April 25, 2008
Making a successful pitch to popular bloggers requires some thinking outside of the in-box. How about mailing a love letter?
A marketer wrote a love letter and coupled it with personalized landing pages and videos to get mentioned in more than 175 blogs -- almost four times the number of his targets. Includes samples of letters, landing pages and videos.
Pitching popular bloggers for coverage can put you in some tough competition. Their in-boxes overflow with emails daily, so you have to stand out from the crowd to have the best chance of getting their attention.
One way to get noticed is to think outside of the in-box like Darren Barefoot, Partner, Capulet Communications, did to pitch a book he and his partner and co-author, Julie Szabo, wrote on social media marketing. Did we say love letters and personalized landing pages and videos?
“Obviously, those [blogs] in the top tier are in high demand. They get a lot of pitches all the time,” Barefoot says. “Most of them, my assumption is, get the vast majority of those pitches by email. So, I wanted to avoid that channel because it’s obviously very busy.”
So, Barefoot and Szabo postal mailed love letters to the authors of 10 major marketing blogs -- complete with perfumed paper and handwritten praise. The letters directed each blogger to a personalized landing page featuring a personalized video describing the book and a link to a review copy.
They also pitched 20 less-popular blogs with emailed love letter images and 20 other blogs with a simple email. Here are the 4 steps he took:
-> Step #1. Compile target list
Barefoot already had in mind many of the blogs that they wanted to pitch, so making a list was the easy part for him. You might have to dig a bit to come up with relevant bloggers to target.
“In that case, we just use a combination of free tools like Google, Technorati, Compete and Alexa,” Barefoot says. “Typically we build a spreadsheet that tracks who the bloggers are, what their contact details are and so forth, what they blog about, and their rankings on these various sites.”
-> Step #2. Read the blogs
Reading the blogs is very important. You don’t want to offend bloggers or embarrass yourself by being unfamiliar with what they typically blog about. You can also learn about their style and other relevant information.
“From another campaign I had some bloggers reviewing some technology and one of their parents died. So, you’re not going to hassle that person, right? You’re not going to bug them at all. Knowing that sort of thing is important,” says Barefoot.
-> Step 3. Segment the list
Barefoot and Szabo broke their list of 50 blogs into three tiers using a combination of metrics and his own judgment based on their popularity:
o Tier I, 10 blogs
o Tiers II, 20 blogs
o Tier III, 20 blogs
“It’s pretty obvious,” Barefoot says about how he created the list. “Blogs tend to fall into a particular category, and I think they fall into a bit of an 80-20 rule. It’s pretty obvious which 20% get 80% of the traffic. We tend to target that 20% most of the time.”
Metrics you can use to further help determine your ranking:
o Number of email newsletter subscribers
o Number of RSS feed subscribers
o Technorati rank
o Google page rank
o Website traffic on Alexa and Compete
o Number of comments on blog posts
-> Step #4. Target each tier with a different strategy
Next, Barefoot and Szabo created a unique approach to target each tier:
Tier I - top 10 bloggers in the industry
Part 1. Letter
Each member of this tier received a perfumed letter, written on purple paper, mailed in a pink envelope and decorated with stickers.
These letters were handwritten in felt pen, addressed to the blogger and mentioned something specific to that blogger.
“If I knew the person, or read the blog for a long time, I’d reference a personal detail. In the letter to Seth Godin we wrote, ‘Darren blogs about your books all the time,’ ” says Barefoot.
Of course, the letter mentioned Barefoot’s book and included the URL to a landing page.
Part 2. Landing page
The URL that was mentioned in the letter directed bloggers to landing pages specifically for them.
This page contained:
o Personalized salutation
o Personalized video embedded in the page.
o Link to a review copy of the book
o Link to contact Barefoot
Part 3. Video
The personalized video in each landing page mentioned the blogger’s name specifically.
“We would describe the content of the book, the audience of the book, the price of the book, the fact that we’re giving a dollar to charity for the sale of each book,” Barefoot says. “All the videos would pretty much be under 90 seconds.”
Part 4. Linking
“The last thing we did was we wrote a blog post [at our blog] about the strategy and linked to those top-tier bloggers, which probably got some of their attention. I know it did because some of them came by and commented” on the post, says Barefoot.
Tier II - 20 less-popular blogs
Bloggers in this tier were sent an email with an attached image of the love letter. But each letter was personalized and directed the bloggers to a personalized landing page.
Part 1. Email
“We sent a very short email saying something like ‘Check out the attachment,’ and I also included the URL [in the email] so it was easier for them to click on it. I said, ‘In case you can’t read the URL, here it is.’ So even if they don’t look at the attachment, they can go ahead and click the URL,” says Barefoot.
Part 2. Attachment image
“The content of the actual letters [mailed to tier I] and the photographed letters was pretty much identical. They were the same length, they had a URL at the bottom, and so forth,” says Barefoot.
Part 3. Landing page
These landing pages contained all the same features as the top tier’s pages, except the videos were more generic and not personalized to each blogger.
Tier III - Bottom rung
This tier of bloggers got less love, but they were still pitched with an email describing the book and pointing to the book’s website. The site featured a 71-second video describing the book. As the campaign continued, Barefoot added links to reviews of the book in these emails.
“In the third category, obviously we’re not doing anything particularly out of the ordinary, but on the other hand there are two factors,” Barefoot says. “One, those people get pitched less often than the top tier, so they’re likelier to listen to every pitch. Also, lots of folks read the top-tier blogs we’re pitching so they’re aware of the book already, so this may be the second or third touch point for them.” Members of this tier could get a review copy on request.
How Did the Love Letters Do?
The love letters got a lot of love in return -- 6 of the 10 top-tier blogs and about 60% of the others who were targeted mentioned Barefoot’s book. In fact, 178 blogs -- more than three times the number that Barefoot targeted -- mentioned the book’s website.
“We got linked to by Seth Godin and a few people early on, Lee Odden, so that made a big difference early on,” says Barefoot. “When you get some of those top-tier hits, there’s a real trickle-down effect. We’ve had over 110 review requests from bloggers where they’ve seen it on another blog, or they’ve seen the YouTube video, or they’ve come to our website though some other means and want to review the book.”
Barefoot says they can see a direct correlation between mentions on popular blogs and sales. “It's a little difficult to do a before/after comparison, because we promoted the book and had some good successes right out of the gate. We track where every book sale comes from. About 35% of our buyers came directly from blogs that we pitched. The rest is comprised mostly of Google, which, indirectly, is largely thanks to the blog coverage, other blogs and sites and direct visitors.”
As for conversion rates, some of the high-profile blogs deliver a great conversion rate (number of books sold per visitor). For example, TopRankBlog.com visitors converted at a rate of 6%. Compare that with the average rate of 3%. Surprisingly, visitors from the YouTube videos also converted at over 7%.
Useful links related to this article
Creative samples from Capulet Communications' blog love letter campaign: