Outreach emails are probably one of the biggest challenges faced by SEOs. In this post, I will run through how we write ‘high-conversion’ outreach emails. By conversion of course I mean getting them do take the desired action.
It all starts with a mindset…
- Don’t be afraid of email – you will get some people ignoring you and you will get some people saying no but don’t let it get to you
- You are trying to offer them value (you’d better be!!) so make sure the email conveys that – don’t pitch it as a favour or anything of the sort
- Put yourself in their shoes – don’t be like 99% of other linkbuilders, make the effort, respect their time and pitch something worthwhile
The humble subject line…
Keep it simple and focused on your message. In my experience mentioning anything about a link in the subject line is likely to get your message auto-filtered into spam or manually deleted by the recipient.
Try subject lines like…
- “Guest Post on YourSite.co.uk”
- “An infographic that may be of interest to you”
- “An issue with YourSite.com/resources”
It doesn’t hurt to swipe Copyblogger.com’s tips for more effective subject lines…Be Useful, Ultra-specific and Unique (that last one isn’t always possible when it comes to outreach emails).
*Be sure to look at their site guidelines as sometimes they require you to put a specific subject line e.g. “Guest Post Proposal” – complying with these guidelines infinitely helps your chances
Crafting a killer opening paragraph
Like a great album, your opening paragraph needs to be all killer no filler. There’s no need to promise the earth but you do need to attract and retain their attention. I find the most effective opening paragraphs cover 3 of the 5 Ws…
- Who am I
- Why am I sending this email to you
- What do I want
As much as we would all like to infinitely scale our outreach efforts, there is a certain amount of human input still required and the opening paragraph is one such instance.
Covering off the who am I statement is fairly easy and can be templated to save time, the other 2 Ws however, I always personalise.
One reason that we enjoy such a good response rate to our outreach emails is because we invest time in tailoring the opening paragraph to the recipient. To cover off the “why” in your opening paragraph I compliment (in a genuine way) a recent piece of work they did, article they wrote or comment on a piece of news that’s pertinent to them – something which makes them realise you haven’t just fired off this exact same email to hundreds of other people. There’s no need to go overboard but a pleasant remark which demonstrates you’ve paid an interest in them – remember we are all ego-centric people so a little ego-massaging to open the email can go a long way.
To complete the opening paragraph, I explain what it is that I would like from them AND how this could benefit them.
The cardinal rule of crafting a killer opening paragraph is that it respects the recipient’s time – they should get all the information they need to make up their mind whether to delete or read on for more details.
Don’t try and pitch content ideas in the opening paragraph unless you feel it is essential – I find most respond negatively to this practice as you can appear self-serving or presumptuous.
Persuasive body copy
We do write some outreach emails from scratch but we mainly personalise templates – this gives us a bit more scale. For example, when it comes to running guest posting campaigns, we have two templates that we use, template 1 has very proactive wording and is much more ‘sales’ focused, whilst template 2 has a softly-softly feel to it, being persuasive without being too hard sell. Both templates have their place and are useful in different industries and we continue to work feedback into both to improve them and roll out across all our campaigns.
Crafting proactive body copy
We find template 1 works best in industries that are familiar with the practice of guest posting – fast moving industries where website owners might receive multiple guest post requests each day. Our aim is not to convince them that guest posting is a good idea but explaining why they need a guest post from us.
We use the body copy to pitch two content ideas and a question to ask which they prefer – this is a little tactic I picked up from my days spent in sales and that is that you should give people a choice whereby they are in control but either way you get what you want. Psychologically you are encouraging them to pick a post which distracts them from the other option of whether to accept a guest post from you or not.
Another simple tactic is to make one of your post ideas really stand out (employing the power of contrast – eloquently explained here by Finch). In simple terms, this tactic involves making one idea a lot less interesting than the other, this helps the prospect make up their mind quicker which heightens the chance of a swift and positive response.
Crafting softly-softly body copy
In certain industries, guest posting is far less prevalent. Your prospect might have a vague idea of what guest posting is but you’ll need to explain it in more detail and you may need to hold their hand.
In this case, we will work from template 2 which pitches the content in a nice and easy format, no sales tactics as such just a bit of gentle persuasion interweaved into our explanation of the guest posting process as well as the type of content they can expect from us.
Regardless of the approach – we always explain the content idea being pitched rather than just a post title. It gives further opportunity to personalise e.g. suggesting an appropriate section on their site where the piece might fit or highlighting how the post supports or extends some other content they already have published.
Wrap up your email in a short but courteous fashion, if they’ve made it this far then you’ll also want to remind them what it is you want them to do. We have found some of the most effective closing statements centre around a question e.g. “Does this sound like something you would like to go ahead with?”. Or to be certain your prospect knows what the next step is, you could try a proactive statement like “Please let me know which post you would prefer and we can get started”.
What tactics do you use when persuading prospects in your outreach emails?