How to Create Expert Roundups That Go Beyond Interviews and Quotes to Deliver Real Results
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A few months ago, I landed a guest post for a huge brand; CoSchedule.
The piece was on a topic I had quite a bit of experience with (ToFu content) making this a perfect opportunity to create a rad piece of content.
However, I soon realized that no matter how much I researched, I couldn’t match the experience of content experts and professionals (which is most of CoSchedule’s audience).
So I took a step back and spent some time thinking of another way to create this piece—and after a few hours (and many cups of coconut coffee), I had an epiphany:
What if I created something that was a combination of (content) experts? ?
I realized my piece would be much more credible if I featured different perspectives of content experts in my network i.e. an expert round up.
Looking back, conducting an expert roundup was the decision that turned turning article (and my career) around.
Moreover, creating an expert roundup helped me build a solid network of SaaS marketers—and most importantly, value bombed my readers.
(That post also received a lot of love on social media but let’s not focus on vanity metrics ?).
Now, expert roundups are great but they’re not easy.
In fact, it took me over one month to finish mine (read: tedious following up with busy marketers). That said, the gain from this post made it totally worth it!
In fact, most (if not all) of my articles today are built through collaborations and partnerships.
So in this article, I will be leaning on my experience conducting expert roundups. From email templates to pitching distribution, I’ll get right into the nitty gritty to show you the exact process I use.
So let’s dive in!
Make Creating Roundup Posts Easy With These Four Templates
Before we get too much further along, you can make applying the advice in this post easier with these four templates:
- Marketing Calendar Template: Visualize your entire publishing schedule in one place.
- Guest Blog Post Pitching Checklist: Make sure you don’t miss an important step when pitching blog post ideas.
- Email Pitch Template: Writer better pitches with this template.
- Blog Post Copy Template: Structure your writing and make editing easier before importing content into your CMS.
What is an Expert Roundup? (Psst… it’s More Than Just Quotes)
According to HubSpot,
“An expert roundup is a collection of quotes or interviews by influential people in your niche. Each participant should be someone with some authority in your field and that has something to contribute to your readers.”
To paint you a better picture, it’s something like this…
Now, there’s nothing wrong with quotes and insights but from an actionable POV, it’s just not enough.
Moreover, a piece created of a bunch of quotes, wouldn’t pass CoSchedule’s third Standard of Performance: Actionability.
“Lots of content tells you what to do. Not enough shows you how to do it. This is a major source of frustration for us (and the inspiration behind a lot of internal rants). So, we do our best to practice what we preach and make every piece we publish actionable.” says Ben Sailer, Inbound Marketing Director at CoSchedule.
And I couldn’t agree more.
After all, advice without actionability does nothing to drive users to action aka “empty consultancy.”
So now, with a focus on actionability, I decided to create an expert roundup that went beyond the quotes and insights. Instead, I broke down every expert insight and showed readers exactly how to implement it.
Here’s a snippet of how I feature my experts:
Basically, expert roundup + how-to style content.
So if I were to rework HubSpot’s definition on Expert Roundups, it would be something like this:
An expert round roundup is not just a collection of quotes or interviews by collaborators but also a detailed breakdown of their insights. We’re talking step-by-step instructions, examples and resources that guide readers on practical implementation.
(Sorry HubSpot! ??)
With that mindset, let’s move on to why you want to conduct an expert roundup.
Benefits of an Expert Roundup
Now, there are a number of expert roundup types out there. Social media expert roundups, marketing expert roundups and SEO expert roundups to name a few.
Depending on your blog’s primary goals and the audience you are catering to, your expert roundup type will differ.
However, here are a few generic wins you stand to gain from making an expert roundup post.
Benefit #1: Smart Collabs Help Boost Brand Authority
Unlike other content pieces, my expert roundup was a result of collabs with big SaaS brands and marketers.
So when readers read my expert roundup, they not only read my content but also came to know of the people I know aka my “connections.”
Fortunately, I landed collabs with some popular marketers and SaaS brands, so I was no longer just some random writer, instead I was someone that was well connected with the industry.
In fact, some of my collaborators even took to twitter to share my post:
Thanks Joshua! ?
So why was this important to me?
Marketing is a very crowded space so it’s difficult to build trust and credibility. However, there are brands and marketers that have already done it.
So if you can get yourself associated with them, you now start to build brand authority—and the more people you have referencing you, the more your authority grows.
Benefit #2: Attract Backlinks and Traffic for SEO
As the visibility around your expert roundup grows, so will the number of backlinks leading back to your site. The experts themselves reference your post and backlink to your piece.
In turn, your referral traffic will also increase.
The people clicking on these links are doing so voluntarily and with genuine interest to lead more, increasing your possibilities for conversion rate.
What’s more, due to high number of backlinks the URL rating (or UR) of your content making it perfect to build powerful internal links.
For example, Optin Monster’s expert round-up on content marketing experts received over 50+ backlinks:
Benefit #3: Increased Engagement
Apart from backlinks, expert roundups a high number of engagements.
Firstly, from the audience of the publishing site, collaborators—and their audience(s).
What’s more, content that’s associated with relevant brands/influencers connect better with readers and this drives them to engage and share content across their platforms.
For instance, I collaborated with several content experts with a recent expert roundup:
I've just put together the most in-depth guide to Top-Funnel Content for @CoSchedule
✅ Data-driven facts
✅ Actionable How-tos
✅ And Rad ToFu strategies from the best in content!
Check it out?https://t.co/3brprNARd6
— Mark Xavier Quadros (@_markquadros) October 24, 2019
How to Conduct an Expert Roundup
By this point in the guide, you’re hopefully all fired up to do your own expert roundup.
So how do you begin?!
Well, there’s many ways to go about expert roundups, but what I’ll share is a process that worked for me.
Remember. you don’t have to mimic my exact process so feel free to rework based on your industry and preferences.
Step 0: Plan and organize
As mentioned, conducting expert roundups are not easy. You’ll take much longer than creating a typical content piece—and you’ll spend a lot more resources.
For this reason, it’s important to first take a step back and plan out the project for efficient and effective execution..
- Use a work organizer to organize, detail and delegate all the tasks you’ll need completed for the roundup (the steps below will give you a good idea).
- Create a simple work plan to articulate a road map for the project. This will help setting realistic goals and objectives.
- Make sure you set a realistic deadline with your editor. Usually, my expert roundups take about 2-3 weeks but I set a 1 month deadline to account for delays.
- Finally, don’t overestimate the power of your roundup. Apart from high engagement, there’s many other success factors (think: relationships, brand authority, etc).
Bottom line? Make sure you plan ahead and set realistic goals for the roundup.
Roundups are not something you can conduct all the time, so when you do conduct one, you want to make sure you get it right.
Step 1: Ask the Right Questions
As the ‘host’ collating expert insights to present to your audience, it is important to ask the right question that
- Your audience wants answered
- And questions that get the right answers from your experts.
On a similar note, you can use BuzzSumo’s content marketing tool to find high-engaging content and reverse engineer their angles.
A topic focused on a problem or strategies or in your niche is a good place to start. The more specific question, the better.
With my topic, picking the right questions was easy as I knew what my audience wanted—strategies. So it was just a matter of getting detailed strategies from my collaborators.
But this can vary based on topics so here’s a quick checklist to refer to so you know you’ve developed the right question:
- Does the question revolve around a popular topic? Does it have the potential to generate “buzz”?
- Will answering this question add value to your audience? Is it addressing a pain point your audience has?
- Is your question specific or is it vague and general? Does it give your collaborator enough context?
- What answers can you expect from your questions? (use your imagination for this one ?).
For example, here’s an email I sent out to collaborators for a social media roundup.
As you can see, I’ve asked a specific question—and detailed out additional things I needed from potential collaborators. I even shared an example submission from a previous collaborator for added context.
To paint you a better picture, here’s an example of a good submission:
Bottom line? Make sure your roundup questions get you answers like that. ☝️
And once you’re ready with questions, it’s time to pick your experts.
Step 2: Pick the Right Experts
Just like the old adage, “Go big or go home” they say and that couldn’t be more accurate. The more popular your target experts, the greater your chances for attracting more site visitors and generating buzz.
That said, be realistic about the conversions and pitch a wider audience as you’ll only get a few replies. What’s more, not everyone will participate and it’s good to have ‘back-ups.’
However, as important as it is to ‘go big’, you must stay relevant to your niche. The experts you choose at this stage should be recognizable in your area and also capable of providing relevant and authentic answers to your question.
Here are some questions to keep in mind when narrowing down your target experts include:
- Is this expert popular among your target audience?
- Does the expert have a large (active) social following?
- Does the expert work with brands popular in your industry?
- Does the expert have expertise relevant to your niche?
So how do you find these experts?
Outreach Technique #1: Leverage Your Network
First things first, leverage your personal network. Based on your experience, you’ll already know a bunch of experts (or your colleagues may know some). So first, focus on milking your personal network for potential collabs.
Outreach Technique #2: Relevant Facebook Groups
Apart from your personal network, you should try Facebook groups.
Facebook groups are another great way to meet potential collaborators.
There are dedicated Facebook groups to specific niches. For example, Blogging Boost caters to a community of over 21,000 bloggers that are down to collab. The Daily Carnage is another well-known group in the marketers space that’s good to network.
Leveraging these thriving communities to pitch for expert insights is a good way to not only attract relevant experts, but also attract an audience and generate interest in your roundup post as well.
Here’s an example of how content writers reach out to experts:
The trick here is to do your research about the group you are pitching in. Do they have experts in the community to begin with? Do they entertain posts/pitches of this nature?
A simple but effective way to sate your curiosity is by reading the ‘About’ section of their page.
My point is, know the rules of the group before you engage in it. Else, risk getting banned.
Outreach Technique #3: Leverage Blogger Outreach Tools
Now, I have not personally used this technique but I’ve heard a great deal about outreach tools so figured I’d mention it.
Put simply, Blogger Outreach are outreach tools that help you reach influencers at scale. These tools have a smart email automation system that helps with efficient outreach. If you’re looking to learn more about this technique, I recommend checking out my mate’s article on the best blogger outreach tools.
Pro tip: I try to keep my collaborators under 10 so as to not “dilute” the authority of my experts. What’s more, when I feature experts, I breakdown their insights for actionability so it makes more sense for me to keep my sample size small.
Step 3: Create a Collaborator CRM
For neat organization, it’s important to keep track of the experts you plan to pitch to, especially if you plan to do a blog post including several experts.
This is where your spreadsheet skills can help.
Keep the list simple and limit it to important details such as their name, email, blog/website and social media handles. Keeping a ‘status’ column will also come in handy to keep track of relationships. Basically, this sheet is a CRM.
What’s more, this sheet doesn’t have to be a one-off reference page for a singular post. It can act as a CRM tool, enabling you to keep track of your individual relationships with experts and highlighting your opportunities for more collaborations.
Step 4: Pitch and Land Collabs
Now that you’ve got all the details locked down, it’s time to pitch experts—and land some collaborations.
Now remember, none of these experts are obligated to collaborate with you (even if you’re giving them free press, so it’s important to think this through and craft a killer pitch.
From experience, I’ve realized it’s best practise to keep your pitches short, to the point and polite. It’s also important to communicate what they get out of participating in your roundup.
Here’s a few essentials of a good pitch:
- Drop names in the subject line: Experts don’t care who you are, but they do care where they’ll get feature. So dropping a name in your subject line is a good way to grab attention (provided they know the brand).
- Personalize: Experts receive a ton of emails, so if you want to stand out, you need to take the time to personalize your email to them. This can be anything from referencing their recent wins to telling them they have a cut dog.
- Maintain brevity: Same as before, experts go through a lot of emails so you want to keep your pitch to the point.
Here’s an example of a short pitch:
This pitch works better with cold leads you don’t have a relationship with.
And here’s an example of a longer pitch:
This pitch though long, works out great with collaborators you already have a relationship with.
Here’s a two simple but powerful tactics to land awesome collaborations:
#1: Engage Before Pitching
Before your initial pitch, engage with your potential collaborators via social media (think: twitter) or by simply commenting on their recent work. You can then casually talk about your engagement in your email.
Having a foundation to work off will increase your chances of a favorable reply.
#2: Name Drop
In the marketing field, name dropping is huge. In fact, it’s a strategy I’m always using with clients and potential collaborators. As mentioned, associating yourself with big brands is a surefire way to boost authority.
What’s more, name-dropping a couple competitors or fellow experts in the field in your pitch email can increase the chances of their participation. Influencers tend to take greater interest in the roundup when they know their competitors are going to be featured.
Step 5: Follow Up and Confirm Submissions
After you send your first pitch, don’t expect a high conversion rate, instead, get ready to follow up.
For instance, shoot a follow up email over to your targets experts 2-3 days after your initial outreach email. Keep it even shorter this time, highlighting the question/insights you would like them to address.
Thing is, just because someone didn’t reply back, doesn’t mean they’re not interested. In most cases, it’s probably just bad timing so try again.
Moreover, giving them a gentle reminder will increase your chances for a reply and also show them your dedication to keep them involved in the roundup.
On another note, you also want to follow up on collaborators that have sent their submissions.
Why? Because you want to make sure you understand your collaborators submission so as to avoid awkward edits when it goes live.
For instance, I had some trouble understanding one of my collaborators submission so I followed up with a few questions.
After this email, we went back and forth until I had the submission confirmed.
Yes, this was a tedious process but it ensured I was on the same page as my collaborator—and it also helped me build a relationship.
Step 6: Nail Your Expert Roundup Post
After you’ve received your expert insights, you’re ready to put it all together in your post.
Now, writing a good blog post is beyond the context of this article but I recommend checking out CoSchedule’s guide on the same.
That said, there are some things to keep in mind when crafting collaborative content:
- Reference your collaborator’s social profiles/websites.
- Use quotes to highlight important insights and quotes from your collaborator.
- Copy-edit your experts submissions into a compelling actionable section.
- Include relevant and useful contextual links, either to the experts.
- Strategically fit in lead magnets in your round up to leverage the high authority around it.
Finally, make sure to ruthlessly edit your draft to get a more polished version. I recommend using content checkers such as Grammarly and Bid4Papers to automate the proofreading process (but make sure to read it out aloud when you’re done).
Tip: Make sure to ping your collaborators with the finished draft just to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Step 7: Submit and Wait
After you get confirmations for all the collaborators, give yourself a pat on the back and submit it to your editor.
However, the process doesn’t end there. It’s time to drop in a note with your collaborators. Refer to your handy spreadsheet and shoot emails to all the experts you reached out to.
Drop a thank you email, and inform them when the post goes live. This gives them something to look forward so that they can plan out distribution, which brings me to my next point...
Step 8: Negotiate Distribution
A few days before your post goes live, take an initiative to pitch distribution to collaborators.
Remember, he roundup post is a win-win situation for all parties so remind your collaborators the benefits they can gain by promoting your article.
Here are some ways your collaborators can help with distribution:
- Social shares via their personal social media pages.
- Backlinks from personal blogs and brands that’ve been featured.
- Relevant backlink opportunities (once the post goes live).
- Email lists (if they work with a brand that has lists).
Here’s an example of an email I used to pitch distribution:
Of course, at the end of the day, it is at the expert’s discretion whether or not they wish to help at this stage. So it’s important to be respectful.
But remember, expert roundups are a collaborative effort so it’s completely fine to ask collaborators to promote your post.
Step 9: Promote When Live
Your post has gone live! Congratulations!
Now it’s time to promote it. If you’ve done the previous step, all you have to do is ping the distributors to remind them.
However, there are many strategies you can implement from your end that can move the needle just as much, such as:
- Use an email tool like Mailchimp and promote the roundup to your newsletter readers.
- Send a message to other newsletter editors suggesting they include it as well.
- Leverage social managers to distribute posts across multiple social channels.
- If you leveraged a Facebook group to gather expert insights, post an update to the community with the final link.
With my distribution, I mainly focus on social media, specifically Twitter and Facebook. Here’s a few snippets:
In both cases, I reference all my collaborators to give them another reminder that the post is gone live.
Remember, there’s no rules with distribution so feel free to experiment and find a strategy that works best for you.
Get Ready to Roundup
Creating an expert roundup is a win-win strategy for you, your participants and your audience.
You have a stellar opportunity to increase traffic, boost your site visibility and create meaningful partnerships with the influencers in your niche.
Yes, creating an expert roundup (at least one that goes beyond quotes) is no easy feat, but the significant ROI makes it totally worth it.
February 26, 2020