Getting reviews from bloggers and online content creators can make a huge difference in how successful a new product or company is. In addition to bringing direct traffic from the sites giving you links, incoming links from high-ranking websites, especially if they include keywords, can help your search engine rankings. Links and favorable reviews from sites with active user bases can also result in your website being shared on social networks all over the web. Get enough high-quality incoming links, and you can see a big jump in the number of interested visitors coming to your site. But getting that valuable coverage can be elusive for a lot of marketers. In fact, it can be downright frustrating.
Always Be Professional and Personable
Sending an email that comes across as a form letter is a quick way to turn off bloggers and others that might want to review your company or your products. It gives the impression that you’re too busy to properly communicate with those you’re looking to get help from, and in turn leaves a blogger feeling like if you couldn’t invest the time, why should they?
Take a few minutes and check out what your intended recipient is all about. Mention a recent article they’ve published, or something they’ve talked about on their blog. Address the person by name. If the name is ambiguous, and you’re unsure of whether the person is a man or woman, look for a photo. As someone who has such a name, and who also has her photo plastered next to nearly every article she writes, it comes across as a sign of laziness when someone emails me and addresses me as “Mr. Chapman”.
A Little Flattery Can Go a Long Way
Everyone likes to be flattered, as long as it’s genuine. If you’re looking to get coverage from a particular person, flatter them a bit. Check out recent articles they’ve written or other content they’ve created. Then tell them you enjoyed it.
One warning here: don’t do the bait and switch. Don’t email the person you want to review your product praising their work, wait for them to reply with a thank you, and then email again with the request to write a review for you or give you a link. That’s annoying, and makes us wonder if you were being genuine in the first email. Instead, include the praise and the request in the initial email. You’re much more likely to be taken seriously on both accounts in this way, and it feels like you’re being more honest and sincere.
If someone declines to write a review of your product or otherwise dismisses you, don’t keep emailing them. It’s annoying, and generally a waste of time on both sides. An occasional email if you have updates or news to share is fine, but don’t send weekly updates unless the blogger has requested you do so.
The same goes for sending mass emails out to a bunch of sites at once. It’s not professional (unless the people you’re emailing have signed up to receive updates, and even then, make sure you use a program that sends individual emails rather than including everyone in one big blast) and it sends the impression that you don’t see the value in taking the time to individually target your recipients. A personal email will get you much better results.
Don’t Go After the A-Listers
Ever tried to get a review or coverage from an A-List blog? You probably found it to be frustrating and most-likely fruitless exercise. The truth is that most top blogs are inundated with requests from people and companies who want coverage.
Rather than spending all your time chasing down the top bloggers, why not focus on the mid-list bloggers instead? These people are often much more accessible, and much more willing to check out your offerings. And getting coverage from five or ten mid-list blogs can easily exceed the amount of visibility you’d get from an A-list blog.
The other bonus here is that often once your product gets some coverage on smaller blogs, the larger blogs will pick up the story. They don’t want to end up the only blog in their niche that isn’t covering your story.
Offer Something in Return
Offering bloggers something in return for a review can be a great way to get more attention. But just offering a backlink or similar doesn’t hold the same value it used to. Instead, you’ll need to come up with something creative to offer in exchange for a link.
There are a lot of authors and book publishers online who use this kind of technique: they’ll offer a review copy of their book (usually in ebook format) to anyone willing to publish a review. Offering a free product can be a great way to get some blog coverage. Another option is to offer a discount code to their readers, or to sponsor a contest on their blog. These are great ways to increase the likelihood of getting coverage.
If you want to increase your chances of getting good coverage, become an active participant on the blogs you’d like coverage from. Comment on their posts, engage in discussions, and make yourself known. Then, when you finally send an email to ask for a review, they’ll (hopefully) recognize your name.
Make sure that whatever you’re commenting is useful and contributes to the conversation. Don’t just leave generic comments like “nice post” or “great job”. Bloggers often view these kinds of comments as spam and either ignore them or don’t publish them at all. Instead, offer your opinion on what they’ve said, or expand on some point in the post. This will make you more memorable and also lead to a better relationship with the blogger.
Some Sample Email Requests
If you’re not sure how to go about approaching a blogger about a review or a link, take a look at these examples for some ideas:
I just read your post on [topic] and thought you made some really great points. I especially liked your take on [whatever part you liked]. If you have a chance, I’d love it if you’d take a look at [my product]. I think it might be of interest to your readers. Thanks!
I’ve been a long-time reader of your blog (you might remember me from some of the comments I’ve left), and just wanted to give you a heads up about my new project, [project name/link]. I’m looking for help getting the word out about it, and would appreciate any mention you can make, either on your blog or elsewhere. Thanks!
I just read your post on [topic] and it reminded me of a post I wrote [or read] on the same subject at [blog name]. My company, [company name] focuses on just that subject, and I thought your readers might be interested in a review if you had a chance. Here’s a link to our media page if you’re interested: [link]. Let me know if I can give you any more information or help out in any way.
Notice how all of the above examples are short and to the point. They all open with some sort of personalization, and they all close with a thank you. Bloggers are busy people, and the shorter you make your email to them, the more likely they are to actually read what you’ve said.
Cultivate Your Relationships
When you do get good blog coverage, it’s important to continue to cultivate those relationships. Monitor the comments section of any post you’re mentioned in, and address concerns directly and openly. Thank the blogger who wrote the piece for their coverage.
Track which blogs are giving you the best coverage and the most leads, and make sure you maintain those relationships. Promote their content through your social media accounts whenever you feel that it’s relevant and helpful to your own followers, and you’ll likely find they do the same for you.
About the Author: Cameron Chapman is a freelance designer, blogger, and the author of Internet Famous: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Online Celebrity.