Whether you are managing a link building, content marketing, PR or even a sales campaign you’ll need to write outreach emails.
I’ve lost count with how many outreach emails I have written during my marketing career.
Over the years I have started to hone my technique & get an understanding of what works and what doesn’t. This article will provide 9 actionable tips you can use when writing your own outreach emails.
My hope is that you will apply these techniques and see your conversion increase and also start to build beneficial relationships with other businesses instead of annoy other businesses. More on that in the first tip!
Tip 1: Address your mindset
The first tip is to make sure you are in the right mindset during the outreach process. This has to be constantly checked, I need to check myself all the time.
When dealing with a lot of data it is very easy to slip into an analytics mindset.
It is easy to only think about the numbers and lose the human approach. You must remember that you are reaching out to another business to build a relationship with them, it cannot just be about the numbers.
The point is to grab the readers attention & interest long enough for them to enter into a conversation with you about how you can help each other out. A robot does not grab attention. Nor does language which sounds to rushed, abrupt or angry. (passive aggressive emails never go down well!)
The mindset you are when writing the email influences how you put together the outreach email and the tone of voice & pace of your writing. An analytical mindset leads to copy which does not resonate and may in fact just piss people off.
Tip 2: You do the work!
The person you are speaking to doesn’t want to have to work out how they can work with you in a mutually beneficial partnership. You must do the work since you are emailing them and interrupting their time.
So, work out what it is that you are suggesting. This means work out which specific tactic you think could work & also the specific content. I.e. X post shared on X channel because X.
The worst emails are those that just say I want to guest post, can I? Or, I want to partner can we? Um no, is my immediate response when I get those emails and I can imagine that’s what other people think when they receive them too.
So, when I email someone I tell them exactly how I think we can work together and take the time to map it out so they don’t have to spend time working it out themselves.
Tip 3: Get to the point quickly
Mystery does not increase conversion. Most of the emails based on mystery are doing so because Tip 2 hasn’t been implemented. The person doing the outreach hasn’t figured out how or why they are emailing x person.
The outreach manager just wants to work with somebody …. NOW!
And the reason is, they are too much in the analytical mindset and not the relationship building mindset, Tip 1. See how these points build on each other?
You must get to the point really quickly, ideally in the first 2 sentences. You are a new person taking up someone elses time which is already annoying.
So, you must eliminate the annoying factor as much as possible by helping the other person make a decision as quickly as possible. No-one wants to work with someone they don’t like. So, get to the point and help the other person decide yes, no or maybe.
Tip 4: Prove you’re worth their time
The other person is just like you. They have their own targets to hit and want to grow their company so they can make the impact that they want to make. Whether it’s increasing their salary so they can look after their family, or making the impact they want to see in their community or the world.
Every person you speak to has their own motivations.
So, they are only going to speak to you if they believe you are worth their time and can help them reach their own goals.
Perhaps that sounds really selfish, but it’s just how we are wired. I believe everyone has good intentions and are good people, but when it comes down to it, we are all under a lot of pressure, and under pressure we make selfish decisions based on own deep routed motivations.
In the first sentence you should say who you are, the company you are writing from + include trust metrics / social proof. I.e. we just won X award, we have 1 million hits per month, we planted 500, 000 trees last year, we have the largest selection of X online, we are established in x countries, we have a 95% score on trustpilot...
If you are a blogger or solo entrepreneur you can talk about your experience, I’ve worked for X,X + X company or, I’ve analysed over 5,000 websites, I gave a ted x talk…
Whatever you say has to be TRUE. Don’t make something up, it has to sound good but it has to be true, very important.
Also, with this point you can go overboard.
No-one wants to speak to an arrogant person. The person you are speaking with wants to feel good during this interaction. They want to feel that they are speaking with someone who is trustworthy and can help them to their goals, but they also want to feel good about themselves at the same time. A single sentence is a good length.
Tip 5: Include links to back up points
You also have to appreciate that you are interrupting this person’s time and they don’t know you, at all.
It is also unlikely they know the company you are emailing from either, even if you think your company is well known.
Which means, just because you say you are trustworthy, doesn’t mean they will believe you. So, make sure you link through to your website at the very least. And ideally also a review site which shows your positive customer feedback.
It is also important to link through to the specific content you are talking about promoting. As well as any channels you want to promote it on.
Finally, if you can link through to the blog you emailing about that is also great, ideally you should add it as an anchor text link instead of a straight URL since this looks more natural.
I don’t know of an email system which adds anchor texts in automatically, so, if you are scaling your campaign it may not be possible. However, if you are outreaching to some high value businesses and websites you might want to just write a personal email and include the anchor text links.
Tip 6: Include name
If you or your outreach software can find the bloggers name then include it at the beginning of the email. Keep the intro quite informal i.e. Hi Sally,
When the name is not found you can use “there” this works with “Hi” so it would read “Hi there”. This is a point we don’t really need to labour on, it’s quite simple, I just have one thing to say.
Adding the name does increase conversion and it does get the relationship off to the right start since it’s just common courtesy to find out the person’s name that you are emailing. I do appreciate though that in large campaigns with limited resource finding the bloggers name is not always possible, just expect less reply's if that is the case.
Tip 7: Keep the email short
Your email shouldn’t be longer than 150 words unless the partnership opportunity you have is quite complicated and needs more explanation. For most outreach emails, 150 words is enough space to introduce yourself, your pitch and close the email.
The average reading speed is 200 - 250 words per minute. So, it's going to take the person you are emailing just less than a minute to read your email. Most people will then file the email, leave it in the inbox or delete it.
This could be because of a few factors.
a) The person needs to think about it, but they also have a lot to do so they file your email and move on to something else with the intention to come back to your email.
b) The person doesn't want to work with you but they don’t want to be rude by saying so.
c) They are pissed off at you for interrupting their time.
d) They want to work with you but pioritise other activities on their list for the time being.
Very rarely do you get instant responses from an outreach campaign. A few people will reply back several hours later, some, several days later. The majority will forget the email leading us to tip 8.
Tip 8: Follow up
The big advantage of email software is the automatic follow up. Following up can double your response rate (or more) study. The reasons are what were described in Tip 7. The follow up email just needs to be a couple of lines repeating the ask.
It should go out around 3 days after your first email. Studies show that the longer a decision is not made the less likely the person is to follow through, so it’s important to get the conversation going and the decision made quickly. Study.
Tip 9: Format -- create space & flow
The final tip is about formatting your outreach email. This is quite important because the position of the words, the flow of the sentences and the size of the paragraphs all give off a certain feel. I can write a short sentence. Or I can write a beautifully long sentence which weaves words in a way which makes you feel calmer. Or, I can break it up, and make a point.
Ideally you want a mix of all three of these sentence structures in your email. And you should use all three to pace the email and bring the reader along to the end. This is the most important aspect, you need your reader to get to the end of your email so they can at least be in a position to make a decision.
Along the way, you need to a) not piss them off and b) warm to you at least a little bit. If you have followed all the tips previous to this, hopefully you should be able to accomplish b).
When it comes to writing emails, being a good writer is a definite advantage. Writing good emails is more than passing over information.
As you can see from these tips, writing good emails is about passing over information & the right emotions which lead to a positive outcome.
You could have the best intentions in the world, but if you can’t convey those best intentions through your writing, then your reader will never know about it.
That's the end of my outreach tips for now. I'd love to know in the comments if you have any more to add or if you agree or disagree on any of these points, lets have a conversation!
Written by Cheryl A Clarke Chief Happiness Officer & Content Marketing Freelancer @ Ginger Marketing (unless stated otherwise)
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