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Communication & Transparency In Enterprise Link Building
Columnist Andrew Dennis reminds us that the foundation of any successful link building campaign is a strong and open relationship between client and agency.
Link building is a technical and nuanced practice that is difficult to do well. Building real links requires manual effort, dedication and no shortage of creativity.
To earn worthwhile links, you have to:
- Critically analyze your client’s site and identify potential assets valuable to their audience.
- Find relevant, quality sites where your client’s audience lives online.
- Identify any online relationships, mentions, opportunities or engagement that could lead to a link.
- Persuasively explain the value of your client’s page to the site owner’s audience in order to secure a link.
Matt Cutts said it best when he referred to link building as “sweat plus creativity.” Effective link acquisition at the enterprise level is even more competitive. But links are foundational to online visibility, and even major brands need link building.
There are several unique challenges connected to enterprise link building, and many of the solutions to these hurdles lie within communication and transparency.
Communication Starts Before You Have The Client
Success in enterprise link acquisition is predicated on effective communication.
Even before a project starts, strong communication (sometimes in the form of marketing) is required to attract the business of Fortune 500 companies. Large corporations can afford to hire the best vendors available, and if you can’t clearly communicate quality, professionalism and competence all the way through the onboarding process, you won’t get their business. Some ways to demonstrate your expertise include:
- Detailed proposals.
- Structured reports.
- Case studies.
- A clear route of communication.
- Prompt response time to client queries.
- Multiple layers of contact available.
- Testimonials or referrals from previous clients.
- Instructional videos.
- A professional website.
- Designated meetings and discussions.
- A clear outline of strategy.
All of these require strong communication skills to execute well, and they will help make a case that you can handle enterprise-level clients.
Ongoing Communication Supports A Successful Link Campaign
Once you’ve secured an enterprise account, you will need to continue open communication throughout a campaign.
Open and direct communication with the client during strategy creation is vital. By collaborating with the client, you can ensure the strategy you develop aligns with client goals and expectations.
Enterprise companies aren’t particularly agile and will not pivot easily if your current strategy proves ineffective. This is why it’s important to ensure you and the client fully understand one another — and can establish clear goals and expectations from the start of a campaign.
Open communication during strategy development also encourages integration. By discussing strategy with the client, you can learn what marketing strategies they are currently executing and explore ways to leverage those initiatives to benefit your link project. Furthermore, you’ll be able to communicate the potential benefits of integration with the client, which is key to truly integrating and building project buy-in.
Integrating with the client and company will also help you find previous marketing initiatives that might have generated unclaimed link opportunities.
For example, an excellent piece of content buried within the company’s giant site could serve as a linkable asset that’s just waiting to be promoted. Or perhaps the client ran a successful PR campaign that generated media coverage and exposure but left behind a number of unlinked brand mentions. These opportunities can offer quick wins and build early momentum for a campaign.
Through integration, you can maximize campaign efficacy, as well as secure links that support other initiatives, helping those initiatives succeed. By making other departments look good, you’ll get buy-in — making integration and collaboration even easier as the project progresses.
Effective Communication Mitigates Bureaucracy
Enterprise companies can afford to execute a variety of marketing campaigns at any given time, which might generate extra opportunities for links. However, all these moving parts can lead to potential pitfalls, as well.
These corporations have their fair share of “red tape” and bureaucracy, and the key to reducing these obstacles is earning their trust early through effective communication.
Clear communication is vital to navigating the corporate hierarchy. When dealing with enterprise clients, you will often have a point of contact who still has to convince their bosses (who might not be SEO-savvy) of the validity of your project. By clearly communicating value to your contact, it’s easier for them to communicate that value “upstream” to decision makers and budgetary gatekeepers.
Effective and consistent communication can prevent a link campaign from being bogged down by red tape or a lengthy chain of command.
The old adage of “actions speak louder than words” rings true in enterprise marketing. All the communication in the world won’t mean much without transparency. Don’t just tell your client what you’re doing — show them!
Once you’ve established a rapport with the client, you can build further trust by being transparent in your work.
Transparency in terms of a link campaign means:
- Full access to their contact at all times.
- Shared and agreed upon strategy documentation.
- A full list of all links built, updated regularly.
- The complete list of target sites and sites contacted.
- Detailed list of completed work and time allocation.
- Reports of effort in terms of links, relationships and leads generated.
You can also demonstrate transparency to a client through consistent reporting and examples of how you represent them online.
Transparency in link acquisition starts with reporting. Large corporations have complex structures — meaning you need to impress your contact, and your contact’s boss. Providing detailed, frequent reports on how your project is progressing (as well as how it contributes to client goals) will keep your contact happy, because their boss will be happy.
However, bear in mind that enterprise businesses are accustomed to seeing high-quality reports. Your reports need to have the following attributes to cater to an enterprise client:
- Timely — Be quick to respond when a client needs data regarding their project.
- Customized — Send customized reports that are tailored to the client’s unique campaign and goals (e.g., KPIs, organic traffic growth or conversion growth).
- Professional — Presentation matters, especially because you should assume that every report you share could reach the C-suite.
- Succinct — It should be possible to quickly scan your reports and have a general understanding of campaign progress.
- Clear — Reports should focus on clarity and simplicity and be devoid of industry jargon.
Consistent, comprehensive, professional reports will help build trust and provide your contact with the tools necessary to keep their managers happy.
Transparency is also important when dealing with large companies that have established brand equity and care deeply about how their brand is represented. Showing an enterprise company exactly how you will represent them during a campaign builds trust that’s essential to sustained success.
Of course, you can only build that trust if you’re able to accurately represent your client’s brand. Full transparency means you show the client how you’re representing them within your link campaign — show the client the sites you’re contacting and how you’re contacting them. Enterprise clients will be more trusting and comfortable knowing you’re representing their brand accurately.
Link acquisition is a challenging and nuanced practice, and it becomes even more complicated when working with a corporate brand. Two pillars of successful enterprise link building are communication and transparency.
Here is a recap of why they’re important, and how to successfully execute in these two areas.
- Starts before you secure the account – enterprise-grade marketing
- Proposals, white papers, case studies, etc.
- Collaborate with the client during strategy development
- Ensures strategy aligns with client goals and expectations
- Encourages integration from the outset
- Provides opportunity to learn about past and current marketing initiatives
- Ongoing communication throughout the link campaign
- Cultivates trust and understanding
- Helps navigation of corporate hierarchy
- Starts before you secure the account – enterprise-grade marketing
- Consistent reporting
- Timely, personalized, professional, succinct reports
- Brand representation
- Accurate brand assimilation through research (brand voice, USP, competition, audience, market position, etc.)
- Consistent reporting
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.