Is your company using blogger outreach to help spread your marketing messages online? It seems many brands today are looking for a better way to build blogger relations campaigns but still struggle. So today I want to show you a short-cut to reaching even the biggest bloggers.
The Biggest Blogger Outreach Challenges
To be fair, some blogger outreach efforts simply miss key components. But for the most part, it’s not rocket science yet there are a few hurdles that seem to consistently post challenges to companies and clients we talk to every day.
- Building Relationships – Often times brands truly do understand and want to take the time to build relationships with bloggers before they pitch them. BUT, the speed at which business moves today often times creates a world where there just isn’t time to “do it right” but it still needs to be done.
- Getting Noticed By The Blogger — Brands aren’t usually going after small bloggers with small audiences. The in demand blogger has a vibrant and vocal community. That means each post gets lots of comments, Tweets and Retweets, Shares, Likes, and +1’s. So simply being present and “showing the blogger you’re interested in them” strategy is getting harder and harder to pull off. It’s hard to stand out in a loud crowd.
- The Competition Is Watching — With social media listening software or a simple Google Alert, it’s pretty easy for your competitor to see and hear everything you do online. So the very act of reaching out to a blogger by commenting on their blog or trying to engage them in social media channels, sends a marketing signal to all of your competitors. This makes it pretty hard to recruit a band of bloggers to create some kind of surprise media event or online campaign without tipping off the competition.
Building Google Tracking URLs
This stealthy blogger outreach tactic only works if the bloggers you are targeting use Google Analytics to monitor their blog traffic. Luckily for you, Google Analytics is free and bloggers like free.
If you’ve never built a trackable Google URL, you will want to first learn how to do that. If you want to make it easy on yourself, just go get a Google URL Builder widget like this one. I like it because you can make it a bookmarklet on your web browser. So whenever you find a URL that you want to share and tag with GA tracking tags, you just click on the bookmarklet and it opens the URL builder. You can also shrink the URL, which is nice for those times you DO want to share a tracking URL publicly (on a comment or social media network) without making it so obvious you’re using a tracking URL.
What many folks don’t realize is that when you create a tracking tag using Google Analytics, that tag is readable by EVERY Google Analytics account — not just yours. And there lies the key to this approach.
Stealthy Blogger Outreach
Because you can set your GA tracking tags to be or say anything AND your target blogger (assuming they use GA for their analytics) will see the tags you create, it is possible to send a blogger messages that only THEY can see.
The first thing you need to do is build an army. This is a really wonderful use of your brand ambassadors and/or employees. You’ll need this army to be socially active though and willing to share things on your behalf.
The second thing you need to do is create your Google Analytics tags. You can have up to 4 tags on any URL, but it is probably best to stick with the tags that most bloggers will use. This will include Campaign Source, Campaign Medium and Campaign Name. These are the common tags that Google’s built in analytics dashboard sorts for by default.
For your stealthy outreach you’ll want to get creative with these tags. For instance, if I was a B2B Marketer that wanted to catch the attention of a major blogger named Ted — not his real name — I might set my analytic codes like this:
Campaign Source: B2BCompany
Campaign Medium: WantsToMeetYou
Campaign Name: TomMartin
Then I would go find a blog post of Ted’s that I really liked. It doesn’t have to be a popular post, just one you genuinely liked. Let’s say I pick Ted’s post about Why B2B Marketers Should Engage In Blogger Outreach.
After putting that blog post URL into the Google URL builder, I’d get a tagged URL like this:
As you can see, the URL builder widget added three “?utm_” modifiers to the base URL. These are the tracking codes that ANY Google Analytics dashboard can see. Now, because the base URL here is Ted’s blog, he’ll be the only Google dashboard that will see traffic to his blog from this URL. But the point here is that you can tag ANY blogger’s URL with this kind of tracking data and if you can get enough folks to visit that blogger’s site using your URL, the blogger will see your codes show up in their tracking data.
The third thing you do is activate that army. Especially with bigger bloggers that get more traffic, you’ll need to make sure that enough folks visit Ted’s blog using YOUR link so that the resulting traffic actually shows up in the top 10 or 20 results inside Ted’s Google Analytics tracking data. So you’ll not only want to share Ted’s blog post, but more importantly, you’ll want to make sure your best ambassadors or supporters visit his blog (using your link) and then share his blog with their friends and followers (again using YOUR link). If done correctly, all of this inbound traffic will show up in Ted’s GA tracking.
Stealth Blogger Outreach Results
I know someone is going to comment about how this is underhanded. How it’s wrong to manufacture traffic to a blogger’s site just to get their attention. How there are no shortcuts to good blogger outreach.
That’s fine… you’re entitled to your own opinion. But our clients don’t hire us to play by the imaginary rules of social media. They hire us to get results…to help them develop relationships with bloggers that are open to working with brands. And frankly, this works.
While I can’t share any client work, that would kind of defeat the whole stealthy thing 😉 my good friend and the author of Think Like a Rockstar, Mack Collier was good enough to help me demonstrate this technique. Over the summer I took one of Mack’s blog posts and called on my army to get his attention. After about 15 minutes of DM’ing a few Twitter buddies, a few emails and a couple of Facebook messages, this was the result that Mack saw.
This is Mack’s “Campaign” report — a common report that bloggers check to understand which of their online marketing efforts are working and which are not. So as Mack checks his report, he sees that Tom Martin is his best campaign. Had he checked the Campaign Source Report, he would have seen whatever company name I entered. Or if he checked his Campaign Medium Report, he would have seen that WantsToMeetYou pushed a good bit of traffic his way. Like I said, you can get might creative in these tags to send very specific messages to the blogger of your dreams.
So now if I do this a few times over the course of a few weeks and THEN I reach out to Mack via email — think he might be inclined to respond to my email? Do you think he might be willing to hear me out?
What do you think?