It is common to hear about many bloggers that have great content but receive no traffic to their sites. You might fall into this category and have already resigned yourself to continue blogging as a hobby. However, the truth is that most bloggers want to see big traffic numbers coming to their site. Even if you are not trying to build a big business, it is nice seeing your work and ideas appreciated by the masses.
Unfortunately, the ideology of “content is king” has many believing that, as long as you write great content, the traffic will somehow follow. While this strategy is certainly not a waste of time, it just does not work well on its own. Even in business, you cannot put all your focus on a product without investing in marketing and expect customers to start buying.
Unless you are already recognized as an expert in your field, a passive content marketing strategy is not going to work for you. Instead, you must prop it up with solid digital outreach.
Developing an Outreach Strategy
What does outreach mean? Believe it or not, that is a question that many marketers have tried to answer to varying degrees of success. If you were to search in Google, “definition outreach program,” you would get something to do with community services. This is probably not what you are looking for! However, marketers define outreach as the process used to identify influencers in your target market, contacting them, and getting them to agree to promote your product, service, or brand.
The problem with this blanket definition is that it makes PR outreach sound like a simple, three-step process. This is definitely not the case! Developing an effective outreach strategy is a process that takes time and a lot of effort on your part. It involves:
1. Defining your purpose
What are you trying to achieve? This may seem like an obvious one but every outreach campaign must start with a clear purpose. Do you want more traffic or improve your social media outreach? Do you want to promote your brand or service? Or do you want more people to buy your product? Setting a clear goal will help you choose the right influencers to approach and measure how successful your efforts are.
2. Identifying your audience
Knowing who your target audience is will help you do your research well. You need to know what your audience wants, where they hang out, and who they go to for recommendations. Build a detailed picture of your target audience to determine how best to engage with them.
3. Deciding on how to engage
Depending on your research, you will then be able to decide how to engage with your audience. Will you do it directly or go through relevant influencers? Unless you have already built a large following that already trusts you, going with the first option is not feasible. That is why most marketers and content creators pick the latter option. Working with influencers is the fastest way to promote your brand, define your image, and build credibility
4. Doing the research
Why should the target audience engage with you? Extensive research will help you answer this question. You have to know the audience’s needs, concerns, interests, and motivators. All this information will then be helpful when you start crafting a compelling brand story that people will identify with.
How do you translate all this information into a workable outreach strategy? Planning will help you do that and avoid failure even before your plans get off the ground.
Principles of Outreach Marketing
The main aim of outreach marketing is to take the practice back to its roots. Marketing has always been about consumer psychology and a basic person to person connection. Buzzwords tend to cause a lot of confusion and damage, but outreaching brings marketing back down to a basic level. It emphasizes that all you have to do is connect with your audience instead of just marketing at them.
Influencer outreach focuses on developing community outreach strategies that look at how people want to hear and learn about new things. This simplicity is what has made it so effective over the years. Here are some principles of outreach marketing that will help you create an effective outreach plan for your product, service, or brand:
1. The right way to build trust
People are hardwired to distrust anyone who constantly talks about themselves. On the other hand, they tend to trust third-party recommendations more. This is just a basic fact of human nature that marketers always have to keep in mind.
Think about it: would you listen to the loud guy at a party that is clearly out to promote himself? That is the same way consumers view brands that constantly try to convince them just how great the company is.
Actionable tip: Connect with bloggers that write about whatever niche your brand occupies as part of your outreach plan. Send them something for free and ask them if they would like to do a product review. However, do not make the post a requirement. See if that approach will not get you an authentic heads up in one of their posts!
2. Tell your brand story
At its core, outreach marketing is all about getting in touch with the right people at the right time and getting them to help you tell your brand story. This can be anyone from influencers with a huge following on social media that fit in your niche, or happy consumers or readers that take it upon themselves to announce how much they love your product.
Actionable tip: If you think of your brand as a sphere, everyone inside it is talking about or interacting with it in one way or another. Your main goal is to find ways of identifying anyone who is already talking about your brand and connecting with them.
3. Bring people together
A large part of outreach marketing is bringing the people who love your product or service into the brand. This is as opposed to treating loyal customers as an extension of your brand.
Actionable tip: Make a list of all your biggest fans and make sure you are in constant communication with them. Though not in an annoying or creepy way! You could email them from time to time with updates or just to ask for their opinions. You could send them free brand products or t-shirts periodically. You could also take it a step further and send them a little something on their birthday.
4. Ditch the campaign model
Outreach marketing does away with the campaign model. In the traditional sense, this model is all about outsourcing your PR outreach and marketing efforts for one-off campaigns. Instead, outreach marketing focuses on embracing and owning ongoing relationships with your target audience.
Actionable tip: Connect with new people who seem to be compatible with your brand. However, focus just as much time on fostering relationships with people who already love your brand.
5. Focus on relevance
Effective community outreach places a strong emphasis on relevance and authenticity instead of follower counts and other numerical indicators. If this focus is followed, things like social presence, followers, rank, and even SEO fall in place organically as a result of marketing and legitimate brand recommendations.
Actionable tip: When trying to find new influencers to connect with, do not just focus on their follower count or reach. Take the time to also look at their content, how authentic their posts are, and how much they engage with their followers.
6. Focus on creativity
Outreach marketing should revolve around finding creative ways and innovative people to tell your brand story. Thinking out of the box will help you find different types of people with many unique perspectives.
Actionable tip: Give your audience a behind-the-scenes peek at your brand by writing a funny story about the CEO. If you have employees, you could interview one who has nothing to do with the marketing department.
Furthermore, you could also turn your attention to the designer who makes your jeans, or the farmer who grows the tomatoes you put in your salads! The possibilities here are endless and limited only by your imagination.
7. Create real relationships
Outreach marketing is all about developing real relationships. In a nutshell, this means carefully considering relationships that are mutually beneficial. Marketers must take care of their influencers and brand advocates by offering incentives and rewards for their efforts.
Actionable tip: Never ignore any shout outs to your brand. Your response could be anything from a response on Twitter or sending them a package in the mail.
8. Focus on digital and non-digital
An effective outreach plan must include strategies that span both the digital and non-digital realms. It should take into consideration any channel where people talk about products, services, and brands. Furthermore, your digital outreach should include strategies that will let you reach multiple channels through one person.
Actionable tips: A great starting point for you here would be bloggers. This is because you can easily research them and gather any relevant information that would make pitching them easier and more effective.
9. Marketing is not black and white
To have an effective outreach campaign, you have to remember that we do not live in a black and white world. Marketing is no exception to this rule. Therefore, you should always be hesitant about following any set rules when it comes to implementing your outreach plan.
Actionable tip: The bottom line here is to trust your gut. Do what feels right for your strategy, even if you may have read somewhere that it is a total no-no for outreach marketing.
Why have influencer outreach programs become one of the most efficient and budget-friendly forms of advertising today? This is simply because they work. 93 percent of all marketers use content marketing as one of their main brand promotion strategies.
However, maintaining long-term sustainability with this method has become increasingly difficult. In fact, some experts believe that we are fast approaching a state known as content shock, when new brands will not be able to break into the market as a result. Therefore, brands need to find new and ingenious ways to stand out from the crown and offer value to their audience.
Fortunately, influencer outreach programs have emerged as a viable way to do this. These strategies have proven to successfully develop relationships, build links, and promote content. They also help brands raise awareness of upcoming trends and exchange value with experts within their niche.
In fact, research shows that influencer outreach has been rated as one of the fastest methods for acquiring customers. It is even more successful at doing this than email marketing, paid search, and organic search. Another study shows that these programs also have a very high return on investment (ROI), particularly in niches like retail, food, and travel.
By working with specific influencers, your brand will be able to create an image that is easy to identify and develop credibility with their audience. Traditional digital advertising requires that you go through the long process of writing content, sharing it on social media, and connecting with your target audience one at a time. On the other hand, influencer outreach lets your brand reach thousands of people from a voice they already trust.
Any effective outreach program must have the following components:
Influencer Outreach Program
The most accurate definition of influencer marketing is that it is a process involving a series of strategies geared to connecting with trusted individuals who have built up an engaged audience, and then including these influencers in marketing activities in order to receive public endorsements for a service, product, or brand.
After defining the goals and performance indicators for your campaign, follow these steps to create a successful influencer outreach strategy:
1. Find the right influencers
Finding the right influencers for your campaign can be a little tricky. First off, you should avoid any website that will just take your money in exchange for sponsored posts. Instead, approach this process like you are looking for brand advocates and business partners. You want to work with influencers who are truly excited about your brand because it will show authentically in their content.
There are four categories of influencers that you can target:
2. Identify influencers with overlapping audiences
Before any sale is made, you must establish clear brand awareness with the target audience. The more a potential customer comes across your brand, the more likely they will be to buy from you. Therefore, if they see your brand highlighted in many of their favorite blogs and sites, your message will stick with them.
3. What is the best compensation model to use?
Brands typically compensate influencers through either sponsored content or affiliate programs. Sponsored content gives your brand a lot more control over the final content. By paying influencers directly, you ensure that they will come up with a message that is honest but still fits in with your overall goals. However, this approach is not good for creating a continuing relationship with influencers. You get what you pay for and that is it.
On the other hand, you could use the affiliate program model. Influencers love to share any affiliate offers they are part of from brands that they support. This is because they receive compensation every time a sale goes through from their referral. Affiliate programs are a popular source of residual income for the savvy influencers. However, this approach does not work so well for new brands that are not very familiar to the influencer.
Alternatively, you could also create a hybrid approach by combining aspects of the first two models. This is actually one of the most popular compensation models today. You simply pay for sponsored content while developing an affiliate program at the same time.
4. Track the results
Every influencer outreach campaign you implement should be tracked and analyzed carefully. This will help you identify what works and what does not, which could prove invaluable for any future campaigns.
Furthermore, you should collect all this information and gage it at the end of the campaign. A simple comparison with what you would have spent on other paid advertising options on social media will show you just how successful your influencer outreach campaign really was.
Email Outreach Program
One of the easiest ways to reach out to influencers is still the humble email. You must know how to find out anyone’s email by now, so we will not cover that in this post. However, the main challenge of any email outreach program is coming off as spam. If you are still using auto-generated email outreach templates, then this will be unavoidable.
Online marketers have to send out a lot of emails just to connect with the right influencer and accomplish their marketing goals. A lot of content has been written giving you tips to write great outreach emails, increase your open rates, and get more replies from said influencers.
However, the problem today is marketers are all reading the same tips! What happens next is that influencers start looking a lot of emails that look suspiciously similar, and the circling concern of “spam-or-not-spam?” continues.
Thus, the best tip for any email outreach campaign is to be authentic. Structure your messages well, use a professional address, leave your real contacts, offer a relevant value proposition, and – most of all – stay authentic! Your emails will stand out from the crowd all on their own merit as a result.
Effective Community Outreach Program
Today, many companies and brands have started recognizing just how important community outreach is and what kind of difference it can make. No matter which cause your brand is passionate about, you can find an influencer who will ensure the success of your community outreach program.
You can ask the influencers to create content about the cause, or simply share it on their social media channels. This approach will add credibility and a huge amount of momentum for your brand’s program.
There are many brands that pour their hearts into creating great ideas and writing awesome posts for their content marketing goals. However, most of this work does not get their brands the attention and accolades they receive. This could be due to a variety of reasons, but the most obvious one is that people simply do not know about them.
This is why influencer marketing is so important. It is a strategy that has been proven to increase brand awareness, credibility, and ROI. If implemented correctly, outreaching can have a significant positive impact on your content marketing strategy.
However, you must remember the key to success for any outreach campaign is creating lasting relationships with its network of influencers. The brand must also maintain a tone of inclusiveness and authenticity throughout all its outreach efforts. If you follow the tips highlighted here, you will be able to ensure that your next outreach program will give your brand the results you want.
A version of this article originally appeared on Roojet.com site; reprinted with permission.