February 7, 2013: If you have ever been in an environment where sales and customer communication comes at you at a rapid pace (think call center, inside sales, etc) than you understand how important product or solution expertise is. You also understand the luxury of preparation. Call center environments require you to react very quickly to customer information and it’s in product expertise that more productive communication can be made.
The same thing applies with link outreach, particularly when considering direct, B2B email link outreach. From the recipient (the link prospect) end, link requests might seem like an unending barrage of unwanted email, social media updates, or even IM messages. Your own product and solution knowledge is critical in communication as well.
But the key difference is that with link outreach (B2B or B2C), you have the ability to thoroughly prepare for the communication at hand (at least the initial steps). Preparation is critical. Here are five preparation steps I would recommend when it pertains to B2B link-related outreach.
Know Their Real Name
If you can’t address a link prospect with at least their first name, you’re severely handicapping the ability to get your request noticed from the start.
Identify How You Found Them
Yes you might have stalked their social profiles for months but make sure you identify a solid path which explains how you came across their information. Perhaps it was a great blog post they wrote, a recommendation from a trusted colleague, or even a conference you introduced yourself at. Make it known so you establish connectivity beyond the “sales pitch”.
Explain Why the Information is Valuable to THEM
If you’re asking for business (IE, a link), there should be clear explanation why what you have is worth something to the site owner and their audience. The value has to be articulated clearly and succinctly.
Forecast Their Mood
Okay we’re not really in their head but if we’ve done the necessary social media profile research, we should have a reasonable idea when they’re online and if they might be receptive to communication. So if you see someone tweeting that they’ve had a really long day, they’ve just had a horrible customer service experience, or their social accounts have been dormant for hours (and that is normally not the case), HOLD OFF on your communication until a better opportunity arises.
Get to the Specific Details FAST & Accurately
Respect their time. Don’t make your link prospect have to dig through the details and guess what they should write, link, or create. Offer suggestions, web addresses, and specific details that will help move the process along. If you’re sharing an infographic or media file, make sure to send embed code. If its an article or blog post, make sure the link is correct, along with title, and possibly a concise one or two sentence summary. Great pieces of content might get ignored simply because the person is to busy to do the job you really should have already done.
Additional Resources & Perspective
Obtaining a link is only a small part of what B2B link outreach communication might offer. Sometimes you’ll get social media shares, additional connections, or even further business development opportunities. The key is to do the correct due diligence beforehand, so you have accurately portrayed your product or service and offered a succinct and complete picture for your link prospect as well.
Some excellent resources have been written recently that are related to this topic. Miranda Miller has a more comprehensive writeup on Top Rank Blog, covering broader online public relations outreach tactics and recommendations. Ken McGaffin just released a great resource for link prospect development through proper list building, “59 lists you really must have to build links“. Finally, check out a post we wrote a few years ago specific to tactics for getting site owners to more likely open your B2B link building pitch.