OK, before we get started, let’s make sure we’re all the same page with what outreach marketing is.
Outreach marketing is the process of reaching out (shock) to journalists, influencers, businesses and bloggers to build links and drive traffic to your website, and to improve brand exposure. You can do this with guest posting, digital PR campaigns (our personal speciality) and many other tactics. The aim of an organic outreach campaign is to create great content that builds the links for you.
At NORTH, we’re experts in the latter. We target journalists everyday to pitch stories and campaigns for our clients. So we thought we’d give you the inside scoop on the ten things every outreach marketing campaign needs.
Where to begin…
1. Plan for the future
No matter where you’re coming from in business, you can’t argue with us when we impress upon you the importance of planning. The best way to make outreach marketing an integrated part of your pverall marketing strategy is to plan it out in advance. Not only does this ensure you have campaigns lined up through the quarter, it also prevents rushed jobs, typos and formatting issues. Remember, there’s no take-backs once you press send to the journalists.
2. Know who you’re talking to
One of the most crucial elements of nailing an outreach campaign is getting your prospecting list just right. Your prospecting list is the list of journalists (prospects) you’regoing to be targeting. This should never be scatter-gun. It should be a well crafted composition of journalists you know are posting the kind of content you’re going to send them. So do your research, it takes time but pays off.
3. Time it right
Every digital PR will swear by this. You have to make sure it’s the right time to outreach your campaign to journalists. There’s nothing worse than spending weeks on a campaign, getting everything perfect, but forgetting to check for any upcoming events before you outreach. Then, when it’s all too late, realising it’s the week before a general election and that nothing else is going to get coverage…
But that’s not the only instance where timing is important. Launching a campaign to jump on a trend you’ve seen online? Chances are this trend bubble is going to burst. If your campaign is time sensitive like this, you’ll need to get it out quickly to avoid the loss in momentum.
Now it’s time to share your work…
4. Finding perfect pitch
Pitches need to be relevant, polite and concise. If it’s not relevant, don’t mention it. Once you’ve written up your first draft, get that red biro and go nuts. Cut it like your mam did with your hair the day before your school photo. Be brutal. Remember, you’re essentially selling them something: your story.
Second to keeping it concise is ensuring neat formatting. If journos are anything, they’re busy. They want to know what the story is pretty much immediately, so make your pitch clear and readable. However, you want to make sure they read on to the press release, so don’t give too much away. Tease them so they want more.
Finally, the subject line. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and subject lines are paramount for open rates. Grab their attention then don’t let go. Remember you’re competing with Lord-only-knows how many other campaigns in a journalist’s inbox on a given day. Like the pitch, tease them with something good so they can’t help but open it!
5. Personalised, if possible
This is where you’ll be grateful you planned in advance and gave yourself some extra time. You should already know a little bit about the journalists you’re targeting from the research you did when you were prospecting. That’s where you can really use this research to bolster your pitch.
Personalised pitches stand out to journalists as they’re used to reading what is clearly a bulk send email. We’re not saying you need to find out where they went to school or their mother’s maiden name, that borders on creepy. But find out what articles they’ve written in the past, what sort of areas they like to cover, and where your story can add to that.
6. Good quality assets
As well as the classic press release you’re going to be sending with your pitch, consider what kind of content assets will add value to your campaign. The main aim here is to build links, so creating something that journalists will want to link to can only help. Some of the main kinds of content you might want to consider are:
The classic landing page
The longer white paper
A simple table
When you’re deciding on the asset, ask yourself two questions:
Does this add to my story?
Is this shareable?
When it comes to powerful assets, we have to give Pudding their credit. They create visual content for play, not work, and they absolutely set the bar.
What comes next…
7. The all-important follow-up
Don’t underestimate a follow-up. It can be the difference between getting and not getting those links. Whether your content got plenty of coverage or not, we’d always recommend following up with anyone that didn’t post.
Again, this comes down to timing. Be savvy – give them time to potentially cover the story, but don’t leave it so long that your first email is a distant memory.
The perfect time for a follow-up is actually pretty disputed among Digital PRs, as is made clear by this Twitter poll:
So the best advice we can give you here is to test out a few different time periods and see which works best for you.
8. Track your progress
Outreach tools such as Google Alerts and BuzzSumo allow you to set up tracking for specific campaign keywords. This creates an automated process that notifies you when you get coverage, saving you plenty of time. However, if you’re more time than tool rich, just go for a good old fashioned Google News search.
9. Look at it from all angles
Chances are, your campaign isn’t telling one story, but multiple. Your job is to identify what all these stories are. You can focus on the strongest one to start, but if your campaign doesn’t gain as much traction as you were hoping (or, to be honest, even if it does), revisit your data, pivot the story and outreach it again.
Something to think about…
10. Take the test
So this last one isn’t necessarily a need, but this is the kind of stuff that gets you ahead of the game. Try split testing your subject lines to find one that gets the highest open rate. Maybe one subject line can open with something eye-catching such as “REVEALED” whereas the other can be more simple. This helps you identify what works and what doesn’t which is incredibly useful when you come to outreach again.
These ten tips are sure-fire ways to supercharge your outreach marketing campaign. If that all sounds like too much to think about, why not let us do the thinking for you? Our Digital PR team love what they do and are masters of their craft. Get in touch and we can have a chat.