Every company aspires to be mentioned in prestigious industry listicles. By doing this, you increase your visibility and receive backlinks from websites that are highly ranked for phrases like “best X tools” or “top items for X.”
The difficulty lies in the complexity of listicle outreach. You need to choose the appropriate prospects to pitch your business to as well as the appropriate listicles. Your cold email should be compelling and of value. Additionally, the bargaining strategies you employ have a big impact on how well your outreach goes.
Listicle outreach was the link-building strategy that produced the best results when I worked with Hunter. For instance, in our most recent campaign, we only had one person participating and still managed to achieve the following outcomes in less than three months:
96 new links from 54 domains
33 new mentions in product listicles
17 upgraded positions in other listicles
This tutorial will show you how to quickly obtain dozens of links and mentions for your website using this strategy. Additionally, I’ll offer some advice on enhancing your chances of success.
Step 1. Find relevant listicles
Identifying your targets is the first stage in the outreach process for listicles.
Listicles that are effective for this strategy fall into three main categories. There are no set restrictions, so you can choose the one that suits you the most or focus on several areas at once:
Best options –Lists of products, services, or businesses united by a single topic. It can be a list of best SEO tools, top software for recruiters, etc.
Alternative options – Lists of comparisons focused on a specific industry, topic, or problem. Aura’s listicle on top LifeLock competitors is a great example.
Guides that include lists –People often include lists in guides. For example, Ahrefs’ guide to finding email addresses includes tips on email lookup.
Utilizing email lookup services is one of the suggestions, and the author, Nick Churick, provides a ranking of the top programs he tried.
After deciding on a category (or several), come up with a list of keywords and subjects that you may use to look for listicles that fit your product or service. then incorporate them with’modifiers’ (the words commonly used in listicles).
I noticed that the majority of listicles’ names contain the qualifiers best, top, review, list, tools, and free.
Here are a few examples of queries that could work:
Best options listicles: best email finder, best seo tools, top restaurants in new york, etc.
Alternative options listicles: best hunter alternatives, best ahrefs alternatives, etc.
Next, conduct a Google search for these terms and export the results using Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar. Follow the same steps for the additional terms on your list, and then combine all of the CSVs into one.
Using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, you can expedite this procedure if you’d like. Simply add your keywords, select “Export,” then “Include SERPs.”
Step 2. Clean and segment prospects
Your primary CSV may at this point include hundreds or even thousands of pages. So that you may concentrate on pitching to the most pertinent and worthwhile listicles, you must clear up the list.
You can start by performing some simple cleaning, such as mass duplicate removal and website deletion. I always delete all the websites with DR 30 or lower from mine.
This information is included in Ahrefs export files, so it is simple to enter into Excel or Google Sheets.
After that, manually go through what’s left and eliminate any pages that aren’t listicles and any listicles that don’t meet your criteria. You can choose to remove articles from lists with little traffic (again, the exports from Ahrefs include this data).
Once you clean the list, it’s time to do segmentation. I suggest adding the following tags to your CSV to segment prospects:
Listicles where your product or service isn’t mentioned.
Your business is mentioned, but without a link.
You’ve got a mention, but it’s below your competitors.
Here’s what my file looks like after the segmentation
Step 3. Find contact information
It’s time to identify the decision-makers who are responsible for the URLs you gathered. Since the success of the campaign depends on the people you contact, it’s crucial to give this step ample time. It still works to reach out to the appropriate folks at the appropriate time with the appropriate offer. And “people” play a big part in this.
I discovered that blog editors and content managers had the highest response rates after sending hundreds of outreach emails for listicles. Frequently, these were the authors who came up with a particular listicle. Make these jobs your top priority.
Find your prospects’ full names on LinkedIn, then add them to your paper.
For instance, Joshua Hardwick, Ahrefs’ head of content, would be the person I would likely contact.
After that, you may automate the email lookup process using Hunter for Google Sheets if you use that spreadsheet program. It will take care of the rest if you just provide it the columns containing the first and last names, domains, and company names of your prospects.
For email lookup if you don’t use Google Sheets, you can utilize Bulk Email Finder. The program requires you to upload a CSV before allowing you to export the outcome.
You can utilize Author Finder in the same add-on or the app to streamline the procedure and find the email addresses of only the listicles’ authors. The URL of the listicle is all you need to obtain the author’s email address.
Step 4. Prepare the email copy
Guess what you want: a mention in the listicle, increased exposure to your prospect’s audience, and a backlink on top of all that.
Remember, your chances of receiving anything reduce if you ask for a lot without providing anything in return.
In advance of writing “Hey! I want to add a fantastic tool to your list. Can you mention me with a backlink? “, they consider what benefits they will receive.
You ought to be valuable. No pitch without value. The listicle outreach game has the following rules.
Let me give you two examples of pitches so you can see what I mean by adding value.
One of the templates that I used to help me get dozens of mentions was this one. What’s the formula?
I concentrated on the value rather than extolling the virtues of my instrument and listing all its capabilities in great detail. To put it simply, what the blog editor would receive after highlighting my goods.
I included three critical benefits in my pitch:
If the editor accepted my offer, they would automatically become part of our affiliate program and get recurring revenue from this mention.
I offered bloggers a generous pack of Hunter’s free requests that they could use for their cold outreach campaigns.
I offered to help provide information for the listicle. (It’s a fact that many bloggers are busy and often have established content update schedules. If you don’t want to wait a year for the next update, offer to help.)
I forwarded this template to the blog’s editor, whose website afterwards featured a comprehensive tutorial on email lookup. Our tool was referenced without a backlink. Additionally, the data in that piece was a little dated.
Given the recent decline in organic traffic, my main point of emphasis in this pitch was on contributing to the updating of the guide. I provided a snapshot from Ahrefs to support my claim.
The benefit of the proposition was that it would raise their rating.
I advise investing a significant amount of time on highly personalized email outreach rather than using a generic approach. The outcomes you can get will improve as you put more work into the email copy.
For this campaign, we used two different approaches:
Fully manual and personalized – Sometimes, it took up to 30 minutes to write an email. Yes, it’s time consuming, but I found the response rate to be incredibly high (more than 50%).
Automated with a personal touch –We automated some of the email batches with Hunter Campaigns, a free tool for cold outreach automation. When segmenting prospects, you’ll notice many similarities between listicles. You can personalize copy at scale with custom attributes and icebreakers for such campaigns.
Don’t forget to send follow-up emails as well. They aid in boosting response rates.
Your follow-ups should be succinct and direct. Don’t contact a prospect more than twice in a 24-hour period. By doing this, you’ll avoid coming off as needy and unpleasant.
You can set up automated follow-ups with an outreach automation tool or schedule reminders to send follow-ups in X days directly in your Gmail.
Step 5. Negotiate proactively
If all went according to plan, you would email your cold pitch and receive the reply, “Sounds wonderful, I just revised my article!”
The way things operate in reality is different. Remember that you will frequently be expected to deliver as equivalent value or perhaps more in return when cold contacting for link building, guest posts, or listicle placements.
Even some website editors might demand payment:
I don’t recommend paying for listicle placements for a few reasons:
If the editor accepts submission only for the payment, they don’t care about the quality of the products listed. All they care about is quick money.
If your product is already listed and you want to add a backlink, it may be risky. Google explicitly warns that it considers buying links a link scheme. If you’re going to stick to Google’s guidelines 100%, you shouldn’t buy links.
Often, websites ask for the payment repeatedly. This means that they can feature your product or service in a listicle for a limited time. If you want to extend the placement, you need to continue paying.
One of the trickiest aspects of listicle outreach is negotiation. You put a ton of work into your research, prospecting, and preparation of the sequence. However, a single misstep in communication or a lack of adaptability during negotiations can cost you a prospect.
Here are a few tips that helped me close the most difficult negotiations (for example HubSpot, which has pretty high editorial standards):
Be flexible – Don’t say no right away; always try to find a middle ground.
Provide fast responses – You have a high chance of getting featured in the listicles if you respond to your prospects right away or at least on the same day. Don’t wait too long.
Do something for them –Help spread the word about the updated article, share advice in your area of expertise, provide a backlink from your upcoming guest post, etc.
Always follow up –People are busy, and they can forget about you—it’s OK. If they showed interest in your offer, don’t hesitate to remind them about yourself.
It’s simple to promote a listicle.
It would seem that way given the volume of advice in the piece. However, once you get the feel of things, most things fall into place.
I’m not claiming it will be effortless for you. To gather high-quality prospects, track down decision-makers, create an effective outreach sequence, etc., there is still much work to be done. However, it’s not as difficult a chore as many people believe.
If your campaign is successful, you can use Ahrefs Alerts to keep an eye out for fresh listicles and make it evergreen. Here is an illustration of an alert that searches DR 30+ websites with 1,000+ monthly search views for new listicles with the phrase “best email finder” in their titles: