Blogs and bloggers have become incredibly influential over the past few years. In fact, blog content significantly influences consumer’s purchase decisions. According to data from a 2014 research study conducted by Research Now, nearly nine in ten consumers (84 percent) make purchases after reading about a product or service on a blog. Research Now also found that:
- Nearly one in two (46 percent) use blogs for initial product investigation
- 43 percent use blogs for inspiration
- One in three consumers (33 percent) use blogs to narrow down their purchase options, and
- 30 percent use blogs to confirm their purchase choices.
In other words, blogs and bloggers play an influential role at every step along the marketing and sales funnel.
This is a key reason why it is vital to recruit bloggers to your affiliate program who will provide high-quality content to a targeted, loyal audience. How to go about this will vary from company to company, but there are some helpful strategies that will simplify the process:
Before starting your blogger search, it’s important to identify what type of bloggers you’re looking to work with. For example, are you looking for a “mommy blog” to promote your brand? Are you looking for a fashion blogger to promote your new spring fashion product line? Whatever the case, there are many ways to begin building your blogger outreach list, including:
- Your internal customer relationship management (CRM) system
- List building tools (e.g. GroupHigh, etc.)
- Social media
- Conferences and events
- Search engines
Once you’ve identified the bloggers you want to work with, it’s essential to review their content to ensure that they are a good fit for your brand.
- Evaluate their blog traffic and social media reach
- Review their recent posts to ensure they’re blogging about topics that are relevant to your brand
- Check their post frequency, social media conversations, blog comments, etc.
When you’ve selected bloggers that you are interested in reaching out to, it’s important to make a good first impression. Remember, there is a lot of competition for a blogger’s attention – especially high-value bloggers – so make sure your communications stand out from the rest.
E-mail is usually the best way to initiate your conversations with bloggers. Here are four key elements that should be are included in an effective recruiting e-mail:
- Personalize it – Bloggers put a lot of effort into the content they create, so let them know that you recognize and appreciate that. Reference something specific about their blog that you liked. For example, “I really enjoyed reading your post about how to organize your closet,” as opposed to a generic statement, such as “I really enjoyed reading your blog.” Use their first name in your email and clearly explain why you think they would be a good fit for your affiliate program.
- Program highlights – Communicate what makes your affiliate program different from your competitors. Explain how the blogger can easily earn money by promoting your brand. Does your program offer any type of incentive or welcome gift? What is the commission rate? Determine the best three to five benefits to highlight and list them out in your e-mail.
- Sense of urgency – Create a sense of urgency, but don’t be pushy. For example, if you offer a welcome gift to new bloggers, you might say “If you join before [date], you’ll receive a free welcome gift.” By letting the blogger know that they have the opportunity to earn an incentive if they join within a certain time frame, you build urgency without being too insistent.
- Helpful details – Make it easy for the blogger. Include the sign-up link to your affiliate program, your direct email address, a link to your branded website, and information about the network that your affiliate program is on. Just as you need to research them, they need to learn about you and your brand to make sure it’s a good fit for them and their readership.
If your e-mail sparks the interest of the blogger, you can usually expect them to sign up within one to two days – or e-mail you directly with more questions about your brand, affiliate program, etc. If a blogger hasn’t joined your affiliate program, it’s key to follow-up one or two weeks after your initial outreach to let them know you are still interested in working with them.
As with all e-mail marketing campaigns, it’s important to continue to test and adjust your message, length, and layout in order to determine what bloggers are responding to best. By integrating all four key elements above into your recruiting email, you should see an above average response rate and sign up high-quality bloggers to your program.