Like many agencies, blogger outreach constitutes a significant proportion of the time we spend link building. In our experience, it gets great links whilst maintaining a natural link profile. Until recently, we’d been recording our blogger outreach interactions in multiple spreadsheets in a rather inefficient manner. So we decided it was time to streamline the process and we’re currently trialing a blogger outreach tool called BuzzStream.
We’ve just wrapped up a successful blog-based campaign for a client during which we relied heavily on BuzzStream and as a result, I have a few comments on its effectiveness, usability and flaws which I thought I’d share. Perhaps it would be useful to divide them into pros and cons:
Tracks all your communications in one place – you can set it so that any communication between you and an email address in BuzzStream gets saved in the contact card for that person. It automatically updates the ‘last communication’ field so that you can immediately see when you last interacted with that person. This means that someone else working on the project can see communication between another team member and the person being contacted, which is really useful if you have more than one person working on the project.
You can import your existing spreadsheets – it allows you to match up BuzzStream fields with those on your spreadsheet so that your existing blogging contacts can be imported. A word of warning – make sure you’re in the ‘Link Partners’ tab before doing this. I initially did it in the ‘People’ tab which caused a whole host difficulties!
Blogging contacts can be associated with more than one campaign – to take a made-up example, a general business blog that could be a suitable target for a campaign based around promoting an infographic on the government’s work experience programme might also be interested in publishing a blog post about modern HR practices in a different blogger outreach campaign. If using spreadsheets, blogging contacts for different client might be stored in completely different places, whereas BuzzStream allows you to utilise existing relationships with bloggers to publish content for a wider range of clients and campaigns.
It pulls in a lot of data automatically – it’ll automatically find metrics such as number of Twitter followers, PageRank, Domain Authority etc etc. This allows you to see straight away how influential a blogger is, and you can order your potential contacts according to how much online authority they have. BuzzStream can also find loads of extra details such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and sometimes even email addresses and phone numbers, depending on how much information the blogger has put on their site.
It has a powerful filtering system – enabling you to create lists such as all bloggers who’ve published your content, all bloggers you’ve been in communication with since a particular date, all the bloggers you’ve contacted but haven’t received a reply from – the list of lists is endless!
It differentiates between people and websites – so that a contact can be associated with more than one site. This means that if you’ve contacted them about one website, you’ll see this in their notes if you then go and approach the same person about a different website.
It sends you detailed link reports – so you can see who’s added a link and any changes in link situations (including things like PageRank for a particular blog going up, anchor text changing, links being removed etc). This keeps you up to date and it’s also really useful for reporting back to clients on the success of a campaign.
Paul and Tim – these are the chaps who run BuzzStream and they’re very friendly and helpful. All the queries I had were addressed and I was impressed with the effort they went to to ensure that our experience of using BuzzStream went smoothly. We had an hour-long demo with Paul over the phone and they were also very patient in responding to my multiple queries after that!
Sorry Paul and Tim – it wouldn’t be a balanced review without some cons!
There’s room for improvement on the user friendliness front – and Paul and Tim have said they’re aware of this! Personally, I did struggle to get to grips with it and one of the points I raised with Tim was that the terminology can be confusing. For example, there’s a section on the dashboard called “link partners”, which to me sounds like it refers to people who have accepted a link from you – when actually it just means all your target blogs regardless of the link status. Tim was very helpful in addressing this problem and accepted my request to rename our “link partners” tab to “websites”. Another terminology problem was in the contact notes: when it comes to recording an email or tweet with a contact, it’s a bit confusing that the communication tab is called “Call”. These are all minor problems in the scheme of things but they did make my initial experience more difficult.
It can take a while for it to record email communications – which is apparently something to do with the number of requests they can make to email servers. Admittedly, this isn’t a massive deal, and you can BCC your BuzzStream account if you want it to appear straight away (though this obviously won’t work for their replies), but it might be annoying in situations where you’re working with other people and need to see straight away whether a contact had been emailed. Plus I suppose in this day and age one rather expects things to happen instantly!
To conclude, BuzzStream is a really useful tool and if you’re regularly engaging in blogger outreach, it’s definitely worth investigating. There are still issues to be ironed out, but with two very proactive developers on the case, it looks set to become increasingly dependable and efficient in the coming months.