Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Influencer Outreach: 5 Pro Tips for Stunning Success

influencer-marketing-blog
One share from an influencer can massively impact your traffic. Image via Shutterstock.

Here’s a bombshell: All that well-written, well-optimized content you’ve been developing probably won’t give you the business boost you’re looking for.

Behind the most impressive online success stories, you won’t find a pithy blog. Instead, you’ll find smart, strategic influencer outreach.

A recent Tomoson poll revealed that “[b]usinesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.” Not only that, marketers rate influencer marketing as their fastest-growing online customer-acquisition method, above organic search and email marketing.

influencer-marketing-graph
Influencer marketing is the fastest growing customer-acquisition method among online marketers.

It makes sense when you review the benefits…

One share from an influencer can massively impact your traffic. I’ve seen it happen with posts on the Crazy Egg blog. And on my own blog, a post that cites 16 experts has received double the traffic of the next-most-popular blog post, thanks to those experts’ shares.

Participation from just one big-name influencer can give your roundup post, podcast or interview series a ton of traction. Suddenly, other industry leaders are eager to contribute. After all, they want to be seen in the same “category” as Big Name Influencer.

And finally, having a personal relationship with influencers can significantly boost your own credibility. Which means you can get more subscribers and followers with less effort.

You’ve got the traffic — now how do you convert it?

Here’s a little inspiration: 10 overlay examples to turn your blog traffic into leads.
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There’s just one problem: Influencers are busy — and notoriously hard to reach. You have just one chance to reach out to them in a way that opens doors instead of slamming them shut.

Blow it, and you may never get another opportunity to connect with them.

Outreach matters, obviously. But it’s critical to do it right. So I asked PR expert Dmitry Dragilev, founder of JustReachOut.io, to share his five-step process.

Dmitry used PR and content marketing to grow his business from 0 to 3,500 customers in the first year and generate $100,000 revenue in just nine months. His product, JustReachOut, was designed specifically for this type of work, helping you find and pitch relevant journalists and bloggers by searching keywords, competitors, niches, publications and more.

The key is to understand that outreach isn’t about getting what you need as quickly as possible. It’s about taking the time to turn big-name influencers into long-term friends. In a moment, we’ll review Dmitry’s process for doing just that. But first…

Why influencer outreach matters

influencer-outreach
Relationship building is key to influencer outreach.

According to Dmitry, two overriding principles guide influencer outreach: value in advance and relationship building.

Interestingly, these are the words we use most often when talking about marketing. We tend to think that’s what we’re doing when we offer free content such as lead magnets, webinars or video training.

And in the link building emails I get, I’m sure the sender thinks his compliment in the opening line is a value-add that gets my attention.

But when it comes to outreach, Dmitry recommends a more personal approach. Most people, when doing outreach, focus on their own needs. They don’t want to take time to build relationships by providing value up front.

Dmitry says,

That’s a huge mistake. It’s a relationship that will get you the results you want and keep getting you mentions and links in the future.

You have to slow the pace so you can build a deeper, more authentic relationship — which, in the long run, will benefit you more.

Dmitry is emphatic that you shouldn’t ask for or expect a quick transaction. Remember, whether you’re asking for a link,coverage or a mention, that person doesn’t know you at all.

When you’re drafting your outreach email, ask yourself, “Would I actually say this to a person if I saw them at a conference? Would I walk up to a person I don’t know and make an immediate pitch?”

The key to influencer outreach is to begin the virtual relationship in the same way you would a live relationship: start with common ground, talk about them, let them tell you what they need.

By giving value before you ask for anything in return, you’ve got a much higher chance of getting what you want.

Now let’s look at the framework Dmitry uses when he does influencer outreach.

1. Your why

Always start with a goal in mind. What action would you like the influencer to take? Why do you want to connect with him or her?

You won’t necessarily start the conversion with your goal, but you need to have a legitimate reason for reaching out.

2. Finding influencers

The type of person you choose to reach out to depends on your goals. If you want publicity, look for a journalist. If you want a product review, look for a content marketer or blogger who does reviews. For a celebrity mention, find a celebrity who is involved in your industry or respected within your niche.

Where do you find these people?

The quickest path is through a tool designed for the purpose. JustReachOut is one choice. I’ve played around with Mailshake (formerly ContentMarketer.io) and Ninja Outreach and can recommend them as well.

But if you’re budget is tight, you can search for influencers manually in forums such as Reddit and Quora, or through HelpAReporter, Twitter or ProfNet queries.

Once you’ve identified an influencer, you need to do some research. Learn as much as you can about what they’re doing and look for ways to help them.

giphy-1
Except we don’t call it stalking. We call it following. Image via Giphy.

As an example, Dmitry wanted to see if he could get an interview with Ashton Kutcher for his speaker series.

He began by trying to figure out what Ashton’s motivations might be. Knowing he’s trying to break into the startup world and start investing, Dmitry guessed the actor was trying to network and learn as much as he could.

Dmitry also began following Ashton’s work, including his speaking engagements and social media activity. The goal? To identify the people he’s quoting or talking about.

Next, he developed a strategy for his outreach. He identified some experts whom Ashton seemed to admire, reasoning, “if I have maybe a quarter of those people on my speaker series maybe I can reach out and say, ‘I have these other people lined up. Would you be willing to speak as well?’”

It worked like a charm. After scheduling those experts for his speaking series, Dmitry finally reached out to Ashton, and the answer was gracious. “Yeah, I really do admire a lot of people you have on your guest list.” The actor connected Dmitry with his assistant and they’ve been in touch ever since.

Notice that Dmitry actively looked for a point of intersection, so his email would feel authentic and credible.

3. Contacting influencers

Most outreach emails follow a word-for-word template.

Big mistake!

Is it any wonder those emails get deleted? In many cases, the influencer has seen that template hundreds of times already.

To get an influencer’s attention, you need to be human. Be yourself. And before hitting “send,” review your email carefully to be sure it sounds authentic. Here’s what Dmitry recommends:

I think there is something to be said for just reading your email as if someone sent it to you. Is it interesting or overly pushy?

Then test it out on your readers or your friends. How did they feel by the time you asked for a sale? Did you provide enough value upfront?

But before trying to craft your email, you need to clarify two things:

  1. Your value offer. What’s in it for them? Make sure you offer more value than you ask in return.
  2. Your pitch. Find a point of intersection, then add credibility. Your offer has to be meaningful to them.

As an example, look at the email Dmitry first sent to me. The subject line was “your mention of ContentMarketer, I’m friends with founder.” And the email read:

Hey Kathryn, 

My name is Dmitry Dragilev and I am the founder of JustReachOut.io. I help startups and entrepreneurs hack pitching and getting press mentions weekly without the help of PR firms.  

I stumbled across your article today, remember this? 

https://mirasee.com/blog/promotion-guidelines/

You mentioned ContentMarketer.io in the article, I love the service, I’m old friend of Sujan Patel the founder actually, we write articles on Forbes together actually.

I’m a regular contributor to Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, HuffPo, Mashable, TNW, Inc, FastCo and many others.

I grew the last startup I worked on from 0 to 40M+ pageviews through PR outreach and we got acquired by Google, I automated the same PR outreach process to build JustReachOut.io algorithm, we have 2K+ startups currently paying and using us to pitch press.

I am not here to brag I promise! I simply want to connect with you :)

Two things:

  1. I have some PR hacks I wanted to share with you, maybe you could use them in your next article.
  2. I thought you might be interested in learning about JustReachOut.io. I will be very happy to give you a special extended trial for a test run.

I respect your schedule and will completely understand if don’t have the time. No hard feelings. But you will miss the chance to make my day and to learn how to get press on the biggest outlets in the world.

Have an awesome Friday. 

-Dmitry 

Let’s look at the structure he follows:

  1. Introduce yourself. Tell them who you are
  2. Identify a point of intersection. Something you’ve both said or someone you both know. You can be creative, but it needs to be genuine.
  3. Add a bit of credibility. In other words, why you’re worth talking to about this topic.
  4. Make an offer. It should be something that adds value to the recipient, so they feel comfortable responding.

4. Following up (the right way)

relax
Relax. Follow-up takes time. Don’t rush it.

Dmitry has found that moving too fast can derail your efforts. Take it slow, he says, and you’ll get better results.

  • Don’t be aggressive.
  • Don’t lose patience.
  • Don’t push for immediate results.

Your focus should be on adding value over time, not immediately achieving your goal.

It’s critical to slow down your time frame so the relationship can evolve naturally. You need to hold off asking for anything until you’ve built trust and reciprocity.

For example, Dmitry still hasn’t been able to schedule that interview with Ashton Kutcher, but there’s no reason to rush. They continue to correspond about three times a year.

5. Adopting a value-first mindset

Influencer outreach isn’t easy. It takes patience and perseverance — and a commitment to giving at least as much as you receive. Dmitry says the key is to start now, before you need an influencer, so the value exchange is already in your favor.

If you wait until the last minute to begin your outreach campaign, you’ve put yourself in the position of needing results quickly. Then you’ll do everything wrong.

That being the case, don’t tack outreach onto the end of your campaigns or content promotion. You need to be building and nurturing relationships all the time.

The bottom line

Too often as content marketers, we’re focused on creating quality content, scheduling social media and doing a lot of technical tasks for promotion. In many cases, moving quickly from one task to another is how you get results.

Influencer outreach is just the opposite. For success, you need to slow your pace, focus on the people you’re contacting and help them reach their goals.

It may look like a distraction or a low-ROI activity. In reality, it’s an investment that can pay huge dividends down the road.

What are your biggest outreach challenges? Share in the comments below.

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Influencer Outreach: 5 Pro Tips for Stunning Success

Why We Started Treating Blog Posts Like Campaigns (and You Can Too!)

presidential-post-recap-blog-image

It’s easy to get stuck on the hamster wheel that is publishing three blog posts a week because that’s what we’ve always done.

At Unbounce, we still fall into the trap of publishing more versus publishing better, even though we know that one 10x post is always better than three mediocre posts.

However, as our team has grown, we’ve had the opportunity to step away from the hamster wheel to consider the most efficient and enjoyable way to spend our time while also providing value to our readers.

One such thing we’re experimenting with is treating specific blog posts like mini campaigns. That is, in addition to simply publishing well-written content, we’re also setting goals, implementing strategy and reporting on ROI. It’s something Joanna Wiebe touched on in her UFX talk.

On the verge of total content production burnout, Joanna and the team at Copyhackers changed the way they looked at, and thus produced, content.

They cut back their content production to just one epic post per month based on the hypothesis that if they made each post so valuable, so 10x, readers would be delighted to share their email address.

Turns out, they were right. According to Joanna,

We actually also got business growth out of it. We doubled the number of freelance copywriters on our list… and we sold out the next two Masterminds.

The blog team at Unbounce took a similar approach with this post by Aaron Orendorff.

Clinton vs. Trump presidential tear down post
In this epic post, Aaron and 18 marketing experts critique each candidate’s home page and donation funnel, offering A/B testing inspiration for campaign managers and curious marketers alike.

Before I get into the how, let me give you a quick recap of the results of the presidential post:

  • 7,536 unique page views, 4,513 new users and 99 new subscribers in first 30 days
  • 6,000+ social shares
  • Ranking first in Google for “presidential marketing campaigns” and “presidential marketing”

Not only that, but the post was trending on Inbound.org and was mentioned in this Inc. and this Huffington Post piece.

So how’d we do it?

Well, it all started with a casual Slack convo:

Slack conversation

Once we got a completed pitch from Aaron, it was clear to us that this post had potential to go, well, viral. But not if we didn’t do a little strategy to go along with it, starting with a detailed pitch…

Produce better content right from the beginning

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If you’re not sure if your post is a good candidate for a content campaign, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it timely? Does it have newsjacking potential? Are people already talking about the topic?
  • Is it unique? Does it offer a fresh perspective on a familiar subject?
  • Does it have potential to rank in search engines? (This should require a little keyword research, but we’ll get to the how later.)
  • Are there other people invested in its success? Does it contain original quotes from industry experts? Does the author have a sizeable network?

All clear? Word. Now it’s time to strategize.

Phase I: Determine the goal of the post

Campaign posts require a lot more effort than a standard “3 Easy Ways to X” post does, so it’s important to determine a goal for the post, so that you can measure whether or not it was worth the added effort.

We’ll usually go with one of three options: leads (four-field form), subscribers (email only) or new users (traffic).

In the case of the Clinton vs. Trump post, our primary goal was new users. Because we were leveraging a trending topic, our suspicion was that the post would have great reach, but that the people reading it may be cold to Unbounce and therefore hesitant to hand over their lead info. Thus, this was a true TOFU post, focused on driving new eyes — and ideally prospects — to the blog.

As a baseline, we usually get between 500 and 800 new users on any given post. However, as I mentioned in the bullet points above, this post brought us over 4,500 new users in its first 30 days. Not too shabby, amirite?

hillary-gif
Our completely non-partisan happy dance. Image via Giphy.

Now, if you checked out the post, you may have noticed a few CTAs throughout, and even an exit overlay — all with separate goals!

While it’s not always viable or even smart to have a multiple goals, we decided on a secondary subscriber goal for two reasons: (1) the post was long (6,000 words), so we offered a PDF of the post in exchange for an email address and (2) we wanted to give new users who loved our content an opportunity to sign up for blog updates.

In total, we received 175 CTA submissions, 99 of which were brand new subscribers. If subscribers had been our primary goal, this number would have been disappointing, but since new users and, really, brand awareness was our goal, these 99 subscribers were the cherries on top.

Phase II: Keyword research and implementation

Content Marketer Helen Arceyut-Frixione took on the challenge of finding the juiciest keywords to rank for.

Taking into consideration searcher intent, Helen worked backwards to figure out (a) what might someone learn from the post and (b) what might someone search to find a post like this. Helen explains:

Although the post talks about sales funnels, that’s not what it’s really about. And I would be surprised if Google showed me this post after searching for “sales funnel.” However, if I search presidential marketing (and its variations), landing on this post makes total sense.

Once she had “presidential marketing” and a few other new keywords in mind, she was ready to verify their relevancy.

First Helen used Google Adwords Keyword Planner to get a pulse on monthly search volume. However, because the Keyword Planner only takes into account paid search, she then moved onto MOZ, which allows her to see where the organic opportunities are. She narrowed it down to a few potential keywords, which were then reviewed by our resident SEO expert Cody Campbell.

In the end, we focused our efforts primarily on “presidential marketing campaign.” As you can see below, our efforts paid off.

presidential marketing campaigns google search
You know you’re doing something right when you’re ranking higher than Forbes.

Phase III: Loop in influencers

A key part of this post’s success can be credited to the people involved: firstly, Unbounce Official Contributor Aaron Orendorff and secondly, the 18 influential experts who contributed analyses on each step of the candidate’s online donation funnel.

As a successful freelance content strategist and producer, Aaron is no stranger to writing high-performing pieces. Several of his highest performing posts have also leveraged trending topics, like this Entrepreneur piece, titled “The Mindy Kaling Guide to Entrepreneurial Domination”.

So with the right writer (right righter? write righter?) assigned to the piece, Aaron set out on a seemingly impossible mission: to wrangle 18 professional CROs, copywriters and content producers into submitting their critique on a tight deadline. I asked Aaron how he did it:

Wrangling 18 of the best conversion-rate optimizers wasn’t easy. But a few tricks helped get their contributions.

First, I had buy in from Kyle Rush from the jump — Clinton’s Deputy CTO — so attaching his name gave the piece immediate authority.

Second, the topic itself was killer; having something original for them to write about piqued their interest.

Third, I got granular. Instead of asking for “general” teardowns on each candidate’s site, I gave each contributor a specific section of one site to critique: (1) pop-up, (2) homepage or (3) donation page. Once they agreed, I created separate Google Docs for each section and gave them direct access to write up their notes.

Despite its challenges, getting 18 influential marketers to weigh in on this post was hugely impactful, because they too were invested in the success of the piece and thus shared it on their own social networks.

Andy Crestodina tweet
Neil Patel tweet
Both Andy Crestodina and Neil Patel have sizeable Twitter followings: ~18,000 and a staggering ~214,000, respectively.

Phase IV: Create custom blog assets

At Unbounce, we use Shutterstock for the majority of our feature blog images. Actually, until quite recently we didn’t even use Shutterstock — instead we used free images from various sources (if you use free images, check out this bomb-ass resource).

However, in this case we looped in our designers to give it the ol’ blowout treatment. Not only did they produce a striking feature image, they also made an exit overlay with the same design.

Exit overlay on presidential post

Exit overlays and popups in general are a touchy subject, because they can be abrupt. So when we use them, we try to do it in a way that is both value-added and delightful. In this case, we’ve added value by giving time-constrained readers an opportunity to read the post at their leisure. As for delight, well, did you see the button copy?

exit overlay tweet

Phase V: Distribution (social and otherwise)

The final key piece in your blog post campaign is distribution. I mean, why put all that work into the post if people aren’t going to read it?

Aaron took a lot off our hands by contacting each contributor to let them know the post was live; step one, leverage influencers: check!

I also met with Community Strategist Hayley Mullin to ensure we were were covered on the social front.

Of course, #election2016, #Trump and #Clinton were trending; however, Hayley opted to use those hashtags sparingly, since most people searching them out wouldn’t be looking for a post about conversion rate optimization. Again — as in the case with keyword selection — we took searcher’s intent into consideration.

Instead, she split her efforts between presidential-esque hashtags and marketing-type hashtags, including #CRO and, well, #Marketing. I asked Hayley about her strategy:

We had to strike a balance between taking advantage of the election hype — without making a statement — and staying relevant. So I targeted broad, uncontroversial audiences in both politics and marketing to case a wide net on both sides. As tempting as it was to dive into the more fervorous political communities, it would have been a gimmicky move that wasn’t true to the nature of the post.

One last thing we did, in an effort to get as much juice as possible out of this post, was to share it with our team and ask them to share it in their networks.

Internal email Unbounce
Please excuse the overused subject line.

So if you were wondering: No, we are not above just asking people to share something. Because sometimes a little nudge is what we all need.

Takeaways, tips and learnings

So, that’s it, folks. That’s how we approach our blog post mini-campaigns. If you’d like to give it a go yourself (and I highly suggest you do!) here’s the advice I can offer:

  1. Be in “the know.” Keep an eye out and and ear to the ground for trending topics you can put your own unique spin on.
  2. Establish a goal for your post. Is it leads? Is it traffic? Whatever the case, figure that out early so you can measure whether post was a success or not.
  3. Think about searcher’s intent — and do it in both the keyword research and distribution phase. You want people to find your post, but you want the people who find the post to also stay on it, maybe even share it, because it’s relevant to them.
  4. Involve influencers. Okay, so getting 18 well-known experts in your field might not be doable every time, but asking a few notable peeps for original quotes can go a long way. This gives them buy-in to share when the post is live, and you’re doing them a solid by boosting their professional clout.
  5. Consider custom images. Stock photos have gotten so much better over the years, but they don’t always cut the mustard when you’re championing a piece with viral potential. If you have access to a designer — or have some design chops of your own — consider creating a memorable custom image that you’d like to see in your own social media feeds.

Have any of your own tips for making your content work harder for you? I’d love to hear them, so drop me a line in the comments.

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Why We Started Treating Blog Posts Like Campaigns (and You Can Too!)

How To Get A Logo Accepted: 8 Steps To A Better Design Workflow

On Dribbble, brand designers are in the minority. The greater part of the Dribbble community comprises those who deal with interfaces, UX and animations. So when traveling to Gdańsk, Poland last July to their first Dribbble Meetup, I expected to meet a similar audience. Indeed, there were mostly freelance web designers and multidisciplinary folks who have been asked to design a logo at least once.
However, I decided not to talk about how to create a good logo.

Excerpt from: 

How To Get A Logo Accepted: 8 Steps To A Better Design Workflow