We all know how time-consuming outreach for link building can be. We also know that time is money and the majority of us charge per hour. Therefore it becomes very important that we measure our outreach efforts and reduce outreach costs.
This post is all about measuring and optimizing link building outreach efforts like a pro.
In order to measure like a pro, we need to run and manage our outreach campaigns like a pro.
What can be a better way than running and measuring our outreach campaigns like professional email marketing campaigns?
When you run your outreach campaigns like email marketing campaigns, you can develop and use KPIs for your outreach efforts. You are in a better position to optimize your efforts.
Present Challenges with Link Building Outreach Emails
We have no idea whether our email has been delivered
We have no idea where are our email ends up. Is it the ‘spam’ folder?
We have no idea whether our email has been opened.
We can’t guarantee to deliver emails in the ‘inbox’ and avoid the ‘spam’ folder/filters
We can’t measure the conversion rate of our outreach
My article is an attempt to overcome these challenges.
The first thing I would suggest to you is to stop using Gmail/Yahoo email accounts for link building outreach and use a professional email marketing software like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact.
These email platforms are super easy to use and quite cheap. It will take you a few minutes to get used to their interface.
The biggest advantage of using such platforms is that you get access to a whole new level of metrics (like emails sent, bounces, bounced percent, opt-outs, clicks, CTR, etc) for measuring your outreach efforts. These metrics are not available in Google Analytics and are very important for measuring outreach.
For example, the following is a screenshot from Mail Chimp which shows the report of an outreach campaign:
From this report it is clear that out of 6 emails I sent, 3 were opened, 2 were unopened and 1 bounced. Out of 3 who opened my email one person unsubscribed. I can also see that I got a total of 3 clicks in my email.
I can dig further to find out who didn’t open my email, which email bounced and who unsubscribed.
You can’t get such type of valuable information from a standard analytics tool like Google Analytics.
Mail Chimp also lets you connect its account with Google Analytics so that you can calculate the ROI.
But since outreach campaigns are not meant for directly generating revenue on a website, this metric won’t be useful for you as a link builder.
I will later show you how to calculate ROI of your outreach.
Seven Powerful KPIs to measure your Outreach Campaigns
#1. Delivery Rate
Delivery Rate = number of emails delivered/number of emails sent (measured in percentage)
Here number of emails delivered = number of emails sent – number of bounces
You can get this metric from Mail Chimp or other email marketing tools.
If you are neck-deep into link building and you are sending out a lot of emails every day then email delivery is going to cost you.
So in order to reduce your outreach cost, you should aim for a high delivery rate. This is possible only when you get little to no bounce backs. Keep your email list as clean as possible.
#2. Open Rate
Open Rate = number of emails opened/ number of emails delivered (measured in percentage)
Open rate is a great way to measure the effectiveness of youremail subject line.
If your subject line looks spammy or deceptive then the open rate is going to be low.
Take the help of a professional email marketer to craft killer attention-grabbing subject lines if possible.
Another way of improving the open rate is through the ‘From Field’.
Who has sent the email matter a lot to recipients? If the sender’s email address is something like: [email protected] (this is a real spam email address), then the open rate is bound to be low.
If the email address is something like [email protected] then the open rate is bound to be high.
Use the client’s official email address, if possible, or at least use an email address that doesn’t look spammy.
#3. Opt-out Rate
Opt-out Rate= number of unsubscribes/number of emails opened (measured in percentage)
A high opt-out rate is a strong signal of poor outreach. You should aim to keep your opt-out rate to a minimum.
Mail Chimp allows unsubscribers to give feedback about your email. Unsubscribers can mark your email as spam. You can see such a report in the ‘complaints’ section (see the screenshot above).
A high volume of unsubscribes or complaints is a strong sign that something is terribly wrong with your targeting or value proposition.
ISPs may even start blocking your emails if they receive a large number of complaints.
You should avoid following up with those who have unsubscribed.
Why bother providing unsubscribe link in outreach emails?
Any unsolicited commercial message is classed as spam.
So when you are sending out an email especially in US, make sure your emails follow the CAN SPAM Act guidelines.
According to these guidelines, your email must contain an active unsubscribe link.
Violation of CAN SPAM act can result in hefty fine and even jail term.
It is also wise to get a written permission from your client (esp. the big one) to use their brand name in your outreach emails. Big companies are over protective of their brand image.
You don’t want to face a lawsuit later.
It is even better to get ‘professional indemnity insurance’ (or other similar insurance) to protect yourself from bearing the full cost of defending against a professional negligence claim made by your client in case they are sued by a recipient of your email which triggers a chain reaction.
Click to delivery rate = number of clicks in the email/number of emails delivered (measured in percentage)
This is a great metric to measure the quality of the email body content.
If body content is relevant and effective and there are one or more links in the email then ‘click to delivery rate’ is going to be high.
Use this metric only when you have got active links in your emails.
#5. Response Rate
Response Rate = Total number of first time responses/total number of emails opened (measured in percentage)
Consider the response rate as a micro-conversion for your outreach campaigns.
This is a very important metric for measuring the overallquality of your outreach campaigns.
Response rate is directly tied to your authority in the client’s niche, the quality of the mailing list, and how compelling your message is to inspire someone to respond.
So if your campaign is not well-targeted or the body content is not very effective than the response rate is going to be low.
Response rate also depends upon the delivery day and time and the time when the email is read.
Note: I have deliberately used only first-time responses in the calculation of ‘response rate’. If I include all the responses exchanged between a sender and recipients then it will drastically skew the whole metric. So once your email is opened and you get a response (whether positive or negative), you have achieved 100% response rate.
#6. Conversion Rate of outreach
Conversion Rate of outreach = (total number of links earned through outreach/total number of emails opened) (measured in percentage)
This metric decides the ultimate outcome of your outreach efforts and is, therefore, the most important metric of all. Needless to say, you should always aim to improve the conversion rate of your outreach.
It doesn’t matter how many emails were opened or how many responses were exchanged. What matters, in the end, is the number of links earned for every opened email.
#7. ROI of outreach
ROI of outreach = (Your income from SEO – Cost of outreach)/Cost of Outreach (measured in percentage)
Here income from SEO is your SEO fees i.e. what you charge for SEO. It should not be confused with what your client earns through your SEO efforts.
ROI of outreach is an internal metric that is not reported to clients. We calculate ROI internally to reduce thecost of our outreach.
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About the Author
Over 15 years of experience in digital analytics and marketing
Author of four best-selling books on digital analytics and conversion optimization
Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Awards for Excellence
Runs one of the most popular blogs in the world on digital analytics
Consultant to countless small and big businesses over the decade