The arrival of new technology has made B2B marketing even more difficult. Marketers are spoiled for choice in terms of the number of new marketing channels made available. Although we can now target our ideal client more accurately and attract potential customers off-site, it also brings along some downsides. Among the most significant are ad blindness (eMarketer reports that 18 to 34-year-olds were far more likely to ignore ads) and the recently rolled-out General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in European countries that controls strictly how user emails should be captured.
So, how do we ramp up the effectiveness of B2B marketing? The answer lies in link building, which is among the #1 ranking factor. It improves your brand’s prominence in search engines and can help establish authority. However, it has become quite an exhausting exercise since the majority of businesses that produce content don’t really attempt to acquire links. This means that following the ever popular tactic of publishing high-quality content is no longer an option as the data suggests that organic links aren’t coming in (unless you’re a Wikipedia page).
That being said, you need to know what kind of strategies you can rely on and even more importantly – how to implement them.
B2B link-building strategies that really work
Below, you’ll find a list of strategies that I’ve found especially effective when it comes to acquiring links for B2B businesses. I’d also like to stress that the process of obtaining links (especially if you’ve never worked on this before) requires a good number of hours invested.
Additionally, you need to understand that a good link-builder is a person that possesses excellent communication skills. So by keeping this in mind, I would recommend nominating a person that is EXTREMELY good in communication, empathetic and has sufficient patience to wade through tons of rejection before acceptance.
Building links with the help of your industry influencers
There’re a good number of super effective strategies that seem to be overlooked by B2B marketers. For instance, Ross Simmonds stresses in one of his videos about the importance of influencer marketing for B2B companies. Although influencer marketing was initially considered as the right strategy for solely targeting B2C brands, B2B businesses could also effectively leverage this channel. The following examples help illustrate how they are executed:
- The Inbound Conference (in the US) is a great example of how the B2B niche can involve even those who are not related to marketing niche. This helps to increase the number of people attending the conference, which substantiates its credibility and popularity by a large margin.
- A great number of companies that have reached remarkable heights with the aid of a personal brand. The most prominent example from the digital marketing niche is Moz with Rand Fishkin.
Just to sum up this idea, there are many things B2B businesses can learn from B2C companies and this includes strategies related to link building. So, how exactly can you build links with the help of influencers from your industry?
Generally speaking, there are two ways of accomplishing this:
- Build relationships with them. This method focuses on the long-term goal of acquiring more than a single link. Basically, you should always keep in mind that you would want links from them, as well as for them to advocate products and services whenever possible (in their press and videos, when they’re casually chatting with colleagues, across their social media marketing channels and the like).
- Send outreach emails. This option is a good one for those who are looking for one-off linking. However, you could always reach out to the influencers again and continue working on building a relationship with them.
It doesn’t matter which strategy you are planning to utilize. Below are some steps that involve both:
- Find influencers relevant to your niche. I would recommend using BuzzSumo in addition to searching on Google or across various SMM channels. With the help of this tool, you can obtain a list of influencers in your industry by simply searching any term relevant to your business.In the screenshot below, I used the search query “link building”:
Another way of finding influencers will be checking what kinds of sites link to your competitors. Without doubt, among sites that are linking to your rivals, you’ll find a good number of experts in your industry. In order to do that, I used Ahrefs, which allows me to see the list of domains that link to the site analyzed by me:
In case you want to learn more about other backlink analysis tools that exist and the features they have, I did up a comprehensive post some time ago that will give you a decent overview.
- Find an expert’s contact details. There’re a good number of tools that streamlines and simplify the process of finding an expert’s email address. My favorite tool is Hunter.io because besides showing you all the email addresses associated with a particular site, it also shows the most common format they are presented in:
- Write your first email. Okay, now that you have a list of influencers as well as their email addresses, it’s time to send them your first pitch. I want to share with you a few tips that will definitely make your life easier and increase the response rate:
- Don’t use standard templates and phrases. Yes, standard email outreach templates don’t work because they’re overused. Also, don’t use phrases such as “I’ve been following you” and “I enjoyed your recent post”. Instead of this, personalize your message and let them know that you care about what they write. The more details you can add in, the better. Also, if you have something in common with them – let them know. People have a tendency to trust other people that have something in common with them.
- Provide them value. It should be something that is considered beneficial for the person you’re writing the email to. For instance, that might be sharing their new posts across your SMM channels or including their quote in your published posts. If you have a small budget, then you could even give them a Starbucks card since they are relatively inexpensive. It’s the thought that counts, right?
Pitching your stories to journalists
This is something that might sound super complex but in reality, it’s not like that. We’re not talking about media outlets like The Telegraph or BBC. From an SEO perspective, links from local newspapers have nearly the same value as national ones. So, your goal is to pull together the list of local newspapers and journalists that are writing to them. Once you have everything in one place, it’s time to prepare the right story.
These are the kinds of stories that will work best for journalists:
- Personal stories of success (how your company was founded exactly, what kind of struggles you overcame, and the like).
- Donations. If your company supports some public initiatives, use them as chances to pitch to journalists.
- Local events and meetups. If your company is organizing or supporting local events, tell them your story.
Another thing that you should keep in mind is the schedule of their editorial calendar, without which it might be hard to pitch. And here’s how exactly how you can find their calendars, as shared by Stacey MacNaught:
Finally, you need a press release. That’s what journalists are expecting to receive and that’s what you need to send to them. In fact, a press release needs to have a particular structure that includes a headline, location, lead, body, boilerplate, and press contact. If you want to learn more about how to write press releases, then I would recommend you to check out this post.
Developing quality content for earning links
On a general note, did you know that businesses that produce content receive 97% more links than those who don’t? The reason behind is pretty simple, as it’s much easier to link to content pages as compared to commercial ones. However, not all content are created equal and have the same level of linkability.
To get a better understanding of what type of content has the highest number of referring domains, you can use BuzzSumo. You can search through their Content Explorer report with any term related to your industry.
As you can see from my screenshot, the best types of content within a digital marketing niche are research, case studies and in-depth how-to-guides. In fact, an Ahrefs study highlighted that the majority of content that don’t receive traffic have over 140 referring domains.
It is undisputed that analytical pieces are great. However, not every company can afford them. In light of this, I am suggesting a few ideas that could be done on a low budget:
- Add quotes by experts to your content. They don’t have to be long, and will always increase the trustworthiness of any post.
- Allocate links to your clients, as well as industry friends/partners that also run their own blogs. This will allow you to easily generate a link back to your piece without spending a substantial amount of time in pitching for links.
- Deliver expert round-up posts. Yes, they still work. In fact, they may be a great way to connect with influencers in your industry.
- Make your content visually appealing. By this, I mean to deliver something truly unique. Hire a designer that brings justice to the beauty of your post with dazzling visuals.
Let the link-building efforts begin
Just to reiterate and provide a short summary, link-building does not need to be as hard as you imagine it to be. Consistency is the key to accomplishing this feat. Tools like Ahrefs and BuzzSumo will trivialize a large portion of the research process, so use them well to identify influencers and experts to pitch to. Hunter.io will then provide you with the means of contacting them. Remember that quality content comes before pitching, so beef them up and make them shine. With some creativity and research, you’ll be on track to gathering lots of links for your content!
About the Author
Alexandra Tachalova has worked in digital marketing for over six years. She is a digital marketing consultant who focuses on link building, content marketing, and SMM.
Alexandra is a frequent speaker and founder of online digital marketing event DigitalOlympus.net