If there is one thing you will never find on this blog, it’s a zillion link building services and software. Why? Because most of them are crap. They get you links on a set of low quality sites or services that are bound to get you penalised one day or another.
That’s not what Buzzstream is. Buzzstream is a relationship and outreach CRM that allows you to manage and grow a large volume of outreach campaigns if used correctly.
Now the nuance is in the last part of the previous sentence. While extremely powerful in the right hands, like most CRM’s, Buzzstream is not necessarily an easy tool to master.
If you put that together with the fact that most people have zero experience in carrying a successful outreach campaign, you have a potential recipe for disaster.
In this Buzzstream review, I’m not going to try and sell the software to you. I will simply show you how we use it in our business, the results we get from it and let you decide for yourself if the program is right for you.
Keep in mind that strategic outreach at scale is a fairly advanced tactic and therefore, a lot of the concepts talked about in this post are complicated. Feel free to use the comment section if you have any question.
Wait, isn’t getting links from outreach a myth unless I’m a massive brand ?
Short answer, No. Here are some screenshots of me outreaching using Buzzstream and getting some sweet links from it. I got these links using the Skyscraper technique by Brian Dean.
So yes, outreaching works, it actually works damn well if you meet the criteria required to succeed at it. It does take some time however. I personally set apart 1-2 evenings/week to outreach for our sites.
My positive response rate is 4 – 15% depending on the niche you’re in and how well established you are. This means that on average you will need to send 7 – 25 emails for a link to get live.
The good news is, Buzzstream can help you speed the process up significantly so it’s not as much as a chore as it sounds.
The other good news is that this kind of link has virtually zero chance to be penalised by Google… ever. Why ? Because they’re editorially reviewed and approved. That’s exactly the kind of links Google wants to see you acquire.
If you’re looking for organic traffic growth that survives updates, look no further, this is what you need to do. But first, let’s see if you’re ready for this.
How important is outreach for you ?
The first question you need to ask yourself before you jump into using something like Buzzstream is how serious you are about outreaching.
Yesware is normally a sales tool for gmail that lets you handle basic outreach activities. It manages email templates, and has a basic open/reply analytics so you can do a bit of optimisation there.
It’s great if you send a couple of outreach emails a week but if you want to run true outreach campaigns that can build a ton of links and authority to your site, keep reading, you’re in for a treat.
The stuff you need to take care of before considering outreach link building
Outreach is one of these marketing activities where many try and most fail. Why ? Because they’re not ready to put themselves out there yet.
Let me be clear. This is not a magic link building formula. This is a link earning formula. That means that the people that you will outreach to and that will potentially link to you will go and review your site and judge you based on what they see.
What does that mean ?
That means that if your site is 100% commercial, unoriginal with average content and a design from 1995, your chances of earning links from outreach activities are close to zero.
Sure, you’ll get a yes from guest post farms (read disguised PBN’s) but that’s not really what you should be aiming for when spending that much time and resources in building links.
Working for clients, I can’t count the number of times when I’ve heard a marketing manager who was unable to fix anything on their site because it was “too complicated” come up with the fake good idea of “doing outreach” to grow, only to wrap it up a few months later because it produced close to no results.
Here’s a quick checklists of the things you must have before you start spending time outreaching. If you don’t have them all, your time is better spent getting them done.
1. Your design is clean and modern
If your site looks like it was released at the same time as Blade Runner (1982), you just won’t be taken seriously when attempting to outreach.
If your site is not ready design wise, I suggest you check out what the guys over at Thrive Themes have for you.
They offer clean design conversion optimised themes on top of an amazing visual content builder (that’s the framework I’m using on this site and many others).
2. You have top content on your site already and can create more if needed
Let’s face it, most of the outreach tactics out there rely on you having or being able to create awesome content that people love reading.
If you’re unable to show any proof of your ability to do that, your chances of success are low.
If you need help with that, I recommend you check Copycog out. You will be able to find awesome content creators that will help you do just that.
Start by creating a few pieces on your site you can use as showcase when you outreach then keep the content creators ready for when you get invited to guest post from your outreach.
3. You have a recognisable avatar
That’s right, even if you produce content as a company, you should also put a face on that content.
Your response rate is going to skyrocket if you outreach as Gael creator of awesome content on Authority Hacker Vs Mr X, Marketing Executive at Oscorp INC.
Am I trying to discourage you by putting all these rules out there ? No, I think outreach is awesome and a ton of growth can be generated from it.
However, if you operate under the wrong circumstances, you will put a ton of hours in for very little response/results, get discouraged and curse Authority Hacker for sending you that way.
Let’s just put together a little table assuming you go from 2% to 5% positive response rate by adopting all these rules. 8% for those who go nuts on quality. Here’s a look at hours spend and links earned.
|Links Acquired||Positive Response Rate||Emails Required|
As you can see, if you put the right background elements in place, you could be saving yourself a ton of time.
Plus, this doesn’t include qualitative metrics but by implementing the basic elements mentioned above, you’ll probably end up being featured on larger, more authoritative sites.
Alright, if you’re still reading, it’s about time I show you how to achieve magical white hat links that rank you on top of the Googles using Buzzstream.
One thing to note with Buzzstream as well is how you structure your account. Like every CRM, the decisions you make on structure will make or break the CRM.
Since the system allows you to have an unlimited amount of projects, I like to split it up quite a bit by first building a folder per site, then a sub folder per piece of content then a project per opportunity source.
You just need to be careful when it comes to duplicates but Buzzstream does a good job at showing you if a target is already in another project.
The Outreach Process
The graph above represents the steps we follow when running an outreach campaign. I will go through each stage in detail bellow, explain why they are necessary and how to execute them using Buzzstream.
1. Selecting Your Outreach Tactic
Before you approach people to link to you, you need an angle, a way to start the conversation and a reason why they’d be linking to you. There are 3 recommended tactics that work reasonably well at the moment:
Guest Posting: The core principle of this tactic is to have other people host an original blog post of yours on their blog.
It gives an opportunity to their audience to discover what you’re all about, check out your site, sign up to your list. Plus you tend to get great editorial links pointing back to your site that help your SEO.
The Skyscraper Technique: This tactic got its name from Brian Dean from Backlinko.
It consists in finding an older piece of content that collected a lot of links, redoing it better on your site and outreaching to everyone that linked to the older piece so they also link to you.
Broken Link Building: This tactic’s goal is to find resource pages on authoritative sites that link to dead pages. You then rehost the resource or redo it better and outreach to them to update the link to your site.
These are the 3 main tactics we use Buzzstream and outreach for but there are many other tactics you could use to promote yourself with outreach such as:
- Scolarship promotion
- Direct sales (I made over $10,000 of sales using Buzzstream for sales outreach)
- Review requests
- Affiliate recruitment
- Give away and contest promotion
2. Identifying outreach targets
You need to find a way to find a group of targets that match the criteria of the tactic you’ve chosen to increase your likelihood of success. For example:
- Guest Posting: Sites that have accepted guest posts in the past
- Skyscraper Technique: Sites that have linked to similar, less developed pieces of content.
- Broken link building: Sites with resource pages on your topic that have broken links
Additionally, great outreach targets will also possess the following attributes:
- High Domain Authority (40+)
- Regular updates (dead/unupdated sites will rarely link to you)
- A proof of readership (Blog comments, social shares, mentions etc)
- A history of getting involved in the community and linking out to others.
There’s usually 2 ways of finding these kind of targets: Google advanced queries or reverse engineering competitors that have used these tactics using 3rd party tools.
If you don’t use a system like Buzzstream, you will have to log these opportunity in a spreadsheet to collect their contact details (it gets messy quickly) plus, you will have to log them one by one (very time consuming).
The good news if you’re using Buzzstream is that it comes built in with a Google scraper so you can input your advanced queries in and have it scrape hundreds of potential targets that you can then quickly review in an iframe.
Now scraping Google does work well and can get you plenty of opportunities out of the box with Buzzstream for broken link building and guest posting.
However, Google doesn’t necessarily return the most relevant results for these and I tend to like using Buzzsumo in combination with the Buzzstream Buzzmarker (Chrome extension) to scrape Buzzsumo results of guest posts in my niche that are popular on social media and recent.
For the Skyscraper technique, I tend to use Ahrefs (read the review) and scrape the dofollow links to the piece of content I’m trying to reverse engineer.
Ahrefs does a good job at filtering the links I want to look at and pushing the crap down/hiding it. so only the best opportunities end up in my prospect list.
3. Filtering & Collecting details
Now that you know how to collect link prospects, it’s time to go for what is probably the most time consuming activity of the whole process: filtering and details collection.
In this phase, we’ll try and separate the gems from dust and collect enough information about the sites we’d really like to get links from to approach them the right way.
This is by far the most time consuming and most crucial part of the process. You’re going to have to go around the website, identify who the editors are, what their email address is etc.
But let’s start with first things first: Filtering. Buzzstream has a built in review system that allows you to review all (or selected) sites in a project and the Buzzmarker allows you to review prospect lists in an iframe on the fly.
Buzzstream also attempts to scrape contact details but it’s a bit of a hit and miss. What I suggest if you do the following:
- CTRL+F Contact and find the contact page. If it’s a generic form add it to Buzzstream but keep going and try and find a personal email address.
- Go on the about page and look for a “team” section or page. Look if individuals have their emails listed and if they do, try and find the person responsible for the website/content and add them in with their names.
- If you still don’t have it do some googling as described in Wordstream’s excellent post.
For your outreach to be as successful as possible, you want to collect at least this information:
- The name of the person you’re outreaching to
- One or two personal thing about themselves
- A link to their social profiles
- The specific information you need based on the approach you’re using (listed bellow)
As you do this, you’ll often realise that many sites are terrible at telling you how you can get in touch with them. I lose up to 15% of my prospects in this phase. It’s something you’re gonna have to learn to deal with.
It will also make you rethink how easy YOU are to get in touch with and probably help you fix some issues on your site.
One thing to note is that sometimes, there will be nothing else than the good old contact form for you to get in touch. Don’t get discouraged, add it to your contact info in Buzzstream and copy/paste the outreach email into it when you reach that stage.
4. Pre Outreach Activities
You can’t just outreach and ask for links. Your success rate would be very low. You need to build up to that in order to maximise your chances.
One of the best ways to do this is to use social media to give before you receive.
How do you do this? Simple, you promote the site you want to be featured on and let them know passively you’re promoting them to trigger that reciprocation feeling.
I usually follow the pattern bellow when it comes to warming prospects up. Additionally I’ll drop a comment on one of their posts if they’re also the site owner (as they also administrate comments then).
The trick with the social shares is that you should mention their username each time so they get notified when you share their content. This will get you on their radar several times before the initial outreach.
Plus, if you built your Twitter following using my guide, you’ll be able to generate a few retweets/favourites that generate even more notifications, adding value to your shares.
I recommend using Hootsuite to schedule several tweets at the moment you’re prospecting so you can set it and forget it as you qualify outreach targets.
Moreover, in order to keep your prospect database up to date as where you’re at when it comes to warming up your leads, Buzzstream allows you to create custom relationship stages.
Here’s what mine look like:
You will also note that I have relationship stages going beyond link acquisition. But more on that later!
5. Initial Outreach
Once everything is ready and you’ve warmed up your targets, you can FINALLY send the first contact email.
By the time you outreach, the site owner should have at least a vague idea of who you are due to your warm up and you can open with one of the templates provided at the end of this post.
Buzzstream comes with an outreach and template manager that are going to save you a ton of time.
The template manager allows you to store your templates and collect the success rates of each one so you can run your own tests and decide what works best for you.
It’s huge if you plan on doing outreach over time as I was able to double my reply rates by changing my subject line from “love your content!” to “love your content! (and a proposal)“.
What I suggest you do is you create core templates for each strategy then duplicate and tweak them for each project.
Now is time to see if you’ve done the prospect qualification and information collecting right.
See, Buzzstream allows you to create dynamically populated emails based on the information you’ve collected.
That make them look very personal. If on top of that you customise your template on project level, your emails will basically read like they’re exactly tailored for the person you’re reaching out to.
That’s what makes the difference between 5% and 10% reply back outreach.
Once you’ve selected a number of prospects in your project view, you’ll be able to outreach to them and have Buzzstream magically piece everything together. Their email, their personal info, the urls you wanted mentioned etc.
You then need to quickly review the email, personalise it here and there and press send. Buzzstream will then load the next contact and fill everything up the same way for you. Efficient!
Another convenient thing is that as you use the outreach module, Buzzstream will automatically change the relationship stage to attempting to outreach.
This lets you keep track of who you’ve emailed and who you haven’t automatically.
6. Follow up
Now if everyone was getting back to you right after your first email, that’d be great. But that’s not exactly what happens in real life.
I’ve found that by implementing a simple follow up strategy I managed to almost get twice more links per hour.
Thankfuly, Buzzstream lets you do exactly that. It reminds you to follow up, let’s you outreach again with a second template and this gets a lot of replies.
I usually use a pretty generic template for following up as the goal is merely to remind them about the first super personalised email I sent.
It usually goes like that:
Subject: Did you miss my last email ?
Hey [First Name],
Did you receive my last email? I’d really like to hear what you think.
Some people recommend you keep emailing people until they reply. I find it a tad intrusive, that’s why I limit my follow ups to one email. If they don’t reply, they’re simply not interested.
7. Relationship nurturing
Now most people doing outreach will grab their link, run away and never talk again with the person.
I disagree. There’s a ton of opportunities when you’re finally talking and giving to each other. Getting an intro email to their email list, hosting live events together, promoting each other’s services etc.
That’s why my custom relationship stages you saw earlier go beyond the “link accepted” stage.
How you want to structure it essentially depends on what your main objective is but I suggest you create a stage where you get featured on that site’s newsletter at least and build a pitch template for that.
You can then go and pick your “link accepted” prospects and try and get them to email your latest greatest post by sending it to them or have them link to you again.
Tactic guides with Buzzstream
Alright, that was a lot of theory. Now I think it’s time to show you how it’s done for the 3 tactics mentioned in this post.
1. Guest Posting
Suggested Outreach Template:
Subject: Love your content ! (And a proposal)
Hi [First Name],
I’m a long time reader. You may have noticed my comment and shares on your post “[Mentioned Content Title]” (awesome article by the way).
I’m writing to you because I’d love to contribute a guest post to [Their site].
Are you still accepting them ?
I’ve been brainstorming some topics that I think your readers would get a ton of value from:
- Idea 1
- Idea 2
- Idea 3
To give you an idea of the quality I’ll bring to your site, here are some other posts on skin care that we’ve published:
- Sample article 1
- Sample article 2
- Sample article 3
2 . Broken Link Building
Suggested Outreach Template:
Subject: Found an issue on your site
Hi [First Name],
Hope you’re doing good. I was browsing through a couple of your posts today and came across a broken link :-(
Would you like me to send over the details?
Subject: Reply to the previous email
Hi again [First Name],
Sure thing, here’s the details!
The broken link I found is on this page [Page with Broken Link] and is pointing to [Page with a broken link to].
If you’re looking for an replacement link, I’ve just published a post which brings the topic bang up to date.
You can find my post here: – [your link] Would be great if you could add my post to your page :-).
If you need to discuss you can drop me an email or give me a call on the number below.
3. Skyscraper Technique
Suggested Outreach Template:
Subject: Love your content ! (And a proposal)
Hey [First Name],
I was poking around today and came across your article: [Mentioned Content Title] ([Mentioned Content URL]).
I noticed that you mentioned Mensfitness’s juice recipes for better health (http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/juice-to-boost-your-brainpower-immunity-and-energy) on the page. I also love that article.
In fact, it inspired us to create a more thorough and actionable version also updated for 2014: http://www.healthambition.com/best-healthy-juice-recipes/.
I’d be tickled pink if you’d consider adding it to your page.
Co-Founder of Health Ambition