Effective Email Outreach
Email outreach for SEO is about identifying influencers within yourniche and encouraging them to promote your brand, service or product. Identify, contact, encourage… If only it were that simple! Understanding who you should be outreaching to, how to find them, and the best way to approach them, can be a little daunting if you don’t have a clear strategy in place.There is no one definitive method that will guarantee results; what may work for one site in a particular niche may not show the same results for another. Having said this, however, there are certain things you should be doing in your outreach campaigns that will improve your chances of success. This article will guide you through how to implement and manage an outreach campaign that’ll help get real results from key influencers from within your industry.
Why do you need to outreach?
Link building is a fundamental part of SEO. While editorial links should grow naturally if you’re on site content is effective, it usually won’t be enough to boost search engine rankings alone. Content doesn’t spread itself, and links don’t build themselves; you need to make people aware of your site and what you are offering. If you are pushing good content in the right direction to the right people, you will begin to grow your reputation as an authoritative voice in the industry, and are more likely to be given a strong ranking position in search engines results page (SERPs).
Link building is achieved most effectively by sending out emails to websites and bloggers. This can be a long and arduous task, but the success of your link building project can hinge on your ability to outreach effectively. If you possess strength in other areas, but lack sufficient outreach skills and techniques, your link building campaign is likely to fail. Even the greatest content in the world becomes obsolete if people aren’t seeing it.
Outreach is, therefore, a crucial part of SEO; you need to be contacting the right people and making them aware of your site and the content you have to offer.
What are you really trying to achieve?
Before you write your email pitch or even decide who you are going to contact, you need to think about what you actually want from the site you are approaching. Of course, you want links, but what kind of links are you after? Are you trying to boost your search page ranking for particular keywords? If this is the case, you should be outreaching for links on relevant pages using the keyword you have in mind as anchor text.
Or, maybe, you are looking to improve your PageRank, in which case, you should be getting follow links from relevant pages with high PageRank. The higher the PageRank of the page your link is on, the more it will improve your PageRank.
You may be more focused on finding traffic generating links. These are links that may not help in terms of raising your rankings for a particular keyword, but they do expose your website on higher traffic pages in hopes that the traffic from the site you are linked on will get you referral visits. These links come in the form of banner ads, forum posts, text links comments and social mentions.
You need to bare the above in mind when you are deciding who you are going to approach and how you are going to approach them. Remember, it’s wise to build a vast and varied link profile as possible, as this brings the best search engine results. Any link building pattern that appears atypical, unnatural, or manipulative will eventually be flagged to Google, and your site may be penalised.
Outreaching is fundamentally about exchanging value. You can’t just acquire links by asking for them. You need to offer something valuable to the site you are outreaching to. If the content you offer doesn’t provide insight or value to the site, and it doesn’t apply to their followers, then you won’t have much long-term success. The good news is that if you are optimising your on-page content for your own users, this should already be taken care of. Your content should be fresh, interesting, and shareable; if your outreach is targeting relevant sites, they should be genuinely interested in what you have to offer and allow you to promote your site on theirs legitimately.
Who should you be outreaching and how do you find them?
You should be linking to authority sites that are relevant to your niche. It’s no good linking to a site about personal finance when your brand is luxury dog biscuits! There are lots of ways to find relevant sites yourself. You can run Google searches for things like top ten blogs about your niche. So, if it’s ‘luxury dog biscuits,’ you can search for ‘top ten dog blogs.’ This is likely to bring up lots of relevant blogs that may be interested in your brand. Once you find these ‘top blogs,’ you can delve into them further. You can do this by going through their blogs rolls, and seeing whether they have recommended blogs or a ‘friends’ section: all which help you build up a prospecting list.
This sought of prospecting for outreach can certainly yield results, but it can be time-consuming and is not scalable if you need to outreach to a large number of people. To get an instant list of relevant sites to outreach to, it is a good idea to look at who your competitors are reaching out to. Using a tool such as ahrefs.com enables you to look at a competitor’s site, and it allows you to see who they are linking to; this instantly provides a list of other relevant sites to potentially contact.
Once you have this list you need to find email addresses to attach them to; this again can be incredibly arduous and time-consuming. Fortunately, there is some fantastic software available that can find email addresses and collate them into a manageable list for you to outreach too. This software can also perform its own prospecting search function based on keywords you enter, which gives you a fresh, up to date list of sites to contact, ready with email addresses attached. Some of the best outreach software available is as follows:
The Perfect Pitch
Compiling your email list is really just the tip of the iceberg in the outreach process. Getting influencers and bloggers to pick up on your email rather than sending it straight to the spam folder can be tricky. Everyone receives countless emails each day, and people look for any excuse to delete. You need to ensure your pitch is interesting enough for the reader to open and consider it.
The perfect pitch doesn’t exist, and if it did, it would quickly become overused and obsolete. While there is no guarantee your email will be picked up, there are some useful techniques that will help you get real responses:
1. Subject line. The subject line of your email is crucial. People make a split second decision about whether they read an email based on the subject line, so it is vital you peak their interest and do not appear spammy. There are two approaches which we find effective. One is to be very direct about why you are emailing. For example, ‘potential collaboration?’ is direct, to the point, and if the site owner is interested, they will read on. You should also ensure there is personalisation in the subject line, and many receivers become frustration from impersonal emails. The other approach is more indirect, but can lead to even more effective results. Adding the headline of one of their recent blog posts or articles on their site in the subject line is likely to be of interest, as it suggests you have some comment or input on their work.
2. Be personable but not over friendly. Blogging is a relatively informal world; people want to make connections and strike up online friendships. If you have their first name use it, it suggests you are a real person and not just a robot spamming their inbox. Having said that, it’s vital to remain professional and on point, keep the conversation focused on your site and theirs.
3. Demonstrate that you have spent time on their site and have a genuine interest. Mention a recent blog post or article you have seen on their site. A sentence or two about why you found their work interesting shows that you are a real person with a genuine interest in the subject matter. This helps to establish a relationship of trust between you and the site owner, and they are much more likely to be receptive to your proposal.
4. Be relatively short and to the point. People don’t have time to read through a five paragraph email; with lengthy emails, they will likely switch off and move the email straight to delete. It’s much better to restrict your pitch to one or two paragraphs that people can scan through and quickly understand where you are coming from and what you are proposing. Likewise, people can sense when they are being manipulated and lied to; you are far more likely to get a response if you are relatively direct about what you are proposing.
5. Demonstrate that you can offer them and their readers something that they would find interesting and valuable. If you have done your prospecting correctly, you should be outreaching to sites that are relevant to your business. It should, therefore, be relatively easy to point out why you are contacting them and why they and their followers should be interested in what you have to offer. A few short sentences about why your site offers something unique and valuable on the subject matter is all you need.
6. Follow up. Sending follow up emails is really important. A reminder email sent one or two weeks after the initial email can greatly improve your response rate. People forget, lose and ignore emails constantly; a short, friendly reminder email prompts the reader to respond and re-engage. Having said this, it is important not to appear spammy, and if a reader states that they are not interested, you should remove them from your outreach and not contact them again.
Whilst these tips can really help with your pitch template, always remember that outreach is about trial and error. What may work in one niche may not work in another. A technique that may work for a while may eventually become overused and ineffective. You, therefore, need to be constantly looking at your response rate and be ready to tweak your pitch if it’s not working.
Building a Masterlist
Once you begin to get responses from the emails you send out, it’s very important that you create a list of sites that you have struck up a relationship with. This will help you ensure that you don’t continually approach the site as a new prospect and allows you to manage and maintain the relationships you have built up.
It’s tough but keep going!
Don’t’ be discouraged if a lot of your outreach goes unanswered. Even with the best pitch in the world, if you send out 100 emails you can probably only expect about 15 – 20 responses. This is the nature of outreach; it takes a lot of work to get only limited responses. However, when you do get results, it can have a vast impact on your site and your business. A few links from authority sites within a relevant niche can boost search engine rankings quite dramatically.
Effective email outreach is about building up long-term, mutually beneficial relationships, based on offering valuable content.
So, stick with, it’s worth it!