Posted by James Piper
This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.
Since launching my personal blog I have been bombarded with guest post requests, with very few of them being worthy of reading, nevermind responding to. Thus, it was literally one in 267 emails that inspired this article about what makes an email that webmasters and bloggers will respond to.
This never ending stream of poorly constructed requests helped highlight what makes an excellent email. We will follow the same process my inbox and brain went through to examine common outreach mistakes and how they can easily be fixed.
I. Terrible Outreach Example
For those curious about what purchasing a “SEO Gold” package gets you, here is an unedited email outreach I recently received –
I have attached 2 of my article with this mail. Please review those article if you going to publish those article then please send me the link back url to me.
As a search engine optimization professional, these types of outreach emails make me laugh. As a passionate blogger, these types of emails make me rage for three main reasons:
- Nothing personal
- Poor English grammar = poorly written article
- It is all about me doing work for him… who is he again?
And 24 hours later, before I got time to read the article, here is the mind blowing follow up!
What happens anything problem with my article. Please let me know.
I am waiting for your responses.
Real business operations cannot be automated. Hence, packages do not work!
The SEO Gold package, which after researching the company is what this email literally is, is at least persistent at being annoying! This package actually cost someone $499… should’ve spent it at the bar.
There was a single link in the article pointing to a Fortune 500 Company… not only should this be an easy client steal, we could all use another Penguin’d website to write an article about!
II. Fair Outreach Example
I recently launched my own website with little to no content, a non-existent link profile, and was still getting 10-14 guest post request per day… imagine the poor Webmaster with a populated blog. Thus, your goal as an Internet Marketing professional is simple – stand out with a personalized outreach message. Something which makes the Webmaster feel like this:
The following is another unedited example:
Great blog. I enjoyed your recent article about business communication on social media platforms. I was hoping I could publish something on your site. I have several ideas I am working –
- Strange Marketing Premiums That Work
- Marketing: No Single Correct Answer
- The Real Purpose Behind An Advertisement
I look forward to hearing your feedback.
It isn’t perfect, but the sender did receive their beloved link. Here are the reasons to why I responded to this email:
- Gave me ideas to choose from
- Referenced what was in it for me
- Appropriate email length (which is often overlooked)
Here is how they could guarantee a response the next time:
- Quickly note how you found me! (Stumbled onto my blog via search?)
- I am a fan of more enthusiastic people (use an exclamation point, this blog took time)
- Are you available for questions or talking? Or did I just get a hit and run outreach…
In addition, do not tip toe your way around what you really want. Being direct has its benefits, and it is hard to trust someone online who you’ve never met.
Be genuine. Bloggers smell a fishy outreach a mile away.
III. Outreaching For Real People
It was 7:30am, and I was doing my usual email/coffee routine, when I stumbled onto this outreach gem. In fact, I ALMOST replied before realizing that the sender was non-other than Distilled’s Rob Toledo.
Yes, it took me eight days to write this 🙂
Here are the reasons I “insta-replied”:
- The email is personalized to me, and tailored to my needs
- It has been made easy for me to take his desired action
- He did the two things above, without me having to read ten pages of text
- He introduced himself! Thanks… Next time you meet someone in person for the first time, try not introducing yourself!
- He is available to discuss the infographic, and he actually replied to my follow up email!
IV. What Good Content & Outreach Gets YOU!
Rob was an excellent source for this article, and also provided information about this specific campaign’s success! Without further ado:
1. How many links from the campaign? Best?
We were in the middle of a Distilled Outreach "Hack Day" where the outreach team locks ourselves in the conference room and puts our full focus on one specific project — I think we ended up with about 25 linking domains that day. These hack days have started to prove themselves to be quite fruitful.
Getting it on Search Engine Journal helped the social aspect out a ton, as it got over 200 tweets from there.
2. The campaign’s response rate?
I think in the 60% range of people approved the post ideas
3. Biggest mistake you are consistently seeing with outreach?
I think the obvious one is just how impersonal some people make the whole outreach process. Spamming hundreds of people might get you 2-3 approvals from sites that might not be worth your time to begin with.
There is so much value in personalizing your efforts; truly getting to know a blogger, what they normally post, what their readers enjoy the most, etc. And besides, if you build up that relationship, and make it mutually beneficial, it can quickly turn into long term value for everyone involved.
4. How to keep email length short?
I know for a fact that so many outreach emails go unread, so keeping that in mind, I never want to overwhelm an editor with a giant block of text. Keeping that in mind, I always adjust my approach based off of the vibe of the blog owner's writing style. If they keep things short and to the point, I would reach out in that way. Conversely, I might write more if the blogger tends to be wordy.
5. Example of an advanced query you would use for finding prospects for this infographic?
For the PPC infographic, I targeted marketing blogs, SEO blogs, etc. I knew the end goal would ultimately be to find sites that have hosted similar content, so searching for things like "PPC infographic" worked pretty well. I almost always try to add phrases like "write for us" and "guest post" to make sure I'm not contacting a blogger who really wants nothing to do with outreach.
I strongly suggest you all follow Rob on Twitter, for great SEO and inbound marketing insights!
James is an Internet Marketing specialist, who regularly breaks the web and has his colleagues show him how to put it back together. You can find him on Twitter, or visit Vector Media Group, the company that occasionally feeds him.
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