One of my favorite ways to get some solid links is by going after product reviews on other blogs. Not only do you get a link, you end up with a full page testimonial of your product infront of another blog’s readership.
You have to give the bloggers your product for free for them to review, which makes your production costs a deciding factor. Other than that, it’s free.
Is This Black, Grey, or White Hat?
I’ve heard different opinions on this, but it boils down to how you approach it.
The black hat point of view:
You’re giving compensation (you’re product) in exchange for a review. Therefore it’s a paid link/review and is going against Googles guidelines.
The grey hat point of view:
No actual money exchanges hands and the review isn’t written by you, therefore it’s ok.
The white hat point of view:
The post is written genuinely by the site owner – good or bad – and any links gained are entirely organic since you never asked for a link (you asked for a review).
All in all, it’s a silly argument. It’s a tactic that works as long as you don’t do something dumb like blast an email to 500 people at once.
Finding Bloggers and Managing Your Outreach
I’m not going to dive too deep into this, as I mostly just want to go over some outreach examples. If you want a full run through check out my previous post on finding guest bloggers.
Basically, you want to find someone with a good social presence. This is more about getting your product infront of the right audience than getting a link. I recommend using Followerwonk to dig for relevant profiles. As an example, with their bio search you can search for “recipe blogger” if you’re trying to get reviews for kitchenware. From there you can sort by number of followers and start going down the list. However, make sure their followers are genuine and not artificially gained, otherwise there’s little value.
You’ll also need a way to keep track of everyone you’re contacting. The worst thing you can do is contact the same person repeatedly or contact two people from the same blog. The easiest tool I’ve found for something like this is BuzzStream. You can completely sort and manage your contacts through their interface.
If this is a small or temporary project, a simple spreadsheet will work. However, you have to be really good about keeping track of when you message someone, wether they responded, wether you followed up, their name, their email, etc.
After that, it’s about how to construct your email. I’ve heard long elaborate emails work, but I’ve never been able to get a long email to work better than a super short one. I always keep it to 2-4 sentences and make sure something is mentioned that’s specific to that blog. So, on to some examples!
Email Outreach Examples
Here’s the fun stuff and the main point of this post. I apologize for all the markup, but it’s there for obvious reasons.
This is a good one. I noticed she had a solid youtube following, so I mentioned it in the opening email. This shows I did more than email the first address I came across. It also, gave me an opportunity I wasn’t originally seeking.
This is also a good example of how important the follow up can be, as she didn’t respons for several days until I followed up with her.
This one is pretty straight forward, except I had to talk to the bloggers representative instead of them directly. It still flows the same way, except responses are typically slower and you may have to be more detailed than usual about what you’re looking for.
This one turned out fine, but I actually messed up on a couple things. First, I assumed the author that would be receiving the product was a woman. I think it was because I was communicating with a woman, but nonetheless, it shouldn’t have happened. Secondly, I had to follow up again to ask for the authors email address. I was used to having it, because I usually discuss directly with the person that does the review. Even though these things are minor, you always want to keep friction to a minimum.
Things to Consider
I used a company email when doing this outreach, because I was targeting high profile people with more time consuming opening letters. However, if you’re going to email 50+ people quickly, I would recommend using some sort of dummy email. This way if you make a mistake like contacting someone twice or contact someone that hates your product, you have nothing to worry about.
If you don’t have the time, you can just set up a gmail account. If you do have extra time and will be using your email for a while, you should set up a dummy site. The site has to make sense with your product though. For example, in the past I set up a site that acted as a PR front for a very specific niche. That way if people looked at the site, it was still relevant to the niche, but not what would seem like a competitor.
All in all, I contacted about 10 people and 6 were successful. I could’ve gotten a couple more, but the blogs made requests I didn’t feel the need to fulfill. Either way, this is a much better acceptance rate than asking for guest posts. It’s also shows the power of doing a little research and writing a decent outreach letter.
Hope this helps you guys out with your outreach in the future!