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Farzad Rashidi on How He Reached 2M Traffic with Podcast Outreach

Farzad Rashidi on How He Reached 2M Traffic with Podcast Outreach

Roberto Popolizio
Linkbuilding is hard, but it gets a bit easier if you find the right untapped strategy that your competitors are not using.

Podcast outreach is a rather unpopular yet effective linkbuilding technique that helps you build influencer partnerships and backlinks at scale without breaking the bank.

It’s all about having the right framework and then the tools to streamline it, which is exactly what Farzad Rashidi has done wit Respona, the linkbuilding tool he created to help Visme increase organic traffic from zero to 2 million monthly visitors.

Farzad Rashidi will show us his podcast outreach system that helped Visme build quality backlinks at scale, and reach over 20 million active users (no wonder it’s one of our top free tools to create infographics!).

A brief story of Respona and Farzad Rashidi

Before Respona, I was the first marketing hire at Visme, and helped the company grow to 3.5M+ organic traffic and 20M active users.

I was charged with building our customer acquisition engine, and as a bootstrapped company with limited resources, we had to rely on organic channels to bring an evergreen flow of customers to our platform.

We started writing content and followed traditional advice of keyword research and site optimization but with a twist… We spent only 20% of our resources on content creation and the remaining 80% on content promotion and link building, which is what propelled and keeps propelling Visme forward.

The 80/20 of content marketing for Farzad Rashidi

20% content creation

80% content promotion

What inspired you to start Respona, and how did you validate the business idea?

We were focusing on link building to scale Visme, but all the other tools available on the market didn’t quite hit the spot. Say getting high authoritative was the key driver of organic traffic at Visme, and we were doing manual outreach which was not scalable.

We experimented with other tools, but they were either mass outreach tools, or completely manual CRMs that lacked the flexibility, or were too cluttered and time-consuming to use. Turns out the process of content promotion and outreach is a lot more difficult said than done. It was taking a considerable amount of time to make the process work manually.

So we built an internal tool, which worked so well for our internal team that we decided to release it as a standalone app.

Respona was born.

Two Things I love about Respona (after 12 years of email outreach):

1. Respona uses a live search engine to crawl a company’s Linkedin and other sources in real-time to find the right person and verify emails on the spot, instead of relying on a database
2. Respona offers author recognition, and use blog/company generic email as a last resort, achieving 80-90% match rate while finding the best contacts for content collaborations at each website.

Why did you choose to focus on cold outreach to podcasts?

Three reasons why podcasts outreach works:

  1. Establishing trust and awareness with our target audience
  2. Rubbing elbows with industry influencers (the podcast hosts)
  3. High authority backlinks from the show notes
Podcast outreach has a great ROI
We only send a dozen pitches weekly, and it gets me at least one podcast booking every week. This is because podcast hosts are usually happy to get free help in putting together an episode, so giving some free advertising to their audience and backlinks to your website in return is a good deal. Nobody is spamming anyone, because both get value from this collaboration.

How B2B SaaS and agencies  are scaling linkbuilding with Respona

  • Visme has built 70 backlinks per week with Respona
  • ClicData built 1500 backlinks in 2 years, and increase their organic traffic by 400%
  • StrongDM saved 85% of time on their link building campaigns, and increased organic traffic by 50%
  • Colorcinch used Respona to gain 228 new referring domains in a month

How do you choose the podcasts to be featured on?

  1. First, make a list of other podcast guests in our space (other founders and influencers). For example, other guests that have been on Omer Khan’s SaaS Podcast.
  2. Then, find other shows that they have been on as a guest. We use Respona for this – just paste the names of the guests in the tool, and it’ll find the episodes in bulk, automatically.
  3. Browse the episodes, and listen to as many as you can to get a good understanding of the host’s expertise and interests. This will also help you personalize your outreach email in a way that resonates with him/here.

What do your cold outreach emails look like?

Another team member sends this pitch with an icebreaker and asks if they’re open to introductions, and then if they say yes, I get copied into the thread and take things from there.

Here is one template we use to propose a collaboration:

Hi first_name,

Just finished listening to your interview with [guest] and loved the tip about how they’re using [personalization].

Shared the episode with our team here at Respona to try it out this year. I’ll also drop a link to the podcast in our next newsletter 🙂

I’m wondering if you’d be open to being introduced to someone I know in the Saas space?


[sign off]

How do you make your icebreaker and social proof more convincing?

We reference the podcast interview we found them on, and point out something interesting they have discussed on the show, to help personalize the pitch and stand out.

Also, we bring up other episodes I’ve been interviewed on for social proof – More specifically, I send the link to a list of podcasts I’ve been interviewed on (over 60 podcasts).

However, if you’re from a lesser-known company and don’t have much social proof, then spend more time on personalization to help stand out. Also, don’t jump straight to big podcasts if you don’t have enough experience, start small, and pitch the big guys once you have a few interviews under your belt.

Two tips to increase the success of your podcast outreach

  1. Propose one or more topics relevant to the podcast that haven’t yet been covered
  2. Offer an incentive. For example, promoting the interview on your social media, referring the podcast to other potential interviewees, or adding a giveaway to increase engagement

How do you keep the new relationships going?

I always connect with the hosts on Linkedin, and like and comment on their posts anytime I see them. By establishing a relationship beforehand, you will increase your chances of getting a reply to your email pitch and get an interview on the podcast.

Once the episode goes live, we do our part to promote the episode by sharing it on social and submitting a review on Apple podcasts. We also always offer to help support the show by referring other guests, mentioning it in our newsletter, and so on.

Warm up your leads on LinkedIn and Twitter before asking to be featured on their podcast, and never ask without giving – offer to help promote your podcast interview.

How do you think Google’s Search Generative Experience will change SEO and Digital PR?

With the rise of AI-generated content, the barrier to entry for content creation is low. The internet is getting flooded with new content pieces, and Google has to rely on credibility and reputation factors to prioritize what’s shown to users, now more than ever.

Credibility has historically been judged based on the website’s backlink profile, and in my opinion, Google has to rely more on off-page metrics over time as more websites optimize their on-page content since it’s significantly “easier” to control.

Also, Google’s SGE uses several sources to generate responses to user queries, and it’s no longer enough to get your pages ranked for your target keywords. You now have to connect with other relevant, authoritative sources to also vouch for your business in order for it to be included in the generated responses.

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