With nearly 20% of the web being powered by WordPress alone, the importance of blogs in today’s media landscape cannot be overlooked. As a matter of fact, aggregated visits from blogs outperform by far aggregated visits from major news outlets.
Still, Marketers today fail to fully leverage the incredible potential of the blogosphere.
The frequency of press conferences continues to rise, and yet the number of events fully dedicated to bloggers is close to none. As we have had the chance to coordinate a few of the biggest blogger events ever to happen in various industries, we have successfully gathered hundreds of bloggers, hence reaching out to tens of millions of readers and social media users.
Today, we would like to offer you a 8 point checklist to help you crush it.
We will give you real examples to make this post all the more actionable for you.
Crawl Mass Connectors
As a marketing professional, I am sure you know your target audience pretty well. Yet, do you happen to know who influences this very target audience? The idea is to gain an extensive knowledge of your influencer landscape, and to build an exhaustive listing.
Influencers are everywhere. Depending on your industry, influencers might be on different social media, different blogging platform, from different demographics, with different habits. Make sure to investigate thoroughly your specific environment.
Influencers may be different from your end target. When working for an up and coming aesthetic medicine manufacturer, we were very surprised to find out that our target, 30 to 55 year old women, mostly read beauty blogs managed by 20 to 25 year old women.
Be as extensive as you can be. From this list, you will have to carefully segment who to reach out to (based on relevance, geography, influence, engagement, etc.). “Beggars can’t be choosers”. Therefore, make certain to gather a maximum of data. That way, you can be extremely picky later on, and guarantee a satisfactory volume.
Pick the Ideal Location
Picking the perfect location is harder than it sounds. Keep in mind influencers are not journalists: It is very likely they have a day job they cannot run away from as they please. Therefore, the city has to be accessible to the greatest number.
As an example, we chose to organise an event for a leading wrist watch brand in New York City, where we could guarantee it would be convenient to the greatest number of menswear influencers. On the contrary, in case of a tech oriented event, you might want to favour San Francisco. Of course, make sure the venue is easily accessible and within a reputable area of the city.
Closer to date, no detail can be overlooked. Pro tip: Pay attention to the wifi connexion. It has to withstand a certain amount of IP connexions on the D-day, over wise the social media reach will be disappointing. You do not want that to happen.
Build an Email Lifecycle
No matter what you think of email, it remains an excellent marketing channel to date. We suggest you reach out to your carefully selected influencers via email. Not without a plan: Build a rock solid Email Lifecycle.
Ahead of time, plan carefully your email interactions according to a certain timeline. Try to imagine every possible outcome (various objections, negative replies, no-replies at all, etc.), and map the replies to create an email ‘yes set’, aiming to get the influencers to RSVP to your event.
The great thing with email, if done right, is that it can be highly personalised, and at the same time done at a very large scale. Personalisation is key, so make sure to insert many variables (first name, name of the blog, a link to a recent relevant article, a small paragraph reacting to it, the place of residence, etc.). The more personalised, the better (as long as it remains natural).
Split Test Everything
Each and every interaction with your target is an opportunity to learn something valuable and that can be duplicated at scale. Every time you send bulk emails at a decent volume, you can split test one element of your message on a fraction of your list, and see which version performs best. You can then use the winning version of your test, with the certitude it will perform at a certain level.
Everything can be (and should be) tested. Did you know female sender names perform significantly better when addressed to tech influencers? We have tons of these: Using ‘Bonjour’ in an email in English instead of ‘Hello’ increases open rates, mentioning appetisers increases event signup rates, etc.
Pro tip: Test your subject line first. Subject lines remain the #1 opening factor. If chosen poorly, it can be the #1 explanation of your poor email performance. Do not hesitate to test personalised subject lines (including first name of the influencer, or the name of its blog, etc.) Once you have a satisfactory open rate, you can go ahead and have fun testing plenty of new parameters.
Tell Compelling Stories
You must have one hell of a story to tell. Actually, you must tell influencers a story you would want to be told to their audience. Make certain to give ‘nuggets’, that are easily tweeted, photographed, become quotes for a full length article, etc. The more the merrier.
For the leading watch brand, we wanted to prove the product’s resistance to water, heat, shock, and high pressure (among other things) to the audience. We had no choice but to non technical, visual, day to day, experiences they could relate to. This is why we submerged the watch into a boiling transparent kettle, put it in a front load washing machine, and got it run over by a New York Fire Department truck.
Getting the FDNY involved was definitely an incredible talking point, as the brand and the fire department share common values.
Create Personal Emotional Connections
Again, influencers are not journalists. They blog (mostly) for fun. As it happens, being bored to death by an hour long press conference is NOT their idea of fun. Who knew? Hence, it is important to limit the speeches as much as possible, and to create personal emotional connections instead.
For every event we organise, we train as many staff members as possible (up to 25, that was 1 per 10 attendees) so they can directly interact with influencers at a very personal level. “Natural” experiences make the longest lasting impressions. Influencers are no different.
Personal Emotional Connections (PEC) are not exactly a new thing. Heard of Zappos? They basically do this for a living. It turned out pretty well for them.
Automate (almost) Everything
Technology is the new underpaid marketing intern. Plus, it makes no mistakes, and is much, much more scalable. Almost everything in this process can be somewhat automated. Your influencer sourcing can be automated. So can your email lifecycle, and your reporting, your storytelling, etc.
Even email personalisation can be, to some extend, technologically facilitated. Via RSS feeds, you can access the latest posts, via sentiment analysis, you can have an idea of which tone is used (positive, neutral, negative), etc.
With the help of your Tech team, try to identify ‘hacks’ allowing you to address a much larger audience.
Integrate Your Event Into a Global Plan
Last but not least, it is important to integrate a blogger event into a global communication plan. Sure, the event itself will get you a ton of social media exposure, and a significant amount of earned media in the following weeks. But so much more can be done.
You might be familiar with content amplification. Companies like Outbrain do a fantastic job at driving qualified traffic to the brand or earned content around the event. This is a great way to get even more engagement and reach out of the blogger event. The same can be said with a global online advertising campaign.
Fairly quickly, you will convert all of this attention, into actions. Which ever your success metrics might be, the impact will be significant.
At many levels, coordinating a massive blogger event will be incredibly challenging, and most likely cannot be compared to anything you have ever done as a marketing professional. Still, it is vital to bring offline the online influencers, for both B2C and B2B companies.
Even though they are highly solicited, inviting influencers to a mind blowing event is, today, still a rare attention. Therefore, influencers are likely to be engaged, and respond favourably to your initial contact.
Keep in mind that this soon could be a new ‘gold rush’. The more influencers will be solicited for events, the harder it will be to stand out of the crowd. My final piece of advice would be not to delay. :)
Feel free to refer to our latest case study on watches for more information.
Guest post by Olivier & Martin from Enigma