Reviews written by bloggers are a great source of highly relevant, quality links as well as valuable publicity. In many sectors there is a plentiful supply of blogs who are happy to write reviews of fairly low value items (we normally only send out items worth $10-$20) and so building links thorough product reviews is quick and cost effective. This post looks at the process of identifying and selecting bloggers and getting the products review you want.
Identifying potential reviewers
Before you start recruiting, you should decide on the kind of blogs you want to review your products. You should always target blogs relevant to your business. You should also set a minimum requirement for the authority of the blog (measured by metrics such as Page Rank and AC rank). Your decision on the quality of blog you approach will depend on the value of the items you are sending out. For example, if your products are low value (e.g. soft toys) you may be happy to send out lots, however if they are expensive (e.g. electronics) you will need to be more picky. The following sources can be used to identify potential reviewers:
Bloggers who cover the same subject will frequently create their own communities using services such as Ning and you can use these communities to draw up lists of potential targets. There is also a specific community for bloggers who like to review products called Pitch It To Me.
Blog rolls and top blog lists
Many bloggers list their favourite blogs in a blog roll and you can check though these to find the cream. You may also be lucky and find someone has compiled a list of top blogs in your field.
Post on forums
Many niche forums include topics related to PR, commercial opportunities and product reviews.
Bloggers will know other bloggers so always ask your reviewers if they know anyone else who would be interested in writing reviews.
Your initial contact should be a short polite email covering the following:
- Introduction. Introduce your company and products and ask if they would be interested in reviewing one of your products for their blog
- Specify a list of products. Offering options instead of letting the blogger decide enables you to get your preferred products reviewed and cuts down on email traffic.Conditions. State whether or not the reviewer can keep the item when the review is done. Most bloggers will expect the keep the item.
Ask for links.
Don’t expect that reviewers will automatically write the format of review you would expect. The perfect review would have the following features:
- Positive review of the product
- Multiple deep links with specified anchor text
- Optimised title tag and metadata
- Profile of company
The best way to get a review in this format is to ask for it! With every product you send out include a letter (and an email so they have the text to cut and paste) which specifies the text you wish to be included in a review. Here is an example:
Thanks for agreeing to review one of our product on your site!
What you write in the review is entirely up to you and you can of course keep the product when you have finished. All we ask is that you link back to our site from the review. We would really appreciate if you could add the following text with links to your review:
“The Brother Max 3 Combi Bibs is available from the online nursery shop Hello Baby. Hello Baby also sells a wide range of other baby and nursery stuff including Baby Toys, nursery furniture, baby travel and baby safety products.“
Where the bolded words link to:
Brother Max 3 Combi Bibs – http://www.hellobabydirect.co.uk/products/65010-brother-max-3-combi-bibs.html
Online nursery shop: http://www.hellobabydirect.co.uk/
From a search engine point of view it would also be good if you include the product name in the post’s heading, <title> tag and URL.
Regards etc etc
Finally – Keep track of your reviewers and follow up
In my experience most reviewers are pretty conscientious and will write their reviews promptly. Unfortunately some people will think this is a free gift and won’t do a review unless chased. Products are expensive and so it pays to keep track of your reviewers.
- Create a spreadsheet of to whom you have sent products
- Make it clear from the start that you would like your reviews written within a 2 week period
- Send a gentle reminder email after the initial period to ask when the review will be done
In my experience about 80% of products we send out result in a review, though sometimes we have to chase several times.
About Trevor Ginn