As much as you may assume otherwise, press releases aren’t all boring documents that people have no genuine interest in.
It’s not all new store openings, company partnerships or even worse, announcing a new software feature that nobody cares about.
We’re in 2018 now guys, and we’re taking a new approach to content marketing.
Gone are the days of creating content that’s made for the sole reason of filling a webpage with words.
We’re in a new era.
We’re seeing exciting days of crafting unique, survey-based press releases, which include statistics that actually resonate with our ideal audience.
The best part about this new form of content marketing?
Doing it right can add an arsenal of juicy backlinks pointing back to your site from SEO powerhouses.
And now, I’m going to tell you how.
What’s the Deal with Survey-Based Press Releases?
Survey-based press releases, as the name suggests, are pieces of content that explain unique data a business has found.
They tend to be original pieces, and although they take much longer to create than a regular piece of content, the results are worth it.
In fact, you could swoop hundreds of links from a single piece.
Why? Because surveys give editors at huge publications a reason to give you a backlink.
You’ve provided them with unique data that can’t be found elsewhere—and they should give you credit for it, should it be used!
Press Release Backlinks: How to Land Links with Survey-Based Press Releases
Now that we’ve gotten to grips with why you should be using this type of content marketing to see a surge in backlinks to your site, let’s move on to the how.
1. What Stats Would You Like to Find?
Before you even think about firing off survey questions, you’ll need to think about what statistics you actually want to find.
Surveys are done best when they’re done backwards. You need to have a rough idea in mind to create a piece that brings success!
But how exactly do you do that? The answer: by thinking of the stats you want to show.
Start by thinking of a topic related to your industry, and remember that relevancy should always form the basis of your survey.
Let’s use an example.
If we’re a B2B company that provides backlink monitoring software, we’re not going to create a survey or press release about how many people in the U.S. own a Mercedes car. It’s completely unrelated to what we do.
Instead, we’d want to run with something like “how many SEOs know where to find their backlink profile?”
The same goes with a B2C company. A shoe manufacturer wouldn’t write a story about the number of small businesses in their local area. Tsthey’d create a survey that asked something like how many kids could tie their laces.
You wouldn’t create a page on your site that was completely unrelated to your services, so don’t do it with your survey.
Granted, it may be fun to create a survey on a topic that you have a personal interest in, but remember that this is a strategic form of content marketing, with an aim to secure solid backlinks.
So, I’m going to sum up this section in one sentence:
Have a basic idea of the statistics you want to collect, and make sure it’s connected to the business you run.
Get the gist?
2. Create Your Survey Questions
Great! You’ve already thought of the statistics you’d love to base your press release on.
Now, it’s time to take another step in the backwards train and draft the questions that’ll help you get them.
You can do this by expanding on the idea you found in the step listed above.
So, let’s run with the shoe manufacturer’s press release as an example.
The business is looking to create a survey-based press release about children tying their shoelaces, so they might use the following questions to flesh out their survey:
- Who taught your children to tie their shoelaces?
- Do you remember being taught how to tie your laces?
- Who taught you to tie your laces?
- Which method of tying your laces did you learn with? (Did you use “bunny ears,” like me?)
Expanding on your base idea will give you more data to play with when it comes to analyzing and writing your press release.
But why does that matter? Well, the simple answer is the fact that it makes your data—and survey, in general—more credible.
You won’t get much coverage on a story that has one single fact. Instead, combine it with other original data and boost the power of your press release.
To cover yourself against a lack of powerful data, aim for 10-15+ questions in your survey.
The more, the better; you’d rather have too much data than too little!
That way, you’re in with a better chance of landing coverage for your press release—and you may even find other statistics that are better than your original idea.
3. Send Your Survey to a Tailored Audience
Ready to work through another step in the press release pipeline? Awesome. Let’s send your survey!
Now, you might’ve looked at this sub-heading and asked yourself, “Elise—do we really need coaching on the process of sending a survey?”
If you’re a survey veteran, maybe not… But if this is your first attempt at a survey-based press release, at least hear me out!
You see, I wanted to dive deep into this section because it’s where many businesses, and content marketers, fail.
Instead of going super niche with their targeting, they send their survey questions to any and everyone. Any response is valuable, right?
You’re not going to collect the best data if you’re sending a survey on dog food to people without pets. And, you’re unlikely to create a kick-ass press release about kid’s shoes if you’re sending the questions to people without children.
When sending your survey, be strategic with your survey provider.
- Use a survey provider that allows demographic targeting; or,
- Conduct the survey yourself.
The second option takes a bit more effort, but often gets better results.
To conduct your own survey, you’ll need to make the most of your email marketing.
Fire off an email with a link to your survey, and give people an incentive to take part. A free Amazon voucher usually does the trick—people love free stuff!
Self-collected surveys tend to give better results because they’re uber-targeted.
Why? Because the people taking part are already on your email list, so they’ve already shown interest in your brand and/or purchased from you previously.
Once your survey is out in the big wide world for people to view, don’t even think about closing it until you have at least 2,000+ responses!
Many publications don’t accept survey-based press releases that have been written from data with a smaller audience size. It proves that your data is legit, too.
Let’s face it, you don’t want to say that 50% of kids can’t tie their laces if you only asked 10 parents.
4. Analyze Your Survey Results
An email has just landed in your inbox to let you know that over 2,000 people have taken part in your survey.
That’s awesome!—but you might not feel the euphoria when you open an Excel sheet with tons of data columns.
I’m not the only one who hates spreadsheets, right?
Take the pain out of data analysis by sorting your data into demographics.
(If you’ve used a survey company to collect responses, this job might already be done for you. If so, don’t take this for granted!)
Create three pages in your spreadsheet and organize the responses by country/state, gender and age.
These three categories are where you can pick out the most interesting stats. The hard-hitting stats are also often found when the data has been broken down.
Taking a look at each sheet separately, are any of the statistics surprising you? If so, highlight them.
You might find that:
- Women, aged 30-50, don’t teach their children how to tie their shoelaces
- Kids in Kentucky learn to tie their laces at the age of 15
- Children in NYC are learning to tie their laces five years earlier than their parents did
A good survey-based press release will pick out the strongest, most hard-hitting or unexpected statistic, and use at least nine (or more) other data points to back it up.
5. Create a Landing Page for Your Survey Data
You’ve got the outline of your press release. Excellent job!
But it’s not time to write the actual content just yet… At least not if you’re looking to boost the chances of getting a backlink from your coverage.
Your survey-based press release should have a landing page tied to it. This is a page, similar to a blog post, hosted on your website.
But, your landing page should be different to the content you’re going to write in your press release.
Now, if you’re shaking your head in confusion, don’t worry. It’s much simpler than this explanation makes it sound!
Your press release should contain the hard-hitting, most-shocking stats.
Your landing page should also include this, but with extra original data that you’re not offering to journalists. Include fancy looking graphs, infographics and other visuals on your landing page, along with more demographic statistics.
Here’s a snippet of Wyzowl’s landing page, hosting data they found on the state of video marketing in 2018:
…And a graph on Printerland’s landing page, sharing data from their office party-related survey:
In short, you want to make the landing page as valuable as you can, for a reader.
Not only does it act as a source for the data when published on a large publication’s website, but it provides value.
What does value equal? A greater chance for an editor to include a backlink to your landing page in their coverage!
6. Write Not One, but Two Press Releases
If you’re not a content lover, you’re going to let out a little groan when I say that the best survey-based coverage is generated by not one, but two press releases.
It’s true that you can fire off one release and land a few backlinks. But our aim here is to land lots of links, and you can do that by writing two (or more) slightly different ones!
The two releases you’ll need are:
- National releases – aimed at big publications like Forbes, which shares general data from the entire survey
- Local releases – aimed at local publications like the Chicago Tribune, which shares data from this demographic only
The national release helps you achieve backlinks from high PR sites, which is great for boosting the overall ranking power of your site.
On the other hand, the local release helps you achieve backlinks from local sites, which will help you boost your presence in local search results. These searches are conducted by people within close proximity to your area.
A great overall SEO strategy includes both… Hence why our press release does, too.
What Should My Press Releases Include?
Other than the slight variation in the statistics you use, both press releases should follow a similar pattern.
For both pieces of content, the hard-hitting stat should form the basis. You want to grab an editor’s attention straight way, but you also want to give them a reason to open your email and read the rest of your press release.
Because editors are busy, the focal statistic should be in the headline of your release. It’ll also need to be in the opening paragraph, just to make it extra clear.
Think of this section like a window-cleaning job. If the editor can’t spot your statistic straight away, don’t expect them to be pleased with your work!
Once you’ve opened with your strongest section, expand on the topic using the other less-surprising stats you would’ve highlighted during Step 4.
Then, using your third paragraph, explain where the data came from—with a link to the landing page.
Here’s a great example of this in a survey-based press release from The Workforce Institute of Kronos:
Here’s where we need to put our SEO caps on.
The anchor text of a backlink is important. And, because editors tend to copy and paste press releases directly, you’ve got a unique opportunity to optimize the anchor text used in your backlinks—something that site owners rarely get to play with.
Head over to your backlink profile in Monitor Backlinks and do a quick analysis of your anchor text.
(If you aren’t yet using Monitor Backlinks, what are you waiting for? Head over this way to grab a 30-day free trial and get started!)
Is the majority of your anchor text exact-match, branded or phrases? A natural backlink profile with the least penalty risk has a variety, so bear this in mind if you spot a glaring lack of any type.
The anchor text pointing to a landing page for survey results is usually one of the following:
- A survey found that…
- A study by Monitor Backlinks…
- …, as found by Monitor Backlinks’ new survey, …
After the landing page backlink has been polished, continue to expand on your data.
But, remember that editors are busy guys and girls. They don’t have 30 minutes to digest a lengthy press release. Keep it short—preferably no more than 400 words—and keep their attention.
7. Collect Editors’ Information and Create a Contact List
Often, finding the best person to send your content to is the hardest part of any PR outreach.
After all, sending it to the wrong editors could result in zero results, whereas the same piece sent to the right editors could open the floodgates for high-quality backlinks.
The key here is to find relevant editors… Notice how I mention that word frequently in this piece?
At this step, relevancy gives you the best chance of coverage. Our children’s shoelace story would be sent to a Kids, Family or Lifestyle editor, not a person who manages business content!
Create another spreadsheet and create columns for each contact’s:
- Email address
- Section in charge
- Link to a recently published piece, similar to your survey topic
That way, you can set up a mail merge and send a personalized email to each editor.
The best part? You don’t have to email each contact separately.
Three cheers for saved time!
8. Send Your Press Releases to Your Contact Lists
Don’t get your speedy shoes on just yet and fire off an email with a link to your landing page.
Editors want time, love and attention to be put into their press release pitches… And, a little flattery never hurt anyone!
Start with the basics and address your contact by their name. Don’t use Sir or Madam, and don’t even think about introducing yourself with “Hey, name!”
Then, ease the editor into your survey data with the focal statistic.
Keep it short and to-the-point. You don’t need to include every statistic in your email—that’s what the press release is for!
Finally, don’t forget to include the press release within the body of your email, below your message. Editors and journalists worry about downloading malicious software from attached files.
Because of this, you could miss out on grabbing their attention—even if the data you’re sharing is the best on the planet… Which I’m sure it is.
Shall we dissect some survey-based press release pitches that I’ve received, to get a rough idea of where you could go right (or wrong)?
Let’s use this one; a survey by Robert Half, sharing data about people quitting their job to become their own boss:
- Statistics are clear to see
- The URL of the company is included, should I want to check it out
- The press release is included below—not attached
…And the not so good?
- I wasn’t addressed by my name
- There’s no personalization
Here’s another, by Jack’s Flight Club, sharing the statistics they found on the UK’s top airports:
Not much, really. It’s just a copy and pasted press release. Believe it or not, I had to cut off the other half just to take a screenshot!
…And the not so good?
- No personalization
- No introduction
- Too much text
Because good things come in threes, let’s dissect another press release pitch. This one comes from a company looking for me to feature their survey data on holidays in 2018:
- I was addressed by name, at last!
- The focus statistic is made clear instantly
- They ask if I need any further information in order to publish the release
…And the not so good?
- Not much, really. I would’ve liked to see more line breaks, but that’s not a major deal-breaker for me.
In short, your press release pitch emails to editors should get your point across quickly. Personalization won’t go amiss, and avoid attaching files to put off potential publishers.
When Should I Follow Up?
“The results are in the follow-up,” they say.
…I don’t always agree.
In fact, I say that’s only true if you time the follow-up right.
If you don’t get a response from the editors after your first email, don’t worry. They’re busy people, and often have thousands of emails land in their inbox every week. Don’t take it personally if they miss it the first time around!
For that reason, never forget to follow up with your pitch.
Something like this will often do the trick:
I just wanted to check in with this survey data I sent on [day]. It talked about [main stat]—is this something you’d be interested in at [publication]?
Let me know if you’d like me to send over some more statistics to support this. Thanks!”
Why? Because it:
- Reminds them of the survey itself
- Asks a question (to prompt a response)
Press release follow-ups should be sent within 2-3 days of your original email, or 1-2 days if the piece is time-sensitive.
Avoid waiting over five days before following up. By then, the data could be considered as “old news”—especially if other publications shared the data on the day it was released!
9. Track Your Results
It’s been two days since you sent your final follow-up email, and you still don’t know if you managed to land any backlinks as a result of your survey-based press release.
Heck, you might assume that your piece is a failure if you’re not looking for coverage in the right way!
You’re able to search for and track the coverage on your press release by signing in to the Monitor Backlinks dashboard and viewing your backlink profile:
All you have to do is filter the page URL to include your press release landing page.
If there are any entries here, congratulations! You’ve landed coverage from your survey-based press release and your work here is done!
Transforming Brand Mentions into Juicy Backlinks
If you fail to see anything in this profile, don’t panic just yet.
It’s possible that you have gained coverage for your release, but have been credited with a brand mention—not a backlink.
Editors will often rewrite press releases to make their content unique. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for them to forget about including the backlink to your landing page, as credit for the data.
Want to know one of my not-so-best-hidden secrets? You don’t have to suffer because of their forgetfulness.
Head back to your contact list and find the editor/s that didn’t include a backlink in their coverage.
Explain the added value that the landing page link would provide for their readers, and highlight the fact that additional stats are available on the separate page.
You can also explain that you’d like to be credited for your work, which is a completely fair point!
This method for turning brand mentions into backlinks works sometimes, but it’s not fail-proof. Publications may have policies against external linking, or may even turn the link into a nofollow one.
Even if this does happen, it’s not the end of the world.
Brand mentions, nofollow links and juicy backlinks all make up a varied backlink profile, and one that has true SEO power.
Was My Survey-Based Press Release Successful?
After following up with the editors when asking for a backlink, allow another week for the results to roll in.
Then, head back into your Monitor Backlinks dashboard and do a final headcount for the number of backlinks pointing to your survey landing page.
A high volume of links here could indicate that your release was successful, but remember that quality is better than quantity!
Look at the SEO metrics—including Domain Authority and PageRank—of your backlinks. Remember that those with higher scores are more powerful, and could help to boost the ranking power of your website in general.
A significant uplift could be the result of a successful survey-based press release—especially if you haven’t changed any other aspect of your SEO strategy recently.
Granted, survey-based press releases take much more time than typical pieces of content.
Expect these content marketing pieces to take 10+ hours to complete, but keep in mind that a successful one could boost your SEO strategy entirely.
Throughout each part of the process, remember that relevancy is key.
Keep your survey questions on-brand and create a story that’s unique to your product or service offering.
That way, you’ll be the only one offering such awesome statistics—giving publications of all sizes a reason to link to you, over your competitors.
That’s a sure-fire way to KO the competition!