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Published July 6th 2020

How to Improve Your Email Outreach Effectiveness

For every marketing campaign you need a solid email outreach strategy. Ann Smarty shows how to use backlink tools, influencers & more to maximize outreach.

Email outreach is part of about just any marketing campaign, be it a link building or influencer marketing.

It is also the toughest and the most tedious of all marketing tasks.

Wouldn’t you want to make it more effective and productive?

I cannot imagine anyone saying “no” to this question.

So here’s what we do to make our email outreach more effective:

Diversify Your Searching Tools

One of the most frequent mistakes of any link building outreach is using a single tool to find contacts each time.

Whether you are using Google or any other tools to find people who may link to your content, you are always confined to the index of that platform and the way you are searching.

The more you venture out of those confines, the more opportunities you are likely to find. Here are a few ideas:

Use BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is always the first content research tool I am using in my outreach campaigns. Its “Authors” tool inside the “Influencers” section offers an immediate list of top authors on your topic.

Use Google Search Options

Google offers a variety of searching options to diversify your link outreach tactics. One of my favorite tools is Google’s “Time” search allowing you to filter results to fresher or older documents.

I always go back a couple of years back to find articles on my topic. This is a great way to find outdated articles whose authors won’t mind linking to newer data. It is also a great way to find broken links that may need fixing (so your email will have higher chances to be acted upon).

To use the option:

  • Search Google for your target topic
  • Click “Tools” underneath the search box
  • Select “Custom date range”
  • Set your date range to go back 2-3 years
  • Experiment with your date range settings to find more documents

I wouldn’t normally go too far back as those old documents may have been stale for a few years and I’d like those authors to still be active and responsive.

Use Backlink Research Tools

Once you have exhausted the above two methods, try approaching the task from a different angle: See who is linking to similar content.

BuzzSumo’s backlink research tool is where you’d want to start: Just enter an article (preferably an older one) and reach out to authors linking to it:

There are more backlink research tools (both free and paid) to continue building your list. Here’s also a detailed guide on spying on your competitors and their links for you to pick up more ideas.

When approaching this group of contacts, try and identify if there’s anything new your own content is bringing to the table. Personally, I receive a lot of these emails and I never react to “My content is better / fresher / more in-depth” than the one you are linking to.

This is just home work done poorly.

Give me something interesting: How is your article different and why should I take the trouble to add your link alongside the one I already have?

Some examples of these selling points include:

  • New studies / data contradicting previously stated theories / tactics
  • New tools solving previously unsolved problems
  • Your own original research or study (even if you did a free survey using Google Forms or something similar)
  • Creative visualizations of some related data (here are some tools to create those)
  • Content reflecting new trends (Here’s how to use Google Trends for that)

Overall your linkable asset creation process should be much different from your overall customer-centric content creation process, but focusing on adding something completely new and original.

Do Your Research Prior to Reaching Out

I know most people in the middle of an outreach campaign may want to get done as fast as possible: That’s not the most exciting task to be engaged with.

Yet, doing your homework is crucial, especially now that bloggers and journalists are bombarded with PR pitch emails on a daily basis. It is hard to stand out in the crowd of those emails, and personalizing all you can is likely to do the trick.

I have already mentioned BuzzSumo’s author research tool above: Do use it before approaching any blogger or journalists. Knowing what they have been recently writing and where will give you some solid ideas as to how to approach them better.

Besides that, here are a few more things you can do:

  • Find and follow each author on Twitter (this will make your name vaguely familiar when you email). I never try to connect on Facebook as this is a more personal platform but Twitter always helps.
  • Try and find their personal site. Most journalists have portfolio sites offering alternative ways to contact them. I always have better luck reaching out through those.
  • Always check their LinkedIn profiles: While I never use the platform for reaching out, it is a great contact research tool as I may have common contacts with that author, so I’ll ask for a personal intro.

Scale What Your Can

If you find yourself cringing at the thought that any part of an email outreach campaign should or can be scaled or automated, you haven’t probably done enough of them.

Perhaps, you can afford to handle everything through copy-pasting your contact and typing a new message if you do 10-20 emails a day. And you can probably do manual follow-ups by finding all those emails in your “Sent” folder and seeing which ones had no response.

And looking back, you can probably evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign by remembering that you heard back from 1-2 of those bloggers, your success rate was 10%-20%

But let’s face it, even if you do get one link from that effort, it will not make much difference as far as your site traffic or rankings are concerned.

If you really need results, you’ll have to send hundreds of emails and you may find yourself looking for a person (or several people) to help you with some parts of that process. And yes, more often than not, you’ll start looking for tools to make your outreach strategy actually doable and possible to account for.

At IMN we are using lots of internally-developed tools for that allowing us to craft a well-informed and effective link building process.

But if you handle your outreach at home, here are a few tools to help make your outreach campaign possible to implement:

Monitor Your (and Your Team’s) Email Productivity

Email Analytics helps you track your and your team’s progress and productivity. It shows how many emails are being sent and how quickly your team responds to emails. It provides daily and weekly email activity reports allowing you to spot areas that need your attention:

The tool also keeps track of all the email addresses your team has interacted with, so you can keep your own record of contacts being built.

Of course, if you are managing a huge team and large outreach campaigns, you may need more integrated project management solutions, like Nextiva or Zoho. But if you manage a team of 1-5 people, those may not be needed as they require much bigger budgets and offer many more features than you may require.

Find Contacts Easier

BuzzSumo has a great outreach tool: the Media Database that can help you track down, research and contact journalists.

It reveals journalist interests, topics they most commonly write about, their most popular articles, their tweet feed and loads of other great reach metrics to help you find the best, most relevant publishers to contact.

If you’re on a paid plan, you can extract emails at scale to plug-in to your CRM and automate your outreach. Plans start from $95, but otherwise you can copy and paste contact details manually.

Hunter is a freemium Google Chrome extension helping you locate contact information on any website and it works very well. However, it is more of an additional method than my primary way of finding contact information but is still handy to have.

Again, don’t 100% rely on it but keep it running to make your (and your team’s) lives easier.

Send Follow-ups

As the one who usually received 2-3 obviously automated follow-ups a day, I say: Don’t overdo with these. But there’s no denying the fact that follow-ups work and are necessary evil to any outreach campaigns. And no, you cannot possibly send them manually.

Llemlist is one tool that seems to get creative and personal follow-ups. You can create images and videos and the tool will personalize them with the addressee’s name. It may be a trick, but I have found it hard to resist:

Monitor Your Backlinks

Obviously, your efforts are only as effective as your progress monitoring process. BuzzSumo has a backlink monitoring feature as well as brand alerts both of those are must-haves for an effective link building management strategy.

Apart from that, use your on-site analytics solutions to spot backlinks that actually send traffic. I use Finteza to monitor how effective my links are. You can easily select any of your referring domains and see how the visitors it sends is interacting with sales funnel and CTAs:

And not all links are public or can be caught by the monitoring tools: There are lots of links added to private dashboards and wikis that still send high-quality traffic. A good outreach always results in those, and if it does, it speaks volumes of the quality and usefulness of your content.

Keep in Touch with Your Linking Contact

Finally, the overwhelming majority of outreach campaigns are missing this step: Keep in touch.

Your cold email may have landed at the wrong moment when your contact doesn’t have time to edit a link or when they are not ready to pay attention. But they may still link if you keep reminding them of yourself.

And if you think of it, one link is not (or rather should not be) your goal. Long-lasting relationships with publishers and bloggers are much more valuable. Interacting with niche linking contacts is a good way to keep an eye on various trends, marketing opportunities and new promotion ideas.

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