How Drip Could Conduct a Link Building Outreach Campaign

Outreach campaigns are the cornerstone of any successful SEO strategy. I recently wrote about how outreach campaigns could potentially fail, but today I’m going to take you through a hypothetical outreach campaign for the email marketing automation software Drip.

Why Drip?

I’m a fan of Drip founder Rob Walling, and a frequent listener on a podcast he co-hosts called Startups for the Rest of Us. I also use their email marketing automation software and I love it (<—- there you go Rob, a free link for you). 😉

The email marketing automation niche is fairly competitive, with some very big names in the marketing space competing on that keyword. I knew there would be some great opportunities to get links, and some really interesting insights to glean from smart competitors.

Drip doesn’t need a ton of SEO help. They’re already ranking in the number three spot for “email marketing automation” (an important keyword to them, as judged from the wording in their meta description)—outranking such heavyweights as Hubspot and Infusionsoft:

outranking competitors

But there’s still room to expand within the “email marketing automation” keyword. One way they could do that is by conducting outreach to drive more targeted traffic, and earn more links. This will lead to further increases in visibility for this keyword and across the board.

Let’s dive into how we would conduct an outreach campaign for Drip.

Finding Lists that Mention Your Competitors/Similar Products

Best of Lists

This technique is going to be a big opportunity for companies in this niche. One Google search for the phrase “best email marketing software” brings up over 100,000 results. Many of the lists will already mention Drip, and not all of these results will carry a lot of value in terms of traffic, or in passing along authority, but enough will that it becomes a valuable strategy.

A result on the first page, Business News Daily, is a DA 80 website whose list of email marketing software companies does not include Drip. It does, however, list 52 other businesses. High outbound-links count aside (and really, you shouldn’t be worrying about this for this campaign), there’s a strong chance that a well-respected company like Drip could get listed on such a page.

getting featured on best of lists

Here are the targets for a campaign searching for “best email marketing software” lists that mention and link to similar companies (using the domain rating metric from Ahrefs):

  • https://www.ventureharbour.com/email-marketing-software-tools-one-best – DR 55
  • https://www.g2crowd.com/categories/email-marketing-best-of-breed – DR 61
  • http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2453354,00.asp – DR 73
  • http://www.reviews.com/email-marketing-services/ – DR 60
  • http://hellboundbloggers.com/2012/01/software-for-sending-bulk-emails-40109/ – DR 55
  • http://makeawebsitehub.com/email-marketing-software/ – DR 59
  • http://www.thepracticalmarketer.com/bestemailmarketingsoftware/ – DR 38
  • http://www.allbusiness.com/slideshow/top-5-email-marketing-platforms-for-small-businesses-16701455-1.html – DR 66
  • http://sbinformation.about.com/od/ecommerce/tp/email-marketing-services.htm – DR 79

There’s a big opportunity here to get Drip featured on many “best of lists” blog posts.

How I Would Do This

The first thing to do would be to use the search query “best email marketing software” to find blogs that have articles about this.

Next, I’d do several derivative searches using specific operators, such as:

  • ”list of email marketing software”
  • ”email marketing software review”
  • ”recommended email marketing software”

I would also try it with specific search operators, like “-drip.com,” and varied phrasing, such as “email marketing automation review.”

Once I had a list of sites and their contact info, I would compose an email referencing the post the list appears on, and offering a free extended trial to check out the software for inclusion in the list. Don’t overcomplicate things: be respectful, be up-front about your intent, and follow best practices.

I’d repeat this process, sending an email to every author of the posts we’d identified to try to get a mention.

This approach can also work for sites that talk about drip email in general (tactics, efficacy, etc.).

For instance, this article: How to Increase Relevance; Integrating drip marketing into an email campaign is a sign that the blog is interested in the subject of drip campaigns — a perfect opportunity to reach out and start a conversation.

Are they interested in a guest post from the founder of email marketing/drip email software? Are they interested in an interview?

Finding these related-posts presents another good opportunity for building relationships and getting the word out about Drip.

Finding Related Posts

Some specific Google searches would lead to hundreds of articles, which would lead to hundreds of potential sites to contact.

Some suggested searches:

  • How to: drip email
  • Is drip email effective?
  • Is email marketing effective?
  • How to: build an email list

I could also use a tool like Buzzsumo to find the most popular articles on a specific subject, and use that info to both reach out to the sites whose articles are popular, and to give me more search ideas to find potential sites.

Using buzzsumo to find popular articles

Business vs. Business

Another opportunity to search for potential mention opportunities is when a site compares two competitors.

For this approach, I would Google queries structured like:
<competitor 1> vs. <competitor 2>, plugging Drip’s competitors into the search. There are a lot of vs. reviews to be found, but they have a very narrow focus (not surprisingly) on the two things being compared.

When doing outreach for this tactic, I would mention that I read the review, that I own/use (depending if you’re writing on behalf of the founder) a service called Drip, which has similar features, and would they care to list it as an alternative? I’d also float the idea of doing a review of Drip on its own, or having a square-off in a review of another email marketing tool.

This method will be a bit of a tougher sell, since the focus of the article is much narrower, but still an opportunity worth exploring.

Personal Walkthrough/Interview

This is definitely something you’ll want to get the thumbs-up from your client to pursue.

Here’s how I’d hypothetically do that for Drip.

Get the client booked on popular podcasts.

Podcast hosts are hungry for the next guest, the next story of success, a mutually beneficial interviewee that can send new listeners to the show. In the case of Drip founder Rob Walling, he’s a well-known figure within the bootstrapped startup scene (a sub niche under entrepreneurs or founders), not only co-hosting a popular podcast, but putting on a very successful conference or two each year.

This is all to say, (if Rob was up for it), I could conduct a campaign to get him on some very popular podcasts.

There’s nothing much to this strategy, just some good old-fashioned outreach:

  1. Search for podcasts Drip competitors have appeared on
  2. Reach out to the top tech/entrepreneur podcasts (might as well start from the top)
  3. Ask Rob if there are any popular podcasters he is friends with, and leverage that relationship.

Not only will these podcasts likely link back to GetDrip.com, but there will be added value from exposure and new traffic.

Contact Big Publishers

Entrepreneur.com, HuffingtonPost.com/business, Forbes.com, etc.

See if any of these bigger publications are open to an interview or write-up. This is especially effective if there’s a story to tell. In Rob’s/Drip’s case, there’s the story of an entrepreneur stair-stepping his way to success, building up a smaller business, and leveraging the profit and the experience to build a new, bigger business.

There’s also an opportunity to offer these big publishers exclusive new stories (think PR) that they may be interested in publishing. If an entrepreneur or business has a solid story, or an interesting angle in a well-known space, this outreach could pay off, and I would definitely put together a campaign for Rob/Drip.

Competitor Link Research

It’s not hard to generate a list of competitors. I essentially did that with the research around the first tactic (best-of lists). Taking the competitors from that, I’ve got a list that looks like:

  • Infusionsoft
  • MailChimp
  • ActiveCampaign
  • SendInBlue

The benefit with doing link research is, though time consuming, you can see which sites are open to linking to sites similar to the client’s site. This tactic involves not only research, but analysis. By putting in the time to find sites that I think are likely to write about and link to Drip, I’m increasing the rate of success later in the process.

You can use any of your favorite backlink analysis tools for this step, but I’ll be using Ahrefs.com.

Looking at backlinks for SendInBlue.com, this is what I find:

list of back links

They have over 3,000 backlinks, so I’ll need to weed out a lot of the obvious “bad fits” in order to find the most likely to link back.

How to do that quickly:

  1. Arrange the results by the authority of the linking domain (instead of the number of times each domain links to the target domain).
  2. Discount any links that are obviously built by the businesses themselves (Youtube.com, sites.google.com, about.me, etc.)
  3. Discount any links that are from URL shorteners (goo.gl, bit.ly, ow.ly, etc.)

Here’s what I’m looking for: any links coming from an editorial site, or from a site that is a related product. In the case of Drip, I am especially interested in these links:

  • Themeforest.net
  • Elegantthemes.com
  • Prestashop.com
  • Cnet.com
  • Woothemes.com
  • Magentocommerce.com
  • Python.org
  • Bufferapp.com
  • Templatemonster.com
  • Mythemeshop.com
  • Leadpages.net

Hopefully you see a pattern.

I’m looking for sites that are linking to SendInBlue as a way of recommending using it with their theme or other business product, or possibly doing a review. By focusing on these kinds of sites, I can quickly and easily limit my search to sites that will be more open to writing about Drip.

Next, I’d set up an outreach campaign — nothing fancy — referencing the way in which they are mentioning my competitors (review/recommended product) and seeing what it would take to list Drip as well. Just a simple, personal email; nothing pushy or dishonest.

One thing to note: before starting outreach, I will check my list of domains I’ve identified against a list of domains already linking to Drip. No reason to do work that’s already done!

Asking For Links

Another outreach campaign would involve looking for mentions of your client’s site already published on various websites. This could take the form of: interviews with the founder, product reviews, walkthroughs, news/announcement, and more.

Sometimes the product is mentioned, but is not linked to. There are a ton of guides on how to conduct the research and then the outreach campaign, but the best one I’ve found is from Ahrefs.com.

The exact method you use for finding these mentions will vary based on the product/service/offering/content you’re representing. In the case of Drip, an email marketing tool, I see that there are hundreds of other tools or products that integrate with Drip, such as WordPress themes, Optin plugins, and more. Knowing this, I would base my search for unlinked mentions on finding sites that offer a guide on integrating with Drip, but have not linked to GetDrip.com.

The Ahrefs guide has a lot of good information, much of which I would use in my outreach campaign. If you’re reading this and looking to conduct your own campaign, I really recommend going through it.

For the Drip campaign, my main strategy would be:

Finding Win-Win Partnerships

Outreach is, at its core, about building relationships. Getting to know new people that you may be able to help, and that may be able to help you, is a critical part of not only outreach, but growing a successful business.

This dynamic is reflected in Drip’s relationship with all the tools and products it integrates with. An email marketing solution, on its own, is only so effective. But when it integrates with Sumo.me, Leadpages.net, Thrive Themes, and more, it becomes very effective.

For this tactic, I will generate a list of websites that offer Drip integration, so search operators such as

  • “integrates with Drip”
  • “how to integrate with Drip”
  • “guide to setting up with Drip”

and similar will net me a long list of sites that specifically talk about Drip. Because these sites are offering an integration with Drip, it is easy to see that a relationship with Drip is important to them, something their customers find valuable. Searching the implementation documentation for unlinked mentions is an easy win.

From my search, I see that the seventh result on the page of my first search is titled “How to connect OptinMonster with Drip.” It’s a guide on how to make OptinMonster’s pop-up forms integrate with your Drip account.

The one thing this article doesn’t contain: a link to Drip.

It would only take a simple email asking for the link to make it happen. Continuing the search, I found several more opportunities:

Zapier features a page on integrating with Drip, but doesn’t link to them (though they do link from another page on the site, this page would be a great candidate to get a link from).

ClickFunnels has a page where they talk about Drip, but do not link back to the site.

DripSherpa has a custom LeadPages integration where they mention, but do not link to Drip.

Those are just the results I found on the first page of the search, for one query. Generating a list of these pages and then checking each page for an external link (I use the Mozbar for Chrome, where I can have the extension highlight all external link on the page at once) is a laser-targeted way to approach searching for unlinked mentions.

As with the other tactics, a simple email on behalf the founder asking for a link on a page already mentioning Drip is all that would be needed. This has a very high success rate.

The Framework

The hypothetical plan I put together in this post can be applied to many different scenarios by just tweaking the framework.

Here are the steps for implementing a similar campaign.  Take care to consider what will work best for your client, as an outreach campaign for an email automation marketing company will have different opportunities than, say, an online bike shop.

Tactic 1: List of Competitors

Find sites that list your competitors/similar products and reach out to see if they’re interested in adding your client to the list.

Ex. “10 best email automation tools.”

Tactic 2: Find Related Posts

Find sites that talk about related posts and reach out to see if they’d be interested writing about your client.

Ex. “integrating drip marketing into an email campaign.” 

Tactic 3: Comparing and Contrasting Competitors

Look for sites that compare and contrast two of your competitors and conduct an outreach campaign to see if they’d be interested in adding a third competitor, or taking the “winner” of a head-to-head comparison and putting them against your client.

Ex. “Aweber vs. Mailchimp.”

Tactic 4: Personal Product Walkthrough/Interview

Use whatever leverage you can to book your client on popular podcasts, or reach out to try securing high-value guest posts.  Look for podcasts featuring founders of the competition.  Remember: a compelling story/angle will help your find the most success with this tactic.

Ex. “Aweber CEO interview podcast”

Tactic 5: Competitor Link Research

Use a backlink analysis tool like Ahrefs.com to research where competitors are getting their links, and see if there are any websites that would be worth pursuing for your client.

Ex. I’d look for editorial website (Entrepreneur.com) or websites of a related product/service (ThemeForest.com).

Tactic 6: Asking For Links

Search to find mentions of your client’s website that aren’t linked, and reach out to see if the site wouldn’t mind hyperlinking an existing mention.  This works particularly well with:

Tactic 7: Finding Win-Win Partnerships

Targeting a specific frame to “ask for links” will be more effective than trying to search every page on the internet that may mention your client (and good luck if they have a ‘generic’ name like “Drip”).  By coming up with a plan that best suits your client’s product, you’ll find a way to target the most likely-to-link.

Ex. Targeting products that integrate with Drip’s service and offer a tutorial, but do not link the mention of Drip to GetDrip.com

That’s it!

Nothing I mentioned here is particularly hard, but it is time consuming to do it right.

What you don’t want to do: spam the web on your client’s behalf.

  1. It makes them look bad, and
  2. It doesn’t work.

Put in the time to find the best opportunities to spread the excitement over their product, finding people who are passionate about the same things — and in some cases — are passionate about Drip already, but haven’t linked over.

With some research, some analyses, and following email outreach best practices, I could bump up the links and the referral traffic for GetDrip.com.

Hopefully you’ve found this hypothetical campaign effective, and can easily apply it to your own site for some SEO/Traffic wins.

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