Over the coming weeks and months here on the blog, you’re hopefully going to see the growth of a new series of essays we’re calling ‘Preneur Marketing Profiles’
In this series we’re going to be highlighting, giving kudos too, and digging deep on really cool people, start-ups and businesses doing awesome “Preneur Style Marketing.”
It could be a something as simple as a split test… Maybe we’ll breakdown a new product launch … perhaps we’ll do a case-study on a crowd-funding campaign … or breakdown an email someone used that generated a tonne of leads.
We’re aiming to tackle anything and everything, so you, the Preneur Community, can swipe and deploy the successful tactic in your own business.
Today we start with one of the savviest link building strategies I’ve seen, in a very long time… from one of the savviest marketers I know – Mr Davey J.
The Testimonial Backlink:
Dave Jenyns runs two great businesses in the same office building as me: Melbourne Video Productions and Melbourne SEO Services and he knows a few things about entrepreneurship. Melbourne Video Services produces video content that really focuses on delivering business results. Sure, the videos look great, but if they aren’t contributing to your bottom line then you have an expense rather than an investment. The other company, Melbourne SEO Services delivers no-nonsense ethical SEO. Both companies are doing well, but Dave saw an opportunity to grow the video business.
Dave was considering a range of tactics to improve the traffic to his business. Increasing traffic is the first lever of business, and the one that most people tend to focus on. There are a number of ways that you can improve website traffic, but the one that Dave saw the biggest opportunity with was doing some search engine optimization (SEO) by building back links.
As most of us know, back links are an essential part of SEO. Getting your on-page SEO in order is easy enough, but getting those back links from high quality or high traffic sites is where it becomes much more difficult.
Getting quality back links is hard. Full Stop!
The traditional way of building back links is to use discussion forums, directory websites or to send emails to everyone you know suggesting they add a link to your site on theirs. We have all seen those emails that come in and as a rule we tend to ignore them. Worse still, they can come from people we don’t know, in which it becomes really spammy. This makes it a really low yield tactic, which can take a fair amount of time (and cost) to do.
So Dave’s challenge was a bit deeper than just creating back links – it was to think outside the square and create quality back links. What method could he use that would raise his requests and attempts for back links above the spam-fest that most of us witness?
Sometimes it helps to flip a problem on its head. It is a bit of a journey, but stick with us as we completely unpack the step-by-step approach Dave took to creating the highest quality back links he could.
What Dave Did
Typically; a backlink request is 100% self-serving: You want the backlink, but what’s in it for the other person? Some people answer this question with a piece of content. Sadly, this piece of content is usually really low quality and doesn’t add much to the recipient’s website at all.
Dave took it a lot further and asked himself what would really help the people providing the back links.
His answer: TESTIMONIALS!
Unsolicited testimonial videos sent to companies he liked
Everyone loves a testimonial video, and this is the hook Dave used to reach out and engage with the sites he wanted back links from. He picked out a list of products and services that he used regularly and made a two minute video telling them how much he loved them.
The companies that Dave approached loved the videos. A video testimonial on a website can dramatically increase conversion, which is one of the seven levers of business. That means increasing conversion will have a direct result on the profitability of the company, so it is no wonder that they jumped at the chance to place these videos in a prominent place. It increases conversion by providing social proof – a company can tell you constantly how good they are, but to hear it from a satisfied customer carries a lot more credibility and impact.
Having an effective video as part of a landing page is also a lot more engaging for a website visitor. Most will struggle to avoid clicking that little ‘play’ triangle when the alternative is to read blocks of text.
Right after he made the video he emailed it through with the following text:
“here I made a testimonial for you… do you want a copy? ps. I love your “.
What happed next?
The companies that received the videos loved them – obviously! It provided something they needed; that would help increase their business, as much, if not more that the backlink helped Dave. Testimonials are great, but video testimonials are the bulked-up, steroid freak variant! The companies that received these testimonials added them to their websites. They saw that the videos were well produced, simple, genuine and raw. There were no overly fancy intro edits or massive logo overlays, just Dave talking to a camera telling it how much he loved a particular service.
When the companies added the videos to the site it gave Dave the back links he was hoping for. At times it was an introduction link from the recipient that linked directly to Melbourne SEO services. Other times, they didn’t provide a link, but he still had his face and his company name mentioned on another site. In these cases it didn’t contribute directly to building back links, but did increase his exposure and reach.
The ideal result from this tactic can be seen here on Nutshell CRM’s site. Nutshell has a good amount of traffic and it is a company whose customers would be quite likely to be interested in the services that Dave offers. This makes it a relevant link. Also the text on the link is Dave’s company name, but also mentions Dave’s favourite key words: Melbourne and SEO. Nice!
Dave has found that his tactic results in approximately 60% of the companies he approaches will post his video on their site and provide a backlink. Compare that to the time and effort created in reaching out and just requesting back links and you can see that this is a huge return. He continues to use it, and the full list of his testimonials videos can be found here.
Not only that, the magnitude of effect from getting back links from high ranking sites (all links that Dave obtained were from pages of Page Rank PR3 and above, even getting a PR6 in one instance).
Why did this tactic work? He gave the value first
When people use spam, or black-hat SEO tactics they are forgetting something very important: there are humans on the other end of the screen. Rather than running a program and shooting out links everywhere Dave asked himself the question “what would motivate someone to provide a quality back link to my site?”
This is where we move into the realm of providing something valuable, something useful to another party in order to gain things that will help our own business. It should not be so amazing, but it is because it is rare – Dave decided that to get what he needed, he had to help others to help him. His first step was to create something that would genuinely assist the business goals of others.
How to do it yourself? Let’s break it down
1. Creating Your Testimonial Videos
The best tactics are ones where you reduce the demands on yourself while increasing the results you achieve. When creating a video the ways of reducing the demands on yourself are:
- Working to a template script
- Using low-tech recording equipment and a convenient (and preferably free) filming location.
So to create a video, simply use the highest quality recording device you can get your hands on. For most people it will be their smartphone.
Dave did had the video studio in our building to work with, but don’t let that make it seem unobtainable to you – the studio itself isn’t that fancy.
Still feel a little overwhelmed? Don’t stress, we’ve got a bootstrapped version that will mean you don’t need a DSLR camera or hire out a studio. When we’re not in the studio above, we shoot all our videos on an IPhone. Seriously. This video explains why, and shares how you can save $1204 going down this route.
2. What to say in the testimonial?
Some of you will come to this part of the plan and panic a little bit, wondering exactly what to say in a testimonial. How much is too much? How do you make sure it is valuable enough for the recipient?
Most of the clips Dave recorded ended up being approximately two minutes in length. Most people speak about 150 words per minute (New Yorkers speak faster than this. “Most” Australians tend to speak down at the 100wpm mark) – any faster and it starts to sound far too rushed. This means you only need to record 250 words about a company you love.
Here’s the template Dave used for this videos, that we think perfect to swipe and deploy for your own videos:
“Hi there, I’m <insert your name here> from <insert company here>
Just wanted to make a short video to give my feedback on <insert name of company or service>
It’s been great for us actually, because <describe situation before using the product, possible mention of the previous company you used>. The reason we were with <previous provider> was that they <insert previous provider benefit>.
As we found out, <back link company> provided this benefit in an even better way.”
Then a few sentences describing the benefit to your life to finish off the testimonial.
Here’s another great template for delivering a testimonial that really resonates with the service provider and their customers, which was prescribed to me by Dale Beaumont during our conversation for episode 71 of the PreneurCast podcast. You simply answer these four questions:
- Why were you unsure/sceptical about this product?
- What ultimately made you decide to buy?
- What specific benefits have you received?
- Who would you recommend the product/service to, and why?
The reason that Dale insists that the first question should be answered as part of a testimonial is because it shows that it is coming from a human, rather than from a cult member. Testimonials that are too positive and too extreme leave the viewer/reader suspicious. One that describes the pre-purchase mindset of doubt or scepticism and then highlights the element that conquered this doubt is much more credible.
It is as easy as that! You should be able to film a fairly effective video on the first recording. Unless you really make a meal of it you should not try to perfect it too heavily. As long as the major elements of a great testimonial are included then any rough edges, uhms or ahs will simply show that it is a genuine testimonial rather than a stilted, rehearsed one.
3. Editing the videos
Even the most perfect run recording will need a bit of a tidy up at the other end. You will want to put your website’s name on the video as an overlay somewhere, and you want to clip the start and finish of the video.
You may want to take it to a higher level and, like Dave, show yourself delivering a testimonial against an Apple-style clean white background. There are a few ways you can get your testimonial videos edited:
For those who would prefer to outsource the task to ODesk or elancer, here’s another script/template you can use. [In fact it’s taken from the outsourcing workshop Davey J and I ran for some out of key clients and associates – Recordings available here].
Everyone I know that has had a bad experience on these platforms has done so because of big holes in the instructions they provide and the way they select a candidate. So, use this tested template for your own listing:
OUTSOURCED JOB ADVERT:
I am looking for an experienced video editor to edit up 10 x 2min testimonial videos I’ve recorded on my iPhone.
You will need to create 2 min minute, web-ready MP4 videos, which I will be uploading to Youtube.
I’ve recorded 7 short video testimonials for some of the key products and services we use in our video; and they just need to be quickly edited up so they are web ready.
You will be provided with
- 10 raw mp4 video files
- text for the lower third overlay on each video
All I need is
- 10 web-ready MP4 videos (with the pre and post roll errors edited out etc)
- The dimensions of the video need to be 640 x 360 (Feel free to use this tool to determine your preferred size.)
In your reply/application please include:
1. Links directly to some face-to-camera videos you’ve edited previously
2. Any questions you have about the project, that shows me you’ve seriously thought about this project
3. Let me know what colour the sky is, just so I know this is not one of those typical batch reply applications. I want to work with someone who has attention to detail and wants a long term relationship.
4. How long you expect this task would take you to deliver.
5. Any questions you think I should have asked.
This job spec is quite detailed, but when you are offering work to someone you do not have a pre-existing relationship with you need to be really clear on what is needed, and also be clear on what the response to the ad will be. This will quickly highlight any applicants that either don’t read the job properly and are simply applying to every job that comes along, or anyone that you may have a future communication break down with.
Doing the approach via email
When you send the finished video to your intended target we strongly suggest that you keep the email brief. Try and strike that balance between ‘so brief that it looks like a Trojan horse email’ and ‘so wordy nobody can be bothered reading it’.
The exact email template that Dave used was this:
“Here I made a testimonial for you… do you want a copy? ps. I love your “.
If he had expanded on it with a few paragraphs of justification it would have seemed like he was trying too hard, possibly prompting the suspicion of “what does this guy really want?” It is short and sharp and makes the recipient want to view it.
Crunching the ROI
In this series of swipe and deploy articles the aim is for you to have a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to implement a tactic that delivers amazing results. At this stage you are probably asking yourself if this tactic is worth the effort. To make it easier for you to decide this dilemma we have provided below the return on investment that Dave found with this tactic:
Total monetary outlay:
- Iphone course $97
- Iphone apps $12
- Tripod $15
- ODesk editing support $45
- Total: $169
Total time outlay
- Video creation course: 2 hours
- Recording the videos: 0.5 hours
- Selecting recipients for the video: 1 hour
- Sending emails: 5 minutes
- Posting job on Odesk and
- Selecting applicants: 30 minutes
- Total: 3 hours and 35 minutes.
- 60% response to the request of posting his videos
- Direct traffic through the new links
- Increased site traffic through search engines
- New business relationships!
Because Dave runs a lot of simultaneous tactics to boost his traffic it has been almost impossible to pin down details of this specific tactic. However, as a great SEO marketer he continues to use the tactic and that should indicate just how beneficial it is. His company currently ranks second on Google Australia for ‘SEO services’ (possibly the most competitive search term there is)