Having attended the debut event of BorderlessLive in London, I picked up 9 blog campaign lessons at the show – aimed at setting you apart from the competition.
The suggestions came from Eulanda & Omo Osagiede, co-founders of Hey! Dip Your Toes In. Using their wide-ranging skills the couple have helped brands like IBM, Lonely Planet and Etihad Airways tell their stories and create compelling digital content.
I was intrigued as to what the couple adheres to when securing blog campaigns with brands, so I went along to find out!
1. Be creative
The first blog campaign learning lesson that Eulanda and Omo suggested was to get creative and start coming up with ideas for your campaigns to present to brands. The more creative you can be, the better, but make sure that the blog campaign ideas are aligned with your own brand. For example, now might not be the right time to experiment with a new format for the way you present your blog posts if you are just about to start a new campaign.
Takeaway lesson: Start thinking outside of the box. Realise that you’ll have to sit down and do a bit of brainstorming before taking some of your best ideas back to the brand.
Find out exactly what the brand is trying to achieve when it comes to working with you. They’ll want to see some return on investment, so make sure there's effective communication to determine exactly how they want to measure the blog campaign’s success.
Takeaway lesson: Don't just use emails to contact brands to pitch to them. Give them a call or ask for a meeting – building relationships face to face is much better!
3. Understand the chain of command
Very often brands will appoint PR agencies to work on their behalf to liaise with bloggers and content creators. It’s important to understand that chain of command and start building a relationship with the PR agency.
Takeaway lesson: You’ll create a bad name for yourself if you ignore the PR agency and contact the brand directly. Listen to their guidelines and follow them to the letter.
4. Include insightful research
To truly make a great impression on the brand (and ultimately the blog campaign), you want to work with, you should have done your research on them – and understood them. Ask them if they have any previous case studies or campaigns, along with specific content piece examples. Then you can compare what you have to offer with what has already been done.
Takeaway lesson: Your content should connect with the ethos of the brand. If it’s not a good fit, don’t try and force it. For example, I’ve been approached by a number of gambling websites for sponsored content. I’m not a gambler, I’m not even interested in gambling, so this wouldn’t align with my blog and the message I want to deliver. Integrity is really important to me and I won’t pretend to believe in something that I don’t agree with – and neither should you.
5. Remember the 3 C’s
Eulanda and Omo spoke about the 3 C’s – Creativity that taps into the desires of your audience; Creativity that leaves a lasting impression; and Creativity that makes your audience respond.
Takeaway lesson: Go back to the drawing board and make a detailed plan on the campaign. Include things like ideas, images and words that will evoke your readers’ imaginations. Make sure it’s not too time sensitive – offer advice that can be used again and again. Finally, encourage your readers to respond to your blog content and social media posts by asking leading questions, inviting them to engage.
6. Think outside the box
To really make yourself stand out from the competition, when a brand starts discussing campaigns with you, they might suggest ideas and examples that you can use in yours. Impress them by coming up with new ideas. It helps if you base this on previous successful campaigns.
Takeaway lesson: Brands need to give us the flexibility to be creative, so give them examples of your best campaigns and show they how they’ve worked. Know that you are the best person to come up with ideas that your audience will engage with. Don't be shy in pushing the boundaries.
7. Organic traffic is dying!
According to Eulanda & Omo, organic traffic is dying and algorithms are working against us. Facebook, for example, has seen a 20% decline in engagement since January 2017 and the industry in general appears to be working against us. Brands need to add budgets for paid social with influencers to create an ad or boost a post.
Takeaway lesson: Have the budget conversation with brands early on and manage their expectations when it comes to organic traffic – we can’t always rely on it to work for our campaigns. Try to allocate some money to the side for sponsored promotion or work it into the cost of the campaign.
8. What’s the ROI?
Brands want insights into how blog campaigns have performed and want to see raw data. They’re keen to know what the return on investment (ROI) has been, so get into the habit of producing reports to send to the brand or the PR following the campaign. You should include things like impressions, reach and real conversations from the campaign. These conversations are important for the brand to see – even the negative comments as they need to know what they are doing right/wrong and what their competitors are doing. By producing reports for them you are demonstrating that you offer value and they’ll probably come back to work with you again and again.
Takeaway lesson: Send the brand a follow up report 2-3 weeks after the campaign has ended. If they need to see something sooner, send them what you have and then do a more insightful report at a later date. Don't be afraid to make suggestions to them.
9. Make a pre-campaign plan
According to Eulanda and Omo, you are probably likely to spend more time on the pre-campaign than the actual campaign itself. But preparation is the key to taking a good blog campaign to a great campaign.
Takeaway lesson: Ask yourself about the campaign’s values and if your blog aligns; are the brand objectives clearly stated? Is the target audience made clear? What are the content deliverables and the timelines? Are the key performance indicators defined? Paid social promotion – is this included in the budget? Are the contract and payment terms in place? What’s the communication plan?
In terms of when a blog campaign is in progress, think about:
- Execution – what are you creating?
- Milestones – do you need to tweak anything?
- Communication plan – is it working?
- Do you need to escalate anything?
Another thing to bear in mind is that the post campaign is just as important as the pre-campaign. Once everything is over it’s worth looking at the lessons learned – always ask for feedback from the brand and aim to get a quotable testimonial.
I hope some of these blog campaign lessons have given you an insight into what brands are looking for – and what you should be looking to do and offer.
The key takeaway lessons for me were doing the right research, offering the brand something they might not have thought of – and following up post-campaign with data and information the brand can use.
Save this for later…