How effective is your link building campaign? I bet your answer is, "I wish it could be better."
I speak to business owners and executives on a daily basis and have not yet met anyone who would be happy with their link building strategy.
Everyone needs links, but it's getting harder and harder to get.
Change your attitude towards link building.
How link building is similar to lead generation
In any business marketing strategy, we really care about one thing: sales.
However, if we continue to focus on this ultimate goal, we will not achieve much. A customer may need up to eight points of contact before making a final purchase. If you only focus on that final sale, you will miss out on all of the extra steps that will make your customer buy.
It may sound obvious (so I'll stop here), but the point I'm trying is: Marketers can't focus on the final sale. We need something in between – a secondary metric that bridges the gap between “a stranger” and a “buyer”.
This is where the term “lead” came from. H. A contact that we consider a potential / potential / future customer.
A journey from a “stranger” to a “lead” is shorter and much more predictable than a journey from a “stranger” to a “buyer”. Once we turn a visitor into a lead, we can reach them in a much more meaningful and personal way (via email, Facebook re-marketing, on-site personalization, etc.).
What does this have to do with link building?
In link building, we need links, just like in marketing, we want sales. However, focusing on the end goal is just as limiting in link building as it is in marketing.
Very few link builders these days do anything other than send an email and use automated follow-ups. There is no "lead generation" when building links. It is either "link or no link" reporting.
And here this process is interrupted.
When it comes to link building, all of these bloggers, editors, editors, etc. may also need multiple points of contact (from something outside of an email). Additionally, they may not be the right decision maker in the publication you are targeting.
If you apply this lead generation process to link building, you may see much better results. More importantly, the more leads you acquire, the more these results will grow.
How to add lead generation processes to your link building strategy
1. Define your linking leads before creating any content
In B2B marketing, this is known as a results-oriented data strategy. Essentially, this means that you need to know exactly what you want to achieve (the outcome) before you begin developing your strategy for achieving that outcome.
Unfortunately, this concept is rarely applied to link building.
What usually happens:
- The content team creates what they think is a great content asset.
- The outreach team identifies website owners who are likely to be interested in this asset and begins the outreach.
Both teams work in isolation.
But what if you reverse that process?
- The outreach team shows the content team what attracts links on a specific topic (with examples). These insights should come from prospectus research, current or upcoming trends, previous contact campaign data, etc.
- The content team (working with the outreach team) is creating something better than what is currently in place on the subject. At this point, both teams can incorporate the linkage leads into the actual content creation (by gathering and soliciting expert opinions on the subject).
- The outreach team delivers this content to the contacts they identified prior to creating the content.
Depending on the described options for establishing links, the linkable assets should have a certain format or a certain point of view, for example:
- Curated resource lists: Make sure your article fits into one of the existing categories in the list, better fills a gap, or fixes an existing broken link.
- Links from influencers or experts: Before publishing your article, contact these influencers and get their quote (opinion) included in your article. Influencers are more likely to link if they are presented on this page.
- Links from colleagues and friends: Follow these people everywhere and start interacting with them daily. Think of this as "lead nurturing" – increase your chances of lasting partnerships.
- Editorial links from popular blogs: Find out the authors and editors of these websites and start interacting with them on social media. Also, invite them to contribute a quote about your article.
By letting your link building research guide the content creation processYou get a hugely successful campaign that still delivers links (without the need to actively contact you anymore).
2. Organize your link leads
As mentioned earlier, the ultimate goal in link building is a link. However, different leads require different numbers of points of contact to create a final connection. Plus, more links are better than one.
This is where a lead nurturing process comes into play.
Just like B2B marketers who use various methods to warm up leads and get them close to selling, you will get a lot more links in link building if you keep reaching out to your leads to remind them of your assets.
If you use an outreach tool (both Pitchbox and Link Hunter are good options, depending on your budget and the complexity of your project) it will do some of the lead nurturing for you. At the very least, every outreach solution will:
- Save any email you send
- Update email status and details (replied, returned, followed up, etc.)
Many link building teams will find this sufficient. I recommend going further and using a solid approach to customer relationship management that also includes:
- Create a detailed profile for each lead (including websites and columns, social media profiles, etc.)
- Reach on social media (through ads and / or manual contact)
If you want to go further, you can employ a well-organized customer relationship management strategy for your connected leads. To get you started, here's a solid comparison of the top CRM types, as well as the lead generation and nurturing platforms that you can use to properly organize and monitor your prospects for link building.
You can set up your link capture workflow and automate some parts of it (e.g. follow-ups) while you have full control over everything that is happening.
3. Find alternative contacts and decision makers in each publication
In the B2B sector, this process is known as "account-based marketing"; H. When you know exactly what company would make your ideal customer and research how to best integrate them.
When it comes to link building, this strategy applies to large, multi-author publications that are ideal and ongoing backlink providers for your content. Think the New York Times, Mashable, or a huge research magazine in your niche.
It may not be enough to send an email to one of their authors asking them to link to your study or infographic (in fact, it will hardly ever be enough).
To research publications that I'm really interested in, I use the following tools:
I don't use Linkedin for public relations, but I like the company profiles that show me which friends (or friends of friends) I have connected to these entities. I got to know some great publications this way:
Twitter bio search
While LinkedIn can be useful for identifying existing contacts, Twitter is great for establishing new contacts. For larger releases, all you need to do is find people who have that release in their BIOS.
A tool called Twiangulate is a great and free option to do this: just enter the company name (or Twitter handle) as the keyword and the tool will find all the Twitter profiles that contain it:
Now, create a separate Twitter list to keep in touch with everyone.
The "About Us" page of the website
This may seem obvious, but it is often a missed step. Many publications list their entire editorial team with all of the emails included on their "About" page.
Try to develop an outreach strategy for each of these emails. For example, a CEO might not be the best point of contact to request a link, but they can respond and give you clearer instructions on who to speak to. So ask for a contact!
4. Diversify your touchpoints
In my experience, email is still the most effective link building method. In all honesty, I saw better success with a follow-up email than the original email.
But other ways of making contact will certainly increase your chances of hearing again. These include:
- A simple Twitter follow or retweet (no requests here)
- A DM (especially if journalists claim their DMs are open to spaces and ideas)
- A comment on your personal page
- A LinkedIn message
- Add a contact to a Twitter list (Twitter notifies them)
- Tag them on social media (especially if they are referenced or cited in your content).
Bottom line here: If you're just there, you may be reminded of your request and asked to open your email.
5. Diversify your wealth
Associated with different points of contact is the need to diversify your wealth. Your reach will be more effective if you give your link leads something valuable to include in their articles.
If your first email and follow-up were unsuccessful, in your second follow-up, create a visual summary (an infographic) to give them something new.
The process can be quite simple and effective if you provide your contact and content teams with tools to help them complete the creation of these assets. These tools include:
6. Keep track of your team's performance
Your team is everything. If you don't train them properly, or if you don't effectively distribute tasks among your team members, the whole process won't continue.
- Include your outreach team in your social media marketing In this way, they can expand their contact methods beyond sending e-mails. Tools like Agorapulse help with this. You can set up lists, monitor certain keywords, save and delegate certain updates to turn them into tasks, etc.
- Track your outreach activities. Tools like Email Analytics can help. Daily and weekly reports are generated that show how actively your team has been sending emails and how many responses they have received. Plus, all emails are saved to keep conversations safe.
7. Optimize your landing page
Your linkable asset should immediately make a positive impression on the people you email them. There are several ways to achieve this, but certain things will help for just about any SEO campaign:
Your page must be ad-free
I've seen a lot of people unwilling to provide "a free link" to a page that is monetized with ads. There's no point in arguing about this with your link leads. It's easier to remove the ads from the page you're currently linking to. Plus, it's usually very easy.
Create CTAs for your connection leads
This one is a bit advanced, but it will help a lot. Customize your CTAs on the Linkable Assets page to match your link leads, not your regular ads.
For example, instead of “Sign up for a free trial”, you could include a link to press coverage or invite visitors to download additional data or resources.
Using Facebook pixels to record everyone who originally landed on the website via your linkable asset is another great way to share your asset with your link leads.
8. Keep an eye on these links
Very few people will reply to you saying that they actually linked to your content. It's important to know if this is the case, however, as making the switch is a critical part of the lead nurturing process. It doesn't stop your relationships with your lead, but it does affect your future interactions. The leads that connect with you are your best friends. Cancel your follow-ups, thank them, and keep interacting with them on social media.
If you're using an outreach platform, link tracking may be included. Otherwise, check out the Site Checker which includes a handy link monitoring feature.
Safe links mean the ones we cannot control. This makes a link building process almost an art form or a well-made accident (one of my favorite business concepts). There is a lot that you have to do before you reach your end goal, while keeping your end goal in mind.
Today, when a website owner – professional or amateur – is bombarded with link requests, you need to improve your link building game. Fortunately, there is a related area of marketing you can learn from: lead generation. Use more complicated and varied outreach methods to get great links on your website. Good luck!