Please welcome Brittany to the Rafflecopter team! She started a couple of weeks ago and she’s already dropping some knowledge about how to market products through bloggers. You’ll also have the pleasure of interacting with Brittany when contacting our support team.
When’s the last time you clicked on a banner ad? Let me rephrase that, when’s the last time you intentionally clicked on a banner ad? I’m pretty sure the only people who click on banner ads anymore are grandmas and my mom. A catchy message paired with well-designed ‘creative’ will garner clicks, but are they quality clicks? Are you really going after your ideal customer?
I was previously employed at a tech toy company with a focus on e-commerce. It was a startup, so we had a limited budget but a lot of marketing ideas. We tried display ads, SEO, YouTube ads, and we had varying degrees of success but nothing earth shattering. Even though we were defining our target audience in the standard digital marketing channels, we were still missing the mark when it came to reaching our ideal customers. Then we tried tapping into the blogger network.
Targeting Customers Through Bloggers
Turns out bloggers know what’s up when it comes to developing personal connections with people on the interwebs. Instead of “boiling the ocean” by spending a ton of money on other traditional marketing strategies and only reaching a few target customers, we realized we could get super specific with a blogger’s audience—I mean super specific. We discovered that one of our ideal customer profiles was a tech dad who lived in a tech-centric city (think San Francisco, Austin, Boulder), and probably liked the TV show Arrested Development. We found a blogger who fit that profile with a similar audience. It was the very specific audience we had been searching for to focus our marketing efforts.
So it began. We started spending a lot of time vetting bloggers with aligning interests and reaching out to develop quality partnerships. Emphasis on the word “quality”. It had to be an almost perfect match for it to be successful. While a mom blogger who only raves about wooden toys may write hilarious posts and take beautiful pictures, she isn’t necessarily a great fit for a tech toy that requires screen time. Her readers would take one look at the post and scream “Sponsored content! You’re a sellout!”. The best posts come from bloggers who would purchase the product on their own.
The worst blog posts are when the blogger rips the marketing lingo straight from your site and creates a post out of it. It ends up being a waste of time and resources since it isn’t something you’d ever use to promote your product. An honest review written in the blogger’s own writing style is the way to go. We only wanted to work with bloggers who were genuinely interested in the product independent of the solicitation. We also found that content engagement rose significantly when the blogger included a video and photos of their child interacting with the toy. After we found our effective formula (descriptive blogger + video + great photos = conversions), we started amplifying the reach. This meant more bloggers, more giveaways (ahem, Rafflecopter), but it also meant directing traffic.
We started using advertising platforms, Outbrain and Taboola, to direct more traffic to the blogger’s post. If you’re not familiar with these products they generate the click bait articles you see at the bottom of other publications such as CNN and The Guardian. This is when the conversions really started to take off. We tested several articles in our campaign, comparing posts crafted by bloggers to articles written by popular tech publications. The bloggers’ posts almost always outperformed the tech articles. This worked out great for both parties. The blogger would get a stampede of free traffic to their site, and we were selling toys. Symbiosis at its finest!
A Bonus Outcome!
Another unexpected but much appreciated outcome of blogger partnerships was market research. We were able to learn the terminology people used to describe our product. This helped out when we were brainstorming marketing messaging and even helped us refine our pitch when we started pitching press and retail buyers. Familiar words resonate the loudest. An example was the word “adventure”. We thought this word was overused, but it turned out to work really well with parents.
Bloggers added a lot of value to our marketing initiatives by reaching a well-defined audience. This allowed us to be efficient with our budget and resources. These partnerships boosted our holiday sales, and the bloggers became some of our greatest advocates. If people aren’t talking about you then you probably aren’t relevant. Generate the buzz!
Have you experienced any successful brand / blogger partnerships as a blogger or company? Hit us up in the comments!