I’m going to be brazen and say something extreme: you can’t do outreach without tools. At least, you can’t do good outreach. And you can’t do great outreach without great tools. You get it. A great digital marketing strategy is like a huge rock band—each player has a part to play, but they wouldn’t be anywhere without their instruments (picture a group of grown men and women making silly gestures in the air—no result, and I’d probably be a little embarrassed for them).
I’m sure tools vary from company to company, but after years at this, and going rounds with the good ol’ school of hard knocks and trial and error, these are my lucky 13. To give more tangible examples, I’m going to be pitching my fake travel site EuropeforaDollar.com (hey—a girl can dream).
Streak Chrome Gmail Extension
Streak is one of those tools that I don’t know how I ever lived without. There are lots of ways you can use Streak but for what it’s worth I only use the email tracking.
I can see if an editor has opened my email and how many times. Then, when they don’t reply, I can send them an innocent email asking if they had received my email when I know that they opened it TWELVE times. By the way, this tool can also drive you to the brink of insanity.
Twitter is a great tool for outreach, because, according to some, journalists, editors, and PR people make up a huge percentage of its users. Many editors openly call for pitches and quite a few of them make their email addresses public.
Just using a simple search for “pitch me” yields a lot of great results. The caveat here is that these editors get a LOT of email, so make that subject line pop and be sure to follow up. Twitter is also great for maintaining and building relationships with your contacts. Some editors spend way more time on Twitter than they do answering emails but I will not name names. You know who you are.
Google Advanced Search Queries
You just can’t beat a good, well-executed advanced Google search when you’re looking for guest post opportunities, but Google search does have a language all its own. If you’re less familiar, aHrefs has a pretty good list of queries you can use in Google along with explanations and a few examples. If you’re a search nerd and an outreach specialist, using combinations of these queries virtually guarantees you’ll never find the end of the internet when you’re looking for guest post opportunities.
For example, sometimes I’ll cast my net wide with something like “inurl:travel “write for us”” or just “inurl:blog travel.” As another example, if I were looking for niche Canadian travel sites that talk about European cruises I can search for “intitle:European Cruises inurl:.ca inurl:travel.” But really, you shouldn’t get THIS specific. In this example, I only got one really targeted result which isn’t super helpful, but you get the point: you can get really granular.
Moz Chrome Extension
And on that note, never go searching the deep dark internet without your Moz Bar extension installed.
No one wants to spend a ton of time writing a guest post for a site that has a domain authority (DA) of 10 unless it’s super niche, super relevant, or it’s a new site that looks like it’s going to gain authority fast. For my fictional travel site, a publication called European Cruise Savings would be a jackpot, even if it only had a DA of 18.
Granted, anyone who has tried using the Moz Chrome extension for long periods of time knows it can be a little buggy. Take this for the wonderful free tool that it is, and press on. The Moz Bar is indispensable and I highly recommend it. You can see where it tells you the domain authority of a site as you search.
Buzzstream is the single best tool for promoting content. It makes prospecting for journalists and media outlets a breeze, not to mention sending emails with handcrafted and personalized templates. It’s even more valuable if you have a team doing the outreach, as you can see who has had the most success with different contacts and who has had none.
For the promotion of my content piece, an evergreen calculator called “European Cruise Calculator Tool” I’d create a project for each country and subprojects for each vertical, like “News,” “Lifestyle,” “Travel,” etc. and begin searching for great outlets to cover my free tool.
Buzzsumo is a powerful content analysis tool. It allows you to easily research who is writing about a particular topic (and you can then add those journalists to a project in Buzzstream). You can set up alerts to track your client’s brand mentions and links, and you can get a ton of helpful ideas when brainstorming for new content promotion campaigns.
For example, I used Buzzsumo to come up with my calculator tool idea above, and will use it to get alerts every time a media outlet covers it.. When I search for “Take a European Cruise” I can see that the writer, Annette White, is someone I might want to reach out to because she has an interest in cruise travel.
Ahrefs is such deep tool that it will take years to figure out all that it can do. It has its own ranking system similar to Moz’s, called domain rank (DR). You can see a complete history of referring domains, track new links coming in, and do a competitive analysis on your client’s competitors. The Link Intersect tool in particular will help you find links that all your competitors are getting and you aren’t, which is a goldmine. Ahrefs does have a Chrome extension but it’s not the most reliable, so I wouldn’t suggest it.
How can anyone do outreach without Moz? Not only do they provide a ton of content for learning about link building, but their tools are amazing. Moz’s tools are widely used by SEO specialists, but it is quite useful to the Outreach Specialist. The “Link Explorer” tool will give you an overview of a site’s backlink profile, who’s linking the most, the DA of those sites, and much, much more. It’s great for competitive analysis, or to track your own client’s inbound links.
Similar to Ahrefs, SEMRush is a very agile tool. I like the user interface a little bit better than Ahrefs, so I use them interchangeably. Occasionally SEMRush doesn’t have information that Ahrefs does, so I toggle between them.
I especially love the geo information that SEMRush has, which is especially helpful when targeting certain countries in your outreach campaign. For instance, if I was just targeting Canadians for my cruise calculator tool, I could find publications with the most Canadian traffic.
Like many of these tools, you’ll need a subscription to use it, but boy what a tool Cision is for outreach. Thousands and thousands of media outlets and contacts are listed in this search tool, and most of them are gold: email addresses, interests, role, and actual beat that they cover.
For instance, I could find the travel editor on most major publications and pitch them specifically for my calculator tool. I could also export a .csv of media outlets and contacts and import it into a project in Buzzstream. Get this tool.
RocketReach is my backup email finder. If I can’t find an editor or journalist’s email address in Cision, I use RocketReach. It’s pretty straightforward.
MailTester is a free tool where you can guess and test an email to see if it works. If I know that Bob Smith who is a film editor at Travel & Leisure and his email is [email protected]&l.com, but I want to contact Joe Johnson, I could try [email protected]&l.com. MailTester will tell you if it’s a valid email address. Make sense? Simple tool, but helpful.
Similar Web Chrome Extension
SimilarWeb is a great extension in my nav bar. I can see geo traffic for every site I’m on, as well as monthly site visits for most sites. I then report to my client how much visibility a particular placement earned them. For instance, if I were to get coverage for my calculator tool on Travel & Leisure, I could report a whopping 9.1 million monthly site visits. Mic drop.
Where to from here?
The success of your outreach efforts is in your hands. Use some of these tools and your outreach rock band will be able to successfully play “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Use them all and you’re looking at mastering “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Your choice—but I say, go big or go home.