Everyone is crazy about link building and outreach these days, and for good reason too!
Do it right and it’ll have a huge impact on your business.
You increase your website traffic, improve your SEO, and increase your brand awareness. Moreover, you widen your network in your niche and develop long-term business relationships.
It’s a great strategy no matter how you look at it. Plus, higher popularity will get your brand better credibility and reputation.
Specialists make link building and email outreach seem like magic. But with enough research and planning, it’s quite straightforward.
However, before you start using it, it’s crucial to set proper expectations. It’s easy to get discouraged if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.
With that in mind, we made a quick list with the useful tips we’ll talk about:
- How many emails do you need to send?
- What kinds of replies should you expect?
- What is a good open/response rate?
So, let’s get started!
Email outreach is a numbers game
Like any other marketing campaign, outreach is very much a numbers game.
That’s why you shouldn’t get discouraged if you happen to get 0 replies out of 10 emails you’ve sent.
Remember that it’s not necessarily your fault.
Most of the time, even if people see an email they’re interested in, chances are they are so busy they forget to reply. And this is where the art of following up comes into play.
In general, the more people you reach out to, the higher the chances you get a response from them.
However, you should always check your time investment and see if all this is worth it.
If, by any means, you feel that manually searching for leads becomes a pain point, then it’s time to rethink your strategy.
Look into software or tech that can help you simplify this process and make it more efficient.
Time is money, so why not save both?
What’s the difference between ordinary and extraordinary?
Putting in a little “extra”, of course!
When you don’t know what you’re doing, it may be tempting to use an email template for your outreach pitches.
If you think no one will spot your template and decide to send it anyway, you might have an unpleasant surprise.
Because it’s very noticeable.
The truth is that many outreach emails have a similar format (more or less), so using them might get you bad results.
“Hope your week is going well. I wanted to get in touch because…”
“I really loved your article”
Not everyone wants the same thing, so why offer them a copy-pasted pitch in the first place?
Strive to wow your recipients with a unique and personalized email that will show you have put some effort into your email and have something valuable to offer.
Choose your tribe wisely
Impressing and pleasing everyone is impossible.
So, instead of targeting everyone, try and limit your campaign only to those people that are relevant to you. Otherwise, things might take a wrong, unexpected turn.
Simply put, if an influencer with no authority in your niche suddenly starts promoting your business, their audience will feel it. And chances are they won’t like it.
Plus, they will question both the influencer’s integrity and the quality of your services.
Knowing that you cannot (and shouldn’t) target everyone is quite liberating. Because only then can you truly focus on quality sites that can offer you value in terms of exposure and link juice.
The right people will make your business bloom and give your brand a strong online presence.
So, narrow your target audience and make your email pitch relevant.
By default, generic emails are easy to spot and usually they convey 1 of 3 messages:
- you don’t care much about clients
- you don’t value your business partners
- you didn’t do your research about other people’s business
Personalize your offer, and always make sure you provide value in return.
But how do you do that?
“Your first draft is going to be bad”
Hemingway’s words, not ours.
Even Charles Bukowski’s poetry was rejected thousands of times before an editor from a small independent publishing house took an interest in it.
At some point, Bukowski also advised people “Don’t try”, but he was a writer, not a businessman.
You can learn two things from this:
- Don’t feel discouraged when someone doesn’t answer you back.
- Don’t take business advice from Bukowski.
Instead, try a lot and try hard. But don’t feel bad just because your first pitches aren’t perfect.
By trial and error, you’ll find out what people reply to, what deals sound best for both parties, and what is defined as a strong “no” when it comes to approaching potential opportunities.
Are there any specific offers that people are more inclined to respond to?
Does it seem like a certain style and tone attract more replies?
Over time, you’ll learn what works best and your outreach will improve.
The importance of follow-up emails
Just because they didn’t answer doesn’t mean you should lose hope. It may seem like a pushy strategy, but it doesn’t work that way.
People can become busy all of a sudden and might forget about your business offer.
Yes, even if it sounds perfect!
That’s why every follow-up is an opportunity for your contacts to see and reply to your email. Plus, every email you send increases your chances to get a reply, so you have nothing to lose.
However, do not underestimate the power of balance. Don’t follow-up only once, but don’t overdo it either by sending your contact 10 emails.
Generally speaking, specialists agree that sending around 2-3 follow-up emails is enough to increase your open/reply rates. Any more and you are entering the domain of diminishing returns.
Expect negative replies, and don’t take them personally
Not getting many replies is one thing you can expect. The other is negative replies.
Ideally, people will all respond positively to your outreach emails.
But, you are bound to catch some people at the wrong time. They may respond “No,” “Unsubscribe”, “Stop”, or, on occasion, some less kind words.
Once in a while, you’ll come across someone that sees your email as too spammy or annoying. From their perspective, it’s just another email that’s requesting services without anything good to give back. They automatically think it’s their right to teach you a lesson. There are chances that these people will say unkind, and even rude things to you.
In these situations, try as much as possible not to respond.
Truth is that witty, impolite, or offensive comebacks may do more harm than good to your brand image. In fact, statistics show that clients are 33% more inclined to switch brands after a disrespectful comeback.
In other cases, people might want money from you in exchange for a guest post, a backlink, or a shoutout.
Sponsored posts are par for the course and a frequent response in certain industries where bloggers are more of a profession than a hobby (like the travel industry). Ultimately, whether or not you are budgeting for paid links, guest posts, or sponsorships is completely up to you.
What are the most frequent open/reply rates?
Well, the answer is not set in stone.
Studies show that the open/reply rates usually depend on various things:
- Did you send a basic template to everyone?
- How many contacts did you send your offer to?
- If you sent a customized email, how well did you personalize it?
From our experience, we’ve noticed that our metrics varied somewhere around 35-40% for the open rate, and 2-5% for the reply rate. And that varies, depending on things like how personalized the outreach emails are and the pitch.
How can you improve the open/reply rate?
You should always consider these 3 important factors:
- subject line
For example, let’s decide that you want to contact up to 50 prospects.
The chances for your contacts to respond to an advanced personalized email are two times higher (18%) than if you send just a simple template (9%).
Not to mention that the same study shows that a customized subject line will improve your chances to get a reply from your prospects by 10%.
That’s kind of a big difference, right from the start.
Make deliverability your top priority
Making sure your emails reach your contacts’ inboxes is essential for your campaign. Otherwise, everything you’ve done was for nothing.
If you don’t protect your sending domain, or if you send too many emails, or get too many bounced emails, you’ll hit the spam folder.
Seriously thinking about your email deliverability is a must.
So, this is why you should start “warming up” your domain gradually. Don’t send the emails all at once, but rather try and increase the volume over time. Also, try to protect your main domain by using a subdomain or a different sending domain. This way, in the event your email somehow gets marked as spam, it does not affect your main email accounts that you use every day.
That being said…
Keep in mind that just following your outreach strategy by the book won’t magically give you clients or links.
You’ll also have to put hard work into the process, brainstorm ideas, and experiment with new techniques.
Always focus more on the value you offer and a bit less on the value you want.
Setting the right expectations will help you not give up if you don’t see the results you hoped for.
After all, on good days you work hard, and on bad days you work a little harder!
In the end, if nothing seems to work, you always have the option to outsource link building to a marketing agency and learn from them.
Andy Cabasso is a digital marketing professional, speaker, and lawyer. He is the co-founder of Postaga, an all-in-one platform for link building and email outreach. Prior to Postaga, he started, grew, and then successfully sold a digital marketing agency.