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!
This is a space for me to reflect on the business & share some of the ups + downs of being a Content Marketing freelancer in Edinburgh.
I’d also like to bring some of my personal life into these posts because I don’t think we can ever truly separate our work + home life. One will always affect the other. And, for me, freelancing is a way to enrich my home life + lead a happier non working life with greater flexibility. So, home life is really important to me.
The final reason is to embrace vulnerability. I believe it’s really important to share the highs + lows, it’s easy to put on a brave face and to pretend that everything is perfect all of the time. But, we all have our own stories and our own challenges in life. I’d like to be more transparent about my own challenges & show them alongside the positive!
Octobers Happy Moments
Oscar came to stay
I started with Rover, a new client
My new website launched
I’m feeling more at home in Linlithgow, Edinburgh (after moving here in the summer)
The autumn trees are simply stunning !
I am still recovering my profits, finances are tough
I’ve been really struggling with burnout
My kind of tiny home
I recently brought a small flat in Linlithgow, Edinburgh. I think of it as my tiny home. You know those little homes on wheels that are popular in the USA? The whole idea of tiny houses is to become debt free. Instead of needing to pay a mortgage every month you invest your money into a home on wheels which cuts costs and thus frees up more of your time to live rather than work.
More living less working, to me that sounds fantastic. But, the only issue with a tiny home is unless you can find somewhere you are allowed to legally pitch up, you need to be on the move all the time. And I didn’t like the sound of that! So, my little flat in Linlithgow is my, kind of tiny house, but with a small mortgage so I don’t have to leave & can live next to the gorgeous linlithgow loch.
The gorgeous Oscar!
A few months after I moved in, I discovered pet sitting. I never thought of it as a way to earn extra income, but I put a profile up on Rover and started getting some dogs to look after. After a few dogs came and went I met Oscar, literally the cutest dog ever. The kind of dog that when you look into his eyes his whole face lights up and his tail immediately starts wagging.
New client & website
I also started doing some outreach for Rover this month. Its how I found out about the pet sitting, they contacted me to see if I could help them with outreach for a link building campaign they are running. Very interesting client, great topic & a new challenge, so I’m really excited to be working with them for the next 6 months or so!
My new website also launched this month. https://amberfy.co.uk/ its been a really tough one getting this live! Rebranding is not for the faint hearted and it’s not my area of expertise. I really wanted a website with a more professional look and feel to it, which could attract larger clients & agency’s and I feel this has been achieved. I couldn’t have done it by myself, the name was given to me by a good friend who also interned for me a few months ago and I was supported by Digital Boost & an agency here in Edinburgh and feel hugely grateful to have worked with them on it.
Starting to feel like home
Linlithgow is feeling more like home now. I had this moment working in the Costa the other day where I finished up a meeting & then finished some work on a client campaign. And then one of the cafe staff started up a conversation and we had a nice little chat. And I just thought, wow, this is where I live! In Linlithgow! I moved here on pure intuition that this was right for me, all the way from the other side of the country, and day by day it’s starting to get better and better and I am starting to feel really at home here.
I am also really loving the autumn leaves at the moment. It’s been a while since I’ve seen autumn in the UK, because last year I was in New Zealand and the years before that Milan & Lisbon. So, I’ve been off travelling and not here in the UK to actually enjoy the beautiful autumn colours. They give me so much inspiration for my art, of which I’ve also been doing a lot of this month. Picture below is of the canal behind my flat and below that of the lake.
Recovering my energy & finances
So, the challenges are still my finances after the move and I’m still in recovery from the business blunder I made this year. Time and time again I have read about the effects of making more revenue only to lose profit because of costs going up. But, despite knowing about the dangers, it still happened to me!
I got some big orders in early in the year, my revenue hit over 10k per month, several months in a row, which was fantastic and helped me to buy the flat, but the costs to deliver the orders were huge and in the end this year is looking like my profit is going to be the same as last year, around £20K (Jan - Dec, not tax year).
My plan was always to scale a single service up, with the notion that it is easier to build systems and processes for a single service. Whilst I still believe that to be the case, the only issue is that it is very difficult to stay engaged on a scaled up single service, even with a team of people helping to deliver.
Scaling up just gave me lots more costs & burnout which I’ve been recovering from for the last three or four months. So, it’s not the best plan moving forward! I think it probably depends on the type of entrepreneur you are, clearly scaling a single service works for lots of companies.
But, since I am creative & sensitive & intuitive person, and I am more likely than others to get burnout. I need to adjust my business model accordingly, otherwise I will never be able to grow the business sustainably. I’d like to capitalise more on my creativity + need for expression! And channel that more into my business.
I decided several years ago that I only wanted to work part time, 4 hours work per day. And for the most part I’ve been doing that, but working less doesn’t always mean you don’t get burnout. It depends what you do in the rest of the time you are off work, and what you do in the time you are working.
So, to recover I’ve been having a lot more fun! Being creative, painting, playing my drums, doing up my flat, I started making bread and lots of jam from the apples in the back garden.
I want to spend some time reflecting on why the business I created City Calm worked so well in terms of my own joy & its growth. Not revenue! But in terms of it growing locally it did quite well and I never ran out of energy for it, I always had more, more, more to give. I want to reflect on that maybe there is some learning's I can apply to what I'm doing now!
I also want to get some opinions about the happy freelancer podcast. It’s a new podcast I want to launch next year, I’ve already recorded 11 episodes, but will probably have to go back to the drawing board on them since I’m new and rubbish at podcasting at the moment!!
At least I got over my fear of speaking into a mic recording them. I’d like podcasting to become a regular way for me to share my freelancing journey. I have a couple of friends in Edinburgh who want start freelancing so my first stop is to sit down with them and brainstorm the premise of the podcast & the episode list!
I’d also like to put some more thought into niching down. I have been wondering about it for a long, long time, and with Google’s recent announcements Re BERT: https://www.blog.google/products/search/search-language-understanding-bert/ about how they are improving search, becoming a topic expert is going to be very, very important.
Written by Cheryl A Clarke Chief Happiness Officer & Content Marketing Freelancer @ Ginger Marketing (unless stated otherwise)
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