Dear Email Diva,
I had a quick question on the best way to reach out to bloggers in cyberspace to introduce them to a new product or service without sounding too pitchy or totally informal. I have been a constant contributor on a bunch of them and have even written about some of their blog posts/articles on my blog, so I was planning on using this connection as an opener. What happens, though, with the bloggers that I don't have this relationship with? Are there any techniques you know for reaching out to the blogosphere when trying to get them to write about your product or service?
Cutcaster - A Creative Exchange
This is outside of the Email Diva's realm, but, fortunately, I know a lot of smart people and find the concept of marketing via social networks fascinating.
Veteran blogger Jeff Larche, vice president of interactive services for Nelson Schmidt, says that blog writers are always looking for something new, but some have an aversion to what one called "news that finds me." Just as the acceptable use of email is vastly different than for direct mail, blog etiquette is unique to the medium.
He directed me to an experiment done by Search Engine Guide's Jennifer Laycock to promote her side business without search engine traffic. She has some excellent advice for marketing to bloggers and a painful don't-let- this- happen-to-you cautionary tale.
Jeff's suggestions: be timely and add value. Search on Technorati for keywords associated with your business, and when you have something useful to add to a current thread, do it. If your entry is allowed, say thank you to the author and offer a link to your site, but with no expectation. Jeff points out, "This is not your media Rolodex."
Another smart person and author of two blogs, Augie Ray, managing director of experiential marketing at Fullhouse Interactive, had a typically expansive and thorough response: "Think of it as entering a conversation that is already underway. If you overhear someone complaining about a mop and you've got a mop that solves his or her problem, you may jump in and say, 'Sorry for butting in, but I couldn't help overhearing and I may have a product that can solve your problem. Are you interested in hearing more, because if not I'll apologize for my interruption and leave you alone.' That sort of attitude (and relevance) must be brought to self-promoting blog posts.
"I'd recommend some PR (PRWeb or PRNewsire). I've found some bloggers will pick up on an interesting and well-targeted press release.
"Personal requests to bloggers also work -- sent via e-mail and not posted on their blogs, says Ray. "If there are blogs pertinent to the product and service, then sending an email explaining why you think the product or service is relevant and of interest, offering more info, and asking if they'd consider posting information on their blog is fair. Just don't harass people if no response is received -- larger and more famous blogs get a ton of such requests (and honor quite a few, if they're of interest to readers.)
"Many blogs take advertising. Another way of reaching a blog's readers isn't through the blog content at all, but through advertising.
"A caveat with all this is the typical one people need to keep in mind with social media -- responses can be negative as well as positive. If bloggers check out your product or service and find it worthy of criticism, they won't hesitate to warn their readers. Before reaching out, it's very important to be sure the product or service is ready and that you completely understand the unique benefits it provides to a specific audience."
Provide useful content, respect the audience and appreciate the unique characteristics of the medium... it seems the keys to success for email and social network marketing aren't so different after all.
The Email Diva
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