When Al Roker promoted our toy product as part of a "Top Toys for Christmas" segment a few years ago, we thought we had hit the big time.

Due to the potential impact of segment, my company, Wild Creations, made a number of accommodations to prepare, such as beefing up our website capacity. Even with the website upgrades, we still thought we might crash our website.

Because let's face it, who doesn't love and trust Al Roker?

Around this same time, we were asked by a "mommy blogger" for a product sample to review, one of first times we engaged a blogger. While the cost to have our product promoted by Al Roker turned out to be significant, the cost to have this mommy blogger review our product was a free sample, shipping and a flattering “Thank You” card to butter her up. 

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All of our focus, however, was still on Al Roker.

The two events took place a week apart, with the television coverage a week before our blogger review. While we had a nice bump in website traffic during the show, we did not see a significant increase in conversions (sales). And though we had a great story and screenshot of a "famous celebrity" with our product, I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed in the result.

Al Roker, did you let me down?

The next week, however, our review with the blogger, The Pioneer Woman, who at the time had one of the largest audiences of any blogger, ran with a very flattering review. The result? A huge increase in web traffic, and more importantly, a significant increase in conversions through the link and promotion she provided.

Sorry, Al Roker, but Pioneer Woman was my new favorite celebrity.

The message was clear and profound: You don't need to (and shouldn’t) spend a fortune to get your product on television when other more effective resources exist. Although they reach smaller audiences, bloggers and reviewers can often have a greater impact on your bottom line.

Here are four tips to help you get started:

1. Research your industry. There are tens of thousands bloggers these days, so make sure you are finding bloggers who are influential with many readers, operate in your industry and give honest and unbiased reviews. For instance, you can research the evolving list of the most influential mommy bloggers at TopMommyBloggers.com. Some bloggers charge a fee to review your product and, not coincidentally, typically write good reviews. Before you decide to pay for a review, measure the cost-benefit of having a review that has clearly been paid for.

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2. Ask for a press kit. Good bloggers should have a press kit that provides details about their readership and reach. This information is not only good for identifying bloggers who meet your criteria, it demonstrates that the blogger understands how to promote his/her own blog and, thererfore, your company.

3. Negotiate conditions and additional perks. Many bloggers offer additional perks beyond a review, including re-blogging posts, guest writing for your website, running Twitter parties and advertising on their blog. It is also worthy to discuss timing for your review so that it runs during your busy season and at an optimal time of the week.

4. Be prepared. Bloggers will probably ask you to offer a perk to their readers, such as “20 percent off” or “free shipping.” Not only will this promote sales, but it's a fantastic way to track the impact of the blogger’s review. If you have your own shopping cart or use a service such as Shoppify, set up a coupon code that visitors will enter during checkout to receive their perk. The code will allow you to track purchasing data. Also, be sure the landing page you provide to the blogger is well designed and optimized to track where web clicks are coming from.

Bloggers can be an incredibly effective resource for promoting your product. With so many to choose from, however, it is important to do your homework. Following these tips will help you maximize your efforts.  

And for the record, I still love Al Roker!

Do you have tips for working with bloggers? Please share with others in the comments section.

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