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eCommerce Marketing

eCommerce Essentials: Reaching out to Bloggers to Help Grow your Online Store

eCommerce Essentials: Reaching out to Bloggers to Help Grow your Online Store

by John Larkin

John runs the blog here at eCommerceLift and is a verified Shopify Expert. Interested in an initial growth consultation? Click here

A year ago


eCommerce Essentials: Reaching out to Bloggers to Help Grow your Online Store

Oh dear. What is “Blogger Relations”?  That term you sort-of-vaguely-hear about during verbose online-marketing jargon filled talks. It tends to get buried under SEO, Social Media, Referral, PPC, SEM, Display, Ecommerce, and even Blogging...

But should it have its own merit and category?

Absolutely.

Blogger relations is the new addition to PR online.

For the first time in history, anyone has the power to share ideas and have the influence to acquire an audience.  Influential bloggers are arguably the new “journalist” in the information age. And some don’t need to work for the New York Times or Huffington Post to get there!

Depending on your service or product, these folks can help support your business with ethical endorsements or long-term strategic partnerships.

Influencers have the capacity to point a large fan base, followers or strong ranks on SERP (search engine results pages) which relate to your business’s key terms at your online store.

First things first though. Do some research.

Research: Who is talking about your product or products similar to yours? Did anybody write Yelp reviews or Google reviews about you or your competitors? What do you know about your customers? What are your customers reading? What search queries do your customers use and does it lead to you? Thus, do these answers lead to blogs or websites which have a strong DA/ PA trust rank, traffic, SERP positions relating to your key terms, fan pages such as a strong Google+, Facebook, Twitter?

These are some basic questions to ask when starting the research phase.

Next, compile your list of contacts and start to categorise them in your own spreadsheet by influencer strength.

Here’s my take on what factors I think are important when evaluating an influencer’s strength score. These factors can include SEO and Social Media criteria.


The Approach: Bloggers, influencers, or online journalists are a breed which need some nurturing.  It’s never a one-way relationship. Like any respectful public relations person or business developer, relationships are about mutual compromise and mutual beneficial exchanges.  Before you even think about sending an impersonal mass email or spammy pitch to the entire list of researched contacts, think twice! You may not have the time to be personal with each blogger, but taking a few minutes out of your day to read your blogger’s posts goes a long way. Understand what kind of person they are; after all, they are putting themselves out there with their blog, so be attentive!

Here is a sample template I like to use which always needs customization for each blogger.


Project Points of Interest: This is the tricky part. You can’t win them all. Not everyone will jump on the band wagon regarding your idea. It’s a tough and competitive world out there and you need to prove that your idea or campaign is worthwhile. How can both parties benefit? What are the needs of your blogger? Do they need traffic/exposure? Are they economically motivated? Do they like your products? Thus, it’s always best to consider those who have used your product or service before. This makes the partnership much easier to endorse. 

Negotiation: Money is a sensitive issue. Some bloggers have high demands depending on their influence ranks and experience. I tend to back away when a blogger refuses to have a fair negotiation. No matter how important they think they are, both parties need to benefit. For example, when the base price for an article is too high, I like to ask if the blogger can do me a social media favor, such as repost something that they like from the company’s blog or Facebook page. Ask for an ethical favor in return. It can’t hurt.

Aftermath: Congratulations on your project. Whether you had your fellow blogger/influencer ethically endorse a product or service review on a post, develop a social media campaign with you, or any other partnership tactic, both you and your blogger deserve to see the numbers. Suggest a formula that would measure the results of the “sharing and engagement” metrics on the campaign or post.

Here’s a chart I like to use for: Scoring the Engagement 


The On-Going Relationship:  Nurture them again! I can’t tell you how much a friendly-and genuine follow-up email, comment, re-tweet on their blog, whatever, pays off. Bloggers who feel satisfied by the exchange are more opt to help you out in the long run.  I had a blogger who didn’t mind retweeting a contest because she liked doing business with me. Another blogger followed our channels afterwords voluntarily. Additionally, I have had many new blogger referrals from pervious bloggers who have worked with me in the past. Human relationships online have their purpose and we can all benefit from a mutual exchange. 

Example from Kickstarter - Robert Padbury:

Let’s look at an example to back this up. Robert Padbury was a senior UI designer at Apple and has an inspirational success story.

His latest creation, Atelier Playing Cards, took off on Kickstarter and exceeded funding expectations.

Robert has created a beautiful deck of cards minimally designed with sophistication inspired by the James Bond 2006 movie "Casino Royale".

However, Robert wouldn’t have promoted his product successfully without the support of his network including: designers, investors, influencers, bloggers, and the general public who follow his work.

The help of a solid network, evaluating social media, influencer strength, rankings and authorship helped promote this product by increasing the level of engagement, linking, and virality. In other words, third parties who write and implement followed links to his product automatically give him more exposure/traffic online.  Other indirect sources of referral traffic are possible too through social media partnerships such as contests, albums, etc. 

Here are some third party influencers and bloggers who’ve written about his product.

Christian Zibreg- Blogger who endorsed Robert’s product.  



Peter Burrows Journalist - Bloomberg Technology

John Gruber - Influencer tweets about Atelier Cards and links to Robert’s Kickstarter page from Daring Fireball website.
 

Of course, it helped that Robert had the best playing cards manufacturer backing him up, the United States Playing Card Company.

Since the project has been officially fully funded today from Kickstarter backers, Robert anticipates his product to be merchandised, manufactured and sold from the United States Playing Card Company asap.

Just like Robert, I encourage you all to consider investigating and thinking about how others can help spread the word about your products. Never underestimate the power of blogger relations because you could be wildly surprised by the benefits of promoting your product through the influence of others.

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