GDPR And Outreach: Why It’s Not All Doom And Gloom

For the majority of us SEOs, links are a very important part of our job. Of course, link-building itself comes in many different forms. For some, link-building comes via PR campaigns, for others links are part of a blogger outreach campaign (we do both here at MS). For me, however, it’s the latter, and for those in the same position as myself, our lives used to be really easy didn’t they? We, as marketers, could just outreach to any blogger with the aim of securing a backlink for our clients. However, everything changed on the 25th of May this year with the introduction of GDPR. Yes, GDPR, those four almost innocuous letters that have struck fear into the hearts of businesses across the world…worse than saying Voldemort’s name out loud. Well, you know what? It’s not all doom and gloom as it actually gives us all an opportunity to improve our processes, our efficiency and our relationships with bloggers. Let’s dig into it a little more…

Processes

GDPR forces businesses to understand how they process and consume personal data. To the lucky person/team in charge of this trail, how can you know what personal data you have squirrelled away unless you look at all the data that is held? To do this, you really need to conduct a data audit. As a part of this audit, you’ll have to look carefully at all internal processes and large parts of these may potentially have to be rewritten. This already sounds like a massive effort doesn’t it? Well yes, it does, but there’s a massive silver lining to this big, grey, rain cloud. Whilst this can initially be a lot of work, you’re able to refine stress points in existing processes and improve them.

By immersing yourself in the regulation changes you have to learn a lot about data and the way your company handles/stores/processes/consumes data and you can iron out all the kinks that have previously been causing headaches for you and/or other teams within your business. A better understanding of the business for which you work is only ever a good thing. You will help increase your own efficiency as well as that of the business. WIN WIN!

Efficiency

As a result of your data audits, you’ll be well aware by now of the need to control how you discover new data and process it. Ideally you want consent from the owner to process it. This is usually assumed to be the most difficult method of legitimate means for processing as nobody really wants to allow others to use their personal data these days, do they? In order to gain consent, you really need to provide the data owner a good reason to give you their consent.

In the link-building world, we are always looking for new bloggers to work with, but getting them on board is usually a difficult process that previously involved a lot of cold contact and hard work. You need to first find the relevant sites, and then you need to reach out to them. To reach out to them you need their contact details. With GDPR, there are limits on how and why you can collect/find blogger contact details as it’s their own personal information. Some bloggers will often advertise their details freely and request you to contact them, but you’ve still got to go through the motions:

  1. Find blogger’s site
  2. Find contact details on the site
  3. Copy information over to your database

As a part of the digital community I’m sure that 99% of us use social media, more specifically, Facebook. On Facebook there are groups you can join that are specifically set up for bloggers to connect and interact with marketers like us. This means that we can have the bloggers we used to spend so long hunting down and contact, get in touch with us. We can eliminate a lot of that old process right there in one fell swoop.

I created a simple data capture form on the Marketing Signals website and posted a link on the group asking bloggers to get in touch. The form was built with the GDPR in mind – users had to confirm they’d read the terms and privacy policy before they could submit data, and it was explained their data would only be used to contact them about collaboration opportunities. The acceptance box was unticked by default and the form could not be submitted unless they agreed. The form then stored all of the submitted data in a nice little database that I could access and extract when necessary. We used a tool called UnBounce, but there are plenty others out there that all do a similar job.

I then took all of the data they submitted and was able to then send a quick email and open a line of communication with bloggers knowing I had consent to contact and process their personal information. For what was not a huge amount of work, I had mined over 200 new sites that we did not have in our blogger database, and I also reopened conversation with some bloggers that we’d not spoken to in a while.

So, instead of having to go round the houses with an arduous cold-contact process that would not necessarily get any results, as well as lack any real record of consent to using/processing data, we flipped things upside down and had the bloggers get in touch with us directly and give us their data willingly. This was a massive time saver! At the email send point of view, we had an 86% response rate! Yes, 86%. This is because the emails I sent were to bloggers who wanted to be contacted as they were interested in working together, and they were expecting an email. Happy days!

Relationships

So, by using the Facebook group to get bloggers/influencers to contact you about working together, you’re getting them excited about your brand, your clients and your opportunities with little effort on your part. In turn they have a positive outlook and are looking forward to receiving emails from you and, as the response rate shows, they will reply. Compare that to when you have to contact bloggers cold, you’re just another email in their inbox and something for them to deal with. Suddenly, what you’re doing is the complete opposite end of the spectrum and has a massive difference on the likely success of your efforts later down the line. Whilst this may seem like the holy grail of ‘less work, more output/success’, it both is and is not. Granted there may be less physical effort/time involved at the backend, but initially you do have to put a lot more thought into the process.

This then takes me back to my first point about the importance of knowing your processes inside out and making sure they’re watertight. Overall, being in control of your processes, as a result of GDPR, helps you to fine tune, explore new methodology and become more efficient and therefore build better relationships with bloggers for better success in your future outreach campaigns.

Not all doom and gloom

So, with all that said. Life after GDPR is not the post-apocalyptic, dog-eat-dog, wasteland that many of us feared it would be. We are not out of jobs because we can’t contact bloggers any more, we are actually in a slightly better position. We are able to work with people who want to work with us, thus making our lives that little bit easier and better. We know that the work we put in is much more likely to yield the results we want, and we can all just chill out a little bit. SORTED!

 

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About Dave Sergeant

Dave Sergeant

Dave has been working in content marketing and project management roles for the last 5 years in both agency and client-side positions. He is part of the team responsible for managing client outreach and link-building campaigns, as well as coordinating the build and launch of a new in-house CRM system. Also the GDPR guy.