Why Good Email Outreach Matters (And How To Do It)
If you own a business, or are involved in its marketing activities, there’s a high probability that you receive a large number of unsolicited outreach emails on a daily basis.
You might wonder why your business receives these emails, why other businesses choose to send them, and if your business should consider adopting a similar strategy. In this article, we’ll discover how good outreach can be an asset to your business – and why bad outreach can be damaging to your reputation.
As you opened your email inbox this morning, you probably scrolled past at least a couple of outreach emails from other businesses or individuals. These emails are sent by those keen to use your website to promote their product, service or business.
In this article, we’re going to focus on how businesses use outreach to try and improve their overall SEO performance. In its most common form, this involves producing a piece of content on your website, and then reaching out to relevant websites and asking them to link to your article.
If implemented correctly, a good outreach strategy can be a useful tool at your disposal. You can build brand recognition and authority, but most importantly, it can be used to acquire backlinks which will improve the overall strength of your website’s domain.
However, as with any marketing tactic, we frequently see examples of bad outreach. This can have the opposite effect on your business – it can result in lots of wasted time and investment, and even cause reputational damage.
Benefits of good outreach
Let’s look at why businesses use email outreach in the first place.
An integral part of any SEO strategy is backlink acquisition. A significant proportion of the SEO strength of your website is based on its backlink profile. In other words – which websites are linking to yours? Are they relevant to your location or niche? Are they considered authoritative and respected by your peers? As part of your backlink acquisition strategy, you should consider how you plan to encourage other websites to link to yours.
One way to encourage those links is to produce an informative article on your website. Ideally, the topic should be carefully researched to make sure it has sufficient search volume, is relevant to your niche, and that you can produce a truly stunning piece of content which stands out for all the right reasons. Importantly, you should also identify which publications would actually link to your finished piece.
From start to finish, the content development process is a time-consuming one – but it gives you the foundation for your outreach strategy.
Once you have your content, and after promoting it on your social channels, it is time for the outreach phase. Armed with your list of outreach targets, you can then start the process of sending emails and encouraging them to link to your article.
As you begin to acquire relevant, strong external links, your backlink profile improves. Your target audience and other publications become aware of your brand. You build mutually beneficial relationships with other businesses. You receive glowing PR for the great content you’ve produced.
Sounds easy, right?
The benefits of good outreach are clear – but good outreach isn’t easy. In fact, it’s so easy to take a wrong turn at any step of the process. I can vouch for that last point, because I receive poorly targeted emails every day which demonstrate that many people simply do not know how to do outreach properly.
What is bad outreach?
It would be pretty simple to define ‘bad outreach’ as outreach that doesn’t achieve its stated goals. Let’s imagine that you have produced an article, you send 250 outreach emails, and you get zero external links as a result.
In the scenario we mentioned above, it would be important to think about why these 250 recipients decided not to link to your website. Usually, when someone tells me about failed outreach efforts by agencies they have worked with in the past, the failure can be attributed to one of these four reasons:
- Poor choice of topic. The topic you focused on is too broad, too specific or simply irrelevant.
- Poor execution of content. The topic choice is good, but your content is simply not worthy of being linked to – it isn’t exceptional enough to warrant those links.
- Poor choice of outreach target. The topic choice and content execution are great, but the recipient is not a good target for outreach. Perhaps your email didn’t make it to the right person, or the company you’re reaching out to just doesn’t engage with outreach emails.
- Poor execution of outreach email. The topic choice, content execution and outreach target are great – but your outreach email fell flat. Perhaps your email didn’t grab their attention, or it sounded like a cookie-cutter template you had sent to the other 249 recipients.
A 0 for 250 strike rate is obviously unsuccessful outreach, but it’s also harmful for your business. This is what puts it into the bad outreach category.
Think about it – as part of this process, you have likely spent hours producing content and working on the outreach itself. Even when it is done correctly, outreach takes time. With little to show for your efforts, those hours are wasted and could have been spent on more productive and profitable tasks for your business. It is even worse if you have outsourced the work to an agency and are paying them for the privilege of achieving nothing.
But even more damaging than the lost man hours or effect on your bottom line, bad outreach can actually hurt the perception of your business. You’ve had 250 interactions as part of your outreach campaign. Of course, some of these emails may have ended up in spam folders or remain unread in an inbox. But for those that glanced over your email, you have lost an opportunity to engage with them and build a relationship.
If your outreach execution is extremely bad – by this, I mean your targeting is so poor that your target is wondering why on earth they are receiving your email – it reflects very poorly on the professionalism of your business. This can really affect your opportunities for partnerships and growth in the future.
How to succeed with good outreach
Given that it can be easy to take a wrong turn at any stage of the process, it makes sense to take care and attention at every step. The principles of successful outreach are simple enough, but to get the most of your campaigns, it is essential to follow a few ground rules.
- Research your topic. You should be identifying content opportunities as part of your overall SEO strategy, but there are some topics which make better candidates for outreach campaigns. Hitting the sweet spot of high search volume and low keyword difficulty isn’t strictly necessary here. Working on a topic which will bring value to your target audience – in addition to those you are reaching out to – is the most important factor to consider here. You should analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the existing content around your chosen topic.
- Create exceptional content. Rand Fishkin pioneered the concept of 10x content, and it really is an essential ingredient to set your work apart from your rivals, particularly when you’re thinking from an outreach perspective. After all, why would someone link to your piece? What makes your content interesting or different? Is it visually compelling? Is there original research contained in it? Are you offering an expert opinion from a respected source? These are all angles you can work with to create truly incredible content.
- Refine your outreach target list. There are a lot of automated and not-so-automated ways to do outreach. At True Boost Digital, we take a hybrid approach, but we do place a huge emphasis on manually refining our targets to get the best results. One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to outreach is trying to cast the widest net and blasting out thousands of outreach emails to an unrefined target list. Your campaigns will be more successful if you spend time honing your targets, rather than adopting a scattergun approach.
- Tailor your outreach email. It’s pretty common to see outreach efforts fall at the final hurdle – namely, the outreach email. I’m not saying you should write individual emails to everyone on your target list, as there is obviously a time consideration in play here. But don’t fall into the trap of copy/pasting someone else’s successful template and sending out the same outreach email every single time. Make it personal where you can (a Woodpecker study of 20 million outreach emails found that personalization can have a significant impact on response rates). Ensure the outreach email is as compelling as your content. Outline the value of your content to your target and their audience. Consider the subject line. Run tests to see if certain emails and subject lines are more successful than others. But please, please, please – please! – do not just copy/paste a template you saw online and assume it will be successful.
I was compelled to write this article because we, and our clients, receive so many bad outreach emails every single day. Usually, it isn’t even the content itself that is poor – we don’t even get that far. It is clear that the targeting for the outreach campaign hasn’t been refined, or that the email is obviously a template which needed greater care and attention.
Conducting a successful outreach campaign is not easy. These campaigns are time-consuming – and it takes work to get it right. By following the points outlined in this article, you’ll give your next outreach campaign the best chance of succeeding.
At True Boost Digital, we are constantly refining our outreach processes to achieve the best results for our clients – from the content planning phase to the outreach itself, each of our client campaigns are carefully planned to achieve success.
Contact us today if you’d like us to review one of your recent outreach campaigns, if you’d like us to help with a future campaign!
We strive to help small and medium-size businesses achieve their goals through a combination of digital strategy, brand optimization and high-quality content.