As a link-building agency, you provide services to dozens if not hundreds of clients. Even if you deliver just 5-10 backlinks a month to each of them, you soon end up with hundreds to track.
On top of that, you have to manage relationships with your partners – freelance link-builders, link-exchange or guest posting partners, and link vendors.
How do you stay on top of all that?
A solid link-building CRM software solution is the answer.
Our guide introduces the 6 tried-and-tested link building outreach CRM tools – their features, strengths and limitations, and prices. And 2 bonus ones.
- Link-building CRM tools are specialized marketing tools used SEO to manage and streamline link-building campaigns.
- Effective link-building CRM tools should offer features like contact management, email campaign tracking, link status monitoring, robust reporting and analytics, task allocation, and SEO tool integrations.
- BuzzStream features enhance SEO efforts by automating the outreach process and tracking link performance, though it has a steep learning curve and occasional reliability issues.
- Pitchbox is a specialized SEO and influencer outreach platform ideal for finding and managing link-building prospects, praised for its prospect quality and automation features, but criticized for its complex layout and high cost.
- Respona is a comprehensive digital PR and link-building tool with AI-driven search, email automation, and SEO tool integration, lauded for its user-friendly interface and automation but marked by a learning curve and occasional glitches.
- Postaga is an AI-powered outreach platform with CRM features, highly efficient in link-building campaign management, but noted for being in early development stages with occasional bugs and complex features.
- NinjaOutreach excels in influencer outreach and blogger engagement, offering a robust database and email automation, but recent user feedback highlights basic functionality issues and concerns with its business model.
- Google Sheets, while not a dedicated CRM, is a highly customizable, cost-effective tool for tracking link-building efforts, though it lacks the automated data collection and analysis capabilities of specialized CRMs.
- BacklinkManager is a dedicated CRM for managing client and link-builder relationships, featuring user-friendly UI, and real-time link status tracking, but lacks outreach capabilities and integrations. Book the demo to find out how it can help your team manage relationships with your partners.
What is a link building outreach CRM tool
Its main purpose is to streamline your link-building outreach campaigns and reliably monitor the links secured for your clients.
Key features of effective link-building CRM tools
What features do you have to consider to choose the right CRM software for your team?
For starters, a CRM allows you to store and manage all your contacts of website owners, bloggers, and influencers relevant to their link-building campaigns.
Moreover, they enable users to create, organize, and track email outreach campaigns. This includes identifying link-building opportunities, sending personalized emails to potential customers and link partners, following up, and managing responses.
A solid link-building CRM tool should also allow you to track the number and status of links earned for your clients so that you can assess the effectiveness of the link-building efforts and replace links that have disappeared or changed to nofollow.
What’s more, a CRM should offer decent reporting and analytics features so that you can measure the success of your link-building campaigns and easily report the results to your clients.
In addition, a CRM platform has workflow management features so that you can allocate tasks to your team members and track their status. This is essential for optimal resource allocation and effective team collaboration.
Finally, integrations with other SEO tools are an essential feature that allows you to obtain comprehensive insights into the quality of the links you’ve built and their impact on SERP performance.
How to choose the best CRM software for link-building
Choosing the best CRM software for link-building involves considering various factors that align with your specific needs, goals, and resources.
Here are key steps and considerations to help you select the most suitable CRM for your link-building strategy:
- Understand what you need from a CRM. Are you looking for a solution to manage your outreach efforts or relationships with your clients?
If you are not using any CRM yet, before you start testing out different platforms or tools, make a list of your biggest pain points. You can create a matrix, in which you list down your biggest problems and ask your link-building team members to each assign them values from 1-10.
- The CRM should have an intuitive interface and be user-friendly. A steep learning curve can hinder adoption and efficiency, so look for software that your team can easily understand and use.
- The CRM should integrate seamlessly with other tools you use, such as email platforms, SEO tools, social media platforms, and analytics software. This enhances efficiency and centralizes your data.
- Consider if the CRM can scale with your business. As your link-building efforts grow, you’ll need a CRM that can handle an increasing number of contacts and links and more complex campaigns.
- Analytics are crucial for measuring the success of your link-building efforts. Choose a CRM that allows you to create custom reports on your campaigns.
- Evaluate the cost of the CRM against your budget. While free link-building tools can be great when you’re starting, they may not be sufficient when you scale your operations.
- Before making a final decision, use free trials or request demos. A hands-on experience will help you understand if the CRM meets your expectations and fits well with your team’s workflow.
- Look for reviews and feedback from other users, especially those in similar industries or with similar link-building needs.
- Good customer support and training resources are essential, especially when adopting a new tool. Check the availability of support resources, training materials, and community forums.
The best link-building CRM software picks for 2024
With the basics out of the way, let’s look at a selection of well-known link-building software you can levarage to manage projects and relationships with your clients and link-building partners.
BacklinkManager.io – dedicated link-building CRM solution
BacklinkManager is a dedicated link-building CRM software solution. It enables marketing teams, link-building agencies, and SEOs to manage relationships with clients, link vendors, and freelance link builders.
- Client relationship management – for easy tracking of links acquired for specific clients by dedicated team members.
- Link-builder relationship management – for effortless management of all guest posting and link exchange partnerships in one place.
- Chat and comments – for seamless communication with your partners and between team members.
- Link partnership scorecard – for automatic tracking of who built how many links for whom
- Link matchmaking tool (coming soon) – to identify link-building opportunities in your niche.
- Custom reports – for both internal and external stakeholders.
- 24/7 link monitoring – thanks to a reliable link tracker and alerts, you get instant notifications if a link you’ve built or acquired changes status or disappears.
BacklinkManager pros and cons
BacklinkManager has several strengths.
It’s a dedicated link-building tool that addresses some of the most acute pain points that link-builders face, like tracking the status of the links in real time so that you can act immediately when they disappear.
It also features a user-friendly UI and doesn’t require lengthy implementation and staff onboarding.
It doesn’t stop here.
Its roadmap includes such features as link matching tools and link exchanges, which are going to further expand its usefulness.
Finally, BacklinkManager is very competitively priced.
Having said that, the tool has some limitations.
For starters, it’s not an outreach tool, so you can’t use it to run outreach campaigns. For that, you need a different solution.
Moreover, it currently doesn’t offer any integrations.
BuzzStream – best link-building CRM software for outreach outmation
BuzzStream is an all-in-one link-building outreach platform.
It offers a built-in prospecting tool, coupled with relationship tracking and marketing automation capabilities, which make it one of the top contenders in the CRM niche.
BuzzdStream features include.
- It automatically searches the web to create relevant prospect lists along with contact information, website stats, and social metrics, which you can then score inside the product
- Segmentation of link prospects
- Outreach tools allow you to send personalized outreach emails to specific prospect segments and automate follow-ups.
At Bring Digital, we primarily use Buzzstream to replace manually emailing journalists. We use it to automate outreach, schedule campaigns, send follow-up emails and track open and reply rates.
All of this helps provide a better service for our clients because it speeds up the outreach process, giving us more time to personalise our pitches to journalists and develop better relationships with them.
Siobhan Congreve, Associate Director of Content & Digital PR at Bring Digital
- Campaign tracking – to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaigns and allocate team resources adequately
- Custom reports – to better understand email effectiveness, review campaign progress and evaluate team performance.
…we can get quantifiable metrics of performance that would add to our campaign performance insights. Buzzstream provides us with unique insights and subsequent learnings into our campaigns’ performance.
- BuzzStream automatically checks the status of the monitored links every 2 weeks and you can do it manually as well.
BuzzStream pros and cons
According to G2 reviewers, BuzzStream is an effective outreach platform that enables teams to optimize the performance of their link-building campaigns.
In particular, users praise it for its automation features, email scheduling and tracking, and user-friendly UI.
At the same time, G2 mentioned a few limitations and weaknesses of BuzzStream.
New users find BuzzStream complex to learn and use, mentioning a steep learning curve.
Some users also report issues with reliability (lost contacts, lost CRM data), crashing, and slow performance.
Moreover, there seem to be issues with data accuracy: the tool sometimes provides inaccurate link data, and the prospecting tool is subpar.
Where Buzzstream falls down as a one-stop-shop for outreach is firstly with its prospect sourcing. We still use Roxhill to source journalists, as Buzzstream’s ‘Buzzmarker’ feature doesn’t stack up against other platforms explicitly designed for sourcing prospects.
Moreover, the tool analytics and reporting features are fairly insufficient for an all-in-one platform.
One final note:
Buzzstream is a different kind of CRM from BacklinkManager. It’s not designed to support client relationship management but link-building prospect management.
Pitchbox – outstanding CRM tool for link-building outreach
Pitchbox is a specialized SEO and influencer outreach platform designed for brands, SEO agencies, and link builders. It streamlines the process of finding influencers, bloggers, and websites for link-building projects and content-marketing campaigns.
However, this means its CRM features are tailored for managing link-building prospects rather than customers, just like BuzzStream.
What features does Pitchbox offer?
- The tool allows you to find prospects based on keywords, competitor backlinks, and other advanced search parameters.
- The platform automates the outreach process by enabling users to send personalized emails and follow-up messages at scale.
- Pitchbox offers customizable email templates to make the outreach process more efficient while still allowing for personalization in communication.
- The tool integrates with major SEO tools like Moz, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Majestic.
- Users can manage multiple outreach campaigns, keeping them organized and trackable.
- Pitchbox provides workflow automation tools that help streamline the process from prospect discovery to outreach and follow-up.
- Link monitoring
- The platform offers comprehensive reporting and analytics features that help users track the success of their campaigns, including response rates, link acquisition, and the progress of ongoing outreach efforts.
- Pitchbox supports CRM features for managing relationships and interactions with prospects and partners. This includes keeping track of contact details, communication history, and notes.
- The platform supports team collaboration, allowing multiple users to work together on campaigns, share insights, and assign tasks.
Pitchbox pros and cons
Teams choose Pitchbox as a go-to outreach CRM platform for good reasons.
Users are particularly satisfied with the quality of the prospects and customers identified in Pitchbox. Additionally, users also value automated emails and follow-up capabilities, segmentation features, and good customer support.
On the flip side, Pitchbox has some areas that users find lacking.
Users have reported occasional glitches and updates that can crash the system, and some find the layout and navigation complex. Furthermore, users believe the learning curve for the more advanced features is too steep, which makes it difficult to leverage Pitchbox’s full potential.
Finally, the platform can be pricey, which might be a deterrent for smaller agencies.
Respona – a power link-building outreach platform
It’s particularly aimed at streamlining the process of identifying outreach opportunities, managing outreach campaigns, and building meaningful relationships with industry influencers, bloggers, and journalists.
Respona combines elements of a traditional CRM with automated search capabilities and integration with SEO tools to optimize and simplify the process of acquiring high-quality backlinks.
Its comprehensive functionality makes Respona a worthy investment for enterprise businesses looking to enhance their online visibility.
Here are some of the key features:
- Respona uses an AI-driven search engines to automatically find relevant outreach opportunities, such as blog posts, news articles, and influencers, based on your campaign goals and keywords.
- It allows users to create and execute personalized email outreach campaigns.
- The platform automates the process of sending initial outreach emails and follow-ups to maintain consistent communication and increase the chances of getting a response.
- Respona offers a built-in database of contacts and allows users to manage these contacts efficiently. This includes tracking communication history, response status, and other relevant details.
- The software provides analytics and reporting tools to track the performance of outreach campaigns with metrics like open rates, response rates, and the number of acquired links.
- Respona integrates with popular SEO tools like Ahrefs, Semrush and Moz. Such integrations provide users with valuable data on domain authority, backlink profiles, and other SEO metrics directly within the platform.
Respona pros and cons
According to G2 reviews, Respona’s major strengths include the automation of the prospecting process and streamlining outreach efforts, which significantly saves manual work hours.
Moreover, users value its user-friendly interface and responsive customer service.
However, its main strengths are comprehensive analytics and integrations with SEO tools like Ahrefs and Moz.
Respona users are very generous in their reviews and there don’t seem to be many weaknesses.
Reviewers mention a learning curve to fully utilize all its features, occasional glitches, and issues with the accuracy of contact information.
Some users consider the pricing too steep, particularly for startups or individuals.
Finally, the database doesn’t always seem to be up-to-date and some users have experienced slow performance, particularly when using the email finder.
Postaga – a CRM for outreach and link-monitoring
Postaga is an AI-powered outreach platform with integrated CRM functionality designed to assist with link building, content promotion, and relationship building.
It is specifically tailored for SEO professionals, marketers, and link builders looking to enhance their online presence through strategic outreach campaigns.
- The CRM dashboard offers an overview of your leads and information about their statuses, type (like Backlink, Social, Sales), and the last modification date.
- The Lead Tracker allows you to view replies from your outreach campaigns and mark them as leads, add tasks, and note down if you’ve got a link from them.
- Postaga leverages AI to create targeted outreach campaigns. The technology helps identify link-building opportunities, like resource pages or websites with similar content.
- The Opportunity Finder enables link builders to find and evaluate outreach prospects.
- Postaga’s Content Analyzer searches the prospect’s web content and uses the information to personalize email sequences.
Postaga pros and cons
Postaga’s main strength is that it significantly enhances link-building efficiency by streamlining the link-building process. Users find the AI Outreach Assistant particularly valuable for discovering new sales opportunities.
Users also comment on the intuitive, user-friendly interface of Postaga.
However, Postaga does have some areas for improvement.
Users note that it seems to be in an early development stage (these were reviews from 2020 and the tool has gone a long way since then).
Occasional bugs have been reported, though the support team is recognized for addressing these issues promptly.
Finally, some features, like the automated keywords finder, are considered complex and not fully refined and some find the pricing steep.
Bear in mind, that just like BuzzSumo, Pitchbox, and Respona, Postaga’s CRM features are more suitable for partnership management than client relationship management.
NinjaOutreach – best for influencer outreach
NinjaOutreach is a link-building CRM tool that excels in blogger outreach and influencer marketing.
With its robust search capabilities and extensive database, NinjaOutreach simplifies the process of identifying and engaging with relevant bloggers and influencers, making it a valuable asset in any link-building toolkit.
NinjaOutreach is similar to the other tools in the roundup (apart from BacklinkManager) in that it’s an outreach tool that can help you build links but not necessarily manage them afterwards.
Here are the main features
- Thanks to the CRM features, you can manage your relationships with the influencers and bloggers you are working with. This includes keeping track of their contact details, communication history, and notes.
- The tool gives you access to a database of influencers, bloggers, and business profiles.
- With NinjaOutreach email tools and customizable email templates, you can send personalized outreach emails directly from the platform.
- You can also create automated email sequences and schedule follow-ups
- NinjaOutreach enables you to manage multiple outreach campaigns.
- You can build and segment link prospect lists for more targeted outreach campaigns.
- It provides insights into social media statistics and website metrics of influencers and bloggers, which is essential for their scoring.
NinjaOutreach pros and cons
Based on the user reviews from G2, here is a quick summary of the strengths and weaknesses of NinjaOutreach.
Reviewers praise NinjaOutreach for its ease of setup and use. In particular, they find the prospecting, automation, and personalization features extremely valuable.
However, there’s a caveat here. All the 5-star reviews go back to 2020. The more recent ones paint a very different picture of the tool.
Users are disappointed with basic functionality, out-of-date databases, and clunky user interface. They’ve also experienced issues with the email management system.
However, the main concern is with its business model. Several customers have reported that the ‘free’ trial isn’t free and they weren’t able to cancel their subscription at the end. After being charged, they weren’t able to obtain a refund either.
NinjaOutreach has responded to the negative reviews claiming that it’s overhauled its pricing policy to avoid such issues in the future but there have been no more positive reviews to confirm it.
Airtable – a flexible solution for link-builders
Airtable is a cloud-based software platform that combines all the features of a database with a spreadsheet.
It’s designed to provide the flexibility and ease of use of a spreadsheet, like Excel or Google Sheets, with the robust data organization and relational capabilities of a database. This unique combination makes it suitable for a wide range of applications, including link management.
We manage our link-building activities primarily through Airtable, which serves as an efficient tool for creating and managing databases. This platform helps in effectively filtering and sorting records according to our needs. Airtable is our go-to for internal processes inside of the Link-building department.
Key features of Airtable include:
- Customizable views – you can view your data in various formats, such as a grid (similar to a spreadsheet), a calendar, a Kanban board, or a gallery.
- Field types – Airtable supports a variety of field types, including text, numbers, dates, checkboxes, attachments, links to records in other tables, and more.
- Relational Data – unlike traditional spreadsheets, Airtable allows you to link related records between tables.
- Collaboration – multiple users can collaborate in real-time, with changes synced instantly across all devices. It also offers features like commenting and sharing.
- Integrations and automations – Airtable can integrate with other apps and services, such as Slack, Dropbox, and Google Workspace. It also allows users to create custom automation for repetitive tasks.
- Templates and blocks – Airtable offers a variety of templates for different use cases, and ‘blocks’ for added functionality like creating charts, maps, or custom forms.
Airtable pros and cons
Users value Airtable for its user-friendliness and flexibility. It’s also faster than similar tools:
We like the intuitive interface and multifunctionality of Airtable. It lets us create different bases for different things, like one for tracking live links and another for partners’ info. This helps us keep everything neat and easy to find. Our main criterion was also speed. Airtable is super fast. We’ve got loads of records in each base, but it still loads quickly. This isn’t the case with Notion – it takes ages to load if you’ve got more than 100 records.
When it comes to downsides two main things come to mind: price and database size limits.
Its weaknesses are in the pricing and storage limits. Airtable only allows a certain number of records per base, which can be a bit restrictive.
Google Sheets – a free alternative to CRM systems
While not a dedicated CRM for building links, Google Sheets is one of the most commonly used tools for managing link-building relationships, so it’s only fair to mention it here as well.
Here’s how the Chilli Fruit Web Consulting team uses it to keep track of the links they build for their clients:
The link builder responsible for the link exchange adds the obtained link to two different sheets. First is the sheet dedicated to the client, to which they have access, as we like to keep things transparent. It’s very easy to see the progress of the targets, as well as metrics for each of the links built. Some clients require additional approval, so it also allows us to have a smooth process of verification, which doesn’t block our work.
Then, the link builders add the same link to our master spreadsheet, where we keep track of the link’s status, date of the completion and the ownership of the link. Should any link be removed, or changed without our knowledge, its status will automatically change in the master spreadsheet. On a regular basis, thanks to the integration with make.eu, we receive a list of all broken links from the last period on a dedicated slack channel, with the assigned ownership from our master spreadsheed. Then, it’s all in the hands of the link builders, to get the links restored or replaced.
Google Sheets pros and cons
The main advantage of the solution is its cost:
The biggest strength surely is the price for this solution. As a small company, we didn’t want to spend big bucks on a CRM system… Contrary to other tools, it’s not a recurring cost, which can go up as the pricing changes, but it’s a perfect 0.
In addition, spreadsheets are highly customizable, so your team can adjust them to their unique needs:
Another advantage of the system is that it allows for structural changes, and is tailored to our needs. If we feel like a feature is no longer needed, we can simply remove it, or replace with something which will be of better use. We tried some CRMs, but we didn’t find one which could cover 100% of our needs.
The system sometimes can crash or be faulty, so the reliability is lower than compared to CRM platforms, but it doesn’t take long to find the faulty formula or cell and quickly fix it.
What’s more, a dedicated CRM system can help teams by automatically gathering more data about their interactions with clients and partners to form a more comprehensive picture to improve your processes:
The more data you can collect and analyse, the more you can develop your services. For example, after we started tracking the time it took our partners to add the link, we were able to see that some partnerships were ineffective, and dropping them did us more good than harm, which ultimately led to more links being built in a month.
With a spreadsheet, you would need to collate such customer data manually.
Most of the link-building outreach CRM tools for SEOs can help you streamline the process of identifying link prospects and executing outreach campaigns to secure opportunities.
However, there aren’t many tools that enable link-builders to manage relationships with their clients. Most SEOs and agencies use spreadsheets to track the links they’ve built for their partners and stay on top of link or guest post exchanges.
BacklinkManager.io is the first link-building tool designed for client relationship management. If you want to learn more about how it can help you keep track of the backlinks you’ve built for your clients or acquired from vendors and freelancers, book the demo!