Anyone who’s been online long knows that internet communication methods tend to come and go.
People were all about options like chat rooms and standalone instant message programs like AIM or Yahoo Messenger for a while.
Then social media blew up with early platforms like MySpace eventually giving way to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and other current favorites.
However, one online communication method has remained strong, popular, and reliable through it all — email.
Old or young, tech-savvy or not, people trust email and count on it to facilitate fast, high-value communication with everyone from friends and family to beloved brands.
For that reason, email marketing has been a digital marketing staple for years and will continue to be for many years to come.
But there’s much more to creating a successful email outreach strategy than simply compiling a contact list, writing an email, and hitting send.
Your emails actually need to resonate with your recipients and inspire responses if they’re going to get you anywhere. Here’s how to make it happen.
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What is Email Outreach?
Email outreach is the practice of using email to get in touch with a specific target.
That target could be a customer or a potential lead. But in a digital marketing or SEO context, email outreach is most often used to reach out to influencers, industry peers, or members of the press.
The goal there may be to request a backlink or propose a collaboration.
Email outreach is also a popular way to promote content, request press coverage, or attempt to establish an ongoing business relationship.
Why is Email Outreach Important?
If you run a business, have a blog, or maintain a successful web presence, you’ve almost certainly received your share of terrible outreach emails.
Such emails often feel generic and spammy, leaving you convinced the same exact message probably went out to countless other people, and you’re probably not wrong.
However, it’s important not to let examples like those convince you email outreach doesn’t work.
In actuality, it remains one of the most effective ways to:
- Obtain valuable, high-quality backlinks.
- Establish essential relationships with industry peers and influencers.
- Gain useful press coverage for your brand, business, and products.
- Pursue opportunities related to guest-blogging, interviews, collaborations, and more.
8 Email Outreach Best Practices to Know
The key to getting the results you’re after with email outreach is to send personal, valuable emails people actually want to receive and respond to.
Here are some key practices to keep in mind for getting things right.
1. Choose your recipients with care
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that more is always better when compiling recipient lists for your email outreach programs.
It’s crucial to make sure your emails are going out to people who might actually have a use for them.
Start by defining your goals for each outreach campaign. Are you looking to obtain backlinks, get press coverage, or something else entirely?
If you’re after coverage, make sure you approach people who cover your industry or niche. If you’re looking for backlinks, make sure the person you’re contacting has linked to content similar to yours before.
2. Organize your efforts
Nothing leaves an outreach email dead in the water quite like sending it to the wrong recipient, so organization is critical — especially if you’ll potentially be sending out large quantities of emails to hundreds of recipients.
An Excel spreadsheet or similar option is always a good choice.
Be sure to include all the necessary details for each recipient — their name, email addresses, the reason for the outreach, and any URLs you want to discuss.
Adding an additional column to keep track of the status of each outreach attempt is a good idea, as well.
3. Give some thought to your subject line
Remember, the folks on your email outreach list are busy, and you only have seconds to get their attention and convince them to give you their valuable time.
Your subject line will quite literally be the first thing they see, so be sure to give that plenty of thought.
It could mean the difference between an opened email and one that goes straight in the trash.
Great subject lines are short and get straight to the point of the reason for the email.
They’re also reasonably casual, breezy, and friendly. Avoid any wording that comes across as pushy or salesy, as that can make a recipient feel pressured before they’ve even opened the email.
4. Personalize your emails
When you’re cold-emailing someone who doesn’t know you, you only have a few seconds to convince them that the rest of your email is worth their precious time.
Making that email as personal as possible is a great way to do this.
A personalized email shows the recipient they’re not just looking at another form message that could have been sent to anyone.
Using the person’s name is a good start, but don’t stop there. If you have connections or other details in common, mention them.
Genuine praise for the person’s work, including specific things you enjoy about it, also helps.
5. Be authentic
People can spot a liar a million miles away, even if they’ve never spoken to the person before, so resist the urge to fake a connection that isn’t really there.
Complimenting or congratulating your recipient on something specific is a great way to break the ice, but only if you genuinely mean what you’re saying.
And definitely don’t lie about mutual interests or goals.
Suppose you do succeed at establishing a relationship with this person. In that case, they’ll feel hurt and manipulated when they eventually find out you lied to them, damaging your connection in the process.
6. Make your point quickly
Once you successfully convince an email outreach recipient to give you their time, the last thing you want to do is waste it.
Don’t ramble on in your email. Get straight to the point — preferably within 80 words or so — and be crystal clear about what you’re asking for.
The inverted pyramid approach is a longstanding journalism staple because it ensures the content gets straight to the point, and it works just as well for email outreach messages.
Place the most crucial pieces of information toward the top of your email. Then keep the rest of your message as concise as possible.
7. Explain what’s in it for them
No one likes receiving asks from people who can’t (or won’t) offer anything in return, especially if they don’t know the asker or have an existing reason to be responsive.
So make sure your email includes a sentence or two that explains the value of complying with your request.
Does adding a backlink to your content make their content more valuable to their readers? Is there something specific you’re willing to do in return, like promote the content across your own social media channels if they add your link to it?
Always explain how helping you also helps them if you’re serious about getting a response.
8. Be smart when following up
The only thing more annoying than receiving a lousy email pitch that offers zero value to the recipient is getting peppered with multiple follow-up attempts.
So if you decide to follow up on email outreach attempts, make sure you only do it once.
Try making your follow-up email more attractive by adding something additional to the mix. Add some new information the recipient might find interesting or come at your request from a different angle.
Great Email Outreach Tools to Know
Many aspects of a good SEO campaign become infinitely more manageable with the right tools in your corner, and email outreach is no exception.
Here are a few terrific tools that deserve to be on any marketer’s radar.
One of the more tedious, time-consuming parts of compiling a list of email outreach contacts is locating their professional email addresses, but Hunter can make short work of it.
Just input a web address, and you’ll have the emails of everyone who works for that company within seconds.
You can also use Hunter to plan your email outreach campaign, schedule follow-up attempts, and more.
If you’re planning a sales outreach, then you’ll definitely want to take a second look at Klenty.
It’s a full-scale sales engagement interface that takes the guesswork out of personalizing even extensive or detailed sales outreach campaigns.
Klenty keeps track of intent signals to ensure your emails are nailing the right tone every time. It also helps you scale and finetune your efforts with detailed reports and plenty of data to analyze.
Woodpecker is another terrific tool that streamlines nearly every step of a particular email outreach effort.
Verify your recipients’ email addresses in seconds, easily personalize messages, and generate detailed reports that help you track results, assess the performance of different versions of your copy, and more.
Naturally, it’s not enough to create a great email outreach strategy and put it into action.
You need a reliable way to track, measure, and assess the performance of each of your efforts. That means keeping track of the right metrics and key performance indicators (KPI), but some KPIs are much more valuable than others.
Take a look at our rundown of the most important email outreach KPIs to keep track of when it comes to your efforts.
You’ll learn why each example is essential, discover what each teaches you about your recipients, and more!