Most of your efforts to raise your site’s SEO are understandably going to take place online. That’s where your website is, after all. Often, though, your most effective secret weapon in gaining effective friendships online is to bring in offline methods. If you’ve never imagined how print could help you optimize your web presence, keep reading!
Direct Mail Pitching
When we say “direct mail,” we’re not necessarily talking about those large, colorful postcards you get from your dentist (though those can help too). To build your online network, you’ll need something much more personalized.
To start, find out who’s the webmaster at the site you’re interested in working with. There should at least be an address listed for the company’s main physical location on their “About Us” page, if not more specific contact info for the main personnel. (If the company website and Google Maps searches don’t yield you anything, you could even pop over to who.godaddy.com and find their location through their URL. Don’t do this too often, though, and keep the creep factor down to a minimum. Use any readily provided data you can find first.)
Next, think about how you’ll present yourself. You want to come bearing the solution to a problem they have, but how will you do it?
A popular and successful technique is to send your contact half of a multi-part product, explaining that their work without the service you provide is only half as effective as it could be. If they’ll contact you (email, phone call, or face-to-face chat) for a demo of your work, they get the other half of the gift for free! Everybody loves free stuff, especially when you’re up-front and honest about what the “catch” is.
One of my coworkers recently got this approach from a web analytics service. They sent him one piece of a popular fitness tool, along with a friendly personalized letter offering the other half in exchange for a conversation. The use of snail mail made sure the gift would arrive at the same time as the message and created a tangible connection that a simple email couldn’t replicate. If you’d like to try this approach, do some research on your potential contact’s social media or blog to see what interests or hobbies you can tap into.
This approach may seem outlandish, but it works.
Connecting and Meeting Through Social Media
Sometimes the person you wish to partner with is near enough for you to meet in person. If that’s at all possible, you should definitely consider it. Even with all our technological advances, humanity hasn’t changed much; being in the same room with someone is still the crème de la crème of building connections.
If the site you’re looking to partner with is a major one, the webmaster should be easy to find through professional channels like LinkedIn, or Twitter. Send a brief, sincere message explaining your interest in a partnership, and offer to treat this potential client to drinks and eats of their choice so you can discuss business in person. Don’t leave anything out of the invitation. If you neglect to mention any details until you’ve got them across a table from you, they will probably feel tricked and summarily ignore your future communications.
Since the conversation you want to have is part of your initial pitch, you probably won’t need to bring a gift (especially if you’re picking up the tab). You should still have something to show for yourself, though. Your contact will only be interested in a working relationship if you meet two qualifications: 1) You’ve done your homework and can pinpoint a problem in their operations that you know how to solve. 2) Your site is at least their equal in quality in terms of authority and traffic. (They may have more requirements of their own, but these are the main two to focus on.)
You can demonstrate the second by giving them the opportunity to browse your own site before you meet. The second, your familiarity with their pain points and the accompanying solutions, can be proved with a thorough an SEO audit of your prospect’s site that you print and bring with you to the conversation (have an extra copy for them to keep). This is a natural gateway for you to present whatever value you propose to add to their site: increased traffic, broken link fixes, content contributions, etc.
Gauge the flow of the conversation before you present your printed SEO audit of your prospect’s site. Presenting it up front before breaking the ice or an obvious lack of connection may come off as arrogant, and could damage your reputation locally.
Make sure you’re prepared for any industry networking events with some premium business cards that contain your essential information. These (like the mailed gift) give recipients a physical object to remember you by, and increase your chances of a follow-up conversation. Don’t just stick to local events if you’re not seeing much opportunity; be willing to travel to a few high-profile conventions in your region if you can.
If you hit it off with some new friends during the networking time and they want to talk more later, prepare the same way you would for a meetup that you initiated on social media. Prepare your audit, making it look sharp and highlighting your main talking points — don’t be too detailed or they might get tired of you.
You know you can bring as much to a partnership as your contact can, so go ahead and indulge your inner movie villain. Notice how the bad guy always says during his attempt to sway the hero, “You and I are not so different. We both want the same thing”? While you probably shouldn’t be so cheesy about it, that’s essentially the angle you want. Point out that although both of your websites have quality, working together as you recommend will give you each something that you need to improve. Then you can each talk about how great the other was to work with, which will drive your existing traffic to each other’s sites.
Hopefully we’ve given you some new ideas about the important place print (and offline marketing in general) holds in the world of SEO. What are your thoughts? Share your best suggestions for building web partnerships below!