How can I improve my blogger outreach?

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I run a small eCommerce business and it's proving extremely hard to get any visitors to the site. Of the few that have come (as per my analytics stats), we have made some sales so I'm really excited to get more traffic.

Because of budget limitations, we don't have a lot of cash to pay on ads. We tried Google ads, but the recommended bid on those is more than our margins, so really not sure how other businesses are spending that much.

That's why we are focusing on blogger outreach. I came across your article on influencer marketing and was wondering if you had some tips and tricks to help get a higher response and conversion rate from our blogger outreach?

Blogger outreach guide & tips

Blogger outreach is all about forming relationships with bloggers who have an audience or following you want to get your brand in front of. More than that, referrals and backlinks from authority blogs send a strong message to Google that you are also a trusted resource in that niche.

This makes blogger outreach, at least in my opinion, arguably the single most important marketing activity you can do in 2016.

So where do you start?

There are 3 steps involved:

  1. Identify the right bloggers
  2. Reach out
  3. Measure & adapt

Identify the right bloggers

I have found that going after the biggest stars in your industry is essentially a waste of time. Chances are they won't have time to read and respond to anything you put in front of them.

Remember that they are also after the biggest fish they can build relationships with, so their eyes are focused on bigger prizes, up the ladder.

Go after people who show great promise but are still growing. They are far more likely to want to engage with you, and will ultimately bring far more value in the long run (provided you can establish a good relationship).

Reach out

By 'reach out', I mean build relationships.

When I say build relationships, I don't mean in some disconnected social network, distant friend of a connection, who you vaguely remember from a tweet sent a year ago. I mean a real tangible relationship.

Social networks have given us the ability to communicate with anyone at any time. But they have put a layer of technology in between us. The net result is that it is easier to build worse relationships.

You need to be involved in what they are doing. If you are not interested in what they have to say then it is a good indication that you are not really passionate about the industry you are in in the first place.

In general, there are only two ways you can go about getting bloggers to mention your site/blog/brand/business and link back to you (only once you have touched base and built some sort of rapport):

  1. Write an article for them (guest blog)
  2. Convince them to mention you in an article

Both strategies come with pros and cons, so we'll take a quick look at both here...

Guest blogging

It's great practice to write some really high quality articles that aren't meant for publication on your own blog, but are complimentary to content or landing pages on your site. You can then market these articles around to authority sites that might be interested in publishing them.

Provided they are of great quality, most bloggers won't mind a single self-serving link. Many will automatically nofollow links you place in articles. But don't worry, you should still gain some brand recognition and exposure to new audiences.


There are two great ways to get decent mentions, referrals and backlinks:

  1. Answer media requests
  2. Offer something compelling
Media requests

You can look for great bloggers and journalists in your industry and follow them on social networks like Twitter. Often you will find that they reach out to their followers and ask for advice - and you can pounce on that opportunity to help.

Sometimes, if you comment on an article they have just published, they are willing to update it with your suggestion - which may well link to a relevant page on your own site.

Alternatively, go ahead and use a service like HARO (Help a Reporter Out), which will email you a categorized list of blogger and journalist media queries that you can answer. In general, if they use your answer in their article you will receive an attribution link.

Compelling offer

The secret to understanding humans in marketing, business and just about all aspects of life is that the thing they find most compelling is themselves. People want recognition and praise for what they have done. They want it, and it is in their interest to share it when they get it.

This provides opportunity.

I often get emails from companies that have created huge infographics that do a pretty good job of outlining something, or explaining something else. But, the truth of the matter is that there is plenty of great content out there. Why should I share their particular infographic - just because they have identified one of my resources that could offer a relevant backlink?

But, if they had included SME Pals in their infographic and sent out exactly the same request I might be far more inclined to work with them. In other words, blogger outreach that is targeting backlinks can be summed up like this:

"I'll scratch your back, and hope you'll scratch mine."

in other words, you as the reacher have to assume the risk of doing something for no return. There is absolutely no point in reaching out to a blogger with this type of proposal:

"Scratch my back please."

Building traffic and authority in any niche is hard. No-one is simply going to link back to you because you asked. If anything, they are going to be irked that you wasted their time. Only ever reach out to a blogger when you have something genuinely compelling for them.

In general, compelling means talking about them, but it could also be something genuinely newsworthy for them. But, if they are essentially a competitor, why hand that news over to them? Rather publish on your own site and then forward that to them. If the news is genuinely important for them to cover, they will probably give you attribution as the person who brought it to their attention and the owner of the original report.

Measure & adapt

Here's where a lot of people fall down. Sending out hundreds of impassioned pleas for partnerships may work if you have everything perfect, but more than likely your outreach will be greeted with deafening silence.

If you are not getting any responses then it's important to find out what's wrong.

Most commonly, other bloggers are simply apathetic about what you offer. There are thousands of any type of site out there, so unless you are something that other people would be proud to associate themselves with, the sad truth is that you'll always struggle.

Here are a selection of potential issues that you can explore:

  • no prior relationship before reaching out
  • offer not compelling
  • insufficient authority to warrant a relationship
  • poor quality content

So that about sums it up - be awesome, be social, and talk about other people all the time.

What other tips and tricks have you used in your own blogger outreach campaigns that worked? Share your tips and advice in the comments.