Word of mouth (WOM) marketing is a powerful tool for small businesses. It’s not new; when someone casually mentions the great service and food they had at a restaurant last night, that’s WOM marketing. People are more likely to remember that recommendation than an ad in a newspaper or magazine. Marketers are now realizing they can create that form of marketing through social media. Big brands create massive campaigns by building promotional pages, sending free products, holding events, and creating contests. Most of these campaigns are directed at moms for two reasons: moms control over 80% of consumer spending in the US and moms are most active in social media and blogging.
Benefits of a social media campaign include general awareness, positive branding, customer acquisition, increased site traffic, improved SEO, and positive customer quotes for use in other marketing programs.
Although there is great potential for a well executed campaign, there is also a potential for pure loss. A successful campaign requires strategic planning and execution of the why, what, who, when and how.
Why are you running a campaign? Are you seeking exposure, recommendations or sales? For example, is your product something that is bought for a specific occasion or only when needed? If so, discovering how to reach those people at the time of need is more important in a campaign than just developing a positive brand image. Positive reviews don’t result in instant sales. On the other hand, do you have a product that many people would want if they simply knew it existed? If that’s the case, your approach should be quick, captivating and far-reaching. If you want instant sales, consider a short-term promotion tied to the campaign. This could be a coupon code for your site or printable coupon for use in a store.
Write down your goals. They may include objectives like:
- Reach 100,000 moms and make them aware of my product
- Get 1000 visitors to my site this month
- Get 200 new fans on Facebook
- Sell 500 specials
Be realistic in your goals. If you work with 20 bloggers with 2000 followers each, you will not get 40,000 new customers. You may have 40,000 people briefly see your product name. A fraction of those will read the review, and a fraction of those will take interest in it. Then, only a fraction of those will click a link or take action.
The best way to increase all those fractions is to consider what you are offering. Are you just posting an ad and having a blogger repeat it? People generally don’t like ads. PR agencies call this part of the campaign “the Pitch”. Tell moms how they will benefit from using your product. The goal is to find moms who like it and want to tell everyone why it is so great.
Some popular review blogs also host giveaways. This part is about them, not you. They need to offer giveaways to keep their readers coming back. If possible, offer two of your product – one for the blogger to review and one for her to offer as a giveaway (note: you ship to the winner, not the blogger). Another possibility is to offer a coupon code, special bundled package, or other incentive that gives the blogger something of value to pass to her readers.
Write down the pitch. What are you giving away and what can they offer their followers?
Consider the value to the blogger. If you have a $5 product, is it worth their time to write an article and promote it? A blogger who is just starting out or who has lower traffic may be more willing to do it for the cost of the product. However, a blogger with 10,000 followers may want a fee for their time. As a general rule, (coupon/review/giveaway) blogs with 1000 followers or less will write free reviews for low value products. Bloggers with 1000 to 5000 followers generally want a combined value of $25 (value of item plus fee). Bloggers with 10,000 or more followers can charge $50 for a meaningful review. Prices also go up when the blog has a more engaged audience (personal interest, specialty, etc.).
There are many different kinds of blogs that are geared towards moms. They range from coupons and deal sites, to reviews and giveaways, to and personal diaries and special interest sites. Which is best for your product? Coupon and giveaways sites have high traffic and are heavily promoted with Twitter and Facebook, but their audiences may be looking for deals, not higher value items. Special interest sites have fewer reviews, but they are typically more focused and read by faithful followers of the blogger. Some bloggers charge, some don’t. You don’t always get what you pay for. There are at least 3 components to examine when selecting a blogger to work with:
- Type of blog (Does your product fit with what you see when you visit?)
- Traffic (How many followers do they have on their blog, Facebook, and Twitter?)
- The blogger (Do they want/like your product? You want a sincere review.)
Write down your requirements. What kind of blogger are you looking for? What kinds of blogs would YOUR potential customers read? Information can include number of followers, whether the bloggers has children of a certain age, what kind of blog they run, etc.
Blogs have taken the place of traditional small publications. PR agencies would pitch these publications hoping for an article. Just because moms are bloggers, not traditional journalists, does not mean they are not as effective. They can reach the same size audiences. In addition, online links make them one step closer to a sale than a print article or advertisement.
What’s your timing for your campaign? Are you using it to strengthen a PR campaign or promote a new product launch? Give bloggers a couple weeks from the time they receive your product until they post the review. Present your expectations to the blogger about when you’d like the review posted.
Write down a timeline for your campaign. It starts with developing strategy, writing the pitch and selecting the bloggers. Next, determine when product will ship and be received, when the reviews will be written and when you will follow up and promote the reviews.
Be sure to use the reviews that are written. Plan to share them through social media and on your website. Combined with articles in major publications, they can be a powerful tool in promoting your business.
How is this all going to happen? Planning is required. The better you plan, the easier it will go and the better the results will be. Things to consider include: how the bloggers will be selected, how communications will be managed, when shipping will occur, how questions from bloggers will be answered and how you will track which bloggers fulfilled their part. You can keep a spreadsheet of all steps and contact information to help manage the process. It’s very similar to managing participation in a tradeshow or sending a direct mail piece.
Write down the steps and communication points. Be sure to include who does what.
Running a blog campaign can be a lot of work. Not managing it can result in shipping a lot of free product and getting no results. But, managing it well can result in huge exposure to new potential customers and even increased sales in the short term. Look at bloggers as messengers and journalists, not as your sales team. You still need to do your part, but they can make it much easier.
Blog campaigns have some of the highest ROI (Return on Investment) for marketing. Compared to print ads, online click ads, and tradeshows, they are inexpensive to execute. They do take time, but consider it partnering with the bloggers who are also your customers. Building a good relationship with them is like having a customer who loves to brag about you.
For those who just want steps, here are the highlights:
- Make goals
- Write a pitch
- Select bloggers
- Manage the timing and process
The results of your campaign are directly related to the work you put in planning it.
Form for planning. IQ_Blog_Campaign