In the world of digital marketing, traffic is the name of the game. And generating a lot of traffic usually means successfully promoting your content to get links and social media shares.
But even the most popular bloggers sometimes struggle with this. Seriously. Believe it or not, sometimes, even the most established digital content creators with the most engaged audiences struggle with getting the interaction they need.
If you’re running a smaller blog, this is probably disheartening.
After all, if Seth Godin has posts that aren’t getting shared, what hope do you have of going viral with your grandma’s cheesecake recipe?
Sure, it’s the best cheesecake in the history of the world, but how do you get people excited about it and share it in their social circle?
Let me introduce you to a little tactic known as a pre-outreach strategy.
What’s that, you ask? Your work ahead of content drops pays dividends after your release. It’s establishing relationships with industry players, journalists, editors, and other bloggers.
Usually, this is a two-way street, where you’ll partner with someone to promote their content, and in return, they’ll promote yours.
And the truly remarkable thing about it is that it’s not limited to blogging. You can also use pre-outreach to link email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), influencer marketing, and social media marketing campaigns.
If your pre-outreach strategy is effective, your traffic increase will be consistent, even when you’re not releasing new content.
Sounds great, right? Then let’s dive right into how to create and implement a pre-outreach strategy that can generate links and shares for all your content.
Before we jump in, there is one thing you need to know: If your business lacks visibility, using a pre-outreach strategy may not be the best use of your time.
Instead, it would be best if you first focused on improving your profile. Once you’ve done that, you should revisit your pre-outreach plan.
Start By Checking Your Circles
I always start all my pre-outreach campaigns by pulling together a list of experts and partners I regularly collaborate with on content promotion.
This is a quick and easy task if you use CRM systems like Nimble or Pitchbox or have a spreadsheet with their names and contact info.
I recommend reviewing your current list of subscribers and social media followers. There’s a good chance that among them, there are some people that might be interested in sharing your content.
After creating this spreadsheet, I separate all my contacts into two lists.
- The first list is the people I will ask to give my piece some love and endorsement across their channels.
- The second list of people is those to whom I will reach out about the possibility of linking back.
In both cases, I never forget that I’m asking for a favor, so I need to make sure it’s going to be easy and beneficial for them to help me out. No one likes doing a favor for someone who makes it difficult or offers nothing in return. I always ask whether they want me to promote anything.
Some people think the best way to get links is to email blast people you might not know. I would not recommend this.
A recent study showed that cold outreach emails have a response rate of just 1-5%. My personal experience confirms that number. It took me about 40 cold emails to get one link.
My rule of thumb is only to ask people whether they could refer to my piece if I know them and have previously partnered with them on a link-building side.
Thanks to Pitchbox, I can easily filter out contacts I’ve never built links with from my pre-outreach list.
Even though I sometimes use automated email outreach funnels for pre-outreach, I prefer to do it manually. This allows me to double-check that I am sending it to the right person and add a bit of personalization to each email.
One more thing that is good to mention is that – thanks to the Digital Olympus conference – I have a good number of digital marketing influencers that are always willing to help me spread the word once my post goes live.
So, launching your event or even podcast is a great idea, as this can help you build relationships with industry leaders.
One more example I’ll give you is Jason Barnard’s podcast. This platform, from which he covers SEO, copywriting, and more, allows him to promote his content effectively by involving the people he invites as guests to his show.
Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have close ties with companies that send out mass emails to their subscribers, this could be a gold mine.
The logic is pretty simple: Ask to be featured in their mass emails and, in return, offer to mention their post in your email marketing campaign.
As you can probably tell, the more people you have established a good working relationship with, the better your chances of getting links and social shares are.
Now let’s see what to do next after you have reached out to all your contacts.
Going Beyond Your Circles To Secure Links
Reaching out to people beyond your contacts is essential to get enough links. This is a great time to use pre-outreach to “warm up” people and build relationships with them.
The trick here is to provide contacts you’ll pre-outreach with value and benefits first, so they feel like they owe you.
However, it’s worth mentioning that if you aren’t familiar with your industry experts, this might become a time-consuming exercise.
Those are the steps you should take:
Find Experts That Regularly Publish Guest Posts Across Various Blogs
To put together a list of contributors, you could start by checking sites that accept guest post opportunities.
Optionally, you could go to BuzzSumo and run a report with the “Top Authors” tool, where you could search via any keyword related to your pre-outreach content.
Then, you need to look at the list of authors and find contributors that write across multiple blogs.
Craft A Powerful Value Proposition
Most of us are not as popular as Rand Fishkin or Matthew Woodward, so creating a powerful value proposition is essential.
In our case, the most straightforward ways are to ask potential linkers to:
- Add their quotes (if they’re interested and have time for that).
- Share your final draft and see if they have a post they’d like to refer to.
Both options provide them with value and help you establish a beneficial relationship.
Also, I highly recommend checking this post, which can help you increase your email outreach response rates.
Hint: Quite recently, I was doing a roundup with many experts when I realized my new post would be published shortly. So, I asked the contributors to consider linking to my recent article. I immediately got ten links because they wanted to be helpful, which would continue our collaborative relationship.
The secret of working with people you don’t know is to provide them with value.
Cold mass emails might sound more accessible, but investing your time and energy into building relationships with experts will pay off. And you might even become link-building partners in the future.
Start Building Rewarding Relationships
So, now that you know exactly what a pre-outreach strategy is, all you have to do is put it into effect.
Unfortunately, as you’ll soon discover, it’s not quite as easy as it sounds. In reality, you’re going to run into a lot of dead ends, where seemingly perfect linking partners don’t respond to your emails, or you don’t get the shares you were expecting.
Don’t get discouraged. You’re playing the long game. And provided you approach each person with a proposition that will benefit them, you will build the network and generate the exposure you need.
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