Developing an effective outreach campaign

David Rushton

Head of Digital

Posted on October 17, 2016

In a recent blog we discussed the power of content marketing and how financial institutions are benefiting from content marketing. Producing great content that engages with prospects that visit your website is a great start, but how do you use content to reach prospects that have never visited your website, or possibly have never heard of you?

Introducing outreach

Outreach is a term that is used within a range of marketing disciplines, from PR to SEO and social media. In a nutshell, outreach is about:

  • Finding people who already communicate with your target market (‘influencers’)
  • Building a relationship with these influencers
  • Encouraging influencers to share your content with their audience
  • Driving traffic to your website or social media profiles

There are two main types of outreach being used online today. The first is getting your content posted on the websites of influencers (also known as guest posting). The second is encouraging influencers to share content that is already on your website through their social media channels.

(Getting your content posted on an influencer’s website generally leads to more engagement and has an added SEO benefit, so we’ll focus on this type for the purpose of this article).

How not to perform outreach

Whilst the concept is very simple, many marketers struggle with this strategy. Let’s take a recent example of an outreach marketer that approached me some time ago. This marketer:

  • Emailed me using a well-known email template
  • Mentioned that he had read a recent article and ‘loved it’
  • Asked me to post an article on our blog that had very little to do with financial marketing

So what did he do wrong? It was obvious that little to no effort had been made on his behalf. I was simply a name on his target list and probably a thousand other bloggers had received a nearly identical email. But most of all, there was very little in it for Talisman. The content on offer would have had no value to our readers or our company!

Needless to say, I didn’t respond.

The core principles to a successful outreach campaign

1 – Research your target websites

For outreach to be successful it is crucial that there is synergy between your website and your target website, i.e. are you a good match?

Ask yourself:

  • Does the website publish informative content to its visitors?
  • Is the content published directly relevant to your content offering?
  • Do they publish content from third parties already?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’ then it’s probably time to move on.

2 – Don’t just ask them to post content

Whilst many of us like helping others, it’s not likely that we will help a stranger online. Take the time to build a relationship with the author of your target website. Taking a longer term view definitely pays dividends.

Consider:

  • Offering to promote their content to your audience, either on your website or through social media
  • Participating on their website by writing informative comments on articles or answering questions
  • Sending them a message on social media with some information they may find useful

If you mention in an email that you enjoyed their previous articles, be specific. Which articles did you like and why? Don’t be vague and show you have taken the time to understand them. You need to demonstrate that they are not just another name on a list and that you value them and their website.

3 – Ask for their input

When the time is right, reach out and explain that you’d like to explore any content opportunities that may exist for their website. Ask what kind of content their readers might find useful and discuss ways that you may be able to help.

The author of a website is far more likely to respond if the content on offer would bring a clear benefit to their readers, and what better way to do this than by asking them what content would be valuable?

4 – Make it exclusive

There’s very little value for the author of the target website in just re-posting content that you have already posted. Above all it could damage both parties from an SEO perspective. Therefore it’s very important to communicate that you are writing content exclusively for their website.

Once your content has been posted you can promote it through your website and social media channels. But make it clear that the content is part of another website and don’t re-post the content in full on your own website.

5 – It is not a sales pitch

Your content must be helpful and provide a benefit to the reader. It should never be a sales pitch. Don’t include numerous links to your website and instead, just request that your name and a link to your company are included at the bottom of the article.

Summary

An effective outreach campaign is achievable, as long as you can spare the time to build some meaningful relationships. It is an exercise in quality and not quantity. By building the right relationships you can explore multiple content opportunities with the same websites and even get introduced to other website owners along the way.

Above all, always remember that there must be some benefit to your target website.

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