Archive for the ‘How-To’ Category

How to Kick the Habit of Reporting Like a Link Builder

Today’s post comes from Trung Ngo, SEO Strategist at Red Door Interactive. Find him on Twitter @trungvngo or his personal blog, upstreamist.co, where he writes about outreach marketing, SEO, and productivity.

The TL;DR Version

Outreach marketing aligns the client’s brand with people who have the ability to influence consumer preference in the respective industry. Links are just the cherry on top.

Here’s what we need to include in outreach marketing campaign performance reports to better communicate our value:

  • Impressions and engagement on brand-related influencer tweets using TweetReach
  • Social shares and total count of comments on brand-related articles from influencers using URL Profiler
  • Comparison of outreach response rates and campaign goal completion rates for influencers with whom we have a pre-existing relationship to those where we do not have an existing relationship using data from BuzzStream

This data makes for a more compelling report and paves the way for a more strategic conversation about outreach marketing. Below is a sample report:

lb-report Sample link building report

How to Kick the Habit of Reporting Like a Link Builder

A lot of SEOs, like myself, branched off into outreach marketing by way of link building. In linking building campaigns, the primary KPI is, well, links. So that’s what we reported on and that’s how clients measured success.

Outreach marketing has grown beyond link building, but our reporting has not evolved to match. Links do not accurately reflect the value of our efforts, but they’re still, in large part, what we tend to focus on in reports.

Don’t get me wrong, links are valuable and should be reported on. But they should be accompanied by the following:

  • A bigger picture of the earned media generated from outreach marketing
  • The quality of impressions gained as determined by audience engagement
  • The value of developing a relationship with industry influencers

These are the important aspects of outreach marketing that are underrepresented in reports. Without them, we are limited to conversations about page and domain authority, anchor text, and the number of links we gain from campaigns. While important, these metrics are an inaccurate portrayal of our contributions; at best, incomplete.

Outreach marketing aligns the client’s brand with people who have the ability to influence consumer preference in the respective industry. Links are just the cherry on top.

That’s the conversation we should be having with clients. But it won’t happen unless we change how we talk about what we do, and it starts with better reporting.

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How to Create a Winning Content Promotion Plan

Many content marketers view “promotion” as a phase that begins once content goes live. The truth is, promotion should begin much earlier than that, running parallel to production, and most of the promotion work should be completed before launch. Here’s a plan framework you can use for your next content campaign.

Planning

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 1.26.30 PM

A good promotion plan begins with audience research and the development of targeted messaging.

Audience Research

If you have the time and budget, doing research like survey analysis is really helpful. At BuzzStream, we’re a bit more informal. Our planning stage usually involves a discussion of who we’re creating the content for and what their needs are. We use analytics data from previous pieces, information about what we’ve seen performing well on Twitter, and insight from conversations we’ve had with customers. (more…)

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How to Pitch: Outreach Tips from Lifestyle Bloggers

We’ve talked before about best practices for pitching journalists and bloggers when you have news to share, but what should you do when your goal is partnering with a blogger to promote a product or brand? I reached out to a few lifestyle bloggers to see what they had to say about pitches, priorities, and PR people. Read their advice below.
How to Pitch (2)

First, A Little Bit About the Bloggers

I interviewed bloggers from Hither and Thither, OhDearDrea, PopCosmoand Small Fry Blog. According to Moz, the bloggers had Page and Domain Authority scores ranging from 34-54. Most have at least a few hundred linking root domains. Each of the bloggers had between 6K and 16K followers on Pinterest, 1K and 5K followers on Twitter, and 2K and 40K followers on Instagram.

Advice on Pitching and Partnerships

The bloggers talked about how many PR people screw up the basics – getting names right and making sure the blog is a fit for what they’re pitching – but they spoke more deeply of professionalism and authenticity. They don’t expect fake compliments about being a huge fan of their site. “Just be honest and be direct. We’re both professionals.” said Ashley from Hither and Thither. Bloggers expect you to respect their time, value the audiences they’ve built, and to be straightforward about your intentions.

What makes a good PR pitch stand out?

Ditch the mail merge. Personalized messages go a long way to earn bloggers’ trust. You can still use templates to save time, but you should do research and customize each message before sending.

pop-cosmo-oval

 

 “A concise, simple pitch combined with a personalized approach.” 

– PopCosmo

 

Small-Fry-Blog-Oval
“We respond to genuine, heartfelt correspondence. It’s easy to spot a canned email a mile away. Just take a moment to personalize it, actually LOOK at our site and gather intel before approaching.” 

– Small Fry Blog

 

How do you decide to work with a company you’ve never heard of before?

It’s easy for big brands, like Target, to partner with bloggers. It’s much more challenging for smaller brands to stand out. When I asked bloggers about what makes them want to work with new brands or brands they’ve never heard of, the overwhelming response was fit. They want a good fit, not just in the traditional sense of “Would my audience like this?” but fit in terms of aesthetics and brand values. They also appreciated the brands that compensate them for their time.

Hither-and-Thither-Oval

“If the product or service is relevant; if I haven’t already covered the same product/service by another brand;and if it’s clever. Sponsored posts are of course most enticing, because they value my time and support me to continue to grow the audience I’ve built.”

– Hither and Thither

 

ohdeardrea-oval

 

“Branding and style. Secondly, I do my research. If it’s not a quality company, I can’t promote it.” 

– ohdeardrea

 

Have you ever gotten unreasonable requests from PR people?

When working with bloggers, understand that they know their audiences best and understand that they’re doing you a favor. Try not to force them into a rigid promotion plan, and be respectful of their time.

ohdeardrea-oval“I’m not a blog that promotes-promotes-promotes— I like things to be thoughtful and planned out— or things that are incredibly fitting for my life. It always feels a bit off when I’m contacted from companies (big and small, but especially the big ones) asking for a lot of free or trade work. My blog isn’t one big ad— no one would stop to care about it if it was. What I write is valuable, to me at least, so I don’t like when companies act as if it’s not.”

– ohdeardrea

Hither-and-Thither-Oval

“Unreasonable… no. But if you’d like coverage free of charge, be clear about: “would you be interested in sharing this with your readers?” Don’t pretend like it’s a fabulous opportunity to hand out free advertising, even if I might be interested in arranging that.”

– Hither and Thither

 

pop-cosmo-oval
“We just had a PR company repeatedly asked us to promote an event in a city where we are not located. And we had another PR company that kept sending the same request over and over. We wanted to work with them and responded, but they never answered.”

– PopCosmo

Small-Fry-Blog-Oval
“We understand that every company has requirements and goals to meet for campaigns but flexibility is key! Don’t ask us to re-write a tweet because we said May 23rd instead of May 23. True story.”

– Small Fry Blog

 

What do you expect from the PR people you work with?

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Using Google+ Ripples to Find Influencers

Today’s post comes from Amanda DiSilvestro, a writer from SEO company HigherVisibility. Amanda regularly writes on search optimization and influencer marketing.  

Most people know the ten or twenty biggest influencers in their industry, but what many don’t realize is that there are actually quite a few people out there who maybe aren’t quite as publicized and popular, but still have a lot of pull within certain communities. Google+ Ripples is one tool that can help you find these influencers.

How Google+ Ripples Work

Google+ Ripples is a feature of Google+ that allows you to see who has been re-sharing the posts you’ve shared on Google+, along with who they’ve been sharing the posts with.

As you might imagine, the way these ripples can look varies greatly based on the number of people who publicly shared the post (ripples don’t show private shares). As you can see in the screenshots below, they can appear complicated:

GP-1

Or they can appear to be very simple:

GP-2

Those who have shared the post the most often and with the most people will appear as larger bubbles. You can zoom in and out as you wish with the tool on the left hand side of the screenshots. This is particularly useful for those complicated posts because you are able to see the specific names of people who have shared.

A list of everyone who has shared the post also appears on the right hand side. If you put your cursor over any one of the names, you can see what that person said about the post and connect with them easily if you’re interested in building a relationship.

Watch the Post Spread

Under the ripple image, you will have a small graph that will show you how the post has spread across the network over time. If you move the dial to go backwards in time, the ripple image will change based on what was going on with the spread of the post at that time. The screenshot below shows what that first screenshot above looked like on February 24, 2014, along with the dial on the bottom:

GP-3

This is more of a cool-looking feature than anything else, but it can definitely give you an idea of who started the ripple and help you manage the information by breaking it into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Influencers, Statistics, and Languages

Lastly, you have the option to look at several statistics. These will tell you who earned the most public shares for your post, the languages that people used to engage with the post, and the length of a chain. The statistics are right at the bottom of the page and look like this:

GP-4

How to Find Ripples:

Click the small gray arrow next to any post you see on your homefeed and choose “View Ripples.” Remember that only public posts are shown with ripples, so if someone didn’t share something publicly, this option will not exist.

How to Use Google+ Ripples to Find Influencers

Using all of the information Ripples can offer is actually easier than it looks:

  1. Start with people who have big circles or are explicitly listed in the “influencers” section at the bottom. These are the people to connect with immediately to start building a relationship.
  2. Visit an influencer’s Google+ page and see what content he/she is sharing. View the ripple of the content they shared and discover where the post came from initially. You’ll quickly learn who is influencing your influencers. Consider building relationships with these people and websites, too.
  3. Compare the ripples for different types of posts you’ve shared. Look for trends about which content performs the best and try to find patterns about how things are being shared. Do one or two influencers seem pivotal in getting a post to take off? If so, you might want to manually reach out to them the next time you have something to share.

Bonus Tip: Scott Langdon, managing partner of HigherVisibility says that you should always keep an eye out for some of the influencers you recognize. He said, “You may also notice that one of those very top influencers is connected with someone or something associated with your ripple. Follow the ripple to see where it all started so that you can hopefully have that influencer get involved again.”

In the end, having your posts shared by someone who has a large following (particularly a following that is also apt to share) is a great way to get your posts out there to a larger audience. The image can definitely seem overwhelming at first, but once you understand what the bubbles mean it can actually be fun!

Have you used Google+ Ripples in the past? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Case Study: Leveraging Video to Educate Your Market

This week’s blog post comes from Will Fraser, CEO and Co-Founder of Referral SaaSquatch. Follow him on Twitter @getFraser

When we started Referral SaaSquatch, we spent a lot of time educating the SaaS/subscription market about our platform and how we’re different from ‘competitors.’ Honestly, a lot of the questions, while valid, were the same. What is a referral program? Isn’t that an affiliate program? Can’t I build that in-house?

There was clearly an education gap and even though we were writing about it, we felt we had to build more engaging content to help educate people and streamline answering these questions. We decided to take the cue from our friends over at Moz with their great ‘Whiteboard Fridays’ campaign and started creating video content.

Why video? It’s rich content, easily consumed, and helps establish brand credibility. The concept was simple in essence, take the core lessons from our educational blog articles, then distill them into short-form explainer videos. Spend half a day talking in front of a videographer with another team member producing. Then start promotion campaigns around the content.

Easy enough right? … Not exactly? Well, let me take you through the steps that we took to make our 19 Videos to clear it up.

Video1

Image courtesy of Udemy.com

The Decision

Our strategy had consisted primarily of producing articles and promoting them on different online communities like Quora, Inbound.org, and Twitter. After a couple of months, we were clearly building a following but knew we still needed to experiment with other ways of telling our story.

We asked ourselves, ‘What’s a better way to educate our audience about referral programs?’

Although we were open to experimenting with different content, our goals remained the same: create and promote online content educating our target audience about referral programs.

Building video content was clearly the next step for us to take. Video is easy to consume on multiple platforms, rich content is more memorable than text, it’s easy to share, and can be done on a budget.

Video2

Image courtesy of udemy.com

Building the Content

Okay so we knew we had to make videos to educate our market and increase brand awareness. Now the problem became how?

How do we create video content that’s compelling, but not spend a huge amount of time and money on it? We came up with the idea to repurpose the core concepts of our blog into short 3-5 min videos, which helped immensely reduce the time required for pre-production and scripting. We had one person on the team spend an afternoon and read through our blog to come up with the outline for each video with 2-3 talking points.

Next, we scheduled our shoot, which was 3 hours in a local studio with the key responsibilities laid out like this:

Videographer: Directing – in-charge of framing the scene, audio, and lighting.

Myself: Hosting – speaking and drawing illustrations on whiteboard.

Team member: Producing – setting up each scene’s talking points, checking quality of content, water breaks.

It went off without a hitch. These are videos about things we already knew, so there wasn’t much to learn or remember for each shot. It was easy to speak with confidence. We actually got through the majority of our videos in one take.

So in three hours’ time with two breaks, we shot 19 videos in 26 takes. Not bad for our first adventure into the world of video production.

Video3

Image courtesy of Wistia.com

Distribution and Promotion

Now came the part you’re all really interested in, how do we get the word out? We have this rich content, where do we promote it?

We ended up breaking it down into a list of promotion strategies, and it came down to two ideas. One was to wrap up all the video into an E-Course for the Udemy Ed-Tech Platform and the other was to host the content ourselves with a video service like Wistia.

We liked the idea of Udemy because we could take advantage of an emerging education platform with a strong tech worker presence. Its recommendation engine and review system were both convincing factors, but there wasn’t a smooth way to move the students over to our site (read: No Lead Capture).

Hosting the videos ourselves was an interesting option, as well. We could use a tool like Wistia to perform email capture within the player. We could also promote the individual videos on our blog and social channels.

We ended up building the E-Course and creating an auto-responder email course of the 5 core videos for lead capture on our website. The course has signed up over 1,350 people and helps drive overall brand awareness – while the auto-responder course helps drive conversions to product demos and sales.

Video4

Image courtesy of Iosphere / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Activation and Community

The course has built a great way to interact with the community of students who want to talk about referral programs. They can leave reviews, and we can push company updates to the list of over 1,350 people.

Our video content helps support every interaction we have with potential clients. It fills the top of the funnel by driving lead acquisition as well as activating and nurturing our leads throughout the sales-cycle, which really helps to accelerate our growth and impact the bottom line.

Content continues to drive results for our company. Creating videos to reach our audience is a great campaign for us and we can keep re-purposing these videos to help educate and convert incoming visitors.

Conclusion

Our goal was to build more engaging content to help educate our target audience, and video ended up being a low cost, quick, and effective way to do it.The video content was created in an afternoon and continues to increase brand awareness while capturing leads and supporting every other stage of our marketing and sales funnels.

Some things to think about if you want to do this are:

  • Reuse existing educational content. You’re an expert and have probably already written about the most important things to your industry.
  • Video doesn’t have to cost a million dollars or be over produced. Just be real and make sure you get the point across.
  • Take advantage of distribution networks such as Udemy or YouTube. This is often the hardest part of any content effort.

Not every channel or medium is right for your audience, but, in our case, video helped us diversify our educational content, grow brand awareness, and increase conversion metrics.

 

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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 WMG

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.

Typically if you have completed one or more Google Disavow files, you will have a long list of sites which at best will offer no link value and at worst could land you with another Google penalty. This guide will show you how to store, manage and use a list of websites and people whom you do not want to be affiliated with in any way.

This data can then be used with the new BuzzMarker Chrome Extension to quickly identify blacklisted domains that shouldn’t be contacted when you and your team are browsing websites.

 

Eliminate risk using BuzzStream to flag blacklisted domains

BuzzStream to the rescue!

One of our biggest challenges and our biggest opportunities is to make data more accessible across our business. That’s why we at WMG use BuzzStream to record and store our contacts, making the data more accessible across our teams and easier to use to inform campaigns and decision making.

 

Keeping things structured and tidy in BuzzStream

Before I explain how you can use Buzzstream to flag/blacklist domains and contacts with whom you do not want to work with, I will explain how our team structures our BuzzStream account. (Editor’s note: Since BuzzStream is so customizable, your account and project setup may be structured differently than WMG’s.)

As a large SEO agency such as ours with hundreds of clients and thousands of projects, we need to keep BuzzStream obsessively tidy. I personally recommend the following structure to keep things easy to find:

Orange indicates a folder and blue indicates a project.

Archived (Old Clients)

  • %client name%
    • %project url%
      • %client name%-%project url%-%date created%-%project number%-%project name%

Clients

  • BuzzStream
    • Buzzstream.com
      • BuzzStream-buzzstream.com-2014-05-#4-Existing Customers

Prospect Lists by Niche
Internal Projects
z Domain Blacklist/ Approved List (I use a-z to sort this folder to the bottom)

  • BLACKLIST OF DOMAINS
  • APPROVED LIST OF DOMAINS

 

The advantage of using this structure is that it’s easy to move clients and projects around, and it’s nice and simple for our outreach team to understand which project they’re working on. We also use a campaign planner that generates folder and project names based on strict naming conventions; this ensures that law and order are maintained within our BuzzStream account.

01

BuzzStream filter system

Create custom fields for websites to record why a domain has been blacklisted or whitelisted

We use custom fields in BuzzStream to create checkboxes that describe the reason why a person or domain has been either blacklisted or whitelisted. This ensures everyone in the future will know exactly why the site does or doesn’t meet our quality standards and why they should or shouldn’t make contact.

 

02

Customize fields settings

For clarity, I have two separate custom fields. The first is for why the domain was flagged under a blacklist, and the second for if the team have reviewed a flagged domain, but only found something small (like some comment spam). After all, we wouldn’t want to not work with someone like the BBC because of a link disavowed at the URL level.

Blacklist Custom Field – “Does the Domain Break Our Link Quality Guideline Issues?”

 

03

A custom checkbox field for use in clarifying why a site hasn’t passed our quality control settings

Whitelist Custom Field – “Passed Quality Control”

04

– A custom field for when (date) the site passed a quality control review

Create two separate projects for the blacklist & white listed domains

I recommend creating two separate projects;

  1. ‘APPROVED LIST OF DOMAINS’ (previously flagged in a blacklist for some reason).
  2. ‘BLACKLIST OF DOMAINS’ (if you name your folder starting with a ‘z’ it will filter to the bottom of the list keeping it out of the way).
05

Blacklist/whitelist projects

Create website type & relationship stage – “Previously Blacklisted”

I like to flag a domain in as many ways as possible to reduce the chance of mistakes when it comes to domains which break our quality guidelines. Therefore I also create a custom Relationship Stage -“Rejected / Blacklisted Domain” and a new Website Type – “Previously Blacklisted/Disavowed” to make it crystal clear to anyone looking in the project in the future.

 

06

Custom Website Types

A domain can only have one relationship stage and one website type (via Dropdown) at any one time, so there is no confusion. Then, if the domain is cleared in the future it can then be changed to the correct ‘Website Type’ global identifier.

 

Upload a single domain which you would like to blacklist

The reason for adding only one domain at this stage is that we are going to be uploading potentially several thousand domains (depending on your Disavow/blacklist), and it’s best to upload it as a CSV rather than trying to import via copy & paste.

Select “Add from List of URLS” and enter one of your domains which you would like to blacklist.

 

07

Select “Add from List of URLs” to import a domain to blacklist

Make sure that you select the relevant data (see below), at this stage it is also possible to add a Tag to the website which we’re importing. You can do this now, or at a later stage. I suggest tagging it in capitals to make it stand out from your other tags used to identify a domain. E.g. PREVIOUSLY DISAVOWED/BLACKLISTED DOMAIN.

08

Mark the domain with any relevant information

If you have forgotten to categorise anything don’t worry, that is the beauty of BuzzStream, we can do it later!

 

Export the BLACKLIST OF DOMAINS project

 

09

Exporting websites from a project in BuzzStream

At the moment there is currently only one domain to export, but in the future if you wanted to export all the domains then you can do this by clicking the check box above the one highlighted in red and clicking the ‘Select all’ link.

Select the following columns to export:

  • Website Domain
  • Website Type
  • Tags
  • Relationship Stage
  • Does The Domain Break Our Link Quality Guideline Issues?

Add a list of all the domains which you want to blacklist

10

Add the rest of your disavowed domains to your database export

Be careful to only add domains you want to blacklist and not URLs of particular pages, if you have any of these in your Disavow file.

Free Excel Tool – Disavow file to whitelist cross-checked blacklist

The majority of people will most likelyuse a Disavow file as a source for their BuzzStream blacklist. I have created a small Excel tool which automatically convert your disavow file into a BuzzStream friendly list of domains which you can copy straight into your exported BuzzStream (Figure 10). This will stop any risk of disavowing domains which you have in a white list, or that you haven’t disavowed at domain level.

 

11

Disavow list to blacklist tool

To use this tool, paste the list of rows from your disavow file into the red cells, copy all the rows in the green cells and then paste these into the A Column of your BuzzStream export.

Flag the added domains

Now it’s time to flag the new domains which we’ve just added from our cleaned Disavow list. Duplicate the cells from row B2 to the end of the named columns (highlighted in Orange) down the page for all the domains which you’ve added.

 

12

Finished populated BuzzStream blacklist database ready re-import

Re-upload the blacklisted domains project back to BuzzStream

Now it’s time to let BuzzStream do all the hard work. We re-upload the file using the ‘Import from Existing File’ option from the ‘Add Websites’ dropdown within the websites tab. Making sure that you have selected the correct project (top left), you don’t want to mix up your list and make it segmented.

13

Import back to project

In the box that pops up select Match My CSV (below) and upload the file.

14

Select the type of template to upload

Select‘Auto-Update Existing Contacts’ and make a final check that you are uploading to the correct project – ‘BLACKLIST OF DOMAINS’

15

Configure the upload

Let’s have a cuppa

Now this is the most important bit, make sure not to miss it out…

Sit back and have a lovely cup of tea, I would personally recommend Yorkshire Tea. This is perhaps one of the best things about working at WMG; we only ever buy Taylors of Harrogate tea! It would be wrong to buy anything else when we’re based in Harrogate with the world famous Betty’s just down the road.

Once BuzzStream has does all the hard work processing the data, you can go in and see the fruits of your labour.

And that’s it

Now you can identify a blacklisted domain in any new project quickly and easily from either within BuzzStream, or using the new and improved BuzzMarker Chrome Extension.

 

17

How to identify a previously blacklist domain in BuzzStream

 

18

How to identify a blacklisted domain in BuzzMarker. *please note I chose the domain 0000web.com to use as an example because it no longer exists, I am not implying that this domain should be blacklisted.

Conclusion

If you find a domain in your blacklist that shouldn’t be there after reviewing the website again in more depth, you can easily move the domain from your global BLACKLIST project to the APPROVED LIST OF DOMAINS project which we created at the beginning.

If you do this, remove the tags/fields assigned to it that flag it, and populate the custom field which we created called ‘Passed Quality Control’ with a date. This ensures that in future, you’ll know when the domain was whitelisted; domains can change and what was once a good domain can easily become a bad domain…

Happy Outreach!

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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.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 2.08.37 PM

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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A 9-Step Crash Course on Content Distribution

Today’s post comes from Ritika Puri. In addition to sharing PR and content tips on the BuzzStream blog, Ritika has written for Forbes, The Next Web, Business Insider, and American Express OPEN Forum.

Content marketing is a customer acquisition powertool. The concept is simple — inspire, engage, and delight audiences through great storytelling. Write compelling, heartfelt blog posts. Create beautiful infographics. Produce never-before-seen e-books and guides. Delight your audiences, and pour your humanity into your brand.

It sounds simple, right? Produce great content, and you’re set.

Not quite.

The competition for audience attention has never been more cutthroat. More and more brands are jumping into the content ecosystem, with 78% of marketers believing in storytelling as the future of marketing. Meanwhile, human attention spans are getting shorter — goldfish are putting us to shame.

In addition to creating amazing content, your marketing team needs to build out a thoughtful and high-impact distribution strategy. Rely on this guide for the ultimate crash course.

 

1. Content Syndication

It takes time to build and grow your audience. One way to kickstart the process is to syndicate your content with established media channels. First, publish your content on your own blog. Then, pitch the story to editors at bigger publishers to redistribute.

Here is an example of a blog post on Coworks that was recently syndicated with The Next Web. The Coworks blog, at the time of syndication, was only 1-month-old:

 

Original Post on the Coworks Blog

 

TNWPost Syndicated on The Next Web

 

A syndication strategy takes time and patience to fully develop. Editorial relationships are tough to build, especially for brands. Prove to editors that you’re committed to delivering value. Keep networking, and keep asking. Syndication is a business development art — persistence and creativity are key.

 

2. Email Marketing

It’s unlikely that audiences will be visiting your blog (and content) on a regular basis. There is so much content on the web, and yours is likely to slip through the cracks.

The most effective way to reach consumers 1:1 is through email. When you publish a blog post, send your email subscribers a short-and-sweet snippet to tell them that you’ve published something awesome. Include a bold call-to-action (CTA) back to your blog to drive consistent traffic.

Here is an example email that promotes an article on the Coworks blog:

Email

Roughly one-in-ten users who opened our emails clicked through to finish reading the article on the Coworks blog:

GA

Visits from email about the post

Pay attention to open, click-through, and unsubscribe rates to learn how audience respond to and engage with your content. These data points will help you optimize your strategy.

 

3. Client Service Teams

Content is a tool for building relationships at scale. Your marketing team’s blog posts, infographics, videos, and ebooks can help spark natural conversations between sales teams and prospective clients.

These conversations provide a low-touch, yet high-impact say to say hello — “just because.” In some cases these “hellos” may materialize into strategic upselling opportunities.

Marketing teams should build feedback loops with account management, sales, and customer service reps — these teams are at the front-lines of your organization and are powerful distribution engines.

 

4. Paid Channel Advertising

Did your company recently publish an e-book or guide? Are you looking to generate leads? Paid channel advertisements can help you connect this long-form content with mid-funnel audiences. Here is what you do:

  • Step 1: Drive traffic to your website organically.
  • Step 2: Retarget these visitors on Facebook and AdSense with a CTA to your free e-book.
  • Step 3: Set-up a landing page to capture leads.

On Facebook, for instance, you can create ‘Lookalike audiences’ based on your existing CRM database — prospects who fit the same demographic and interest-based profiles of your most engaged customers.

Here is an example ad from General Assembly, a company that aims to democratize education. The company is promoting a free trial of its online content program.

Take a look at the paid channel ad:

Paid

…. and the corresponding landing page:

GenAssembly Landing page for paid social ad.

 

5. Social Visuals

You already know that Facebook and Twitter are invaluable channels for promoting your content. The challenge, however, is that these markets are saturated.

It’s crucial to give your tweets and status updates a ‘visual edge’ — to outsmart the crowd in capturing fleeting audience attention spans.

Be sure to include compelling images with your social media updates:

image Social updates with compelling images stand out in feeds.

 

6. Hashtags

Tap into existing conversations through #hashtags related to your content. Use hashtags strategically by pinpointing what’s trending and by tagging keywords in your tweets and status updates.

TV Series Doctor Who does this well:

DW

Doctor Who page post on Facebook

 

DW2

BBC network uses same #DoctorWho hashtag. 

 

7. Your Immediate Network

If you’re publishing a particularly meaningful piece of content, ask your network to promote it 1:1.  These could be offline and online networks. As an example, take a look at this blog post on Clarity.fm, which features the story of volcanologist turned nonprofit entrepreneur Jess Pelaez:

 Wisdom

As you can see, her interview received hundreds of shares. Her secret? It’s no secret at all — it’s her amazing network.

Jess does not have thousands of fans and followers — and neither does her nonprofit, Blueprint Earth (at least, not yet).

What she did, to promote this article, was to reach out to her network, which consists of scientific and geological associations. These groups promoted this article to their audiences. This promotion strategy helped drive visitors to the Clarity article.

 

8. Your Extended Network

Thanks to social media, today’s marketers are continuously in touch with anyone and everyone. Maybe you have thousands of LinkedIn connections. Maybe you’re an avid blogger who enjoys publishing on industry sites.

In either case LinkedIn is a platform that can help you get the word out to key communities in your industry —  in more ways than one.

When you publish your content on your blog, you can very easily promote it through the LinkedIn groups that you’re a part of:

LinkedIn

Promoting Content on LinkedIn

 

LinkedIn is also opening up its influencer program — a platform for writing content within LinkedIn — to the general public. If you’d like, you can re-publish your own content through these channels for more eyeballs (like Danny Wong did here, with this example from Coworks):

Wong

Original blog post

 

Wong2

Republished on LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s technology will help match these articles to new audiences, potentially driving high pageviews. Make sure to link back to the original article on your site:

takeaway

Post links back to original article.

 

9. Build Distribution into Your Content

Embeddable ‘click to tweet’ features and community interviews can help accelerate this process. Here is an example of an article of Clarity.fm that generated thousands of shares. Why?

  • The content was awesome, with a compelling human-interest element
  • The content was community-generated
  • The content was very easy to share, with integrated tweets

With natural engagement comes organic distribution:

C2T

Building in content distribution using Click to Tweet. 

 

Final Thoughts

Opportunities for distribution are limitless. Depending on your business model, there are incredibly opportunities to get your content out to the public, in a high-impact way.

You just need to scratch beneath the surface to look for the ‘less than obvious’ and ‘less than clear’ paths. These distribution touchpoints will be key opportunities to outrun the crowds and outsmart the noise.

What is your company’s approach to content distribution? How is it creative? You pick #10 to add to this list.

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Finding and Claiming Links for Content

You can find opportunities to claim links for your content (like ebooks and infographics) similarly to how you find unlinked mentions and links to reclaim for your brand. Acquiring all the links you deserve can move the needle on search and traffic. Here are three common missed opportunities and fixes for each.

Missed Opportunities Image via Lel4nd on Flickr

Missed Opportunity #1: Only Searching for Your Content’s Title

Fix: Also look for the titles that other sites give your content.

When sites like Mashable and HuffPo pick up your content, they’ll usually change the headline to suit their audiences. Then, when smaller sites pick up stories from those big players, they use the same wording.

Sometimes, the smaller sites do their homework and credit you by linking to your original content, but often they credit the sites like Mashable and HuffPo instead.

How to find these opportunities: Look at the post titles and headings that big sites use to describe your content and enter them into a tool like Fresh Web Explorer.

 

Fresh Web Explorer

Here’s an example of a Fresh Web Explorer unlinked mention search using the terms that big sites used to describe this Oscar dress infographic

 

How to reach out: Simply thank the site owner for sharing your content and ask if they’d be kind enough to credit the original with a link back. Whenever you can, use this outreach as an opportunity to build a relationship. Share the post on your own social media channels and offer to ping the blogger when you release similar content in the future.

 

Missed Opportunity #2: Ignoring Sub-Sections and Data Points

Fix: Looking for cropped versions and unique text, too.

 

If you have very large visual content, bloggers and journalists will likely take screenshots and create smaller versions that better fit their blogs’ layouts (or things like Twitter’s 2:1 aspect ratio). As you’re doing your own reporting roundup, look out for these smaller clips.

 

Google Analytics

For example, Google Analytics created a 2:1 image of a recent infographic to optimize a tweet.

 

How to find these opportunities: Do a reverse image search or set an Image Raider alert to find instances of bloggers using the cropped images. Hit the Buzzmarker to check for a link on those pages (or manually check using “View Page Source”).

In you have a lot of text content: If you did original research, look for instances of people sharing your data points and not crediting you.

In you created sub-content like diagrams: Run reverse image searches on those, too.

How to reach out: Again, a polite thank you and request for credit will serve you well.

 

Missed Opportunity #3: Forgetting about International

Fix: Get familiar with Google’s other TLDs.

Even content with a lot of english text can get picked up by non-english sites. Here, too, are many opportunities to earn high-authority links.

 

Infographic

Image of english infographic on non-english site.

 

How to find these opportunities: Run reverse image searches on domains like Google.es and Google.de to find these sites. (If you’re using Chrome, you can hit the “translate” button to understand what the sites are about.) Then hit the Buzzmarker or view page source to check for links.

How to reach out: Since this outreach is short and simple, translation tools work relatively well. However, investing a few dollars in a service like Gengo can give you a much better template to work from (which you can save and use in the future, too).

 

Learn More about Unlinked Mentions and Link Reclamation:

Link Reclamation Whiteboard Friday by Ross Hudgens of Siege Media
Guide to Using Unlinked Brand Mentions for Link Acquisition by Kiala Strong on Moz
Reclaiming Links to Your Infographics and Creative Common Images by Kristi Hines on iAcquire
Monitoring Your Brand — Unlinked Mentions by Sarah Gurbach of SEER Interactive
Link Building 101: Finding Web Mentions by Jon Ball of PageOnePower

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How to Measure Outreach Success Using a Meta-Analysis

How did that last outreach campaign or template perform? It’s easy to find out; just check response rates or count up all of the links you earned.

But smart marketers want to dig deeper: What sort of outreach is working best for the company, overall? What are the best practices when doing content outreach? How do I write a good subject line? These questions are much harder to answer, and most of us rely on our intuition and experience to do so. Today, I’ll show you how to instead answer with data.

 

Step 1) Brainstorm

Make a list of what you’d like to measure. Include the things that experts tell you are “best practices.” Include things you believe to be true or not to be true. Think about the questions that your boss and your colleagues always ask you. Include everything.

Here’s what my list might look like:

  • Outreach tactic/type (e.g. content, product review, announcement)
  • Subject line length
  • Message length
  • Use first name in greeting?
  • Refer to their blog name or blog URL? In subject? In body?
  • Use our brand name? In subject? In body?
  • Use our URL? In subject? In body? In signature?
  • Subject line is casual? Is vague? Is formal? Is data?
  • CTA: Ask for link? Ask for share? Don’t ask for anything?
  • Has a compliment? Talks about a recent post or article? Doesn’t talk about them much at all?
  • Description of our brand/product/site or no description?

Step 2) Organize

Next, organize the brainstorm into an outline. Give each research question its own line. These will be your variables. I find it’s helpful to sort them into categories, too. I usually use message type, subject line, and body.

Also, make note of what type of answer each question will need. In my example above Brand Name in Subject is a Yes/No question; Outreach Type requires picking from a few categories, and Message Length is a count.

Step 3) Build Your Spreadsheet

Now you’re going to create a spreadsheet to track all of your variables. Your first four columns are where you’ll enter your template/campaign information. They are: Subject, Body, Sent, Response. (Add a fifth column for Linked if you have that data.)

After that, each variable gets its own column. I usually make a short variable name in Row 1 and then describe the variable in detail in Row 2.

It should look something like this:

 

Once you’ve got your template sorted, you can start entering campaign information. This is often the most tedious part of the process, so grab a coffee and find a good playlist to get you through it:

 

Step 4) Format the Data

Here’s where the fun begins. Take your spreadsheet and make it a table. (You can delete the row with the variable descriptions now.) In Excel, select Insert -> Table or use Ctrl + L.

 

Now, make it a pivot table:

 

Step 5) Start Analyzing

Place the variable you want to look at in the “Row Label” section, and add “Sent” and “Responded” as values. You can add a column to calculate response rate if it helps you mentally process the results (That formula is =responded/sent).

 

Step 6) Check for Statistical Significance

In the above example, it looks like emails that use a blog’s URL in the subject line perform much worse (11% response rate) than emails that don’t use it (56% response rate).

This is good information, but we need to figure out whether or not the difference between those two numbers is actually statistically significant. To do so, you can use chi-square calculators in Excel, or your can plug your data into this calculator by Rags Srinivasan.

In this case, I learn that, even though 56% vs. 11% seems like a huge finding, it’s not statistically significant. Therefore, I can’t really say whether or not it’s a good idea to use a blog’s URL in the subject line. This data set is telling me that it doesn’t make much of a difference either way.

 

Step 7) Take Lots of Notes

Keep a running list of what you’ve tested and what you’ve found. Note all the variables you looked at. Mark the ones that were statistically significant, and write out corresponding insights for each one.

 

Step 8) Share Insights

Share your findings with the rest of your team. Create a list of best practices that you can refer back to and/or use to train others. (Here’s mine.) Incorporate your findings into future outreach templates. 

 

Notes & Conclusions

If you have a large enough dataset, you can pivot by person or by message type. This will help give you an idea of what types of response rates to expect when you’re planning future outreach campaigns. You may also find opportunities to recognize high performers or to train lower-performing folks.

This is very much an imperfect science, and it’s not meant to provide black-and-white results. (It’s research, not reporting.) Use it as an opportunity to figure out what’s working for your team and what isn’t. Hopefully, you’ll find some things that surprise you. (Let me know if you do!)

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