the definitive guide
Relationship building is the key towards a successful digital marketing strategy. As content marketers and link builders, the ability to identify and connect with key influencers and decision makers in your industry plays an important role in your success online.
For most people, those types of connections can be made through guest blogging. But maybe you think “guest blogging is dead”. Well, at least according to Matt Cutts.
Maybe you haven’t read this post from Groove HQ “How We’ve Reached More Than1 Million People by Guest Blogging.” Guest blogging has been, and continues to be, an important part of building online relationships.
Guest blogging was being practiced for a number of years before it became known as a SEO tactic; bloggers wrote columns on high authority websites and had a author bylines where they received a link back to their website.
This was and still is a very effective strategy when used the right way to build your reputation and following online, however, SEOs took this idea and scaled it by creating purposeless content with exact match anchor text, trying to manipulate and rank for the target keywords which forced Google to call it off as a dead strategy.
If you are using outreach to build relationships and reach a wider audience and build a brand like Groove HQ did, you’re setting yourself up to see results.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything about blogger outreach, from benchmarking to prospecting to advanced strategies for finding the right contact person. We’ve also included email templates and tools to help you with your outreach efforts. Let’s get started!
Written by: Salman Aslam
Outreach or Blogger outreach is the process of reaching out to bloggers or site owners, i.e. decision makers to a find common point of interest and build relationships.
Outreach can be done both online and offline. For example, you can meet bloggers at events or conferences. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll focus on online outreach only.
Building relationships online can be a cost-effective way to reach out to highly targeted individuals and prospects that have more/varied readership than what you already have.
By reaching out to them in the right way and at the right time, you get the potential to reach a far wider audience and your content has the potential to go viral. While outreach is primarily associated with link building campaigns, it can be used for other reasons too.
You can use blogger outreach for:
a) Guest Posts– You reach out to websites in your industry that have guest contributors and subject matter experts and pitch to write a post on their blog to tap into their audience and grow your visibility and brand online.
b) Product Reviews– You reach out to bloggers who review products for their audience. The products can be anything: beauty products, fashion, health and fitness products, etc. The purpose is to reach out to them and ask them to review your product (and share their review with their readers) in exchange for a giveaway or a fee.
c) Build relationships– You’ve come across someone who is in the same industry or share same ideas and beliefs as you do. Reach out to them. Offer some value; comment on something they’re working on, or something that will help you break the ice and build trust and credibility for you to connect with that individual.
d) Broken Link Building– You’ve come across broken links on established resource pages where you’d want to get links from. Reach out to see if you can have them corrected. With some best practices, you’ll have a higher rate of success in this area.
e) Interview Requests – You want to reach out to influential bloggers for an interview on your blog or invite them to be a guest on your podcast or webinar.
f). Spread your Content – If you’ve created a piece of content that is helpful to the audience of your prospects, share it with them in a way that is helpful and not too pushy.
Benchmarking for Outreach
If you want your outreach campaign to drive a profitable outcome for you, you need to set a certain benchmark and criteria for sites you want to acquire links from. Before you pitch to any website, make sure you ask yourself these questions:
Is the website regularly updated?
When was the last time the blog was updated? Do the posts receive legitimate comments?
Are they active on social media?
Do they have a considerable amount of genuine following? Do some Twitter searches for their domain name: Does their audience engage with and share their content?
What is the Domain Authority of the website?
Do they have quality links with a diverse anchor text ratio?
Do they have an active newsletter?
And do people subscribe to their blog?
What is the ratio of guest posts on the websites?
What is the ratio of content written by blog owners/editor? If the blog is dominated by guest posts alone, steer away – unless the blog is community driven.
How strict are the guest post guidelines? It’s usually better if they have strict guidelines.
Once you understand what you are looking for, take the next step by doing some research on the sites you want to reach out to. Start by installing the Moz Toolbar on your browser to help you filter sites that are both relevant and have high domain authority. Next, see if they meet your domain authority criteria.
For those who don’t know, Domain Authority (DA) is an authentic metric used in the industry to rate the authority and popularity of a website. The rating is from 0 to 100, the higher the better.
You’ll need to set benchmark to guide your research. For example, make it a point to only reach out to websites with Domain Authority 30 or higher. Start making your list of sites in an Excel file where you can keep tabs on not only the URL, but also their DA, and if you’ve reached out to them, received any response and when to follow-up. This way, you can stay organized and scale your outreach campaign.
Prospecting is one of the most important steps of outreach as it requires some skill to find high value and relevant prospects to pitch to. Even if your standards and outreach abilities are exceptionally high, there’s little point if you’re targeting the wrong sites.
If you’re just starting out with blogger outreach, it would be best to go for the free option and invest time and effort in understanding and mastering the art of outreach before paying for tools.
Once you figure out how you want to run your outreach campaign, you’ll be able to figure out which software you need and what features would help you scale your outreach. Start small – it’ll make a big difference.
Here are 8 ways with which you can identify and build a list of high quality blogs that match your interests or industry.
1. Advanced Search Queries
We came across advance search queries when Google launched its Power Searching course and fell in love. Since then, we’ve started using them a lot at our agency to find what we need through Google.
If you are serious about link building or outreach, try using advanced search queries to guide you toward richer search results. The goal is to not use Google as a typical searcher would do and instead, really push Google to deliver even more relevant results. Here are five advanced search queries that you can use to help in finding better blogs to connect with:
Inurl Search (Fitness inurl:blog / Fitness blog inurl:.co.uk)
These search queries will filter results of websites that have your preferred search term or domain extension.
As you can see in the above example, the first search string Fitness inurl:blog gave me results with Fitness blogs.
Exact Phrase Search (Fitness “Guest post” / Fitness “Write for us”)
The exact phrase search query is probably the most popular, but it’s not used as often as it could be. Exact phrase can be used to filter search results with the exact word or phrase you’re looking for. The more specific you get in your search, the better.
These can be really handy in your initial outreach efforts. As you can see in the example above, we were able to find sites with our Exact Match Keyword both in the page url and title with relevant results.
- Your Keyword “become a contributor”
Please note that the queries above might not return high quality results. In that case, you can try the following queries to get more search results.
“keyword inurl:blog” “guest post by” keyword “guest post written by”
Intitle Search (Fitness Intitle:Guest Post / Fitness Intitle: Advertise)
This search phrase will help you find search results of websites that have your specified keyword in their page title.
As you can see above, we used the Fitness InTitle:Advertise tag to find advertising information on various fitness blogs. If we were working with a client who sold gym equipment, for example, these blogs might be good ones to use in an outreach campaign.
These tactics can be done in any industry to find key pages such as lists, guides, resources, media kits, and advertising information – all of which are opportunities to reach new audiences and build new relationships.
Wildcard Search (Finance “Guest *” inurl:blog)
The Wildcard search (*) is a very interesting operator. As the name suggests it filters results that contain the exact words within your query and an additional word in the position of the wildcard.
The above query will return finance blogs that feature “guest post”, “guest writer”, “guest blog” etc. within their content or title (with the second word in place of the wildcard).
Blog Author Search (Inpostauthor:query)
InPostAuthor: is also known as the blog author search — will search blog posts for the author.
This is a useful operator which can be used to track prolific bloggers across the web.
In the example above, we typed in Brian Honigman’s name to find out where he has published content as an author. In our own efforts, we might want to pitch those blogs for guest contribution.
You can also use this operator to see where your competition is posting. Here are few other possible search queries for tracking competitor campaigns:
- Inurl:Author “Firstname last”
Make sure to check for any similarity in author bios as a lot of people add author bios with slight variations which can be tracked using the exact match search operator.
2. Brand & Author Mentions
If you’re keeping a close eye on your competitors and want to know when and where they’re building links, it is important that you track both brand mentions as well as any particular author leading the outreach effort, as Amanda DiSilvestro does for Higher Visibility.
Here’s how you can track the mentions through Google:
- -site:highervisibility.com –site:facebook.com –site:twitter.com “Higher Visibility” OR “http://www.highervisibility.com” OR “Highervisibility.com”
- -site:highervisibility.com –site:facebook.com –site:twitter.com “Amanda DiSilvestro”
In this strings above you’ll see (-) sign which is used to exclude any search results including the specified websites e.g we don’t want to see results including the website and social profiles.
If you are using Google Alerts, you can enter the following strings to track the mentions as they happen, daily, or weekly:
- “Salman Aslam” Chief Marketing Officer –site:omnicoreagency.com
3. Curated Lists
These are literally done-for-you resources that are available on the web, all you need to do is go and find them as others have already done the work to compile the list. Just make sure the websites you come across meet your benchmark metrics (Domain Authority). Also consider if the sites mentioned in curated lists are frequently updated or haven’t published anything for months.
You can use the following search queries in Google to find curated lists.
4. Influencer Search Engines
There are some great influencer search engines out there which you can use in your outreach, too. Let’s take a closer look at some of our favorites:
Follower Wonk (Twitter):
Follower Wonk is a Twitter-focused search engine that allows you to search through Twitter profiles, helping you to identify targets for building relationships or just approaching for link building.
Example: If you’re looking to reach out to lifestyle entrepreneurs for your podcast, you can simply enter the keyword, and the search engine will list Twitter profiles of entrepreneurs. Next, filter and rank the profiles using the available metrics such as the number of followers, tweets, or social authority. From there, you can narrow down the right people to connect with.
Topsy (Twiter + Social Web): Topsy is another search engine which isn’t restricted to Twitter but covers the social web, including blogs. We’ve found this can be a great way to find social influencers.
You can search for articles, tweets, videos, and photos across the web. You can search for your competitor’s brand, keywords or websites and find out who’s talking about you or your competitor and reach out to them.
You can also use Topsy to find popular content from your competitors or search for guest contribution opportunities.
Influencers who have shared your content or any given URL can also be found using this tool. This can be a great way to analyze popular industry posts and also gather information about influencers.
Just as you’ve created a list of sites to connect with, create a spreadsheet for influencers whom you can share your posts with once you publish. This can be a great way to potentially reach new audiences while getting their attention.
In the example above, Meloine Dodaro, a LinkedIn Expert, and KISSMetrics have shared our content. Because they liked and shared what we’ve created, this opens the door to share other content with them directly.
You can apply this in your industry to find influencers who share great content and connect with them.
BuzzSumo (Content Marketing): BuzzSumo is a newer tool which allows you to find key influencers and top performing content in your industry (based on social shares across the major networks) related to any keyword that you enter.
This tool is built to the core for content marketers with the ability to filter content in the form of:
c. Guest Posts
You can also filter influencers by the following categories: a. Bloggers b. Influencers c. Companies d. Journalists e. Regular People
With Buzzsumo you can easily use the top content results it gives you to:
- Find authoritative sites in the niche for your content
- Locate the people that share the content related to your niche
- Find the sites that are owned by the people who share content in the niche
- Locate the sites that are also by shared by these people
Here is a handy guide on using BuzzSumo for Building Outreach Lists.
Alltop is a place where you can find the best blogs on the internet categorized by different niche. It is our go to source for finding influencers and leading publications when we do outreach for clients.
Let’s say you were looking to reach out to photographers. Simply go to Alltop.com and enter the keyword “photographer” in the search bar and click on the photography tag, which will take you to a list of photography blogs.
As these are really popular sites, not many will be open to a guest post pitch. However, if you have a great resource, an infographic or strong content asset, reaching out to these blogs can yield great results.
6. Twitter Outreach
Twitter is a really powerful tool to connect with influencers, also. Similar to Google, Twitter has its own search engine which you can visit at Search.twitter.com.
Enter the search query, Keyword + “Guest Post”, to find guest posts on sites that you might want to consider. You can replace “Guest Post” in this example with keywords like “review”, “product review”, or “contribution” to explore more results.
One thing that we like about Twitter is that the results are generated in real time as compared to Google. This means the prospects are warm and active and more than likely to respond to your request. All you need to do is ask.
Let’s say you were interested in writing about Conversion Optimization. Simply enter Conversion + “Guest Post” and see instant results like these:
Now this is great. The results are fresh, some of them just few hours ago – but what if we could show you something that will increase the success rate of your campaign a lot more than what you’ll get following the strategies we outlined above? Cool right? Let’s dig into it.
7. Breadcrumb Trail Technique
There are two steps to this process. The first is to seed the breadcrumbs (breadcrumbs being content) and the second step is to follow the trail and pick up guest post opportunities along the way.
a) Leaving Breadcrumbs: The first step is to find and publish content on high authority websites where you can get your foot in the door and seed the initial content.
Usually these are sites which are high in authority but are easy to publish content on initially. For example, Business2Community & Social Media Today are two websites open to contributions, though all submissions are reviewed by editors to ensure the content that is published is of high quality.
Not sure where to start looking? You can backtrack the Twitter accounts of influencers to see where they find content from to share and then pitch those sites for a guest posting opportunity.
Once you publish a content on high authority website, you’ll see that a lot of people share the article without any promotion. These people can include influencers and other prolific blogs, some of which you can pitch also to contribute a post.
Here is a screenshot of post we did for Social Media Today few months back. As you can see, it has over 1,000 tweets, which means there are over 1,000 people who found the post to be valuable and shared it. This also means you have 1,000 breadcrumbs to pick through now.
Once you’ve published the content, wait for a few days or a week perhaps to allow more time for people to share your post.
Go to Search.twitter.com and enter the exact title of your post, you’ll see the complete list of people who have shared your content. Now you can start picking up ideal prospects and thank them for sharing your content and soft pitch them. If they’re interested, which they usually are, they’ll reply back with a “yes” and you can take it from there
And that is how you can leverage the power of social sharing to capture more opportunities. You can use the breadcrumb trail technique outside of Twitter, too.
What if we tell you how you can get links from major sites like Mashable, Forbes, Yahoo!, etc.?
We know how big it is to get links from sites like these, but the fact is that if you are reaching out to them directly, you have a very slim chance of even getting a reply back from them. They employ writers who get bombarded with email pitches day in and day out. What makes your pitch special?
Well, remember the breadcrumb trail technique we discussed earlier? All you need to do is start paying attention. If you are serious about getting links from sites like these, you need to understand what type of content they publish and most importantly what are their sources of the stories.
Sites like these have content partnerships with other news websites. We came across this during infographic outreach for a client and saw similar opportunities on other major publications.
Here is an example where you can see a story published on Mashable whereas it was published by a writer on ClickZ. Turns out Mashable has a content partnership with ClickZ.
You can search ClickZ inside Mashable search bar to see what type of stories they pick up from ClickZ and you can either reach out to the writer directly or apply to become a contributor and write a weekly column and increase your chances of being picked up by Mashable.
Similarly, Forbes gets their stories from source like AllBusiness and O’Reilly Media. Yahoo! gets their stories from BGR News and Business2Community. Amazing things can happen when you start paying attention! :)
8. Reverse Engineering
Reverse engineering is a process in which we analyze a competitor’s backlink profile using tools to find new opportunities and at the same time evaluate the strategy being used. You can come across several things during competitive backlink analysis, for example:
- Discover websites where your competitors are contributing regularly, and you can apply to become a contributor there.
- Content assets produced by competitors that have done well across the web in terms of links acquired, social shares and overall coverage. For example, these can be infographics or content resources e.g. Link Building Guide.
- Anchor text ratio that is being used by competitors, and if it makes sense for you to go after that keywords.
Competitive backlink analysis is what we regularly do to keep track of competitors and the campaigns we do for our clients. It helps us come across new opportunities and ideas for our link building campaigns.
Here are a list of tools which you can use for competitive backlink analysis:
One of the most frustrating things in blogger outreach is not the rejection but sending dozens (or even hundreds) of emails without a reply.
If you receive a rejection email you can still use that as an opportunity to put your foot in the door, ask them what they aren’t interested in your proposal and try to find common points of interest and build a conversation. Relationships can still be built out of rejection.
But it is challenging when you don’t receive any reply at all. It keeps you wondering what you might have done wrong or what you might have done differently.
One thing that we do, and have done in previous successful campaigns, is to do something that seems really basic but is all too often ignored: “Find the Right Person“ to reach out to.
It’s equally important to find the right person to contact is it is to find the right site prospects to reach out to in the first place. At our agency, we spend more time intentionally digging deep to ensure the success of our outreach (more on this below).
All too often, other link builders get lazy and after doing all the work of researching sites, they go to contact page, copy/paste the pitch and press submit. No consideration for where it goes – just getting the template sent. Pro link builders take the extra time to find the right person and score.
Last year, while doing outreach for a very interesting infographic, “The Cost of Living on Mars”, our agency focused on the goal of getting placements in big media outlets related to science and technology. We started off with PopSci as it met our DA criteria. We prepared a pitch and like any lazy link builder, we would have just emailed the editor listed in the masthead widget on the right sidebar of the blog.
But instead of doing that, we looked up writers who publish infographics, as usually with sites like these, there is a particular writer (or a few!) who specialize in this type of content.
Here’s what we searched: site:PopSci.com intitle:Infographic
The search results gave us links to recent infographic posts. We were easily able to find all infographics published on PopSci.com to date.
At the time of the campaign, Emily Elert was covering interactive and visual pieces, as we saw in our search results. However, herr email was not listed on the masthead. To find it, we ran a simple search: Emily Elert Popular Science
Many writers have personal websites where they have their email addresses open to public. In some cases where they don’t make their email addresses easily accessible, reaching out to them through their websites is better than submitting your pitch to big media outlet where you don’t know who is in control – or checking email.
In some cases where you are unable to find writer’s website, you can search for their social media profiles or handles. Many bloggers and influencers have their email addresses mentioned on their profiles. Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are the most common and public ones while Facebook won’t give you much contact information due to privacy settings.
But even after all this you’re not able to find the bloggers email address, why not just take it directly from the person you’re trying to reach? All you need is their Twitter handle to use this niftly little tool AllMytweets.net.
- Find bloggers Twitter handle.
- Login to AllMytweets.net by authorizing with your Twitter Account
- Enter bloggers handle in the search bar
Press Ctrl + F and search for these phrases “email”, “gmail.com” or “dot com” as many bloggers don’t enter their complete id to avoid scrapers.
Crafting an effecting outreach email pitch is an art in itself. A well-written pitch always guarantees a response, negative or positive.
You can use the response to extend the communication, so treat every one as an opportunity. In case of a negative reply, you can ask your prospect the reason for rejection and what you can do.
Sometimes, it’s a case of needing different content or approaching the blogger at another time. Others, it’s just not a good fit for their readers. Either way, you’re getting feedback that can help you make better outreach decisions in the future, or create better content.
Below you’ll find blogger outreach templates which are tried, tested, and have produced results.
Though we don’t recommend using these word-for-word as they can trigger spam alerts instantly, it helps to have a structure which you can use to personalize the message and track using Yesware (more on email tracking in our next chapter…)
Here are few tips that will help your outreach email stand out from the crowd:
1. Keep Subject Title in Lower Case: We receive a lot of emails every day and most of them are promotional. By keeping the subject title in lowercase, it comes off as a casual email from a friend. This works very well with email newsletters, too.
2. Be Personal: Before you send out any email, do your homework first to learn more about the person you are reaching out to, starting from their name and leading to what they write about and their topics of interest. But don’t obsess over it; a good rule of thumb is to spend 5 to 10 minutes learning about the prospect before moving on. It always pays to spend a little extra time in your email pitch as it shows and is worth the effort.
3. Introduce yourself: Why should anyone bother with you? Think of outreach as you are meeting someone at a conference. Introduce yourself and tell them what you do e.g. My name is Salman Aslam and I work at Omnicore. My name is Sarah and I am the communications manager at XYZ.
4. State your Purpose – and Your Value: Don’t keep on bragging about yourself and get straight to the point. Tell them what you want and the value you are delivering. We’ve seen the response rate increase when we clearly mention the benefit of what we’re asking the site owner to do. For example, if you are reaching out to someone for an interview, tell them how big your audience is and how you plan to promote the interview. People want to know what’s in it for them.
5. Close with a Call-to-Action: Give them a course of action to take, so they can respond accordingly. If you are promoting an infographic, ask them if they are interested in checking out your infographic. If you are pitching for a guest blog opportunity, ask them if you can send them topic ideas to pick from. Don’t leave the email open-ended. Ask for what you want and give direction to the next step.
6. Add credibility with branded signature: Email signatures are very important. We’ve seen a lot of professional link builders ignore this in their outreach campaigns. It doesn’t have to be a fancy one with dozens of logos.
Essentially you need to add the following elements:
This allows recipients to learn more about the organization you are representing. The social profiles are there to connect with you, which can open up doors for building a strong relationship.
Guest Blogging Template
There are a lot of sites with guest post submission pages where they ask people to send over written articles. This may seem like an easy win, but we strongly advise against it.
Before you take the time write anything, check out the website in detail and see the posts that are actually on there as it will help you figure out what topics your prospect might be interested in.
Prepare a list of ideas that you think will work and reach out to the site owner. This is very effective as they can offer feedback and advice that will increase your chances of getting a post on the site.
They will always know their audience better than you do. Use their feedback to create a post that offers value to their readers, but start with a list of topics. They’ll help by guiding you toward picking the right one, which will massively increase your success rate.
Also send along links to published work, which earns you more more credibility and respect.
Email Script #1
The Warm-Up Email
Hi (Always Insert their first name),
My name is John and i run johnsblog.com where I write about topic 1 and 2.
You may have noticed my comment on your post on X (awesome article by the way).
I’m writing to you because I’d love to contribute a guest post to yourwebsite.com.
I know since you write about x topic and your readers love it, I was thinking of writing something along these lines:
-Post Idea #1 [Explanation of the idea and what you plan on writing about it, conceptualize it in 2-3 lines]
-Post Idea #2 [Explanation of the idea and what you plan on writing about it, conceptualize it in 2-3 lines]
-Post Idea #3 [Explanation of the idea and what you plan on writing about it, conceptualize it in 2-3 lines] I’ll make sure to add research backed content that your readers will love.
I’ve already written for these blogs examplesite1.com & examplesite2.com which will give you an idea about how I write. Let me know what you think, I’m excited to start writing.
Broken Link Template
Email Script #1
The Random Surfer
This is where you pretend to that you’re a random surfer, searching across the Internet for your topic of interest when you encountered the broken links and suggesting your favorite resources as a replacement.
Hi (Insert their first name),
I came across your page (link to that page) when searching for x topic and loved the resource you’ve put up.
One thing that I noticed was that a few links weren’t working which isn’t what you’d want to send your readers to.
It looks like the pages you linked to doesn’t exist anymore:
(broken link #1)
(broken link #2)
I’ve created a similar resource which i think will make a wonderful replacement as we’ve added latest research on it.
(link to your fantastic resource)
I hope it helps, if you need anything else from my end please feel free to ask. Thanks
Email Script #2
Seek & Assist
This template is amazing for two reasons, one it is short and not salesy and very targeted as you are asking to be put in contact with the person in authority which increases the success rate of the campaign.
I just noticed a few broken links on your website at (theirsite.com).
I’m not sure if this was the right email, can you put in touch with someone who manages the website? Thanks,
Hi, How is it going?
I was telling mark about the broken links I found on the page, here are the links:
(broken link #1)
(broken link #2)
It’d be awesome if you could replace the dead links with a resource page on my site as I’ve got great feedback on it and I believe it would be a perfect replacement for those broken links.
(link to your page e.g omnicoreagency.com/better-resource)
Thanks! (your name)
Infographic Outreach Template
This template is very effective for promoting infographics because 99% of the time, website owners are bombarded with emails where someone tries to win the link in their first attempt.
By seeking permission, you are not only making your pitch stand out from the rest of the crowd but you are also creating an opportunity for conversation which can go a long way forward.
Email Script #1
The Permission Seeker
How is it going?
I was on the hunt for some tips on (Infographic topic) and found your blog.
It was really great the way you talked about the importance of (Infographic topic).
I’ve actually put up an Infographic on the same topic which covers these points (explain what is covered).
As someone who writes about (infographic topic) I thought you’d like to check it out.
Let me know if you’re interest.
One of the most frustrating things during outreach is figuring out if your email has reached the right prospect, and even if it did, did he or she open it? When did they open it? Did they click any links or took the action you wanted them to take?
These are some of the common questions that link builders end up asking themselves when they don’t set up proper systems in their outreach plans.
Imagine spending hours doing prospecting, finding the right contact information, crafting an email pitch and pressing the send button only to pray and hope that your email gets opened and you receive a positive reply. This really isn’t the smartest way to go about it and we know you’ll agree.
Smart link builders use email tracking to eliminate the ambiguity and see measurable productivity gains.
Standard functionality for email tracking tools can include: tracking (notification of when the email was opened); templates (write it once and personalize for each recipient); reminders (reminders on when to follow-up with a customer); and CRM integration.
There are a number of email tracking tools out there and we’ve personally used a few of them and they are instrumental in our success.
If you are a HubSpot user or fan, you’ve probably heard about Sidekick. While it is limited in features, the interface is great and it offers compatibility with Gmail and Outlook for free users. The paid version integrates with your CRM, for example, Salesforce.
The thing we like most most about Sidekick is the data offered by the profile contact insights. This gives you your email contact’s professional history, where they live, mutual contacts, email history and so much more.
This is really handy when you are trying to reach out to editors, journalists for email pitches and CMOs or VCs for business leads.
Sidekick will help you track the opens and clicks of your emails, which can be helpful in seeing what parts of your pitches work best. The interface is clean and gives you all the information you need to know in an easy to digest format, which includes notifications, times, locations, and numbers of views
Sidekick does not offer email scheduling or reminder options as of right now, though they said the feature is under development and will be introduced very soon. It is free to use for up to 200 notifications per month after which you have to upgrade to a premium level at $10/user per month for unlimited notifications.
Out of all the tools that you can find in the market like Bananatag or MyDocket, the one we find most useful is Yesware. This tool tells us which email templates and subject lines are read the most. This helps us fine-tune our email outreach templates so we can maximize open rates. It has all the features that a link builder needs and more.
If you are serious about your outreach performance then you definitely need to get Yesware to track when your emails are opened and if the recipient clicked on any link you provided, as this behavior can show the level of interest taken in your email and you can then follow up accordingly.
Even if the email is not being opened, you know the status and using this information, you can find an alternate person to reach out to from the same organization. This level of insight really helps in increasing the performance of your outreach campaign.
Outreach takes determination and hustle and a lot of professionals hit a wall when it comes to scaling the process.
As a professional link builder, processes and systems are very important in scaling your outreach efforts, but it can be easy to fall into tool traps. Low quality link building is easy to scale – all you need is a handful tools to start spamming your way to an eternal destruction in the form of Google penalties. Not a good idea.
However, as outreach relies on authentic human interaction and personalized messages, the best way to scale is through developing processes and systems.
For the purpose of this guide, we’ll break down the how link builders can scale their campaigns:
Note: The fundamental process stays the same however you may skip over some depending on the type of level of campaign you are working on.
1. Casual Link Builders:
If you are a solo link builder working on your own website or a handful of clients and don’t have a lot to spend, then all you need is an Excel sheet, Gmail, and a handful techniques for prospecting (covered in our previous chapter) to get going. Here is what you need to execute:
- Identify your ideal target market and a story angle you feel would work best.
- Make a list of competitors, analyze their backlinks using Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs, and compile a list of sites where your competitors have links to see if you can acquire links on those sites also.
- Build the master list of prospects using advanced prospecting techniques.
- Search for additional resource pages, lists of top blogs in your subject area, or influencers to add more relevant sites to the list.
- Craft 2-4 email templates which you’ll personalize for each prospect as well as test with different variations to find which ones work best.
- Label sites that you’ve reached out, the technique you used, and the response you received to help you process information faster when you are on the go.
2. Professional Link Builders:
For professional link builders, free tools just don’t cut it. If you are a professional link builder working at an agency in a team of 2 or more, you need a link building CRM to manage and scale your link building efforts and see large gains by monitoring what works for you and what doesn’t.
Buzzstream is a great CRM platform and link building tool that professional link builders use to scale their link building campaigns. Here is how they execute:
- Set up custom fields in Buzzstream to be the foundation of your link building campaign (this includes website type and opportunity types). Opportunity types that we use at Omnicore are guest post opportunity, press coverage, resource page, sponsorship, etc. It keeps things organized.
- Start using Buzzmarker, a Buzzstream chrome extension , to start building a prospecting list directly into the Buzzstream CRM. Buzzmarker allows you to save prospects into Buzzstream without leaving the window where you’re working. It also allows you to see past outreach history.
- Build up a big prospects list using other techniques which we discussed in chapter #2.
- Sort, tag, and refine the prospects list to dig deep and find any missing information such as email addresses, social profiles, or phone numbers to conduct the outreach.
- Craft a group of email pitch templates and start sending emails. We’ve given various template scripts in our previous chapter; these can be initial email templates and follow up templates.
- Test pitch emails to find the winning combination. Things which you can test are subject lines, introductions, email length, calls to action and signatures.
- Set up reminders to follow up a couple of times before you get the link.
- Buzzstream helps in scaling link building outreach as it combines everything in a single platform.
Now how Buzzstream helps in scaling the link building is it combines everything in a single platform.
- List Buildingto add link-worthy prospects to the system for conducting outreach and building relationships.
- Relationship Management to keep track of your organization’s activities with link prospects and link partners.
- Project Management to create workspaces for each client, product, or project you manage with the ability assign it to team members with access permission settings.
- Conduct Outreach through email templates and response rate tracking.
- Backlink Tracking automatically checks for new links acquired every two weeks with email notifications.
There are a number of tools out there that can help you streamline your outreach process as well as help with organization. Some of these include:
If you are an enterprise-level link builder or working on a large campaign where volume matters, then you need to check out GroupHigh which comes at a hefty price of $7,000+ annually.
GroupHigh offers CRM functionality as well as email engagement and tracking reporting, but what makes it different from other tools in the market like Buzzstream is that it comes with a built-in list of over 15,000,000 active blogs with social stats, contact information, and SEO metrics.
Big Wins with Blogger Outreach
Now that we’ve reviewed how we target outreach to online media publications and influencers, we shift our focus to bloggers specifically for our Infographic promotion clients.
One thing that we’ve seen is that usually blogger outreach is rated lower than influencer outreach in a lot of other resources. However, there there are opportunities to be had with blogger outreach, so don’t discount smaller bloggers from your strategy! We’ve successfully worked with smaller blogs for our clients and it’s yielded results.
Here’s a quick rundown of how our approach to promoting “The Cost of Living on Mars” infographic worked. A mini case study, if you will.
We were able to get a link from Discovery.com for our client. We started by building a list of space bloggers for what would be the second phase of our campaign. The first phase we covered in an early chapter. While working on phase two, we came across a leading space blog Universe Today where we submitted a pitch.
Now, this is where it gets interesting. After sending the pitch, we received a positive reply. If we were lazy link builders, we would have just placed the infographic and moved on to next target but we have a habit of exploring and really listening to our prospects. We saw that the owner of that blog was also a columnist at Discovery.com and we instantly grabbed the opportunity.
We reached out to the blogger and asked if he can publish it on Discovery.com. After few revisions to the data, the infographic was featured on Discovery.com and also featured on their weekly video series. It all comes down to how much effort you put into the outreach. It may be time-consuming, but it is rewarding at the same time, especially when you start exploring and achieve big wins like these.
We are sharing this with you because we want you to give extra care and love in your outreach. It really can make a difference. You’ll be amazed by what you are able to achieve with those extra 5-10 minutes you spend on each prospect.
There are other case studies out there too, outside of what we do at Omnicore Agency, that shows the power of taking extra time to do outreach the right way. Here are some examples:
Over on the YouMoz blog, Gregory Ciotti shared his insights on how to improve outreach for big content. In his post, he noted some pretty impressive results:
- When pitching, brevity ruled. 51% of his prospects responded when he sent a short pitch plus his infographic, rather than the 29% who responded when he actually included a full post to use.
- Personalization and doing your research matters. When he referenced a past post by the blogger 46% responded positively, as opposed to 24% when there were no references.
- Network before you need it. As we’ve noted, relationship building makes all the difference and when Gregory put it to the test, he found that he got a 63% positive response rate to his pitch when there was at least some contact with the blogger before. This blows away the 18% response rate he got when doing outreach cold. If you work in an industry, start networking with others in that space now.
Kristen Matthews of GroupHigh shared 10 Hand Curated Blogger Outreach Examples to Inspire Your Next Campaign, which serves as excellent inspiration for anyone who does outreach. In this case study showcase, brands employed creative tactics to yield high returns like:
- Food Lion and Theory House partnered up to have bloggers do a cook off as a creative way to get responses to outreach with a goal of showing the Food Lion brand as being affordable – a 50% positive response, in fact. Be creative in your approach!
- Wendy’s got bloggers buzzing about their new Frosty in a waffle cone by giving bloggers free coupons for them and asking specifically for what they wanted. The biggest takeaway is that when you give bloggers an idea of what you want, you won’t be disappointed.
- Red Lobster and Costa Communications Group created offline opportunities for bloggers by hosting VIP blogger dinners instead of doing the traditional pitch. They let the experience speak for itself and it resulted in glowing reviews.
Read through her guide to see more examples and takeaways from all types of industries and approaches.
On Sparring Mind, Gregory Ciotti explores outreach again, only this time, focusing in on how to email people and get positive results by tapping into our psychology as human beings.
His advice of being brief, blunt, and basic while also blending together this 3 P’s of pitching (personlized, positioned, persuasive) resulted in huge exposure totaling 200,000+ views on one of the most popular blogs on the internet.
If you’ve ever wanted to know how to get people to read and respond your emails (or if you want to just get better at writing emails in general), this is absolutely a must-read.
Finally, Over on Backlinko, they share an example of a case study performed by Chris Laursen: ECommerce SEO Case Study: White Hat Link Building Without Any Content. In this case, a client, JustBuyIt.com had just launched a site without any content.
But with just a little bit of time (and use of the Moving Man Technique), the client was able to gain high quality backlinks from consumer electronics sites, popular news sites, an online electronics magazine, and others. With authority sites talking about this new retailer, the buzz (and more links and awareness) followed. Soon, it was ranking highly in the search results and competing against big players like Amazon in that market and industry segment. Pretty impressive without having any content!
The method used to do this, the Moving Man Method, starts by finding outdated, moved, or expired resources (as we talked about earlier), performing a backlink analysis to see where those outdated resources are mentioned, and then performing outreach to those sites to try to update the expired resource with something more relevant.
These are just a few examples of link building outreach gone right and there are plenty more out there. It’s clear to see: outreach and guest blogging is far from dead and there are still many ways to incorporate these tactics into a successful marketing strategy. Just remember – it’s not about only links. It’s about:
- Building relationships
- Connecting your client with new audiences
- Boosting credibility and authority
The extra time and care you put into your outreach efforts will pay off as it did in the cases described above. We’ve seen how it works and we know: it’s always worth it.
That’s a wrap folks! We hope you enjoyed this guide, make sure to tweet and share this with your network.