Outreach And Customer Engagement the Right Way

Working in digital, in particular in content and outreach, has made me fairly cynical of brands and bloggers. I hate the “I really enjoyed [insert article name here], please feature my product” style emails that we so frequently get. In fact, the White.net inbox gets around 20-30 of these per day requesting we include the latest tool onto an old blog post. Not thrilling.

I think working for software for digital marketers would be the hardest sector to really get coverage or attention from these people. We know all the tactics and have become almost blind to the hundreds of email requests we receive. But recently, one from Bloomberry really broke through the noise…. The more I think about their start-to-finish customer engagement strategy here, the more I’ve liked it. I’ve pulled out the key lessons that I think a lot of us could learn from the brand and implement in our own strategies:

Have the Right Product

So all of the advice to follow and the tactics used were only effective because they were supported by a great product. If you’re trying to get traction, feedback or any form of publicity to something that just isn’t relevant to the people you’re talking to or isn’t very good then it will always be an uphill struggle.

It’s also almost more frustrating than bad outreach to receive an excellent outreach and customer engagement process from a brand, only to discover the quality of what they’re talking about just doesn’t match up.

Target your First Email

The first email is your only chance to make a good impression and get the attention of your target. This means that it needs to be clear, concise and relevant.

introduction email from buzzsumo

Ask for Help

My favourite thing about the email wasn’t just the way it was written, but the fact the brand itself was asking for help. It’s an instant ego boost to be told that you can be adding value to their brand and that they need you. Asking a question made me think about the tool a lot more when I looked at it, exploring it to find areas where I could provide constructive feedback to them.

Importantly, it also made me discuss it with others. Sending it to me team for their thoughts on it and when I realised how much I liked the tool, even recommending it to other friends in digital. If they’d simply asked me to share the new tool or to sign up for it, then it would have been much more likely I’d have ignored the message.

Provide Value from the First Step

I’m based in London, and Buzzsumo aren’t… that means any coffee they did buy me would likely include a long flight, or it being cold by the time it reached me. Instead, they thought outside the box and sent me a Starbucks gift card.

Why was this good?

  1. It’s memorable – I’ve never had another brand do this so it definitely stood out
  2. That’s two emails in my inbox – so even if I ignored the Buzzsumo one, it’s likely I’d open the Starbucks one and they’d have my attention
  3. There’s a small sense of obligation – Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable spending the card if I hadn’t at least looked at the tool

The cost to the business for a method like this isn’t huge; if it costs you $5 per card you send out, and the person signs up to the tool, and then ends up recommending it to a friend because they’ve had such a good experience with your brand, your CPA really isn’t that high.

The nice thing here is that they weren’t asking for my time for free, it shows they understand that I value my time and appreciated the effort it would take from my side.

Get Senior Team Members Involved

This bit isn’t essential, but it is a nice touch. The email came from Henley Wing, one of the co-founders of Buzzsumo. He has his own presence online, a distinct personality and also probably a lot more things to be doing than chasing feedback on a tool.

Ok, so we all know that getting C-levels and business owners to send emails like this can be tricky. I know there’s a possibility that someone else wrote every outreach email for Henley here, that they even were the ones to hit send – but that doesn’t really matter. The point here is that as a business when you get senior people to send the messages, you’re actually saying to your customers “We care enough we want our most senior team to see your responses” and it shows your internal priority is your consumers.

Care about the Responses

I signed up for Bloomberry within about 30 mins of receiving the initial email, I thought it was great and instantly recommended it to my team. But I did forget to reply with any feedback…

I received a second email asking if I had any thoughts on it. The Bloomberry team can see that I’d signed up as a result of the initial email, but here it really showed that they actually did want the feedback too. When I responded with some notes, I got a very quick reply thanking me for my time, answering my questions and actually explaining further developments with the product. It made me feel as if what I had said was valued.

Follow Up & Add more Value if you can

Following on from our initial conversations and discussions around the tool, I didn’t expect to hear from the team at Buzzsumo/Bloomberry again. I’d provided feedback on a tool, got a coffee out of it and generally it had been a positive interaction. Case closed.

Until about 2 weeks after when a blog of mine was published on State of Digital – here’s when I saw it was shared by Henley on LinkedIn. When you write blogs in the digital industry, they get shared a lot and to be perfectly honest, sometimes it is just a blind reshare because you’re friends with the person or trying to help them get coverage. The thing that caught my eye about this though was the thought that had gone into sharing the content. It was more than just a link, instead actual commentary and his own interpretation of the article were included:

article share

So whilst I’m feeling warm and fuzzy about this brand engagement – knowing that I hadn’t just been forgotten after they’d got the feedback they wanted – I then get followed on Twitter by Henley too a few hours later. Keeping the brand front of mind, but also adding value to me by helping the content i’d written and my own brand get publicity.

That evening at drinks with a friend who works in digital, I mentioned about how I thought that was such a nice follow-up and something that so many brands forget to do after the first contact is over. During this conversation, I check my email and see another email from Henley:

“BTW, Hannah,

Just noticed you guys are a paying customer of BuzzSumo.

Would your team be interested in a demo of all of BuzzSumo’s features?
We find a lot of customers don’t know about all of our advanced features, and we definitely want you to get your money’s worth.

Let me know if you’re up for it.”

This is a really polite way of saying that we have Buzzsumo, but rarely use it these days. Not because it’s not a great tool, but because we sometimes forget and new team members need training on it – so this offer is genuinely useful and adds value as an interaction.

The Key Takeaways

This whole story really distills into 7 core learnings which you can implement on your next campaign:

  1. Start with the right product for the right people
  2. Take time crafting your initial email as first impressions matter
  3. Be humble and ask for help or advice to generate more useful engagement
  4. Provide value and show appreciation for someone spending the time to talk to you
  5. Demonstrate that as a business you care by getting senior team members involved
  6. Care about the responses and feedback you do receive
  7. Stay in touch to keep your brand front of mind

[Also you should really try Bloomberry if you work in content marketing/strategies because it genuinely is awesome]

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Hannah Thorpe

About Hannah Thorpe

Hannah Thorpe is a Director at White.net, with 3 years’ experience in content marketing and technical SEO so far. White.net is a digital marketing agency which works across SEO, PPC, Content Marketing and Digital PR.