Us outreach and PR folk get a bad rap. And you can understand why.
You need not delve deep into the internet to find evidence of shoddy outreach work. Poor targeting, bad grammar, blatantly mass emails… it’s a dark world out there, kids.
Many bloggers are more than ready to screenshot and share. And from some of the examples I’ve seen, in many ways, we collectively deserve some good old fashioned public shaming.
When I started at Run2 as an outreach executive, I had no previous experience in digital marketing. As a result, surplus to the support I received from my colleagues, I became extremely well acquainted with Google’s kind offerings on what, exactly, outreach is.
Piece by piece, I built up an understanding of current ideas on influencer marketing and outreach strategy. While I’m forever grateful to the authors for their guidance, there was one recurrent theme I took issue with…
‘How to make your outreach emails look ‘real.’’ (i.e. how to convince bloggers that you’re interested in them personally, when you (presumably) aren’t).
This seemed pretty abhorrent to someone looking at the industry with fresh eyes – especially when I’d come to understand outreach as an opportunity to forge genuine, human, ongoing relationships with influencers, clients and customers.
If you’re putting effort into making your emails look sincere, why not put effort into making them actually sincere? Odd.
Bloggers aren’t stupid, they know how digital marketing works. Remember, it’s their sector too. They ‘get’ it, and can 100% tell when they’re being fobbed off with a bog standard, run of the mill, template email.
Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t put effort into your outreach, and your opportunity is attractive, the chances are influencers will still take you up on your offer. Stranger things have happened.
But ultimately you aren’t doing your job. You’ve failed to forge that connection; you’re doing your client, your contact, and yourself, a disservice.
Perhaps it’s my History degree talking, but I firmly believe that success lies in thorough research. Instead of hunting feverishly for listicles of copy-and-paste phrases that make you appear engaged… instead, why not try engaging?
Read their blogs, watch their videos, follow their social media accounts.
Get to know them, understand their audience.
What makes them tick? What keeps them ticking over?
The outreach email that follows your research should be but the tip of the iceberg.
And when you finally do get in touch, be sure to demonstrate your interest!
Address them by name, explain your reasoning in contacting them, offer thoughts and feedback on their blog. Seek permission to contact them in future with new opportunities. Ultimately, the best way to appear earnest is to be earnest.
I imagine seasoned digital marketers’ eyes rolling in their heads as I say this. I can hear the groans, the disparaging remarks: ‘how time-consuming…’
Well… yes. It might take that little bit longer up front. But it’s a far more efficient to consider bloggers individually than it is to pepper hundreds of inboxes with vague, impersonal emails. (Think William Tell versus Scarface).
Outreach is not the ‘smash and grab’ job it often seems to be treated as.
You’ll find that investing yourself in learning who you’re talking to will not only increase conversions in an immediate sense but also expand your options and save time in future campaigns.
What’s more, the recipients (apparently, according to feedback!) appreciate this approach. Relevant emails that are personal and filled with personality (and Star Trek gifs, incidentally) are far more endearing than cold, impersonal spam.
Next time you go to outreach bloggers: research, commit, connect. And make sure that there’s only one name in that ‘recipients’ box on your email.
We don’t like smoke and mirrors at Run2; our genuine approach to outreach demonstrates that. Want us to up your outreach game on behalf of your business? Get in touch for a chat.