The modern marketing world is all about experts.
Whether you want to call them “gurus” or “influencers,” today’s marketing audience interested in the advice and opinions of those who matter most. Those who have been there and done that, with the traffic, social following and revenue to show for it.
Your audience wants insider information and they want it now.
The question remains: how are you going to be the one to provide such insight to your audience?
Enter the world of expert round-ups.
Expert round-ups provide the best of both worlds when it comes to content creation. Looking to finally craft something with potential to go viral (think: hundreds or perhaps thousands of likes and shares)? Looking to finally become a major player in your niche?
Although they require some serious legwork, expert round-ups are a relatively simple concept.
In short, you seek out a large group of influencers within your space, pitch them a highly relevant and carefully crafted question relevant to your users and turn their responses into an epic blog post.
But that’s just the beginning.
There so much that goes into a truly effective expert round-up that gets shared around the social network and marks you as an influencer yourself.
Looking for more readers? Traffic? Social mentions? Look no further.
From choosing a question relevant to your readers to crafting the perfect pitch for the biggest players in your industry, the following guide will provide everything you need to get started with your own expert round-up.
While there are plenty of moving pieces to planning an effective expert outreach campaign, the potential benefits are truly remarkable.
Why Experts Round-Ups are Worth Your Time
Expert round-ups require an investment of your time, energy and attention that goes beyond your typical article or blog; however, the benefits of a proper round-up have the potential to transform your marketing efforts:
Go Viral – Some marketers practically kill themselves trying to craft the perfect piece of content in hopes of viral fame; however, chasing the viral is more than likely a waste of your time. Instead, consider using an expert round-up as a means of creating content that’s truly worth sharing. By answering the tough questions within your niche, and being the first to do so, you have the potential to break ground within your industry and have thousands of eyes on your brand in an instant.
Drive Traffic – Expert round-ups can be a goldmine of organic traffic as you tailor your pitch to include relevant keywords related to your niche. Meanwhile, depending on how much buzz your round-up builds, you can expect some sweet, sweet link juice coming your way as a result of mass sharing and re-posting via blogs and forums such as Reddit. If you’re looking to dominate a few keywords in your niche, round-ups are the way to go.
Brand Legitimacy – Today’s readers are often frustrated by bloggers within their space who fail to meet their needs and simply can’t come up with the content that benefits them. By coming up with an awesome question answered by experts within your space, you establish yourself a legitimate problem-solver for your users. The benefits of being a problem solver include standing out among the crowd and building legitimacy in the eyes of new readers.
Become an Influencer – Finally, expert round-ups allow you to shine as an expert yourself. After all, by speaking with the top names in your industry and sharing their feedback, you’ll be perceived as a influencer yourself (which means a lot to your brand).
Choosing a Topic for Your Experts Round-Up
Keep in mind that not all experts round-ups are created equal.
Much of your success will come down to your topic, question and pitch; therefore, you need to make sure that you start strongly by picking a killer topic.
Choosing a topic may seem like a daunting task; however, the possibilities depend heavily on your niche and SEO goals. In short, you’ll need to choose something that’s on the tongues of your users and relates to a keyword you could potentially dominate.
If you’re stuck on picking an idea, consider something…
- Potentially controversial amongst your users (which aspect of Internet marketing has the best ROI, cardio versus weight lifting for physical fitness, Mac vs. PC for small businesses)
- Debatable or hotly contested within your niche (ex: is a marketing tactic considered white-hat or black-hat, the role of carbohydrates in weight loss, and so on)
- That has little or conflicting information (ex: a recent change in Google’s algorithm, a new weight loss supplement on the market, the functionalities of the latest Apple product)
Ideally, your topic should cover a problem that your base is currently facing and discussing..
Also consider a topic that integrates product reviews and recommendations for your users. Such topics are insanely popular and have huge potential for search traffic. For example, consider the “best of” and “worst of” topics that could drive debate and discussion amongst readers, sharers and commenters.
An expert round-up for a fitness niche might cover topics and keywords such as “supplements for weight loss” or “how to avoid overtraining.” For an Internet marketing niche, users might be interested in “most overrated SEO software” or “ outdated SEO practices.” Each of these topics covers an area of concern for users and has tons of room for debate.
Ultimately, you’ll need to choose a topic that gets users talking about a problem. Chances are, that topic’s out there waiting for you.
In order to uncover such a problem, be vigilant on social media and forums within your niche to see what people are chatting about. Look for heated threads and back-and-forth arguments for the juicy topics that will get clicks when you get around to conducting your round-up.
In addition, you’ll need to pick a topic with SEO relevance for your niche. Therefore, your topic should relate to a relatively low-competition keyword that you have the potential to dominate through your round-up.
For example, let’s say you’re working within the aforementioned fitness niche looking to reach out to bodybuilders trying to cut weight for the summer. While using “weight loss supplement” as part of your round-up may be tempting, the term’s relatively high search volume (27,000 per month) and competition may be a bit of a headache to rank for.
Instead, you might consider more colloquial keywords that you could actually dominate, such as “muscle building supplement,” “cutting supplement” or “supplements to get ripped,” all which could easily be covered throughout your round-up and used to give your post some SEO firepower.
Choosing a proper topic requires some creativity on your part; however, the right fit can result in big returns. Spend some quality time in the Google Keyword Planner tool to find keywords for your round-up.
Choosing a Question
Beyond choosing a topic, you’ll need to craft a question that will elicit a response from your experts. Such a question will not only highlight the experience of the experts you reach out to, but represent something that perhaps only an influencer could answer, thus stroking their ego a bit.
Think of your question as the core of your expert round up.
This is what users want to know. This is what people are arguing about on forums and why users are roasting each other over social media.
Once you’ve found your topic, your question will be soon to follow. Again, consider something potentially controversial that will not only pique the interest of users but also the experts that you’ll be pitching.
In other words, choose something that can’t be answered by simple Google search.
Continuing with the example a fitness niche, such a question might be “What is the most effective supplement for cutting stubborn fat?” or “What’s the most overlooked lift for getting bigger shoulders?”
For an Internet marketing niche, the question might be “What’s the most overlooked piece of free SEO software in your marketing arsenal?” or “What’s the most useless, outdated SEO practice you still see people obsess over?”
Such questions work to pique the interest of readers, have the potential to solve their problems and stir a debate. Influencers would be hungry to answer such questions as they want their expert opinions out in the open for users to see.
Whatever you decide on, ensure that your question is straightforward, simple and involves one of your keywords.
The Art of the Pitch
Now, it’s time to hone your question so that it may be answered in a matter of moments when it comes time to pitch influencers.
Before you potentially pitch the experts for your round-up, keep the following in mind:
- Many experts within your niche probably receive hundreds of emails and tweets per day; therefore, your pitch is going to have to stand out in a sea of spam. Therefore, make every word count, from subject lines to the pitch itself.
- Keep your pitch short and to the point (as it doesn’t need to be longer than a sentence or two) in an effort to increase your response rates.
- Follow best practices in regard to email length and subject lines (in other words, avoid sounding like spam). For example, subject lines should be personalized (containing the influencer’s name) and as short as possible (ex: “Hey _____, quick interview question). When it comes to length, the rule of thumb is the shorter the better.
- Your pitch should be short enough to format as a tweet (~140 characters or less) in case you decide to re-target experts via the social network.
- Your target keyword should be included somewhere within your pitch, driving your influencers to use it within their responses.
A proper pitch is short and sweet. Your influencers should be able to understand your pitch and respond at a glance.
Who to Reach Out To
You’re probably not going to be doing expert round-ups around the clock; therefore, you need to make your initial outreach count.
For this reason, you should consider reaching out to a large number of influencers to make the most of your efforts and increase the likelihood of responses. The sweet spot for outreach is dependent on your niche; however, between 50 to 100 influencers is the solid foundation for an expert round-up.
Now, the question remains: who are you going to reach out to?
There is no single metric to determine which influencers you should reach out to. However, you could obviously keep in mind…
- Heavy-hitters on social media (with thousands of followers who’d be willing to answer questions and eventually share your post with their following)
- Influential bloggers in your space (who write the posts which your followers constantly share and treat as gospel)
- Popular YouTubers (with massive fan followings who’d be willing to discuss your question and post)
- Redditors or forum-goers who are respected within your niche (who will be likely to link to your content once it’s live)
Given the above parameters, you should be able to find between 50 and 100 influencers to reach out to. Keep in mind also that there’s no harm in massive outreach as the worst an influencer can say is “no.” In that case, simply move on to the next person on your list.
No matter how well you craft your outreach, you inevitably will get some non-responses. That’s fine: you simply might need to expand your outreach.
As a result, you shouldn’t restrict your outreach to influencers those with hundreds of thousands of followers. Take the time to reach out to the up-and-comers who are respected in your niche but perhaps haven’t amassed the sheer numbers yet. Such influencers will be more likely to respond to your inquiry as they’re looking to build up their names and get exposure themselves.
A mixture of influencers will give your round-up a sense of diversity and give you additional talking points for your eventual post.
The more diversity, the more opinions.
The more opinions, the more discussion.
The more discussion, the more shares.
Once you’ve decided who you’re going to reach out to, compile a list either in a Google Spreadsheet or Excel and make sure to include the influencer’s site, email address and first name. Remember, all outreach must be personalized. Your efforts will be wasted if you simply blast a mass email to a bunch of influencers.
So, what does effective outreach actually look like
Best Practices of Outreach
When it comes to email outreach, there are few best practices to keep in mind:
- Outreach emails should ideally be sent on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the afternoon according to industry data. Avoid sending emails on Mondays or during the weekend.
- While there is no specific guideline on how long your outreach emails should be, make sure it’s written in small chunks (individual sentences rather than paragraphs) and gets straight to the point. Think of it this way: the longer your email, the more likely your expert is going to bounce.
- Emails with personalized subject lines are 20% more likely to be opened, so give your outreach a personal touch (including the influencer’s name) to avoid looking like spam.
You may also consider conducting outreach beyond the realm of email, especially if you have trouble finding an expert’s contact information. The same rules can be applied whether you’re reaching out on Reddit or YouTube, for example, simply use the same pitch.
The following is an example of what an outreach email might look like:
Such a template can be repurposed and used for each individual influencer. This sort of email is primed for success because it includes…
- A subject line and topic that sparks the influencer’s interest
- A short and sweet set-up for the pitch, which is easy for the expert to answer
- Incentivization in the form of a link, plus the compliment on their expertise
After the Outreach
After performing the initial outreach, you’ll need to keep track of the responses and data gathered in the aforementioned spreadsheet. This data will represent the bulk of your expert outreach post.
If you aren’t satisfied with your response rates at first, you may consider following up with those who didn’t respond and perhaps even reaching out to new influencers.
Follow-up emails don’t have to be rocket science. Simply ask whether or not they got your initial email, pitch the question again and be courteous. If email isn’t working out, options such as Twitter are perhaps just as viable and may appeal to influencers on-the-go.
For example, the following represent some potential pitches that could be answered in a mere matter of seconds via Twitter if you’re initial outreach didn’t go as planned.
“If you only had to do one lift for bigger shoulders, what would it be?”
“Hey, _____. What SEO practice do you think is the biggest time-waster in 2016?”
“If your company had to scale down to only free software, what three apps would you choose?”
Such questions could be answered on the fly and could be re-purposed to include keywords related to your niche.
Whatever you do, do not begin writing your round-up post until you’re satisfied with your number of responses. Keep in mind that the opinions of a handful of experts is nowhere nearly as impressive as the insight for dozens of influencers.
Crafting Your Post
Once you’ve interviewed your experts and are satisfied with your responses, it’s time to craft your round-up post. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to formatting your post, remember that these posts are potential SEO dynamite for your site if you craft them correctly.
Firstly, ensure that your post is optimized with your keyword and your URL is likewise optimized for search. Keep structure in mind as you implement title tags to break up your post and give them a boost in regard to SEO.
Take a lesson from viral content sites such as Buzzfeed in order to craft headlines which grab the attention of readers. From shocking statistics to insider information, readers will be more likely to engage with your post if you market it as breaking and current.
Make sure to also include an appropriate image within your post to catch the reader’s eye and increase the likelihood of shares. If you’re in need of additional images for your post, consider taking screenshots of your experts’ Twitter or website rather than relying on stock photos.
Experts round ups are prime candidates for list posts, which are insanely popular both in the blogosphere and on social media. For example, an article titled “21 Bodybuilders Weigh in on the Absolute Best Cutting Supplement” has the potential to go viral within the fitness community and beyond. List posts are particularly enticing because they have built-in discussion points as users want to debate what’s on the list what isn’t, priming such post for shares and links.
Make sure to break up your content with headers, sub-headers and the aforementioned images. Readability is especially important with list posts and potentially viral content. Your readers don’t have the time or patience to trudge through paragraph upon paragraph: short and sweet is the name of the game when it comes to expert round-ups.
For an example of what an expert round-up should look like, check out this expert round-up by Ahrefs.
Boosting Your Post
Boosting your post once its life is arguably as important as the round-up itself.
In order to make the most of your expert round-up, reaching out yet again to influencers is crucial to giving your post the SEO firepower it needs to rank in Google.
You should naturally reach out to your influencer list once the post is live, making your experts more likely to share the post themselves (especially if it’s relevant to their own user base). Boosting your post has a snowball effect as more influencers share, their audience works to share the post as well.
In addition, consider finding forums and subreddits where your post has the potential to thrive. Influencers posting and reposting your blog will not only provide exposure to you and your business, but also build powerful backlinks.
As a quick checklist, make sure that you…
- Push your round-up on your own social media and forum accounts.
- Find influencers to share your post on forums and incentivize them to do so (through providing links, for example).
- Tweet and email influencers involved in the post to increase the likelihood of shares: let them know how useful their input was and how much your users appreciate it.
Try Experts Round-Ups Yourself
Now that you understand the elements and benefits of a powerful expert round-up, you can try your hand at conducting one yourself.
Despite the work that goes into an expert round-up, the rewards can be massive when it comes to marketing your business and boosting your organic search traffic. Between the potential SEO leverage to becoming a more influential player within your industry, expert round-ups represent a cost-effective means of building your business’ credibility in the eyes of your audiences, influencers and Google.
Admittedly, expert round-ups can be a lot of work; however, you don’t have to go through the process alone. If you’re considering conducting an expert round-up but are still hesitant, I encourage you to contact us. Whether you have any questions regarding round-ups or simply need guidance regarding your content marketing strategy, we can help.