As an early stage startup, leveraging every possible marketing channel is key to both testing your product and getting feedback, as well as driving traffic to start making sales. It is critical that your mindset is both thinking of the most efficient and effective techniques.
“Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task (whether important or not) in the most economical manner possible. Being efficient without regard to effectiveness is the default mode of the universe. “ Tim Ferriss
If you are thinking about ways to drive more traffic to your site and how to raise awareness of your product, interacting with guest bloggers is a sure way to be both efficient and effective.
Step 1: Leveraging
With a new business you will be determined to try and create a social ‘buzz’. Therefore you will be pushing twitter for more followers and retweets, Facebook for more likes and shares, and Linkedin for more connections. However, if you analyse your own account you will realise how inefficient it is to think that these channels will bring any success short term. As a long term strategy I agree that it is in your best interests to be building all the foundations of social media accounts, but short term you need to be thinking of what is going to bring you instant results and spikes in traffic.
As an early stage startup (less than 1 year old) let’s presume the following figures are your social media stats:
- 2000 twitter followers
- 800 Facebook Likes
- 1000 Personal Linkedin Connections
In terms of a routine let’s presume you do the following:
- Create social media posts for the week ahead which include 3 tweets per day and one Facebook post per day
- You write one blog post per day
- You connect with 25 people per day on Linkedin
In theory, all of this is brilliant, you feel like you are active, you are working hard, you are getting some likes of your posts and the odd person comments on a tweet. However what is the actual effect of all of this?:
- When posting on Facebook, only a very small percentage of people who have liked your page will actually see your posts on their feed:
‘You used to be able to access your Facebook fans by creating really good content that got likes and shares from users. The more likes and shares you got, the more likely it was that the post would be seen. Now, you not only have to create compelling content, you also have to put advertising dollars behind it to ensure it’s seen in News Feeds,” – Kurt Merriweather.
This means that although you are spending lots of time trying to come up with unique Facebook content, nobody is actually seeing the posts. If we have a look at DJ David Guetta Facebook page, he has over 54 MILLION likes:
However, when he posts something on his page, like a competition, you would expect there to be lots of engagement. Again I stress out of 54 Millions likes he gets 748 shares and 17K likes.
The point I am making here is that David Guetta’s marketing team have obviously spent a huge amount of money to build that many likes, but still only 0.03% of his audience actually likes his content. If you are a startup trying to gain traffic from your site and you only have 800 likes, it’s probably just as effective to open up the window in your office, and shout as loud as you can, “I’ve written a new blog post, does anyone want to read it” – You will probably have the same response that nobody hears you:
Step 2: Why Guest Bloggers
If you have ever written a blog you will understand the time it takes to research, write, edit, find images, optimise, post and then interact with any comments once the post is live. It takes a lot of hard work and effort but the outcomes are great. Now put this in the context of popular blogs such as Startacus. The owners of this blog have worked tirelessly for years to build an active following with some key characteristics that are ideal for any new startup:
- They are passionate about helping startups and have gradually built a loyal and engaged following over a number of years
- They have 12.9K Twitter followers / 3500 Facebook likes. These numbers may not seem huge at first glance, but this is an active audience that are very responsive and passionate about all things startup related
- They are always open for new content and new material to keep their site active
When helping a startup with their marketing, I always want to push them to try and do a guest blog outreach. Similar to Startacus, there are lots of platforms that are ideal for startups to contact to raise awareness of their product by guest blogging:
Step 3: What is the goal?
When contacting bloggers, always think of what is to be gained for you and more importantly what is to be gained from them. If you can build up a healthy relationship with a popular blogger you can benefit from a range of things:
- They could feature your startup on their site / social media and newsletter
- They could provide backlinks from their site to yours
- You could have an ongoing relationship with them where you could write for them on a monthly basis
However, also consider the time restraints the owner of the blog will have and how to make things as easy as possible for them when you contact them. The most popular sites will get lots of submission and emails and so how do you make sure that your content stands out?
Step 4: Who do you want to contact?
I have previously written a more in depth blog about How to get the best data and so I will not go into detail here about the techniques of research and how to find the best email addresses, contact numbers etc. However, what is critical, is that if we can go back to this point about being efficient and effective, how do you apply this to contacting blogs.
My aim for a blog outreach is to do things in bulk where I can contact up to 250 blogs at one time, but every blogger feels like I have written a personalised email. The way I do this is broken down into a number of steps and all data is added to a google doc with the following columns:
Some boxes are self-explanatory:
- Blog Name (Eg: PatrickPaulCollins)
- First Name (Eg: Patrick)
- Blogger Website (Eg: https://patrickpaulcollins.com/blog)
- Email: (Eg: email@example.com)
- Twitter: (Eg: https://twitter.com/patpaulcollins)
Within the research there are also other data that I collect to make the campaigns more personalised:
- Featured Blog Title
When contacting the blog I always want to make sure which blog I liked of theirs and to show them that I am a fan of their work. For example with my own site, the featured blog title could be ‘how to create leads for your sales team’’ and then in the featured blog link I would add this link ‘https://patrickpaulcollins.com/create-leads-sales-team/’
- Especially the Idea of
For this section, I want to let them know that I have actually read their blog and found something in the article that has helped me. With the context of ‘how to create leads for your sales team blog’ that I wrote, the especially the idea of text could be ‘using Tag Rules’
Once you have researched all the data, the fields will look like this:
Step 5: Creating and sending the Emails
I use Woodpecker to send all emails and it has some great features to help you with a blog outreach. I am an authorised partner and so if you use the following link you get an extended 30-day free trial and can send up to 500 emails for free, really allowing you to test everything before you commit to a paid account.
The first thing you need to do is to create the email templates. I like to send a series of three emails and Woodpecker will automatically stop the campaign if someone replies.
Email 1: Introduction
The following is the template I will use to contact bloggers:
In this context, ‘snippet 1’ is a merge tag that relates to ‘Featured Blog Title’ and ‘snippet 2’ relates to ‘Especially the Idea of’.
Using this blog template it shows that it is personalised with both the blog we like and also what we learnt / liked from the blog, an introduction to why we are getting in touch as well as why we are passionate about the same topics that the blogger writes about
Email 2: Follow up
If the blogger does not reply, 3 days later another email will automatically be sent out:
In this second email, I reference again the blog post that they have written and why I am getting in touch. I also try a different tactic here to ask if I can feature them on my blog. The reason for this is that from reading the first email, they may not know me well enough to want to feature me on their site. However, from asking to feature them on your own site, it helps to build a relationship that in the future they could reciprocate and feature you on their site.
Email 3: Final Follow Up
It is important that you can be proactive to chase people up but not too pushy or annoying. I will send one final follow up a week later just to make sure the blogger has had a chance to read my email:
The main goal here is just for me to have some clarity. If the blogger is interested but very busy then that is no problem and I can get in touch in the future, however, if they are not interested that is also fine and I know not to contact them again.
Step 6: What to do if the blogger is interested?
After all of the hard work to get in touch with a blogger, you need to be prepared for when they show interest. My advice is always try and arrange a call as it is the best form of building a relationship. In this call try to:
- Show your personality. They will speak to 100’s of startups but what have you done that is very interesting and that is unique?
- Complement the blogger and highlight what you like about their style, their content, their site etc
- Be completely open and say you are passionate about growing your startup and you would love to help create content that will add high-quality material to their blog
If everything goes well, the outcome will be that your content is featured on their site, drives traffic back to you and raises awareness of who you are, like in this example where it was featured on Teamgate CRM as well as causing lots of comments on Linkedin
Step 7: Outsourcing
This blog started on being efficient and effective and so needs to finish in the same way. If the goal is to leverage your time and resources to help raise awareness of your startup and drive more traffic, then I understand you will be concerned how much time all of this will take to create.
Don’t worry there is a solution to all of this: OUTSOURCE IT ALL!! I also run TimelyPA which helps connect startups with the best cost effective freelancers all trained by me to do all of this for you.
- Find a freelancer who will do all the research for you. Give them the spreadsheet with all the fields I have mentioned, add 5 examples for them and say you need the top 250 most popular blogs within your target market.
- Create a Woodpecker account to upload the data into
- Use the email templates that I have provided and make them relevant to your product
- Launch the campaign and ask the freelancer to filter all of the interested people for you (maybe adding to a CRM with a task for you)
- Speak to the bloggers and agree to do guest blogs for them
- Find a freelancer again using Timely PA to write the guest blogs for you
I have been using this approach for years helping startups and it is an instant way to create long lasting relationships with blogs that can help to drive traffic to your site as well as raise exposure of your product. If this is something you feel you would like help with, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a call here and I would be happy to speak to you to see how I can help you.