I know this might sound like a weird concept, but bear with me. I think that you’ll find some amazing similarities between SEO, and more specifically, outreaching content, and dating than you are aware of.
I think it was about 4 months into my new role as an SEO Executive at Builtvisible, with no previous experience of this type of work, that the concept of outreach to me seemed a lot like being on the dating scene. You spend a lot of time doing it and it can get a little exhausting at times, but the final result is totally worth the time.
Let’s start with that first date. It’s a bit daunting, it’s new and you’ve probably been on many of them. This to me seems exactly like reaching out to a list of potential publishers and sites that seem compatible with this amazing piece of content that you have created (by the way, you’re the content in this little metaphor).
My advice here, be personable, be confident in what you are trying to achieve. Sending the same generic email will not work. Make an effort here as this is the crucial stage to getting a response. Think about the sort of email you would be likely to respond to and work along those lines. I have made this mistake before where I thought I could get away with pulling the same lines with each person I was outreaching to and I have made some rookie errors.
You send off an email that you have slaved over (ladies = hair and make-up here) in the hopes that they could be ‘the one’. The one amazing publication that will make all the difference. You think “that was the best email I’ve ever sent, there’s no way they won’t love it.”
So after this, you wait. And wait. This part can get a little tedious. I find myself checking my emails regularly just to see whether perhaps I’ve missed an email. You hear that familiar sound of a ‘ping’ to which you get overly-excited about. But no, just an email from a colleague discussing where to go for lunch. Starting to sound a little familiar?
Not receiving the call back
The rejection phase. This was probably the hardest thing I had to get over. The idea that you spend so long and get so excited about a potential placement of this amazing piece of content that you have created and what happens..nothing. Literally, nothing. It took me a while to understand that I shouldn’t take this personally.
Not only do they not seem interested, but you actually sometimes don’t even get a response. Sometimes you do get an email back, you get excited in the hopes that this is something positive. But sadly, it’s a ‘sorry, but we don’t accept external content’ or a ‘we are not interested at this time’.
How could they not like it? What was wrong with it? I guess they were, ‘just not that into it’.
I have come to learn with outreach that this is bound to happen. Not everyone is going to be interested. Not everyone will see the value behind what you are offering even though you think it’s a pretty perfect match. Don’t give up. It is amazing the number of times that my initial outreach has got me nowhere and then suddenly, a week or so later, people are suddenly enthusiastic about the idea.
Do you get in touch again?
I’m pretty sure we’ve all been here. Someone who originally said they were interested has suddenly dropped off the radar. Is it wise to contact them again? Or is that coming on too strong? A word of warning, this is a good time to get to know who you are dealing with.
Disclaimer: Use the following advice carefully as if you did the following to a potential date, it could be construed as a little creepy.
I personally like to use AllMyTweets (http://www.allmytweets.net/connect.php ) to see how the person I am outreaching to deals with follow ups. I have come across a variety of people in my outreach travels, and some people might need a gentle nudge to remind them that you are still there. Some others on the other hand have openly said that the more you push them, the less likely they are to get back in touch. So do your research.
Everyone might do the odd bit of Facebook stalking and might check out their Twitter and I think in terms of getting to know how to deal with people, this is a good move.
The call back
I have been known at this stage to get a little despondent. I start questioning if maybe my email was too informal. Maybe I didn’t really sell the concept enough. Then, as seemingly is the way with life, 3 emails come along at once. This can only be comparable to seeing that ‘special someone’s’ name appear on your phone. At last!! You get a little excited and a bit nervous at the same time. Is it good news?? They are all interested! Phew.
After a few back and forths, you’ll get someone who questions whether this content will be exclusive to them, or are you posting it to other sites. Awkward. I think when it comes to outreach at this stage, honesty is key. Explain that it will be on other sites but that you can give them something exclusive to make it seem more appealing. Maybe suggest a unique write-up to accompany it. This has worked for me in the past to keep people keen.
Sometimes it can feel like you’re not getting anywhere with outreach but give it time. Not everyone responds immediately. I have been known to get a response as long as a month or two after I originally contacted them. However, they have finally gotten back to you (guess they didn’t want to come on too strong) and are interested in taking your content and to top it off, sometimes they are very enthusiastic about it.
The happy ever after
As a first time SEO Executive, the excitement of getting my first piece of content on a site of importance is something that I never thought I could feel this satisfied about. Cue emails to all the family with the link and wait for the proud response (even though they have no idea what SEO actually is). I guess this could be called the happy ever after moment. It can make all the difference. It can potentially be the turning point for yourself or your client. And can feel something along the lines of this..
So I guess all in all, although with outreach it can sometimes feel a little tiring, sometimes you feel like you are getting a little sick of it and you want to take a break, the reality of it is, the work you are doing does actually make a difference and the satisfaction you feel makes the whole process worthwhile. I bet you never thought of it this way did you?