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Blogging communities = untapped customer acquisition potential.
Consider the following:
- Blogs are ubiquitous: According to Nielsen Media, there are over 181 million blogs on the Internet with 6.7 million people publishing content on blog sites.
- Consumers trust blogs over advertising: BlogHer found that 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs.
- Blogs influence customer decisions: 61% of online consumers admit to having made a purchase based on a blog’s recommendations.
Put these three points together, and the implications for customer acquisition become clear: If you're selling something, and you want to acquire customers, you should reach out to bloggers in your niche.
Fundamentals for building a great blogger outreach campaign:
Maria Sipka, CEO of Linqia, has a few tips for building a great blogger outreach campaign, and Shout Out Studio has also compiled a list for the cash-strapped startup. Both are worth reading in detail, but distilled, a great blogger outreach campaign would:
1. Select the best personas for the campaign
If you're trying to promote a relay race, for example, you don't just target "running bloggers". You'd target bloggers who would have a deep affinity for your campaign, like mom blogs who talked about getting in shape, or a beer blogger who talked about running to justify beer. On top of that, you'd target bloggers who already have a significant following.
2. Give their personas the VIP treatment
You want bloggers to be genuinely excited to talk about your brand - the energy will show in their writing. Other than giveaways or sponsorships, you can flatter them and promote their blogs as well. Naturally, you should give bloggers maximal license over their writing.
3. Have a clear and fun campaign.
The best campaigns have a clear and creative tactic in mind before they contact bloggers. They didn’t just reach out for a simple brand mention. Instead, they had bloggers write about a nostalgic memory a food product evoked, or got bloggers to create a vanity mood board.
To illustrate these abstract principles, we've put together a few examples of great blogger outreach campaigns.
1. ModCloth - Names dresses after featured bloggers
ModCloth's "Blogger of the Moment" outreach strategy features fashion influencers on the ModCloth blog, and names a dress after each of them. In turn, Bloggers of the Moment suggest other ModCloth pieces to complement their namesake dresses, and name their favorite ModCloth pieces.
Because they're so excited to star on the ModCloth blog, they also talk about "Blogger of the Moment" to their own communities - more publicity for ModCloth!
Recognizing and working with community leaders:
ModCloth's PR Manager Alicia Barnes commented that "Modcloth wants to empower all women to feel that they have a voice in the fashion industry, and feel that collaborating with bloggers is a big part of that – they’re real women with unique senses of style, and we love seeing how they interpret ModCloth pieces."
2. One Kings Lane - Invites bloggers to showcase their vanities
Bloggers reflect their own style.
One Kings Lane invited bloggers to create a mood board of their dream vanity with decorative accents, centered around one of their statement mirrors. The focus on "vanity" and a statement mirror is very clever - participants are immediately inclined to be indulgent and runaway with their ideas.
3. Method - Safe enough for babies
Perfect choice of brand advocate:
Since Method's hand soaps are "safe for people and the planet", there is no better way to verify it than through a mom and her child. Readers of Kacia's blog are reeled in with cute pictures and gifs of her toddler Harlow toying with the soap herself. Not only does everyone get a major feels trip, the point that Method soaps are very safe is effectively made.
4. Birchbox - Anyone can join the Birchblogger club
Birchbox wants you:
As if the brand needed any more loyal followers. Already, beauty bloggers and vloggers talk about their "unboxing days" feverishly. But Birchbox also values its fanbase enough to let any blogger, established or aspiring, to enjoy all the perks of being a Birchblogger. From Birchbox's open call - "Whether you have one million YouTube subscribers or the only person reading your blog is your mom (go moms!), we want YOU." Just sign up and join the Birchbloggers Facebook group.
5. Uniqlo - Connecting bloggers to fashion icon
Organized a Google+ Hangout with Orla Kiely:
To celebrate the launch of the UNIQLO x Orla Kiely: HEATTECH collection, for which the Irish designer created a selection of brand new patterns, Uniqlo put together a Google+ Hangout that connected blogger fans with Kiely. Influential bloggers were invited to ask questions, and the Hangout was streamed live on Youtube. The event became the subject of over 30 online articles.
6. Wendy's - Eat a Frosty cone, write about nostalgia
Sponsored mom bloggers to write about frosty cones:
The strategy was simple - find mom, lifestyle, and family bloggers; pay them to eat and write about nostalgia-inducing Frosty cones; watch their readers crave Frosty cones too.
It all boils down to affinity.
You start out with a clear and interesting premise for a campaign. And then you find influential profiles who are inclined to identify strongly with your campaign. You make them feel honored and excited to be a part of the campaign by rewarding their participation. Finally, you let them write, and let the strength of their communities work for your brand.