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Outreach

Direct Mail & Digital Outreach: How They Work Together

In today’s fast-paced, hyper-connected world, it seems everyone is on social media. On the surface, it makes digital marketing appear to be the ultimate medium for marketers. The issue with that assumption is that digital advertising fulfills consumer demand that has already been created by another source.

With traditional forms of media such as direct mail, advertisers can get in front of the consumer well before any interest to purchase has been created. With this approach, you essentially create demand that did not exist before, and as a result, gain access to a new audience.

Direct mail marketing today is more critical to have as part of your marketing mix than ever. The largest digital companies in the world, such as Amazon and Google, rely on direct mail as part of their customer acquisition strategy.

There is a specific place for both types of marketing and for the highest chance of reaching your marketing goals, you must use both in your strategy.

Why Direct Mail?

Consumers are spending more time of their day online than ever before. From video streaming to social media, marketers are always looking for new ways to increase reach and engagement between their brands and consumers.

The constant desire to stay on the cutting edge of trends and move on to the next big thing in marketing often leads to abandoning reliable tactics like direct mail. Direct mail can target and personalize its audience, which provides an incredible return on investment.

Think customers are ignoring direct mail? Think again. A lot of companies are relying on digital marketing as their only engagement tool. Consumers on the receiving end are inundated with clutter. An estimated 1 in 4 people use ad-blocking software. Those that do not are so used to being flooded with digital advertising that they have become ad-blind, learning to ignore content that resembles ads.

Brands can engage with consumers on platforms outside of digital marketing and experience positive ROI. Direct mail still proves to be a robust marketing tool that keeps customers actively involved with a brand’s products and services during a moment where the reader’s mindset is more attentive to your message.

According to a recent case study, 93% of people said they use coupons from the mail in 2018, up from 88% in 2017. Reports by Digital Marketing Analytics have shown that direct mailed coupons continue to remain a viable approach because they have a high average response rate of 5.1%. Though it doesn’t sound like much, this is nearly three times the average response rate of paid search, email, online display, and social media combined.

Direct mail marketing is a wonderful engagement tool. Still, to realize its full potential, it is best used as a supplement to other marketing campaigns, whether it is digital, traditional, or social. Direct mail marketing capabilities can enhance any of your engagement campaigns targeting customers that may have otherwise ignored the marketing strategy.

More than half (57%) of Millennials have made purchases based on direct mail offers, and using the two channels together provide up to a 35% lift compared to a single channel.

Not only this, but data shows people spend more time with physical advertising than digital. People have a stronger emotional response to physical ads and remember them better because they are tactile. The tactile factor also makes it harder to ignore.

How to Use Direct Mail in Your Strategy

Connect with Non-Digital Responders

Regardless of how clever your digital marketing campaigns are, there will be people who ignore or block your messages. Keep a list of the people who are not responding and create a direct mail marketing campaign to target those individuals. You may be surprised at how many of those original non-responders you thought you’d lost respond to the direct mail approach.

Create a Single Hub for Digital and Direct Mail Offers

Look for a solution that provides direct mail and digital marketing services under one roof. A service like this can make it easier to create both digital and direct mail campaigns with cohesiveness to boost your return on investment. Working with us here at Sachs Marketing Group, we can integrate direct mail into your strategy to make everything easier for you to manage.

Combine Personalized Websites with QR Codes

Though QR codes haven’t been able to sustain a marketing campaign by themselves, using personalized URLs with these campaigns allows marketers to gain actionable insights into who their customers are and where they’re engaging with your print materials.

Here’s a suggested campaign to help you get started:

During the first week, send 1 to 3 email introductions. Flag the targets need or pain point and introduce your company product or service as the answer, perhaps including an offer. During week 2, send a postcard or a letter package that starts with the prospects made and introduce your company’s solution with an offer.

During week 3, send one to two emails, recapping your message. Recap the earlier message and introduce new support points. During week 4, send one to two emails with social proof to reference the fact that others like the target have already responded. Recap your offer.

During week 5, send a last-chance postcard designed to drive urgency and include a more attractive offer. During week 6, send a last-chance email, further promoting the urgency and perhaps including an even more attractive offer.

As your prospects convert, move them out of the flow. After week 6, the remaining prospects should be rested and set aside for a future effort.

Best Practices

Use the 40/40/20 rule. 40% of your mailer success will come from the list, which involves targeting the right prospects at the right time. 40% of it will come from the offer, which needs to be both compelling and relevant. 20% will come from the creative. The copy and artwork need to be motivating and attention-grabbing.

Use eye-magnet words such as free, now, new, announcing, and introducing. They have been scientifically proven to attract above-average readership. The words easy, improved, and quick have been shown to lift product sales, so you need to use them.

Use social proof. The principle states that when people aren’t sure about what action to take, they do what they see others like them doing. Highlight customer testimonials and indicate the number of satisfied customers as social proof will increase direct mail response rate.

Use what you know about your customers, including their preferences and past behaviors, to inform your subsequent communications and frame new sales opportunities. Take a programmatic approach instead of a series of unrelated one-offs.

Use the principle of consistency. Research has shown that once someone makes a decision, they will want to act on it in ways that are consistent with the decision. Remind customers that they have already made the decision to buy from you, and doing so will increase the likelihood they will buy from you again.

Don’t try to sell another service or a product. Instead, focus on selling a solution to a problem because that is what people buy.

Use the power of exclusivity. Offer customer-only discounts and sales that are not available to the general public. Having preferred access increases loyalty and spurs additional purchases.

Communicate with your customers regularly. Reinforce their smart decision to purchase your product. Keep them up-to-date with product enhancements and news before you inform the general public.

Capitalize on surprise and delight by providing unexpected offers or services such as sending a birthday message or percentage off coupon. Show and tell your customers that you appreciate their business.

Though the internet plays a significant role in the day-to-day life of consumers, brands need to remember that marketing can depend on so much more. For successful campaigns, marketers have to think about the variety of mediums they can use to interact with their customers.

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Outreach

The Pre-Outreach Strategy

When you ask marketers what their biggest challenges are, it’s no surprise to hear that many of them say “content promotion.” Getting links and social media shares is becoming more of a struggle for even the most popular blogs.

So, what can you do to promote your content more effectively?  That’s where a pre-outreach strategy comes into play.

Pre-outreach is great if you have established relationships with influencers, and industry experts you team up with on a regular basis to promote content.  Pre-outreach is useful to linking various fields together which can allow you to get a decent traffic boost that won’t die down, but only continues to bring additional users everyday.

Before I dig deep into the strategy, it is important to note that this approach may not be the best option for companies that don’t yet have visibility. If you are one of these companies, it makes more sense to invest resources into increasing brand visibility across your industry first. Once you have achieved a stronger brand visibility, you can come back to using a pre-outreach content promotion plan.

Check Your Network

Start your campaigns by putting together a list of people you regularly work with on content promotion. Using CRM systems or at least keeping a spreadsheet with names and contact information can make this step a bit easier. Pitchbox is a good option because it serves as an influencer outreach and link building platform.

It’s also a good idea to review your current list of social media followers and email subscribers. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find some people who are interested in sharing your content.

At this point, separate the contacts of the two lists. The first list should be people that you asked to show some love and endorsement for your content across their social media channels. The second list of people is who you should reach out to about linking back to the content.

In both situations, you must remember you are asking for a favor and you need to make sure it’s easy and beneficial for them to help you out. Take time to ask whether they want you to promote anything in return.

There are people out there who believe the best way to get links is to email blast people you might not even know. I don’t recommend that course of action. Recent studies show that cold outreach emails have an 8.5% open rate and through personal experience, I can confirm that number.  A better use of your time is to only ask people whether they could refer to your content if you know them and they have previously worked with you on link building.

While it is possible to use automated email outreach funnels like Mailshake, it’s always a good idea to handle your free outreach manually so that you can double-check that you are sending it to the right person and taking the time to add the appropriate amount of personalization to each email.

If you don’t have a very large network, you may want to consider launching a podcast or your own event to help you build relationships with industry leaders. If you have any close ties with companies that send out mass emails to their subscribers, it could be a gold mine for you. If you ask to be featured in their mass emails and  in return mention their posts to your email marketing campaign, you could see quite a burst of traffic.

Expanding Your Horizons to Build Links

If you want to build enough links, you will have to reach out to people outside of your network of contacts. This is a great time to use your pre-outreach to warm people up and start building relationships with them.

The key here is to provide any one you’re reaching out to with benefits and value first so they start to feel like they owe you. If you’re not familiar with your industry experts, it may become time-consuming for you. To maximize your time, do this:

Find Experts that Regularly Publish Guest Posts

To gather a list of contributors, you could start with checking sites that accept guest post opportunities. If you have access to Buzzsumo, you can run a report with the top authors tool where you can search using any keyword related to your pre-outreach content.

From there, take a look at the list of authors and find contributors that write across several blogs. Chose one or more writers to write on several blogs that are fully relevant to your search.

Create a Strong Value Proposition

The majority of us are not as popular as big names in our industry so it is crucial to create a powerful value proposition. Ways you can do this include:

  • Ask them to add their quotes if they are interested and have the time available
  • Sharing your final draft and seeing if they have a post they’d like to refer to in your piece.

Both of these options provide value to them and help you establish a mutually beneficial relationship. if you want to work with people you don’t know well, you’ll have a much better shot at getting what you want if you can provide them with value first.

Though it may seem easier to send cold mass emails, it’s better to invest your time and energy into building relationships with experts because they will absolutely pay and you may even become link building partners.

Get it Done!

That’s all there is to it. It’s a fairly simple idea but it is complex. You want to think long-term and try to find the best way to approach every person you reach out to. Remember you are asking them for a favor so you must take time to see what you can help them with in return. This not only ensures links, but a growing network of connections which we all know is the key to success in digital marketing.

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Outreach

Promote Your Website With These Outreach Marketing Techniques

If you build it, they will come just doesn’t work when it comes to websites and online businesses. With so much out there, you have to make sure people know you’re there, and that means taking action to promote your website. Sure, you can invest in social media advertising and search engine optimization, but there are many different methods to consider including in your digital marketing strategy.

Become a Fixture in Relevant Online Communities

Being known is the foundation of successful outreach. When people recognize your name, they’re more likely to respond.

To create this top-of-mind presence, you’ll need to become an active member in an online community where your target audience is. These communities are full of people you might be trying to reach, and are full of potential because they are niche.

A lot of marketers fail to leverage the high activity of the audiences in these networks because they’re focused on the short-term benefits, rather than the long-term effort. How can you become recognizable so people start to know who you are, and listen to what you have to say?

Participate in Conversations

Spend a bit of time every day taking time to engage others in conversation. Go through threads and answer questions. Ask questions. Introduce yourself. Participation is the key to getting your name to show up throughout the community.

Start Conversations

Don’t be afraid to start a conversation if you’re new to a community. You can create a post that details who you are, why you’re excited to be part of the community, and then asks others to share with you. The important thing is to respond to people who engage with you, whether or not you started the conversation.

Offer Value

The most critical part of online community participation is ensuring you offer value to the community. Don’t just blatantly self promote your products or services. People will start to ignore you and you’ll damage your reputation. If a product or service you offer could genuinely help a person, you can suggest it, of course, but it’s best to point people to your lead nurturing materials to start the relationship off on the right foot. Always maintain a professional demeanor online, behaving courteously and avoiding drama.

Publish Content on Other Websites

One of the fastest ways to build brand recognition and build backlinks to boost your SEO is to post content on other websites. For best results, these websites should be related to your product or service, or at the very least, be places where your target audience can be found. Look for industry publications, blogs, and other websites that get a lot of traffic. In the search engine optimization, business, and marketing niches, popular sites that accept contributors are Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Inc. Not everyone will be accepted as a contributor, though, so it’s best to start with smaller websites in your niche.

Focus on Targeted Sharing

Facebook is no longer the marketing giant it was because of the limited organic reach businesses have because of algorithm changes.  One of the best ways to reach more people on social media is to use targeted sharing.

This method essentially tags someone in a post with the opt they’ll share your content with their audience. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Link to sources featured in the article in a snippet you’d share.
  • Link to people in the snippet who’d be interested in your article.
  • Engage directly with a question or point of debate to start a conversation.

You can use Twitter’s advanced search tools to find people in your niche that are also close to you geographically, using hashtags and more.

Connect with Influencers

Host an influencer event. Pick a location to plan event that appeals to the influencers you’re most interested in working with. Start small by doing something locally and inviting influencers to your retail location, or plan something bigger than lasts all weekend and includes your brand while also highlighting influencers and their interests.

Spend some time finding influencers to engage with online before trying to hire them to work with your brand. There are several influencer marketing platforms available to help make your search easier.

Ask Your Network How They Want to be Marketed With

Once you’ve built a small network, reach out to them via email to find out how they want to work with you. This fosters a partnership and shows the current network and future customers you want to market with them, rather than at them. Whatever you do, just make sure you follow through on what the majority of people ask of you with your marketing. If they tell you they don’t want you to send them a ton of email updates – then don’t. Acting differently from what their feedback suggests you should do will create issues with trust.

Stay Authentic

Authenticity matters. It helps humanize your brand, which makes it easier for customers to connect with you and relate to you. One of the ways you can promote authenticity in your brand and marketing is to take the time to write a blog post about when you or your brand weren’t at your best. Don’t focus on perfection; focus on honesty and transparency instead. Own your mistakes. Tell people about a decision you made that you learned from. You can use this lesson to help others, and this helps foster a stronger connection with those people.

Though it can be nerve-wracking because you want to get as many people to your website as fast as you can because you’re excited, it’s important to realize that not everyone will have that excitement – especially if they’ve never heard of your or your company. Focus on the big picture and play the long game. It’s the relationships you make and connections you build that make all the difference in your success in the end. Putting more effort there now will definitely pay off.

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Outreach

Guest Blogging 101: Are You Missing Out?

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when internet marketers were flooding the internet with “guest blogs.” These articles were comprised of niche-related content stuffed with keywords and often, of little actual substance. Marketers would then use them to fish for backlinks to websites.

Things have changed, but back then there were often massive issues with quality. Some of the articles being published didn’t really fit on the sites that took them, while others were really solid quality-wise, yet were filled with unrelated links.

It didn’t make a ton of sense to the people reading them, let alone Google’s search algorithms. Eventually, they caught on and included some algorithm changes that altered the value of certain types of links.

Does that mean guest blogging is useless now, though?

Absolutely not.

While those marketers were attempting to game the system, web-savvy business owners got to know the importance of EAT (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) in marketing.

It turns out guest blogging is a whole lot less about the acquisition of backlinks and is now far more focused on creating quality brand partnerships.

So let’s talk about that, shall we?

Guest Blogging and Branding

I’m not discounting the benefits of guest blogging on your SEO efforts; I’m just saying that there’s more to it than keywords and backlinks. You don’t want to write content for just any website, and you really don’t even want just any backlink.

What you really want (need) is networking opportunities. Your goal is to make connections with website owners in both your field of expertise and in related fields.

Networking and guest blogging does require that you make any sort of deal with your direct competitors, either. There are plenty of people in your industry who don’t do the exact same thing you do. This means you will find a lot of opportunity to share information specific to your niche with new audiences, while at the same time welcoming others to share new perspectives on your site. The more you’re able to publish on related sites, the stronger your brand becomes.

Guest Blogging Benefits

There are plenty of reasons (aside from branding) to consider guest blogging. In fact, if you do it right (i.e., network first), it can actually be really beneficial.

What’s not to love?

  • Guest blogging on an industry-related site ensures traffic that comes back to your own website is highly targeted.
  • You’ll have an opportunity to expand your personal network by connecting with influencers in your field of expertise. This could potentially position you as an influencer in the process.
  • Any leads you generate from your guest blogs will essentially be pre-qualified because of the relevancy of the original site to your niche.
  • Guest blogging not only sends traffic to your website, but can also boost likes and follows on your social media platforms. This ultimately improves engagement.
  • This method of content marketing is extremely cost effective. Building great relationships with other industry experts opens doors for an exchange of content, which means you won’t have to pay top dollar for publication like you would with a traditional ad.

How to Get Started

Ok. So now you know why you need to guest blog and how it benefits you, but now what? It’s time to get the ball rolling.

The very first thing you need to do is make sure your own business site is up to date. Give your entire domain a once-over, not just your blog pages. Niche influencers won’t want to take content from or link back to a website that isn’t clean, informational, and professional in nature. You have to get your own act together before you can approach anyone else.

The next thing you’ll want to do is make sure your social media profiles look good. Your business pages need to be populated with industry-specific posts and information tailored to your company. Your personal page needs to either be rather neutral or locked down to friends-only status.

A good business owner is going to check out your online presence before agreeing to your pitch, and that includes making sure your ideals are aligned with theirs. You might, for example, find that a business with a neutral political standpoint will not want to align itself with a business owner who is very vocal about certain controversial issues.

Have all your ducks in a row? Now you can start looking for potential guest blogging partners. Try asking these questions to find the right connections.

  • Is the website somehow related to your niche? Let’s say, for example, you sell light bulbs. You might want to look for energy providers, home builders, and lamp manufacturers.
  • Is the audience engaged? Do they already respond well to posts on the blog or participate in chat threads when those posts are shared on social media?
  • Can you solve a problem for the site’s audience? You’re going to need to offer something of value or they won’t have any interest in reading your post.
  • Does the company update their blog on a consistent basis? This is important. Even if a blog matches your niche, you won’t get much traction if they don’t update on a regular basis.

Once you have a list of businesses and blogs, you need to start networking.

(I bet you thought I’d tell you to start pitching, right? Wrong. Or at least, I won’t say that just yet, anyway.)

Warm up your potential partners by engaging as part of their audience first. Comment on blog posts, follow their social pages, and try to connect with the CEO on LinkedIn. Other site owners will see the content you are putting out there, become more familiar with you and your work, and will ultimately be more receptive to your pitches.

Network first, pitch second. When you are ready to pitch, make sure what you send is personalized — no canned templates. Customize the greeting with a specific name, talk about what you love about their business or site, and ask if they’re open to discussing a guest posting partnership. You might even pitch a few topic suggestions.

Don’t come off as pushy or self-serving. You want to build a mutually beneficial relationship. Your goal isn’t to convince them why you’re great, it’s to convince them how you can benefit each other (the greatness is a side effect).

Guest blogging can be an incredibly effective method for increasing brand awareness, reaching new audiences, growing your email list, and even making sales. The process takes time, though. It isn’t about sending out 100 emails and seeing which ones stick. It’s about taking the time to truly know your own audience and searching for sites with similar interests. Before you know it, you’ll be creating long-term projects.

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Outreach

The Future of Crowdsourcing: How Start-ups Benefit

Many entrepreneurs feel like they have to do everything alone – including coming up with new ideas, making customer profiles, marketing and developing new products. The evolution of the internet and digital marketing makes it a lot easier for businesses to get input from others via crowdsourcing. No matter what your cause or need, this method of engaging the public can catapult a start-up to new levels.

What Exactly Is Crowdsourcing?

Let’s start by making a clarification. Crowdsourcing is when a business asks the public for help with just about anything related to their business. They could be looking for services to help them grow, information to help them develop new products, or ideas for future services or events. Crowdfunding is when a business asks for money. Crowdfunding is a form of crowdsourcing, but it is only one item that falls under the much broader crowdsourcing umbrella.

Crowdsourcing in general has been around for hundreds of years. We just never gave it a formal name until the Merriam-Webster dictionary added it in 2006. The original theory is that even though an individual may not have a correct answer or idea to solve a question or puzzle, the collective crowd can come together with an average that produces the desired solution. For example, a British scientist surveyed a group of 700 people, asking them to guess how much an ox at the county fair weighed. While no one person guessed correctly, the average of all of the answers was almost perfect.

Common Examples of Crowdsourcing

Businesses of any size can use crowdsourcing to generate ideas or to outsource tasks; both have unique applications in the right space. While crowdsourcing can save companies money, they also often force the company to give up control over their products.

Here’s an example: OpenOffice, a popular free alternative to traditional office processing suites, is a crowdsourced product that uses open-source concepts to maintain itself and grow. Open-source software allows any programmer to access the code and make changes or upgrades.

Waze is another great example of effective crowdsourcing. Users put the Waze app on their phone and can then report information on traffic jams, road closures, and even gas prices. People are more than willing to share valuable information when they know they will be able to get the same in return when they need it.

Even big brands like Lego are using crowdsourcing techniques to figure out what new design kits they should put out. Think about it — there are literally dozens on store shelves at any given time, ranging from small kits to huge box sets that run hundreds of dollars at a time. Lego lovers can submit design ideas on their website and the company then makes them all available to the public for voting. The best ideas get turned into products and the winning designer even gets a 1 percent cut of the revenue.

Crowdsourcing Disasters

Of course, not all crowdsourcing campaigns have had the results the organizations running them have hoped for. Take NASA’s campaign to name a section of the International Space Station, for example. While they were bright enough to anticipate some of other campaign’s issues, they still allowed people to write in their own suggestions. Word got to Stephen Colbert, who told his fans to vote for him. He technically won the vote, but NASA opted to reject the suggestion.

The story of Boaty McBoatface garnered international attention after the UK science ministry opened the polls to the public to name a research vessel. Imagine their surprise when someone submitted the ridiculous name and the public jumped on it. They, again, were smart enough to reserve their rights when naming the boat. The actual polar research vessel is known as the RRS Sir David Attenborough and the Boaty McBoatface name was set aside for future use.

How Start-Ups Can Benefit from Crowdsourcing

Start-up businesses can benefit quite a bit from crowdsourcing, especially in their formative weeks, months, and years. Let’s face it, a lot of start-ups don’t have a ton of money to spend; a limiting factor when it comes to growth. Business owners can use this technique to:

  • Find low-cost creatives. It doesn’t matter if you need a writer, video editor, or graphic designer. Sites like Fiverr offer lower-end options while groups like 99Designs allow you to source things like logos and branding materials for varied prices.
  • Social media management. New entrepreneurs are busy, so having someone available to help you get your social presence up and running is critical. This task may include not only page management, but the curation of user-generated content as well.
  • Brainstorm. Simply putting a question out to the public will give you an idea of what they want or what they expect. Campaigns like this can be run off of your website or off of platforms like Innocentive. Even social media works.
  • Problem-solving. Have a real problem that needs to be solved. The public may have great ideas. Not only will they have the right ideas, but they’re often willing to band together to help. A perfect example of this the community response that occurred after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Community groups and churches used crowdsourcing to gather supplies, deliver food and water, and even help with clean-up efforts.
  • Customer engagement. Engagement is critical right now. Crowdsourcing is a win in that start-ups get great ideas and information and, if run on the right social platforms, increased engagement at the same time.

A Note About Crowdfunding

While crowdfunding is a form of crowdsourcing, it has limited benefits. That isn’t to say raising money isn’t incredibly important, but any business looking to crowdfund should also find ways to ensure the communities contributing feel as though they have some sort of input. This is why you’ll see a lot of start-ups start with crowdsourcing campaigns for ideas before they launch their fundraisers. Sites like Kickstarter or Patreon even allow start-ups to offer rewards to those who donate or subscribe, giving contributors early-access to the newest products or services.

They key to any crowdsourcing campaign is to maintain control of your brand and how it ultimately appears to the public. Sure, asking people to contribute names is a great idea but only if done in a way that doesn’t pigeonhole your company into sounding silly if things go haywire. That said, the benefits of crowdsourcing far outweigh the risks and the potential for stellar new ideas to be born is definitely worth the effort.

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Outreach

Keeping Automated Outreach Marketing Personal

How can something be automated and personal? Don’t the two terms contradict one another? In marketing, you hear two things preached more often than anything else: focus on building quality relationships with your customers through personalization, but automate your marketing where you can.

After all, there are only so many hours in a day, and quite a bit to be done to scale your business. And if you’re in the startup phase where you can’t necessarily afford to hire staff for sales and marketing, you’re stuck doing the grunt work yourself.

One complaint many influencers have is the “spray and pray” approach marketers use to get coverage for their business, product, or service. Instead of taking the time to get to know more about each influencer and the work they do, thereby crafting a somewhat personalized pitch, they get a list of influencers and mass email everyone.

They hope that some of them will respond with interest – but I’m here to tell you that won’t work. You’ll get far more bang for your buck by focusing on building relationships with influencers. When they get outreach requests that don’t address them by name and clearly is being sent to multiple people at once, they tend to ignore them.

In this post, I discuss how you can create a balance between automated outreach and personalization. You can apply these tips to automation and personalization to various areas of your marketing strategy – not just influencer outreach, though the recommended tools address influencer marketing specifically.

Dig Up Details – More is Better

If you’re reaching out to someone and asking them to do something for you, you’d better take time to learn about them. Of course, you want contact information, but you should take the time to read their work – tell them what you like about it. And if you understand a problem they’re having, offer content that will help them solve it. This shows them you’re paying attention to them as an individual, not just using generic approach for everyone.

Divide Prospects into Buckets

To help provide personalization, while still making it easier to use automation and templates, divide your influencers into buckets, based on factors that don’t change, such as age, gender, and niche.

Keep Brand Voice Consistent

Your brand voice will make it easier to differentiate yourself from the competition. If you’re a small business, consider using your personal brand, so it’s easier for you to provide personal and engaging content. and make it easier for customers to identify with you.

Automation Tools to Help You Get the Job Done

Finding Influencers

There are a number of tools you can use to find influencers, which are especially useful if you’re looking for the best of the best in your industry, or for influencers in a highly specific niche. I covered three of the major ones in my Influencer Marketing 101 post. Rather than sound like a broken record, I’ll just share some platforms for brands looking to connect with influencers.

  • UpfluenceUpfluence is essentially a search engine to help you find influencers. Short list the influencers you’re most interested in contacting based on the filters you’ve applied to your search. Use the integrated emailing tool to contact the influencers.
  • LinqiaThis is an AI driven discovery engine to find influencers that connect to the right brands, to ensure the audiences get exposure to the brands and campaigns they will actually respond to. Pricing is based on alignment with customer goals, such as reach, engagement, and conversions.
  • BrandsnobBrandSnob is an iOS platform that connects brands and influencers. Brands can find and book the influencers they believe are the best fit for their campaigns. You can use your own list of influencers as well. Android is not available yet, but will be in the future, so Windows and desktop users can benefit as well. There are no subscription or booking fees for brands to use the platform. Instead, the platform takes a small fee from the influencers and content creators for each campaign they work on.

Tracking Email Opens

  • SidekickThis is an email plugin from HubSpot that can track email opens as well as clicks, and provide some information about the person you’re emailing. It connects the email address to profiles it’s used with.
  • YeswareGet email templates, track opens, and track link clicks. It connects with Gmail and Outlook – and syncs with Salesforce. After a free trial, pricing starts at $15/user/month, or $12/user/month when paid annually.
  • Bonus: Make sure email addresses are legit with Kickbox. This tool works with a number of customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to make a smoother workflow. It saves time because it validates the email addresses you’re sending messages to. Pricing is based on the number of verifications you need, starting at 500 verifications for $5. The first 100 are always free, and additional can be purchased on demand.

Building Outreach Templates

  • Gmail’s Canned ResponsesThis is the simplest way to build email outreach templates – based on a feature that’s available for free in Gmail. Simply leave blanks to remind you what to put in. Just proofread before sending.
  • MailshakeThis tool integrates with Gmail to provide various templates for cold emailing – guest posts, lead generation, link building, PR pitches, and content promotion. Pricing starts at $19/month/user.
  • QuickmailThis is a sales and marketing CRM complement that gives you the ability to send personalized cold emails. You can also use it to track open rates, split test your emails, schedule your messages, and more. If you have an upgraded service plan, you can track link clicks and integrate it with other services. After a 14-day free trial, you’ll pay either $49 or $69 per user per month depending on the plan you choose. Switching to annual billing means you’ll pay either $39 or $55 per user per month.

Sharing Large Files

If you need to share files and assets with influencers that are too large for email, simply create a shared folder they have access to and put the files there. You can use, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive.

Following Up with Influencers

  • FollowUpThenThis tool allows you email yourself reminders about when you want to follow up with influencers. You can send reminders in general, or only if the recipient hasn’t responded.
  • BoomerangThis is a Gmail integration that allows you to write an email when you have time, and then schedule it to be delivered at another time.

Managing Your Outreach

  • BuzzStreamThis platform is intended for personalized influencer outreach. You can build a list of prospects, then learn more about them, segment them according, and send out personalized marketing communications. This tool helps you keep track of who is working with you and who has chosen not to. Pricing starts at $24/month per user. More advanced plans offer additional features and discounts on additional users.
  • Ninja OutreachThis is a platform that makes it possible to find influencers and automate your outreach from a single tool. Pricing starts at $69/month for one user after 14-day free trial. There’s a Chrome extension so you can add influencers you find on your own while browsing the web.
  • NimbleThis is a sales and marketing CRM designed to help you keep better tabs on your influencer contacts, allowing you to build and nurture your relationships with them.

Tracking Campaign Performance

  • PitchboxThis is an all-in-one influencer platform that works well for large-scale campaigns. It’s a CRM for campaign management you can use to track how well your campaign is performing.

Making it Easy for Your Influencers

Use a tool like Instapage to create a landing page to provide everything your influencers will need over the course of the campaign. This way, they won’t have to search through email exchanges, downloads folder, or cloud storage to find the things they need. Instead, they can bookmark the link to the landing page and go to it whenever they need information or assets.

Outreach Can Get Complicated, But It Doesn’t Have to Be

With the right tools and a little planning in place, you can make the most of the time you spend finding and working with influencers. I hope this guide helps improve your efficiency and guides you in the right direction.

What other tools do you recommend?

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Outreach

6 Methods for Improving Any PR Outreach Plan

Just 30 years ago, the bulk of a business’s PR outreach campaign was connecting with members of the press, getting articles published in newspapers, and running local events to connect with one’s community. But that’s far from enough in today’s digital world, where the right relationship or visibility can dictate your success.

I’ve said before that outreach is one of my favorite topics – that’s still true. I believe great outreach campaigns benefit everyone involved, including the person reaching out and the person receiving the connection. To that end, I’m dedicating this post to helping you improve your outreach campaign with my favorite tips and strategies.

Review Your Content Marketing Plan

Content is far more than just text, images, and information – it’s also a form of PR outreach in its own right, especially online. If you’re struggling to make the right connections, it may be time to review the quality of the content you’re putting out to attract attention.

What kind of content should you be creating? The answer really depends on your niche, industry, and sphere (B2B or B2C), but there are a few “golden rules” you should always follow:

  • Put your own spin on it
  • Come up with your own ideas
  • Keep a consistent schedule
  • Mix up your content formats
  • Make it easy to digest

 

Essentially, your content is your contribution to the industry as well as your opportunity to show your audience you know your craft. The more consistently you delivery well-thought-out, interesting content that’s easy to digest and recognize as part of your “brand,” the easier it will be for your outreach targets to recognize.

Cultivate Better Connections

Sometimes, the biggest problem with a PR outreach plan isn’t content, but the connections themselves. If you’re consistently pushing out great content, such as email connection attempts, articles, blogs, press releases, and videos, but still aren’t having any success, you may need to re-work your targets and review your demographics.

Check your non-successful contact attempts to determine whether they really align with your brand. Create a media database that lets you segment your list into categories, groups, or demographics to make it easier for you to sub-target specific groups. Then, narrow down your campaign to target these sub-groups instead of your broader overall audience.

Don’t forget that aligning too closely can also be a red flag; you may be accidentally targeting an entity who sees you as a competitor, not a friend.

Create More Press Releases

Businesses often get lost in the process of reaching out to other entities and individuals, forgetting about the noble press release. But press releases disseminated across multiple platforms can be immensely powerful especially in the B2B sphere.

Time your press releases to coincide with important happenings, and pair them with SEO backlinking campaigns for extra effect. Just don’t fall into the trap of posting a press release for every inconsequential change; this comes across as abusing the process, and can make you appear desperate – the last thing you want.

As for where to post, sites like VentureBeat are okay, but they pale in comparison to real journalistic outlets and newspapers. Skip sites like Facebook and Twitter; they’re targeted to a younger crowd who are less likely to pay attention – but do target LinkedIn and other industry-oriented sites instead. They’re more likely to be read by your targets in these locations.

Review Your Backlinks Profile

Who’s linking to your website or social media profiles right now? If you don’t know, you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity for outreach.

Using backlink monitoring tools, create a list of all of the entities linking to you, then segment that list by demographics and how closely they align with your brand. Determine which linkers you were already aware of (such as guest blogging opportunities) and which have developed organically without your input.

If organic backlinking entities fit within your targets, reach out to them with opportunities for additional collaboration. Since they’re already linking to you, they qualify as “warm leads, making it easier to grow the relationship.

Improve Follow-Ups

You put a ton of effort in the world into identifying targets, reaching out, and sounding really compelling. Your target audience loves it – but when they respond, you’re too busy and miss their email, leading to lost opportunities. Or, maybe they don’t respond, and you mean to ping them back with a reminder, only to realize three weeks have passed and they’ve totally forgotten who you are again.

Or maybe you suffer from the opposite issue: in your haste to make connections, you send out too many follow-ups. Connections feel attacked by your rapid-fire follow-ups, gingerly and quietly hitting the “spam” button without your knowledge.

To improve your follow-up success rates, send your first follow-up on the third or fourth business day after your initial connection. Don’t frame it as a simple reminder; add something new and valuable in they can really use. Think of it like dangling the carrot, not as a “hey – hey you!” attempt. Your targets will feel more appreciated because it shows you’re already striving to be a good corporate friend.

Engage in Corporate Altruism

As a business, you have something to offer the world – and often, that something can be very helpful or useful to your connections. One of your connections writes a blog stating that they’re struggling with something you specialize in. Or, maybe they post on social media looking for a specific connection or expert, and you just happen to have a colleague who fits the bill.

Take the opportunity to become a business “white knight” here when you can lend a hand. Reach out to them and offer your help (freely, as long as it makes sense) with making the connection, solving the problem, or answering their most pressing questions. Corporate altruism inspires some of the strongest relationships in outreach, especially if you don’t try to instantly turn every communication attempt into a sale.

Just remember that relationships are about give and take. An entity who repeatedly takes your help, yet never provides as much as a backlink in return, doesn’t necessarily qualify as a “good connection.”

Categories
Outreach

5 Powerful Outreach Marketing Strategies for Summer 2018

I’m especially fond of outreach marketing. In fact, I believe it has the power to help businesses break free from the “background noise” all marketers fight against in today’s over-saturated media environment. It humanizes, connects, and encourages deep development of networks that often produce powerful results far beyond any simple SEO or content marketing plan.

I’m not saying that other forms of marketing aren’t important. Concepts like on-page optimization, content delivery, and social media marketing are a must; without them, you just can’t get the initial attention you deserve. But outreach marketing is the icing on the cake; it changes how people see you and makes you look more attractive and compelling.

In the post below, I’ll review a few of my current favorite outreach strategies. I’ve included helpful implementation tips to get you up and running before summer hits.

Hire Influencers for Special Summer Events

Summer is the perfect time to host events, and influencers can help you publicize or share them with the world. If your focus is on local brand awareness, find a local celebrity and invite them to come experience your products and services for free in exchange for a product spotlight.

If your focus is national or global, explore Instagram for someone with wider reach; give yourself bonus points if you find someone already interacting with your brand. Remember: they don’t need to be world-famous; sometimes, even mid-level influencers with audiences at around 100,000 people are remarkably effective.

As for which events work best in the summer, it depends on your brand. The scope of a marketing campaign for an HVAC company will naturally be much different than, say, the scope for a company selling fireplaces. Find a way to relate your products to summer, if possible, and then flex that influencer power with discounts, brand awareness campaigns, or giveaways to get noticed.

Re-Humanize Your Brand on Social Media

Over time, marketing campaigns can begin to feel a bit stale. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of posting the same themes, the same aesthetics, and the same remixed messages over and over again. People slowly stop paying attention.

Confusingly, summer also just happens to be prime time for a slump in many industries. This is exactly why I recommend brands dabble in a bit of creative marketing and re-humanization during the warmer months.

Your goal should be to create posts that come across not as a business, but as a real, live human sharing helpful, high-value, or high-engagement information. Ultimately, the best way to achieve this is to be natural and conversational, but it’s also about sharing sneak peaks of who you (and your employees) really are.

Post pictures of your company cookout at the beach. Upload Instagram videos from your presence at special summer events. Let people see you have fun, that you care, and that at the end of the day, you’re a business made up of humans.

More great ideas: tell a story about a time your brand didn’t get it right; outline what you learned and how you grew from it. Be funny; tell niche-appropriate jokes, share the occasional meme, and drop the constant seriousness in favor of good, clean humor. Encourage your followers to respond in kind with their own user-generated content. Then, interact with it when it rolls in. Just be sure to keep it relevant and on topic at all times.

Teach and Educate Your Followers

The second major rut I see marketers fall into is the idea that you have to constantly sell, sell, sell to be achieving results. That’s abjectly false; in fact, if all you do is push your products, eventually people will begin to see your posts and shares as little more than more spam in the sea.

Summer provides most consumers with more downtime; they’re on vacation, they’re relaxing on the weekends, they’re spending time at home with the family. Use some of your content marketing space to reach out with helpful or educational content during this time. Followers are more likely to pay attention and actually find it useful when they have enough downtime to focus on it.

Not sure what to share? Try product demonstrations, helpful tip videos, influencer reviews, or even extensive tutorials on relevant topics. “Insider secret” articles and videos breaking down complex, industry-specific concepts also work well.

Give Back to Your Community

Californians are a philanthropic bunch. For the most part, we love to give back to the community and the greater world at large. Whether it’s helping to clean up local nature areas or hosting fundraisers for important charities and non-profits, summer is the perfect time for your business to get involved in a little corporate philanthropy of its own.

Here’s something to think about: how does your business currently fit into your industry or niche? Who is your target audience – which charities do they find important? What charities do your employees support?

Using the information sourced from these questions, pick a cause and find a way to help out. Host a beach-side fundraiser, a donation drive, or a special festival. If you don’t have the resources for advanced involvement, figure out how you can donate time (either through free services or employee involvement).

Bonus points: it’s a great way to lift employee morale and encourage loyalty, too!

Break Free of the Digital Marketing Space

Major rut #3 in digital marketing: overlooking non-digital marketing channels completely, either because it’s too hard or too much work to implement. Offline channels still really matter, even in our heavily networked world. If you spend all of your time reaching out to people on social media, but no one in your target audience ever sees even a clue that you exist in the real world, it can negatively impact trust.

Summer is a great time to break free of the digital marketing space and get out there because people are much more likely to be spending time outdoors. They’re exploring, playing, eating, and adventuring under the warmth of the sun. Take advantage of this time and increased foot traffic to get your brand noticed.

What works best will depend on your business, but I can tell you this is a great time for billboards, print media, posters, signage, and radio messages. Your audience is probably spending more time downtown, outdoors, or out and about, meaning they’re much more likely to actually see and absorb that messaging in summer.

Warm weather is also a fantastic time for offline marketing campaigns using local influencers. Head down to the beach and give away products. Have specials that encourage more foot traffic directly to your business if you have a brick and mortar location. Take out a table at a local festival or fair; give away swag and get your name noticed. Or, host a local party and invite all of your best clients to come.

Final Say

Outreach marketing isn’t necessarily new, but it does have the potential to take the entire marketing industry to new levels in the right hands. In fact, it’s a big part of why I chose to become a marketer in the first place.

I believe that, at the end of the day, businesses and audiences thrive on human interaction. Simply put, we all want to be treated like more than just a number. When businesses respect that desire, it creates a better marketing experience for virtually everyone at every step in the pipeline.

Need help bringing all of these strategies together? Can’t figure out which concept works best for your business? I love to help businesses discover the benefits of outreach marketing campaigns. Reach out for a consultation here.

Categories
Outreach

How to Reach the Entrepreneur Community

The entrepreneur community is massive. With the world moving ever-closer to the “gig economy,” more people than ever are choosing to make the jump into self-employment and self-run businesses. That network can be a significant source of support and value – but only if you reach them the right way.

As entrepreneurs, we all know the marketing hustle and what it looks like; that can make us especially critical of attempts at communication. Many people experience this “connection shock” on a daily basis. Similar to content shock, this simply refers to the fact that many of us are just completely burned out on emails and requests for our attention. That drives us to become immediately critical of connections on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.

So how can you, as an entrepreneur, cut through the crud and get your message noticed in a sea of connections? There’s really no easy answer, but it all starts with being transparent and honest about why you want to connect.

Be Transparent

There’s a movement in some circles to mask exactly why you want to connect, at least at first. Unscrupulous content companies will sell you connection services that scour potential contact profiles for little details, using that information to then connect with them and seem more personable.

An example: someone you want to connect with about a business opportunity attended a certain university. In an effort to “warm up” the connection, an unscrupulous marketing company will send an introductory message that specifically mentions the university’s sports team in a way that makes it sound as if you went there, too.

Make no mistake – unless you really did attend, this is deceptive, and most entrepreneurs will see right through it.

Being transparent about why you are contacting someone is valuable here; it shows that you aren’t underestimating the entrepreneur you want to connect with. But transparency doesn’t mean you need to reveal everything right out of the gate.

Start with a subject line that reflects your interests, yet is personable. If you have a product you believe someone would find interest in, consider offering a free preview or test item. If it’s advice you’re seeking, make this clear, too. Avoid masking your connections or inflating them by including “urgent” or “important” in the subject line unless it’s actually a critical situation; this feels pushy and is more likely to turn people off.

Attend Face-to-Face Events

Connecting online is important, but it’s not the be-all, end-all of everything. In-person networking events are a crucial way to establish yourself and reach out to the entrepreneur community. They’re so vital to your success that it may even be worth traveling to them via airplane if you live in an area without any events. Of particular interest to most entrepreneurs are all of the following:

 

Each of these conferences offers something slightly different, but they all have one main common feature: they allow you to network with the entrepreneur community directly. Don’t underestimate the value of industry-specific events, either; whatever your niche is, they’ll allow you to reach people already working in your field.

Get Active (And Provide Valuable Content) On Social Media

Are you on LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter? Possibly even YouTube, too? If not, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to reach the entrepreneur community. Today’s millennial entrepreneurs spend more time on social media than anywhere else, and if you don’t get in the game (regardless of your own age), you’re going to miss them while they’re off connecting with others.

But simply getting on social media isn’t enough. Going back to the aforementioned content and connection shock, you have to bear in mind that most entrepreneurs are inundated with mindless posts day-in and day-out on all platforms. Find a way to add value to your updates and you’ll stand a better chance.

What exactly does “value” mean? Think about it this way; what is it about your posts that would drive someone to like or share them over anyone else’s content? Are they funnier, more human, more insightful, or filled with truly helpful advice for entrepreneurs? Use your experience and think about what you would find value yourself, as an entrepreneur, and apply basic social media marketing strategies for best results.

Join Entrepreneurial Groups and Organizations

One of the best ways to cut through the sheer avalanche of information entrepreneurs have to filter through on a daily basis is to join groups, websites, and organizations designed with the entrepreneur in mind. Many of these – including some of LinkedIn’s largest and most famous groups – exist solely to allow entrepreneurs to connect outside of the very watered-down general online environment. But both offline and online organizations are beneficial; it offers you the opportunity to connect and reach out to other entrepreneurs while using your mutual organization membership as a starting point.

Just be sure you’re joining to give input as well as receive; no one appreciates an entrepreneur that only leeches or lurks and never has anything of value to say.

A quick note: Meetup is also a fantastic tool for entrepreneurs, especially if you’re trying to find local organizations and groups in your nearest city. The site lets you browse and sign up for everything from social events to important industry meetings all across the country.

Utilize Six Degrees of Separation

You already have a small network at your disposal, even if it’s just friends and family; don’t be afraid to use that to your advantage. Utilizing the rule of “six degrees of separation,” it’s nearly always possible to get a warm introduction to an entrepreneur you’ve never spoken to before. If it’s a friend of a colleague, contact the colleague first to inquire about an introduction.

If someone you know is running a small but exclusive group of entrepreneurs, approach them about joining and point out why you feel you’d be an asset. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need; confidence and grace are the best characteristics for growing your network to exponential levels.

Take Some Initiative

Finding it difficult to reach entrepreneurs despite your best efforts? Don’t panic – take the bull by the horns and start your own group, meetup, podcast, or organization yourself. Figure out what it is you can provide to the entrepreneur community that’s valuable enough to draw people in and make it easy for others to join in, share, and respond.

If you build it, they will come – but only if they have a good reason to do so in the first place.

Better still, if you show drive and initiative, you’ll represent yourself as an authoritative expert who knows how to navigate the business world.