Outreach as a service: strategy and the benefits for eCommerce

Ahrefs reports 43.7% of the most top-ranking pages have some reciprocal links. The figures speak for the trust Google sees in the backlinks and the use of outreach marketing as a service. In this article we explain what is outreach marketing, figure out what are the benefits of outreach as a service and give the tips to be used for an eCommerce outreach marketing strategy.

What is outreach marketing

Outreach is one of the directions in crowd marketing, which implies personal agreement with website owners/bloggers or anyone in charge of advertising placements on a certain online resource. By advertising placement we usually mean a banner, brand’s mention etc. The primary aim of outreach as a service is to create valuable and mutually beneficial backlinks. These links are meant to improve organic rankings and attract new audiences. In addition to that, outreach is an effective service to build brand awareness and gain trust.

Although outreach is a relatively new service used for link-building, we would like to outline those who will definitely benefit from outreach marketing: 

  • SEO Specialists
  • PR managers
  • Marketers
  • eCommerce stores
  • Media

Advantages of outreach marketing

Reaching the correct audience. The process of outreach marketing by its nature is a cold out-reach, i.e. you need to mass-contact those who you’ve had no prior contact or relationship with. At the same time, you only reach out to people who are most likely to help you promote your product within the correct audience. You only need to identify those and be proactive making the interaction.  

Fast effect. As opposed to email marketing you treat your customers with, outreach strategies provide a quicker effect to your brand. It’s either a yes or no. The latter means you go on searching for right publishers, while the former guarantee almost an instant growth of your brand’s target audience. If it’s about, your position in the SERP, it takes from a week to a month to get noticed.

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Effective enough. Outreach is really a synonym of personalisation. Why personalisation matters? Personalised emails reach 82% open rates, and higher CTR (75%). This is also true for outreach marketing. Website owners are more likely to open and react to a personal message. Otherwise, you risk to be marked as read or discarded. Webmasters may suggest certain conditions you need to fulfil to get the desired backlink. But fulfilling those make you a giant leap closer to being published. 

Disadvantages of outreach marketing

Wrong selection can lead to a waste. Careful analysis and preparing a list of webmasters to target will save you time, while selecting the right pitch and verbal expressions will increase your chances of getting approval from the right person and getting your link a place under the sun.  

Time consuming. As said above, manual outreach is a set of sometimes tedious and repeated actions that require time as a resource. Analysis, defining your goals, preparing a list of contacts for outreach, negotiations, follow-ups and a waiting room situated right after each step and in the middle of the actions conducted by Google until your link gets noticed, indexed and published – it seems like outreach marketing may take forever. For this reason, some companies hire a link-builder, who comes handy having a set of quality websites and an established pattern of outreach.

Cost intensive. According to Ahrefs, the average cost of buying a link is $361.44 and the average cost of publishing a paid guest post is $77.80, which makes outreach marketing not something SMEs or micro businesses can always afford. 

N.B. Our statistics has shown different numbers, but hold on, we’ll cover that a little further.

Effective outreach marketing strategies

An effective outreach marketing strategy may differ depending on its goals, the niche you target, chosen format and the circumstances your business is in. At the same time, any outreach marketing strategy basically includes:

1. Analysis

2. Preparing an email template & reaching out to right people

3. Negotiating with publishers

4. Content preparation

5. Publishing and performance monitoring

Let’s elaborate on each step mentioned above.

Analysis. To find the websites that would be relevant to your audience, analyse the backlinks of competitors, especially those in the top of the SERP. This will give you a list of resources that are most likely to be used for collaboration.

Tip: Checking your competitors’ link profile, handy tools and dedicated services like Ahrefs and SemRush. 

At Promodo we actively use Ahrefs to analyse the websites for outreach marketing. To find the most relevant online resources, we use the Site Explorer tab and search the backlinks used by our main competitors, i.e. the websites from the top-10.

ahrefs backlinks nature

Filters that are of our interest are mainly:

  • Language
  • Traffic
  • Link types: Dofollow, UGC, Sponsored, Content

ahrefs backlinks section

Next we proceed to parsing the search results on relevant and high-frequency queries. Content Explorer that is embedded on ahrefs.com comes handy.

ahrefs pages over time

Now evaluate the search results. You can use a bunch of operators, for example, “request” + inurl: sponsored post, or the “ad” tag, or simply go through the top of popular resources that regularly publish materials.

This way, you create a list of donors for your outreach marketing strategy. Donor quality can be determined based on the following criteria:

  • Positions in the search results. The higher, the better
  • Incoming traffic. Traffic means trust, i.e. the website is useful and interesting to its audience
  • The number of outbound links. Websites that are involved in selling links through exchanges is definitely not a fit for you, as search engines may identify these as spammed, untrustworthy. In addition, the weight of the transmitted link will be significantly lower
  • The number of pages in the index
  • Content quality. This includes regularity of publications, nature of comments in the relevant section, presence or absence of are any errors

Marina Iermolaieva: We recommend to pay attention to such indicators as website’s DR, traffic, geo-linking, check for unnatural links and watch how often a website posts allows paid links. Watch carefully if any links lead to materials from the so-called grey niches, gambling websites, casinos, websites from the essay niche etc. Make sure there are no traffic drops for no reason admitted on your target website.

organic traffic

At the negotiation stage, it’s worth asking the webmaster to provide data on the nature of user behaviour on the website: the depth of viewing and scrolling, bounce rate etc. This will allow you to understand the audience involvement in the website materials.

Preparing an email template & reaching out to right people

Once you are done with a list of target online resources, it’s high time to be proactive and clear in your intentions. Decide on the type of collaboration that is much of your interest. This could be a link with an anchor, a post with a link or a banner. Getting quality backlinks is mostly paid. At the same time, provided that you know the market and have something to offer back, you may try bartering or roll the dice and try posting for free, but note that the quality of links will be significantly lower.

Tip: Analyse the selected websites and determine where they link to and what the nature of the publications is: advertising, informational articles, review posts. 

Marina Iermolaieva: We recommend gathering the results of your analysis for outreach in a separate file and further use it for defining the priorities and tracking how far you’ve moved in negotiations with the publishers. This is how your outreach list may look like.

list of contacts for outreach

If your list appears to be long enough, use several types of templates – at least one for each type of collaboration. In the subject line, indicate the website address, and in the body of the email, contact the publisher by name, if you know it. Try to make the subject as catchy as possible – this will increase your chances of getting noticed. Write strictly to the point, use a business-like writing style but remain friendly. Don’t go into details but say what you want and what you offer in return. 

Here you have the templates that can be further adjusted to fit your outreach marketing strategy.

outreach email

Adjust the templates if you notice they don’t work as intended after your first reachout. If no response arrives, you can politely follow-up. Social networks are just the right place to knock on the door you need.

Another challenge is find the decision-maker or the one in charge of building links with the content creators. Ideally, this is a website administrator. If you target a smaller blog, you can try finding its owner or chief editor in social networks or elsewhere.

Negotiating with publishers & content preparation

When you succeed getting in touch with the person in charge, discuss the details:

  • Will the placement be paid or free?
  • Do you pay for the link once or extending its presence on the page once it expires and you will need to review it according to certain conditions?
  • Are there any discounts for volume, re-placement, material quality?
  • Discuss the terms of placement and the date of publication.
  • Will the link be indexed?
  • Is it possible to post an anchor?

If it’s yourself who prepares the content, specify the topic, volume, presentation, number of images and links with the webmaster. If you plan to order the content, make sure to transform all requirements for publications into a TOR. Don’t forget about the deadlines.

Publishing and performance monitoring

Send the final version of the material to your contact person of the donor resource. Check if nothing has changed in your agreement and if the publication date is still valid. 

Once the content is published, be sure to check:

  • Anchor and the URL
  • Link attributes: follow or nofollow
  • Indexing. That is, the absence of the noindex tag and the presence of material in the index of search engines
  • The presence of other links in the publication. They should not be there if there was no agreement
  • The overall view of the publication, its structure, images

Keep in mind that the webmaster can change or remove the link at any time, so its status should be monitored periodically. To do this, you can use the Link Checker PRO service.

This is how a usual monthly report on outreach as a service looks like. As shown, the prices differ based on the traffic volume each website can offer. But in general one quality follow link will cost up to $160.

how much does outreach cost

Marina Iermolaeiva: we are transparent with all the clients and always make the price of the platforms available for outreach visible to our clients. On average, we publish 10-15 articles per one project. 

Final word about outreach marketing

Outreach Marketing is a relatively new service for eCommerce businesses. Its major benefits are reaching the correct audience, fast effect and increased chances to get to the top-10. Outreach as a service may not be a fit for companies with low budgets, and for sure the process and the effect from outreach marketing takes time.

For outreach to be successful, it is important to be responsible when it comes to the selection of donor websites, understand the goals of promotion, be able to communicate and negotiate. As a result, you will receive high-quality and natural links to your resource, which will have a positive effect on its promotion.

If your considering outreach for your marketing strategy, don’t hesitate and go contact our experts to save you time 🙂

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