23/02/2011

By Matt Roberts, Linkdex

I started my marketing career nearly 20 years ago in the largest UK direct marketing agencies. I really wanted to work there because whilst at University I had discovered Drayton Bird and his book Common Sense Direct Marketing.

What I loved most about direct marketing was how developing direct relationships with prospects could be scientific, measurable and very accountable. What you could then do it use a combination acquired knowledge, best practice and creative marketing to maximize ongoing response and revenues.

So what has this got to do with you? Paid search experts utilize these skills every day. They may not know they are using 30-year-old skills, but at least they are using them. The same is true of email marketers.

In my opinion, SEO’s and especially link builders are not aware enough of these skills and how direct marketing can help them beat the competition, and they should be.

What I am suggesting now is that every SEO should reconnect with Direct Marketing and Drayton Bird now, and here is why.

How do you maximize link building response rates?

The main method of outreach for a link builder is email. Direct mail professionals will tell you that the ingredients that define what kind of response you’re going to get to your attempt to engage with another individual in order of importance are:

* List

* Offer

* Timing

* Creative

Let me take each of these in turn and apply them to SEO with a view to increasing your SEO performance.

The list

Generating a list of backlinks from the common and openly and available link list providers gives you nothing more than a poorly targeted cold call list capable of generating you a poor response rate to any offer or creative you approach them with.

Why? Because you’ve not been able to clean, profile and segment the data according to criteria that are important to your specific campaign. A process used and perfected by Direct Mail specialists when most of us reading this were at school.

It’s now 2011 and I’ve seen two solutions to this problem. Linkdex is one. We have invested close to a $1m in bringing you better more responsive link data. The other is Ontolo who has a different but very intelligent solution to the same data problem.

So l am going to be direct and a little controversial. If you work through poorly qualified lists of links, STOP. Think about how accurate, segmentable, and responsive those lists really are. Would be better-spent using much better data sources?

The Offer

Matching what you want to say to sell to the target audience has a huge impact on conversion. If blogger outreach is your strategy, aren’t you better just talking to bloggers that have a history of linking to sites like yours? If you want to get links from curated resource pages, aren’t you better of talking to webmasters of sites that create and curate resources? You get the idea.

Timing

When I planned press media, Monday was the best day for response and it reduced in a straight lined as the week went on. I’ve seen some email marketing data to suggest a similar thing happens. I also know some brilliant PPC specialists who adjust campaigns by month, week, day and hour to maximize response.

I also know that PR specialists are very time aware. They think a great deal about when is best to place a story, taking into account the new agenda of the day or week, the seasonality of a specific market, or the editorial agenda of the publication being targeted.

Time is likely to apply to your efforts the question is how and can you use it to maximize each campaigns effectiveness.

The Creative

Finally we get to the creative. If you’re sending out emails, press releases, or even commenting. What you say and how you say it will matter hugely. It’s of no surprise that Drayton has also written a book on Writing Sales Letters That Sell.

What are you saying and is it really going to get the best response rate possible? Are you testing and measuring different techniques for achieving your goals?

Which brings me back to where I started. I think we can all learn from Drayton, and I think we should invest in the best data available to pitch relevant offers at the right time with smart responsive creative. We should then measure the response rate and carry on enagaing with our new link partners. All things Linkdex is brilliant at helping you with. All which is Common Sense Direct Marketing!

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