There is no doubt that any marketer will agree with me – Email Outreach is a strategy that has always been in-demand. And the reason why it works great is simple. Thanks to this very strategy you can spread any kind of information personally with the one you want to reach out to.
Easy to say but a bit complicated to achieve.
Why is it so tricky?
Email Outreach is a complex process that involves various important aspects in it. You are a lucky man if you have something useful to offer to your target audience. But, unfortunately, you are doomed to fail if you don’t have the right customers to offer your product to.
Moreover, even if you have a solid database of customers and you still don’t know a proper approach to them, you won’t succeed.
That’s why the craft of outreach needs to be covered in more detail. Once you understand the main stages of how to do it, you will see that your business will luck up.
In this very guide, I am going to present you a detailed process of how to do Email Outreach right. I promise, by the end of this post you will feel yourself a real expert in this strategy called Email Outreach.
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1. Start with the Basics First
When you undertake some task, you always tend to start with the initial steps. And it is not surprising because every big job demands to be started with an appropriate preparation first.
These small steps help you make the whole process more structured and easier to achieve.
The same happens with Email outreach as well. You should start doing it with laying a foundation. Step by step, brick by brick.
- Don’t mess around, focus on your niche
I am quite sure you will agree with me that attracting new customers is a kind of an art. You must know customers’ needs, how to satisfy them and, of course, understand the main principles of the niche you’re involved in. But, before we start talking about the needs of your customers, we should discuss the core elements of the niche you represent.
You might think “Obviously, there is nothing difficult in understanding the niche I represent”. And you are right! But what about the fact that a particular niche might have various directions that stand apart?
Let me illustrate what I am talking about.
For example, you are an online marketer (or a representative of some other niche) and you have an awesome service to offer on the market. However, if you ask Google about “online marketing types”, it will show you this:
As you can see, “online marketing” is divisible into various subdivisions. You should know what type of online marketing is closer to you. You can adhere to “general” online marketing but there is no point in it. If you offer some “video marketing” productions, it will be inappropriate to deal with technical SEO or eCommerce marketing as well. Remember, it is far better to be a leader in a single niche instead of being a second-rate company everywhere.
When you have done with sorting out priorities in terms of identifying your niche, let’s go further.
- Discover your target audience
Well, you’ve already discovered your niche. It is time to think about your target audience. Bear in mind that your target audience is related to the niche you are. Nothing more. It won’t be hard to find the right people. You can use specific keywords to find them, look through social media channels or “steal” from your competitors:
However, the practice shows that the best way to get dozens of potential customers is via your competitors. And now let’s have a look at how to do it.
- Your competitors might be a trigger to your success
Must admit that the practice of “borrowing” clients from competitors is widely used. Your competitors do the same. Of course, if it is not a brand with a big name who has an enormous database of customers.
So, there are a few core steps you should do if you want to get those customers.
The first step you should do is to work with Google.
Just put in a query like “video marketing tips” and see what Google suggests you:
You can see that Google introduced us a list of resources that belong to your competitors. It means you have a chance to find your potential customers discovering the material you’ve got.
The next step you should do is to check the backlinks these articles have. It is easy to do with the help of
Ahrefs Site Explorer tool. Pick up a competitor’s URL, put it in a search bar and see what you’ll get:
You have 1.16K backlinks from this URL to work with further. Please, don’t worry about the fact that you will have to check all these links out. You see, almost more than a half of these backlinks will be useless. Nevertheless, this part of the work requires lots of time and effort. I recommend you to collect useful links in a spreadsheet for convenience in operation. If you handle it, you will get a solid list of potential customers.
Once you’ve filtered all these links, you go straight to the main stage of the entire process.
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2. Let’s Get Back to the Meat
The most interesting and significant things start over here. After collecting all backlinks you need, the next thing you should do is called “data mining”. In other words, you will have to look for customers’ personal contacts.
- Data research
Here I recommend you to store the data in a simple Google Docs spreadsheet you’ve created during collecting links. I prefer to use the following columns as:
- The name of the person
- Twitter account
- Personal website
- Email address
Definitely, the columns may vary according to your needs but the main elements are still the same:
It is a very convenient way of keeping the information tidy. When it is sorted there are fewer chances that you might lose something.
- Get personal email addresses
Getting contact details is an essential way if you want to build a connection with your customers. But why did I underline the adjective “personal”? If you try to connect with a person via a third party email address, it doesn’t mean your message will hit the target. I had an accident when I sent my message asking about providing me with a man’s personal email address and didn’t get a response in return. My message was sent in vain. Yeah, people are different and sometimes I get what I need, like here:
Anyhow, focus only on searching personal email addresses. I would like to introduce you two ways on how to do it.
1. Social media accounts. Social media accounts are the first place I start my research with. Pay attention to person’s job position. Thus, you can see if a potential customer has changed it or not. As the result, his or her email address might be invalid and you will have to search for a new one:
For example, this person changed her job position 1 year and 5 months ago. Make sure person’s email address matches a current place of work. Otherwise, you will get this:
That’s why only a double-checking will help you avoid this misconception.
2. Use tools for “email hunt”. I recommend using such tools as find.that email and Voilanprbert. These tools work similarly. Use person’s full name and the link to the company’s website he or she works for.
3. Outreach Stage
Finally, we’re ready for the main stage – the process of outreach. Let’s put the talk aside and consider what the outreach itself involves.
- Use only personalized templates
I agree with the statement “creating personalized emails for each recipient is tedious and time-consuming”. Yes, it is! However, perhaps, this is one of those features that individuates personalized email from a spam outreach.
For a better understanding of how both types of email templates should look, here are examples of each:
You can see that this kind of email template is from the “spam” division. The one who sent it to me didn’t, even, point out my name. What a dreadful approach! I want to confess – I don’t read such emails at all. No work has been done to kindle my interest. I encourage you to avoid writing this type of emails. Don’t send such “heartless” messages!
Here is an example of a personalized template we use at Ahrefs:
Do you see the difference? I added missed elements, a personalized subject line and added a reference to one of their publications. That’s all. The template looks brief, nonintrusive and to the point. Nothing more. It works.
So, what’s the main secret in creating personalized email templates?
Actually, there is no secret at all. Just don’t neglect spending your time discovering person’s background information. In the example I gave you above, it was enough to know that this man likes good cigars and history.
- Be honest with the recipients, they know what you need
Both you and I know the main aim of an outreach campaign. Yes, we need something from the one we’re reaching out to. It could be whatever you need. A backlink, shares throughout social media channels, a favor, a guest post opportunity. Anything. Recipient skims through the message paying attention whether it is well-personalized or not. Afterwards, he or she gets to the purpose of it.
If you want to succeed, you should offer them something instead.
It could be a useful fresh information, a free trial of the service you offer, whatever. The main point here is to offer something in return.
- Have I heard of you before?
People get in touch more willingly with those ones they’ve already heard a word or two about. Yeah, our social nature has that interesting habit – we don’t like to deal with unfamiliar people. Perhaps, it is caused by our self-preservation instinct. But this very drawback makes building business relationships harder.
Before you’re going to reach out to a person, you should build a slight connection with your target on social media channels. For example, retweet something or try to discuss some informal topic. Let’s say, your potential target is an ‘avid’ fan of a hard rock music. Well, you could send him a message on Facebook sharing your thoughts about an upcoming Rammstein album. Why not? 🙂
Afterwards, you can be sure this person will reply to your business message for sure.
- Avoid using generic subject lines
A recipient always takes notice of a subject line, right? But which subject lines hit the jackpot?
The truth is that you can never tell!
I recommend you to never beat around the bush but always stick to the main point of the message you send. The recipient wants to open your message and get what he or she discovered from the subject line. Nothing more. Try to keep your subject line short and interesting (remember what I told you about the personalization?).
- Old-school patterns – forget about them
There are lots of patterns that point out to the fact the message has been generated automatically. It would be far better to provide you with a visual example to show you these self-evident patterns:
I highlighted these patterns to show you what you should avoid using. However, as far as you know a dropped word from a song makes it all wrong. Thus, you could mix these patterns with more personalized features. Please, have a look what I mean:
Yeah, I won’t shy away from the fact that I couldn’t resist but use some patterns as well. But I’ve added an additional information to make my template more personal. Pay attention to a subject line. It is short and reveals the real intention of the message.
- Follow-up? Sure! Once!
It is so insulting when you send the message but it stays without a reply. You’ve taken actions, made a research, crafted a template and all your work was in vain. When I get no reply, I feel myself completely ignored.
Likely, this “breach of justice” has substantial reasons to happen. Who knows, maybe the person you’ve tried to get in touch with was busy. Or due to the fact that busy people get hundreds of messages every single day, your notification might simply get lost.
Nevertheless, I encourage you to keep your head up!
Sending a follow-up message you will have more chances to be noticed. The reason for this is that follow-up emails have 30% higher response rate than the first message.
To ensure that, I would like to present you the examples I have. But before I want to mention that the period of time between sending the first message and a follow-up one may vary. Sometimes it needs to wait for a few days like here:
Or you will have to wait, even, for a few months. In the example below, you can see that I sent a follow-up message almost 10 months later ( with a changed subject!):
I assume my experience has proven the necessity of sending follow-up messages.
4. Monitor the Progress of Every Project You Run
There is no man in the world who has never made a mistake. The truth is that we learn from mistakes and this very circumstance helps us gain success. That’s why it is important for you to track the progress of your work.
In terms of Email Outreach, I recommend you to keep an eye on a success rate of the email templates you use. For instance, we use Buzzstream as a service for automatization of our outreach at Ahrefs.
We’ve created various email templates for every outreach campaign we run. These templates have their own success rate. It helps us understand which template works better:
This screenshot illustrates 3 different templates we use for one of our projects. Buzzstream shows us how many messages were sent, open rate, clicks, and replies. It goes without saying I would place my stake on the template that has the highest level of success.
Furthermore, Buzzstream allows seeing the message’s status. The green eye icon indicates this interesting nuance:
Tracking the progress of your outreach is an obligatory condition. Otherwise, you won’t hone your skills in this powerful craft.
To Sum Up
Email Outreach needs a lot more analysis and practice than you think. This strategy involves various small significant tactics you will have to study in great details. If you miss something, you won’t complete the outreach successfully. It is like a chain reaction where all the elements go one by one.
Regard this, my guide is the source of useful information oriented to teach you the main aspects of the outreach.
I hope you found it useful and already took some insights on your board.
If you have anything else to share, please, feel free to use the comment section.
Don’t forget to share this material via social media channels.
Sergey Aliokhin is an Outreach Manager at Ahrefs. He spends most of the time discovering and learning SEO and Internet Marketing tendencies. His primal goal is to study and practice new aspects of an outreach strategy. In his spare time, he likes to spend his time with family, visit specialized sports club, study martial arts. If he has nothing to do at all, he prefers reading books on science-fiction and playing the bass guitar.