B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1713 · 8 months ago

Don't Overlook Link Building, with Jeanna Barrett


In this episode, Benji talks to Jeanna Barrett, Founder & Chief Remote Officer at First Page Strategy.

Jeanna shares how FPS has seen massive success from link building through offering small business grants and data-driven content and how you can do similarly.

Conversations from the front lines and marketing. This is be tob growth coming to you from just outside Austin, Texas. I'm your host, Benjie Block, and again today I'm joined by REX, our VP of revenue at sweet fish, and emily, our creative content lead. Were stopping here to chat marketing before we jump into a featured conversation and excited for what rex is going to bring today. I want to let you know our feature conversation today is with Gianna Barrett and we're talking about link building, which is actually something I haven't talked about in the months since I joined the sweetfish team and have been hosting be to be growth, and I found some of what they're doing around link building in their strategy to be very intriguing and it's not maybe typically what you would imagine. So we'll get there in a few minutes, but today REX, I'm going to turn it over to you. Tell us something you're paying attention to in the world of marketing and something you saw that's intriguing to you. Yeah, if you're if you're doing marketing, you're paying attention to anything on Linkedin in the last couple of weeks you probably saw a huge rush of activity around the I don't know if we can call them the emmy awards, but the experimental marketer of the year awards. That was it was run by Metadata, Linkedin, marketing solutions and mutiny, three of the to you think of when you think of great marketing. So it makes total sense that they were able to give out the awards, that they had the authority to say, well, you know who was the best? I thought it was a fantastic event, a great concept. They called out just some amazing brands and one of my favorite things was that there were brands I hadn't really been paying close attention to. There was there's a couple in there is like, Whoa, I need go follow those, which is great. Anytime we can draw out brands that are not getting the spotlight that should be, I think that's wonderful because then we have new examples to pull from. We can learn from other who are doing great work that maybe we're not always seeing in kind of the linkedin biosphere. So it was an awesome event. They did a really nice job just pulling out the best in the brightest. But there were some there were some things that I was thinking about as it relates to these events. And you know, one of the things that I was thinking about is this this concept of let's a war, let's give an award out to those, you know, those who performed the best or maybe the most creative work that also performed well. But I think it's possible that we could learn a lot from the ones that we don't talk about, the ones that don't perform well. So I used to have a show that I ran where I interviewed marketers and we were we were always talking about like, Hey, what performed well? What was the campaign that really hit it out of the park for you? We're always have to celebrate those, but Dang, I've learned so much from my failures, from a total miss and like spending hours or months creating this wonderful piece of content and then just it just dies right or even and no one shows up. I feel like we've learned a lot from that. So, as you all think about what we can learn from events like, you know, the experimental market of the year, should we be highlighting more of those losses? And is anybody incentivized to do that? I'm just not really sure. Emily, you want to go first? Yeah, sure, I mean, I think that this, this campaign was brilliant for several reasons. One, because of the affinity it builts for those who hosted it and then how they celebrated the people who entered into it, and then also just the value that it gives to all of those audiences, kind of like what you're saying, rex, like there's so much to be learned from these campaigns that we might not have known about if they didn't have this competition. Like I didn't know about any of these. Actually I had to go and look them up and and they're all really, really cool, and so I'm not sure how I haven't heard of them, but kind of like what you're saying, like I think some of them get buried in the you know, the big hitters, and they're definitely worth recognition. So I'm a big fan of them putting together an event like this, and it's one that, like, people had to enter too. They didn't go and find them, and so it gave everyone a chance to say, you know what, I am doing something cool, like I'm going to enter this competition and share what I've...

...been doing, and gave them that platform. So I I think this is really, really cool yeah, I like it and I like rex all. Like what you say because I think there is this like second side to it. Words like man, could we also create an environment where we talked about like something that flopped in just like this marketing experiment we tried that we thought was going to be awesome, like totally didn't go how we anticipated right, and actually we do serve phase of our guests after they've recorded with us. For be to be gross and a recurring thing I hear is like, could you have a podcast where the marketer is maybe anonymous or you even have to change their voice, but they walk through a campaign that failed or flopped? That's to me, like I didn't say it would have to be anonymous. Everyone I interview when it comes up, they say it almost feels like you'd have to have it be anonymous, because being on a podcast, putting something on Linkedin, it's like kind of supposed to be the highlights of your career and we're all sort of accepting that. And when people share posts about something that failed, like it does get some good interaction because it humanizes them. But to me it's like you want both right, like I want to know your best successes. To See if there's things from your successes that we could apply, not to see the same results, but maybe something similar, or maybe we can take parts of your idea and put them into what we're doing. And then I want to hear your failures, because I also want it to I want marketing to remain human and know that it is something where experimentation is always heavy and even though it looks shiny, it's not always that way. So I would love both. It would be kind of fun if you already have this as an awards for people to be able to like somehow submit a flop of the year, and I don't know what that would look like, but that could be really cool. I love the idea of awards, though. I think this is a really smart idea. I think the judges that they had were fantastic, and if you can really amp up an event like this, when you have multiple players, multiple organizations, coming together to put this on like it seems like it's literally just a win across the board and you're celebrating marketing, which is like cool for everybody in marketing. Yeah, I enjoyed seeing all the different brands from those that were sponsoring it and, like an interacting with it in those who were kind of finalist for the event. I'd love seen all their different takes out. It wasn't just link dropping and weren't just like posting about, Hey, this is an upcoming event. They were having a conversation online and I really enjoyed to see the different perspectives, different conversations were happening from all those different bands and I never thought about it as like, Hey, this is just a metadata event, or this is this is just a mutant event, or is just linkedin solutions, like I thought of. I thought of these brands kind of in conjunction together. I definitely saw sends a lot. I mean, I know they did really well, but it was just fun to see how collaborative and positive we can be instead of like competitive focus, like sure, it's somewhat a contest and what a competition, but at the same time as like everybody got positive traction from it. So there was really there was no harm in being a part of this thing, which is cool to see. HMM. Yeah, and it just shows like the diversity of ideas here and that they were able to start so many conversations around so many different strategies. So one of them was meming our way to success from catalyst software, CLIPUPS, first super bowl commercial, a big win from a small team game offying brand building from starburst SASS goes pop. This is how you do it. For this is how you do it. Marketer by day, Children's author by night, from Domino data lap and that's just a few of them, and they're all like they're all approaching a campaign from a different strategy and they're they're even approaching like different, different topics. Like brand building even was in there, and I was surprised to see that, but I thought that was so cool, just how diverse it was. Right. So I think that's a big part of the success of not only like you can have awards and no one really pays attention to them, but if you're starting conversations through this competition, that's huge.

That's awesome. HMM. I like the different stages, two of like where you could pull ideas from because like click up, okay, awesome, you you ran a super bowl commercial and the commercial was funny, but like, most of us are not running super bowl commercial so we just kind of applaud from the sidelines on that one. But like meaning your way to success. Okay, very like barrier entry very low. Something we could all learn from. You know what I mean? Like there's just different ways of going about this for the stage of company that you're in where you're looking at this and you're going on. It's really creative and also maybe this is something we try in the future. Rex, you got final thoughts? WRAP US up here before we jump into the featured conversation. My funny thoughts. I want to see more of this. I do want to see. You know, it's been a long time since I've paid attention to things from like maybe the the content marketing institute is a great place where you're going to see different people celebrated and what u. But I've love to see more of these events. I definitely want to see this one on an annual basis. I think this will be fantastic, but I want to see maybe more industry focused ones talking about marketing within your industry, your vertical, your segment. I think there could be some really cool things from us, you know, for us all to learn from different brands, folks who are doing different things, and I definitely applaud the team's at Metadata linkedin marketing solutions mutiny for putting this together for the benefit of all of us who were who are in the audience, for sure. Well, thanks for bringing that and feel like we all can learn something from these companies. So if you haven't checked it out, go and be sure to take a look. And today we are talking with Jiana Barrett. She's the founder and chief remote officer of First Page Strategy, and today we're talking about not overlooking link building. You know enjoy this conversation, so let's dive in. Welcome back to be to be growth. I'm your host, Benjie Block, and today I am joined by Jana Barrett. She is the founder and chief remote officer at first page strategy. Gianna, welcome into the show. Hello, thanks for having me. Okay, so you are all in on helping digital first companies grow and specifically grow exponentially, and we're going to talk about that in a bit, and a strategy that you've used to see some of that growth. But tell me a bit about what you're focused on and what you guys do at first page strategy. Yeah, so we're focused on growth marketing and really we do our best work when we work with brands that really are looking for significant results with traffic and revenue. We're focused a lot on the numbers. What are we doing for you and tying those back to how much we're spending. And we work best when we can be fully integrated. You know, start from the start with a strategy, customer journey, persona, the website x and then every single channel to get distribution out, and the big ones for us are paid. So sure paid which will bring in people in the short term that are going to come in and traffick and convert while we work on the long term strategy with us. COO, getting your brand on the first page of Google. Nice. Okay, so the reason we connected, or one of the reasons, is because of a recent campaign that you guys did around link building, and I was trying to think on my end, since taking over the podcast and doing be to be growth since November, I don't think we've really gone down that road and talked a lot about link building and you had some interesting things you guys have recently done that I thought our audience would want to tap into and learn from. Highlight for me some of the work that you've done around around link building and specifically this kind of fun recent campaign you've done. Yeah, so can I? Can I start first way saying like why people should still be doing link building, because a lot of people don't think about a lot of first yes, okay, cool, because a lot of people, you know, like you said, you probably haven't talked about it because some people just don't think about how important it is. But we'd do link building still, and...

...a lot of it, because it's such a core focus to Google's algorithm. It's one of the major things that helps with authority. Like, if you think about it, makes sense right. Like Google thinks about how many people are linking to a website, how many different brands and how many different locations are linking back to a website. That makes the website look really authoritative. The more authority a website has, the more Google is going to serve up your business and website in their search results. So they want really authoritative websites. When someone's searching for a toy, wanted to one oritative, but they also don't want you to pay for them, so they don't really want to promote it. So it becomes a whole thing, right. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, the black magic behind it, I guess. But yeah, so you know, Google spent a lot of time telling everybody that link building doesn't really matter anymore. You need to be focusing on content, and we got ourselves in trouble a little bit because we followed that. You know, we were doing light link building and heavy content creation. And then we have one of our biggest clients came in and we've been working with them on for six years on Seo and their big competitor came in with in one year and built higher authority and was like winning search results in one year because they focused on link building. So that wasn't just lesson for us. We're like, okay, this is actually more important than Google tells you it is. They still use it a lot in their algorithm and it's super important it that brands are doing that in their in their seo strategies. So that's kind of why I'm here to talk a little bit about why link building matters. I like rehighlighting it and I like that you've also done this in a couple different ways. So the first one is really around this idea of a small business grant. I wonder what put that idea on the map for you and the genesis of that project. Yeah, so we you know, regardless of what we did personally for our clients, like link building is all about creating things that your customers and your persona really need and then they're going to link to it. Right. So for us that was creating a grant for a scholarship grant for young entrepreneurs and then a fresh start business grant, because business owners they really need to help getting off the ground. They really need, you know, cash flow. They maybe just left their job. So understanding what entrepreneurs want was why we went there. But it's really important to just the emphasis there is like you want to build something that is highly linkable and really of interest to your persona and community. HMM. And so, yeah, that's the tactic. Well, in many communities I think you put a dollar amount on it and that's a good first start, right, like hey, you could get this, there's money. But then there's obviously a practical side that. So you say a front for the small business grants can be like a one month cost, essentially five thousand dollars. I wonder what return are you expecting, because was this the first sort of sweepstakes type link building campaign you had done? HMM, Yep, it is Yep. So we did to actually two separate twenty five hundred dollar grants. We're kind of testing the format rights and that right now. What's going to work better. But, like in our marketing budget, the line item was five thousand dollars for a grant, right, and the way that we think about that, the return on that is there's a price to every link because there's a lot of different ways to build links. But essentially, like if you're working to create content or by links with people, different links with different domain authorities have certain prices associated to them. Right. So if you're getting a link on a website of a domain authority of like eighty to a hundred, which is super high. That's going to be the facebooks and the fast companies of the world. Those are asn like a thousand to twenty five hundred dollars at link, all the way down to about three to four to five hundred dollars per links. So...

...when we're buying links, you know a five thousand dollar budget isn't going to get us very far. Might get US five to ten links, right. So we are testing can we build links a lot faster within this five thousand dollar budget by getting people to organically link back to these things from many different websites in many different domain authorities. Yeah, okay, so you have this hypothesis that you probably can write, because if it's highly shareable, then you can build links that way. But you have to, you know, you probably have to advertise it in a number of ways. You can't just say okay, we have this money we're going to give away and then, like fingers cross, people find out that we're giving this money away. What's the advertising strategy to make sure people know about the small business grant and like where to apply? Yeah, so we did the standard outreach that we do with all link building. We have an outreach team that, whether it's this grant or any other content were creating with someone, we're reaching out and like talking, you know, emailing, calling, asking if they're interested in cocreating content together, a kind of stuff. So we did the standard outreach campaign and then, along with that, kind of a standard promotional campaign. So anybody in marketing has like the standard marketing toolbox of when you launch a new campaign, you're going to do paid social ads, you're going to do organic social post, you're going to do it, write a blog about it. We went through kind of all those standards and then, together with our outreach, is how we got the word out. So, for something like this, did you see one of those channels be most effective? Yeah, I mean, well, the custom outreach, right. We did custom outreach to like certain schools and business websites that would be interested in offering this scholarship. So pokinking, custom outreach works really well, but that's very time consuming, and so we have like three outreach people that work on our team. That, yea, just that's circle ten job, just outreach. But then, you know, paid social always works really well for and that's no secret, right, like that's gonna get out like the most bang for your butt quickly and fast. I mean we, I think we were able to drive tenzero visits to the landing page of the campaign within one week. So pretty quickly we got the word out with mostly with paid social. Okay, so tenzero views essentially. Think that's that's great, but that's not really what you want as the result of this campaign. So give me some of what you saw as far as how many back links and and yeah, yeah, what did you generate from this? Yeah, so we had about four hundred applicants. And then the big thing is is that we got about a hundred backlinks to date. Those are still kind of rolling in, right, because the commands still lie. People still link into it. Of those a hundred back links, like thirty so a third of them where of the domain authority. Of over fifty so, and eight of those were dot edu links, which are really hard to get. Like, if you think about kind of in link building, the weight that Google gives dot eedu and dot Gov links is really high, because I know that's an official website, right, like yeah, and Almos has that stamp of approval from from Google. So you really want dot ETU and dot Gov links to it. To get we were to get eight of those. So really, and in all in all we're the results of this campaign was about forty to Fiftyzero dollars in link building costs for us to for all these links. So yeah, like totally great return, right. So we spent five thousand and we got about forty to Fiftyzero back okay, so the the DOT eedu link. A most of that is it like a blog post highlighting or something that they're aware of this and you should apply go there. Like is that kind of how you're generating it. Yeah, I mean that varies per website right, like a lot of these, maybe a dot eedu website has a scholarship landing page that they're driving their students to.

That might be where they're listing it, or it might be an individual blog post like we kind of that's where the outreach comes in, and that's why it's so time consuming, because it's really like per website and how they're willing to work with you and what you can do for them. And we can create content and send it or if they already have content, they can just link back to us. But that's kind of all decided by the web the people that own the website. Hey be to be gross listeners. We want to hear from you. In fact, we will pay you for it. Just head over to be tob growth podcom and complete a short survey about the show to enter for a chance to win two hundred and fifty dollars plus. The first fifty participants will receive twenty five dollars as our way of saying thank you so much one more time. That's be tob growth podcom, letter B number two. Letter be growth podcom one entry per person must be an active listener of the show too, and or I look forward to hearing from you. Okay, so there's another strategy that we'll talk about in a second. Before I get there, I want to just say, like I think most of us, as markers, would know, there's a lot of value in something like a sweepstakes, a give away whatever. I wonder when you think of ways that you can get it wrong right, like are there ways that you feel like you maximize the amount of links you guys got and that others might get this wrong or like, what are your thoughts there? Yeah, so I think whether it's a sweepstakes or like a piece of content right, like, that has to be really authentic and it has to be really good content. Like this was an authentic scholarship grant, like we're like, you know, Hey, students, apply to this, give us your business plan, send us a two minute video, and we're spending a lot of time reviewing those and selecting a win at right. So this was like an authentic, time consuming scholarship that we created and also the content was really great around it. We have a beautiful landing page. It was built by our product team and our design team and all of that in we have a lot of supporting content that goes with it, and so I think it's just quality and like content that you're creating that people want to link to. It's always like how good is this thing? Is it authentic? Do People really find this useful? Did you go to do a good job creating the content, because if you skip any of those pieces, then people are not going to link to it or even find it like worth their time. Right. Yeah, and I think that's what I liked about this campaign specifically, is that front facing it's very like it's actually helpful to the people that are applying. Well, at the same time, on the back end, like there is business that you're driving and bit links that are being built, but it's almost seems to be done like a more effective way across the board, right, like you're actually helping other entrepreneurs, which it's pretty cool to do in the process. Okay, really quickly, I'll say yeah, I'm you know, I've been around a marketing for a while and like the sweet stakes thing, I haven't touched at the ten Po Pole in so long because we tested that a lot a long time ago in social media. Like Oh, let's you know, there used to be all these sweepstakes apps and you'd give away like pastor is or whatever it is, but it's like what does that gift for you? You know, there was no like tying it back, and so we really are not. This was not just a sweepstake express like this wasn't very calculated, like we know why we're doing this and these are the exact results that we're going to expect back from it, which was kind of the missing piece to all those social campaigns and sweepstakes like ten years ago. How many links did you think you would be able to get from this, like did you have a general number, like if we go over this, that's a success in our mind. Well, I think always just like two times is going to be best, right, like if we spend five thousand and we get tenzero back, that's a success. We did it. This was the first time. So this was our benchmark campaign, right, and they will spend all this year. We're doing it every quarter. We're spending all this...

...year refining this process. So, like, can we get more than a hundred links on our next one? Like what didn't you know? What didn't work so well, like we're always kind of looking at the results and how can we drive even more traffic? How can we do even more outreach? Do we need more, you know, manpower behind this? Do we need more AD dollars? Like? So we'll be spending that year kind of refining and building out what this looks like. But from the get go, if you're if you're loo getting like a three to five times eight, you know return, then what like this was eight times, then that's like far surpasses what you would want as a marketer. We generally go to three to five times. Okay, so that's one side. The other side is to go with like a highly data driven kind of content approach, and I know I was looking at some of your content before this recording. What is that strategy look like on the back end? How does it differ? Yeah, so that's the the other thing we do with link building content creation is we're building content that we call it data driven content. Basically it's using data that we own that is interesting and relevant to other people that they want to link to a new in their content and their articles. They want to reference it. There's a couple different ways that we go about that. One, you know, tech companies have a lot of their internal data based on what they're asking their customers. You can get a data analyst kind of mind that data, poll stories out, blah, Blah Blah. You can also survey your customers, and so we build custom surveys. We ask ten questions and we create content and round that and really beautiful infographics and then we pull it all together into a report at the end of the year. That's kind of like the two thousand and twenty one or two thousand and twenty two trend report, because we've surveyed people all year round. You can also use tools like Amazon Mechanical Turk, which is going to, you know, ask people questions and surveys at a high volume to get return on that. But you just you just write the content using your survey data. This works really well because people want to that that data isn't coming from anywhere else, right, and so a lot of people press other people writing content will use that data and link back to your report. Yeah, they're just quoting you and you kind of become the authority on it. So it's good from the sense that they're linking back to you, but it's also good because of it's like recognition for the fact that you've gone above and beyond and actually done like this research on your own. Yeah, and you'll see lots of brands do this, like they're releasing like dropbox will release their like, you know, cloud two thousand and twenty two state of the cloud report or whatever it is, like based on their industry. And so that's kind of the method behind that madness. All right. So with these two strategies, I wonder if someone's gonna walk away from this episode of be to be growth and they're going to try to follow this advice. What where would you tell someone to start? What would you tell someone to be thinking about as they're deciding to go this route and wanting to get more heavily involved in link building? Yeah, so my best advice to is not go out and create a sweepstakes or an entrepreneur grant. My best advice is to make sure you understand who your audience is, what their needs are, their problems, what they would find relevant to share and link to, and then you need to create that content. And that might not be a sweepstakes or a grant or entrepreneur grant. It's going to be something based on what your industry and your people are. But yeah, so it's all about just creating highly linkable content. I like that too, because we say a lot around sweet fish and around be tob growth that we want to get rid of commodity content, and my fear in some link building campaigns is almost like we only care about Google and not the people. Yeah, so you've used words that will resonate, and they do resonate with me, but I know the resonate with our audience when you talk about authenticity, to actually focus...

...on the quality of the content, to be thinking on the audience. You can do all of that and be link building at the same time, and it's good to be aware that you're generating both. Right, Yep, absolutely exactly. I like it. I like these two as. I just ideas that can help drive home like the need for both, and I'm impressed by the way you guys are doing this. I think it's easier than we think it is, but sometimes we like to over complicate it in marketing, or at least I'm guilty of that. So it's right spending time and sharing that for those that want to stay connected to you and the work you guys are doing. Tell us a little bit more about about how we can do that. Yeah, so we are first page strategycom and then all of our social accounts are matching that, because we are marketers, right. So our instagram is first page strategy and are linkedin. Those are probably the two best places to find us these days. Well, do you want to thank you so much for stopping by B to be growth today? Yeah, thanks, Benji. Appreciate it. To all of our listeners who listened to this episode, thanks so much. We're always having insightful conversations like this one. We want to help fuel your growth and your continued innovation. Never miss an episode. You can follow be to be growth on your favorite podcast platform and connect with me over on Linkedin, where I'm talking about marketing and business and life. Keep doing work that matters. Will be back real soon with another episode. If you enjoyed a day show, hit subscribe for more marketing goodness, and if you really enjoyed the day show, take a second to rate and review the podcast on the platform you're listening to it on right now. If you really really enjoyed this episode, share the love by texting it to a friend who would find it insightful thanks for listening and thanks for sharing.

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