Introduction to Outreach: 7 Outreach Strategies To Take Your Brand to the Next Level
Image via Emma Dime.
Outreach. If you’ve worked with me (or spent more than 2 minutes with me in person) you will have heard me talk about it with you before.
I’m utterly obsessed.
In a world where we are all trying to “cut through” the noise with our message, Outreach can be used in so many ways to help you to amplify that message.
So what is it exactly?
“Outreach marketing is the practice of seeking out individuals or organizations that have a shared interest in what you or your company has to offer. Sometimes, it is used in conjunction with direct sales, but often times it is used for more larger goals such as branding.”
Thanks to Search Engine Land for that nifty little definition.
Essentially, I view Outreach as a means of connecting and building partnerships with like minded individuals to achieve our goals through negotiating an appropriate exchange of value.
By “exchange of value” I don’t just mean money. Of course, if you’re a blogger you would know that bloggers are often open to writing “sponsored posts”. They are often either paid or sent free products to review*.
[disclaim]*NOTE: Did you see Google’s update this week on posting sponsored content? Google has released a new update requesting that bloggers who “review” sponsored content (either by being paid or sent free goods) need to ensure they include a “disclosure”, ensure that any links back to the brand’s website are “no follow” links and that the content is authentic and “has a purpose”. If you’re a marketing manager or small business wondering how this now affects your business and your Outreach strategies, read up on my post about “What it means for Marketing Managers”.[/disclaim]
But an “exchange of value” could be almost anything.
Are you a brand who is about to feature a new TVC or launch a new website? Could you use being a “model” or the “face of your brand” as a carrot to engage an influential blogger or social influencer?
Could you provide a free service? Say you’re a consultant (like me). Could you provide a free 1 hour consultation?
If you’re reaching out to a content creator, could you give them some unique content or a great angle that no one else has covered yet?
Whatever it is, you want to be able to provide the person you are reaching out to with some value if you’re hoping to get some value from them.
Whether you’re hoping to leverage off of their website visitors, their knowledge or information, their time, their content, their email list – whatever! There has to be a “value exchange” not only to increase the likelihood of that influencer working with you, but to build on the relationship with this user as well.
OK so why perform outreach?
Well there are a number of reasons.
From gaining backlinks for your SEO (to help your blog posts or website rank higher in Google) to gaining exclusive content by reaching out to influencers you look up to to provide their tips and advice (like the series I have cooking up for Small Paper Things coming soon. Stay tuned)!
Here are some of the ways you can leverage Outreach strategies to achieve your goals.
1. Curating tips from industry experts to create a bespoke content piece:
I have found this to be one of the most effective ways to leverage the influence of others while creating a beautiful, unique and valuable piece of content for my clients.
First just collect a list of influencers or bloggers in your niche that you would like to reach out to.
Send them a personalised outreach email (steps on how I recommend structuring outreach emails and how you can perform outreach using Gmail to come) asking them if they would like to be featured in your new piece of content (I particularly love creating ebooks that contain a LOT of tips and information from different sources. For example; “101 Home Cleaning Tips From Aussie Home & Lifestyle Bloggers”.
Collect all of the tips and build your content around it.
Flattery will get you everywhere, so consider including the logo or photo of the people you are curating content from as well as a little line about what they do (this is about cross promotion remember – a mutual exchange of value. Not just leveraging their knowledge for your own gain).
Once completed and “live”, reach out to everyone again to thank them for their contribution, send them a copy of the content and provide them with the link of where to find it if they feel so inclined to promote it to their pages.
I usually find that I don’t even have to “ask” influencers to promote it. People generally love to feel “featured” in something and since you have taken the time to build a meaningful relationship with them (focusing on that mutual exchange of value) they are much more likely to “help you” by “sharing”.
2. Guest Blog Spots:
If you are in a position yourself where you can really offer a guest blogger access to a new audience (if you have built up your visitors or subscribers) then reaching out to people you admire and offering them the opportunity to guest post for you can be a great way to gain valuable content.
You could always offer to provide a guest post for them in return, or just promise them the additional exposure, a solid link back to their blog and a feature in your email newsletter. Just keep in mind when you’re pitching to highlight what they will get in return.
3. Feature Interviews:
I absolutely LOVE conducting interviews. In fact, I have been busy working behind the scenes reaching out to influencers in my network who have an incredible story to tell so that I can share it with all of you!
I find that by asking people to answer questions in an “interview” style format, it’s quite “low barrier”. People can write in a very relaxed format and tend to be able to bust out answers to interview questions far more quickly than if you were to ask them to write a piece of content.
In addition, I really like reading interview style posts and gaining insight into someones everyday life.
I have been interviewing some of my absolute favourite marketers and content creators and I just can’t wait to share their insights with you!
Collaborations could really be anything where you can find a way to cross promote one anothers content or products.
I particularly love reaching out to brands or bloggers for my clients to create a collaborative webinar, giveaway, course or ebook. The opportunities are endless!
Just have something in mind, really think about the person or brand you would like to work with and make your email pitch very customised, being sure to highlight the best way to work with one another and of course (like all emails) “what’s in it for them).
5. Gaining access to beautiful (and unique) photography:
This little outreach tactic is the ace up my sleeve. I have been working hard behind the scenes on a complete Small Paper Things Blog rebrand and part of that rebrand was to completely change up the imagery I have been using.
I have previously used a lot of free stock images but I really wanted to use unique imagery. I’m no photographer and in all honesty, I really just don’t have a great eye for design… I always wished I could have an eye for it but I just don’t. Pink and red totally go together right? :-/
Anyway, knowing that I wanted beautiful and unique images that I didn’t see used in every other blog, yet knowing that I wasn’t going to have the time or the skills to produce the imagery myself, I decided to reach out to a number of photographers whose work I loved, and asked if they wouldn’t mind me using their images on my blog as long as I attributed the image to them.
Now I have a little “file” of incredible photographers who are happy for me to feature their work.
6. Gaining a “shout out” from an influencer:
As many of you would know, I decided to create a minimalist calendar to help me with all of my business and blogging organisation a while ago.
Back then, Small Paper Things Blog had only just started to take off and I really wanted to see it grow.
So, to promote my calendar and my blog even more, I decided to reach out to a number of bloggers who I saw had posted a curated list of “printable calendars” for 2015 and 2016.
I reached out to them, told them about my calendar and mentioned my point of difference. I designed my calendar to be really simple. A minimalist calendar. I mentioned that I loved the list of calendars they had curated and that since so many of them were colourful, perhaps their readers would be interested in also seeing a “monochrome/minimalist” design.
A number of bloggers got back to me and decided to update their post to include my calendar.
I subsequently gained a significant amount of referral traffic and improved my websites SEO.
Which leads me to number 7….
As many of you would already know, SEO is so much about gaining links. While the links are absolutely likely to come just by producing a great piece of content, there are often a number of ways to gain a link back to your website by just being a little bit clever.
Outreach for SEO is a whole other topic in itself (I could honestly write another 10 blog posts about it) but one of my favourite ways to use outreach for SEO is to find anyone who is linking to a post that I have also written about (knowing my post contains more information and is more valuable) and letting them know that my post exists.
By basically telling someone (not in so many words) that the content they linked to is now “old” or not “up to date” you can easily encourage them to link to your post if you suggest that your content is the most up to date version.
I just stumbled across your post on “X topic” and really loved how you broke down the information.
I saw that you linked through to an article on “5 ways to increase Facebook organic reach”. I’m particularly interested in that topic myself.
In fact, I recently wrote a blog post with “15 ways to increase Facebook organic reach” that takes into consideration the most recent algorithm changes Facebook has made.
I thought it might be of interest to you!
Now please note that – I wouldn’t ordinarily send that as a “cold email”. I would always (I mean ALWAYS) send an introductory email first before asking for something (I mean, if you just met someone at a cocktail party and they asked you for a favour right off the bat, wouldn’t you be a bit taken aback by that?)
I just wanted to provide a bit of an example as to how you could frame it.
Another way to use outreach for SEO is one my good friend Paul Holstein of Nice Aprons taught me.
He very cleverly searches for broken links on the same topic of what his article is about – then lets the author know the link is broken and provides his link as a suggested update.
Those are just a couple of ways to use outreach for SEO. As I mentioned, SEO really needs it’s own blog post… (or 10)!
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Want to see more where this came from (including a step by step guide on how to perform outreach using Gmail and exactly how to get the most stunning photography to use in your blog or business) then “subscribe” to my newsletter or “follow” me on Bloglovin!