In this post I’ll be listing a few “rules” I go by when writing out any outreach emails. You might want to email a business or website with the goal of promoting some content, or offering to create content that they’d like with the ultimate goal of gaining a backlink to your site. Or perhaps you want to email someone like a blogger or influencer, with the hope of collaborating on a project.
Email outreach is something almost everyone will need to do for one reason or another.
I’d like to say I have a magic formula to guarantee replies, but that would be a slight overclaim. What I do have however, is some advice on how to craft your email to maximise your chances of a response, things that work for me.
Firstly though, just what is email outreach?
What is email outreach?
Email outreach is an activity where one contacts another online via email. The goal of an outreach email is usually at least one of the following:
- Promoting a piece of content
- Forming a partnership or collaboration
- Gaining a backlink
How many you should send is down to you and your goals of course. You might have a couple of businesses you want to work with so of course you’ll just have a couple to send.
Or perhaps you have a big list of websites you think would be interested in what you have to offer, such as a cool survey study with an interesting infographic that’s relevant to what they do that they could share, and so you’ll have many emails to send. The rates of which people open emails (let alone reply), are notoriously low, so you might be needing to email a vast amount of websites.
So how can you boost your chances of a response to your email?
Personalise your emails
It’s always a good idea to make sure you address your email to the right contact name. If there’s no contact name to be found, I would usually just say “Hello,” or similar.
I'd try to avoid introductions such as “To whom this concerns” or “Dear Sir/Madam” as they can sound too 'spammy', and will likely be ignored or deleted. I’ve certainly had no problems getting replies to emails that just start ‘Hello,’.
Don’t sound like a generic robot
Tone of voice is important. I’ve found that using a friendly and relaxed tone to be more successful than trying to sound too business-like. We all have a natural detection for spammy-looking emails and they can be dismissed fairly quickly if they sound too corporate..
However, be careful not to overdo the informality. Be prepared to make adjustments according to the company you’re contacting, and who you’re representing. You may work for a company with quite a formal tone of voice, so it might be best to stick to that.
Offer value in your first interaction & say what you like about their site
Point out any issues on their site, such as broken links or content that looks out of date. If you can’t see any glaring errors, give them some positive feedback such as why you like a certain piece of content of theirs. Maybe there’s a content gap you can see that you can fill.
Be specific, and be genuine.
Be open to their ideas
Make suggestions for how you want to contribute to their site or whatever your goal may be, but invite them to build on your thoughts e.g. “Perhaps you might have some ideas of your own?”.
In our experience at Semantic, most clients and partners like to work collaboratively and welcome the chance to bounce ideas around.
Don’t ask for a link! (in the opening email at least)
If it’s links you’re looking for, don’t ask for one in your opening email. It’s a given in this whole process, and mentioning it in this opening exchange has the power to automatically make people switch off.
Just because you don’t mention getting a link in the first place doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. Resist the temptation.
Try to keep emails short, sharp, and to the point
I always try my best to keep any email as concise as possible. You don’t want to risk anyone drifting off in an email. It’s hard enough to get people’s attention as it is, so try to keep it lean!
In a nutshell: Personalise your email. Cut out the flab. Be helpful, friendly, and genuine.