events wearing a branded shirt. I know one blogger who drives a luxury car that was given to him by a sponsor to show off at the many events he attends.
Your initial correspondence should be professional, direct, polite and appreciative of the blogger’s time. It’s your job to work with the blogger and accommodate his or her style, scheduling and goals. Remember that they’re doing you a favour, not the other way around, and check any arrogance or condescending attitudes at the door.
Once you’ve been mentioned on a blog, promote it with pride via social media or on your corporate blog. A note of thanks to the blogger is also the kind of gesture that promotes good will and keeps the door open.
I’ve enjoyed each and every interaction with bloggers that I’ve had as a marketer. As a result, I’ve built countless relationships with quality bloggers across a wide variety of niche topics. They’re a reasonable, intelligent, and a pleasant group overall. Using these tips as a guide will help your brand score similar, mutually-beneficial arrangements with many influential niche bloggers, resulting in valuable, inexpensive marketing and PR.
Have you promoted your products on niche blogs before? Please share your experience or questions in the comments below.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
2016 Canadian Digital Marketing Report
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