SEO authority through digital PR: Campaign launch and outreach
Published 24th July 2014
As seen in the previous articles of this series, published on the last two issues of iGaming Affiliate, a typical Digital PR campaign is composed of the following five steps:
- Site Audit
- Content Planning & Research
- Content Creation
- Targets Scouting
- Launch & Outreach
Having found the perfect topic for your Digital PR and produced the best possible piece of content in the most engaging format available, you have then found the best sites for your campaign: sites that are potentially interested in your content and high quality in terms of SEO.
It is now time to publish your content and contact those sites is a smart way, to make sure your content gets mentioned and republished and the links you so badly need start coming in. Here is how to proceed.
Step 1 - Launching your campaign
A common mistake in digital PR is thinking a campaign is launched in the moment the first email gets sent. Instead, the moment in which an outreach campaign really starts is when the content/ news is published on the site.
As a matter of fact, thanks to search engines, RSS feeds and social media sites, all content you publish on your site is discoverable since Day 1, so your site will be the first channel through which every piece of new content should be communicated.
Considering the above, before starting your outreach campaign you should publish the content you intend to promote on you site, possibly attracting attention towards it via references in your homepage or blog. A good idea is to do so the day before you start to contact websites or the same day, so not to let the content get too old.
Step 2 - Crafting the perfect email
While outreach campaigns can make use of several channels (phone, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) in this article we will limit our scope to the use of emails. When preparing your outreach campaign, you should pay extreme attention to all aspects of your emails:
Sender address and name should be official, related to your site and trustworthy.
Recipient addresses should never be generic, but person-specific and carefully selected during the scouting phase.
Subjects should be effective. They should begin with the key data you want to communicate, be targeted to the audience of the email and look authoritative. As email clients and browsers may cut your subject line after as little as 35 characters - also considering the vast amount of people checking emails on their smartphones - being concise is extremely important (see Image 1, showing un-optimised vs. optimised subject lines).
The body of your messages should also be kept short, as most people don’t have time to read long emails, particularly if checking them while they are on the move.
Most of the time, the content of your email should follow a clear structure similar to the AIDA funnel typical of sales pitches (see Image 2). Starting from a short introduction capturing the interest of the reader (who you are and why you are writing) it should proceed quickly to the core (the news/content you need to spread) and end with a clear call to action (a request to share the news).
Apart from being well structured, your email should also be highly customised and clearly explain why the news is interesting for your recipients. For example, you could mention an article you recently read on their site on a similar topic and say that you think the piece of news you are offering them would be a good follow-up on the story.
Attachments should be limited as much as possible: not only do they make emails harder to download; they also increase the likelihood of your emails ending up in the spam folder. Therefore, we recommend using links to online files instead of attachments whenever possible (in case you do not have direct access to http or ftp servers, Dropbox1 or Google Drive2 can be good solutions for this).
Step 3 - Reaching Out to Bloggers and Journalists
Once you have crafted your messages, we recommend dividing your list of targets in different clusters basing on their importance. A possible grouping is the following:
- Exclusive partners
- Top bloggers/journalists
- Standard blogs and sites
Whenever possible, you should be in touch with key publishers even before launching your outreach campaign, to check whether they would be interested in receiving an exclusive on the news. Only in this way you may see your news ending up on high quality websites that normally do not pick up news that was broken by a competing or minor website.
After releasing the news to exclusive partners, you should start by sending out your messages only to top bloggers and journalists in the niche you are approaching, specifying they have been carefully selected and are receiving the news before everybody else. In this way, even in the event they check online and see a few sites have already broken the news, they will only find high-quality sites and still feel like they are part of a privileged crowd.
After the news has been released to top-tier sites and a few days have passed, it is time to approach all remaining blogs of average quality. The publications obtained during the first mail-out to top bloggers may even be mentioned in the email, to show the content is newsworthy and also that important bloggers mentioned it.
After a few days since all the sites have been contacted, it is important to followup on the messages, possibly by phone. The redemption rates of phone calls tends to be much higher than that of emails, so contacting the bloggers by phone to verify whether they are interested in publishing the news will often lead to better results than just sending emails.
In the weeks following the outreach it will also be important to monitor blogs and search engine results for any new publication of our news (Google Alerts3 can help you in this), in order to take the opportunity to thank the bloggers, maintain contact with them…and eventually ask them to add a link to the article in case they forgot ;-)
Step 4 - Automation
Getting in touch and maintaining relations with hundreds of websites will take time and work, but we still recommend a one-tone approach, or there is a strong risk your campaign may fail. Tools like Buzzstream4 may help in reducing the effort and time needed by the process though, as they help you streamline your workflow and allow users to easily re-use email templates and keep track of all past communications.
Once steady relations have been established with a few publishers, these can also be added to automatic mailing lists, which can be managed with tools like Mailchimp5 or Aweber6. This will definitely speed-up the process, and will also allow you to better track your results.
As a matter of fact, email marketing platforms allow you to automatically monitor bounce rates (how many emails bounce back, hence how good your address list is), open rates (how good your subject lines are) and click-through rates (how interesting your email copy is), which are all elements you should consider in order to improve your approach for future campaigns.
Last but not least: things to avoid
In order for your outreach campaign to be successful, it is very important to avoid a series of common pitfalls:
- Sending emails only when in need. In most cases you will want to establish a long-lasting relationship with the bloggers and journalists you contact. Sending them emails only when you want them to help you spreading the news will come across as selfish and impersonal. Emailing them also with proposals for different kinds of collaborations (e.g. guest blogging on your site) and industry related discussions are a good way to keep the channel open and maintain good relationships.
- Not thinking about whom you are talking to. As said, every outreach email should be customised and crafted basing on the recipient. In every niche you will find bloggers that are older than others, more competent than others and - of course - more famous than others. These are all elements to consider before writing your messages in order not to come across as impolite, uninformed or rude.
- Sending your emails in the wrong moment. Depending on the topics you are covering, seasonality will play an important role (e.g. who cares about the World Cup in November?). Apart from this, also the day of the week and the time at which your emails are sent out will influence the outcome of your campaigns. Most blog and news sites write news in the morning, so you will want them to receive your timely news before their morning editorial meetings.
- Writing long emails. Mark Twain once said “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Writing a short but effective email takes more time than writing a long one, but is far more effective and saves the time of your recipients, a fact they will greatly appreciate.
- Limiting your channels to emails. The Internet landscape has changed greatly in the last years, so even if you are part of the “email generation” you should consider all possible outreach channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, Skype and Whatsapp and are just a few examples... and phone, of course.
Following the process outlined in the three articles composing this series on Digital PR & SEO you should be able to get started in your editorial link-building campaigns. They will definitely take more time than the good old link exchanges and link purchases, but will also lead to better and safer results in terms of rankings.
Even though the process will be longer and more complex, you should not lose your focus and keep in mind your final goal: acquiring high-quality links that are hard to replicate and can stand Google’s fight against paid posts and advertising links.
After all, talking to people is advertising and talking with people is PR, and that is what you will be doing. So get going...and good luck with your Digital PR campaigns!