Lions and Tigers and an unprecedented crisis that threatens everything, oh my!
COVID-19, the nasty virus that needs no introduction, is here and it’s all the world is thinking about, SEOs included. Whether you’re using search strings to scour the web for prospects or checking on industry updates to see how your clients are doing, you’ll run into COVID-19 headlines.
It’s safe to say that these headlines make us feel not-so-great. But today, we’re choosing to look at the bright side (which we’ve been trying a lot more lately!)
The internet, even full of it’s headlines, gives us a platform to remind each other that we’re all in this together. This reminder couldn’t be more true for the work we do as Content Marketers and SEOs.
As our teams continue to think about link building and outreach during the crisis, there are important steps we must take to navigate outreach with care when the world needs it most.
We’re sharing what our teams are actually doing to see links go live for our clients during COVID-19.
1. Care, Genuinely
Ask yourself: what’s the person reading my outreach email going through?
If there is one thing you take away from this entire article, let it be this: care about the people you’re reaching out to.
Think about your current situation. You’re working from home with kiddos running around and screaming in the background of a zoom call. Or you’re dealing with the stress of a sick family member. Or maybe you’re postponing a major life event like a wedding, a baby shower or graduation.
All of this takes a toll. Now consider that those we’re reaching out to are going through the same.
Here’s how you can show care in your outreach templates:
- Add a human element to your personalization
- Promote a topic that resonates with the times and can actually help people
- Acknowledge the current situation
- Adjust your signature
If you’re curious what “showing care” looks like, check out the snippets below. These are a few emails that were sent out from our team this week that nod to COVID-19.
Outreach Template Prompts to Acknowledge COVID-19
- “We’ve created TOPIC to entertain kids of all ages during this time at home.”
- “If you think these would be helpful for families this season..”
How Your Enneagram Can Help You Grow
- “Due to recent events, focusing on self-care and personal development is more important than ever, so we’ve highlighted TOPIC.”
- “If you think this would give your readers the boost of positivity they deserve…”
Password Sharing Habits Survey
- “As streaming services such as Netflix and delivery services such as Uber Eats are seeing a surge in usage during social distancing, it’s more important now than ever for Americans to take online privacy threats seriously.”
If you’re second-guessing if your template shows care, it doesn’t. Take another stab and incorporate some of the tips throughout this article.
2. Success Starts At the Brainstorming Phase
Ask yourself, would this topic be considered insensitive during this time?
If the answer is yes, then it’s time to pivot what you’re promoting or put the topic on the backburner for another time. As content marketers, we know this can be a difficult task with typical content calendars planned out at least two-three months in advance.
But we’re here to tell you the swap is worth it. You’ll end up with more links in the long run by promoting a piece that’s relatable or helpful and your team will feel good about promoting content that’s helping people who need it.
3. Compile Themes That Resonate With Prospects
Ask yourself, what’s getting people talking and sharing and how might this impact my clients and their customers?
The answer to the question above is the content that’s going to win you link placements.
The unfortunate truth is that SEO tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush aren’t going to keep a search volume pulse on trending topics, but that’s what Twitter, Reddit, Google Trends and Exploding Topics are for.
Use social media to understand what the current conversation is. Twitter is a quick way to understand what your industry or your client’s industry is interested in sharing. What’s getting them fired up? Follow industry leaders to get a feel for the conversation and how your client fits into that. If you’re not sure who the experts are, use hashtags to your advantage.
For example, I follow a handful of digital marketing experts on Twitter and I’m always a quick scroll away from seeing what the conversation is around SEO and COVID-19. Talk about a gold mine for outreach angles and even content brainstorms. Could we promote a piece on different companies and who led the digital transformation? Hi, Aleyda Solis! 👋
Use Google Trends data to see what’s been spiking in your industry. Search around the most common keywords for your client as a good starting point. For example, a lot of people are working remotely due to COVID-19. For a client in the cybersecurity industry that means more people searching for “Microsoft Teams Security.” For a client in the beauty industry, that means people searching for at-home gel nail polish kits or tips for cutting their own hair. See you never bangs cut by myself!
Use Feedly to see what’s being posted on a daily/weekly basis from industry-specific channels you curated for your team. Feedly is a news aggregator application that compiles feeds from a variety of sources you tell it you’re interested in. Think creating a Women’s Wellness feed that compiles articles from Bustle, Man Repeller, The Cut and anything else that might relate to your client. This tool is a game-changer. Our team highly recommends checking this weekly, if not daily to inform brainstorming and pitch angles for your outreach templates.
Use Reddit to see what the current conversation is around COVID-19. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but ask yourself what you can add to your templates to match the conversation or be ahead of the current conversation.
For example, if the business industry is sharing tons of tips for working from home, what are people going to be talking about after that?
Use Exploding Topics to see what topics are new-new and what topics might have peaked. This is a good check if you’re not sure whether or not a fad is going out of style or still in.
It’s unknown how this will pan out or what’s coming up next, but creating a general list of themes around COVID-19 and how they might tie to your clients is a great start for outreach success.
Now when it comes to mapping content to those themes for a timely outreach pitch you can always look to your client’s archives to find a match.
4. Update and Repromote Relevant Content
Ask yourself: which topics would resonate with people now and do we already have a post on that?
If you’ve worked with your clients for a year or more on content strategy, you have a laundry list of live posts that could be updated and repromoted.
Think about the themes we discussed above when looking at your content archives for re-promotion opportunities.
For example, we found an opportunity to update and re-promote the following topics because that’s where the COVID conversation is:
Maybe you don’t need to go through your archives for a topic that’s worth promoting and your client has data to leverage.
5. Stand Out With Unique Data
Ask yourself: what can my client be seen as an authority in that resonates with the current conversation?
Can you add data points or resources to current pieces that are in the research phase or can you create an entirely new article or report to address COVID?
There are a lot of opinions being shared online regarding COVID-19 so let’s give journalists and reporters the numbers and facts that they want to share.
For example, you can use proprietary data on travel statistics by city or state to compile facts that local news outlets could be interested in picking up.
Don’t forget about the little things that people are still celebrating despite the pandemic.
6. Leverage Micro-holidays To Get Links
Ask yourself: what micro-holidays are coming up that fit with what we’re promoting and can add to our templates?
For example, May is Older Americans Month. With the majority of older Americans being hit the hardest by COVID-19, it might be a natural tie for a piece of content. You can include in your pitch, “It’s Older Americans Month, let’s keep our elderly safe by….”
Our team promoted a piece for a client in the lifestyle space on Who’s Your Shero + 9 Tips to Becoming Your Own. The outreach template leveraged March being International Women’s Month and enticed prospects to share our piece of content as a toast to that and the strong women in their lives.
You can find these micro-holidays with a quick Google Search. Holiday Insights is a fun resource too.
7. Be Sensitive
Ask yourself: where does this blogger or webmaster live?
Reaching out to folks who are getting hit the hardest is not only insensitive, but also the least likely to result in a link for you and your client. Show care by passing on this prospect from the get-go.
For example, this week our team is going to be cautious and avoid reaching out to any prospects that are in the New York area.
Okay so you’ve got your template that “shows care,” your themes and everything else, but you might be wondering what types of outreach can get quick links and what else is off limits?
8. Leverage BLB to Get Quick Links
Ask yourself: do we have any long-form resource guides to repromote?
BLB or broken link building outreach has been successful from our teams’ point of view. We imagine this is likely because Webmasters are at home and can fairly quickly replace a broken link on their site with our client’s asset.
You get a link for your client and the webmaster gets an updated resource.
9. Rethink High-end News Outreach
Ask yourself: does my client have any COVID-19 related content or data that journalists would be interested in covering?
The majority of journalists are all hands on deck covering COVID-19. Unless what you’re pitching provides a new, valuable story they haven’t covered already, save your team’s time with survey posts or unique data that doesn’t match up.
COVID-19 has been covered from every angle imaginable. If you are going to go after high-end news coverage, be sure to have a crisis-specific news outreach plan. Think about facts or data you can pull that can shape a new narrative for coverage.
For example, one of our clients in the travel industry has data on the percentage of travel that’s down in certain locations of the US. We can leverage local news stations for areas that are covered in the report and see if they’re interested in sharing.
10. Avoid Prospects In Events and Weddings
Ask yourself: does my client have any content that would help this industry navigate rescheduling?
The wedding industry is dealing with pushing a lot of their events back and will likely be less responsive.
11. Avoid Businesses Who Are Closing Or Cutting Back Hours
When prospecting ask yourself: is there a note on the site that they’re closed for business?
A lot of companies have added COVID-19 banners or messages on their homepages. Shout-out to U-haul who’s reminder it’s customers that they’re open and available to help. If you can’t find a note on the site about whether or not the business is still running as usual, check their social media too.
12. Update Templates As New Developments Emerge
Keep asking yourself: what’s going on now with COVID-19?
Stay on top of what’s going on and adjust your templates and content as necessary.
For example, in the earlier stages of COVID-19, we had created a piece of content for a travel client on the epidemic. Once it came out that it was escalating to a pandemic, that outreach template and content were updated to reflect the news.
Keep a pulse on updates and run the questions below by your team to make sure you’re doing so. It’s our duty as Content Marketers to stay on top of the news and what’s next. One way that your teams can do that is by constantly questioning.
- What’s the person reading my outreach email going through?
- Would this topic be considered insensitive during this time?
- What’s getting people talking and sharing and how might this impact my clients and their customers?
- Which topics would resonate with people now and do we already have a post on that?
- What can my client be seen as an authority in that resonates with the current conversation?
- What micro-holidays are coming up that fit with what we’re promoting and can add to our templates?
- Do we have any long-form resource guides to repromote with BLB?
- Where do prospects (blogger or webmaster) live and has that area been hit hard by COVID-19?
- Does my client have any COVID-19 related content or data that journalists would be interested in covering?
- Is there a note on their site or social media that mentions a prospect might be closed for business?
- What’s going on now with COVID-19?
13. Pivot Follow-ups To Connect To The Virus
Ask yourself: how do current updates relate to this piece of content?
As we’re a couple weeks into the news, this tip comes from our team as they’re considering follow-up emails. Show care with your follow-ups and only reach out to those prospects who showed interest by opening your email or clicking the link. Buzzstream tracks these nicely so you’ll have a clear view.
For example, is your visual on unconventional career paths of successful people relevant now because so many people are facing unexpected challenges in their careers?
Bonus: Search Strings For New COVID Queries
Ask yourself: are there “new norms” in my industry due to COVID-19?
For example, here are some search strings for lifestyle outreach markets:
- Socialize during quarantine
- Parenting in a pandemic
- Healthy ideas for social distancing
- How to keep in touch with friends during social distancing
- Social distancing and self care
- Screen time and quarantine
What’s been working for your team? Share with us!
We mentioned showing care with your outreach strategies but, don’t forget to show care for yourself and your team too.