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The Partnership Trap – Whiteboard Friday

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Posted by AndrewDumont

Partnership is such an ubiquitous term. Each circumstance comes with a broad set of definitions. Depending on the context and company, a partnership can take on nearly every imaginable form. Due to its variety, the topic is something that isn't touched on too frequently.

At Moz, we rigorously evaluate each potential partnership before engaging. The reason we do this is to avoid something I like to call "The Partnership Trap." It's common for early-staged companies jump on every partnership opportunity that comes their way, as a partnership is often shiny and full of opportunity. Understandably, it's difficult to say no. This seems harmless in theory, but each partnership that you pursue requires the most precious of resources — time and focus — which few companies can freely spare.

In this week's Whiteboard Friday, I delve into the different forms a partnership can take, what to look for in perspective partnerships, and offer some tips in picking the ones that you should pursue.


Video Transcription

"Howdy, SEOmoz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today I'm going to be talking about a little something I like to call the "partnership trap." The reason why I call it a trap is because a lot of companies look at partnerships and they're like, "Oh, that sounds amazing." But then they get there and they realize that they partnered with too many people, or they partnered with the wrong type of company. So I'm going to be talking a little bit about what a partnership is and how to avoid the trap that some companies fall into.
So digging right into it, first let's talk about types of partnership that exist and some examples of that. So there's something I like to call an integration of products or services. A good example of this is what AmEx and Foursquare did. So for example with that partnership, Foursquare partnered with AmEx to provide basically the platform to allow small businesses to offer discounts to people that checked in via Foursquare. So a good example of two companies kind of teaming up together to work on something.
An extension of brand or product. A good example of this is Starbucks and ice cream. So Starbucks provided their brand to an ice cream manufacturer and in exchange do a rev share type of deal with the ice cream provider. So that's a good example of something like that.
And then an endorsement or exchange. So a good example of this is Best Buy with their warranty. So they aren't actually the one that provide the warranty or create the warranty. It's actually a third party company that does that, and Best Buy offers that to all of their customers when they come into the store.
So those are some good examples of partnerships. What are the benefits of partnerships? Why should we partner? There are a few good reasons. The first is shared networks or shared user bases. Speaking generally, it's kind of difficult to put that into the case of a lot of different types of companies. But, typically, the idea is that by partnering with another company, you get to share their network. You get to share their user base, which is beneficial to both sides.
Second point is industry or brand validation. Typically, a lot of startups or smaller sized companies like to partner with a larger company to get the validation of a larger brand. That's another good benefit of partnerships.
And then the third thing would be an outsourcing of a non-core competence. So you can think of this as, let's say for example for us, if we do not see managing our API as a core competence of our business, then we would look to a third party provider to manage that API business. A good example of that is Twitter outsourcing their API data to third parties, like Gnip and DataSift.
So let's talk through kind of a partner checklist. These are things that I like to make sure exist in a partnership before actually going through with it. The first thing and probably the most important thing is that the partnership needs to be mutually beneficial. What I found is that when you partner with companies that you're only getting something and they're not getting something in return, we find that it typically does not end up being a good partnership, because it's like a one sided relationship. You're giving all this, and you don't get anything in return.
One of the key things, even if you're that side that is getting all of the benefit, make sure that there's something in return that keeps the partner there and keeps the partnership strong. Make sure that a partnership is mutually beneficial before you engage.
Second part, this is probably one of the most important ones when it comes to startups and small businesses is making sure that the partnership is in line with the roadmap and the vision of the company. What a lot of small businesses and startups do is they get a big company, Microsoft or IBM or one of these big players in the space reaching out to them, or them reaching out to them. The problem is they end up going down this path that isn't in line with their vision or isn't in line with their roadmap, and they end up spending all of this time and resources and energy towards something that actually isn't that beneficial to their business in the long term.
So make sure to pick your partnerships with that in mind. Think about your roadmap, think about where you're going, and don't partner with people if it doesn't fit in with that.
Next thing, output exceeds input. So when you partner with someone, there's a lot that needs to be done. It takes engineering resources. It takes time from a lot of different people within your company. The problem with that is if the output does not exceed the input, then it's a bad investment.
There's financial modeling that can help and kind of determine what that output should be. But what I typically like to do is keep the ratio of three to one for output and input. The reason for that is what I've found is that a lot of the partnerships that I engage in, what I expect the output to be actually isn't what the output actually is. I try to get the best guess, but typically what you find is that the output is much less than what you expected or hoped for. So I typically like to give myself a little bit of wiggle room and keep that three to one ratio. So that's a good rule of thumb for when you look at the output.
Finally and probably most important, especially for us here at Moz is that cultures are aligned. There's nothing worse than teaming up with a partner that doesn't share the same values as you, doesn't share the same kind of beliefs that your company has. At our company, with our TAGFEE beliefs, if we are not teaming up with a company that shares those same values and isn't aligned with those type of things, we're going to run into problems.
It's definitely the number one thing that I take into account when we figure out whether we should partner with somebody, and there have been many times where we've decided not to partner with somebody strictly because their cultures were not aligned with ours. So that's a key thing to take a look at when you think about who to partner with.
So finally some tips. Whenever you can, try to mitigate risk when it comes to partnerships. Whenever possible, I try to pilot first. What that means is that you basically do a smaller size sample with the company that you're looking to partner with. Actually Square and Starbucks have a great example of this.
So Square and Starbucks teamed up to have Square process payments within all the Starbucks stores, but they didn't start in all of the Starbucks stores. It's only a select number. I believe it was 7,000 Starbucks stores will use Square to process their payments. The reason why they did that is to mitigate the risk of a larger rollout to the entire organization and then not have it work out.
So whenever possible try to pilot a program first before going full scale, just to make sure it works out and make sure that it is the type of return that you were expecting and hoping for. So try to pilot whenever possible.
Second tip, don't heighten legal. Sarah's probably not going to be too happy with this, but I found that a lot of deals die in legal, and a lot of times they shouldn't die in legal. A lot of people put greater importance on legal than actually needs to be placed on it. Then really you're killing something where legal doesn't really necessarily come into play or isn't a huge part of anything down the line. So make sure that you're secure from a legal standpoint, but don't overly heighten the value and the impact of legal. Know that it is a worst case scenario type of piece to an agreement, and try to make sure that you can be flexible in legal to avoid any issues and prevent things from getting done.
Finally, think long term. Most importantly, when you go into a partnership, you've got to think about it as a relationship. You've got to think about it as I am going to get married to this person. I'm going to date this person. This is something that is, or this company would probably be a better way to phrase that, it really is a relationship. You're spending a lot of time with them. You're going to be working with them very in-depth. Your success relies very much on their success. So you have to go into that with the long-term mindset.
Don't do just one-off partnerships just for the sake of doing a partnership. Make sure that there's purpose to what you're doing and you're thinking long term and you're picking your partners accordingly with that in mind.
Cool. Yeah, so that's pretty much it. If you have any questions, let me know, and thanks for tuning in to this edition. Thanks."

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8 Copy Editing Tricks to Make You Look Professional – Whiteboard Friday

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Posted by Erica McGillivray

Top secret: editing your own writing is the worst part of writing. We all hate it, whether we label ourselves writers, SEOs, Doctor Who fans, and/or magical princesses. Stepping back from your own writing to give it polish is hard. Typos, badly constructed paragraphs, awkward phrases, or just general poor writing jump out when someone else writes it. But moi? I would never do that. And neither would you.

However, reality is that today no matter our titles, most of us are required to write, and we need editing help. I hope you'll be able to find some tips to help you in what can sometimes be an arduous process. But maybe you'll find a little love, a little magic, and transform your writing into something beautiful.

P.S. Advanced grammar students: go forth with the diagramming of sentences.

"I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences." — Gertrude Stein

Video Transcription

"Howdy SEOmoz fans. It's Whiteboard Friday. I'm Erica, and I'm the Community Attachè here at SEOmoz. Today we're going to talk about copy editing and things you can do to make yourself look more professional.

I realize many of you, we started out as SEOs. A couple of years ago, in the industry, it was like keyword research. Where am I ranking? The most copy you ever wrote was like a meta description, maybe a product description.

But today, the world of SEO, as we know, is drastically changing. We're doing all sorts of copywriting these days. Content marketing is huge. You've got guest blogging. We're all over, and a lot of you are really frustrated because you're like, "Man, I wish my writing was better. I wish I had a writer on my staff to help me out." But sometimes you are that person who is doing a little bit of everything. I've totally been there.

So today we're just going to talk about how to make your copy editing magical and make you look a little more professional. People will be like, "Wow, I knew you were an amazing SEO. I didn't know what a great writer you were too."

So these are some little handy-dandy tricks I try to remember any time I am writing.

So the first thing you want to do is you want to identify your why. Why are you writing this piece? What are you trying to accomplish by going out there and talking about it? Like when I sat down to outline my Whiteboard Friday, I said, "I have this knowledge about copy editing. I want to share it with SEOmoz's audience because I know you'll find it valuable, especially if you're going to write a YouMoz or something.

So if you can focus really on your piece and figure out that why it is so important with you, that's really going to make sure that your piece, that your writing comes together. If you're writing about kittens or unicorns or if you're writing a serious piece about using Google Analytics, importing into Excel, and doing all the crazy, amazing SEO things I know all of you know how to do.

So the second thing that you want to focus on is finding your voice. Every writer writes a little bit differently, just as every person is a little different. As you continue to write and continue to practice, there will be certain words you use. There will be certain ways you phrase things that really identify who you are.

One of the funnest things I like to play with is using styles or voices from other people. So, for instance, I've totally written a blog post as Rand, and it was kind of funny. Can I sound like Rand? Where can I go? Or I used to – and now Ashley our content specialist has taken this over – write the SEOmoz newsletter. One time I wrote as Roger, but as Captain Kirk doing a little captain's log. So you can have a lot of fun with your voice and your style. Don't be afraid to be a little kooky. Give it a little personality. Show who you are. Show what you're interested in.

The third tip, which is going more, once you've written your piece, you're kind of pulling back into the finer editing stage. Read your work aloud. Just do it. Sit there and go slowly. If you have to print it out, do it old school, and just read every word you've written.

When I was a kid, I had this problem where I would always skip over the little words like the, a and. My teachers would just paper full of red. Like what happened? I finally broke that habit when I went to college, and I started printing out my essays and reading them slowly aloud. I'm sure my dorm mate was like super thrilled to hear my essays about ancient Celtic languages, for instance.

But it will so much improve your writing, because you'll notice things. You'll read it and you'll like, "Wow, this doesn't make any sense. What was I even thinking?"

It helps with some of those more embarrassing typos or confusion if your sentences are getting really long and complicated, especially as you're diving into more advanced topics.

So my fourth tip is put your writing aside. I'm sure many of you have suffered from writer's block or just frustrations when you get to the editing part. You just don't want to let it go. Writers often call this killing your babies, which is kind of vulgar maybe. But we get really attached to what we've written, and we can't always see how to edit it and how to bring it back in and really refine our piece.

Maybe you start a draft and you set it aside and maybe you come back to it tomorrow. Maybe you come back to it six months to a year from now. You never know when it's . . . if it's something you love and it's something you're passionate about, maybe you can't push it. But sometimes maybe it's just that 24 hours, because I realize a lot of you are also out there writing things that are super time sensitive that you have to get out right away, which brings me to the next point.

Ask a friend to edit. If you're doing something really time sensitive, this is extremely helpful. If your friend has any editing experience, it's even better. You never know what crazy typos you're going to send out into the world or what crazy communication flubs, or maybe your piece just needed like five paragraphs cut out of it. Having someone you trust and someone who you can respect their opinion goes even further.

You definitely don't want to do things like I've done where I was sending out an email about fly fishing clothing and in the subject line I put,
"Flying fishing clothing sale today" or something like that. It just really helps you from making that mistake and then going, "Oh, what did I do? Oh no."

Friends can also be great at telling you what's good about your writing and encouraging, bringing those themes out. I just wrote an essay about Dr. Who. My editor came back to me, and she was like, "You know, you've been doing too much recapping. Cut this, cut this, cut this." I was kind of sitting there like, oh my gosh, wilting flower. I don't want to kill my babies. But what my editor was great about was she said, "You know, I really love what you're doing here and here and here. Let's bring that out." So at the end of the day, I had to do a super bunch of editing, but it helped me to know what the best things were out of that piece too. So criticism is both a negative and a positive.

Getting a little more into the technical, a lot of you out there are like, "How can I be better with my grammar?" I get a lot of questions from people at SEOmoz about grammar things, like, "Should I put a comma here? What the hay. Where do I go? How can I improve my grammar stuff?"

The first thing, which I suggest, is looking at what's called active versus passive voice. Active means exactly what you all know the word means. Active means that you're out and about. Your language is springy versus passive it's just kind of in the corner. It's like the wallflower at the party. You don't really care.

So, for instance, if you had the sentence, "The dog was jumping on the bed." You're dog is bad. Your dog is jumping on your bed. But it's just kind of boring. If you're like, "The dog jumps on the bed," it's much more active. It tells you what the dog is doing. It brings that sentence to life. Often it's just a simple switch of moving what you're talking about at the end to the beginning.

You can look up more about active versus passive voice online. It's known to be verbs are passive.

The next thing you want to do is look at your sentence lengths. You want to vary them. A lot of people get really long winded when they're writing because they're trying to cram everything in. You get these super long sentences that are all the way to the ground. If you just step back and look and be like, "Oh, I can put periods here. I can shorten it." You can have a short sentence and a long sentence. It's a littlie advanced, but it will make your writing much more snappy and sound like people actually converse.

For those of you who are really, really advanced in your grammar, here's my last tip. Learn to diagram sentences. I'm sure my 7th and 8th grade English teachers are very happy that I'm recommending this to you. But if you really want to know grammar and if you really struggle with it, learn how to diagram sentences so you can identify the subject of your sentence, the verb of your sentence the object, and any sort of clauses or anything. Then you can figure out, if people come to you and say like, "You always have run-on sentences, you always have incomplete sentences," these are the type of things that if you can identify the parts of the sentence, you can say,
"Oh, I know exactly why this sentence isn't working. Or I know why it's not communicating clearly to my audience." But that's just your advanced homework.

So I hope that all of you will learn these magical tips and transform your writing. You can now go from just an ordinary SEO to something more magical."

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Olde Tyme Whiteboard Friday

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Posted by randfish

Salutations, flappers and dappers! Today we come to you from the golden age of the Internet. That's right, the 1920's! SEOmoz's resident Whiskbroom has put on his finest glad rags and is going to give you some knowledge, strictly on the level.

OK, you got us. We're not actually in the 1920's. But some of those old techniques that we all used in the past still work in 2012 and into 2013. Let's all watch Rand tell us all about them.

What older techniques are you still using and seeing great results? Let us know in the comments below.

Video Transcription

"Howdy SEOmoz fans, and welcome to this special edition of Old Tyme Whiteboard Friday. Now, this week on Whiteboard Friday I want to talk to you about the major search engines: Lycos, Northern Light, HotBot, AltaVista, Infoseek, Yahoo, Webcrawler, and Dogpile. Now these fine search engines are going to help your visitors get to your website. The website is a very important page. It's on something called the Internet. My understanding is there are tubes, system of tubes that connect so you can get to them, and the way to get to the top of these search engines, none other than, starting with keywords.

Keywords are the cat's pajamas. You must have keywords. You want to repeat them as often as you can, stuff them into your titles, put them in your meta keywords tags, your meta descriptions tags, all over the page if you can. If I could have a page that was just a big list of keywords, I would do it.

Next, doorway pages. These are magical. The doorway page is a great way to stuff keywords into a page and yet show that only to the search engines and not have to force it upon your users, because, as we all know, visiting a doorway page can get a little, you know, rough. So you want to gazoozle a bit and show the search engine your doorway page.

Next, submissions. Submissions are very critical if you want to earn a happy cabbage. Now, to do direct submissions, you need to find all the search engines that I've listed up here, plus many hundreds of others. Remember that many hundreds of secondary search engines power these major search engines. You want to get into those so you can get into these.

And last, but not least, directories. Directories are critically important. Submitting to the directories, getting included in the directories, you can't be fimble-fambling around here. You've got to do the hard work and get in the directories.

All right, everyone. In addition, to our Old Tyme Whiteboard Friday, we're going to do a little bit of serious Whiteboard Friday, but first a drink. It smells like heaven. Don't want to take too much at work here. There we go. Just take my handy . . . burns like heaven. I feel better already.

So old-tyme SEO had some weird things going on with it, but, in fact, there are some classics from the late '90s, from the early 2000's that still work today. We're going to help you with these.

First off, reciprocation. Actually, that feels ridiculous. Reciprocation, if you help other people out, they, in turn, will help you. I don't just mean this in terms of you link to someone else and they'll link to you, although that can be helpful. But what I mean is if you help someone out doing something, something on social media, something with their website, you can often get them to pay that back to you. I'll give you one of the best examples I've got.

We love to send tons and tons of traffic to other people's websites through the Moz Top Ten. When we do that, when we drive traffic from SEOmoz's email subscribers, about 250,000 people subscribe to the Moz Top Ten, that drives traffic to those sites, and then those sites all tell people, "Wow, I was in the Moz Top Ten. You should subscribe to it." Wonderful way to play reciprocation and to get something back for giving something out.

Being on the jiffy with your keyword research and targeting. So this is really interesting, because what I mean by on the jiffy is getting to a keyword before it makes its way into the common keyword research tools. This is mostly the AdWords search tool. Before Google has volume there, you can find phrases that have come out in news, new brand names and products, things that bloggers are talking about, things people are searching for and talking about on social media, trending items. Those things will have search volume next month, but they might not make their way into the keyword research tools for 30 or 60 days. That means you can jump the gun and be ahead of any of your competitors. Using search suggest for this is actually a really smart way to go too, because a lot of the times, those search suggest terms don't make their way into the AdWords keyword research tool.

Improving on the good works of others. I've been shocked to see, you know what, we have this inside our heads, as content producers, that we have to produce something very unique and different. But great artists steal, and it is just fine to take something else on the Web that's a good resource, that you think, "Man, that's solid but I could do it better," and do it better. We've had tons of success with this.

SEOmoz, when we first started out, I used to use Vaughns-1-pager around SEO ranking factors. Then I thought, "I wish there was a better one of that." We made our own ranking factors, and it worked out great. We got statistical data and the opinions of lots of SEOs and aggregated them, so it wasn't just me saying what I thought was important. That worked very, very well. It got us a ton of notoriety and citations and links.

Empathizing with the needs of your audience. This is one area where your distance from your customers hurts you. The further you are from your customers, the worse off you're going to be. But the closer you are, the better you can be. If you can spend time with your customers, talking to them, figuring out, "Hey, what do they need? What do they like? What are they missing? What do they not understand," not just about what you're doing, but about anything that's going on in your field, about any topic that a large percent of your customers are having, even if it doesn't really relate to what you sell or what you do, you can produce content and provide solutions, basic easy tools, a resource guide or a list. You can contract this out to somebody who might be an expert, to have them come in and produce the content for you, a video, a landing page that describes all these problems, a downloadable white paper, a research document. This kind of stuff works wonders in terms of not just getting engagement, but also targeting new keywords, reaching your audience, and making them delighted.

And finally, requesting action at the pinch of the game. So, a lot of the time we will do things that I think are a little bit foolish in the inbound marketing sphere. One of my favorite examples, worst examples too, is you get to a blog post and you look at the top and on the sidebar, and it's just filled with all these things asking you to share and subscribe and become my friend on Facebook. You kind of think to yourself, "I've never been here before. How do I know that I want to share this on LinkedIn, and pin it on Pinterest, and put it on Facebook?"

Ask in the pinch of the game. Once they've finished reading the article, then, at the bottom, right, that's the time to potentially ask. This happens all the time. For example, someone's just purchased something from you in an e-commerce store. One of my favorites was this store that I bought some supplies from, and they sent, in their email, in their thank you email and confirmation a, "If you had a great experience with our product, with our store, we'd love to get a link from you, and here's a little embed you can put on your site, saying that you're a customer." What a great time. Don't ask for it before you've done a good job for me. Ask for it after you've done a great job for me. That's the pinch of the game.

All right, everyone, I hope you've enjoyed Old Tyme Whiteboard Friday, and we will see you again next week for another edition, sans chopped mustache and ridiculous costume. Thanks everyone. Take care."

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What Separates a "Good" Outreach Email from a "Great" One? – Whiteboard Friday

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Posted by randfish

Outreach emails are sent for a variety of reasons, but the majority have one thing in common: they're structured too poorly to merit a reply. For every group of outreach emails we receive, usually only a few are worth opening.

However, creating "good" emails may not be the toughest part. To inspire a response, you have to get to "great." But what makes a great outreach email stand out from its "good" competitors? 

Today, Rand walks us through what it takes to create a great outreach email and gives his tips on making sure your next outreach goes into the "great" pile rather than into the trash.


Video Transcription

"Howdy SEOmoz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I want to talk a little bit about outreach emails.
Outreach emails are sent for a variety of reasons. It could be business development. It could be some kind of advertising. It could be to try and get a link or a mention. It could be to encourage someone to share something that you've produced.
The problem is . . . I get a lot of these. I mean, I cannot tell you how many of these I get. I love helping people, so I want to respond to a lot of them. But so many of them are terrible. There are a few that are what I would call good. Some of them are quite solid. But only a very, very select number are truly great.
I've received a few of these over the last few months, and I thought, what is it that makes these ones special? How can I dissect the ones where I go, "Man, what a great email." I'm not only happy to help that person, I want to help them again in the future. I hope I can do more for them, because I just love the way that they outreached and connected with me.
So I've put together a standard formatting. I think virtually every outreach email I see, terrible, good, great, in between, all follow this. They start with a greeting, they go to an intro, they have some sort of ask involved in them, a giveback, usually the good ones and the great ones have a giveback of some kind, a close, and then a signature.
Let me walk you through what separates the good ones from the great ones. I'm going to try and use this as an example. This person starts their email by saying, "Hi Rand," which is totally fine. The things that you're aiming for here, this is not huge and big and important. It's personal and friendly.
The wrong way to do this is, "Dear Mr. Fishkin." That's my grandfather. Dear Mr. Fishkin? Who's that? And people who email with "Dear CEO" or "My Friend," it's clear that they don't know you. There are some that work, like "Hey dude" or "Hey Buddy." It sort of has that colloquial association.
If it's someone that I know closely and they don't use my name, but I already know them very well, no problem. But that greeting is a very important opening point, and a lot of people, myself included, will click Delete or Report Spam if they see something in here that's not obviously friendly and personal and clear that we know one another.
Next, the intro. This person says, "I heard you might be in L.A. next month. Please drop me a line if you make it. We'd love to see you and Geraldine." Great. Now they've established a few things. They show that they know me, they like me, they trust me, and they care. Not only that, they're sort of following my activities, so they know that I'm going to be in Los Angeles for a few days.
When you can do this, you don't have to do it in this fashion. Maybe you don't know the person well enough to actually invite them to go hang out with you or that kind of thing. But if you know, for example, they're going to be in Los Angeles and that they love scotch, for example, you could say, "Hey, they're having a scotch tasting in the Santa Monica Pier on such and such a date. If you're there for it, you should definitely check it out. If not, blah, blah." Show that you know them, you like them, you trust them, and you care. That's what you're trying to achieve in that intro paragraph there or the intro sentence.
Next up is the ask. This is obviously a very, very important part of the email. But if you don't surround the ask with something else, unless you know that person extremely closely and you know that they're happy to share already, or do whatever activity you want, you're not going to get this. If I just say, "Hi Rand, do this for me, bye," who answers that? No, that's not how communication in the human world works. You need to have some empathy in there.
This person says, "FYI, my start-up was nominated for XYZ award," some particular award. "It would mean a ton to me if you could tweet or share the link." There's the link. That's the ask right there. They've done a few very smart things here. They've kept the ask short and sweet. This is two sentences, extremely few number of words, very obvious what they want and need.
They made the links easy to click and to share. So now I don't have to do much work if I want to fulfill this ask. That's also very smart. Make sure those links are clickable. Make sure there's only one of them. Make sure you're not asking for a ton of different things all at once. Make that share activity, that request activity very simple.
Then the giveback. And by the way, you can definitely flip the order on the ask and the giveback. You can do the giveback first before you make the ask. For example, this person says, "Also, we recently wrote about blah, blah, blah on our blog in reference to your post on the topic, at this URL. The team here loves, my new personal blog, which is not doing that well in terms of links and traffic and attention. So they probably know that, and they know that that will get my awareness and attention. I'll be like, "Oh, cool, they're helping to share my new site that I haven't done much with yet. Please keep it up."
Very, very smart tactic here. They've identified an area where I need help, and they proved that they are a reciprocator, someone who will help without being asked for it, on the chance that I might help them. This doesn't need to be directly . . . you don't want to go at this aggressively.
What you don't want to say is, "Hey Rand, we linked to you on our blog. Please link to us now." No, it's not going to happen. Communication isn't done in that fashion. You need to have that empathetic touch in your communication. Prove that you're a reciprocator, apart from the ask, and you need to show that you're giving value as well as asking for it. This is a smart way to do this. It's sensitive, and it knows what I need and what I like.
Next piece, the close. "Hope Seattle's new baked baked goods laws are treating you well. They know that marijuana, for example, is legalized in the state of Washington. They're making a play off of that. They're using humor, surprise, interest, or empathy to show the connection between us, and that connection is a great thing. When they can do this . . . I mean, I find this kind of stuff humorous. Hopefully, they know me, and they know that I will find it humorous. That's great. That is exactly what they're trying to tie in. They're trying to make that personal connection.
Then the last piece, the signature. "Sincerely, Tony, CEO and Founder of" This is smart. It seems like this would be a very small piece, but it's actually a big one for a lot of people, and I'll tell you why. I don't always remember everyone that I've met and that I've said, "Sure, email me and I'll be happy to help out with something." So they are making sure, without being obvious, without being too like, "Well, I presume you don't remember who I am because you meet lots of people," but instead I'm going to have this little thing at the bottom, which makes sure you remember me and links off to my website, so that you can check us out and be like, "Oh, yeah. Okay, put the pieces together. I remember this guy now."
It's fine, too, to say something like "we met here," or "you know me through XYZ," whatever. But don't assume that the person is going to remember you. Have a clear and obvious identity that shows authenticity. That authenticity piece is critical. When I get emails from folks who clearly are not actually associated with the company, but are doing outreach on behalf of a PR firm, doing outreach on behalf of an SEO firm, no offense to SEO agencies and consultants, but sometimes we're the worst offenders of this kind of stuff.
If you can do all of these things, you can transform a good outreach email into a great one. When you do that, the conversion percentage goes tremendously upward, and the chance that your contact will be shared or linked to, or that whatever activity you need done by this helpful group, will be accomplished. That's what we want to try and help with.
All right, everyone. Hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I look forward to some great comments, and we'll see you again next week. Take care."

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