Internally, November is the time of year when everyone is looking forward to their new year budgets. No matter what your organisation’s gatekeeper looks like (CMO, line manager, Managing Director), you need to inspire sign off. And with the UK economy beginning to look up, there’s no better time than now to push for additional budget as you plan for the New Year.
Looking for additional marketing budget?
Propose new budget spend as a test. Even if you know a new approach will work, starting the initiative small means you appear experimental, curious, and innovative, while being cautious with your organisation’s investment. You can agree on KPIs, and ensure additional investment and sign off if your test meets expectations. This approach ensures your budget gate-keeper is comfortably in control.
Take advantage of procurement. Your procurement team LOVES measuring ROI, assessing your agency relationships, helping you decide where to spend next years budget and how to plan it. Let them be of service! Let them help you centralise efforts and negotiation efficiency across departments. It’s also likely they’ll have already done research into your budget’s performance over the last year, so ask them for insights. By planning as a team, you’ll be in their mind when they’re looking at how to allocate their efforts too.
Report on ROI success in the last year. What projects has the biggest impact on your bottom line? Which projects made the board room chuckle with delight? What investment lead to greater media coverage? For every success, put together a ROI figure. You may have some success that isn’t easily measured with a pound symbol, but this is how getting more budget is justified. Also, check out helpful advertising lifetime value SaaS like Nanigans or closely monitoring your staff’s time with programs like Toggl and Desktime.
Teach your gatekeeper new concepts. The individuals signing off your budget will appreciate the learning opportunity to better understand where you see the direction of your marketing efforts going in 2014. Talk with them about how your agile approach for the New Year will lead to outperforming KPIs or explain the benefits of mining big data for your marketing strategy.
Ditch silos and propose budget flexibility. While specialisms are brilliant where expertise is required, we’ve seen marketing integration between on-line and off-line, PR and linkbuilding, content and copy. Ask yourself, what budgets are currently held by other departments, but would work much better for the organisation as a whole if they were under your control? Be prepared to bid for bringing these items within your marketing department’s remit.
Find alternative sources for budget. Have you considered grants? In the UK, local councils are keen to assist in business growth and provide funding for certain activities like market research, partnering with local universities, and more; ask them about what’s available.
Ask for HR to chip in. With regards to budgets, remember your staff is the most important resource; and they need to be looked after and budgeting is a great time to bring this up to your gatekeeper. Talk with HR first, and ask if they have budget set aside for internal development which could contribute to your plans for your department’s education and productivity levels.
Get Everyone Involved. Make sure the right people are aware of what you’re keen to do, and inspire them to support your budgeting cause. Discuss recruiting a new staff member with HR, understand the formalities and costs associated with this. Talk to your content team about what concepts they’d like to expand on in the New Year and resource required. Getting other teams excited leads to a positive, infectious spirit that may work in your favour to put additional “friendly” pressure on the gatekeeper to sign off.
Buffer your plan. With most projects and campaigns, there are unexpected expenses. Prepare to be agile now! Even a 10% buffer is a good starting point, simply to ensure there is a bit of breathing space between you, your project, and the finance team.
Rehearse your conversation. Make sure you practice what you’re going to say before you say it. Ask a friend or colleague to role play, and insist on them challenging your budget justifications. You will only get better at this if you practice.
In short, all of these tips push for accountability on your part, creative ways to source new budget, and preparing yourself and colleagues to support your justification for new budget.
What other tips would you recommend utilising to increase your marketing budget internally?
It’s important to connect your brand with appropriate bloggers and other influencers. Why? Because these digital influencers are an accessible touch point between you and your target market, websites and blogs are a great way to present products or services to the online community.
For in-house marketers, I’ve put together a few learnings and tips which I think will help you make the most of your digital PR potential, in the realm of bloggers.
What Brands Forget About Bloggers
Brands tend to think bloggers operate like other traditional marketing avenues, don’t make this mistake. Don’t forget these three things, at the risk of bloggers disliking you:
1. Bloggers spend a lot of time maintaining and updating their blog! If bloggers see that you took the time to read their posts, it can make a big difference in how the blogger perceives you. It may even determine the level of your ‘relationship’ (screenshot of this to come a bit further down!). Bloggers trying to interact with their audience so when commenting or sharing a post of a blogger it will help you to get noticed.
2. Quality bloggers are loyal to their audiences, not your in-house marketing team. The whole psychology of bloggers is very interesting as they are not motivated by money or marketing goals. It’s about the buzz of getting a reaction and starting a discussion once they hit the publish button. It’s also important to know that there are different types of sharers which allows you to approach them in a suitable manner.
“Research has shown that nowadays blogs do have a greater impact than social media on consumer purchase decision making. This further undermines the fact that word-of-mouth is the most powerful force in the consumer purchase decision making. As a result bloggers are a driving force within the digital marketing ecosystem, no brand can afford to dismiss. Brands need to start building, maintaining and nurturing relationships with those influencers.” – Clarissa Sajbl, Communications Manager at Linkdex
3. Bloggers typically have day jobs, don’t be pushy with your timelines as they aren’t working for you, and you’ll just be seen as pushy and rude. Most blogger prefer to receive a brief and concise email that is to the point but still personalised!In my opinion that does apply for the majority of bloggers globally.
6 Reasons In-House Marketers Need Bloggers
4. Your competitors are probably already doing this. Brands should not miss out to involve digital influencers to raise their brands profile online. Furthermore, it is a cost effective tactic to the get word out about your product or services and increase your brands online presence.
Unlike traditional advertising such as billboards or magazine advertising that prove to be difficult to track the results, blog provide trackable results. Hence, it is easy to justify the investment in blogger outreach.
5. There’s still time to use blogger relationships for mutual benefit. According to Nielsen (2012) there are over 181 million blogs worldwide, and the number is still growing. This means that they are a great source to spread the word about your brand.
6. Provide a personal tone. Unlike traditional media, digital influencers such as bloggers have a more personal approach towards their consumers and appear to be more believable and trustworthy, meaning that consumers are more receptive to referrals than advertising.
7. Get the word out about your products and services. No holds barred. Blogger reviews can be brutal, so be ready to take on true feedback. And don’t forget, bloggers love to write about their viewpoints and interests. That includes brands. They will write about a brand, whether they like it or not! Also, quality content can create an online buzz around your brand. But more importantly, beyond generating link metrics and referral traffic, blogger outreach can help an individual or a brand to be recognised as an authority and a thought leader within an industry. Kevin Gibbons shared some great information on Google+ Authorship slideshare.net and searchenginewatch.com.
How to Convince A Blogger To Share Your Content
There are different ways to convince a digital influencer to share a your product and your content (and hopefully, a link as well!). There are a number of ways to make the offer more hospitable to bloggers.
8. Advertising budgets. One way to get a blogger to place a link on their blog is to give them an incentive. Show them the success of your previous content in terms of visits, social shares, links, comments generated – if you can demonstrate how successful your content is likely to be when place, that is far more appealing to bloggers. Sor rather than offering payment, try showing them that you can generate them 10,000+ targeted visits to your content instead – that’s likely to generate them far more cash anyway from their advertisers on a CPM model, plus it keeps things natural.
9. Offer a test product. If you want a digital influencer to write a review about your product or service, provide them with the product of the service you want them to write about. They will happily write about it and share your link if you offer them your product for free. Do prepare yourself for an honest review, bloggers pride themselves on their independence and developing trust with their readers – they won’t jeopardise this to give your product/service a positive review. However, try to stay selective and don’t over do it as brands have been penalised for that this sort of blanket approach before. Do it with a much smaller, more targeted audience and it should work well – especially if you can make it personalised.
10. Offer Discount Vouchers to brand advocates. If your brand is one your target bloggers will be excited about, open up a conversation about this. If your brand has the capacity, you can also suggest an exclusive discount code for the blogger’s readership; this way bloggers are offering something exclusive to readers and you can measure the effectiveness by tracking how many people use the discount code. But it is also a great way to reward your customers and brand advocates. Like this you can increase customer satisfaction, incentivise loyalty and create more lucrative relationships. Dr Kathleen R. Ferris-Costa’s research on brand advocates established that brand advocates generate about twice as much communications about brands and are 83% more likely to share information about products and services than the average web user.
11. Co-branded promotions. Sometimes bloggers are looking for partnerships opportunities to promote and reward customers together with a good brand fit. Open up a discussion with a blogger to see if they’d be interesting in partnering about something you can offer. A competitions sponsored by retailers and suppliers is one way for the blogger and the brand to engage with audiences. For instance, I frequently see Mummy blogs mentioning DVD giveaways for RomComs and children’s DVDs.
12. Offer Content supporting a good cause. Maybe you are lucky and your content relates to a message that the blogger is passionate about like the environment. For example, environmental bloggers are happy to share relevant content that supports their cause. That could be an infographic on how to recycle paper or an article on how to save energy. For many organisations, you can pull together a charitable or instructive angle, simply think a bit outside of the box.
13. Exclusive rightscan work really well too. Not all bloggers like to share the same content that others have already featured on their blogs. By offering them exclusive rights, a blogger might be likelier to share the content. For an infographic you can offer them a head start of for example 24 hours.
14. Tailored Content. You should craft content specifically for that audience. It’s not just about getting a content placement, but working with and for them as earlier in the process as possible. If the content is relevant for the bloggers and their audience it will help to get the bloggers on board.
15. In-house promotion. Another incentive you can offer at the same time is to help bloggers create more attention to their site is by promoting the content across your own social media profiles and contacts. If you have a company blog, feature a link from your company blog. In that way, you are exposing them to a new audience and the blogger may get more traffic to their website.
16. A favour. Occasionally, you will have a blogger which whom you dealt before and that owes you a favour. Maybe you invited that blogger to an event or you were able to get the blogger in touch with some important contacts of yours. Whatever it is, make yourself a note of the occasion, and bring it up when you call in the favour – for instance “So glad you could connect with Robert the expert, isn’t he lovely? I wanted to ask…”.
17. Invoke passion and emotion. If you have a great piece of content that the blogger receives a very moving or funny, it is likely that he offers you to share it for free. It could as well be a rewarding or informative piece. Another option is that your content revolves around push-button topics such as religion, politics or celebrities. Your content may be very timely and relevant to the news that the bloggers cannot resist and have to share it with their followers. If that’s the case, you hit the jackpot. Enjoy these moments! Use tools like Google Trends to find what is topical and can cause more of a reaction due to the timely nature of the content.
What To Consider When Approaching A Blogger
Undoubtedly, the important factor here is to build a lasting relationship with those digital influencers. Remember to consider the following points when approaching a blogger for the first time.
18. You have to identify prominent bloggers that target the right audience. This is essentials as this will allow you to effectively promote your brand. I usually use different tools to recognise highly influencers for the relevant sector of my client such as Linkdex or Followerwonk. But I also use a common Google search to find popular sites. For example a lot of newspapers or magazines like to suggest ‘Best Blogs’ to their readers. These are great resources to find good sites.
19. Once the blogs are identified it is vital for you to make it personal. Take the time and get to know the blogger and the blog before you start your outreach. It’s not enough to have a good email template. You need to know what the blogger likes. This can be a bit time consuming but it really does make a difference. What are their interests? Can you suggest them something? Have you visited the same place as one of the travel bloggers you reached out to?
20. If you want to stand out, make sure that you address the blogger personally. I know, that’s not always possible. However, a lot of bloggers mention their name or an alias they like to be addressed with on their site, so why don’t you use this information. Your outreach will be much more effective if you are can say “Hi Andy” rather than “Hello Webmaster”. If you take the time and read the bloggers guidelines you see sometimes that they mentioned not to address them with “Hi Webmaster” or “Hey there”. So obviously, this can reduce your chance to get a positive response. Also, mix it up. Bloggers always get emails, but they prefer receiving tweets. Try contacting them that way instead – or pick up the phone and try to talk to them. If they are local, why not go and meet them for a coffee?
21. Say something nice about the blog. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean the layout or design of the blog. I am talking about a blog post. Did the post inspire you to for example to visit a place the blogger suggested? Or “That pie looks so tasty. I’m going to try the recipe next weekend as I have friends over for dinner”. Was the blog about a book review or a product you now want to try out. Whatever it is, let the blogger know, they like to be complimented. Why not, they put a lot of work in their blog. It is also a good idea to leave a comment on their blog or talk to them on Twitter about it. That makes them far more likely to recognise you. Because you made the effort to do that, it means they are more likely to do the same when getting back to you.
22. Best way to do that is to find some similar interests or a common ground. Why you ask? Because popular influencer get hundreds of emails, tweets or phone calls of various organisations every week that ask them to share their content. It is not enough to have a quality content, digital influencer want to be assured that they matter. In the example below you can see that this really helps. All it took for me was to compliment them on a blog posts and share some own experience with them and in return I got a great placement.
23. Ask what other sites a blogger has access to. Once you established a good relationship with a blogger, you can ask him for his contacts to other bloggers. Bloggers have often very good contacts to other bloggers and you might be able to get ‘your’ blogger to reach out for you. Or the blogger can provide you with an additional list of blogs you can reach out to. But there are many tools that can help you with this too. For instance Linkdex or AuthorCrawler that help you to find out what other sites bloggers write for, or have access to.
24. And this is only one reason for why it is important to maintain your relationships. Once you found a good blogger, you may even consider to hire him or her?! And make sure you can go back to them again in the future.
How Do I Stay Motivated & Deal With Rejection?
While outreaching, you will have to deal with rejection. Don’t worry, it isn’t just you, I deal with this all the time. Lately, we had this great little infographic made and I sent out an email saying “I’m sure your reader would love this infographic”. One of the rejections I got was very clear, but it amused me at the same time too.
As you can see, everyone has to cope with it and while the uptake on this piece in particular was very successful, it shows you can’t always please everyone! Sometimes, depending on the content, it may be a bit harder to get a placement and motivation may fade away quicker than usual.
25. Share your achievements and your good results. If you were able to get a placement on a great site, let your co-workers know about it. I send around Friday emails with links to the placements I’ve coordinated, and everyone loves to see how the content they’ve been involved in is being received by bloggers. They will reward you with some kind comments that cheer you up and keep you going, even if you hit a rough spot. Plus it helps our strategists to keep up-to-date with the relationships we have built, so that we can learn from our successes and share contact across the team.
26. Check your rankings. I’m always impressed with the difference my content placement makes on our BlueGlass client campaigns. If your keyword rankings increase due to your outreach, that is something to feel good about and motivates you to continue the good work. Therefore, it’s important to make sure the success is shared back.
27. Find something interesting to write about. As you have to get to know the digital influencers you are reaching out to, find something interesting you can share with them. May it be some kind words about an interesting blog post on their site or some other content or topics both of you may enjoy. Another example good example for that is when I reached out to a travel blogger who was luckily about to about to visit my hometown, so I was able to send him some recommendations over. Basically tips you can’t find in a tour guide. He really appreciated it and later on I was able to secure a placement on his site.
28. Key again, find your common ground. If you spend over 5 minutes to find something interesting or suitable to write about their blog, it might not be the right blogger to reach out to. And analyse the target blogs content to find out what their audience likes to read and interact with. Use tools like SocialCrawlytics and OpenSiteExplorer to view the most popular pages – that should give you more ideas about content you can craft for them.
29. Importance of be involved from the start of the process. The person interacting with the bloggers will best know what the blog is about and what the blogger and his readers are interested. It’s a great advantage if you have some market research experience as it eases the process of information gathering and market analysis. With that in mind, you should be the perfect person to be involved in developing content around the interests of your target audience. Kevin Gibbons’ article ‘Integrated vs Specialist: Have Agency Models Changed in 2013?‘ published on Econsultancy provides some great insight on this.
30. Maintain your connections with your digital influencers.If you need a break from an outreach project, try to connect with other bloggers you worked previously. Contribute on their platforms, or platforms they are interested in, so they remember you. Not only will it help you to get easier a placement for future projects, but it reminds you about your previous successes. Follow them on Twitter, add them on LinkedIn – it’s not just about email.
31. Rotate amongst campaigns. Try not to work the whole day on the same project, this can become very boring after six hours. Organise your time so you can swap projects, and don’t feel the pressure to work only on one campaign. This will give you some kind of variety! You should not feel like a factory employee or a robot working on a production line, doing the same thing the whole day. Outreach can be fun!
If you want to convince digital influencers to share your content, establish a relationship with them first. Personal connections are highly important before you ask for something. As mentioned previously, foster your relationship with them. You will work on other campaigns for which you need to convince those influencers again to share some link. Complement their blog, comment on a post and try to engage with them via social media. If you try to stay connected with them, they will see that you spend time and effort to communicate with them. All this contributes to the likelihood that will collaborate with you again! But offering to socially promote a piece of content is always going to help. Also you want the client to build an audience via social channels so that when they publish content it can be promoted to a targeted audience and spread as far as possible.
What strategy works best for you? How do you convince bloggers to share a link? And how do stay motivated during your outreach campaign? Share in the comments below and lets have a good discussion!