Why is your outreach strategy so crucial?
Outreach sets the scene for your campaign: you sometimes have one clear shot at first-contacting a blog or website owner and outreach can make or break your opportunity to secure high-quality links.
Effective outreach doesn’t happen overnight by firing off the same templated email with company name changes, and nor is it throwing cats at a wall and hoping one will stick. It takes some serious hard work, dedication, a lot of research, a touch of salesmanship and a lot of personability.
The Forgotten Basics
I’m not going to start going on about the fundamentals of outreach; you can find them here. But before you start outreaching blind, you must do the research and get everything embedded in your head. Make sure you have a clear vision and confidence (not cockiness or being too “salesy”), but more make sure you know just why someone would want to share and link to your content and why they can trust you. Below are some of the things you must consider before you even start to think about contacting websites owners.
People buy people – It’s an old-fashioned marketing saying, but it’s so true. As outdated and misogynistic people may state, “The ‘real business’ is done on the golf course.” No one likes a sales call or a sales email; people simply don’t want to be sold to unless you’re catching them on the incredibly slim off-chance that they are in fact looking for what you’re offering. But people (usually) enjoy talking to like-minded and relatable people about mutual interests. Perhaps someone that can make them feel they’re not actually “working”? Websites, blog owners and influencers, even though this may be their “job” and a source of income, do it out of passion and a genuine interest for the subject in question. This is the key: you don’t want to approach someone and from the off they know it’s a sales email. You’re a human, and probably a very personable one at that, so let them see that.
What makes you unique – what makes you, your content and your agency stand out from everyone else trying to do exactly what you’re doing? This isn’t a trick question – what do you offer that no one else can, and why would they want to work with you and not someone else? The answer will be a mix of your content being so damn good and that you’re such a relatable person that they love dealing with, who works for a very reputable and trustworthy agency. You want to attract rather than attack.
Company culture – When you’re reaching out, you’re probably going to be the very first representation of the company AND content you’re pushing. So, you’re the face of the agency and the client – no pressure. But you simply must make the right first impression. You are the personal embodiment of what you’re “selling” and their first experience of the relationship, so make sure you nail it. An obvious example is this: let’s say you’re reaching out to a professional and academic publisher in the finance industry. If you’re presenting them with an evergreen thorough and in-depth research piece, you wouldn’t want to use emojis in your approach or make a joke about his local football team losing at the weekend. However, let’s say your trying to publish a fun, interactive infographic that informs the reader of the worst hairstyles in the Premier League in the last 10 years, you’re going to be more informal and attempt to connect with the owner about a mutual interest – whether that be hairstyles or football.
The audience – It’s all well and good knowing what your company stands for and where you want to position yourself, but this is pointless without finding out who will want to view your content. It sounds straightforward but this is often overlooked in outreach. It’s crucial that you KNOW you are presenting engaging and relevant content to website owners, so that they have no doubt that their readers will want to read it.
I’m not going to tell you what it takes to be organised, but when starting your outreach, it’s important to keep a record of everything and everyone. Spreadsheets, lists, whatever you find best to keep track of your progress to remain in control. Take advantage of these tools so there’s no risk of missing an opportunity or wasting a website. Keep track of contacts, names, processes and just about everything that you think you’ll need to know in a week’s time when you’ve forgotten what you did in the week prior.
Who do I want to get in touch with?
We wrote earlier about how important it is to understand and find the right people to put your content in front of. But where do you find them? If you throw a couple of search terms into Google, you’ll find some good websites and blogs. But so can everyone else. It’s important to bear in mind that the most searchable and highly ranking outlets will get a lot of contact from people just like you asking to share content.
However, don’t be put off by this. You want the best quality websites to make sure your links and content, (maybe for the client), are hitting the right people and getting a lot of traffic. So, you want to be attacking these high-quality websites with a structured, heavily researched and personal approach. They get emails literally every hour from people like you, so you must make sure you stand out. Again, if your approach hits the right notes, then the content should speak for itself usually. But this is also down to you. If you’re presenting sub-par content, whether it’s not entirely relevant or if it simply just isn’t that interesting, websites owners aren’t going to care. They don’t have time to reply to an email from a random on the best of days, let alone one that isn’t relevant or has poor content. Twinning your exceptional content with a heavily structured approach is the basis of every outreach.
Here at ICS-digital for example, we cover more than 50 languages in 70 countries. Our relationships with website owners, bloggers and influencers literally span the globe, which means we have to be even more thorough and look at other factors than if it was just a domestic outreach campaign.
- Languages – Who do you think has a better chance of resonating, relating and converting a French website owner? An actual French person or an English person with a B in A-Level French with the finest accent this side of the Pennines? It sounds silly but that is exactly why we have such strong relationships with some really-high quality international sites. A Danish website owner can pick up the phone, call our office in Leeds and speak to a Danish national about a very local piece of targeted content.
- Local trends and nuances – Throughout the world, there are specific nuances and cultures that are VERY important to understand. Maybe gambling is illegal in a certain country; you wouldn’t want to approach them asking to link back to GamblingBookies101.com. You risk getting a cold reply or worse, nothing at all.
- Cultural and ethical differences – Embracing local communities and maintaining an active presence as a native speaker to the website owner is vital. They feel like they’re speaking to their own; there are no language barriers or misunderstandings, regardless of location. This erases any perceptions or implications of cultural differences, which can be off-putting to a publisher.
Link Building Internationally
It’s easy to send an email and hope you get a reply out of the many you’ll send, but at ICS-digital, because we have been doing it for so long, the relationships we have with website owners and bloggers are invaluable. A lot of agencies will promise X amount of links from their library of publishers, whereas we see it a little differently. Of course, we get as many links as possible from our relationships, but we see a definite higher rate of success and rankings from fewer, top-quality links. This is especially true on an international level when publications are available in multiple languages.
This is where your outreach is SO important
Let’s say you have a team of people contacting sites all day long and they manage to lock down 20 sites in that day for your publisher library. And don’t get me wrong; these are good websites with solid ratings and rankings.
But let’s say it took the team 20 hours to find those 20 sites, and we have no issue getting our content on there. Everyone’s happy, right? The client gets their backlinks on a relevant, local website in the target country and you’ve secured yet another publisher who loves your content.
But what if the same team spent 20 hours and found five sites, but these sites and contacts were some of the most relevant and most-read outlets available. This is much more beneficial than wasting hours securing average websites that won’t boost your client’s rankings by huge amounts anytime soon.
It all relies on a lean, incredibly targeted and very conscious approach to outreach that will secure higher quality sites. Imagine in the first week of a content campaign: rather than stating you’ve managed to get the client five links on good, perhaps “expected” quality websites, you’re actually able to say that you’ve secured them a link in The Guardian. This makes the difference between you and your competitors; you can lock down those golden-tier sites and get their content seen.
Think about it like this, if your butcher gave you some nice sausages, you would be chuffed. You always like the sausages they do and they’re of the same quality of competing butchers and a similar price and end results. But what happens when you go into the butcher and they have a one-of-a-kind sausage, that no one else can get hold of because of your butcher’s exclusive relationship with the world’s best sausage maker? This is a lot more impressive and forms a sense of exclusivity with the consumer. It sets a higher standard to separate you from the competition.
The strategy doesn’t stop there. You’ve spent hours researching, crafting and developing the perfect outreach to the ideal publisher. You’ve sent them some of the best, most relevant and engaging content they have ever seen. This relationship has now become mutually beneficial. You’ve got the client one of the most impressive and high-quality links they’ve ever seen, and the website owner now has a delightful contact at a fantastic marketing agency that can supply you with exceptional, engaging content!
The mantra of quality over quantity really reigns true. And this is the case for the number of websites you’re contacting, the amount of links you’re securing as well as what your outreach is stating.
Outreach is a vital part to your link-building strategy that you must get right to secure those golden-tier websites. It’s about making sure you’re knowledgeable and personable, and able to present publishers with amazing content that they simply can’t refuse. And when pursuing international markets, understanding local nuances and being able to speak a website owner’s language (literally) is key to securing not only the link, but also the publisher’s trust and respect for future opportunities. A great test to this is that we often get international website owners getting back in touch for new content as the quality is so high. Reverse-outreach is testament to how having strong relationships with your publisher network, the right outreach and the right content can help secure those links and top-tier sites.