Have you ever wondered how the heck others in your niche seem to show up everywhere online? You stumble upon their work on just about every website you visit, and you’re pea green with envy. How is their stuff so easily featured everywhere when you have a hard time getting other webmasters to even respond to your emails?
The answer to all of these questions can be summed up in two words: effective outreach. Fortunately, Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz recently dedicated a Whiteboard Friday segment to just that issue. SEOmoz is quite arguably one of the most popular SEO websites on the ‘net, and Rand gets more than his fair share of outreach emails asking him for things every single day. His lesson explains the five components of a dynamite outreach email. Let’s break down the basics of his talk.
Rand began the video by focusing on the right way to open your email. It’s important to know who you’re sending the email to – don’t just push out a handful of queries that begin with “Dear Webmaster.” The second you do that, your recipient hits “delete.”
Yes, it’s that simple.
You need to know the webmaster to which you’re sending your query. Not personally; you just need to be familiar enough with the person’s blog or website that you can send an email using his or her first name and feel comfortable doing so.
Try commenting on the person’s website for a couple of weeks first – the webmaster may be familiar enough with you once you send your email that they’ll recognize your name in the “from” field.
Next, Rand suggests you open your email with some quick introductory remarks. Nothing long-winded here – simply illustrate that you know about the webmaster, even if the webmaster doesn’t know you. It’s flattering… and it works. Rand’s own words may help you better understand how to craft the perfect intro. Here’s his take on the matter from the video’s transcript:
3. The Ask and the Giveback
After you’ve opened things up with a light intro, it’s time to get down to business and ask for what you want. Rand suggests you keep this really brief – say it in one line, and make sure you only ask for one thing. Request more than that, and you may come across as greedy.
Simply say, “It would mean a lot to me if you could link to my new piece about blah, blah, blah.” That’s all it takes – no sugar-coating or justifications. Just say it and move on with your email. The webmaster likely doesn’t have time to read a soliloquy about your plight.
Make sure to include the giveback either directly before or after the ask. The giveback basically highlights what you’ll do – or have done – for the webmaster. Have you linked to his or her content? Tweeted some stuff quite a bit to your followers? Let the webmaster know that. You can make the giveback about something you will do for the webmaster, but mentioning that you’ve already done something – before they even did anything for you – makes you appear far more sincere.
4. Wrapping It Up
Go back to the intro directions for this one. Rand suggests you wrap your email up with something else proving that you know the webmaster’s interests and you follow his or her work. Keep it light, and bonus points if you can pull off an inside joke that will make your recipient laugh.
5. The Signature
This last point may seem redundant, but you’d be surprised. Make sure to sign the email with your first name. The webmaster won’t respond if he or she doesn’t even know what to call you. When you clearly sign your last name, you’re not only solving that problem, you’re also adding one final personal touch to your correspondence.
So there you have it, folks. Follow this formula to make your outreach emails more desirable for webmasters to read. Do this, and make a concentrated effort to follow up by remaining active on your recipients’ sites, and you’ll begin making connections that will build your network and organically market your brand for years to come.