Email outreach is scary, isn't it? Heck, I know! I get the chills every time I have to reach out to a stranger to simply make a new friend, let alone to ask for something – a review, a collaboration or even just an opinion.
Whether you outreach to build relationships, promote your site, grow awareness of your product, for link building or guest posting, to invite people to an event etc., you have to be aware of the initial obstacle that email outreach forces upon you:
Human beings are diffident. We raise strong shields against strangers who may become a threat to us.
That's normal and it's a safety measure. Without it, our species would have extinguished already.
You don't have to fight diffidence – you have to make sure that protective shield will naturally lower as the other person reads your message and realizes that you are a friend, not a foe.
The 4 secret ingredients to avoid diffidence are:
A friendly tone, void of any hype
A you-first approach, instead of a me-first approach
A message that doesn't ask without providing a return
A message that emphasizes friendship and is void of opportunistic subtleties
The key is learning how to do this in practice.
Real life example
5 Bloggers Share Their Successful Outreach Messages
I asked five bloggers to share the outreach messages that worked best for them.
If you'll notice, and no matter the purpose of the message, they all contain secret ingredients to avoid diffidence.
Asking Someone to Share Your Work Inspired by Theirs
Real life sample #1
Cormac Reynolds from MyOnlineMarketer.co.uk shares:
Hey [First Name],
I was poking around today and came across your article: [Mentioned Content Title] ([Mentioned Content URL]).
I noticed that you mentioned (Topic) tips (URL of Competitor) on the page. I also love that article.
In fact, it inspired us to create a more thorough and actionable version also updated for 2015: (URL of Client to Promote)
Would it be OK to pass it along? I’d love to get your opinion on it.
Either way, keep up the good work with [Their Site Name]
Cormac emphasizes the inspiring role of the blogger he reaches out to and he adds value (the improved version of his competitor's article) that may spark his interlocutor's interest.
Finally, he asks – respectfully – for an honest opinion and if the blogger would be so kind to pass it along, but making it clear that he wouldn't think less of the blogger's work if the blogger decides otherwise.
I found your traffic case studies compilation a couple months ago. Great post! I don’t even remember how many times I’ve recommended it to people.
The post itself actually inspired [me] to write my own traffic generation case study.
By the way, if you’re still updating the list… I think my case study will be a great fit. It’s about how I increased my traffic by 419% in 90 days. Mind if I send you the link?
Darmawan doesn't only tell the blogger how much their case study inspired him, but he adds facts and data, that will tell the blogger “hey, I'm not going to share fluff!” but something of value instead.
Asking Someone to Write a Review
David Leonhardt, president of THGM Writers, shares an outreach message that worked for him:
You might know me as @Amabaie on Twitter and on [other sites]. I am putting together a list of blogs to do reviews of one or more of the products from [client URL] . Is this a good fit for your audience?
They will provide samples for you to taste. We will, of course, promote the review in social media. This campaign is just with 5-6 blogs, and we hope to do 1 or 2 Rafflecopter draws with the biggest blogs involved. The owners are also open to somehow factoring charity into the equation.
I would love to know if you would be interested in participating.
David's message is open and genuine. He doesn't use any kind of push, but he explains, honestly, what the review is about, who it is for and how the process would work.
I’d love to submit my case study on the following topic:
xxxxxxx (PUT YOUR TOPIC HERE)
Does this sound like it would be a good fit for xxxxxx? (PUT THE NAME OF THE SITE)
Cheers xxxxx (PUT YOUR NAME)
Bill's message is more direct than the other examples, he goes immediately to the core of the communication and asks if the blogger would be interested in accepting a case study for their blog (in other words, a guest post).
While this direct approach may not work every time (remember what I said about diffidence?), it can work with influencers who prefer concise, to-the-point communications in their busy schedules and just want to know if you have something of value for them to publish.
In this sense, short pitches like Bill Achola's work better than longer messages.
By focusing on a framework, we can get away from using overly templated emails which perform poorly.
Pre-outreach – connect with the person you want to reach out to later through social networks, blog comments and other channels.
Personalize – make your email personal, as a minimum you should use the person’s name. Including the name in the subject works well too.
Help – do something to help out the person you’re contacting and let them know. E.g. sharing one of their posts with your audience.
The ask – make it clear what you want them to do for you.
Help again – let them know how agreeing to your ask will help them in the long run. E.g. instead of asking to contribute to their blog, offer to write a post that their audience will love.
Sign off – make it easy for people you email to find out more about you. An email signature is a good way to do this.
Two Outreach Experiments
I say “experiments” because I rarely outreach via email without having built a relationship first, but there are times when I can't avoid it and it's a risk-it-or-lose-it kind of situation.
Here is what I did and the results I obtained.
1. List Building and Outreach Via Blog Comments
Because as I write it's the week before Christmas, I'm working on new posts for two of my writing blogs. Both posts would lose out too much if I made them self-referential, so I planned to reach out to other bloggers, writers and marketers this week and ask them if they're willing to leave feedback or contribute a bit of their story.
As I read posts on two blogs I follow in each niche, I got in touch with some of the commenters to start a relationship and ask for feedback.
Note: I didn't email every commenter, but only people whom I felt I could build a relationship with.
I am the shy type when it comes to outreach and I rarely use templates for my emails, but since I had to invite people in addition to starting a relationship, I took courage and sent out friendly emails.
For the first writing blog, I wrote to invite bloggers and writers to contribute their story for an inspiring post I'm readying for January.
This is the partial template I used:
How's your day?
I'm Luana, a fan and subscriber at [Blogger]'s [ExampleBlog.com].
I saw your comment on [Post URL].
I have a question to ask. :) You see, I'm working on a blog post for my blog to publish early next year. [Here I explain what the post is about and how I need other voices to make it truly inspiring]
Would you like to contribute your [story/advice/tip]? :)
Thanks for reading this! Hope we can talk soon.
Best, Luana Spinetti [my blog URL]
(Yes, I use plenty of smilies in my emails!)
In the case of the second writing blog, one that I haven't launched yet, I emailed people to know what they think about an idea and how they would see it work in their marketing plan.
I'm Luana, a huge fan and follower of [Blogger's name] and I see that you also commented on [Blogger]'s [POST].
Since it was about developing content ideas, I was wondering if you could give me an opinion about a project I'm developing: how would you see [idea] work in your niche – and how it would help in coming up with new ideas for your editorial calendar.
I'm developing on a blog about it, but I really need some insight.
Thanks for reading this and glad we met through [Blogger]'s blog! :)
– Luana Spinetti
As you may notice, I offered something in both outreach messages:
In the first case, the writer who decides to contribute to my post gets their name and website displayed on my page, that means publicity.
In the second case, the person gets to think about an idea they may have not thought about before, one that may benefit them later or inspire them to work in that particular area. While the benefit here is not immediate, it turns into an opportunity in the long run.
Whether you ask for an opinion or to contribute to your article, emphasize their benefits (or the community's benefits), not yours.
I received friendly and encouraging feedback on both messages, and what's more important, the acceptance of my attempt to start a relationship.
I know I'm going to keep in touch with these wonderful writers from now on, because of the connection made.
2. List Building and Outreach Via LinkedIn
While the first experiment saw me reaching out to strangers, in this case I used a platform (LinkedIn) to reach out to existing contacts.
And it was to ask them what they think about the crazy SEO challenge I wrote about here at WHSR in September. In fact, my goal was to see the reaction and get feedback from people who are either pro or against my effort.
My outreach message was short and sweet:
Hi [Name]! :)
How have you been? Getting ready for the Christmas holidays here.
I have a little (well, not very!) but crazy blog post to share with you, one that I wrote a few months ago but that was well received on socials.
While Marius' post is packed full with the advice from real world experience; Will also shares a step-by-step method to outreach and follow up without the risk of forgetting who you contacted, who replied and who acted upon your message.
Takeaway (and a Success Hint)
Always have something to offer when you email other bloggers.
Whether that’s a freebie or an idea or an opinion, always make the other person feel special – and that it's because they're special that you spent some of your time to put together an email just for them.
How do you reach out to bloggers via email?
About Luana Spinetti
Luana Spinetti is a freelance writer and artist based in Italy, and a passionate Computer Science student. She has a high-school diploma in Psychology and Education and attended a 3-year course in Comic Book Art, from which she graduated on 2008. As multi-faceted a person as she is, she developed a big interest in SEO/SEM and Web Marketing, with a particular inclination to Social Media, and she’s working on three novels in her mother-tongue (Italian), which she hopes to indie publish soon.