Just because you write some great content and put it on your blog does not mean that people are going to read it. Especially in the beginning stages of building your community online, you need to reach out to people and let them know you’re working hard to develop great content and provide value in your industry.
We call this personal outreach and it will help give your community building efforts a little nudge.
Ultimately, you’re making an effort to build a community online so that you can grow your business. Things that you are used to doing in person to develop business the “old fashioned way” can now be done online. But just like you wouldn’t walk up to a total stranger and force your business card in their face, you’ve got to build a relationship and be thoughtful about your approach online, too.
If you’re working with an awesome web marketing agency, they’re going to help push (i.e. be strategic about) and guide your outreach. But in addition to the efforts that your agency team is making on your behalf, there are some things that you can do as a client to build relationships and bring more exposure to all of the great work that has just been completed.
How the heck do you do outreach anyways?
Outreach can be done in many ways. As a client helping with outreach, it’s personal. Your job is to make more of the one-on-one personal connections with your current and potential customers. You can do this by making a phone call, sending an email (sample email below), speaking with someone face-to-face, or through social media.
Even if the people you’re going to reach out to may already read your blog, subscribe to your e-news, or already see your content on social, it’s still important to alert them of the content you’ve got to offer. Many times things happen, people get busy, and the content is missed. Outreach is a great way to make a personal connection with key people and let them know what you’re up to.
Pre & post outreach
Not to add any more confusion to the social world that you’re already timid about stepping into, but there’s actually a ‘pre’ and a ‘post’ to outreach. Pre outreach can be done before you even generate any content. Listen to concerns or interests that your customers have. Take note of these ideas and turn them into content on your blog. Then, once it’s there, your personal outreach is a breeze. All you have to do is connect with the people who gave you the idea in the first place. Of course it’s of interest to them…they asked for it. Pre outreach can even involve collecting interest (and emails) before you even begin generating content. But that’s a story for another time.
Post outreach happens once the content has already been generated and is ready to go. It’s the process of reaching out to further leverage the efforts that you have already made in developing this great content.
Once your content goes live on your blog, that’s your cue for knowing it’s time for some personal outreach, baby.
A few outreach pointers
The goal with outreach is to get more people to share your content (online) and tell all of their friends about it. This is a very strategic process, so heed these tips before embarking on your personal outreach journey:
- Don’t, I repeat, DON’T send a bulk email
Please, whatever you do, if you’re going to send an outreach email asking people to share your content, don’t send a bulk email. Choose a select group of people, have a purpose for sharing the post with them, and customize an email to each of them. One. By. One.
- Be selective; you’re asking for a favor
You want to be very targeted about who you send an outreach email or social media message to. In other words, if the most recent post on your blog doesn’t really resonate with the person you’re reaching out to, or their audience (company, industry, etc), then don’t send it to them. In some cases you may feel it’s appropriate for a friend of the person you’re contacting, so if that’s the deal, make sure you mention that. You don’t want your contacts to feel like every time you have a post come out, they get harassed by you to share it.
Ultimately, the goal is for these connections to become enamored by the value you’re providing and choose to subscribe to your blog, sign up for your e-news, follow you on social, and never miss a word.
- Be sincere
Personal outreach is the human side of this digital world you’re build relationships in. You want to do both: get people to connect with you online (yes, people you may not yet know), but also keep touch with the human element and reach out in person. That being said, be authentic and sincere. If you feel like the email you’re sending (or other ways you’re trying to connect) is sales-y or won’t be received well, don’t send it. Wait until you know the person a little better and then add them to your outreach list later (more on this below).
- Build relationships
The purpose of all of this personal outreach goodness is building relationships. Making the time for personal outreach may not get you any attention on your content on some of your go-arounds, but at least you made an attempt at a personal connection. It’s always great to connect with people when you aren’t asking them for anything, so make sure you’re not just using people for outreach. Make a conscious effort to connect with them when you’re not asking for a favor (it’s called being a good friend).
- Keep a list
As you read things online and start engaging on social outlets, you’re going to notice people. Follow these people or companies and add them to your circles. Most importantly though, we want you to notice people or companies who are noticing you. If someone shares your content online, put them on your outreach list. Then every time a post goes out, if it’s applicable to what they’re interested in, you can remember to connect with them.
Your outreach list will certainly grow as you build your community online, and so will the relationships with people who are supporting you and sharing your content. This is where the digital world becomes smaller, more personal, and much less daunting.
If you’re going to do your personal outreach via email, here’s a sample for you to use. Be sure that you customize this email to the person, relationship, or situation at hand. Ideally, you want to address a pain point, an issue, or something of significance to that specific person you’re emailing and asking to help you with outreach. Somehow your email needs to resonate with them so that you’re making it worth their while.
This email would most likely be one of the first that you send in that it familiarizes the person you’re asking with your goals in developing good content in the first place. As you reach out to the person on a second and third time, you will most certainly want to integrate more personality and something really exciting for the recipient so that they become connected to the content immediately and want to share.
Just keep in mind that you don’t want this email to come across as a solicitation. You want it to be something they’ll actually read. So really make it clear that your purpose is in helping them, and not just yourself.
Hi <PERSON’S NAME HERE>,
<It was great to see you last week…> OR <it’s been some time since we’ve talked….>. I remember you saying that you were struggling with <PAIN POINT HERE>. I’ve got something that I wanted to share as I thought it might be valuable.
<DEPENDING ON CONTEXT, YOU MAY REMOVE THIS NEXT PART>We’re really working on providing more value to our customers and making a contribution to our industry. One of the ways we are doing this is by writing articles on our blog.
Today we’ve got a new article on our blog that speaks to the <SOMETHING OF VALUE IN YOUR POST FOR THEM HERE>. I thought this might be valuable for your <COMPANY, AUDIENCE, TEAM, ETC> because <HOW IT ADDRESSES PAIN POINT HERE>. You can read it here: <LINK TO BLOG POST HERE>.
I’m hoping this helps you. If you like it or know someone else who would benefit, please feel free to share. And of course, if you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it.
<YOUR NAME HERE>
Rand Fishkin also has some great tips for structure, dos and don’ts in outreach emails. I’d highly recommend watching this video and taking some notes on those as well.
Make this your new habit
Remember that outreach is a habit. It’s a part of your routine. But I will caution: if you want your web marketing efforts to succeed, don’t just tack on this piece to your already existing routine.
In other words, take a look at what you do every day and figure out what time in your day is best suited for doing things like personal outreach. Block out time for it and make the commitment to do it. You will see the reward.