Online marketing is all about presence. The more frequently other websites mention your company and its products or service, the better your own site will perform online. More mentions online will lead to increased site traffic, higher rankings in search engines, more visibility on social media sites and a strengthened reputation as an authority.
Yet how do you achieve all these good things without engaging in a formal PR effort? Fortunately, you have a lot of potential supporters out there. The challenge is to convert them into actual supporters.
A study by NM Incite, a social media research and consulting firm, estimated that there were 173 million blogs in October 2011, up by 25 million from a year earlier. And an estimate by WordPress, one of the leading blog-publishing software firms, is that 329 million people view more than 2.5 billion pages each month on its software. With staggering numbers such as these, blogs can offer a great way to increase your presence online.
But to do that, you need to enlist the help of the small fraction of blogs that are both relevant to your business and popular. Relevance is mostly about topic consistency, and you can find relevant blogs by doing a search on Google Blog Search for a number of keyword terms related to your business. Keep in mind that those labeled as “blog homepages for [keyword X or keywords X+Y]” are the most relevant.
You can estimate the popularity of specific blogs in a couple of ways. One is to visit the web-traffic site Alexa and compare the statistic called Traffic Rank among various blogs (the lower the ranking, the better); another is to compare the relative score of the blogger herself on Klout, a site that gauges influence online (the higher the score, the better). Again, first identify the relevant blogs and then target the most powerful and influential of these blogs and bloggers.
Once you’ve identified a short list of bloggers whom you’d like to write about your business, try some of these six tactics to get them on your side:
Provide a free sample
Reach out to the selected blogs and bloggers by offering a free trial of your product or service, or even send it to them to own at no charge. My preference is always to reach out in person and explain the offer. The key is to develop at least some sort of relationship with the blogger before making a pitch.
Often, however, office gatekeepers prevent this type of access. In these situations, I generally accompany the offer or gift with a letter explaining why I’m sending it, and that if the blogger likes the product or service I would appreciate if she would blog about it. Ford does this routinely, offering power bloggers the use of a Ford vehicle for three to six months and requesting that the bloggers write about their ongoing experiences with the vehicle.