eCommerce has been a big part of my life long before my time with MaxCDN. In 2002 I opened an online store. That store ran — profitably — for seven years before I shifted gears and started focusing my attention elsewhere.
So today, I’d like to narrow our focus a little and talk to any of you enterprising bootstrappers who are building an eCommerce business from the ground up. In my time as an eCommerce guy, I learned that you’re nothing without awareness. If the world doesn’t know you exist, you’re dead in the water.
But advertising can be expensive. Let’s talk about how you can get your name in front of customers without breaking the bank. Specifically, let’s go over how you might get your eCommerce store featured on someone’s blog or website.
How to Do it Without Spending a Cent
If you’re seriously pressed for cash, it’s entirely possible to do this without opening your wallet. It will take a little longer and will require more work, but the pay off is your Customer Acquisiton Costs (CAC) will be nonexistent. Meaning greater margins to be invested back into your business.
Step One: Find Relevant Blogs
First up, we need to find a blog that might be interested in promoting your company. To get started, head over to Alltop: http://alltop.com to find blogs in your industry.
Punch a keyword into Alltop that’s related to your product and check out what comes up. The site will return a list of blogs that regularly post about certain topics. Use these to find blogs that might be interested in featuring your site.
I’m a big fan of the Inventions category, as a lot of the blogs there are actively looking for new products to feature. Of course, if you can’t find what you’re looking for try searching on Technorati or Blog Catalog. Depending on your eCommerce site’s niche, you may find blogs here that are more relevant to what you sell.
Step Two: Track Down the Right People
Once you’ve found a few blogs you’d like to be featured on, you’ll now need to find the contact information for someone who can make that happen. Ideally, someone who handles guest posting, featured posts, or advertising on the blog. If you can’t find anything in the site’s contact information, look at posts that are similar to what you’d want your blog post to look like. If there is an author listed, use a free tool like Rapportive or FullContact to find their email address.
Crafting the Perfect Pitch
Once you’ve found the contact information you need, send them an email and ask to be featured. This is the tricky bit, and you’ll need to brace yourself for rejection (it will come eventually). But as they say in sales, every “no” pushes you closer to a “yes”. Keep it up your request will soon be granted.
One idea that works quite well is offering to write the post for them (or mentioning that one of “your writers” can handle it). Remember that a lot of these blogs need fresh content on a regular basis. If you can provide them with content it eases the pressure the little and can be a great help.
Alternatively, try using this cold email formula to reach out. If you tweak it correctly — and send it out enough — you’re bound to receive enough positive responses to get the ball rolling.
You can take this a step further by signing up with a tool like Right Inbox. This tool will automatically remind you if your prospects haven’t responded after a certain number of days. However, I’d recommend only following up the once. Persistence pays, but in the blogging world you run the risk of being a pest if you follow up too aggressively.
However, if you’ve followed the above steps and found relevant blogs to contact, the right people to make it happen, and written a great email… following up should be a last resort.
Save Yourself a Little Hassle with Paid Tools
If you can afford to shell out a little cash, you can eaily save yourself some time and effort using a few free tools. As I’ve spent more time in the business world, I’ve begun to realize the priceless value of time. If the time spent finding and contacting bloggers could be better (i.e. more profitably) spent elsewhere, try investing in one of the following tools:
Pitchbox is my go-to tool for outreach and PR. The tool will automatically find blogs and contact information for folks receptive to your product. To get started, punch in a topic that relates to your product and choose “Get Ideas”. This will give you a list of keywords that Pitchbox will then use to find relevant blogs.
Then, all you have to do is write the email and wait for the response. Pitchbox will even follow up with your recipients if they haven’t responded after a certain number of days.
BlogDash is an outreach platform built of over 200k bloggers around the world. If you can’t seem to get any traction using the above methods, give BlogDash a try. They have a Free plan that connects you with 30 bloggers if you’d simply like to try them out.
The Power of Perseverance
Look, this approach isn’t easy. It’s going to take some serious commitment and effort on your part. However, that’s part of what makes it such an effective strategy. The relatively high barrier to entry means that a lot of your competition will simply give up when they get their first rejection.
But if you can get over these initial setbacks, you could potentially see your website or product featured across the web, reaching potential customers you otherwise would have had to pay big bucks to advertise to — customers your competitors are already paying huge sums to talk to.
So keep at it, and don’t stop until you get what you’re after!