Digital agencies often rely on outreach methods that no longer work. They might blast the same message out to hundreds or thousands of people, not realizing that recipients are getting drowned out by the noise. Or they might not take advantage of readily available tools and platforms that could help them reach their target audience. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most common mistakes agencies make with their outreach, and offer tips for fixing them.
Not being data-driven
Most SEO, PPC, and social media outreach focus on links or engagement. There’s nothing wrong with that per see, but it sets the link builder up for failure when their efforts don’t match the results they’re seeing in Analytics.
If you’re getting more email bounces than website clicks from your emails to journalists, then what good is it sending out more emails? It’s not.
The solution is to mix things up by talking to your clients about their business goals and start focusing on achieving them through data-driven outreach efforts.
We’ll cover some of the best data-driven outreach tactics Agencies should be tracking:
- The number of emails sent
- The number of opens
- The number of replies
- Number of positive replies
- Number of paid opportunities
- Number of “free” opportunities
- Key metrics of sites agreeing to guest posts
- Average turnaround-time
- A list of won link targets for use later-on
Mass email is no longer enough.
Many agencies are still using traditional outreach methods, where they blast messages to hundreds of people without doing anything about the replies. That’s why you might see different messages in your “Sent” Gmail folder for the same thread.
The solution is to connect with clients via CRM software that allows for tracking email opens on one hand, while identifying which recipients bounced and which ones didn’t on the other. Policies should be established to stop sending emails that don’t get replies, and there should be a quality filter function in place as well.
Creating content that isn’t optimized.
Many agencies create content (such as blog posts) without doing the proper keyword research, and they don’t optimize their content for search engines. For example, if you’re writing about “SEO” and your target audience is in the United States, it doesn’t help to write with a British English tone and vocabulary since it won’t rank for “SEO” in the United States.
For successful pitches, agencies should ask their clients for keywords that are relevant to their websites, and make sure to start their outreach with those words. This way, the content they create will rank for those keywords and bring in tons of targeted traffic.
Most agencies are using tools that aren’t built to help them track link-building efforts. They either use spreadsheets or try to measure metrics manually, which is not only time-consuming but also prone to errors. Using tracking software saves you both time and money, and it gives you the ability to build links across multiple platforms and link networks.
Paying VAs for guest blogging.
Some companies pay VA’s to create content and link out to their clients’ websites, which is not only unethical but also poor practice. Guest blogging takes a lot of time and effort (which most VAs won’t be able to provide), and agencies should be looking for higher quality opportunities instead of outsourcing them.
The solution is to have their own writers do the guest posts for them, or alternatively to use software that helps them create content on-demand. They should also take advantage of social media outreach tools and offer free links in exchange for shares/retweets/likes.
Outreach via email templates is a waste of time.
It takes a few tweaks to make email outreach work. Otherwise, you’ll end up with dead links because journalists aren’t interested in what your pitch is about.
Agencies should create custom emails for their targets and try to build relationships with them by offering value (free content, guest posts, etc.) first. This way, it’s easier to convince them to link out to your client’s website.
Agencies are too pushy with sales pitches.
In most cases, the only time they try to pitch a client is when they’re asking for money. They forget that their goal isn’t just to make as much as possible, but also to build long-lasting relationships that lead to repeat business and referrals.
The solution is simple: agencies should ask prospects what they want first, then create a pitch based on their feedback. It’s a good idea to ask for some money upfront, but only after the client is interested in your offer, otherwise you risk losing them forever.
Agencies forget about personalization and customization in outreach.
Without doing proper research on their prospects, agencies don’t know whether they’re writing to the right people. Their emails are generic and lack personalization, which results in bad open rates and low conversion rates.
The solution is to ask your clients about the organizations they want you to outreach to, then conduct appropriate research so you can tailor your pitches. In addition, you should also try to create custom pitches because the generic “We noticed that your website lacks X” doesn’t work anymore.
Agencies don’t follow up on leads they get from outreach.
They spend tons of money on outreach but forget to track their results. Once they lose contact with their targets, that’s it — they just give up and move on to the next client.
The solution is to create a system that allows you to easily track your campaigns (and not just by using spreadsheets). Furthermore, you should also follow up on your prospects on a regular basis, inviting them to check out your client’s website and offering them help if needed.
Even when agencies get good results from outreach, they fail to properly attribute links.
For example: if their copywriter did a guest post for some high profile media site, most agencies won’t even know about it unless the client comes to them and mentions it.
That being said, agencies should set up a system that allows them to track their outreach efforts – who was doing the work for each project, what results have been achieved thus far, etc. The goal is to create transparency so that no one can take credit for someone else’s work.
Agencies send the same content to everyone.
They don’t take the time to come up with personalized pitches, so they end up sending journalists/bloggers exactly what their competitors are pitching. As a result, they get low conversion rates and it takes them much longer to achieve their targets.
The solution is simple: agencies should create custom emails for different clients that focus on their needs and address them differently. They should also send different pitches to journalists/bloggers so the right people see their content.
Not having a network.
Agencies who don’t have relationships with journalists and bloggers typically rely on scraping the web to find prospects. The problem is that they limit themselves in this way because their targets are scattered across hundreds of websites, which isn’t effective when it comes to outreach.
The solution is easy: agencies should create in-house databases filled with contacts so they don’t have to spend hours and days looking for the right people to outreach to. This also allows them to personalize their pitches, which is a must if they want better conversion rates.
Failing to avoid the dangers of outsourcing outreach.
Some agencies outsource their outreach campaigns to untrusted freelancers. If the agency doesn’t have a system in place that allows them to track and monitor everything, they risk wasting thousands of dollars each month and not even knowing it.
The solution is simple: agencies should invest in hiring full-time employees who can work on outreach campaigns from start to finish. They should also implement a system that allows them to track the actions of their employees, especially if they outsource outreach because it’s impossible for someone who isn’t physically there to know what’s going on.
Outreach can be a very effective way to get more links and improve your website’s SEO, but only if it’s done correctly. Agencies often make common mistakes that lead to low conversion rates and failure to achieve their targets.
Fortunately, this is something that can be solved with a bit of effort. All agencies have to do is create custom pitches, track their campaigns, follow up on prospects regularly, attribute links correctly and avoid the dangers of outsourcing outreach.
If you need help with any of these tasks, feel free to contact us at RankGhost. We’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!