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AI-based Cold Email for Local SEO Lead Generation

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

We’re going to take you step-by-step through the Outstation process for running a lead generation campaign for local SEO agencies. This is exactly the process we’ve used for a successful campaign we've run for an award-winning agency in Sussex.

Small business owners are inundated with SEO spam like this car crash example, so we knew our emails would need an exceptionally high degree of relevancy to stand out.

Our process is not a hack or a quick fix. It’s a complex multistep process using several tools that takes time and effort to set up.

With the help of automation and AI prompting, our process is infinitely scalable for any agency involved in local SEO or PPC.

Campaign Parameters

To run a successful campaign, we knew upfront the non-negotiables were:

  • Qualified Leads: Only businesses that did not rank locally for their keywords were included.

  • Ultra High Relevance: High use of creative merge fields

Step 1: Build the Prospect List from Google Maps

There are plenty of ways to build a prospect list, but we knew we had to use Google Maps for this campaign, so that we could associate each company with a location.

There are several tools out there that will scrape Google Maps, but we settled on Google Maps Extractor, for simplicity of use.

Using the Google Maps Extractor bulk scrape tool, we can perform 80 searches for every city and county in the UK. The search queries looked like this:

Once we've got those results back, we then clean and enrich the data with email addresses using Apollo or Linkedin. For our purposes, we were targeting companies with between 10 and 30 staff.

Step 2: Get the Search Ranking

This is where it starts to get interesting. We're only targeting qualified companies, so if they’re already ranking in their location, we’re not interested in them.

To get the search ranking, first we have to run each company and its location through the Google Search API.

Google returns the results in JSON, but we're not done yet. With the help of an AI prompt, we can extract the ranking. As always with AI prompts, talk to the machine as if it were a particularly strange 5-year-old, in other words, use a firm tone and spell out each request step-by-step. Here's the prompt:

Your task is to find the search ranking for this domain: {company_domain}. Here are the search results: {search_results}

Output Instructions:
You have two options. 
1) If the site is ranked, you must output strictly in this format: Ranking:  
2) If the site is not found, you must output strictly these two words: Not Ranked 
You must not output any other words under any circumstances. 

Once we run the prompts for each company we get an output that says:

  • Ranking: 5

  • Not Ranked

With the ranking now in a structured format, it's straightforward to filter out companies with a high ranking.

Step 3: Identify the Top Ranked Local Competitor

Imagine receiving an email with the name of your competitor in the subject line?

If you're a local business, the chances are high you would already know that they have a better ranking than you, and that they are getting more leads than you from their website.

We're not interested in finding national organisations like Checkatrade or Trustatraderthese aren't competitors.

This time we prompt the AI to find the top ranked local compeitor.

GPT-4 is capable of distinguishing between a local and a national company, but to be on the safe side, we give it clear instructions to filter those out.

Your task is to read through these search results and output the name of the highest ranked local solar installation company:

- Simply output the name of the company, and the ranking separated by a comma, nothing else. 
- Normalise the name e.g. remove ltd or similar from the name 
- The company must be based in or near to the local area {location}
- The company must be a solar or renewable energy installer - Do not find a national chain. You are looking for a local company, probably quite small, that operates in and around
These organisations must be excluded. Find the next highest ranked company: - The Renewable Energy Hub - Checkatrade - Local government websites - Trusted Traders 

After a quick manual check and edit, we now have a list of the highest ranked companies operating in each UK location.

Step 4: Additional Data Points

For added relevancy, we pulled additional data points:

  • Sitemap URLs referencing the location

  • Google Reviews (count and average)

  • Google Pagespeed (SEO & Performance Score)

Ultimately, we decided not to include reviews and Pagespeed as we considered them too technical for the owner-operators we were targeting.

Step 5: Write the Email Sequence

Now, for the easy part!

After all that hard work, we have a list of 1,000 companies with these custom merge fields:

  • {competitor_name}

  • {location}

  • {count_sitemap_urls}

The competitor's name is the standout data point that sets us apart from spammers, so we decided to lead with it.

The sequence had 5 stages. Here are two examples that make the most of the custom merge fields.

Named Competitor Email

Subject: What are Eco Solar doing right in Cheshire? Hi Steven, Eco Solar has the highest search ranking of all the local solar installation companies in Cheshire. Securing this spot will undoubtedly be bringing a lot of business through their site. In most cases, a few changes can make a big difference and help you compete. Interested in finding out how we helped a major Yorkshire solar installer generate a 40x increase in enquiries each week from their website?

Location Pages Email

Subject: Cheshire pages would make a difference
Hi Nick, Cheshire is one of the areas you show up for in a search for solar installation, so I was surprised to find no pages on your site with the location in the URL. Location pages are a great way for search engines to rank you highly for those geographic search terms. We've got strategies to maximise your chances of being found in your target areas. Could we set up some time to show you how?

Results and Learnings

The campaign dramatically exceeded the client's expectations, producing more leads than they could handle.

Optimizing the campaign could involve getting more granular with the locations. Using only 80 city and county locations meant that businesses that compete at a town level did not perhaps get the most relevant message.

Get in Touch

Ready to start finding clients for local SEO? Get in touch to start the conversation or book a strategy session.

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