5 Next-Level Outreach Tactics for Retail

Jordan Arnold Sr. Director of Outreach
Key Points
  • Strategic outreach helps you meet your consumers where they’re at, extend your reach, and showcase your brand personality.
  • For SEO, backlinks are pure gold. Strategic outreach is one of the most effective ways to substantially increase the number of high-quality links on third-party sites pointing to your website.
  • At the enterprise level, working with a few publishers and influencers isn’t enough. You need a scalable outreach strategy.
  • Asking and answering questions creates a sense of connection between consumers and your brand.
  • Newsjacking allows you to capitalize on trending topics.
  • User-generated content increases audience engagement and gives you a plethora of content with little to no work on your end.
  • Taking a strong stand on social issues opens new opportunities for engagement with both consumers and the media alike.

Strategic outreach is one of the most effective activities that a retail brand can undertake to build audience engagement, increase backlinks and improve SEO.

Strategic outreach puts your brand in front of the right people at the right time on all the platforms your customers use. It extends your reach. And it provides a perfect opportunity for you to really showcase your brand’s personality and uniqueness.

Amazon now gobbles up 47% of online retail sales. So retailers need to implement creative outreach tactics to break through the noise and make their mark.

Have you ever seen an ad on Facebook for a brand you don’t recognize, but you’re actually interested in buying the product? Thinking about where you go next in this scenario can teach us a lot about the importance of outreach. You’ll probably Google the brand or look for their social media profiles, seeking signs of long-term popularity and engagement with customers.

A brand with a haphazard online presence or one that doesn’t have any social proof will easily lose your trust. But a brand getting buzz from high-profile sites and mentions from dozens, hundreds, or thousands of influencers? That’s a brand you can comfortably shop with.

Using the right blogger outreach strategies, any retailer can achieve greater online visibility and organic search traffic. Here are five powerhouse strategies to make sure when it comes to strategic outreach, your retail brand has it in the bag.

1. Activate publishers and influencers at scale

You can’t execute enterprise level SEO by working with a handful of publishers and influencers at a time. Outreach campaigns MUST be scalable in order to make a measurable impact. That’s where precision-targeted, personalized outreach comes into play.

Take strategic outreach at Terakeet. Our Chorus platform wraps cutting-edge CRM functionality around a database of over 9 million publishers and influencers. The result is an intuitive platform that allows our teams to scale SEO and conduct strategic outreach to hyper targeted communities interested in your brand.

We brainstorm innovative content marketing examples for customers based on their purchase funnel and the competitive landscape. Then, we activate thousands of people who are influential in a given market space with new, interesting content. By focusing on innovation and value, everything in the process is organic.

There’s no paid media or any payments involved. What’s the impact of that strategy?

Well, let’s consider our strategic outreach for a startup men’s retail brand we worked with. Using Chorus, we were able to perform personalized and targeted outreach to the right people at scale. This helped us achieve 346 organic content placements with publishers in 15 months from high-profile websites like Buzzfeed, Bleacher Report, The Chive, Ask Men, Vault and more. What’s more, this outreach helped us drive 17,600 social engagement events within the same 15 months.

Best of all, the work resulted in many natural backlinks from blogs and influencers. The more value we brought to the publishers and influencers, the more their respective audiences benefitted and spread the word further. Outreach strategies should be designed to trigger momentum long past the initial backlinks.

This example isn’t (just) a shameless Chorus plug. It illustrates what we mean when we say that outreach must be performed AT SCALE. The bottom line is, reaching out to a dozen blogs at a time won’t cut it. Neither will thousands of untargeted, templated emails. Scalable content strategies are high-volume and personalized.

2. Ask and answer questions

Outreach does not need to be limited to publishers and influencers. Think about all the benefits of conducting outreach to customers, too.

For example, every Tuesday, sustainable retail company Everlane hosts Transparency Tuesdays on their Instagram Stories. This is a fun, casual forum that allows their customers and followers to ask questions about products, manufacturing, future releases and anything else they’re curious about. An Everlane employee will then go around their offices asking the in-house experts for answers to each question. It’s a clever way to make sure customers get answers straight from the source, rather than filtered through a social media representative.

That creates a sense of authenticity and connection that inspires loyalty to the brand. The audience can get involved and hyped up for future products and releases because they feel like a participant in the Everlane community. As a result, Everlane has mastered word-of-mouth marketing, simply because their outreach tactics get their customers excited to talk about the brand.

3. Newsjack events

If your brand develops a relationship with a reporter or blogger or influencer, you can collaborate for years. The benefits are obvious.

But how do you go about starting the relationship?

Sometimes, what you need is a good news hook! “Newsjacking” is the process of capitalizing on trending events and news so that you can join a conversation people are interested in. It allows you to leverage the traffic generated by a popular hashtag or hot take. But it also lets you have the conversations your customers care about. Rather than contacting a reporter out of the blue, for example, newsjacking provides timely context to your outreach.

If you walk into a party and people can’t stop talking about something that happened in the news, you’ll probably want to talk about that too. A similar rule applies with newsjacking, with the obvious caveats. Don’t force a connection, don’t share values that run counter to your brand and don’t exploit tragedy.

That still leaves a HUGE spectrum of interesting or entertaining events, news items and internet phenomena to mine.

Choose the most relevant events

For example, if New York Fashion Week is trending, then as a clothing retailer, you’re well-positioned to participate in a number of conversations.

Share your thoughts on favorite outfits, provide behind-the-scenes details. Map what you’re seeing to broader trends consumers will see in the coming months. Interview the Fashion Week participants on video. Survey designers and create a colorful infographic with the results. Provide an environmental friendliness grade to each designer’s collection. Or pitch a series of blog posts to a publication to post throughout the week. However you engage, it’ll refocus the conversation around your brand.

When it comes to what you can pitch during your outreach about these new items, the sky’s the limit. If you pitch news stories or other fully-baked content ideas, your contact may tell you whether they want you to write it for them. Or whether they prefer only the main bullet points so that they can write it themselves, etc. You can also offer them different options. For example, offer to connect the reports with your c-suite executives for in-depth interviews. Or provide a report from survey data you have in hand, creating infographics, and so on.

4. Engage with your customers through UGC

People love attention, so give it to them! Leverage UGC, or User-Generated Content, to tell your story and engage your audience.

Madewell, for example, uses the hashtag #denimmadewell to encourage users to post photos of them in Madewell denim products. Not only does this amplify their reach. It also gives Madewell plenty of content to pull from and use on their own social channels.

Madewell user-generated content #denimmadewell

Madewell’s parent company, J.Crew, leveraged UGC in the form of an #AccessoryFix contest. The contest encouraged J.Crew customers to snap photos of themselves with their favorite J.Crew accessories. The promise? That J.Crew would showcase their favorites. It generated nearly 8,000 mentions and gave them lots of content to fuel their marketing strategy.

J.Crew #AccessoryFix context

Starbucks is a master at UGC and has run multiple campaigns through the years. For example, in its White Cup Contest a few years ago, the coffee chain’s customers could draw a new design on their cups. Then, they’d snap a photo of it and submit the design through social media using #WhiteCupContest. The winning design would then be made into a limited-edition tumbler. The campaign resulted in thousands of entries in just weeks.

5. Take social responsibility

Eighty-one percent (81%) of millenials expect companies to take a stand on social issues and make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship. Think of Patagonia and all the social good it stands for. They take a strong social stand on environmental issues and weave that into the fabric of the brand’s core values. Patagonia is continually engaged with organizations that fight for the social causes with which the brand has aligned. This means they are in constant outreach mode in engaging with environmental groups, helping to advance various causes. As a result, their brand spreads widely among communities who share the same values.

In addition, the strong social stand that Patagonia takes means that publishers and bloggers are writing about the brand all the time. Everything from its washless clothing to ultramarathoning employees and used clothing buybacks. The brand generates lots of mentions, shares, and backlinks. It has teed itself up to be a brand that others want to talk about it, thus opening up countless opportunities for outreach, engagement and further coverage of the brand.

Take meaningful action

To avoid this, long-term brand-building work is needed first. You must establish your brand’s values and create a logical connection between your brand and the issue you’ve picked. Once you’ve created a value system that makes up the DNA of your brand, creating an employee culture where people hold those values close, it should be easy to find an issue that everybody at your company genuinely cares about. The passion for the issue will be reflected in the creativity of your company’s approach and in your digital marketing.

For example, Everlane works to use only recycled plastic in their products. Because sustainability and ethical consumerism are embedded in their values, a choice like that feels completely authentic.

For other brands, the connection to the cause they’ve chosen might not always be quite as immediate. However, it can still read positively as long as it authentically reflects the brand. Dawn, for example, helps clean up oil spills. This is the result of a logical and compelling narrative: before Dawn became involved, environmentalists actually were using their soap to clean up oil spills. When Dawn became aware of this, they realized they had a chance to do some good by helping more actively and providing more resources for those projects.

Here’s a list of even more socially responsible companies, as well as the brand benefits of CSR.

Consumers are more concerned than ever with giving their money to brands who are making an impact or taking a stand on an important issue. An eye-popping 89% of consumers are likely to switch to a brand associated with a good cause, assuming the same price and quality among competing products. Choosing a social cause your whole company cares about can be an exciting and fulfilling way to expand your company’s impact, tell your story and engage with consumers and the media alike.