Scholarships, Outreach, and Relationships, Oh My!

One of our favorite contributions to the community is offering a variety of scholarship opportunities to students. We are a firm believers in any sort of higher education and are dedicated to enabling those in our community to pursue a higher education. Therefore, we, and our wonderful friends and clients, McCormick & Murphy, P.C., The Kuchar Team, and Shatter Buggy all proudly offer different types of academic scholarships to students around the country in hopes of helping them obtain a better education.

As SEO’s we of course also use these scholarships to build mutually beneficial relationships (and links!). In SEO, creating and maintaining relationships is critical. We are long past the days of outdated link building techniques and are moving on to bigger and better techniques and strategies, and with most of those, having established relationship is absolutely necessary. When we offer our scholarships, it’s important that we are able to successfully outreach and begin these relationships for a successful campaign. Below is a step-by-step to how we use scholarships to build links.

You’ve Got Mail!

We began our scholarship journey via the good ‘ol interweb. After prospecting and collecting contacts, we start our outreach to different universities and high schools. By referencing this great instructographic by Portent, we take the following steps:

1. Get a branded email address.
2. Contact the right person.
3. Utilize the subject line.
4. Personalize the salutation.
5. Be direct. Be brief.
6. Use an appropriate signature.

1. Check. I already had a branded email through Ethical so this was taken care of.

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2. This is generally a easy step. When we outreach for scholarships, we try to find someone in the financial aid department to contact.

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3. Using a straight forward subject, we were able to get straight to the point.

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4. Pretty self explanatory.

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5. We send a very brief email explaining who we are, what we are doing, and providing more detailed information in a separate document.

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6. Here at Ethical, we have uniformed signatures that we use.

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So that was that! And come along a few days later…

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Operator, how may I direct your call?

While our email outreach had a fairly positive success, we wanted to try something a bit different. Many of these high schools and colleges have phone numbers for us to call so we figured, why not?, and pulled out our handy dandy iPhones and got to work. When we called these schools personally, we found results were much more, well, personal! For the most part, we were able to get through easily and speak to whoever we needed. By calling our prospects, we were able to show probably the most important key point to any successful outreach… We were real. We weren’t a spam bot or a scam. We were able to discuss the scholarship, give pertinent information, and then we were given emails to reach out further. In the end, using the phone for outreach had a far higher conversion rate for getting the link than email. We were building relationships!

It’s all about who you know.

During our scholarship outreach, I decided to do something I should’ve thought about earlier. Contact who I knew. And who else did I know better than my own high school where I was an alumn? I quickly searched my high school’s website and was easily able to find who I needed to call.

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With a quick call I was able to explain who I was, that I was alumn, and got into a conversation with the college adviser. When she gave me her email to send her information about the scholarship, I found out by her last name that she was the mother of a student that I knew well and she knew who I (and my sister) were! We were able to have a quick chat and she said she would make sure the scholarship was posted on the main website, the student portal, and would be sent around the school.

Super success.

We heart relationships.

In the end, we were able to snag a handful of  links and spread the word of our generosity. We are currently still working on this every day as these scholarships go on throughout the year, but so far we’ve had great success and definitely feel warm and fuzzy inside to be able to provide hard working, deserving students with a bit of help. I cannot stress enough how important it is to focus on relationships first no matter what aspect of your life, personal or professional. You never know when those new friends might come in handy.