Selling a service can be really tough. There’s no tangible “thing” that someone is paying for, so it needs to be justified as a purchase in some other equally – equitable way. That’s where the strength of your sales process as an agency needs to shine though. Luckily, there are many ways to make this process stronger and justifying link building easier.
Justifying Link Building by Predictive Revenue
If your client/boss/C-suite is a numbers person, then this is going to be your strongest case. I always tell our prospective clients that come to us for our link building services that ROI can sometimes only be an assumption based on an assumption, based on another assumption. Sometimes (and this especially true of service-based companies) not everything is exactly quantifiable, and you have to guess. That’s ok, because overall your estimations will prove accurate – as long as you base your assumptions on some type of historical data.
When it comes to the revenue side of things, there’s a basic formula that you can use to estimate the value of a link using the ahrefs keyword difficulty tool.
Use the tool to help determine how many links it will take to get to the first page, or top 5, or even the #1 result. That allows you to multiply that ranking by estimated clicks in said position for said keyword (there are several studies with this click through data, but this graph from Advanced Web Ranking illustrates this very well). From there, simply multiply the estimated clicks by the conversion rate of the site, and just like that you have an estimate for what the link(s) are worth.
For example, let’s say you need 25 links to get to the #3 spot for a specific URL. The total cost of building those links comes to $7500 (content, labor, etc).
Then, you take the average estimated click through rate of the #3 spot for your URL (using the above graph), multiplied by the revenue for that URL’s entrance traffic over a given month. That will give you the final figure.
If we assume this revenue amount is $2500, it will only take 3 months to break even on the cost of building those links. And that doesn’t even count the correlative benefit given to other pages with the flow of link equity. Each month after that campaign is finished is essentially “free money” because it’s always profitable from that point forward.
Justifying Link Building by Competitor Activity
I often get asked how long we’ll need to continue with a link building campaign. The answer is usually, forever. As bias as that sounds, the fact of the matter is that competitors will always be working on their digital marketing plan and overall presence, so you have to keep up if you want to keep the marketshare you have (or earn more!).
Focusing the discussion to your client from that perspective can help substantially. See, most people have a deep-seeded ego problem when they see competitors ranking above them (this is especially true with small business owners). This can be used to your advantage when pitching a link building plan, because even though you’re selling something that’s somewhat intangible, your client knows that their competitors are doing it. That feeling of “Well I want it too then!” kicks in, making your job way easier.
Getting them to that mentality can be done several ways, but I’ve had luck by 1) total referring domains, 2) emphasizing the rate of new linking domains of their competitors, and 3) the traffic value. All of these can be found in ahrefs.
Justifying Link Building by Branding
Do you think Coca-Cola sees an immediate return on the $4 billion dollars they spend annually on advertising? No way. However, their products are consumed the world over, and their logo is even recognizable toddlers. There’s power in branding, no doubt about it.
But alas, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you aren’t pitching to a company that has an ad budget of $4 billion…
Even so, having clear campaign goals that are within the budget of the project have significant impact all the way from content creation, down to the sales pipeline. For link building this will often mean branded material within guest blog posts, branded linkable assets to be published on the client’s blog, etc. Things like this help to establish authority and promote whatever singular message that most accurately represents the company.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always help win over the power’s that be, as they are focused on business-oriented success metrics in any piece of the company, especially the marketing side. So when talking about metrics, merge your link building wants with business-oriented metrics like:
- How many link placements turn into leads
- How many link placements turn into sales
- How many referrals there are from the links built from the campaign
- How long that referral traffic stays on site…
- …and any micro-conversions that may happen along the way
It’s likely that if you haven’t begun a link building campaign at all yet, you may have to answer some of these question with current referral traffic in Google Analytics. This might be tougher to do if you’re in a while label link building situation, but certainly not impossible.
Just keep in mind, metrics don’t mean much without a good message to go along with it.
Go Forth and Pitch Your Link Building Campaign
Keep in mind that while you may focus on one of these areas in your sales process, it can be extremely beneficial to have anecdotal evidence for a second justification.
For example, if you’re justifying employing a link building campaign through predictive revenue, then you can further this argument by talking about how the increased amount of links would also benefit the branding side. Taking that even further, larger companies with branding / PR departments may even be inclined to contribute some of their budget to the portion that the marketing department is already paying for to actually get it done. Thus, making it even more cost effective overall for your client.