Why is marketing to bloggers a good idea? Inbound links from blogs improves Google rank, which increases traffic from search engines. Exposure from bloggers can land a company’s website on a social bookmarking site like Digg or Del.icio.us, driving thousands of new visitors to the site. But bloggers are a more fickle bunch than most traditional media people. Marketing to them appropriately can yield great results; approaching them the wrong way can backfire.
As someone with a well-trafficked blog and a high Google rank I get bombarded with marketing requests every day. “Your site would be great for my SEO, would you please link to it?” “You obviously love food. I would love to send you some of my ice cream for dogs and you could write about it if you wanted to.” (Both real examples.) Most pitches receive a cursory glance and get deleted without a second thought. A few get a response from me, especially if the pitch is respectful and polite. Even fewer get the response the marketer was hoping for.
So, what’s the trick?
If it’s your job to reach out to bloggers, here are a few guidelines that may help you be more effective in your approach. Note that marketing to bloggers is sort of like selling vacuums door-to-door in a neighborhood where almost everyone knows each other, and most are chatting with each other over their fences. In any strong blogging community there is a lot of back-channel talk going on. This can work to your advantage or disadvantage, depending on how you approach the bloggers in the first place. Now for the guidelines, let’s start with the “Don’ts”.
Marketing to Bloggers Don’ts
- Do not send obvious form letters. Did you know that we bloggers share the form letters we receive from marketers with each other? We do. This is a great way to get nowhere with the very people you are trying to influence. It also demonstrates that you have done practically no research whatsoever on your audience. Form letters result in promoting pork sausages to vegans or pitches for ready-to-eat cheesecake filling to gourmet scratch cooks, people who would sooner shoot themselves than use your product.
- Do not ask for links, unless you are willing to pay for them, at which point the conversation turns to advertising policy and rates. This whole reciprocal link thing might be barely tolerable on a blogger-to-blogger level, but is considered annoying spam when it comes from a company pushing products.
- Do not leave blog comments plugging your products. Talk about generating ill will! It’s called blog spam. As a blogger I don’t really care that you think my readers would be interested in your ready-made lemon syrup. I’m not interested in allowing a company to promote its products on my blog without my permission. If you abuse comments, eventually you’ll generate such bad feelings that people will start writing in their blogs about how your company is spamming the blogosphere. Then the next time someone looks your company up in Google all they’ll see is a litany of complaints. Not exactly the intended result, eh?
- Do not come on too strong. If you send out product, you can follow up with a “did you receive it?” but not a “when are you going to write about it?” Do not insist on anything. And if someone doesn’t want to promote your product, please don’t argue with them. Thank them for their time and move on.
- Do not put the blogger on your mailing list (unless they have requested it.) This should be obvious, shouldn’t it? But clearly it isn’t as getting put on some random marketer’s email newsletter or mailing list happens all the time. Bloggers hate it.