In the time before the Internet, salespeople would cold call prospective clients and sell their services via the telephone or pursue new business in person. Nowadays, a single email can put you in touch with influencers, clients, brand ambassadors and anyone else who could be vital in marketing your product or service. Through email outreach, you don’t even have to pick up the phone. All you need is content to promote and an email account.
What is outreach and why do you need to do it?
Email outreach is a marketing tool that allows you to forge relationships with like-minded individuals or companies in order to help build your brand. Due to the large volume of websites that already live on the Internet, it’s important that yours stands out enough to get noticed. The more you get noticed, the more your brand grows and can reach more people. The more people you reach, the more conversions you're likely to make. Conversions lead to sales and sales, of course, lead to revenue.
Due to the large volume of websites that already live on the Internet, it’s important that yours stands out enough to get noticed.
No matter the size of your company or what product/service you're promoting, email outreach should play a key role in your overall marketing strategy. As with anything you do online, such as using social media and peppering your site with SEO keywords, you need an effective strategy so you don't unintentionally turn off potential customers, brand ambassadors and influencers.
On average, office professionals receive almost 100 emails per day, and for marketers many of those emails are asking for blog promotions or social media shoutouts. Proactively sending an email is great but you need to make sure it gets read. When people are bombarded day in and day out with emails it's safe to say some of them only get skimmed, which is a key element in planning your email outreach campaigns. When you succeed at email outreach you get the benefits of:
- Increased traffic: All it takes is one link from an influencer to boost traffic to your site.
- Better reach: Your content will be exposed to people that aren’t subscribers or following your site who have the potential to be converted and drive growth.
- Improved credibility: If the goal is to be an expert in your field, having other experts linking to your site and promoting your brand will help you appear more credible.
Make your outreach strategy a success in seven steps
1. Prospect the right contact
You shouldn't send your outreach emails to just anybody. You need to do your research to determine which company, blogger or expert’s site your content fits in with. There are four key categories of people you should be reaching out to.
These are the mega-influencers and experts. High rollers are high-profile individuals or companies that specialize in exactly what you do except they’ve made a name for themselves doing it. High rollers have vast audiences and extended reach that, should they decide to link to your site or feature your content, you’ll be virtually introduced to. Unfortunately, high rollers rarely respond to emails from recipients they don’t know. In order to raise your chances of a high roller reading your email, you’ll need a killer email subject line. We’ll cover this in #2.
Not as well-known as high rollers, these are people who are able to maintain a sizable audience. Medium rollers are experts in their field and are more likely to respond to emails from senders they don’t know. The best way to approach medium rollers is to ask for guidance or position yourself as someone who would like to get to their level and want advice on how to do that. With medium rollers, flattery will get you everywhere and if your content is good they’ll share it without you having to ask. To reach medium rollers, you’ll need a personalized email message. We’ll cover this in #3.
Tiny rollers are influencers who like you, are trying to build their audience. These people are perfect for an email outreach campaign because you’ll both benefit. They get to share your well-crafted content and you do the same with theirs so you can both build your followings simultaneously. Tiny rollers will be more likely to let you guest post on their site and in turn, you should let them do the same on yours. To get tiny rollers to respond to your email you’ll need to demonstrate your and their value. We’ll cover this in #4.
These are people who are just getting started. They may have a new website but don’t have enough traffic. Almost rollers are looking for people like you to swap content with like tiny rollers. Almost rollers barely have an audience and a link from their site may not be worth very much; however, they will respond to your email. Targeting an almost roller with an outreach campaign is good practice for when you move on to those with bigger followings. Almost rollers are easy to reach. All you need is a call to action to prompt them to want to share your content or link to your site. We’ll cover this in #5.
2. Use a catchy email subject line
A clear subject line that gets right to the point is crucial. You need to position yourself and pitch your content in one short sentence. The subject line is the first thing the recipient of your outreach email will see and if it doesn’t catch their eye, they’re not reading your email. Your subject line needs to be easy to understand, direct, specific and relate to your pitch. Something like “please link to my content” is not going to work so it’s important to get creative. Here are some examples:
- Visual for <SingleGrain>: Data-driven approach in <...>
- Loved your post on <Hubspot>. Have some insights to share
- Should I stay or should I go?
3. Add personalization
You need the body of your email to be personalized to the person you’re sending it to. If you send the same email to different influencers they’ll catch on and you’ll be blacklisted.
By personalizing the email body to the recipient you are showing them that you are very familiar with their work, their audience and you understand how valuable they are. You should also ask for guidance if you are targeting a medium roller. Butter them up without groveling and they’ll be more inclined to share your content or link to it on their site.
4. Demonstrate value
The body of your email needs to demonstrate your value. To do so, effectively communicate how valuable you are to the recipient of your email and vice versa. Show how linking to your site or posting your content on theirs adds value on both sides. Avoid long-winded pitches. Be concise and persuasive without begging for a link or a retweet and get the timing right.
Make sure what you are pushing is timely and relevant to their expertise and audience. Don’t push content that you wrote a year ago or compliment them on something they posted back in the day. Remain current and you’ll demonstrate how valuable you are to them and how they can be valuable to you.
5. Don't forget the call to action (CTA)
A good CTA will get you somewhere, whereas a great CTA will get you everywhere. A great call to action (CTA) will have a request, a link to the content you want them to look at and explicitly state what they need to do (whether it’s a link to your site, retweet, or a post for your content). You will need two CTAs. The first within your pitch and the second at the end. The initial CTA will have the link to your content and the second one is a reminder/invitation of what you’re asking for.
6. Follow up
Whether you’ve heard from the recipient or not, you need to follow up. Allow 3-4 days before initiating a follow-up email. The recipient may be very busy and did read your email but needs a few days to respond. When you do send a follow-up email, point back to the original pitch but tweak the message accordingly while still demonstrating your value.
Wait another few days after sending your follow-up email before crafting another one. If after following up twice you still don’t get a response, it’s time to move on. You can still contact this person in the future but wait a few months. Each follow-up email should be professional and polite, no matter how frustrated you are.
7. Track your campaign
All email outreach campaigns need to be tracked. It’s the best way to measure your response rates and see which companies are outwardly saying “no” to your pitch and which ones are engaging with you. To help you stay organized while tracking your email outreach campaign, there is software available that is designed specifically for this purpose.
Outreach software like Mailshake can track how many links and attachments were opened and let you know who is opening them and when. Plus, outreach software will sync your emails so you don’t have to do manual data entry every time you send another email as part of our campaign.
Here are some tools that we use for the outreach process at TechWyse, an SEO agency based in Toronto, Canada:
- Voila Norbert - Email collection
- Fullcontact - Email verification
- URL Profiler - Data enrichment
- Mailshake - Outreach
Now that you know how to effectively create an email outreach strategy, go forth and build some links! We would love to know how you get on, so let us know your experience in the comments section below.