It’s the grand old way of getting your website noticed online, but despite its long-in-the-tooth reputation, the effectiveness of email outreach is showing no signs of slowing down – despite what some experts might have us believe.
An old-fashioned email campaign can seem like the loneliest method of promotion available in the 21st Century. It’s not unusual to write thousands of outreach emails knowing full well that well over half of your messages will never even be read.
Neil Patel believes that a reasonable expectation from an outreach campaign is to get around five links for every 100 emails sent, amounting to a success rate of 5%. Meaning that 95% of the time you spend composing messages and hitting that ‘send’ button will be a fruitless endeavor.
So why do we bother? In a world where cold emailing is heavily frowned upon, and a third of all emails are opened based solely on whether the recipient likes the subject line or not, you could be forgiven for thinking that it might all be just a waste of time and resources.
However, this isn’t the case. Email outreach is an extremely powerful tool when correctly utilized, but effective email etiquette is a minefield – and many people struggle to run engaging campaigns.
So it’s for this reason that I’ve decided to offer a list of the seven biggest trials and tribulations that face email marketers today.
1. Making Sure your Campaign isn’t too Spammy
It’s the first and perhaps the biggest point to make. Absolutely nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a cold email. They’re annoying, irritating, frustrating and every other synonym of awful. Think about cold calls – where you pick up the phone and listen to somebody with no idea of whom you are speaking from a script with the intent of getting you to give their business money. It’s soulless and often insulting. The cold email is just that in written form.
Like with many websites that aim to expand their network, we try to avoid the risks that come with cold emailing by adding a personal touch to our campaigns. It’s a tricky business because personalization takes time, but if you treat your target audience with respect, it can pay dividends.
In a bid to reach out to people personally, while keeping our quantity of outreach emails high, we’ve constructed a template to customize based on the individual we’re contacting. This enables us to utilize a personal touch that impersonal general marketing emails are devoid of. Here is the one we’re using:
Hope you’re doing well!
My name is Dmytro Spilka, and I’m a Head Wizard at Solvid, an Inbound Marketing Blog based in London, UK.
I recently stumbled upon your post on POST TITLE (LINK TO THE POST), and found it incredibly useful. In the post (point #7 to be precise), you mentioned a POST THEY’VE MENTIONED by NAME OF THE PERSON THEY’VE MENTIONED. Although it’s a great resource, it feels slightly outdated and incomplete to some extent.
Anyway, the reason I’m contacting is that I’ve recently put together YOUR POST TITLE (YOUR POST LINK). SOMETHING UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR POST. Basically, did everything to create the ultimate go-to resource.
In fact, our post has been recommended by Rand Fishkin (founder of Moz), Brian Dean of Backlinko and Smart Blogger (BE HONEST HERE).
I would really appreciate if you could please take a second to scan our post and see whether it could be of any help to you and your audience as an additional resource.
Apologies for eating up your time!
As you can see above, we’re using a few personal touches.
- The actual name of the person. Believe it or not, a lot of ‘outreachers’ use phrases like Dear Webmaster, Hello Editor, Hi Sir, etc.
- We’re mentioning the exact location in the article where they’ve mentioned a resource. This shows that we’ve actually looked at the article and know what it’s about.
- We’re using influencers to add value to our resource. Be honest here. If, in fact, your post hasn’t been featured or mentioned by anyone – don’t make it up – this can easily undermine your credibility.
2. Nailing the Subject Line
The importance of the subject line can’t be emphasized enough. This is your big hook to get the recipients to read on – and there are plenty of theories behind the recipe for an irresistible heading.
Convince and Convert state that 69% of recipients report emails as spam based solely on the subject line, while 35% open emails because of the allure of the heading. These are substantial figures that underline the importance of the few words that pop up first in your recipients’ inboxes – so nailing your subject line is imperative.
So what’s the secret formula behind the perfect email subject? Throwing their two cents into the ring is Adestra, which believes that the use of words like ‘Alert’, ‘Daily’ and ‘Free Delivery’ bring marketers the best responses.
However, our outreach campaigns try to show honesty without the use of superfluous superlatives – our subject line is simple:
‘Typical outreach email’ shows that we have no interest in click-baiting our intended audience. It also indicates that we have enough faith in our service that we don’t need to rely on tricks of the trade to lure prospective customers in. That being said, email subjects will vary on a case-by-case basis. Hence, we’d suggest to A/B test different subject lines to see which one performs better. In our tests, ‘Typical outreach email’ performed much better, improving an open rate by roughly 20-30%.
3. Optimizing your Open Rate
You could be marketing the best product or service on the web, but if your open rate is lacking then it means that your recipients aren’t interested enough to even look beyond the subject line of your emails.
According to research conducted by MailChimp, the average open rate varies between 20 – 25% – depending on the industry you’re in. This is unsurprising and disappointing in equal measure, but it’s also a great benchmark to incorporate a bit of trial and error into your campaign.
All sorts of factors can influence your open rate, from the aforementioned subject line, to the relevance of your target audience, to the time of day that you send your emails out (no, really – RingLead have compiled stats that suggest the sweet spot for posting outreach mail is between 2 pm and 5 pm on a Tuesday afternoon).
Premium services like reply.io, buzzstream and outreach.io not only offer the opportunity to personalize automatic outreach emails, but also provide very useful stats on open rates and click-through rates, allowing you to monitor what aspects of your campaign is working better than others and giving you the chance to fine-tune your messages.
For instance, here are some open rate stats for our latest outreach campaign:
In all honestly, 71% open rate is pretty decent (even our regular email subscribers aren’t that active).
4. Sussing out Whom to Target
Figuring out whom to target is risky business – if you pick the wrong recipients, then you’re in danger of wasting valuable time.
There are many great services that can scout out relevant email addresses to aid your campaign, and hunter.io is a good example that offers a free email search engine (albeit with limited usage for non-premium members).
A good alternative to hunter.io is Voila Norbert.
To find an email address, simply enter the name of the person and a domain name of the company they work at.
Although the information isn’t 100% accurate all the time, this way of finding the right email address can save a lot of time, especially if that particular domain has hundreds of registered emails.
5. Finding the actual recipients
It pays to be attentive in finding which website staff to email – if you believe your blog has a resource that you feel should be added to a website’s list, you could contact the author of an existing article in which you believe your site would make a good reference point. However, a generic ask for a link would not bring the numbers, as it’s likely to be regarded as spam. Answer the following questions before asking for an inclusion of your link:
- Is the site relevant to my resource?
- Is my resource of an exceptional quality and is better than the rest?
- Does the site look trustworthy?
- Do I have the name of the website owner or the author of the article?
- Do I have the right email address?
- When was it published? If the article is 4-5 years old, it’s very unlikely that someone will update it for the sake of one additional resource.
- Did I use enough personal touches? See point 1 for examples.
If only 2-3 of these questions fall under the category of ‘No’ or ‘Negative’ then it’s not worth the effort outreaching – simply because your email will appear spammy.
You need to be observant – if you’re targeting an author of an article that you feel your work would benefit as a reference, be sure to check whether the author is a guest poster or a member of staff for the business. If it’s the former, you’d be better off contacting the editor – though getting in touch with the original content producer may lead to your work being linked in future publications.
Many websites now shy away from publishing emails of editors and content producers in favor of using website contact forms, but if you’re looking to get your posts or resources noticed, the best way of having your message read by those who matter is to find the details of the content producers themselves.
6. Keeping on Top of Your Follow-Ups
It can be easy to neglect a follow up to your outreach email. If the recipient didn’t want to reply the first time, why would they bother a second time? While chasing a less responsive target may seem counter-intuitive, it works as a great simple call to action and indicates to them that you’re serious about showing off your work.
Our follow up template is a simplified reminder of our original email – our intention is to drop a subtle reminder that we have a great product that would benefit the user and their readership:
Just a quick follow-up on a message I sent earlier (attached below) about our awesome POST TITLE (LINK TO THE POST): I would really appreciate to hear back from you.
We use the reply function on our initial email for ease of reference for the recipient, while including a transparent subject line informing our target that we’re simply following up to an original email.
It’s important to refrain from trigger-happy follow-ups. Becoming a nuisance outreacher risks alienating your audience and even damaging your reputation. Therefore, we wouldn’t suggest going for more than 2 follow-ups after the initial outreach email.
7. Managing the Scale of Outreach
The business of outreach is a long-winded one that carries no guarantee of success. You could invest days of hard work into emailing 1000s of recipients and receive no interest in return.
Luckily you can maximize your chances of success and minimize the time spent chasing poor leads by doing a little bit of market research.
Try to understand who your target would be and whether they would have any affiliates or backlinks that would also benefit from utilizing your work or service.
It’s better to have 100 quality recipients than 1,000 poorly researched ones – this is how we got 20-25% success rate of our latest email outreach campaign.
We like to run tidy outreach campaigns, so take the preemptive measure of identifying leads to investigate to assess whether associated websites would benefit from using our work. If we feel that they would, we add their information to our spreadsheet and invite them to take a look at a relevant piece that would make a good reference point.
So there you have it – with some good prep and honest marketing, the age-old slog of email outreach doesn’t have to be such a pain.
As long as you’re outreaching to a relevant personal with a resource that can potentially bring value to that website’s audience while keeping your emails reasonably personal (without being too creepy), you should see a positive return for the time spent.
Now it’s time to get out there and put your website on the map!
Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with email automation. Our software tracks actions of your users across multiple devices allowing you to analyze, segment and engage your customers with automatic, behavior-based emails in one place. We call it Customer Engagement Automation. Get, keep and grow more customers with Kissmetrics.
About the Author: Dmytro is a Head Wizard at Solvid, a creative inbound marketing & software development agency in London, UK. His work has been featured and mentioned in a wide range of publication, including The Next Web, Business2Community, Huff Post, Crazy Egg, Sitepoint, SEMRush, and more.