Over the past few years I have spent an increasing amount of time learning about different psychology theories to enhance the results of my work.
As a link builder it is your role to deliver your content to the communities who are most likely to consume and link to it. To gain an upper hand and get the attention of people who are being pitched to dozens, if not hundreds of times per day, it will often come down to how well you understand your link prospects motivations and mindset.
In this post I hope to give you an overview of a number of theories I have used in the past couple of years in helping me to convert my outreach efforts into links.
Speak their Language
A very powerful way of establishing rapport with someone else is to adopt the language style of their preferred representational system.
Our preferred representational systems are our points of contact with the outside world i.e. our five senses. Every one of us has a mixture of all four representational systems but we all have one that we prefer and operate in most of the time.
When we take the time to learn to recognise other people’s preferred representational styles we can relate better to them by adapting our style to theirs.
Auditory: people with an auditory preference are great story tellers and love to talk. Ultimately they want to have fun and attend “fun” events. They are big picture orientated so don’t require the details so consider picking up the phone and having a chat.
Auditory Digital: individuals with an auditory digital preference are very detail orientated perfectionists, preferring order over chaos and their personal space. When you write an email to them be specific, prepared and precise & offer them plenty of links and references for further research such as charts and data.
Visual: people with a visual style are driven and very businesslike. They don’t want the detail and need the big picture so make sure your communications with these types of people are brief and to the point. These types of people prefer visualisations (infographics and photos) and very much love to win; so think about blogging competitions and ego bait to get this particular groups attention.
Kinaesthetic: individuals who have a kinaesthetic preference are doers and want to take action. These types of people enjoy getting out and interacting so why not arrange a meet-up with other webmasters in their location, pick up the phone, invite them for a coffee or host a webinar.
Optimal Distinctiveness Theory
Optimal Distinctiveness Theory is a social psychology theory which states that individuals work to achieve a balance of integration and uniqueness within social groups and situations. When people feel similar to others, they seek out some way to be different.
When they feel different, they try to be more similar. The Optimal Distinctiveness Theory suggests that individuals are constantly making adjustments to maintain equilibrium between the need to be similar and the need to be different.
This is a great theory that a link builder should be aware of in crafting an outreach campaign. It is human nature for individuals to want to differentiate themselves from a group, but simultaneously wish to maintain a certain similarity with a group.
As a link builder you can design your campaign so that it speaks to these two opposing motivators in a clever way, appealing to a person’s need to be different, by showing them a new angle or offering an exclusive, such as an interview with a senior member of staff.
Yet at the same time, your campaign will need to promote the fact that a person will be seen as keeping up with popular behaviour, because by featuring your content they will be seen to fit in to the trend of the other websites in their niche.
So how does this work in reality?
“Hi [First Name],
I just read your article on [blog topic] and I would love the opportunity to write more about the subject for your blog.
As you know [blog topic] is pretty hot right now and I have recently written some very popular posts on the subject at [list of websites in their niche], and I notice very few people are writing about [proposed blog topic].
Let me know if it is of interest to you and I will send across a draft in the next few days,
Appeal to their Ego
We all have an ego and most of us don’t mind when our ego is massaged from time to time
Egobait is an incredibly simple and effective marketing tactic to get your head around and is a very good way to get onto the radar of a thought leader in your niche:
- Curate a best of post or Top 10 list
- Create a badge or award
- Mention Influencers in your blog posts (link out)
If you want to learn more about creating Egobait then I recommend this post by James Agate, this post from Anthony D Nelson and there is a great round up from Steve Morgan on Communitybait where you egobait a larger group of people, rather than just focusing on a few individuals.
Create an Information Gap
Most experts think they know a lot about their subject matter area and by creating a need based desire you create an itch that only you can scratch.
In the competitive and ego-driven mindset that most of us have developed we pick up on details and drive wedges between ourselves and others in order to have a clear and distinct position.
Dr. George Lowenstien wrote a paper about Information Gap Theory in 1994 and it works like this:
When we come across something new that is not explained by our previous knowledge or experiences, an information gap is formed, and we have a desire to find the answer.
This is marketing 101 and yet very few people utilise this in their outreach efforts. I have given an example of this type of email before, but just in case you missed it, here is another:
Hi [First Name],
I came across some research that shows (insert the conclusion of the research)
If you would like me to send across more information about the research let me know, and I’ll happily email it across.
This is a great link building tactic I like to use a lot as it means they are asking me for the link to my client’s content and therefore I am not sending the stereotypical outreach email.
Prospect theory was developed by Kahneman and Tversky to explain how we make decisions, particularly in the face of risk. It is one of the most direct and strong applications of psychology to business because of the solid research basis.