But now you need users...
If you've created a rockstar product (note: there are no silver bullet marketing tactics for a mediocre product), chances are that you're going to get some great blog coverage once you've launched. But part of your product launch strategy should be strategic blogger outreach to expedite and expand the coverage you get.
Here are a few ways a blogger that believes in your rockstar product can help make your launch a success:
- Write a post or review of your product (duh)
- Email their list re: your product (or re: their blog post reviewing your product)
- Post a widget related to your product on their blog for their users to interact with. For example, Yelp has a widgetfor showcasing reviews, GrooveShark has a pretty cool "make your own playlist" widget, etc.
- Introduce you to other bloggers who might help as noted above
- and more (full post re: launch strategies coming soon)
But How Do You Find Bloggers to Contact?
The bulk of this blog post is meant to help you actually build a list of potential bloggers to get in touch with.
Apart from simply knowing who a few of the leading blogs that you personally follow are, I wanted to share a strategy that I use to find bloggers within a given niche during a blogger outreach campaign.
Let's assume you've created a product specifically for traveling backpackers.
Step 0- Organize Your Info
A simple Google doc or excel spreadsheet is good enough to gather the info below, but make sure that you start off organized because you're going to be compiling a ton of information (and working with other people at some point if you are doing a large launch).
Step 1- Find an Existing List to Start With
A great starting point for building your list is to find a list that already exists.
Quora.com is a popular Q & A site that has some great content. The odds are in your favor that someone has already at least asked Quora users for a list of popular blogs in your particular niche. If you're lucky, you'll find a few gems that will help in your research.
- Here's a discussion thread I found on a quick search for backpacking blogs.
- In fact, here's a massive gem I found through this Quora post: A weekly list of the Top 100 Indy Travel Blogs
Step 2- Use Blog-Specific Search Engines / Directories
Another step to take at the start of your research is to use blog-specific search engines / directories to search for blogs by industry / topic, mentions of your company / competitors, mentions of popular news stories in your industry, etc.
Here's a few you can use:
- www.blogcatalog.com- Great for finding all types of blogs, and I personally like their interface better than Technorati. For example, here's a list of travel blogs that are specifically about backpacking.
- www.technorati.com- Great for finding larger blogs
- Google Blog Search- Uses Google to search specifically through blogs, but it's a bit harder to filter down by readership, etc. You can use specific Google search operators to find relatively specific blog posts, such as blogs with "my backpacking trip" in the title.
- AllTop.com- Another great place for finding larger blogs, but it's more difficult to find obscure smaller blogs that may still have a large readership.
Step 3- Find Blog Posts Being Shared on Twitter
Apart from existing lists and directory sites, you can use search.Twitter.com to find blogs that are being shared on Twitter. For example, you could find Twitter users that specifically shared a website link and said "backpacking guide" or "backpacking" in their tweet.
- I use Twitter's advanced search with the "any of these words" field (i.e. any posts that say "backpacking") and "only show tweets that contain links" so you actually find blogs / websites instead of just tweets.
- If you hack around, you can write this yourself rather than using Twitter's advanced search page to speed things up.
Step 4- Find Lesser Known Blogs Mentioned by Twitter Users
Another way to use Twitter is to find Twitter users that mentioned a particular blog you found above or something related to your topic. Then look through their Twitter stream to find other related blogs they've mentioned. This is a bit tedious, but you may be able to find some gems.
- For example, find any Twitter users that retweeted lonely planet (lonely planet is a large travel site), then search through the user's other tweets to find other related travel blogs.
Step 5- Prioritize Your List
Once you've compiled a large list of potential blogs (I usually end up with 100-200 minimum), you want to prioritize the list so that you can focus your efforts on a decent number of bloggers that (1) would definitely be interested in your product and (2) have enough of a readership or following to make an impact.
Here's a few metrics I gather to prioritize my spreadsheet:
- how popular is the blog online, (roughly) gauged by:
- number of indexed posts on Google via a site search on Google
- number of websites linking to the blog via Open Site Explorer (the free version of the tool is good enough for this)
- number of mentions on Twitter of the blogger's Twitter account (note that I wouldn't use number of Twitter followers as a main metric because it's so easily inflated and gamed).
- number of comments on their blog posts via randomly clicking through their posts and seeing if there are a lot or just a few comments (or none)...that's accurate enough for now.
- *You can make this process much faster if you know XPATH coding via Google docs, have used or created web scrapers in the past, or work with an overseas data entry team but that's a post for another day ; )
- How established the blog is via the age of the website on GoDaddy's "whois" info
- Number of subscribed readers, either through the blogger openly posting this on their blog or by hacking it if the blog uses feedburner.
Your goal should be to end up with 25-50 bloggers that you now want to form an initial relationship with. I usually shoot for a smaller focused approach rather than expecting to become best friends with 100+ bloggers in a short time frame.
Now You're Ready to Start Outreach
I'll be posting another post on product launch strategies that will provide some guidance re: how to actually form a relationship with a blogger (i.e. don't just start pitching), but here's a few tips:
- Keep it personalized- don't use a massive email template, don't be pitchy, etc.
- Research the blogger first- read their blog posts, gauge their views in your industry, etc. Integrate this into your personalized email. You could even create a Google Custom Search Engine (like this one) to find blog posts written by your target blogger list that are about a topic related to your project (instant connection with the blogger).
- Make it easy for them to do what you're asking- give them all the info they need in a short and succinct way, provide any images / video links that they can use, etc.
I hope this post has been helpful and that you've learned a trick or two that you may not have known before. Share your thoughts or questions in the comments about blogger outreach and how you use it (or could use it) for your product launch or existing business.