The Arcane Art Of Cold Emailing Bloggers

February 10, 2013 — 27 Comments

The big day has arrived. Your product is ready to launch, you know exactly which bloggers you need to target, and all you have to do now is well, convince them to write about your product with only a few lines of email. Very few.

In both of my companies I managed the marketing of products which were anything but “sexy” –  not usual blogger material and still – we received coverage. I also guest posted for TechCrunch, LifeHacker, The Next Web and others without much (or any) writing references. Here are the emails which led me there and what stands behind them.

BloggersImage

It’s not about your users, it’s about the blog’s readers

The biggest leap I made to get more press coverage was by changing the main question I asked myself when writing the email.  At first, like most people, I simply tried to explain why our product benefits users. Having lots of engaged users is obviously my goal but bloggers have a different one. They’re not interested in your users but rather in their own users = readers. Bloggers want to get as many people to read their posts, and if you can help them meet that goal – you’re in. So I started asking myself “How will writing about my product drive more traffic to blog X?”. That changed everything. Emails were suddenly getting answered and my product started appearing in blogs. When focusing on the bloggers’ goals you might not get to list all your features or discuss the innovative technology in detail, but – you’ll get in.

Following are different techniques for achieving this goal. Important :  don’t use more than one or two at a time. The email should be as short as possible, I try not to exceed 5-6 lines.

Get personal
One of the most basic tips when it comes to blogger outreach is to personalize your email. Not only is  there a better chance you’ll hit what they’re looking for but you’re also communicating that you’re interested in their blog and not sending the same email to 50 different bloggers. Some use custom templates and personalize parts of it, like this :

Hello _______ (fill in blogger name)
I really liked your last article about ________ (fill in the topic of the last article) and I’ve been following the way you cover ________ (select according to blog) for a long time.

Please don’t do this. This is not personalization. If you have the most interesting/ buzzy product ever, and bloggers will write about you no matter what – go ahead. Since you probably don’t – it’s a template and it looks like one. The key to convincing bloggers that writing about you will drive traffic to them is understanding the core values of their blog. TechCrunch is about the startup scene, the faces behind it and news, LifeHacker is about improving your life with small tricks and tips, GigaOm is more about technology and how the tech industry evolves. Once you fit your story into their world you’re halfway there. Personalization is about finding the right angle and knowing which parts of your product and story to highlight.

OK, let’s go into my inbox  –

This is how I pitch Takipi to startup scene/ Business oriented blogs

This is how I pitch Takipi to startup scene/ Business oriented blogs

This is how we reached out to blogs in other languages

This is how we reached out to blogs in other languages

Hugs and Kisses
It’s OK to flatter bloggers, people like that, and usually if you’re reaching out to a certain blogger it does mean you like their writing and opinions. There’s nothing wrong with mentioning something you liked about their last post or following up on a recent tweet. But you can go further and try to create a more personal connection. The more personal you get, the better. I try to understand a bloggers’ opinions and passions and write something about them. Even if it’s very technical – if they’re writing about it they must find it important and exciting.

emailBloggersSample3

Align yourself to other successful posts
A great way to imply that writing about you will drive some good traffic without actually saying so is to align your story to other successful posts. How can you make sure that you compare yourself to topics that, in fact, brought in great traffic? Some blogs (such as LifeHacker and Business Insider) display the number of views right on the page, with others you can use the number of tweets and likes as an indicator. Some blogs publish the most popular posts of the same week.

emailBloggersSample4

Bloggers are not analysts. They’re storytellers. Tell a good story.

I can’t change my product but I can definitely change the way I describe it. If the product isn’t interesting enough, create a story worth reading. I try to create content for a post which will be worth reading by itself, even if the reader is not interested in your product.

People are always more interesting than products
While not all products apply to a wide audience, a personal story usually does. Even large companies with super interesting products work at the personal level to get more PR, aligning products like Facebook, Apple or Google with the people behind them. It’s fascinating to see how the PR of Yahoo! started flying through the roof once Marissa Mayer joined the company. Interesting people make an interesting read. Cinderella stories are always great material for a post. Here’s one example of how I used my personal story to get coverage for our 1M downloads benchmark.

emailBloggersSample5

Use names, locations, examples
One of the best ways to make your product more interesting is to create a vivid image of how people use it. As I mentioned before, as much as I love the products I managed, none of them were really interesting by nature. ‘A B2B CAD application with a cutting edge technology’? Not for my blog, thanks. But how about ‘Miners in Brazil now use their iPads when building new tunnels 100m below ground’, ‘ Flight technicians use their private mobile device to fix planes instead of carrying  piles of papers around’‘  or ‘A children’s hospital in Texas  uses an app to monitor the current location of medical equipment ’. Sounds better, doesn’t it?

Why now?

OK, you’ve managed to convince the blogger that writing about you will generate more traffic for them and the anticipated “yes, we’d love to cover your company’ email has finally landed in your inbox. You excitedly check out their blog the next day, and the day after, and the next week and – you’re still not there. What went wrong? You’re probably in the queue with dozens of other items which are not ‘news’. If you’re launching a new product or version the timing issue is obvious. The real challenge is creating the same level of urgency even when you don’t have big news.
Tell stories as news
I usually try to generate some news even when we’re not launching a new version or product. It can be a milestone (like 1M users), a customer story or some other interesting information.

Pictures and videos

Great pictures and videos are a great asset for driving more traffic to bloggers. Sometimes a good video is all you need in order to be featured. My test here is similar to the storytelling – will someone who’s not interested in my product enjoy watching the video or images? The answer should be yes. I like to link to fun images which can stand by themselves and not to screenshots. Links work much better than attaching the images but sometimes I use both.

 

Samples of images I send bloggers

Samples of images I send bloggers

Now, cut it by half

This is an interesting exercise I started doing lately. We all know that bloggers are super busy and like short emails but we product guys also have lots to say. When I’m done writing the blogger outreach email I try to cut it by half. It forces me to focus on the important parts. I usually end up bringing back some of the sentences I deleted, but it helps me reduce the text at least by 20%.

Use your signature

I always consider my signature as bonus space. You struggle to keep the email as short as possible but no one counts your signature as text. If your recipient is super busy he/ she will just skip it without even noticing it, but if your recipients have time or are interested in what you wrote this is the perfect place to lead them to anything that can make them even more engaged – your blog, twitter, minisite, anything. I like to elaborate a bit more about the links, there’s a better chance people will click if they know what you blog or tweet about.

signature

 

Say thanks – in context

Got covered? The best way to be polite and keep the conversation going for future posts is by saying thanks in a way which highlights why the blog’s readers found the post useful. Yes, once again it’s about them, not you.

emailBloggersSample7

 

Other great resources on best practices for emailing bloggers along with some email samples –
Leo Widrich – How To Get Media Coverage For Your Startup  (with a great sample of an email to Mashable)
Tim Ferriss – Hacking Kickstarter (go to the ‘email templates’ link – there’s a folder with lots of great templates they used)
James Deer – The Emails That Got My Unsexy Start-Up Covered By TechCrunch

 

27 responses to The Arcane Art Of Cold Emailing Bloggers

  1. Another great post Iris! :)
    totally agree about getting personal, and equally important choosing the right bloggers from each blog to the niche your product is.
    another important point is to approach when you have a good story (or build one) and not just asking “to cover my product”.

    From my experience if you approach bloggers the right way you will get their attention and their honest response regarding they will cover your startup or not.

    • Yes, I agree. Even if they’re super busy (which is usually true) there’s a good chance to get covered (or at least to get an answer) when if you put some time and thought into the email.

  2. That was a really useful post. I love the idea of using the “Miners in Brazil” angle. I’m guessing if you already frame it as a story for the blogger you are more likely to capture their imagination.

    Great post, I’ll definitely be using these techniques!

  3. thanks Iris, you rock! It’s blogs like yours that make me wish I’d still use an RSS reader :)

    • Thanks Catalin :) And you don’t need to use an RSS reader, just type your email at the subscribe box (on the main page) and you’ll receive an email when I publish a new post (every month or so). I’m not a huge fan of RSS readers myself :)

  4. As a blogger, I can say you’ll get very far by just not being formulaic. Most of the “can you write about me” email I get looks like somebody followed a “5 ways to get noticed by bloggers” blogpost when writing the email.

    Be human. That’s all it takes.

  5. Great article! love the detail, not enough people blog about their processes behind blogger outreach – thanks. A couple of tips we’ve found work well at Eco Market, 1) use a tool called boomerang which is a really awesome plugin that lets you pop emails back into your email inbox if you dont get a reply. We’ve found just by doing some polite follow ups top the tune of ‘I just wondered if you got my email last week as I didn’t hear back’ is enough to win over a blogger to getting back to you (we’ve found the majority of our positive responses have been actually a 2nd or 3rd follow up). 2) Wisestamp is a handy tool for sprucing up email signatures. Hope it helps (by the way I’m not affiliated in any way to these two tools)

    • Thanks Jason. I’m using Boomerang (it’s pretty cool and I’m wondering if Gmail will add it as a feature soon) but haven’t tried Wisestamp yet – I’ll have a look. Yes, I 100% agree about the 2nd and 3rd mail, it’s not very fun but it’s working :)

  6. Great post and blog! How important is it who contacts the blogger? Does the blogger want to talk to one of the founders? Do the chances decrease if you hire someone to do this contacting thinking you have “more important things to do” and “they are more eloquent with words” or something as idiotic that runs through my mind. BTW, our product is in the same market as VisualTao which started it all for the mobile CAD market. Thanks for pioneering that!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. How we tripled our user base by getting localization right | SafetyFist.com - March 23, 2013

    […] You can check out the example of the initial email we sent iPhone Italia in my previous post on cold emailing bloggers (the original email was in Italian of […]

  2. Blog ALL » How we tripled our user base by getting localization right - March 23, 2013

    […] You can check out the example of the initial email we sent iPhone Italia in my previous post on cold emailing bloggers (the original email was in Italian of […]

  3. marketing.com.gr » How we tripled our user base by getting localization right - March 23, 2013

    […] can check out the example of the initial email we sent iPhone Italia in my previous post on cold emailing bloggers (the original email was in Italian of […]

  4. How we tripled our user base by getting localization right | PickStuff - March 23, 2013

    […] You can check out the example of the initial email we sent iPhone Italia in my previous post on cold emailing bloggers (the original email was in Italian of […]

  5. DD Tech Solutions | How we tripled our user base by getting localization right - March 23, 2013

    […] You can check out the example of the initial email we sent iPhone Italia in my previous post on cold emailing bloggers (the original email was in Italian of […]

  6. How we tripled our user base by getting localization right - Daily Small Talk - March 23, 2013

    […] You can check out the example of the initial email we sent iPhone Italia in my previous post on cold emailing bloggers (the original email was in Italian of […]

  7. How we tripled our user base by getting localization right • The Next Web - March 23, 2013

    […] You can check out the example of the initial email we sent iPhone Italia in my previous post on cold emailing bloggers (the original email was in Italian of […]

  8. How we tripled our user base by getting localization right | Online Publishers Association - March 23, 2013

    […] You can check out the example of the initial email we sent iPhone Italia in my previous post on cold emailing bloggers (the original email was in Italian of […]

  9. How we tripled our user base by getting localization right | TechDiem.com - March 23, 2013

    […] You can check out the example of the initial email we sent iPhone Italia in my previous post on cold emailing bloggers (the original email was in Italian of […]

  10. How we tripled our user base by getting localization right | Bitmag - March 23, 2013

    […] You can check out the example of the initial email we sent iPhone Italia in my previous post on cold emailing bloggers (the original email was in Italian of […]

  11. How we tripled our user base by getting localization right | Deetslist "Training" - March 23, 2013

    […] can check out the example of the initial email we sent iPhone Italia in my previous post on cold emailing bloggers (the original email was in Italian of […]

  12. How we tripled our user base by getting localization right | My Blog - March 23, 2013

    […] You can check out the example of the initial email we sent iPhone Italia in my previous post on cold emailing bloggers (the original email was in Italian of […]

  13. Fresh Business Info – Monday, April 8, 2013 - April 8, 2013

    […] The Arcane Art Of Cold Emailing Bloggers […]

Leave a Reply

*

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

I don't post often.
But when I do, it's detailed
marketing case studies.
Get new posts to your inbox