How to do link outreach and email campaigns: Scale and Measure

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Link Outreach- Building an Effective Campaign

By: Jose Gonzalez

 

From starting a strategy to aligning resources, link building is the hardest part of SEO.  In a study by BuzzSumo and Moz analyzing 1 million articles, they discovered that most articles had neither links nor shares. In truth, a whopping 75% of the articles selected as part of the study had zero external links.

A study by Conductor in 2014 surveyed 400+ US and international enterprise marketing professionals. What was discovered was that only 28% of enterprises rated their in-house SEO efforts as successful and 57% agreed the limited in-house skills was the most challenging obstacle to their success.

This document will look at what it looks like to build an outreach team, the actual numbers from a campaign, and the execution of an effective link outreach campaign.

 

Framework Analysis

Traditionally companies have relied on past vendors that would take current budgets set by us at an estimated cost of $300 dollars a lead acquired. The approach was to produce content that a webmaster or website owner would then upload to their site with links out to our properties. This included:

 

  • Links from guest blogging
  • Links from dominate/authoritative sites
  • Links from relevant sites

 

Agencies that I’ve worked with have relied heavily on just domain authority. The result was we acquired expensive and powerless links that did little to push the site in search.

Our new strategy would include acquiring links from trusted sites with high authority including, Google, Tumbler, Facebook, etc… The longer list can be found here . These free links would serve as a base layer before we build them up with more relevant links.

We should look at sites with Trust Flows primarily of 10+ with no less than 10+ referring domains from the page linked from.

 

1st Preference: High DA 40+ and High PA 40+, TF 10+

2nd preference: High DA 40+ Low PA 1+, TF 10+

3d preference: Low DA 10+ High PA 30+, TF 10+

4th preferred: Low DA 10+ low PA 1+, TF 10+

 

When we try to get links these should have a backlink count from the page with a  min. 10 and that count should be something we pay attention to especially from the 3rd and 4th preference links.

Most of our link building will come from the 3rd and 4th preference that’s just the nature of the beast, but if we can secure 1st and 2nd it matters less how many referring links the page has, normally the count is already high, hence the high PA.

 

Program Analysis Framework

Tracking Data

We would place a site either in one of two buckets new or mature then look at anchor text distribution. Based on that we would then create a keyword strategy per page or program to concentrate on and build links to those assets. If the site is over optimized we would create a broad + brand keyword strategy. If the site is well rounded then we would continue to create links with a more brand+ generic +exact match approach. Meaning that 90% of links would either have the brand name or would be a random keyword inserted in the link. Lastly the exact match portion would be left up to the seo to decide, generally would account for less than 5% of total links to the page.

 

Summary:

  • Bucket placement: Mature or New
  • Keyword alignment per page
  • Create link strategy

 

Framework for measurement and KPI’s

 

Google normally passes a links power over the course of 6 months so it’s very important to keep a long term and steady approach to seeing results. However generally speaking a website will see jumps in keyword placements.

To measure the performance of keywords and link acquisition we will rely on seo clarity to tell us how we are doing MoM (Month over Month) or any set time we outline. Experience tells us we normally see jumps in search within 3-4 weeks from initial placement. We can view progress with an excel file that outlines our keyword alignment and jumps in rankings or use seo clarity to also track this progress.

Of note, it’s important to keep building links to a page even if the page jumps out of the search results, also known as a Google Dance, which is completely normal.

We can define success as pages that acquire more traffic from our link outreach.

 

Summary:

  • MoM keyword tracking in favorite keyword tracker
  • Keyword improvements defined over 3-4 weeks
  • Increased traffic

 

Workflow from SEO to Brand Teams

 

After we have successfully acquired link placements we can direct brand to keyword rankings in search as defined by our bucket strategy as mentioned earlier. They would compare keyword and traffic MoM. Initially, we would provide an excel sheet of links placed with metrics including, DA, PA, TF, CF, Referring domains.

Then would then communicate keyword rankings and anchor text portfolio after 4 weeks to see results. Finally, SEO would provide a monthly link document that would include initial link metrics plus keyword rankings. We would sit down quarterly to analyze portfolio strength of program and traffic increases measured in google analytics.

Outreach Team

The role of this team is to handle all outgoing messages and inboxes, processing and organizing responses for reporting as well as escalating feedback received. A few of the challenges of this role are:

 

  • Creating responses that address the nuances and be able to read between the lines partly because of the limitations of tone in emails.
  • Keeping track of consistent communication on behalf of each school and individual programs.
  • Able to shift quickly mid-project as part of an optimization process.
  • Overcoming overwhelming responses, giving the number of multiple simultaneous campaigns.
  • Always carving out new target audiences and working together with the content team to optimize efforts.
  • Identifying the best contact person to reach out to for a particular campaign
  • Knowing when to keep looking for more information and when it is appropriate to stop.
  • Keeping and maintaining focus over long periods of time doing repetitive tasks to meet daily quotas without compromising quality

 

Who will be the prospector? Who will handle the ongoing messages?  Who will qualify the list of prospects? Who will oversee the team and outreach projects? According to research done by North Star Inbound, you will need to leverage, as a general rule, one “set” of these roles for every 10 campaigns run.

 

The prospector and qualifier will check and gather on average 400 URLs per day with 10-25% of them turning out to be viable opportunities. The team will then need to send out 200 emails per link earned in one month. What does that look like?

 

Campaign Numbers

The following data was pulled from northstarinbound.com. To earn 50 links per month with an average of 200 emails send per link earned, the team sent out 10,000 emails per month.

“Sending out 10,000 emails means you have 10,000 viable leads. Assuming that the viable leads you end up with are only 10% of what you started with – again, a conservative estimate – you need to have your qualifiers process 100,000 leads.”

A qualifier, a person verifying the list from a prospector, averages 400 URLs per day, if you have 10 people doing this then you can gather 4000 URLs per day and would need 25 days to finish gathering 100,000 URLs.

Link Outreach Campaign

Cold Email Outreach

Link Outreach is the equivalent of Cold Email, where you don’t know the prospect and will rely on follow up to develop a warm relationship to secure a link on their website, for further reading read LeadFuse . I propose we use tested email variations based on HubSpots tested cold email approach click here to view

For our templates to work we have to develop strong email subject lines before we dive into the lead funnel because that’s the first step to getting our webmasters attention and then optimize for good open rates before we can optimize the content. Thankfully we have research behind this already completed click here for subject lines.

Some of the tactics described here are from the book Predictable Revenue the guy that grew sales force into a billion dollar company using cold email. Highly recommended read.

 

Here are some examples of Subject Lines:

 

  • “Question about [goal]”
  • “Hi [name], [question]?”
  • “A [benefit] for [prospect’s company]”
  • “If you change your mind about partnering with [your company]”
  • “Re: Appropriate Person”
  • “Following up with you”
  • “Last Attempt”
  • “Blank”
  • “quick request”
  • “Trying to connect”
  • “{name of their company}”

 

Let’s dive into the actual templates we want to use, I’ll leave one examples of VM’s email outreach as examples of what to improve on. Let’s take Example #1, if I was a busy blogger or webmaster, do you have time to read two paragraphs? What is the call to action? This is not clear immediately and I would delete this email fast.

In Example #2 the email is short and I get to the point, I ask for feedback and if I made a mistake I ask for help. Would you read email #1 or email #2?

What would be of more help would be if we could do a reciprocal link exchange, there are clear benefits to the webmaster and his website but I’ll leave that open for a later discussion.

The following are templates that we can utilize to open a dialogue with any website manager or owner, I would deploy a 48hr delay between emails and deploy a 3 email touch spanning over the course of 7 days initially then taper off into a longer funnel.

 

Introduction Emails:

 

Example #1 from Old Agency

Good afternoon,

 

My name is X, and I’m reaching out on behalf of X Services to increase the presence of X University’s online programs. We came across a compelling piece on your site by Karen Fasimpaur that features one of X University’s lecturers, Pilar McKay, here: http://www.dailyyonder.com/rural-arts-conversation-moves-online/2015/11/16/9746/

 

I was wondering if you’d please consider updating the article to include a reference to Mrs. McKay’s faculty profile. If so, it’s located here: Link to URL

 

Sentence to update: McKay is a full-time professor of public communication at X University

 

Are you able to make this addition to the article? Thanks so much for the consideration!

 

 

Example #2 New Proposed Email Templates

 

Subject Line: Hi

 

[Name],

 

I’m writing from {school name} and wanted to ask you if you’d consider a link placement that would benefit your audience. If you’re the appropriate person to talk to I can explain further if needed.

 

If not, who is the appropriate person for me to talk to?

 

Thanks for your help,

 

[Signature]

 

 

Follow up emails and sequences example:

 

Example #3

 

Subject Line: “Question about [goal]”

 

[Name],

 

I’m writing to follow up on my email. I didn’t hear back from anyone on the team. If it makes sense to talk, let me know how your calendar looks.

 

If not, who is the appropriate person for me to talk to?

 

Thanks for your help,

 

[Signature]

 

Example #4 Variation

 

Subject Line: “Question about [goal]”

 

[Name],

 

Hi I’m Jose with {school name} I’m reaching out because your audience is similar to ours and to ask you if you’d consider a link placement that would benefit your readers.

 

If you’re not the appropriate person for me to talk to can you please direct me to the appropriate person ?

 

Thanks for your help,

 

[Signature]

 

Example #5

 

Subject Line: Next step?

 

[Name], I’m writing to follow up. I sent you a few emails and wanted to connect with you about a potential link placement on your website that would benefit you.

 

Let me know what makes sense as a next step, if any?

 

Thanks for your input.

 

[Signature]

 

Example #6
Subject Line: Next step?
 

Name], I’m writing to follow up on our last conversation. My boss asked me for an update on your account. I told him I didn’t have one.

 

I’m not sure if it makes sense to continue the conversation. What makes sense as a next step, if any?

 

[Signature]

 

Communication Funnel Strategy & Follow Up

After putting them in a sequence of 3 emails spanning over 7 days I would then put them on a 14 day, 30 day and 120 day email sequence funnel. Depending on open rates, and our response rate, I would take the emails off a sales approach and twitch to a resource style email, providing industry updates and or news that are relevant and useful for our target audience.

 

Metrics to watch for:

 

  • Track open, click, reply & bounce rate
  • Stop follow-ups as soon as reply is detected
  • A/B Split testing per email touch
  • Detailed funnel statistics
  • Schedule automation
  • No duplicated prospects

 

What kinds of software will you need?

This really depends on the level of granularity you like. For the most part I recommend:

  • Prorank tracker
  • Quickmail.io
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Ahrefs
  • Majestic
  • Moz
  • Buzzstream

 

Jose Gonzalez is a content marketer that works in various areas of marketing including, video, copy, seo, and ads. He has worked with big brands such as Hyatt, Hilton, Chicago Tribune, Wiley, Extra News, Coldwell Banker, Univision and more.

Connect with Jose on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/josegonzalezseo

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