Outreach programs always start with enthusiasm and the best intentions. Vibes are high, the campaign manager has pictures of fantastic results in his/her mind, company wide accolades, failing that a pat on the back from their manager and potentially even a nice little bonus or promotion if it goes really, really well.
This stage is really important because anything new has to start with enthusiasm or it would never actually happen. No-one is going to start something they feel is doomed to fail! Without enthusiasm the campaign doesn’t get the investment / resource it needs.
The next stage is equally important, the strategy document.
The strategy document is where the plan is laid out, the framework for the campaign which makes sure everyone is on the same page and knows where to get access to templates, naming conventions and so on. Again, super important.
Then the campaign kicks off, and that’s what we are going to talk about today. This is the bit I think I’m best placed to talk about. I might be odd in that doing the actual work bit, the actual outreach and getting the real results is the bit I enjoy (many people don’t!)
I enjoy it because there is a gap.
There is a gap between the enthusiasm combined with the strategy document, and the real results.
The campaign will always need to be adjusted potentially several times as it progresses if it is to get results and that’s the bit I’m there for (and the reason you shouldn’t hire a junior person or assistant to run your outreach campaign).
What happens when the campaign actually starts and how to avoid some pitfalls that are common when an outreach program progresses.
For the sake of this article we are going to take a 6 week campaign as an example.
So, let’s get started! It’s very, very likely that the person who is running the outreach campaign will run into one or several of these issues. Read on to find out what you can do about it.
1. Running out of leads too quickly
Throughout the campaign it’s important to keep an eye on how many prospects you have. The ideal situation is one where you have perfectly grouped prospects in your pipeline ready to be bucketed and sent your templates for A/B testing.
However, more often than not you’ll probably have less leads than you thought you would. As long as you stick to this one rule you should be able to keep the momentum going.
Make sure that you have a bunch of leads ready and waiting to be emailed out the following morning. Even if it’s just 20 leads, that is better than non. Then, first thing, log onto your pitching software, or email if you are doing it manually, and email those leads straight away.
2. Leads are not targeted
Successful outreach campaigns must be targeted. The person reading your email needs to see that the offer you are suggesting fits their blog. It’s not a case of just emailing 2,000 people and hoping that some of them respond.
Yes, some of them probably will respond, but not the bloggers you want. And you’ll also get many more angry and annoyed responses too which is not the way to promote yours or your clients business.
3. Low response rate on a template
The average response rate after 3 email attempts, i.e. an initial email and 2 follow up emails is 30 - 40%. If a third of people come back to you then you know that you have set up a healthy, targeted campaign, that the people you are contacting are at least interested in discussing with you.
If your response rate is less than 10% after 3 email attempts that is a warning sign that something is going wrong and you need to work out why.
If you have access to open rates then you can see how many people open your email. If you have a high open rate but a low response then you know that it is probably your offer that is the issue. If you have a low open rate then you know it could be your targeting.
Try to identify the problem and set up a new campaign based on your findings and see if the response rate improves. It can take some time, but once you have a converting campaign you can keep adding the leads to it and using it so it is worth the effort. The longest part of the process is finding good leads, so, it is worth making sure you are getting the highest conversion possible.
4. Forgetting to close in on leads (time poor)
I have to check myself on this as well. It’s easy to get into the habit of emailing new people and not going back to follow up and check the people you are already speaking with.
The people you have started a conversation with are the most likely to want to partner with you so make sure you check in on them. I usually go back to my last client update report and look at the leads I have reported on, then go through one by one and follow up with them every 3 or 4 days.
5. Spending too much time editing each lead
There are lots of outreach gurus which say you must include the bloggers name and the website in your pitch. I don’t actually believe that is always needed. In my opinion the targeting and the offer are the most important things to get right. If you have the bloggers name readily available then yes, definitely include it. But editing the details on each lead takes quite a lot of time so be wary at this stage of spending too much time getting everything just perfect. Outreach tools really help with this because you can import a bunch of urls and they will find the details for you.
6. Spending more time on the copy than the offer
There is a certain structure you should follow when it comes to writing outreach emails. And I’ll write another post on that. But in terms of the copy i.e. the phrasing, I believe it is not as important as the offer.
Of course, if no-one can understand what your offer is then that’s an issue. But you don’t have to worry too much. In fact, worrying about your copy leads to it being overly formal and not connecting with the reader. Try to sound out what you are saying in your mind as you write it.
The most important part is to connect with the person you are emailing, you need them to see you as a person, not a robot.
7. Not getting the resource you were promised
As I mentioned right at the beginning of this article. Outreach campaigns rarely go exactly to plan. And one of the issues can be that you do not get the resource you thought you were going to get. I.e. you were promised someone to help with prospecting and editing the leads but then find out that this person had to be let go early on in the campaign.
When this happens you just need to adapt and find another way. Make it clear that you still require this resource & discuss how you can move forward with the client. For example, you might agree on more hours so that you can do the prospecting until a replacement has been found.
I hope this has drilled down into some specific areas that can go wrong during an outreach campaign. Being aware of them now and knowing what to do will help you when you are in the midst of a campaign!
Outreach is a challenging role (the reason I enjoy it!), but stay strong and stay focused on building partnerships and you’ll get the results you are looking for!
Did you enjoy this post? If so stick around for more! I cover plenty of tips about how to do better outreach , and also tips on how to grow a blog. These are both services I offer my content marketing clients within my freelancing business.
I also write about my freelancing lifestyle & business over at The Happy Freelancer, so if you are thinking about starting your own freelance business then check it out. And if you are a blogger interested in collaborating with brands + other bloggers I run a community of UK based lifestyle & parent bloggers over at Guest Bloggers Wanted.
Written by Cheryl A Clarke Chief Happiness Officer & Content Marketing Freelancer @ Ginger Marketing (unless stated otherwise)
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