As the digital marketing & SEO industry changes and evolves, so must the tools & techniques in our arsenal. How we form SEO strategies in particular, are radically different from how they took shape in 2010 and will likely be radically different in 2020! Growing disciplines like PR and influencer marketing have become absolutely critical to SEO success in 2015 and beyond. If we want to continue to drive marketing results, digital marketers need to fully embrace these fields and approach link building and outreach with a different mindset, skillset and toolset.
Seer compiled a list of over 40 influencer marketing tools, all of which can be yours for FREE.
The Evolution of Link Building, PR and Influencer Outreach
One of the unfortunate side effects of the rapidly changing digital marketing industry is that, as a group, we typically love to shout “[insert topic] is dead“ often and loudly, whenever something changes. And lately, SEOs and content marketers love to proclaim “link building is dead.”
These types of posts are usually misleading and clickbait-y (and up there in my list of SEO pet peeves, just below the term “link juice.” *shudders*). People have been saying link building is dead since 2012-- and it’s still around. But, like SEO as a whole, link building is evolving and as marketers, we have to evolve with it.
What does that mean?
To me, it means that we have to embrace other avenues and disciplines like traditional PR & influencer marketing (as well as things like content acceleration, which is a topic for another time!). Outreach, Influencer Marketing and Public Relations have long shared many commonalities, but the intersection between them has never been clearer-- or more important. Approaching outreach campaigns from a holistic perspective by combining PR, blogger outreach and influencer marketing - will lead to success more often than not.
There is a lot that we as SEOs we can learn from PR pros. Chief among them is that the “getting a link” is not the end goal-- gaining coverage and exposure to a publication’s audience is. Think of it this way; a link is an output, not an outcome (h/t to Wil-- he talked about that in his 2014 MozCon presentation). Too many SEOs are focused on that output - Is the link followed? Does it have good anchor text? - that they lose focus on the outcome - such as increaing brand awareness. There are still some SEOs and businesses who would grumble if they got mentioned or covered in the New York Times tomorrow, but didn’t get a link. A PR pro never would.
Public relations teams are often better at pitching than SEOs. Some of that is a function of our respective backgrounds-- I’m generalizing here, but SEOs tend to come from more data driven or technical backgrounds and PR pros more creative or writing backgrounds. However, PR experts also get the little things like the newsroom hierarchy and editorial calendars that sometimes elude SEOs, but can directly impact success. But, most importantly, people working in PR also more innately understand the importance of building relationships with journalists and bloggers. They’re more likely to pick up the phone, connect and engage on social media, network at events and create a rapport.
Which leads us to influencer marketing. While it is a newer buzzword that’s on the rise, it is used to describe something as old as time. People have always tried to get their products in front of the right people, the tastemakers that other people would listen to and follow.
So of course, you want to get your content in front of people that have the ability to sway your target audience-- but how do you do that? Research, research, research! While doing your homework for any prospect you’re planning to reach out to is smart, with influencer marketing, it is absolutely essential.
Some broad tips:
- If there is someone that you’re targeting in a particular industry, follow them on social media, so you can see what they respond to and share.
- If they’re a writer, look at what types of stories they’re covering.
- Engage with them before you try to pitch them. For example, if they ask a question or for help on social (that you’re qualified to respond to), answer!
Ultimately, with any PR or influencer marketing campaign, the goal is to build relationships with influencers-- and the tools outlined in this post will help do that. So when you do reach out, your pitch can be targeted and personalized.
Tools to Identify Influencers
Being able to find influencers who are interested in your content is obviously the first (and probably most crucial!) step to the whole influencer outreach thing. Each of these tools can help you more effectively search for journalists and bloggers who cover niches and topics that you’re trying to pitch-- which is pretty much the dream, right?
What it is: A robust platform that allows you to search tweet from over 1 million journalists and media outlets, set up Twitter alerts, create media lists
Features: Search through 1 billion+ tweets from the creation of Twitter to today from 1 million+ journalists and media outlets, to find relevant media contacts for your industry. You can also set up twitter alerts, create media lists and pitch directly through the interface. The free version does not give you access to reporters’ emails and also caps the number of media lists and alerts you can create.
Seer Pro Tip: This is an awesome tool with lots of potential. Look next to the conversation bubbles for what beats and areas that they care about. Use the powerful filtering options to drill down the best prospects.
What it is: A search engine for startup journalists. You search for a keyword, and then it scours the net to find the most relevant journalists
Features: Searches are free-- and return information like the reporter’s name, their outlet, location, email, social profiles and recent articles. If you want to create and export media lists directly through the interface, you’ll have to upgrade.
Seer Pro Tip: With its focus on startups, this tool is best for clients and companies in tech and related industries.
What it is: A collection of the top independent publishers and bloggers.
Features: Browse top stories and publishers by topic or date. You can also follow specific topics.
Seer Pro Tip: To get the most out of this site as a prospecting source, use a tool like Scrape Similar or Buzzstream’s Buzzmarker extension to look at the sites at scale. Alternatively, set up an IFTTT recipe that collects the sites in Google spreadsheet.
What it is: A tool that searches for content on several social media networks and then ranks content by the number of social shares.
Features: With this tool, you can organize ranking by most shared. trending now, content analysis, domain comparison, and top authors.
Seer Pro Tip: The influencers tab is full of awesome information and is a great way to build a large list of influencers for any given topic. One of my favorite but often overlooked features is the “View Links Shared” button-- with it you can get a sense of the type of content they share (particularly if they will share content that isn’t their own).
What it is: A tool that matches your content with potential influencers.
Features: Upload or link to any piece of content and the tool will use its algorithm to identify 25 influencers who likely would be interested in your content based on their Twitter profile.
Tools to Find Story & Publicity Opportunities
What’s better than getting coverage in major publications? What if you could get requests from journalists from those publications looking for tips and sources delivered directly to your inbox 3x a day? While HARO (Help A Reporter Out, for those unfamiliar) is the most well known, there are a number of other free services that you can also subscribe to.
What it is: The publicity alert service that started it all. Journalists and bloggers submit requests for sources or tips to use in stories that experts can then respond to.
Features: Get query emails broken down by topic/industry in your inbox 3x a day-- morning, afternoon & night.
Seer Pro Tip: Create a HARO rolodex for your client’s industry. Look for journalists writing for publications that you want coverage in or about your industry, even if that day’s query isn’t particularly relevant to your client. Drop them into a Google Spreadsheet or CRM like Buzzstream-- and you’ll have a great list to work from the next time you want to promote something. Or, better yet, proactively start to build a relationship with them before you pitch something to them.
Bonus tip: Follow @helpareporter on Twitter for #URGHARO requests.
What it is: A daily curated email of the #journorequest hashtag on on Twitter. Mostly UK centric.
Features: Breaks down requests from Journalists made on Twitter. With the pro version, you can set up custom alerts.
Seer Pro Tip: Set up filters to capture topics that are relevant to your business or client’s industry.
What it is: Another media alert service that bills itself as “speedy media matchmaking”
Features: Like HARO, you get daily emails-- but you can also search their database for current requests. Unlike HARO, you submit your pitch directly through their interface.
Seer Pro Tip: Like an online dating profile, having a thoughtful and relatively complete profile matters. Your bio is automatically sent along with your pitches and profiles with pictures rank higher in their database.
Tools to Make Outreach Smarter
Getting the inside track on the people you’re reaching out to is smart. Knowing things like what topics they care about, how they prefer to be pitched and what their pet peeves are can be the difference between a successful pitch and a flop. Luckily, there are tools that can help you find out these things-- without resorting to actual stalking.
What it is: A relationship and personality profile builder that gives advice on in-person and email communication.
Features: Get access to millions of personality profiles for your coworkers (or anybody you’re interested in better communicating with) to craft more effective communication. Crystal for Gmail is free for 2 weeks & suggests live changes to your emails based on the personality profile results. The free Chrome extension is great when researching LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter - Crystal builds their personality profile directly from the social media profile.
Seer Pro Tip: Crystal really does know! I love that they even tell you how confident they are in their profile. Pay attention to the tips she gives you-- particularly the things to avoid, so you don’t accidentally include a pet peeve in your message. Also be sure to download the Crystal chrome extension-- with it you can view personality profiles directly on social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
What it is: As one blogger put it, it’s like the “Yelp or Trip Advisor for media relations.”
Features: A growing directory of journalists (including major publications like the Huffington Post, Mashable and TechCrunch), where you can not only find contact info, but notes on how best to pitch and reviews from other users. In order to gain access to the full database, you need to add one review.
Seer Pro Tip: You can favorite journalists and create a really helpful reference for yourself. Also, this is a growing database-- be an active member and contribute to it.
What it is: Tells you how to give the best introduction to whoever you want to communicate with. It analyzes email data to understand who you know and how well you know them.
Features: Search by person or company to not only see how you’re connected to a person, but the strength of that connection.
Seer Pro Tip: Because you’d be leveraging your personal connections to help with the introduction, use this judiciously and for assets or content that really matters.
What it is: An extension for Firefox and Chrome to pull LinkedIn profiles into Gmail.
Features: Shows LinkedIn data including the person’s profile picture, location (see if they’re nearby to meet up), job, and shared connections. Easy connection to LinkedIn without leaving Gmail.
Seer Pro Tip: An oldie, but a goodie-- use the details that Rapportive gives you to your advantage. Did you got to the same alma mater? Slip a reference in. Also, it will also call out any common connections you might have, so like Conspire, if you have a big asset you’re pushing, it may make sense to tap that connection for a more personal intro!
What it is: A social media management platform to schedule messages, engage directly with audiences and measure ROI.
Features: The free version offers a dashboard to manage up to 3 of your social media profiles where you can send messages and interact with industry influencers. The free App adds functionality and compatibility with platforms like Reddit and Tumblr.
Seer Pro Tip: Track specific hashtags like #URGHARO and #JournoRequest or phrases like “for a story” to find journalists who are looking for quick sources.
What it is: Real-time tracking, organizing and management for Twitter through custom built timelines.
Features: You can monitor multiple timelines at once, schedule tweets and alerts, and filter searches by engagement, user or content type.
Seer Pro Tip: Set up Twitter lists to monitor small groups of journalists or bloggers that you want to build a relationship with. Scan it regularly to see if you can contribute something to their conversation or if there is an interesting angle that could help with your pitch.
Tools to Help Find Email Addresses
Finding a prospect’s direct email address can sometimes be challenging, but is absolutely essential in order to make a personal connection. There are a number of different tools that can help you sleuth out an email address.
What it is: Finds email addresses across the web through the company website domain.
Features: The free account allows 200 free searches per month. Just enter a domain name and Email Hunter does the work for you! For developers, there’s also an API.
Seer Pro Tip: This is an awesome new tool, with a simple and easy to use interface. The fact that they also provide the email pattern is really great, because even if the specific person you’re looking for isn’t listed, you can still make an educated guess. Also make sure to check out the Chrome extension-- it streamlines the process even further!
What it is: A tool to find anyone’s email address with just their full name and company domain.
Features: Super simple and clean website that really does the work for you. There’s also an API for automating searches (if you’re into that stuff!)
Seer Pro Tip: It’s like magic! Norbert takes the name you provide and tests the different combinations of email formats to find the one that works. You get a limited number of free searches per day-- Seer’s unscientific tests puts it at around 100!
What it is: A simple, two-step process of finding email addresses using Twitter.
Features: Just sign in with your Twitter account, enter the Twitter handle you’d like to see tweets for, and boom! Every tweet imaginable from that Twitter handle appears. You can easily “Control F” and search for emails from here.
Seer Pro Tip: Unlike the previous two examples, this is a great tool to find emails for bloggers and freelancers who are likely to be using a personal email address that doesn’t fall into a prescribed pattern. Check out Seer's post on how to use allmytweets for the full tutorial!
What it is: A tool to find the email address formats in use at thousands of companies.
Features: Free access allows a limited amount of searches, but probably enough to get the job done. At an additional cost, Email Format gives access to 130MM emails across 10MM domains (whoa).
Seer Pro Tip: You’re not likely to find the exact person you’re looking for on the site, but it does what it says on the label-- it can help you figure out the email format for a lot of sites.
What it is: An email verification tool that connects to the mail server and checks whether the mailbox exists or not.
Features: Verify any possible combination of an email address through this awesome tool. It searches using the format “firstname.lastname@example.org,” makes sure the domain is valid, then identifies if the user and mailbox really exist.
Seer Pro Tip: This does the same thing as Voila Norbert, but a little more manually. You have to enter in each combination of email format individually to find the right one. You can use this is conjuction with a tool like Email Format, so you can test to see if your guess is right!
Tools to Improve Outreach Messages
Without a good pitch, even the best asset or content can fail to get noticed-- which is why it is important for your messages to be well crafted and stand out from the crowd. Below are some tools that will make your pitches stronger-- whether that involves improving your writing, making your headlines punchier or the message more visual, there’s a tool for that.
What it is: An interactive editing tool that calls out grammar errors, use of passive voice and more.
Features: This tool highlights run on sentences, helps with conciseness and even suggests more descriptive words. It also calls out “Readability” and gives you a grade! Sounds a little bit harsh, but it’s absolutely effective for improving outreach messages.
Seer Pro Tip: This a great tool to improve all areas of your writing. I love that it highlights passive voice and adverbs, two things that I personally struggle with. In terms of readability, this post is written on a 9th grade level, according to the app-- which works for this type of longform content. But for a pitch, you’d probably want to be more direct to make it more readable.
What it is: This tool scores your headline quality and rates its ability to result in social shares, more traffic, and SEO value.
Features: The headline analyzer contributes to improving overall user experience. Chances are, if you have a catchy headline that speaks to users, your outreach message will get a click!
Seer Pro Tip: Though this tool focuses on headlines, the suggestions and analysis work for subject lines as well. It can help you to look at your subject from a number of different angles. It even gives you a preview of what it looks like in email.
What it is: A tool to catch cliches in your writing.
Features: It’s okay to be cliche and corny (most of the time), but when writing outreach messages, it’s better to be concise. The receiver shouldn’t have to dig through cliches to get to the meat of your message.
Seer Pro Tip: Cliches abound in pitches-- at least the ones I read. Use this revolutionary and groundbreaking* tool to help make sure you don’t fall into the trap.
*cliches used for effect
What it is: A proofreading tool to improve writing style & grammar
Features: From the website, Grammark “finds things that grammarians consider bad, highlights them, and suggests improvements. So writers can measure progress, it gives a "score" based on problems per document length, updated whenever the writer fixes a problem”
Seer Pro Tip: This tool can help catch the types of grammar mistakes that spell check typically doesn’t.
What it is: A spellchecking and grammar tool 4.0 edition.
Features: Using artificial intelligence and natural language processing, After the Deadline gives grammer and spelling feedback that you would expect from a real-life editor - well almost.
Seer Pro Tip: This tool is like spell check on steroids! Regular spell and grammar checkers don’t pick up on things that are technically spelled correctly-- this tool uses context to help determine if it is the correct word.
What it is: Set up in a wordcloud style, you copy and paste your written word directly into an on-page text box.
Features: Writers have the ability to choose how many words to call-out, ability to exclude small common words like “the,” and group root words together to hone in on repetitive word choice.
Seer Pro Tip: When writing pitches, it can be easy to fall into the trap of overusing certain words. The tool can help you catch the fact that you, like, used like 7 times in 3 paragraphs.
What it is: A tool that crafts a visual press release or pitch journalists want to read.
Features: Email the text, images, and headline you plan on using for outreach to TinyPitch, the team will then email you back a crafted pitch that looks like it’s ready to be published.
Seer Pro Tip: Some people-- and some pitches-- are more visual than others. Using this can help make your message pop.
What it is: A computer software that analyzes the words in your headline to asses its emotional impact.
Features: Copy and paste your headline into the on-page text box; from there, the software will grade your words “intelligence,” “empathic” and “spiritual” value.
Seer Pro Tip: This headline analyzer only looks at the emotional side of things, which can be very helpful in determining if you’re hitting the right tone.
What it is: A computer software that gives your headline a quick score.
Features: Enter your headline into the system and immediately view your score to determine if it needs tweaking or if it’s good to go.
Seer Pro Tip: Unlike the headline analyzers, this is designed for subject lines. It looks at things like character length (both mobile and desktop), if it contains a number and if there is a sense of urgency.
What it is: Utilizing Gmails auto-response emails to save time when sending quick response calls - not to be used for pitches.
Features: This response can be saved as a typical email and automated to fire on a specific date and time.
Seer Pro Tip: Think about common tasks and emails that you send-- would having a template help speed up that process at all? I’ll typically have canned responses set up for things like quick follow-up or thank you emails that I can tweak as necessary.
Tools to Manage Follow-ups
Staying on top of follow-ups can be difficult, but is something that can have a big impact. To make sure follow-up messages don’t fall through the cracks, manage them with one of the following tools.
What it is: FollowupThen is set-up through your email address to alert you when to send an email response.
Features: With this tool, you can use it to set-up to-do lists for others, send reminders to yourself, and clear clutter from your inbox.
Seer Pro Tip: When you’re sending the message, bcc email@example.com so you’re automatically reminded to send a follow-up a week later!
What it is: A simple and easy Gmail plug-in that will send an email back to your inbox at the date and time of your choosing.
Features: Boomerang allows you to select when it should remind (if someone responds or not), that exact date you need to be pinged on an email, and available on mobile devices.
Seer Pro Tip: If a prospect responds and asks that you follow-up in a few weeks or months, you can Boomerang it to return on or around the date requested so you don’t forget.
What it is: The closest thing to a full CRM system for your inbox.
Features: Its saves all data in the cloud, comes with powerful email tools (reminders, view tracking, and more), doesn’t need IT implementation, and can even be linked to sales tools to track email outreach impact on earning new business.
Seer Pro Tip: Only works with Gmail! Full disclosure: I haven’t used this tool, but it seems really robust, particularly for one that’s free. If you don’t have an existing CRM system, this is worth a look!
Tools to Track Results
You should always have a pulse on how a campaign is performing-- for a number of reasons. You want to be able to pivot if something isn’t working or catch wins early, so you can share your success. The following tools will help you track everything from email opens to mentions to social shares.
What it is: A robust extension for Chrome that connects to your email account.
Features: This tool includes tracking on email opens and clicks, detailed profiles with contact’ social media information and mutual connections, and coming soon - ability to schedule when an email will be sent.
Seer Pro Tip: It’s super helpful to know when someone opens your email or clicks on a link. Just be mindful when you use it-- if someone copies the link directly from the email, they’ll link to the redirected/tracked link.
What it is: An extension for Gmail that enables you to quickly scan to see if your messages were opened.
Features: The tools includes useful shortcuts to let you know if your email was opened and how many people read the email right within your normal inbox interface.
Seer Pro Tip: Gmail Only! People love the clean interface and integration. I’m a fan of their double check mark system (one check mark for sent, two check marks for read) so you can easily scan your inbox to see what has been read and how you can just hover over the message to see more details, like when they opened it and on what kind of device.
What it is: An email tracker for most email systems (not just Gmail).
Features: This tool gives you the ability to track emails opens, clicks, and attachment opens. It also includes an analytics interface to make email reporting easier.
Seer Pro Tip: Another email tracker. This one has very limited free usage, but does include an easy way to create and insert email templates, which makes it worth the mention.
What it is: One of google’s classic tools to help you keep track of online news.
Features: In google’s words the tool allows you to “monitor the web for interesting content” by sending news alerts straight to your inbox.
Seer Pro Tip: Many marketers are familiar with Google Alerts, but its’ importance can go under the radar. It really should be a staple in any SEOs arsenal. When using them to track the success of a campaign, set them up for your client/company (you probably already should have these created!) and any specific keywords related to the content/asset.
What it is: Email messages sent directly to your inbox to keep you up-to-date on web mentions
Features: With this tool, you can use advanced filter options to pinpoint exact words and phrases that you want to be alerted of whenever it is mentioned on the web.
Seer Pro Tip: Talkwalker tends to catch more than Google Alerts, particularly for blogs. Use advanced queries to drill down and remove the noise from your alerts.
What it is: A social media search engine.
Features: Using Topsy, you can view links, tweets, photos, videos, and influencers who are discussing a certain topic or sharing specific content.
Seer Pro Tip: Oftentimes, social sharing is important to a campaign’s success, so it’s helpful to see who’s sharing your post or content on Twitter. Topsy can do that, and also will tell you if they’re “influential” or not (but make sure you keep a healthy dose of skepticism when looking at the influential tag-- it’s not 100% foolproof).
A Tool to Find Tools
Did I forget your favorite tool? Do you want to find out about the latest tools before anyone else? There’s a tool for that too!
What it is: A growing directory of 250+ PR tools mapped against workflow
Features: Browse tools by type (ie publicity or influencer relations) or goal (ie planning or management).
Seer Pro Tip: Set up alerts or an IFTTT recipe so you don’t have to remember to check to see if new tools have been added.