CIENCE is a lead generation company that offers multi-channel orchestrated outbound solutions to create sales opportunities. CIENCE was recently ranked as one of the fastest-growing companies in America by Inc. 5000 for the third time in a row and has won numerous other prestigious awards since its founding in 2015.
CIENCE’s tagline is “Sales Conversations Start Here,” which perfectly describes what the business stands for: Its goals are to help companies to scale and grow by applying outbound strategies, accurate sales intelligence targeting, proactive activities, on-time reporting, and advanced proprietary tools to optimize every engagement with prospective business partners.
Using these sophisticated strategies plus the latest tech stack to build effective sales pipelines for their clients, CIENCE is committed to staying at the cutting-edge of research and maintaining its position as a thought leader in the industry.
CIENCE has its headquarters in Denver, Colorado, and has since established nine offices in six different countries. During the last six years, CIENCE has worked with over 1,700 companies across more than 200 B2B industries worldwide and has collaborated with businesses of every size, ranging from start-ups to the world’s most well-recognized brands, such as Nasdaq, Salesforce, Yamaha, Microsoft, Google, and Uber.
The Story of ClENCE
Originally founded by Thomas Cornelius as Leadware in 2015, the company rocketed off in 2017 as CIENCE, with new visionaries John Girard, Eric Quanstrom, and Michael Maynes, who believed that outbound lead generation could be reinvented using a new AI-driven, people as a service (PAAS) approach to outreach.
However, it wasn’t a perfect launch from the beginning: Although extremely successful in providing lead generation services to other companies, CIENCE had its own struggles with backlink outreach, making numerous attempts to find just the right strategy to increase the domain authority of its website, which strongly affects organic search traffic.
The domain authority (DA), created by Moz, and domain rating (DR), created by Ahrefs, are metrics that show how strong and reliable a website is on a hundred-point scale. They serve as a proxy for Google’s (90%+ market share of the search engine market) own algorithms and ranking strategies—which for obvious competitive reasons remain unpublished.
DR is based on the quantity and quality of backlinks gained from other authoritative websites: The more high-quality backlinks the web page gets, the better its DR. The better the DR, the higher the websites’ search ranking positions, which results in more organic search traffic and lead conversions.
In 2017, when the CIENCE.com website was launched, there was no strict SEO strategy in place. A year later, the first SEO specialist was hired. In 2019, the SEO team added a new backlink outreach specialist. This person was responsible for creating backlink email templates, researching prospects, and contacting all of them on his own. Thanks to the efforts of just two people, the SEO specialist, and backlink outreach specialist, CIENCE’s DR increased from zero in 2017 to 35 in 2019.
Despite demonstrating great growth in domain authority in a relatively short period of time, this still wasn’t enough. CIENCE’s team and client base were increasing at a very fast speed; SEO needed to move at the same pace. To enhance the situation, CIENCE had doubled its SEO efforts by hiring a second outreach specialist in the summer of 2021.
Realizing that CIENCE’s website still had not achieved the desired search ranking, the newly extended team started searching for other possible options to boost it. Instead of outsourcing link building to a side agency, CIENCE decided to follow its own path, delegating this job to an internal team of outreach specialists, campaign strategists, and lead researchers who were trained to apply SEO techniques and had extensive expertise in outbound outreach.
Challenges & Scope
After years of successfully implementing lead generation strategies to its clients and establishing a leading position on the market, CIENCE needed to pass another milestone—improving its search ranking positions.
The top challenge for the company was to raise its brand awareness and compete with other websites in the industry across desirable Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). To break through, CIENCE needed to boost its DR, which works best by securing high-quality backlinks from authoritative and reliable websites—all received in an organic way.
Christina Pigol, SEO manager of CIENCE says: “We commonly use DR metrics to measure our success in outreach, as it directly correlates with how high our search results are among others. The higher DR the website linking to us has, the more “link juice” we get to support our web pages in Google Search, and the faster our own DR grows.”
One thing to keep in mind, the DR is a hard metric to boost due to its specific way of calculation: The higher the domain rate you get, the more links you need in the future to achieve more growth. This has made CIENCE’s goal to rank higher even more challenging.
By keeping the SEO outreach strategy completely in the hands of the in-house team, CIENCE was hoping to maximize the number of gained backlinks and boost the website's ranking positions materially through outreach efforts.
Understanding that CIENCE’s team had the potential to overcome the challenge on their own, they needed to create an effective approach to link building that complemented their team’s SEO knowledge with SDR outreach techniques that have proven effective across tens of thousands of outbound campaigns.
The team realized that by increasing the email reply rate and open rate, the number of backlinks gained would be expected to grow as well. To achieve this, they applied a unique SEO outreach strategy that consisted of messaging designed by CIENCE campaign strategists, sophisticated research capabilities—pinpoint targeting of articles and authors or those in charge of high-quality domains—and then combining the CIENCE data stack and SEO algorithms to finally scale outreach capabilities with new backlink specialists.
Overcoming the challenge of middling domain authority by increasing the number of backlinks gained would bring more traffic and leads to the website—which is no small feat, as organic traffic has the highest conversion rates into appointments, sales, and then loyal clients.
Building an In-House Team
To make backlink outreach most effective, CIENCE built out an SEO team with two link builders, an SEO manager, one campaign strategist, and two researchers.
The SEO team had a large corpus of data on outreach templates that worked, plus the experience of how to communicate with prospects, including personalization strategies and how to prepare research to make each email perform better. Beyond that, they were already equipped with the right sales and analytics tools that could be useful in backlink outreach as well.
“We have very powerful templates created by CIENCE campaign strategists, we have experienced researchers to filter the companies we reach out to, and we have trained outreach specialists to do personalization,” says Christina Pigol. “On top of that, all of these people are fond of SEO. This is precisely what makes us different from most other link-building outreach teams.”
By combining SEO knowledge with an innovative sales approach to outbound outreach, CIENCE achieved significant SEO growth. At the time of this study, the company reached a DR of 62.
In a particular period under study (two months from July until August 2021), out of 450 companies the link builders reached out to, CIENCE gained 30 unique high-quality backlinks, all linking to the content using anchor text of their strategic choice. Out of these thirty backlinks:
- Two were gained from the websites with 80+ DR (Monday and LucidChart).
- Ten were from websites with 70+ DR (among them are ReadyCloud Suite, SendX, Sortlist, EmailOctopus, and others).
- Eight links were received from websites with 60+ DR.
- Ten more were from websites with 40 to 60 DR.
The newly created personalized and concise email templates for backlink outreach received a very high open rate of 50.6%, more than twice the average open rate (21.57%). The response rate for these templates was also higher than the average (6.15%) at 8%. Overall, the backlink gained rate was approximately 6%.
Apart from performing extremely well, CIENCE’s templates, written by campaign strategists, proved to have a very strong effect on the recipients: “Once, our prospect told us that our templates are so good, and then asked if we didn’t mind if he stole them,” shared Christina Pigol.
Besides very successful recent outreach results, in the time period from January until September 2021, just organic traffic coming to the website grew sharply—more than doubling to over 10K unique visitors per month. The top ten keywords in search also rose from 188 to 319.
Among CIENCE's most impressive achievements included ranking in the top ten search results for a very high-volume keyword at 368,000 search queries per month, a number one keyword with 2,400 search queries per month, and a top-five keyword with 1,000 search queries per month.
The cherry on the top is that CIENCE’s DR demonstrated significant growth, going from 35 to 62 in just two years.
CIENCE’s recent SEO accomplishments have proven that its innovative approach to SEO outreach is working. It has developed a completely new formula for getting high-quality links based on years of experience in sales outreach merged with deep knowledge in SEO.
Christina Pigol described the new outreach process in this way: “Nowadays, when writing SEO emails, we are working the same as our SDRs do when they outreach to prospects for our clients, but instead of appointments, we are looking for backlinks.”
CIENCE’s experts have created powerful messaging, which serves its purpose, gaining much attention from the recipients. Moreover, the company’s expertise in sales outreach has secured the successful implementation of the new SEO strategy with the help of a well-trained, in-house team of salespeople and campaign strategists.
Eric Quanstrom, the CMO at CIENCE says: “Our success lies in landing the highest of high-quality backlinks. We went for the hardest backlinks to get and we got them—that's how outbound works."
CIENCE's next goal in backlink outreach is to hire more link-building specialists, train more campaign strategists and researchers in SEO outreach, and triple the number of backlinks within the next half year. Already seeing significant results, these ambitious goals have become highly achievable in the near future.
As Pigol says, “DR grows much more slowly when you're getting closer to the top (DR 60+). We will have to double our efforts in link-building again to keep competing for the highest search ranking positions with the most authoritative websites—so, we are absolutely not ready to stop the growth, and we will keep leveraging our SEO results even more!”