In this post I am going to show you how to craft the perfect outreach email, whether you are guest posting, doing PR, link building, promoting your own products or something else related to link building or getting people to do what you want them to – this guide makes it easy.
Like a lot of you, I get a lot of junk email requests, some are guest post pitches, some are link exchange requests and some are from people wanting me to review products or services that they offer.
I delete over 95% of the pitches I get, whether they’re about guest posts, link exchanges or product reviews (make that 100% for link exchanges).
I’m sure I’m not alone here, and some of you might be above 95% because so many emails just suck, there’s no other way to describe it – such little effort goes into the email.
But …what if I could show you a process of building an outreach email that means that you have to spend a few more minutes on each email, but could help you take your response rate from 2% or something lame to well over 60%?
Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Well, that’s what I’m going to show you right here.
Ready, get set …. GO!
Be compelling and break the mould
The reason why most bloggers you reach out to don’t respond is because your emails are so similar to everyone else’s.
You need to break the mould and stand out, your email needs to reach out and grab the reader and yell “Hey you, look at my damn email!”
Now, when it comes to being compelling it’s not always so easy but there are a few things that you should remember:
Most bloggers don’t have a lot of spare time and get a lot of emails from people expecting them to do something nice for someone they don’t know, so it’s time for a wake-up call.
How about this – try doing something nice for the blogger before expecting them to do something for you, chances are you’ll have a lot more success.
Reading up on copywriting tips can help you here, but you only have a short window to grab the bloggers attention so doing something for them is usually the best way to compel them into responding.
The avid marketers among you may be thinking – “What about scarcity?”
And you’d be right, that’s a great way at compelling people to make a decision but I find that works best when trying to sell products.
When it comes to Blogger Outreach on the other hand, I find that it can work in particular niches but in most situations it doesn’t work as well as you might think.
The reason comes back down to exactly how much time people have, when you rush someone into a decision you could just be forcing bloggers to deselect themselves from whatever you’re offering.
This is a lesson I learnt when I did my first big group interview – I wasn’t flexible enough which caused some big names to de-select themselves due to their own busy schedules.
Time is of the essence when it comes to Blogger Outreach and I understand that more than anyone especially since I manage a marketing agency that does blogger outreach. Striking a balance is the key.
It all starts with the subject line
A lot of people tend to delete emails based on just a subject line, so this is the first real test of your blogger outreach emails.
Remember that most bloggers are time poor and get a lot of emails from people expecting them to help them with something and offer nothing in return.
With this in mind I have had the best success by highlighting the following within my subject lines:
- Showing some form of personalisation (for example, start off the subject with the bloggers first name)
- The email won’t take up much of the bloggers time
- The email contains a potential opportunity that the blogger can’t miss
I’m not going to give you a bunch of subject lines that you should use, because then everyone will use them and like what usually happens in Blogger Outreach – they’ll stop working because they have become the norm and just don’t stand out anymore.
Add an incentive
I mentioned this in passing earlier, but I wanted to expand on this ‘adding an incentive’ thing a little bit more.
In order to compel a blogger to help us, we need to help them first and this usually works best when you do something for them before you email them.
I’m talking about something that you can do without any strings attached – this shows you’re serious and is incredibly compelling – how can you say no to someone that has gone out of their way to help you?
I’m not saying that you should give away a product or service you’re promoting to every blogger that you contact.
What I am saying is that doing something ‘nice’ or helping someone out can be something really straight forward and manageable.
In order to do that you need to look at what assets you have available to you.
Here are a few examples:
- A blog that gets traffic
- Social following
- A decent sized mailing list
- Connections with industry influencers
- A chapter of your ebook
- Free trials of products/services
Think about what would compel you to open an email and give the person emailing you a positive response – what would they have to do?
How would you feel if you received and email that started off like this?
Your post on blogger outreach really resonated with me, I didn’t agree with Ted’s point in the comments at all.
I shared it to my 11,500+ Twitter followers here: [insert link to tweet] ……..“
You’d love that right?
Actually, I would too – my eyes would be wide open and I’d be inclined to return the favour.
Add some personalisation
Incorporating personalisation is essential, if you don’t include this then you may as well open your email with something like:
“Hey site owner of some blog,
I haven’t read your site at all or even know who you are, but will you do something for me?”
I get these all the time, they usually start off with “Dear site owner” – spend less than a minute on my site, or my about page and it’s quite obvious who I am and that this is my blog.
First, what you need to do is to try and find out exactly who you are emailing, and in some cases that’s just impossible to find out. Especially when you’re emailing big sites.
You need to at least try though, if you don’t and end up contacting someone’s personal blog, you’ll end up potentially burning opportunities by making it clear you haven’t looked at their site.
The next step is to include some serious personalisation but you need to remember that you’re emailing a person and you’re aim should be to build good rapport with that person – this means kick starting a conversation.
Here are a few things to consider talking about:
The person you’re emailing
As soon as you know who you are emailing you can get some more information about them by checking out their social profiles.
Try thinking about the following:
- Where they live
- Their hobbies
- Where they work
- Where else they write for
Use anything you can think of to strike up a conversation and shows that you have put some thought into the email.
A piece of content on the site you’re emailing
The sky is the limit here, but ultimately you’re limited to the content on the site and you’re imagination, but here are a few ideas:
- Ask a question about something on the website
- Refer to a comment or point made in an article on the site
These are just a few to get you started, I’m sure you could think of some better ideas.
The call to action
If you haven’t heard of a call to action before, all you need to remember is that you are simply asking someone to do something for you.
The key is to be clear and to the point.
The calls to action in these type of emails will differ slightly from that of an opt-in form on a landing page for example.
Here you will be looking to get a direct answer from the person you’re emailing, if they’re not interested, you need to know so ask the question.
“Would you be happy for me to contribute to your blog?”
Make sure you include that question mark because, while it may seem obvious, I’ve seen a number of people miss this out and it will hurt your conversions if you miss it out.
I tend to skim read because I get so many emails, when a question mark is missing I usually need to read something twice for it to register that I’m being asked to do something. – Not everyone does this, but it’s worth remembering.
What about a template?
Uggh, what? No template? But I wanted you to do all of this for me so I don’t have to think, what kind of blogger outreach post is this?!?!
I’ve learned that giving opening up email templates openly on a blog is a recipe for disaster, the second I do it, then a few people will take that template and run it into the ground.
Sooner or later 1,000s of bloggers will be getting these templates fired at them and it will stop working, then everyone will be at square one.
Successful blogger outreach relies on you thinking for yourself and doing things in a different way to everyone else.
How will you stand out if you’re doing the same thing as everyone else?
Putting it all together – the (not so) secret formula
Ok, so I’m not going to give you the ultimate template, but I’m going to give you something that I think is better – the formula for the perfect outreach email.
I like to call this the sandwich of awesomeness:
Personalisation: address the site owner directly if you can, reference something that they can relate to or ask a direct question or refer to a point in a blog post.
I’ve done something awesome for you: this is where you make it clear that you’re serious about building a relationship with them by doing something to help them – no strings attached.
Here’s what I’d like you to do for me: this is your call to action, be direct and ask the question, be clear about what you want the blogger to do.
If you do that I’ll do something else awesome for you: you have already done something awesome for them to get their attention, this should be even more awesome and something that will appeal to the blogger and is low cost for you, but from the bloggers perspective, the value outweighs what you’re asking them to do for you.
The sign off: this is just standard, who the hell are you?
Email signature: having an email signature makes more of a difference than you might think. Include where you’re from, website URL & social links so people can find out more about you and put a name to a face.
Please note, this is not a one size fits all thing, you need to think about what you’re doing – and who you’re talking to – remember, it’s a real person at the other end of the computer.
Things to avoid
Or, on the other hand, continue to do the following if you want people to delete your emails:
- Your name doesn’t match the name on the email
- Leave caps lock on
- Mention SEO or link building
- Mention link exchanges (subject lines with this in are even worse)
- Open your email with ‘you have a great blog’
- Sending generic emails
- Mentioning that you write about topics that the blog you’re emailing doesn’t cover (yep, I get guest post pitches related to Finance and Travel)
- Being too eager with ‘follow up’ emails (sending 5 follow ups in a day won’t help anyone)
- Reaching out to unrelated blogs
- Drone on and on…. and on….. and on….
- Anything else that makes it clear you’ve never read the blog
I’ll leave you with this …
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to Blogger Outreach is that people forget the human element.
And while there are a number blogger outreach tools such as InkyBee and BuzzStream that can make part of the outreach process easier (I talk about some of them here). We need to remember that even though we’re communicating via email and it can sometimes feel like this isn’t the ‘real world’ – there are real people on the other side of the email address that you’re trying to contact.
Real people engage with real people – not robots.
Photo credit - Irochka