A surprisingly powerful, low cost tool for effective blogger outreach.
By Rob Illidge, Founder of Elrelo.com
Reviewed May 2015
With packages starting at $19/12 a month BuzzStream is perfect for businesses with low budget/high ambition.
The BuzzMarker and Prospecting Tool are useful features, but there are stronger alternatives if you wish to increase your budget.
Learning Curve: 3/5
Experienced marketers will have no problems getting started, those new to blogger outreach platforms may wish to utilise the BuzzStream University tutorials.
If you’re looking for a low cost powerful platform to replace your archaic outreach system, look no further.
Whilst developing a social media strategy for a fast-growing nutrition client, it became clear that blogger outreach is also an effective method of developing relationships with key influencers and increasing the exposure of their products.
At this stage their outreach process involved manually researching blogs and inputting data into an Excel spreadsheet, which of course is free but also incredibly time consuming.
Like many small but ambitious businesses they wanted to invest in a low cost yet effective platform that would save time and improve outreach.
For two weeks I trialled Blogger Outreach and Influencer Management Software, GroupHigh, with the start-up package giving me access to:
- 15 million blogs
- All data points collected
- Up to 30 lists
- 5k imports per year
- 5k exports per year
There was no doubt that this is a powerful platform which would have been perfect to replace the laborious existing system, but at £1850 per month, it wasn’t a cost-effective option for the client.
With a better understanding of the budget and the features required I recommended BuzzStream, which describes itself as “web-based software that helps the world’s best marketers promote their products, services and content”.
There are two versions of the platform, BuzzStream for Link Building, which features automated tools for researching link prospects and conducting campaigns.
BuzzStream for PR & Social Media on the other hand is team-based software for building and managing relationships with influencers.
Having trialled both versions of the platform and understood the scope, which was to improve and increase relationships with relevant bloggers resulting in product exposure, I opted for the former, BuzzStream for Link Building.
This may seem like a strange decision given the title and description of each version, but don’t let this fool you. The chosen version contains one vital feature called Link Prospecting.
Like many platforms, BuzzStream offers a 14 day trial which on expiry moves users on to the starter package which costs $29/£19 per month. This package includes 2 users, 500 contacts and 30 link prospecting searches, which I will come on to later.
For $99/£64 per month you are given 4 users, 25000 contacts and 200 link prospecting searches.
And if you want the premium package for $249/£161 per month you will receive 12 users, 100000 contacts and 600 link prospecting searches.
It is important to think about; the size of your marketing team, how many people will realistically be utilising the platform on a regular basis and how many contacts you expect to gain before selecting a package. I spoke with an Account Manager prior to signing the contract, and although they are looking to close the deal, their recommendations were honest and thorough.
My client only has a small marketing team and a relatively low budget but expected to engage with a higher number of contacts than offered with the starter package so I negotiated a separate ‘solo’ plan, which for $19/£12 per month includes:
- 1 User (login can be distributed between team members)
- 1,500 Contacts
- 30 Prospecting Searches/month
- 750 Backlink Checks/month
- 100 Whois Searches
- Contact Info Discovery (finds email addresses, phone numbers, social network IDs)
- Twitter + Email Tracking (keep track of email and twitter conversations)
- Filter by Link Juice (Collects metrics to determine link quality)
- Mail Templating
- Link Reporting
It is worth noting that this platform was selected for blogger engagement and not for link building, and that some of the features were made available when link building was a major part of SEO campaigns.
Utilising Existing Data
When logging into the platform, one of the first options is to add existing website URLs which BuzzStream will then research and import contact information, metrics, recent content and backlinks. An email is sent to the user once the import has been complete.
You’re then free to configure columns, filter and sort websites based on the metrics that are important to your campaign.
Prospecting – Finding New Sources
As mentioned previously one of the most powerful features of BuzzStream is the prospecting module, which allows you to find specific websites, blogs or sources based on unique searches.
An effective search would utilise both subject keywords and footprints.
BuzzStream describes footprints “patterns indicative of the opportunities you’re looking for. For example, having many posts with ‘INFOGRAPHIC’ in the title means the site posts infographics.”
“Another example is URL structures of popular content management systems – if a blogger hosts a lot of guest posts, they may have a section on their site where the URL section matches “category/guest” or “author/guest”, so you can look for sites that have both your keywords and these structures.”
Once you have submitted your subject keywords and footprints, you can then leave the platform to collect information. After five minutes you can refresh the page which will now contain your results.
This is certainly one of the strongest features of the platform, however the number of searches you have access to is dependent on your monthly plan. It’s worth noting that prospecting searches are cumulative and only returns a maximum of 40 results. If you run out of searches, you can delete ones which you have already used and create new ones.
For both experienced marketers and those new to blogger outreach tools the BuzzStream University is an excellent resource which provides lessons on how to utilise all of the platform’s features. The lessons are short, informative and likely to save you a considerable amount of time.
The Buzzmarker – Chrome Extension
Another great feature of the platform is chrome extension Buzzmarker, which allows you to add websites to your database as you browse them, resulting in faster prospecting and smarter outreach.
It can also be used to find engagement history, store contact information and make notes, all without leaving the site.
My client utilised this feature to quickly identify if they had an existing relationship with a particular blogger, and if not their contact information would be stored and the engagement process began.
The BuzzMarker will attempt to collect as much contact information as possible, however there may be times when manual input is required. In addition to this data you can save the type of website, add tags, select a relationship stage, choose an overall rating and record engagement.
If you’re ready to engage with a particular blogger or website owner you can email directly from the BuzzMarker by drafting a new message or selecting one of your templates.
Within the window you can adjust formatting, set follow up reminders, add attachments and choose to send immediately or at a later date.
Replies are sent to your designated inbox, with BuzzStream saving entire conversations in the history tab.
By utilising BuzzStream my client is now able to effectively manage relationships with bloggers, save time when recording and engaging, and has resulted in a notable increase in social media activity their brand in addition to an increase in traffic to their site from potential customers.
The platform automatically replaced the existing Excel system they had in place, providing direct engagement as opposed to copying from Excel and emailing from Outlook. Ultimately, everything in one place.
Initially I was asked to provide training to the internal marketing team which was aided by the BuzzStream University. The ‘Degree in BuzzStream’ consists of seven lessons, all of which teach the user how to use a particular feature. From building a database of bloggers in your niche, to integrating BuzzSumo with the platform. These lessons were perfect for times when I wasn’t on hand to provide advice and support.
There are stronger alternatives but like many things in life, you get what you pay for. BuzzStream is a surprisingly powerful, low cost tool for effective blogger outreach.
If you’re looking to improve your outreach or overall digital strategy please don’t hesitate to get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.