Are you missing out on these guest blogging opportunities?

Corporate blogs are under-utilised in most content-led link building campaigns that operate outside of the realms of ‘online marketing’.

In the SEO and internet marketing space we are fairly use to this practice. SEOmoz, HubSpot and KissMetrics …All valid examples of excellent corporate blogs, all accept guest posts, however, practices that are common place to us internet marketing folk are rarely representative of other industries.

What’s the big deal?

To say that nobody is building links from corporate blogs would be a bare faced lie but it is clear that fewer campaigns actively target corporate blogs.

Untapped opportunity

One of the main reasons for this is because not many corporate blogs advertise the fact that they would consider a guest post and some aren’t even fully educated on guest blogging as a practice. This means that they might not have a “write for us” page, or even have any live guest posts currently, they might not even mark guest posts as “guest posts”.

Consequently many of the filters, search queries and tools that link builders use to find guest post opportunities completely miss these. Making them an untapped (or to be more accurate “less-tapped”) source of guest blogging opportunities.

This is good for two reasons; 1) You are likely to be exploiting an opportunity that your competitors aren’t and 2) with a well-constructed pitch and value proposition, you have a better chance of acceptance because they are less inundated with guest post submissions and pitches.

Difficult to get but valuable

If we dust off some of the sugar coating, obviously with these benefits comes the “extra legwork required” caveat. Corporate blogs are more difficult to get published on because the editor of the blog will likely have another role in the company, the company itself is probably going to have a fairly rigid content calendar that you’ll have to work around and “deal with” and finally the company itself may have a complex or more bureaucratic post review process involving their legal department or brand director.

If you are afraid of hard work then seeking out guest post opportunities on corporate blogs probably isn’t going to be a good avenue for you to explore.

The good news is of course that the extra effort tends to put most people off (read: your competitors). As is the unwritten rule of link building… the more difficult it is to get, usually, the more valuable it is.

Targeting corporate blogs = a marriage between link building and business development

It is also worth noting that any extra effort and resource can be offset by the business development benefits of publishing on a corporate blog. If you can establish a close relationship with the editor of the blog to align your goals and their objectives then you can push out a blog post which is closely tied to your products or services as well as theirs.

For example;

  • A use case featuring solutions from both parties (potential to target their clients who might also have an interest in your business)
  • Detailed tutorial on your company’s use of their product (transparent content marketing which could help you win new clients)
  • A case study showing your company has been successful using their product or service (keeps the host blog happy and gives you a chance to talk about successes you’ve had which could result in new business as prospective clients understandably like to associate with success!).

Obviously this isn’t always possible since there might be a great corporate blog opportunity but your client might not actually be using the target company’s products or services however if they are then its a double bonus for you. Business development potential = the potential for additional budget for top notch content!

How to get started

Find the opportunities

I wrote a post recently about becoming a better link builder by getting to know your client’s industry better, and once again this will stand you in good stead if you are looking to identify suitable corporate blogs.

Remember also to think outside of the client’s usual bubble since most markets can be inter-connected in some way or another – it doesn’t have to be a corporate blog that is literally in the same market – competitor to competitor link building is a tough gig no matter how smart you are. :-)

  • Think about any products or services your client uses – like Wil Reynolds says working with companies that “Do real company shit” is a real blessing. When it comes to targeting corporate blogs, in many cases you can optimise what the client already has/does.
  • Think about who your target audience is and think about other products and services that they buy? What are the corporate blogs in these areas? And how could you bridge the gap with content?

We’ve been using a rather nifty feature of LinkedIn to better understand markets and identify corporate blogging opportunities with relative ease, not to mention getting a good overview of the industry as well as links to profiles of key influencers in that given market.

It’s called the Skills Search Engine and it is brilliant! I know it probably wasn’t invented for us online marketers to harvest but it’s great, see this result page for the shipping industry – there’s some fantastic leads to follow up and avenues to explore and that’s just one random example

Find contact details

Tracking down the contact details is not an easy task but if you want to actually stand a chance of securing the guest post you need to communicate directly with the person who controls the blog or at least works on the content management team. Don’t even bother sending your pitch via the contact form on their website because you know who receives emails from the contact form? The sales team. How interested do you think they are in your well crafted and well meaning pitch? Not very. “That’s not my job” syndrome is rife in most big companies, they rarely pass your message on to the right person.

The better option is to perform some basic detective work and easily track down the right person.

I always start by looking around the website we want to target. You’ll see from this screenshot taken from the oDesk blog for example that one particular author kept showing up.

When I dug a little deeper I found this:

A few minutes work and we’ve already found some great information – we know who the editor-in-chief is, we have her name and we have her Twitter profile.

At this point, you could reach out to the individual via Twitter or start searching for more information, perhaps an email address even.

To do this, we often use this quick and free email research tool from Buzzstream, it generates queries to help you find an individual’s email address.

We frequently manage to track down the email of an individual but that being said, as a general rule if we have to really dig deep to find that email, an unsolicited message may not be welcomed by the other person in which case it would be more appropriate to reach out to them via social media initially.

For example I found Jenna’s email address within 5 minutes of Googling as it was listed publicly on a job advert from the start of this year. I’d say there is a good chance she didn’t mean for this to be public information and so therefore probably doesn’t want to be immediately contacted via this channel.

Email for us still gets the best response as it is many people’s preferred method of communication but use email addresses responsibly folks!

For further reading, I highly recommend Rob Ousbey’s recent post on finding almost any email address.

How to pitch them

As a starting point head over here and read Seth Godin’s post on selling to B2B clients

I’ll summarise for you, business buyers think differently. Here’s their hierarchy of needs in order of importance:

  • Avoiding risk
  • Avoiding hassle
  • Gaining praise
  • Gaining power
  • Having fun
  • Making a profit

What’s this have to do with link building? Well outreach is basically selling and if you are ‘selling’ to the editor of a corporate blog then you need to approach things differently from approaching other kinds of web publishers.

When someone within a large corporate is buying anything (which includes your guest post) they want to know the above needs are going to be met. This means you have to consider things from their point of view and formulate a pitch, a post and an initial form of contact which is going to meet at least a few of these needs.

There’s no need for you to be blatant about your attempts to ‘win friends and influence people’ but consideration for the following is going to dramatically increase your chance of success:

  • They may have a legal department or a brand director to report to (help them avoid risk)
  • They may have an additional job role in the business so be helpful (help them avoid hassle)
  • Help them grow the audience of the blog (to help them gain praise and power)
  • Be friendly to them (helping them to have fun in their work)

Think; a non-contentious blog post, on a topic which is mutually beneficial, formatted just how they like it, delivered with a friendly & human email and shared with your social networks.

These things are important in any guest blogger/blogger relationship of course but in the corporate world, even more so!

The underlying point is that editors of corporate blogs often have a largely different mindset/goal to your average blogger or full-time web publisher so act accordingly. Your job is to act like the business development executive bringing two companies together and using content as the bridge.

7 Comments

  1. avatar
    Ryan McLaughlin June 22, 2012 at 4:03 am #

    “I’ll summarise for you, business buyers think differently. Here’s their hierarchy of needs in order of importance…”

    Classic customer-centric selling. Good point James.

  2. avatar
    James Agate June 22, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Thanks Ryan!

  3. avatar
    Daniel Duckworth June 22, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    Such a great idea! I’m currently helping a company market a new process management software platform. Their software integrates with some bing name software products out of the box. So I’m thinking we could leverage our relationship with those companies and do a post about how flexible their software is.

    If anyone is curious the software is called PROCESSpedia.

    http://www.processpedia.com.au

    Note: not sure what the linking rules here are, so feel free to remove the link if it is not appropriate.

  4. avatar
    Mike June 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    James,

    Great write up! Pitching corporate blogs to post on is harder than typical blogs, no doubt. Since you’re representing their name, I’d say that corporate blogs shouldn’t be your starting point with guest blogging. Build up your portfolio and reputation so these people might have an idea of who you are.

  5. avatar
    Kate July 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    Great write up – its nice to see someone telling us ‘how’ to do something instead of just hearing all the bad stuff!! I agree with most of what was said although, coming from a sales background myself I have to say I don’t personally think the two go hand in hand that well. After all its not about negotiation – right? example, if I have to talk someone into my content and talk them into doing this for NC (in line with not paying for links) then it is still a link on a site that sells links? surely? someone correct me. Its such a slow process for someone who has come from a string sales and results driven background… SERPS take so long to reflect change!

  6. avatar
    Tim Aldiss February 19, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Yeah I echo the above – this is a really great bit of knowledge sharing, thank you James.

    The hard bit is marrying up the needs of the client with that of the purpose of the destination blog. Conflicts of interest can be a real issue here. As you hint it’s a good idea to try and build relationships with partners that you may have already done business with before, but if you’re after new linking opportunities there may well be some time negotiating over the article content.

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