Outreach is essential for any SEO and online business to partake in. If conducted correctly, it is the key to all successful campaigns. You may think that outreach is relatively easy and takes very little time. If this is the case, then you are mistaken. For you to have any success with outreach you need to be prepared. Preparation is paramount to a successful outreach campaign. Here’s why: Outreach is intertwined with creating the content. Before planning the content creation, it is imperative that you first research:
Developing a long-term strategy will aid you in organising your campaign. Through doing so, you are ensuring that your efforts are not wasted. You will also save time in the long-run because you will improve your response rate through your research.
These are the people that are going to have a major influence over your outreach campaign. You need to know what it is that you need to achieve. Research who your campaign is likely to affect and identify your target niche. This will allow you to pin-point exactly who you will need to contact later on. There are a variety of free tools available on the internet which enable you to discover key information, such as the topics your target audience are discussing; trends of questions that are commonly asked; how your industry is being talked about on the web and gain inspiration for content that is relevant to current news. These include:
Finding your niche for your outreach campaign is essential. How will you ever be able to develop a successful campaign without knowing your target audience inside and out? You need to know what your audience wants from you. Use any available market research gathered from when you built your brand alongside information gathered from the resources above. Embrace your target audience and learn everything you need to know about them.
You will need to assemble a list of potential candidates to whom you can pitch your campaign. Consider anyone involved in participating content (i.e. interviews); anyone associated with or affected by the suggested content; anyone who has previously participated in producing content (i.e. quotes); anyone who is influential within the particular industry and anyone who you think you can benefit from building a relationship with. Creating a list with the names of these potential contacts will give you a basis to work from. With outreach, you should always target specific contacts based upon those who are more likely to be receptive. This is an important factor that often gets ignored. Whether you are planning on contacting bloggers or journalists, it is important that you are clued up on everything that that particular person specialises in. Avidly following and engaging in their work will pay off very quickly. They will soon notice that you are becoming a familiar face: one who not only regularly comments on and shares their work, but someone who also engages in asking them questions based upon conflicting theories. Build a rapport with your contact so that they know that your interest is genuine. Treat them like a friend because you will soon need them to be.
After the work you have put into building a relationship with your chosen contacts, it would be a shame to fall at this hurdle. Forgetting to use your new contacts would be a waste. Organising your contacts and their details will make outreach a lot easier when you get to it. Not only will it save you time, but it will also enable you to keep track of who you have contacted and how many attempts you have made. A number of tools are available to help make this process simple. These include:
You may wonder why Google Docs and Excel are recommended for this. Who doesn’t have Google Docs or Excel? The answer: very few people. They are readily available and really easy to use. A basic spreadsheet with their details will keep you on track. All you need is the contacts’:
This is especially useful when it comes to sending follow up emails, because you can add columns highlighting your outreach attempts (see example below). Simply highlight cells red or green depending on whether your outreach attempts have been successful or not. Use this simple technique to keep yourself ahead of the game so you can always be prepared. Organising your contacts effectively will keep you ahead of the game – exactly where you need to be. A database collating all your contacts and their information in one place will be your biggest, most precious resource. Without it, your outreach will soon prove to be an impossible task.
There is always a particular day or time when people do not appreciate being contacted – journalists especially. What you have to remember is that bloggers and journalists are busy people. They receive hundreds of emails every day, nearly 50% of which are deleted upon delivery. This is true to most industries, so emailing your pitch at the optimum time of day is bound to improve your outreach. Here are the times you should avoid:
No one ever appreciates emails on Monday mornings, especially not when your inbox is overflowing with emails from your boss and clients from over the weekend. Likewise, never send your pitch out on a Friday because inboxes are bombarded with unnecessary panic emails ready for the weekend – another time to avoid. Believe it or not, but you would be wise to avoid emailing during the mid-morning too. It significantly reduces your chances of a response. So when is the optimum time to send your pitch? You are more likely to be successful with outreach during the middle of the week, before 9am. Outreaching before the working day is due to start is considered as considerate. Not only that, but it tends to come as a surprise. Grabbing their attention is exactly what you need. Before emailing your contact, always be aware of time zones, especially if you are doing a national or international outreach.
Pitching is the stage where most people fail. Detailed emails with a hefty amount of data are never successful. Short and concise emails – no more than four lines – are the ones that receive feedback. Never construct your pitch around ‘asking for a favour’ or ‘getting exposure for a deserving cause’. Why? Most of the emails industries receive are asking for a favour or exposure for deserving causes. If you want to stand out from the crowd, follow these guidelines:
By following these guidelines, you should begin to see you response rates increase. Here is an example of how to structure your pitch:
Hi [Blogger’s/Journalists name],
I am conducting an expert round up on my website and I think people new to SEO, like myself, would love to know your answer to this question:
If you could only use 3 SEO tools for link building, which 3 tools would you use and why?
Of course, I will include a link back to your site.
Don’t give up if you never receive feedback because you will never get a 100% response rate. Aim for a respectful ratio of 1:3 replies to your emails. If you don’t receive a response from your contact, schedule a follow up email. Bear in mind that you must always wait five days before it is acceptable for you to follow up. Why? Simply because it is considered as basic etiquette. As a rule of thumb, you always have three attempts to outreach. The first two attempts should nearly always be via email. It isn’t until your third and final attempt where you can try contacting them through a social media platform or by phone. Just remember that you will never get your campaign off the ground without a decent social media presence. Outreach can be a particularly daunting subject, especially if you are new to the concept. With a good amount of preparation and research your outreach campaign can’t go far wrong. So what are you waiting for? Start your outreach process now and get a taste of success.