Pitch to win: 7 tips for getting a website to link to you
One of the key ingredients of building links for clients is creating high-quality content that an editor or journalist will snatch up and publish to their site. But creating content isn’t enough. You’ll need to create a pitch that will reflect and emphasise the high-quality of the content you’re offering them.
A high-quality pitch needs to be engaging, innovative, interesting, clear and concise. To capture the web editor’s interest, achieve a reply, and get a link, the pitch needs to clarify WHAT you are offering them, WHO you are offering it to and WHY it would benefit them. With these elements in mind, here are seven useful tips for getting an editor to pay attention and a website to link to you.
1. The more the merrier
When searching for websites to pitch to, don’t focus on one type or genre. If you’re pitching content on behalf of a health insurance company, for example, you could contact sites that focus on lifestyle, health news, health and fitness, diet, the insurance industry, news journalism, etc.
“Personalised pitches show the web editor that you’ve taken the time to look through their site, making them more inclined to respond.”
Take time to explore each site to gain an understanding of their tone and style, what topics they write about, and what interests their audience. Once you have a selection of sites, place them in categories and create unique pitches for each one, taking into consideration the site’s themes and style. Personalised pitches are a great way to show the web editor that you’ve taken the time to look through their site, making them more inclined to respond.
2. Be clear
Having a clear layout for your pitch is important. Imagine you’re a web editor filing through hundreds of emails a day – if a pitch for an article or infographic appears in your inbox that’s lengthy or has crammed text, you’ll probably just delete it and move on to the next one. It’s therefore essential to avoid block text. It’s not appealing to the eye and it’s hard to read:
To balance the amount of text on the screen, split your pitch into two sections. Keep the text in the first section light – it should be to the point, enticing and engaging. If the reader is interested, they’ll read on to the next section of your email, which should contain the details of the pitch.
It’s also helpful to use bullet points to emphasise or summarise certain details about the content you’re offering. Keep them short and concise to avoid large blocks of text and help the reader remember the key points.
3. State the obvious
Your pitch should say what the editor or journalist can do with the piece of content you’re offering them. Make it easy for them. A sentence as simple as: “Here’s an article you might like to publish to your site”, makes it clear to the editor what they can do with the piece of content you’re offering them.
4. Provide incentives
Giving the web editor or journalist an incentive will make them more inclined to respond and review the content you’re offering them. One of the most important things an editor looks for, especially when you’re offering an article for publication on their site, is exclusivity. This is one of the first incentives you can include in your pitch. Offering the article, infographic or other content for free also acts as a great second incentive.
“One of the most important things an editor looks for is exclusivity.”
Just as a trailer reveals some juicy tidbits of a movie, your pitch should offer some insights beyond the title of the content you’re offering. This is a great opportunity to add anecdotes, statistics and interesting facts from your content – but don’t reveal too much. Just enough to pique their interest.
5. Ask for the order
A great salesman always asks for a customer’s order – even though you’re not selling anything to the web editor or journalist (at least not in the traditional sense of the word), this analogy is good to keep in mind.
Giving a clear instruction for how the editor can receive the piece of content you’re offering makes their next step quick and easy: “Let me know if you’d like to see the [content] and I’ll send it over.”
6. Don’t give up the goods (straight away)
One of the most important things to keep in mind when pitching is control – never send your content in the initial pitch. If you were to send the pitch with the content attached, there would be no way of knowing whether they’ve published the content unless you regularly check the website yourself or they contact you to confirm that they’ve used it.
Not all web editors will let you know that they’ve published the content. So, holding back the content until the editor has expressed an interest means you can keep track of who is reviewing it, and make it easier to check that the published piece includes the active link you were aiming for.
Another important reason why you shouldn’t send the content straight away is that it’s highly beneficial to build a rapport with web editors and journalists. If you were to send the content straight away, there would be no need for further conversation. By telling them you’ll send over the content once they let you know that they’re interested, immediately initiates the need for a conversation.
7. Don’t make it all about the link
In your pitch, it’s best to be open and honest about what you want in exchange for the free and exclusive content – but this doesn’t mean your email has to be all about the link. Depending on the content you’re pitching, you may get better results if you mention the link only in the follow-up email, once the editor has already expressed their interest. Whatever the case, always disclose your relationship to any client whose name, product, service or website might be mentioned in the article. Being clear with an editor from the start enables them to make the best decision and avoids time and effort being wasted.
If you are mentioning the link in your initial pitch, it’s best to avoid doing so at the beginning and end of the email. The focus in these parts should be on the content you’re offering, rather than what you want in return. Instead, mention the link in the middle of the text, preferably between a couple of incentives to make the offer seem more appealing.
“The focus should be on the content you’re offering, not what you want in return.”
Pitching is not only the final part of the link-building process, it’s also the most important as it determines whether or not you get the responses you’re hoping for. So, in summary, getting a website to link to you requires you to:
- be open, honest and straightforward in your pitch
- personalise and tailor the pitch
- ensure the layout and the purpose of your pitch is clear
- be engaging and interesting
- state the obvious
- offer appealing incentives
- ask for the order
If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in our article: Link-building for SEO: an introduction to outreach