Congrats, Link Prospector – you’ve come a long way in learning how to use the link prospector tool. You’ve selected your link building tactic, discovered productive research phrases, dialed in your parameters to a razor focus and qualified your list down to 100 or 1000 of the best-suited prospects. Now, at last, it’s time for you to start on the final outreach portion of the process. This of course assumes that you have both jobs… On the agency side of Citation Labs I do all the prospecting and pass everything else off to my team. Anyhow, here’s what you still have ahead of you…
Finding contact information at scale (think 100s-1000s of qualified, targeted sites) can create quite a tedious, butt-numbing bottleneck of agony in your link building process. Of course there’s a tool we built, the contact finder, but that only finds about %25-70 of the contact information. Using the contact finder is easy. Input your qualified prospects – either the pages or domains themselves – and the tool goes out and looks for email addresses and contact pages.
Add your URLs to the tool and it goes to town.
3 Contact Finder Pro Tips:
1) The tool doesn’t do all the work for you though. There are still two tasks once it returns results. First you have to export your results and decide which email address or contact form to use for each domain. Then you have to go through and find contact info for the sites that failed. I have a contractor whose job is to take the output and make those decisions + clean up the sheet so that it’s ready for outreach (this is my “starting position” on the agency side). There’s NOTHING worse than being in the outreach stage and having to go back to find contact info. It gets you out of the groove!
2) Some of the sites may be dead. This means they could be useful for broken link building. Check them out in your favorite metrics tool to see if they have any juice worth pursuing.
3) When visiting those sites by hand you’ll find that some that looked like opportunities “on paper” are actually useless. Perhaps they’re in the wrong language for your efforts, or perhaps they’re simply a garbage site that looked good metrically. Ideally your “contact manager” will have a sense of this and can mark them and ultimately add them to the “excludes.”
So, while your contact finding efforts are underway you can get started on your outreach template. Make no mistake – this is a SALES EMAIL. Your goal is to connect with the webmaster, publisher, editor (etc) and get them to take a mutually-beneficial action. On the agency side of Citation Labs we use templates, no matter what the tactic. Scale requires templates. Be sure you can customize the opening paragraph if it makes sense, but in order to get the job done you’ll need a carefully crafted pitch that you can reuse.
In many ways you chose the substance of your outreach email when you selected your campaign tactic. Every campaign requires an offer of some sort – you’re exchanging something with publishers and you need to understand the benefits of your offer. If you’re guest posting and all you can think of as the benefit for your offer is “free content” you need to go deeper, or write better. If you’re approaching links pages and all you’ve got is “it seems like a good fit for your visitors” then you need to revisit your benefits and think them through more clearly.
I go short and sweet in my templates and make very clear calls to action. I rarely try and “connect” personally, but rather demonstrate concern for the publisher’s audience. I find my approach constantly contradicted by others, and I test as often as I come up with ideas. I recommend testing the hypothesis put forth in THE DEFINITIVE OUTREACH LINK BUILDING STUDY.
4 Outreach Pro Tips
1) Before hitting send 1000 times send 10 and wait an hour or two. Did anyone respond positively? If so, that’s a great sign. If not, reread the template. Does it make sense? Is it clear? Are there misspellings? How’s your subject line? Ask someone to take a look and make sure it all looks good and then send 100. Then wait a day and see what kind of response you get. This kind of incremental throttling helps you dial in your approach AND helps you make the best use of all that time and effort spent prospecting.
2) Managing the inbox is a skill unto itself. No matter your tactic there will always be responders with ideas, requests, complaints and especially QUESTIONS. You need someone in the inbox to get back to them as quickly as possible. This person must keep their eye on the prize (mentions) while simultaneously giving a good “brand impression.” Nothing shows folks that you care like quick and friendly email responses.
3) Remember to track your results. Set up a spreadsheet to note date of 1st, 2nd and 3rd outreach as well as responses. Alternately, for a more robust experience, use BuzzStream or the link building toolbar.
4) If you’ve requested links on specific pages (if you’re requesting links page links for example, or dropping comment links), or you somehow happen to know the URL where you link may or may not occur you can use the Citation Labs link checker. It’s part of the Scraper Suite, where the contact finder lives. Input a list of URLs you want to check and input the domain you’re looking for. The tool DOES NOT check the entire site for links, just the page you’ve input.
The Link Prospector Mastery Series:
Choose Your Link Building Tactic: Link Prospecting Mastery
Finding Highly Productive Research Phrases: Link Prospector Mastery
Setting the Advanced Targeting Parameters for Useful Prospects: Link Prospector Mastery
Exporting and Qualifying Your Link Prospects: Link Prospector Mastery
Contact Finding + Link Outreach: Link Prospector Mastery
The Link Prospector Help and FAQ Page