A Personal Finance Website Earns 108 Backlinks by Calculating the Cost of Beer in Each State

A Digital PR Case Study

The Goal

Simple. Thrifty. Living. (STL), a personal finance website geared toward offering expert financial advice to everyday people, sought out our digital PR agency with the following goals:

  • Diversify their backlink profile
  • Improve visibility in search results
  • Increase brand exposure and awareness
  • Drive more organic traffic to their site

The goal of this campaign was to achieve strong press placements to include high-quality links that would translate into lasting value through improved organic rankings.

To achieve this, our team identified a large pool of relevant topic areas. We then dug into the data and decided that the best topic, because of its growing trendiness and high placement potential, was beer.

The Strategy

cost of beer in each state graphic
how much for a case of beer?

Our ideation began by using several tools (Ahrefs, Buzzsumo, and Moz) to identify content topics that were of interest to target journalists, and that were also relevant to STL. After many brainstorming sessions, we decided to perform research on the average cost of beer per state and illustrate this on a map.

To ensure accurate data, we developed a methodology to capture consistent pricing that could be compared across states:

  1. First, we found the prices from national or regional retailers in up to 10 zip codes in each state for a 24-pack of Bud Light and Miller Lite.
  2. We chose those beers and that volume due to the national popularity.
  3. The zip codes chosen were a mix of urban and rural areas to get a representation of different parts of each state.
  4. We then averaged the prices of the two beers together and rounded to the nearest cent.
  5. Finally, we worked with our design team to create a graphic that quickly told a powerful story.

We also manually developed a contact list of journalists, a semi-templated pitch email, and an outreach schedule. We then timed the campaign to launch just before the 4th of July, when libations are top of mind for many people and journalists are interested in writing about the topic. Following a successful press push, we then promoted this post in strategic online forums and communities, such as each state’s subreddit on Reddit.

The Results

pieces of coverage
DA 70-or-above links
social engagements on post

Coverage Outlets

The project was met with almost immediate success. We received national pickup from some of our biggest targets, such as Food and Wine, Thrillist, and Bravo TV, in our first week of outreach.

Shortly after, as a result of the state-specific outreach, the Detroit Free Press expressed interest in the piece. The Detroit Free Press is a part of the USA TODAY network, which meant that coverage led to additional pickup from many other local publications. Additionally, radio and TV stations who follow these outlets began covering the story on their shows, leading to many great brand mentions.

With all of this pickup, many included the link naturally, but well over a dozen did not. We closely monitored for new unlinked brand mentions, and when we detected one, we immediately reached out to those sites and successfully got the link added in 75% of cases. By the time we wrapped up our outreach efforts, journalists were reaching out to us to request permission to cover the data.

This campaign represents everything an effective marriage between PR and Search should be. By all traditional PR KPIs, achieving radio, TV, and web coverage at this scale is a huge win. And by all search metrics, the quantity and quality of the links continue to benefit the website as well.

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