Archive for the ‘Case Studies’ Category

How Strategy Digital Streamlines Their Outreach with BuzzStream

Strategy Digital Blog Image

Here at Strategy Digital, we’ve been working with bloggers for years. The old ways of ‘SEO guest posting’ died a very public death a while back now, but there are absolutely ways that you can still incorporate bloggers into a Google-friendly digital marketing strategy.

Over time, as the ways in which we work with bloggers evolved, the ways in which we needed to manage that outreach evolved too. It became less about large-scale link-building and more about developing genuine relationships with a select few bloggers that aligned with our clients’ brands.

Before BuzzStream: Drowning in Spreadsheets

Before we discovered BuzzStream, our outreach processes were mainly managed through Excel. There were lists of potential targets for a piece, lists of who we’d contacted, and who’d replied.

Which is mostly okay if you’re a one-man band, but we have a large, in-house editorial team consisting of researchers, writers, editors and outreach executives, and every one of them has their own way of doing things.

When it comes to spreadsheets, what makes logical sense to one person, takes another person on the team ten minutes to ‘decode’ and work out where the project is at.

SD Blog Image 1

An example Excel sheet used to track blogger outreach. What does the green and grey colour coding mean? Who knows?

In BuzzStream on the other hand, everyone’s working with the same column headings and each column can only have one defined color-code, so everyone knows what a green or grey entry means. We did find it was easiest to have one person in charge of creating columns and color-codes for the whole team though!

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Connect, Promote & Engage: How 2U Uses BuzzStream

2U Blog Image

At 2U, we have reimagined the delivery of higher education. Our Platform, a fusion of cloud-based software-as-a-service technology and technology-enabled services, provides leading colleges and universities with the comprehensive operating infrastructure they need to attract, enroll, support and educate students globally.

We provide a range of services to our university partners, from traditional marketing to SEO strategy to content creation. In order to succeed in these areas, we must not only develop high-quality content, but also maintain strong relationships with vertical-specific communities. In some cases, we are supporting more than one program in a vertical (e.g., health care degrees), which is why our content strategies must go beyond topics about each degree program to tackle overarching themes relevant to the field.

BuzzStream allows our content and outreach teams to work independently and collaboratively to research topics, build relationships within relevant verticals, develop content and perform effective outreach. By being able to manage multiple lists, view the current relationship with people in a particular list, and listen in on various conversations via our project lists, we can better serve our partners in helping them reach a wider audience via creative content and innovative placements.

In 2011, when we combined our SEO and community management teams, we began using BuzzStream as a customer relationship management system to organize complex outreach initiatives and track projects. Today, using BuzzStream continues to help us maintain meaningful relationships as we scale.

Here are three examples of how we’ve used BuzzStream to engage with communities, connect with thought leaders and promote content in the mental health, data science and communications verticals.

Engaging With The Community

For our mental health programs, we leverage BuzzStream as a tool to support our community engagement and awareness efforts.

One of our social work partner programs, the MSW@USC, hosts an annual 100 Voices for Suicide Prevention campaign to break the silence around stigmatized issues such as depression and suicide.

100 Voices

In order to drive meaningful conversation, we first reached out to suicide survivors and clinical experts. The BuzzStream blogger search tool and the Buzzmarker allowed us to build a list of bloggers and organizations that add either personal testimonials or expertise on the subject.

Suicide Survivor

Once the list was built, we reached out using BuzzStream email and asked potential contributors to add their voices to the campaign.

Though our team has found that building outreach templates for larger campaigns is helpful, we often get the best results with tailored outreach emails. Depending on the complexity of the campaign, we may reach out to hundreds of community members, which can be burdensome with typical email systems. The BuzzStream relationship field helps us stay organized in tracking each outreach round, submission and link-back statuses within each project.

For the 2014 100 Voices for Suicide Prevention campaign, we used BuzzStream to garner 100 contributors, which made this a hugely successful project.

Buzz Filter

BuzzStream’s CRM system also makes it possible for us to build a network of meaningful and long-lasting relationships that can be shared across teams. Should another team decide to create a campaign around a mental health topic, he or she can easily use the History feed to track past campaigns rather than starting from scratch.

Connecting With Thought Leaders

Last fall, datascience@berkeley created the “What is Big Data?” project using BuzzStream relationships to produce the richest possible content.

For this piece, we reached out to thought leaders in the data science industry and asked them to define the term “big data” in their own words. To accomplish this, we needed to reach out to bloggers, journalists, professors and a range of industry experts.

BuzzStream proved to be the perfect outreach tool that enabled us to upload a tailored list of participants and get to work right away, with BuzzStream aggregating contact information. The “Match My CSV” custom feature meant that we could tailor the lists to our liking offline and then let BuzzStream do the additional work while pulling contacts into its system.

Link Partners

In addition, BuzzStream’s custom relationship statuses proved valuable, as our standard “Link Accepted” goal did not apply. For this project, we measured success by the number of thought leaders who contributed definitions. By simply creating a custom relationship status of “Goal Achieved,” we signaled to our entire team that progress was being made on this even when links were not being attained.

Thought Leaders

Undertaking a project with so many moving parts (including pre-outreach, definition collection, and follow-up to let participants know their posts were live) would have proven difficult without BuzzStream. By tracking the status of each individual participant’s definition automatically, BuzzStream allowed us to concentrate our energy on content.

In the end, this outreach strategy proved very successful, with 43 participants contributing definitions that were ultimately shared by sites as diverse as Forbes, io9, the CDC, the Brookings Institute and Information Week.

Promoting Inbound Content

MadMen

In addition to creating content for our partner programs, 2U also promotes content once it’s live on program sites. Recently, Communications@Syracuse launched an infographic called Mad Men: To Rise and Fall at Sterling Cooper in celebration of the long-running show’s series finale.

For this project, it was crucial to have lists pre-built and ready to launch on the morning after the finale, as the window of viewer engagement would be relatively short. Since BuzzStream allows for an unlimited number of lists per project, we were able to build highly targeted plans for local media, entertainment outlets, Mad Men fan sites and more. We also used the integrated MozRank feature in the link partner view to quickly sort each list by MozRank, creating a prioritized outreach list. Our New York-targeted outreach led to the graphic being picked up by Syracuse-focused sites like The Daily Orange and Syracuse.com.

Malleable and Scalable

For 2U, BuzzStream is more than just a list builder and link tracker, it’s a malleable and scalable tool we’ve used to create and maintain relationships as well as perform qualitative research for content development. BuzzStream helps us be a better business — one focused on strong, genuine relationships that can create valuable, high-quality content for our communities.

Stephanie-Echeveste-Bio-3_4-2015

 

Stephanie Echeveste is the brand manager at 2U, where she strategizes, writes and designs content that brings together higher education and education technology. Stephanie is an inbound marketing veteran who works to innovate content development and outreach. Learn more about 2U @2Uinc (we’re hiring!) and connect with Stephanie @Stephanieetxe.

 

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2 Content Types That Will Earn the Most Shares in 2015

Planning your content strategy for 2015? Here’s some good news: You don’t need a crystal ball to predict which formats (or content types) will help you meet your social media benchmarks. BuzzStream and Fractl have crunched the numbers to figure out which content types earn most shares, the formats that are evergreen for social sharing, and the monthly patterns that highlight content format risks – and rewards .

Using BuzzSumo, we tracked 220,000 pieces of content from 10 high- and 10 low-engagement domains over the course of six months. From June to November 2014, we followed the formats that earned the most social shares in 11 verticals. By analyzing how-to articles, lists, what posts, why posts, and videos, we discovered which yield strong, consistent returns and which are potential risks.

Evergreen formats

If your brand is the conservative type, opt for lists and why posts. These formats earned the most shares over a six-month period and varied the least in their performance month-to-month.

Evergreen content types

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Content Promotion Case Study: liGo

Today’s post is a case study on content promotion from our friends at Hit Reach

Building content assets that attract links can be an expensive business when you factor in all the costs from research to design, development and, finally, outreach.

Fortunately, we live in a world where there’s tons of great information already out there, and we don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every campaign. Curating useful content into a practical resource, putting everything people need into one place, is a great way to build cost effective content assets.

 

Case Study: liGo Electronics

For a recent liGo Electronics content asset, we decided to “chunk-up” to give the asset a broad reach and wide appeal whilst remaining relevant to the product ranges being sold.

The customer demographic of liGo is generally older adults aged 45-70 who are quite tech-savvy, so we decided to build a a guide which would provide details on how to save your smartphone battery across a range of makes and models. The guide provides support for almost 150 different handsets.

content-asset

Content Promotion Strategy

I have written several times about the way in which I leverage Paid, Owned and Earned media promote content to give my content the best chances of earning links and if you are new to promoting your content then there are some great articles here on the Buzzsteam blog such as the Advanced guide to content Promotion.

Owned Media

The client promoted the content via their owned media assets including their blog, email lists and social profiles. We also ensured that the content asset had the Twitter cards validated and the Facebook OGP metadata was implemented.

Paid Media

When we carry out a content promotion campaign we often utilise different paid channels to help us increase the reach of our content and give us the best chance of reaching our target audience as well as getting our content in front of power users and bloggers. For this campaign the best results came from Twitter and StumbleUpon.

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery

When I carry out StumbleUpon campaigns I like to build up custom audiences based on our outreach personas. Not surprisingly the content was well received by people in our target customer demographic (UK users aged 45+) and also with people aged 25-35 who like mobile phones, life hacks and gadgets. If you are new to StumbleUpon marketing then this guide is invaluable.

Laser Targeted Twitter Ads

For this campaign in order to keep the costs of promoting the content down we targeted a number of journalists and bloggers using the Twitter custom audience’s tool. If you haven’t used it yet there is a great tutorial by Patrick Hathaway.

We also created a second Twitter custom audience with a custom Topsy scraper which allowed us to find influential Twitter users who had shared similar content and target Twitter advertisements at them.

Earned Media

At Hit Reach we are huge fans of Buzzstream as it makes managing our outreach campaigns super easy by letting us tag and segment our link prospects as well as assign different team members to different sections of the project.

For this campaign we started out with over 300 link prospects who we wanted to get our content in front of. As we specialise in helping clients in the technology sector, we had a number of existing relationships which made getting this piece in front of them a little easier.

However, there were a few prospects especially in the mobile technology space who we had never spoken to before, so for this particular high level prospect I used the Information Gap technique. By asking for permission to send across a link you know that they will be more likely to actually click the link and see your content.

Here is the “cold outreach” template I used for this campaign:

Hi [First Name],

[Personalised section….]

I just wanted to let you know I have built an online tool which has over 100 different phones and you can select your phone to see which settings to change to improve battery life for that particular device.

Would it be ok to send across a link?

The Results

The asset was well received and was featured on the homepage of the Daily Mail online, the homepage of Digg, and was covered by Inc., Lifehacker and many more technology sites.

BBC Radio 2 picked up on the piece and invited liGo to chat live on air during their Drivetime show. Radio 2 currently has the highest number of total listeners in the UK at over 15.5 million, as well as being mentioned on BBC Radio 5 and London’s LBC radio station.

content-analytics

Future opportunities

As a big of fan of utilising content for link earning I am often frustrated by content assets that are short lived and act solely for a one-off event. If these assets fail to attract any attention, they fail hardest of all as once the event has passed it can be hard to repurpose or reuse the asset.

New Phone Releases

As we have committed to keeping this tool up to date it will be a piece of evergreen content that can be pushed out again and again as new phones or mobile operating systems come on to the market. This means that the client has a valuable content asset on their site which will continue to earn them links for many years to come.

We have made it so that people can link directly to a handset of their choice which will mean that people will be able to point other people to the information they are looking for whether that’s a blog post, forum post, email or social media.

International Outreach

As liGo carries out a significant amount of business in Europe we have had the content asset translated into German and Spanish (thanks to Altura Interactive) so that we can utilise the content for outreach on their other properties.

Content Upgrades

As the asset can be embedded, there will be opportunities for contacting people who have written about smartphone battery tips which we can offer to help them improve upon their content.

We’re now working on the next campaign for liGo which will hopefully eclipse this one by a long way.

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Research: How To Write Subject Lines that Drive Open Rates

In a survey of 500 top-tier publishers, Fractl discovered that 81% of editors prefer email pitches over other channels like social media, contact forms, and phone calls. We also found that 85% of editors open pitches based on your subject line. With subject lines being the ultimate gatekeeper for your open rates, Fractl and BuzzStream decided to collaborate on a new publisher survey to discover how they would improve your subject lines.

Publisher Research

1. Lifestyle, Entertainment and Technology writers take the brunt of your pitches 

In our study, we found Lifestyle, Entertainment and Technology writers account for 60% of the verticals getting pitched over 300x/day. Knowing that these verticals suffer the most news release fatigue, you should trim down your pitches to the preferred 100-200 word count. In comparison, there is significantly less competition in verticals such as Jobs, Animals, and Climate, each of which receive an average of 10 pitches/day. (more…)

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Case Study: Building Links in the Travel Industry

Today’s post comes from Shawn Cohen of Standing Dog Interactive, a full service digital agency in Dallas, Texas.  

The travel and hospitality industry is inspiring to work in: you know you’re helping travelers reach their destination and once they get there, you are there to ensure that they will have the best time of their lives.

airplane-2

Case Study: Building Links in the Travel Industry

However, it’s a crowded digital space with a lot of limitations. Depending on the brand, content, budget, and time can all be tight restrictions on SEO link building campaigns. That means we have to think creatively about where to find reputable sites that will link to individual properties that have tiny SEO budgets, run of the mill content, and just a few hours of linking time per year.

Yes, that’s right—a few hours of linking time per year.

With these limitations in mind, we’re pulling back the curtain on how we’ve built thousands of reputable links for hundreds of hotel properties since the founders of our hospitality-oriented agency opened up shop nine years ago.

Case Study: Vacations by Marriott

First, though, we’d like to bring your attention to a case study of a more sophisticated travel and hospitality link building campaign we did for Vacations by Marriott, the official travel package program of Marriott International. (more…)

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Using BuzzStream to Avoid Disavowed or Blacklisted Domains

Today’s post on keeping track of disavowed and blacklisted domains comes from BuzzStream customer and friend, Martin Woods of salt.agency

It’s blindingly obvious that you shouldn’t make the same mistakes twice, especially when it comes to a Google penalty. According to Matt Cutts, the consequences for the second breach of their terms & conditions are even more severe than the first.

Google

But how do you keep a track of all the websites and contacts which you don’t want to work with? It’s especially hard when you are a large outreach team working on multiple campaigns at the same time, as it’s vital to keep everyone working holistically. (more…)

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Targeting Mid-Level Influencers with FollowerWonk and BuzzStream

As marketers, we often talk about building relationships with influencers. Sometimes, though, it makes more sense to connect with the people in the middle. They’re usually pretty persuasive to their small followings, but they just haven’t hit “major influencer” status yet. Here’s a walkthrough of how you can use FollowerWonk and BuzzStream to find and reach them, using a real-life example, a campaign from our recent ebook launch.

 

Targeting-InfluencersTargeting emerging influencers and niche experts can lead to campaign success.

When we launched the Advanced Guide to Content Promotion last month, I created a tiered outreach strategy to promote it, heavily focusing on “emerging influencers” and “niche experts.” Together with some paid amplification efforts, that strategy helped us earn thousands of views and hundreds of shares. I relied heavily on FollowerWonk and BuzzStream to do it.

Prep Work: Strategy, Personas, and Goals

Just like we recommend in the book, I began by identifying and prioritizing target audiences. Getting in front of (and helping) “Forward-Thinking Link Builders” was my primary goal.

Creating the top tier prospect list was easy. I know our industry pretty well and could easily list twenty heavy-hitting SEO super influencers (and, lucky for me, BuzzStream already had a relationship with most of them).

But the bulk of my list needed to be what I call “emerging influencers” and “niche experts.” These aren’t the superstar CEOs, but the people who are a few years into their career. They’re beginning to develop specialities and personal brands. Some of them might be managers, others not, but they’re all still pretty close to the daily work of content promotion, link building, strategy, and outreach.

I cared most about these guys, because they’d be the ones who would find the most value in our guide. (It was written with them in mind.) They’re also the ones who can be very persuasive inside organizations and on teams. I did hope they’d read and Tweet the guide, but, really, I wanted them to read it, learn from it, and share it with their coworkers and bosses.

 

Using FollowerWonk to Find Influencers

Using tactics similar to what Richard Baxter shared in his 2013 MozCon presentation (this is sort of like what he did, but reverse) and lessons my teammate Matt Gratt learned with targeted Twitter advertising, I decided to use FollowerWonk to build our list of emerging influencers and niche experts.

 

Influencers-Followers

We started with influencers and used FollowerWonk to find their audiences.

 

First, I brainstormed groups of two highly specialized experts for various disciplines (e.g., Paddy Moogan and Jon Cooper for link building; Adria Saracino and Kelsey Libert for content and outreach). I was familiar enough with the industry to do this without the help of any tools, but had it been a new industry, I would have turned to BuzzSumo.

I loaded each duo and the @BuzzStream twitter handle into FollowerWonk to get a list of people following the three accounts.

It was important to me that I only selected people who were already following @BuzzStream, because it meant I could be confident they were at least somewhat aware of us and had, in a sense, opted in to hearing what we have to say.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.40.19 PM

We focused on the people who followed all three accounts.

I always chose to pull the triple-overlap group. (If you follow Paddy Moogan AND Jon Cooper AND BuzzStream, you’re probably quite interested in link building.) And, in some cases, I pulled groups that followed only one of the influencers and BuzzStream.

I created a bunch of Excel reports in FollowerWonk and downloaded them all.

 

Cleaning the Data: Filtering the List

I combined all of the documents and then removed duplicates (there were a lot.) Next, I sorted by follower count. A lot of the superstar CEO influencers floated to the top of the list, and I deleted them out, since they’d already been accounted for elsewhere. I also deleted anyone who had less than 150 followers.

Using Excel’s filters, I got rid of inactive accounts by excluding people whose most recent tweet was earlier than Jan 2014 and people who had tweeted less than 100 times. To address spam accounts, I only included people who had a follower number greater than the number of people they were following.

Basically, I whittled down my list until it had about 100 people, which was a reasonable amount of outreach for the time I had allotted.

 

BuzzStream for Outreach and Followups

I saved my doc as a .csv and uploaded it to BuzzStream (Note: I was working in the People section of BuzzStream, not the Website section.) BuzzStream automatically matched FollowerWonk fields to contact records.

I tested a few different outreach templates and personalized them pretty heavily. Since I’m an active member of the community I was reaching out to, it was easy for me to bring up personal connections. I could mention conferences we’d both attended, stuff they’ve written that I liked, friends we had in common, etc.

 

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Sending outreach in BuzzStream.

 

The template that performed the best was personalized, fairly short, and featured a friendly request for a share.

 

Our Results

Response to the guide was very positive. Lots of people shared on Twitter and a bunch let me know that they’d also shared with their teams internally. We got a lot of views, and — with the exception of a small list of things we’d do differently next time — we deemed the project a success.

The outreach has proven successful in other ways, too. So far, it’s led to people pinging us when they have content of their own that our audience might like, a delicious coffee meeting that involved insightful conversation about the industry and our work, and a bunch of shoutouts in presentations and blog posts.

 

Conclusion

Getting linked to or written about on huge sites is great, but sometimes smaller niche blogs make more sense for your business. Going after the mid-level influencers and niche experts can drive the right views from the right people (and great links, too).

How do you create prospect lists? Where do you go to find influencers? Leave a comment below or talk to us on Twitter.

 

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How to Use Buzzstream to Clean Up Your Link Profile

Today’s guest post comes from one of our favorite customers, Wayne Barker, SEO Manager at Boom Online Marketing. You can connect with him on Google+ and Twitter.

With the recent updates Google, it is more important than ever to know who is linking to you and how they are linking to you. Link pruning has been on a lot of smart SEOs agendas for years – or at least being incredibly familiar with your backlink profile.

However, following the surge of Webmaster Tools ‘Love Notes’ and the Penguin update, link removal has become necessary for many sites.

I have recently been working with a client that has a domain that they can’t just ditch like Matt Cutts suggested a while back – the simple fact being that it cost a shed load of money. So what do you do in that situation?

Whether you have had an unnatural links warning or you have been hit by Penguin you need to start looking at cleaning up your link profile.  

Link profile cleanup has some interesting requirements:

  • you need to get rid of as much garbage as you can
  • you need a way to organise this, as you potentially looking at thousands upon thousands of links (if not more!)
  • you need to document what you have done (for an unnatural warning you need solid documentation for Google, for Penguin you need it for your own records and potentially for Google further down the line)

Although there are plenty of tools that seem more than capable of helping you out with this this problem for your site or a client site, I chose to use Buzzstream because of my familiarity with the tool and I am already a paying user.

Here is run through of how you can use Buzzstream for link removal rather than link building or blogger outreach.

Gather your data

You aren’t going to get very far without some solid data. If you are looking at link removal, then the odds are good that you are in trouble with Mr Google himself. Head over to Webmaster Tools and download all the link data that Google is going to give you. The odds are that the issues that you have with your link profile are lurking in the somewhere!

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Case Study: How eLocal.com Builds Partnerships with BuzzStream

 eLocal.com eLocal USA LLC - The easiest and most convenient way to find local businesses online. Search our top national directories and city guide.Sam Bookler is the Director of Online Marketing at eLocal USA, an Internet advertising company that connects consumers with local businesses.  eLocal owns and operates some of the nation’s top online directories as well as OnlineCityGuide.com (“OLCG”), one of the oldest online city guides.  eLocal’s directories help consumers find businesses in their local neighborhood (from roofers to plumbers and lawyers to dentists).  

Our Workflow

We have a team of business development specialists who manage a lot of different professional contacts. When we started, we were using Excel
spreadsheets. However, as time went on and we started dealing with more and more partners, it became difficult to cross check and update our database. We found a few of our specialists attempting to work with the same prospective partner!  It was becoming unmanageable, so we needed to find a system that would allow for easy input and cross referencing.

We focus on developing quality partnerships, where we can develop long-term relationships.  To do this, our Business Development Specialists perform extensive research to find online organizations that are a good fit. We use BuzzStream’s Link Buzzmarker to tag all our contacts and get them into the database.  BuzzStream then cross references all the contacts among our business development team to make sure no two people are working with the same organization at the same time.  We manage all of our communications in BuzzStream, which allows us to effectively manage both present and prospective partners.  We’ve found that adding Buzzstream to our process has substantially cut down on time we used to spend updating excel sheets and cross-referencing contacts internally.

Why we Chose BuzzStream

We follow a lot of leading SEO, social media, and business development blogs and websites. BuzzStream kept popping up across these sources, so we reached out during the site’s launch and became members of its private Beta release. We conceptually liked the service BuzzStream was offering, and we particularly liked how its team was very responsive and professional.  However, at the time we didn’t have a large team of business development specialists, so we didn’t become full-fledged members. As eLocal’s business development team grew, it became more cumbersome to manually manage all our partner contacts. At this point, we knew BuzzStream was the right fit for our needs.

Our Favorite BuzzStream Features

Our experience with BuzzStream has been great. Not only is the system top notch, but the BuzzStream team has also always valued our input and works to regularly add new features and functionality.  We love how Buzzstream is a very easy, reliable system to use for managing the contact information and relationship stage of potential web partners. It cross checks all members of our business development team to make sure no one is working on the same partner, which is really important.  Also, in the cases where we receive links from partners and would like to track them, BuzzStream notifies us when there are changes, removing the need for any manual reviews. This makes our workflow more efficient.

Lastly, we’re impressed with how reliable the BuzzStream staff is. If you have a problem, they respond promptly and do everything in their power to fix it. You can’t say that about every business, and it is something we’ve grown to love about BuzzStream.

What We’d Like Added to BuzzStream

We always love more data and so we’d like to see additional SEOmoz metrics, such as page authority, added to each link’s details. Being able to get the data on all live links on a domain would be helpful, rather than needing to visit each specific page a live link is on. Lastly, as far as data, we’d like to be able to export all the “Notes” we keep on our contacts. We back up our information frequently, but notice it doesn’t export all the notes if you have more than one. This is an important feature for us, so being able to save that would be very valuable to us.

From an organizational standpoint, we’d also like to have the ability to flag a date directly in the column interface, which could then be sorted by date. This would provide us with a great way to monitor upcoming meetings directly from the dashboard view.

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