Mar 05, 2022

5 Link Building KPIs to Track Outreach Campaign Success


Nicholas Rubright


Nathan Winfrey

The legitimate success of your link building outreach campaign is essential to moving up in Google for your target keywords.

We run link building outreach campaigns for our clients that span from five to 40+ hours/week.

Here are five KPIs we use to track the success of our link building outreach campaigns.

1. Prospects per hour

The number of prospects our outreach team gets per hour shows us how good our keyword targeting is for finding outreach targets.

Usually, for a well-running campaign, we should be getting seven prospects/hour.

When our team’s prospecting efforts fall below this number, we investigate accordingly.

In most cases, it’s due to one of the following reasons:

  1. Strict prospecting requirements that cause us to skip over a lot of opportunities. In this case, we often press to have looser outreach parameters so we can get more from our prospecting keyword list.
  2. Keywords are resulting in dead ends. In this case, we re-examine our link prospecting techniques to find keywords that offer more tangential variety via creative use of Google search operators.
  3. Targets just don’t exist. Unfortunately, this is the case in some niches and for some types of content. When we come across this as an issue, we usually shut down the campaign and try something else.

If none of these things are the issue and the number of prospects per hour is still low, we can accept that our cost per link will be high and continue building links in this niche, or run a campaign designed to work in a tangential niche.

Tangential niches are usually broader, which allow for deeper prospect buckets.

Infographic link building campaigns are great for this because they’re relatively inexpensive to build and can have prospecting opportunities that last for months.

However, links from tangential niches may not have as big of an impact on your rankings as links from the sites in the niche you’re going after. So consider the impact of your outreach campaign on your SEO performance when making new targeting decisions.

2. Prospect qualification rate

Prospects are qualified if they’re a fit for the outreach campaign. We usually vet them before sending our outreach emails by asking these questions:

  • Is the site managed by actual humans who care about their readers?
  • Does the website content make sense for what we’re pitching?
  • Do their current outgoing links make sense and add real value for their readers?
  • Does it have a “contact us” or “about us” page that shows a phone number, address, or signs of real human beings?

Once we’ve determined that the website is a fit, we choose the appropriate outreach contact, find their email address, and add them to our outreach list.

Even though we follow a rigorous process for creating a clean outreach list, sometimes there are some misfits that slip through the cracks.

In these cases, we handle them somewhat automatically by marking them as “not a fit” in the spreadsheet. From there, our prospecting team can find replacement prospects.

When there are a sizable amount of misfit prospects, however, we talk to our prospecting team to make sure they clearly understand the instructions. If they don’t, we rework them accordingly.

Usually, misfitting prospects are a result of poor communication or a misunderstanding of the campaign objectives.

Ideally, you want your prospect qualification rate to be above 95%.

3. Email delivery rate

Because we find most of our email addresses for contacts via email scraping tools like Hunter or Snov, some of the emails will fail delivery.

A good email delivery rate is 97%, meaning only 3% of emails should bounce.

If lots of outreach emails are bouncing, email verification tools like NeverBounce can help you determine the potential deliverability for an email address before reaching out.

Even if emails don’t bounce, if cold email best practices aren’t followed, it’s possible they’re going to spam. This is tough to gauge, but generally if the open rate of your outreach campaign is under 15%, it’s probably hitting spam.

If you think your emails might be going to spam, here’s how to fix that.

4. Positive response rate

This is the most important KPI to track because it shows how well-received our pitch is by our prospects.

A good outreach response for a link building email campaign is usually around 15-20% (with follow-ups) depending on the niche (not including paid link responses).

Before freaking out over a low response rate, make sure you’ve sent enough emails. I like to send at least 30 emails for a new outreach campaign before making changes.

If after 30 emails I don’t have at least 1 positive response, I usually change something.

If response rates are too low, this is a sign that you need to either change your offer, change your audience, or rework your email copy.

If the people who do respond reject your offer, you’ll know you need to change your offer or audience. However, a lack of any responses may also be a sign of a lack of interest in the offer.

Choosing the correct outreach target is part of making this work, but creating an avatar of your outreach target can help you better understand what type of offer might be more interesting to your prospects.

If the response rate is low but responses you are getting are positive, then you need to rework your email copy. These email copywriting tips might help spark some ideas. 

In general, though, most emails follow the same basic structure, like this graphic from American English illustrates.

5. Outreach placement rate

For link building outreach, a good placement rate is around 5-7% for something backed by good content.

What you pitch plays a huge role in the success of your outreach efforts. If you have something that’s valuable to the audience of the bloggers and journalists you’re pitching, you’ll get a lot more buy-in from prospects than if you’re running a competitor outreach campaign with nothing of interest to the website owner.

If you have nothing worth pitching, consider creating a linkable asset and pitching that out.

Otherwise, if you’re running something that isn’t backed by on-site content, like guest posting, a low success rate could be based on the quality of your content. In this case, you just need to hire better writers.

If your content is good, then it may be that the article ideas you’re pitching to your prospects aren’t interesting to them.

When pitches are the issue, re-examine your strategy for coming up with ideas to make sure they meet the following criteria:

  1. They fulfill the content intent of your contact, meaning the ideas serve the same purpose as the other content on their site.
  2. They’re legitimately helpful to their audience.
  3. They haven’t written about this topic in the same way before.

If you need help understanding why your audience publishes content, check out this list of reasons people blog and see which of these aligns with the behaviors and interests of your outreach targets.

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