I am a bit late to this post, but thought I would share what has worked well for me before.
This blog by Peldi @ Balsamiq I found really helpful a few years ago:
So, I have done a lot of personal emailing in the past.
(Before I get told off for being spammy or a growth hacker, ** I am not suggesting just spam hundreds of people.** Only contact relevant sites/outlets that look like they are OK to be contacted e.g. they do lots of reviews/write ups or they are a trade journal etc.
Don’t hit up personal bloggers who don’t do reviews for example and don’t buy off the shelf mailing lists. If it “feels dirty”, don’t do it.)
So, I build up a contact list. Search on Google for blogs and websites that cover your industry (small and large), find who has linked to your competitors, find app review sites and listing/directory sites plus check out offline publications as well such as trade magazines and so on. I aim to find 300 to 500 contacts.
Not many Bootstrappers seem to do offline, but it has worked really well for me. Niche publications in my experience are often really excited to hear from you, believe it or not!
Find the contact details and name of the most relevant person at each.
Then send a personal email to each person, or a personal message through their contact form. Don’t use something like MailChimp, send one at a time like a normal email and include your full contact details - including a phone number. In my experience, most will never call, but I figure it is reassuring to include this.
(Obviously for listings/showcase sites, you are probably just filling in an “add” form, so this may not always apply.)
If they reviewed a competitor you can say - “you reviewed XYZ in June, which is very similar to ABC, so I was wondering if you would be interested in…” Show you really did bother to read their blog and research them before you got in touch.
If appropriate, you can offer them something as well, such as a free upgrade for X number of their readers.
Link Builders who do this for SEO would probably say follow up once or twice, but I normally just contact once and leave it. Chasing up feels to spammy to me, but maybe it depends on your industry?
If they do feature you, always send a personal thank you email and write it from scratch each time so it really is personal.
It can help to have a press or blogger section on your marketing website which offers free accounts for bloggers and the press… only if they get in touch, so you can validate them and also start to build a relationship/can follow up with them.
On this page, have screen grabs, logos and some about text that can be downloaded. Make it really easy for the people who want to write about you by providing everything they may need up front. Don’t make them work too hard. Maybe include a link to this page in your contact emails if you think it is appropriate.
This is actually a really easy process, but pretty dull at times and really time consuming.
You can do this really slowly over a period of time though e.g. contact 10 new people each week for a year.
If you struggle with time to do this, maybe hire a local college student or VA to do the research part and build some of your contact list for you. Always check everything before you send any emails though! Plus, you will also know of some sites that they won’t.
I’ve used Peldi’s approach to grow one web app from a few hundred visits a month up to about 9000 a month and another from a few thousand to about 28000 visits a month.
I just did this to get some interest going, but if you do this you will get an SEO benefit plus coverage on social media as blogs tend to tweet it out as well etc.
If I am honest, there is a part of me that is always uncomfortable with all of this (I am not a sales guy and hate obvious link bait emails!), but I have never had any issues and have had loads of thank you messages and nice feedback. I guess this comes down to careful targeting and research.
Sorry if I am about to state the obvious, but this is just a small part of your sales funnel. So not suggesting this is all you need to do!
Sorry, this got really long, but hope this helps.