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Outreach is still undoubtedly one of the most challenging aspects of SEO since no two prospects are the same. Sadly there’s no blueprint for successful outreach, but there are a number of things you can do to make your life a lot easier – here are 5 ways we “reduce friction” in our communication with bloggers, publishers and website owners.
Do your homework
Much of the rest of these will fall into place if you do your homework on a prospect. We always think about it as this; you wouldn’t go into a sales meeting or an interview without knowing the name of the person, the company they work for and as much as you can about what they are looking for (in a supplier or a new employee).
Yet so many of us go into a link pitch not knowing basic facts about the individual.
There’s no need to overtly demonstrate your knowledge of the individual; e.g. “I saw last week you went to the dentist…” is essentially just creepy. A better use of the information available online would be perhaps: “I see you’ve just got back into the office so I don’t want to add any more pressure to your workload, perhaps I could contribute something to your blog this week and take that worry off your mind”.
We tend to focus our research (for high-value prospects) on what they do, what their role involves, what kinds of content do they like to share, what topics do they care about (at work and at home), their preferred method of contact (email or Twitter). This gives us nearly all the information that we need in order to build a pretty good picture of the individual and what pushes their buttons so that we can essentially talk their language and make the opportunity really relevant to them (see my points later in this post).
See this fantastic resource from Kelsey Libert on the BlueGlass blog for some additional reading – Required research for better blogger outreach.
Make sure it is a relevant opportunity
Leading on from doing your homework, it is vital that you ensure each prospect is ONLY being pitched an opportunity that is incredibly relevant and makes sense to them.
There are definitely nuances and subtleties to be observed when it comes to judging what is meant by relevant. They may be an environmental journalist, but do they cover more scientific stories and issues related to climate change rather than being interested in your infographic on how many cards are thrown away after Valentine’s Day?
Filling spreadsheets then pumping out emails isn’t a practice I recommend. It’s soul destroying, so pick your prospects carefully, look at the opportunity from their perspective and you’ll see much less resistance to what you are looking to achieve.
The ability to determine the relevance of an opportunity and presenting the prospect with something ultra-targeted to them will ensure you stand out from the 90 other people who emailed them that day.
Write a really good email
I have written before about crafting high-conversion outreach emails and there’s quite a bit that goes into each email. Obviously you are going to want to tailor this to the market that you are working in, not to mention tailoring the phrasing and the content to the prospect in question.
1. Subject line – very simple to do, so easy to get wrong. Keep it short, descriptive and non-spammy. And follow their guidelines (if they publish any).
2. Magnetic opener – in brief, cover the who, why and what. Who you are? Why are you emailing? And what are you looking to achieve? Follow the age-old news broadcast methodology of telling them what you are planning to tell them, so that you can then tell them in the body copy what you told them you’d tell them in the opener. Still with me? My point is, grab their attention for all the right reasons.
3. Persuasive body copy – You hooked your prospect, now you need to start leading them down the path to conversion. Your body copy needs to be succinct so as to not waste their valuable time yet comprehensive enough to ensure they know what you want from them and you’ve covered most of their queries. Put yourself in their shoes and consider what your main points of objection would be – then seek to cover these off.
4. Call to action closer – make sure they know what you want from them next. No vague end statement or causing confusion with what they are supposed to do.
It’s a mindset thing. Positive people get positive responses.
Never use words like ‘just’ which imply your email lacks importance. You are offering them the opportunity to be involved in something where they are going to benefit – so make sure they realise.
Have a reputation
That sounds as vague as “create great content” but bear with me here.
Successful outreach, particularly for securing coverage or placements on the bigger name websites in a market requires a solid reputation in the business.
Before, during and after outreach campaigns you need to be working on blogging, creating linkable assets and leveraging social media channels to promote yourself and your brand.
Even if you intend to use a persona for outreach, you should (particularly given a future online landscape that is likely to involve AuthorRank) identify ways you can nurture a reputation.
Speak their language
Obviously you will need to be able to literally speak their language, but this is a reference to figuratively speaking their language.
I’ve keenly studied the practice of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) a fascinating subject usually applied to sales techniques but well worth some of your time if you are involved in link building, content development or digital marketing as a whole.
NLP covers developing rapport with people by understanding the way their mind works from the words that they use; for example, if they often say things like “I see X being a problem” then we might perceive that person to be “visually” stimulated and we would therefore seek to mirror their language with “visual” language references to effectively speak their language.
In this situation we are talking about developing a rapport with someone through an email so you really will need to do your research. Given the amount of information available online, you should be able to find out what you need to in order to understand what makes your prospect tick.
Understand the issues that matter to them and how they present these issues perhaps via social media then look at working this kind of language use into your email in order to connect with them in a deeper sense than an individual who has just fired off a templated email pitch.
The views expressed in this post are those of the author so may not represent those of the Koozai team.
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