Blogger Outreach: Strategies to Think Twice about before Taking Action
Guide to Link Building with Blogger Outreach
By Ajay Paghdal and Nick Campbell
Blogger outreach has been the talk of the town for years.
So many strategies have been shared and then reshared from every angle imaginable, illustrated with real-life examples, backed up by case studies, eased with templates, sped up with email automation tools…
Today, when everything should be crystal clear, I’m still confused about some tactics suggested here and there. They either go against my logic or hold back some important details, making the whole point a bit vague.
Or maybe I should just retake an IQ test, lol.
But am I the only one? Once in a while, I run into criticism of outreach emails. People post screenshots of erm… not so good unsolicited pitches or follow-ups to them. And then, as if on cue, their followers show up, and group shaming starts.
You’ve probably seen it all too.
To figure things out, I surveyed people about the major controversies happening at every stage of outreach.
After reading this post, you’ll have more reasons to use some strategies and ditch others commonly known as “effective.”
1. Blogger outreach status of today
Is blogger outreach live, dead, or erm… living dead?
Gurus say you’ll succeed in blogger outreach using their tried and tested strategies. Just like they did years ago, and look where they’re now.
Their teachings inspire and help (no sarcasm here), but…
I wonder why response rates are so low.
Studies show that less than 10% of recipients usually reply back. And response rates aren’t even success rates – some people actually say no. Why is it so?
Opinion from Nela Dunato.
Brand Strategist, Designer, and Writer at NelaDunato.com.
I’ve been a blogger for many years, and I get dozens of outreach emails every month. They’re all focused on link building and ask me to link to their product, article, infographic, or services.
Those folks don’t even look up who I am and what I do. I’ve had several companies, including someone working for UpWork, ask that I link to their logo design services from my blog. I am a logo designer. I wouldn’t advertise competitors even if they paid me to, that’s just dumb. They don’t even check who they’re messaging.
Their offers to share one of my posts on their social media in exchange for a link? Despite supposedly having 10+ thousand followers, their posts get less than 5 likes on average and zero comments. This means their followers are bots, not real people. Some value exchange they’re offering.
I know what they want, and I know why they want it. And because I know how valuable links from reputable domains are, I find outreach requests just laughable.
My two cents. When link requests come daily, there’s no need to be a genius to smell a rat.
Even if a blogger doesn’t know much about link building, it’s quite obvious that you’re not the good Samaritan who only wants to educate their readers with additional info.
Since links help with search rankings, giving you one is basically equal to providing a mini SEO service. And who’s gonna do it just for a “thank you” note?
Who are false prophets of outreach (and how do they affect your work)?
I still wonder if things look any different on the other side of the outreach funnel. I’m referring to people who provide outreach services professionally.
Opinion from Tom Pick.
B2B Digital Marketing Consultant at Webbiquity LLC.
I get deluged with crappy outreach daily. People who clearly have never looked at my blog, don’t use my name, they are just doing high-volume mass outreach, hoping they can get crap copy published that has zero value to anyone, except it links back to their site.
And worse, they advertise this as a “service” to brands.
I do personalized, carefully researched outreach on behalf of my clients, and I’m offended by offshore spammers whose actions cheapen my profession.
My two cents. Even outreach specialists admit that the playing field is shaky these days.
And mass, hit-or-miss outreach makes things worse for all players, not only spammers. The tension on the field definitely needs some de-escalation.
2. Targeted outreach: when topic relevance is not enough
Are you too late to the party with your pitch?
Gurus say you should target pages of topical relevance only.
Especially since there’s no shortage of ways to find articles where your link could fit in. From Google search operators to SEO tools, you’ll probably end up with a lot of targets on your list.
Unless you’re in some narrow field, of course.
I wonder if it makes sense to treat all the relevant pages as our targets. I mean, every single one of them?
From 2014 to 2017, I used to publish compilations of website templates for basically any business out there. Today, I can hardly remember what I wrote back then, let alone the external pages I linked to.
And I don’t really care.
How willing are bloggers to add new links to posts from their good old days? Is there a time frame to stay within when targeting relevant pages?
Opinion from Richard Kennedy – Marketing Director at Arken Digital (SEO agency helping eCommerce businesses improve their rankings).
Over time, we’ve noticed that people are usually quite unwilling to edit posts that are over a year in most typical markets, something like fashion for example. You’re asking somebody to change something that really, they completely forgot they’d even written, so why would they care?
But it depends on the market. We’ve worked with a client in the building trade, where regulations have changed, and it makes perfect sense for someone to update an old post that is essentially incorrect. For markets like that, we will reach out regardless of how long ago the post was made.
It’s hard to give a definitive answer. We try to keep it recent, but if the page we are targeting is ranking for its own terms and could potentially send us traffic, it doesn’t matter how long ago it was posted. If it has been updated within the last 18-12 months, that’s a good sign.
My two cents. Even when I was gathering opinions for this post, some people said they’d changed their minds over the years. What they preached back in 2017 wasn’t something they’d recommend today.
Here’s one more.
To act on time rather than rake over the ashes, you can use tools like Ahrefs Alerts. Each time a new post on your target topic gets published, you’ll receive an email notification.
How to grow your domain authority from zero (and feel wanted in outreach)?
Gurus say you should target blogs that have some authority.
As a rule, the minimum threshold of domain authority to set is around 30 DR (by Ahrefs) or DA (by Moz). I guess it can work if you have a site with DR 30+ yourself.
I wonder what to do if you don’t. What if you’re a startupper with a brand new domain that’s at the bottom of the DR hierarchy?
Bloggers you’re gonna contact will probably follow the same logic – respond to people behind sites with DR 30+, as they are of “sufficient quality” to link to.
What should link builders do in their early days?
Opinion from Martin Benes.
Individual SEO Specialist and Online Marketer at Benes.me.
If I were starting a business from scratch and were standing before the decision of which domains to pursue for links, I would first check competitors’ backlink profiles. If they had no DA 30+ sites in their profile, then it might take DA 20-30 to beat them in SERPs. Also, it would probably save some budget and end up in better ROI. However, I would still target the highest DA first (maybe DA 25 in this case), as the impact would be probably the biggest.
Let’s say, on the other hand, that I have zero link-building budget, and the competitors have all DA 30+ backlinks. Then (speaking only about active link-building efforts), I do not think it might be worth investing the time in DA 0-10 sites to have low-value and potentially hurtful links. Maybe it would be worth building some brand awareness first (for example, via PPC or social media) to naturally attract high-quality links afterward. The only instance where I would still aim for DA 0-10 links would be if my site has not yet been discovered and indexed by Google.
As for DA 10-20 domains, I think they are still useful when the content is very relevant to your niche. In the end, DA is just a metric developed by third-party tools, such as MOZ or Ahrefs, and their algorithms can always change. In general, I would always check DA in connection to other metrics and decide accordingly. For example, if the site is highly relevant, then I would allow a wider range for the DA. If the site is a generic news site with DA 30+, I would still go for it even though the connection to the niche is insignificant.
Curious to know if Martin is OK with linking to 0-30 DR/DA domains? There you are.
If I were a recipient, DR/DA would also influence my decision. In general, it would depend on a few factors and, as a site that provides backlinks, I would need to see a business value in linking back to the pitch sender.
First of all, the decision would be dependent on the topic relevance. For example, if I had a blog about dogs, I would be more likely to link to a pet shop. Then, the DA would not need to be exceptionally high to make me want to link back.
Let’s assume my site has DA 30+ and I get contacted by a DA 10+ site. Let’s also assume that the main topic of both sites is similar. In this case, I will be happy to link back, as I might also benefit from the connection in Google’s eyes. Also, I might be willing to negotiate about the deal in terms of the budget or other ways to support my linking site.
On the other hand, let’s assume that the pitch sender has a site DA 0-10. In that case, I would be asking for a premium value back, as I am risking being connected with a low-value site and potentially hurting my search performance. I would still consider linking back, however the budget would need to be agreed on accordingly.
It would also depend on the overall strategy. If I had a full-scale private blog network, I might be willing to take more risks, as I could always adjust the link juice flow and potentially start new blogs. If I had only one main site that I operate, I would be much more careful with linking back to low-value domains, as my business is dependent on having a stable organic performance.
But in general, I would suggest checking the pitch sender in more detail instead of following the Domain Authority only. It can be determined only after a detailed analysis whether the site is a genuine startup that wants to build a long-term value or a scam site with an unlimited budget that only aims for short-term gains. I would always suggest linking back only to the former example 🙂
My two cents. To decide whether to link to sites with a low DR, I personally check how Google treats them.
There’s no way they’d rank for popular keywords and drive a lot of traffic, I totally understand that. Still, I expect to see them ranking for at least a few keywords with a low search volume (around 10-30). That’s when I feel relieved.
Google wouldn’t rank a spammy site on the first page, would it?
To prove your site with a low DR isn’t spammy, try to get it ranking for some unpopular keywords first.
3. Pre-outreach stage: actions to take before sending a pitch
To warm up, or to go cold? That is the question.
Gurus say you should warm up your prospects before hitting their inboxes. For example, you can engage with them on social media by liking or sharing their latest posts.
The logic is quite simple here – people are more responsive to someone they can recognize.
I wonder if bloggers don’t understand what this prelude is all about.
When I just started out, there was a guy who shared a few posts I published and later suggested his link to “improve” one of them. I was young, naive, and absolutely flattered by someone’s attention. Long story short, I added his link and never heard from him again 🙂
Now I know he pretended to like my write-ups to warm me up. It worked with me because I didn’t know much about link building. But do seasoned bloggers buy it too?
So, the reason people try to “warm you up” before asking for something that benefits them is that friends are more likely to do each other favors than strangers. I give links to my friends quite often.
The problem is, artificially creating the perception of friendship has the reverse effect. Leaving aside any moral quandaries I may have with using humans like chess pieces in the pursuit of a backlink, it’s also just ineffective.
Layer one, if I don’t know what someone wants after the first email, it’s a waste of both of our time (thus, my advice to stop beating around the bush).
Layer two, if I sense I’m being “tricked” through clever flattery or tactics, I’m likely to be annoyed rather than charmed. People are smart, and most can see through the gimmicks. You can still compliment someone’s work or whatever, but if you’re asking for a backlink, just put your request on the table and don’t act like a weirdo.
My two cents. If you decide to warm someone up with likes or shares, you can’t just stop once you get a link. It’ll make your true intentions way too obvious.
Don’t forget that removing a link takes the same few seconds as adding it.
Should you bother building connections before outreach?
I still wonder why so many gurus advocate warming up if it smells a bit fake.
If it’s not about imitating an interest in someone’s work, what is it about then? Is there a right form of warming up?
Personally, I believe that now there’s more to warming up on social than resharing or liking someone’s posts. It’s about building your network, making business connections.
People are on LinkedIn to learn and to connect, and if you’re there interacting with people and developing a network of connections who recognize your name, you will naturally be warming people up for direct outreach.
When the focus is on building relationships with relevant people in your industry, this works. If you’re doing it simply for the sake of later asking for a backlink, it will come off as spammy. And in my experience, having valuable relationships is always worth the time.
My two cents. After interacting with your prospects, you can’t act as if you did them a big favor, and now they owe you.
They never asked you for anything.
You did it of your own free will and can’t even know if they truly appreciate your overtures. Be ready that the time you’ll invest in warming up won’t pay off with every single prospect.
What’s the best network for social outreach (when it’s cold)?
Gurus say you should approach your prospects on social media before emailing them.
I wonder which networks are better for social outreach at the cold stage.
For example, Facebook seems to be more appropriate for communication with friends, colleagues, and other acquaintances. If you ask me, I don’t check message requests or add strangers to my friend list there.
Opinion from Clayton Johnson – Founder of Small Biz SEO (content writing, link building, web design, and social media marketing services).
Connect with Clayton on LinkedIn.
We never reach out directly to anyone that we haven’t already established rapport with on social and use LinkedIn only for social outreach.
It’s a super simple approach. We DM prospects with anything personable to say. Usually, a compliment as long as it doesn’t sound canned or taking note of any way to relate to the prospect. Something silly or playful that just makes sure people know we are genuine.
For roundup requests, we also mention a few of the known names that are participating, and that tends to get a response.
My two cents. For marketing-related niches, Twitter is an ideal network to hang out on.
People tweet about the latest industry news all the time. And it doesn’t take long for their followers to show up and start a heated discussion. This is a great opportunity to squeeze yourself in their talks and make a statement, as long as you have something smart to say.
Does the size matter in blogger outreach?
Gurus say connecting with prospects ahead of outreach will make you look familiar to them when your email comes.
Especially if you keep the same avatar in your social profile and inbox.
I wonder how to stand out among hundreds or thousands of other connections.
Having 1K+ followers, I don’t keep track of people who follow and unfollow me. My gut feeling is that influencers with 50K+ followers don’t bother with that either. What would be the right way to get yourself noticed?
Opinion from Tom Mortimer – Content Manager at Adzooma (all-in-one platform to optimize Google, Facebook, and Microsoft advertising campaigns).
What you’re doing when interacting with journalists and thought leaders is moving from an unknown emailer to, “Hey, that guy I converse with semi-often on social media emailed me. I like the way he thinks, I’ll give this a read.”
Because that’s the thing with so much of outreach, especially if you’re from a brand outside the journalist’s conscious. Your idea might be great, but until they know who you are, you’re outside the circle of trust. But by treating journalists like actual real human beings and interacting with them online – replying to their tweets with interesting insights and opinions on industry-related tweets – you’re striking up a genuine personal relationship that could help in a professional capacity too.
And I’m not saying you should start faking being someone’s friend, but just treat them like a real human being, offer them your personality and your insight, then see what happens when you start offering them your work later down the line. I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine. Because that’s the thing with outreach. It’s a joy for the journalist if it’s good, and from there, your relationship will only grow further. And hey, you might actually make a real friend out of it too.
My two cents. The true goal of warming up isn’t to make people believe you like them. It’s the other way round – to make them like you.
Your personal feelings about someone you’re gonna contact on business don’t really matter. What does is your brainpower and how well you can manage it.
Warming up is all about self-presentation.
Is there a place for politics in outreach?
Gurus say you should start a conversation on the topic your prospects are interested in.
I wonder if it’s OK to discuss everything from their social feeds.
For example, many influencers often tweet on politics. It’s been a hot topic lately, and I believe everyone has something to say about it. Even those who claim to stay out of politics.
Last year, SparkToro also released a handy feature to analyze the political behavior of target audiences. Based on their data, you can find out if people in your niche adhere to the left, center, or right ideology and shape your targeting accordingly.
Is it OK to use these political insights for building relationships at the pre-outreach stage?
Opinion from Rand Fishkin – Co-founder & CEO at SparkToro (tools to research your target audience, what they read, watch, share, and talk about).
I think you could use those political topics as opportunities for outreach and connection, but I wouldn’t use them as openings for direct selling. Instead, I’d make that a touchpoint for relationship building, and then leverage those relationships over time to start building your marketing flywheel. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one.
I will say, I find politics to be a great way to build friendships and associations with folks online. Those relationships do, over time, sometimes become vectors for marketing amplification, too, but if you go into the process thinking of it as a way to do “marketing” you usually have a bad time.
My two cents. If political topics dominate someone’s social thread, I don’t see a problem approaching them from such an angle.
Just keep in mind that it’s not something to fake.
You can’t be bidenist for some of your prospects and trumpist for others to get both camps on your side. The same goes for being a supporter of vaccination and an anti-vaxer.
Someone may scroll through more of your tweets out of curiosity. How are you going to explain your split personality, huh?
How to pass face control when you contact strangers?
Gurus say the more your prospects recognize how your email is related to them, the more chances they’ll read it.
I wonder if relationship building is the only way to ring a bell with someone.
I can start interacting with a few peeps in my niche, no probs. But with hundreds of prospects on the list, it just doesn’t seem realistic.
Opinion from Alex Gaines – PR Manager at Three Ships (digital marketing agency that helps consumers purchase with confidence and advertisers find the right customers).
One thing I do a lot is if I’m pitching someone something related to an article they wrote, I always use their headline in my subject line.
Kind of an old trick, but it usually will grab attention because it’s recognizable.
The reporter doesn’t entirely know if you’re offering a correction, asking to cover a similar story, or giving a compliment until they click.
My two cents. That’s the trick I used when doing outreach for this article.
It was absolutely cold, except for a few people I interacted with earlier. My open and response rates were 91% and 53% respectively. Not bad, if you ask me.
5. Social proof: ethics & costs of your credible image
How to inflate your social proof for the sake of outreach?
Gurus say you should use social proof in your pitch to look credible.
If this is a guest posting campaign, send URLs of your previous publications on popular blogs. Seeing that other authority resources acknowledged your writing, editors will have more enthusiasm to check it out too.
I wonder what to do when you don’t have any significant social proof.
There’s not much chance to impress influencers with publications on third-rate blogs they never heard about. Could sponsored posts help here and how much do they cost?
Opinion from Adam Enfroy – Founder of AdamEnfroy.com (where he blogs about business software and teaches entrepreneurs how to scale their online influence).
If you’re looking for a sponsored guest post, try to find a site like HackerNoon. They are a blog, but almost more of a news site. You can pay somewhere between $100 to $200 per article, and they have a high Domain Rating.
I’ve also seen sites try to charge $500 to $1,000 per sponsored post, but I would avoid those. Well-known authority sites typically don’t offer sponsored guest posts – they’re more strict in their editorial guidelines. For example, Ahrefs only writes super-high quality guides and wouldn’t allow someone to pay to write for them – they keep it in-house.
It’s actually all about the value to the site. Links are a value exchange – you can’t ask for a link or a guest post without offering something of value in return. It just doesn’t make sense. Can you offer a link back to them in another separate guest post? A social share to your audience? You need to offer something that you’d want yourself.
My two cents. Paying for links goes against Google guidelines. So, be ready that editors will add a “sponsored” tag, which will make your link kinda useless for SEO.
When you do guest posting for the sake of social proof, you don’t need followed links. What you need is to get an image of a credible writer who was previously featured on a popular resource.
What’s the right way to involve others in your outreach?
Gurus say you should refer to a common contact that you and your prospects have.
As shown in this guide, your email can start this way – “Hey, I am an old acquaintance of…” Psychologically, people are more inclined to trust someone known in their circles rather than strangers that come out of nowhere.
As the old saying goes, a friend of a friend is my friend.
I wonder who that common contact should be to an email sender. Someone they’ve met in person? A long-time partner? Or folks they emailed a while back?
Technically, all the contributors to this article are my acquaintances now. I could reach out to their followers with such a reference, but does an exchange of a few emails really count here?
Opinion from Dmitry Dragilev – Founder of JustReachOut (app to get press & backlinks on your own) and Owner of SmallBizTools (where he reviews business software for people who want to save time and eliminate stress).
So, I would do this. I would write the email pitch and then read it out loud to yourself. Pretend you’re actually standing in front of this person in real life or you’re on a Zoom call and you are going to say what you are saying in this email. Would you blush? Feel uncomfortable? If so, don’t say “acquaintance.” Say the truth – “we’ve emailed a few times with X.”
Another test. If that person you were telling this to would contact “the acquaintance” after your conversation and ask them about you, would “the acquaintance” remember you? If you think the acquaintance would not remember you, don’t say it. Say the truth – “we’ve emailed a few times with X.”
My two cents. Involving someone else in your outreach may be risky.
What if that person finds out that you use their big name to build your own career? What are the chances that it’ll break off your relationship?
To be on the safe side, you can ask them if they don’t mind you mentioning them as a common acquaintance in your outreach.
7. Blogger outreach values: content is not the only king
Outreach charity: what else to offer, besides great content?
Gurus say you should add extra perks to your pitch.
Unless you’ve made a big discovery in your niche, your content won’t get you far. That’s what everyone offers, after all. With extra perks, you’ll push aside other marketers on your prospect’s priority list.
I wonder what kind of extra value bloggers appreciate.
Typically I always try to at least offer some free value or something useful in my pitch to the reader.
Sometimes free product access can increase usage depending on your product.
I would test everything you can – changing data limits, A/B testing pricing, upgrades, upsells. Just depends on what you can afford.
My two cents. Make sure you always offer free access to a premium package only.
If you have a free starter plan, it won’t cut.
Offering a freebie for free is not a value FROM you – it’s an extra promotion FOR you, besides a link or whatever else you’re gonna ask. And your prospects perfectly understand that.
Will your product always fit into people’s busy schedules?
Gurus say sharing free access to your tool will help you get your pitch accepted. And the best thing is that it won’t even cost you anything.
I wonder if people just thank out of courtesy or really use products they get for free.
Everyone seems to be so busy today. And it takes a while to get the hang of new software, let alone use it regularly. Do they follow up with some feedback or requests to extend their access in exchange for another favor?
Opinion from Hunter Branch – Founder of Rank Tree (content strategy agency that helps NYT authors, startups, and small businesses generate targeted organic traffic).
At this point, I’ve probably sent ~5,000 emails with this strategy and I’ve noticed that about 5% of people actually take me up on the free offer.
Of the people who take the offer, they almost always thank me and mention how excited they are about the offer. After I send it to them, I usually don’t hear any feedback later, unless this person becomes a long-term marketing partner (which actually happens pretty often within this segment) or I reach out again. In the cases where I’ve heard back, 50%+ of the people say they’ve used the freebie and were pleased.
Conversion rates have been super high for me with this strategy throughout the last several years. I usually get between 6%-10% conversion on links, and the template also has made a ton of affiliate partnerships for my clients that have had lasting value.
In terms of offers I personally appreciate, I think it has to do with the $ value and usefulness. With one of my clients, I offer a free 1-year subscription to his membership site, which is a $450 value, and almost everyone I reach out to is in the same industry (so they are naturally interested in that membership).
So, personally, I would appreciate offers of free SEO tool access for a limited time, free SEO/Content Marketing course access, free SEO/Content Marketing membership site access, etc. I actually don’t remember ever having someone use this strategy on me or any of my clients’ sites, though. 🙂
I’ve also seen success using eBooks and lower dollar courses ($20-$197 value), but obviously the higher the $ value, the better. And everything I’ve offered has been a digital product, so it doesn’t cost us anything to give the stuff away.
My two cents. A few months ago, I got free access to a tool to create visuals like presentations, infographics, etc. And I appreciated it at first.
But the truth is I didn’t have a chance to create any graphics due to time constraints. I logged in a few times to look around, but that’s where it all ended.
Make sure you offer the access for more than a month or so. Giving a try to your tool is not high on people’s agenda.
How to turn someone’s blog into a platform for your contests?
Gurus say you should share your product with a blogger’s audience too.
Running a giveaway on their blog, you’ll have some participants convert into your paying customers. That’s on top of a link and exposure that will come your way.
I wonder how to ask someone to use their blog as a platform for contests. Look at the giveaway request I stumbled upon in this article.
Basically, they make it all look as if they’re gonna do a massive favor to the recipient. In reality, it’s vice versa, of course.
What would be the right way to submit a giveaway request?
Opinion from Tim Cameron-Kitchen – Founder of Exposure Ninja (impact-driven digital marketing agency for small and medium-sized businesses).
I think the main problem with that sort of post is that it’s asking the recipient to pay a very high price for the value of the prize. By specifying that they must run a contest, they force the influencer/blogger to do something they might not ordinarily do (run contests).
A potentially better way of doing it would be to offer the blogger something at no cost. If they respond that they like it, then you can have a conversation about “well, if we gave you more of that, might your audience want some? Do you think a contest would work well, or could there be another way to engage your audience?”
Whilst this means you’ll be gifting stuff with no “ask” in return, if the influencer has enough reach, it can be worth it.
If it’s a low-budget campaign and the client doesn’t have the budget to gift with no condition to reciprocate, then requiring something in return might be inevitable. But going in right from the off with that wording is going to put a lot of them off.
My two cents. To boost your chances, extend bloggers’ access to your tool or offer them an upgrade to a higher package.
How big are bloggers’ appetites when they ask for a favor in return?
Gurus say you should offer bloggers some help before asking for favors.
No one can succeed in blogging on their own, no matter how great their content is. If you expect someone to help you, be ready to volunteer first. Fair enough.
I wonder what kind of help is most wanted among bloggers.
Opinion from Ryan Biddulph – Owner of Blogging From Paradise (where he shares tips on how to live a dream life through blogging based on his globe-trotting experience).
Most bloggers want to guest post on Blogging From Paradise.
As for me, I help bloggers by commenting genuinely on their blogs, adding engagement, and bonding with them. I also promote bloggers on Twitter and Facebook to spread their word. Follow my advice whether you have 1 or 50,000 followers, for a long time.
Helping bloggers forms bonds. Bonds grow into strong friendships. From there, all types of opportunities expand.
My two cents. Bloggers’ appetites depend on their popularity in the first place. What newbies will appreciate may look like a trifle to someone in their heyday.
In my experience, people usually want a reciprocal link. Some also ask about an affiliate program to earn commissions from linking to our tool.
How to find out what your prospects are gonna launch?
Gurus say your pitch should relate to something that’s on your prospect’s to-do list.
The content they published earlier is a thing of the past. These days, they are working on something different. Offering help with a current project will resonate better with them.
I wonder how to find out what people are working on.
To test this tip, I scrolled through my prospects’ social profiles, tweets in particular. Unfortunately, there was no indication of what they were busy with.
Is there any other place to check for their current activities?
Connect with David on LinkedIn.
So one way is to look at launch sites like ProductHunt. People are launching products every day, and that’s a perfect opportunity to say “hey, I saw your launch on PH and I want to talk about XYZ.”
Of course, that doesn’t produce a scalable campaign because you’re limited by what’s showing there (although you can search historically to broaden the depths of your search). Outside of that, look at peoples’ social profiles on FB or Twitter or LinkedIn. They are likely to show the websites/companies they work for.
I would say in general though, when I wrote that, I was using it as an example of a very targeted outreach technique, not something that’s supposed to allow you to identify 500+ people but instead maybe 10 people that could become a very valuable partner.
My two cents. After gaining good traction, some bloggers don’t just stop. They launch more sites to double their influence and income. The info about their side projects is usually available on LinkedIn.
For example, Brian Dean is mostly known for Backlinko in SEO circles, but he’s also behind a different project, Exploding Topics (ET). The latter has a lower domain authority score at the moment.
Naturally, he’ll appreciate your help with the project he’s only building (ET) rather than the one that’s already at its peak (Backlinko).
Will bloggers get you burdened with their demands?
Gurus say you should ask bloggers point-black about what they want in return.
There’s no way to foretell everyone’s whims and caprices, especially at scale. Whenever someone rejects your pitch, try to find out what could change their mind.
I wonder if it’s safe to let bloggers lay down their conditions. How often do they cross the line and ask for too much?
Usually, I send emails with everything explained to bare bones. The reason is that broad questions caused friction and lowered my performance. At least, that was my assumption based on data.
But it was useful to see how people think, what they need, and sometimes collabs expanded beyond a simple backlink exchange. If there’s a douche that asks for “hills and mountains,” it still saves me the time of not pursuing him/her anymore.
To answer your question, I didn’t have any weird asks. It’s worth mentioning that backlink outreach is just a piece of my work, so I’m not doing it regularly, hence the lack of situations perhaps.
People sometimes wanted me to write guest posts, which I started declining eventually due to resource constraints. Whenever I had a disagreement, I was like “can’t do this, but I can offer that…” It required some research to see what they’re doing atm, but it worked. 🙂
My two cents. Unlike Vuk, I had a few cases when people went too far.
I once offered my prospect to link back to their domain. Long story short, they tried to make me link to more sites they had. The problem was some of those sites weren’t even topically relevant to my article.
Which of your prospects’ pains could you relieve?
Gurus say you should address your prospect’s pain points in the pitch.
If you find some issue they have and suggest a solution, it could break the ice. Imagine how you’d feel if someone told you about an easy way to solve your problem. Cool, right?
I wonder what issues bloggers face and need help with.
For link building, I think the biggest pain is receiving tons of non-personalized pitches where recipients have no benefit for them.
For example, it could be mentioned that the content they are linking to is outdated or the link is broken.
As a first-time reader who comes to the website from search, I’ll probably open a couple of links to read more on a specific topic. If I find one or more links broken, the level of trust in this website will probably decrease. I will not subscribe to their newsletter, bookmark them, or come back to read other articles.
That’s a personal perspective. I think it’s quite important to always have up-to-date content and make sure all of the links are working. It’s more about UX and reputation.
My two cents. Technical issues hurt, but not as much as underperforming content does.
It takes like a minute to fix a broken element on the page. But how long does it take to get that page ranking higher? Not a moment’s work for sure. You could check out which of your prospect’s posts got stuck on Google’s second page and link to one of them.
Are your broken link findings of use to all bloggers?
Gurus say notifications of broken links are of value to bloggers.
No one can keep track of every 404 page or discontinued domain they link out to non-stop. Thanks to your notification, bloggers will be able to fix this SEO issue asap.
I wonder if such a value exchange when you get a backlink from someone and just point out a broken one in return is equal.
As links help with rankings, gaining them is of benefit for sure.
On the other hand, the benefit of learning about a broken link on your site is kinda questionable. I’m not that good at technical SEO but I’ve seen many articles with broken links ranking in the top 10, including #1. This issue doesn’t seem to be a big deal.
Useless waste of time.
I get about 10 emails like that every day, and I hit “report spam” on every single one of them.
I don’t ever see it as helpful, but 100% of “I think you’re an idiot and I will disguise my link building campaign as help.”
Maybe it works for a non-savvy audience, but not when marketing to marketers.
My two cents. Here’s an example of why I think a broken link is a minor issue. So minor that it doesn’t affect search rankings.
This page links to Topsy, a tool that was discontinued in 2015.
It’s safe to assume that the link has been broken for more than five years. Yet, it hasn’t prevented that article from ranking for over 2K keywords and driving 72K traffic per month, according to Ahrefs estimates.
Broken link – broken pitch: why should you divide it into parts?
Gurus say you should divide your broken link building pitch into two parts.
Instead of revealing your cards immediately, tell recipients that you noticed a broken link somewhere on their blog. And only after they reply, follow up with more details – which link is broken and where it’s located.
I wonder about the reason for such a two-part email division.
Is it some sort of precaution? Do bloggers silently fix broken links, but not with those that email senders submit?
Opinion from Nate Shivar – SEO & Digital Marketing Consultant at ShivarWeb (where he helps DIYers launch, maintain & market better sites).
It’s two reasons.
First, the response rate for BLB is incredibly low. More often than not, it’s not the editor/writer who handles old content and links. It’s someone else, especially since you are dealing with old content. I don’t want to put in the work to find & offer substitute URLs unless I know that someone will at least look at my email.
Second, the two-step template means that I can offer a highly customized, non-template response to whoever does respond to my email. It pushes up my overall conversion rate.
To your other question – yes, I’ve absolutely had editors thank me and not use my links. That happens a lot honestly. I’ve been able to work things out occasionally with a follow-up or an alternative pitch, but usually, it’s just part of the numbers game.
Usually, webmasters/editors are just too busy, and putting in your link is not top of mind.
My two cents. Back in the day, I did some broken link outreach and revealed all the details right in the first email.
Some recipients fixed the issue with their own links. What’s interesting is that they didn’t even bother replying with “no, thanks” out of politeness. So, yes, I see the point in holding back all the details until your prospects reply.
8. Outreach request: how not to mess up at the defining moment
Unbreak my rule: are manually built links in line with Google policies?
Gurus say you should ask for links to your content yourself.
There’s no point in waiting for them to magically appear on their own. Unless you own a mega-popular resource in your niche, of course.
I wonder if manual link building isn’t against Google policies.
It’s one thing to ask people to link to an article if they like it only. But it’s a different story to offer all those perks like free product access, links in exchange, social promotion, whatever.
Aren’t such links more artificial rather than natural?
Opinion from Marie Haynes – Owner of Marie Haynes Consulting (site quality assessment, link audit, and Google penalty recovery services).
It’s not against Google’s guidelines to ask people to link to your content. But, if you can only get people to link to you by manipulating them, then you are probably wasting your time.
Links are still important in Google’s algorithms but they are getting much better at determining which ones to count. Remember, the reason why links matter is that Google treats a link like a recommendation. If lots of people are recommending your content, then perhaps Google should rank it more highly!
I’d leave you with this quote that I pulled out of a recent help hangout with John Mueller.
My two cents. The truth is even popular brands do link outreach. So, you have no other choice than to play this game too.
Note that links may not help you rank for mega-competitive keywords.
Let’s say you’re gonna publish an SEO guide. What are the odds that you’ll push one of those giants like Ahrefs, Moz, or Backlinko out of the top 10 and take their place?
These brands are the big league of the industry, and it takes more than just a bunch of artificially built links to compete with them. You’ll need to at least get closer to their level of authority.
What’s role-playing in outreach (and do bloggers need it)?
Gurus say you can’t beg for something big like a backlink straightaway. Especially when you contact strangers who don’t owe you anything.
That’s just rough.
You’d better ask them for feedback on your content first. And only if they say nice things about it, you can follow up with a link request.
I wonder if this role-play with back-and-forth messaging isn’t obvious to bloggers.
They must have received tons of such feedback requests that always had the same finale – an ask for a link. Won’t they understand how it will all end the minute they read a pitch?
Opinion from Maros Kortis – CMO at Mangools (software for keyword research, SERP analysis, rank tracking, backlink analysis, and SEO metrics).
I’m not a fan of “guru advice.” I like testing something that thousands of others don’t do. The case study is based on our link building campaign, which means SEOs asking other SEOs for backlinks. In this case, the advice you mentioned is absolutely useless, since the person who got our message already knew what we wanted.
On the other hand, I think that in other niches with a chance that you won’t outreach SEO-skilled people, the technique could work.
So yeah, as I mentioned before, test and learn. Be inspired by ultimate guides and case studies, they are great, we write them too, but never forget that each niche is unique.
As for me, since I know most of the times what the email is about (usually when I see the subject line), I’d always appreciate getting straight to the point.
My two cents. This tactic may work with bloggers who don’t receive “feedback” requests regularly.
As mentioned before, outreach specialists usually avoid blogs that have little to no authority. If you contact someone behind a domain with DR / DA under 30, they may react positively to such a prelude.
Should you give bloggers VIP treatment before asking for a favor?
Gurus say you should ask for feedback on your post before even publishing it.
Sending influencers its exclusive preview in Google Docs, you’ll show them how much you respect their opinion and how eager you are to edit the copy under their command. As its final version will be based on their suggestions, they’ll feel more enthusiastic about sharing it.
This is known as pre-outreach, as opposed to post-outreach when you send a link to a published article.
I wonder if it doesn’t feel like an attempt to save on editing and get prospects to spend more of their time than necessary.
Are people more responsive to the pre-outreach method?
So of the two methods of outreach, I believe post-outreach will bring in more responses because it is one less step for the recipient.
Nowadays, you want to prioritize the recipient’s time and prevent the additional back and forth that pre-outreach would bring. Sending the post when it is live and outlining exactly where the value is for the recipient will be an easier sell and cuts any unnecessary fluff or irrelevant information.
If you add some personalization, you should be able to find some great results with this method and it allows for you to build some ongoing relationships with others that could lead to a more refined and warmer outreach strategy later on.
My two cents. I can think of one legitimate reason for pre-outreach – when you’re unsure whether your statements about their product are correct.
Naturally, it won’t look weird if you ask them to review your draft before publishing it.
When is the best time to shoot your outreach request?
Gurus say you should delay your request until it organically fits in the conversation.
I wonder how such a delay will help, as the request will come anyway, sooner or later. Won’t recipients have an “aha” moment and understand that all of the previous talk was for personal gain?
Opinion from Chelsea Baldwin – Founder of Copy Power (copywriting services for entrepreneurs, marketing specialists, and online business geeks).
People have great bullshit detectors & can 100% pick up on you being disingenuous and/or just trying to smooth talk them into a sale. That’s not what I mean. I mean taking the time to build an “actual” relationship where people can tell you’re there to be of service in your area of expertise & to be of benefit to them, whether they ultimately buy from you or not.
A smooth talker is definitely someone who’d jump the gun & try to scientifically engineer a conversation for their benefit, and people will pick up on that.
But when you’re there to actually “help” people, and not just be desperate for a sale, you get to a point in the conversation where it’s glaringly obvious that if you don’t mention your services or products in some way, it’s just weird. THAT’S the moment when you start to present the ask, not before. If you do it before that, you’re just annoying & people will see straight through you.
My two cents. Due to such a delay, you’ll have more time to talk to your prospect and get on their good side. At that point, it’ll be harder for them to ignore your request.
I personally feel no guilt about not replying to strangers. But I can’t just suddenly fall silent when talking to someone I’m on good terms with.
Should you ask for permission or get in without knocking?
Gurus say you can’t expect that everyone wants to hear about your offer. Most people actually don’t, judging by low response rates commonly reported.
Instead of breaking in with your offer, you’d better take a more delicate approach and ask your prospects for permission to send it.
I wonder if this preliminary step is required for everyone or strangers only. I can hardly imagine myself being that gentle with people I know.
Opinion from Jason Quey – Founder & CEO at Growth Ramp (product marketing agency that helps SaaS companies optimize their go-to-market strategies).
Building a permission asset is not always necessary for people you know. But if you reach out to strangers, it should increase your response rates.
When I worked with one of my first clients, they had me make a direct ask right in the first email. It’d reduce the time that I’d need to spend on follow-up replies.
The outcome? Only 185 out of 3,854 recipients replied to me, which is a 4.8% response rate.
In the second round of that outreach campaign, I removed the direct ask and received 219 replies out of 1,708. That’s a 12.8% response rate.
The bottom line is, this permission asset helped me increase my response rate by 266%.
My two cents. I tested Jason’s tactic when gathering opinions for this article.
For the first group of prospects, I sent my question right in the first email. It brought me a 10% response rate – not much, especially considering that I offered a link rather than asked for it.
For the next group, I first asked recipients if they’d be interested in contributing. Only those who replied and confirmed their interest got a follow-up with my question. It resulted in a 43% response rate.
Statistically, this tactic works.
I think some folks were just curious to hear what kind of a question I had. And it was probably harder for them to dodge me after our conversation started.
Do editors have time for outreach preludes?
I still wonder if asking for permission doesn’t annoy recipients. It adds a few more emails to the correspondence, thus taking more of their time.
Here’s the reply I received when asking if I could send them my question.
Another recipient found this tactic funny.
Opinion from Andy Capaloff – COO at Curatti (web resource where business leaders and entrepreneurs share news on everything in the digital world).
I 100% get that you took the advice you found online. And it’s possible that it could work for some people. Maybe if a person has just one job, and that’s reading, responding to, and maybe forwarding emails, that’s good.
But I have to prioritize my tasks and very rarely get through them all. I get more emails than I can handle along with running a site. So I just want emails that get to the point, without treacly, false compliments, or grandiose claims. And hopefully, people have taken the time to look at the website to see if any guidelines have been posted.
All that said, it’s clear that you can’t please everyone with a single approach!
My two cents. This tactic isn’t for everyone. In the first place, you need to think about the person you’re gonna contact.
Is email correspondence on their duty list or will you distract them from their day job?
An individual blogger who’s building relationships with others shouldn’t have a problem chatting for a while. But things are different with editors at popular publications. They go through a lot of pitches and may not like the idea of you adding two more emails to that heap instead of one.
How to catch prospects who’re gonna slip off your deal?
Gurus say you should include the second CTA in your pitch to retain prospects.
For the first few moments, they’ll be staring at your email and hesitating over whether to reply or not. Besides your main request, you can give them an intermediate option – ask them to contact you with any questions or suggestions they may have.
Recipients become more responsive when feeling welcome to negotiate the offer.
I wonder what kind of additional info people may need, being at the midpoint between approving and rejecting the pitch.
Opinion from Andrew Dennis – Senior Content Marketing Manager at Shopify (full-featured platform to launch and manage online stores).
Sometimes, the person you’re contacting for a link will want to know more about your website, ask for further clarification on why your link would be beneficial to their audience, or simply want to know if you’re a real person (you’re typically a stranger to this person, after all).
Inviting further discussion can often open the door to opportunities that otherwise might go cold. And any time you can add even more value to your pitch, it’s going to increase your chances of converting!
Occasionally, I’m also asked to provide a reciprocal link, and in these situations, I usually politely pass on the opportunity, unless there is a relevant place to link.
My two cents. For content outreach, you can use the second CTA to share more details about your research.
Charts and graphs show final outcomes only, while the items analyzed usually stay out of sight. For example, if it’s a survey, readers can check out figures of how many people said this or that. But the info on who exactly participated and how each respondent replied isn’t disclosed, as a rule.
With the second CTA, you can ask recipients if they’d like to take a look behind the scenes of your survey. People like me will be curious to get access to your docs or spreadsheets with that data.
Truth or dare: what questions are bloggers more eager to answer?
Gurus say your outreach requests should be quick and easy to fulfill.
If you want someone to contribute to your post, make sure they won’t need to scratch their head over your questions. But note that taking their time for something you can find on Google yourself is no good either.
I wonder what kind of questions bring more replies – as easy as ABC or those that would get them thinking for a while.
Or is there some kind of middle ground here?
Opinion from Julie Ewald – CEO at Impressa Solutions (inbound marketing agency specializing in content strategies for personal brands, tech companies, and startups).
I see the most success when we ask people questions that are in their wheelhouse. They have to think about them for a moment, but they are solidly within their area of expertise, so no research or super deep thought. Basically, these are questions that they would be able to answer conversationally during a peer-to-peer chat or a Q&A session after a talk.
The more work someone has to do to respond to the outreach, the less likely they are to follow through. It’s a fine line between a question that is thought-provoking and interesting and one that feels like work, and if you fall into the latter category, your response rate dives. In the same vein, asking experts to share a top tip or piece of unique advice does really well, but asking to show concrete examples of the best work or best practices sees less follow-through.
Additionally, the outreach does the best when we reach out to folks who we know understand the value of their contribution and their citation link. When we reach out to experts outside the marketing space, it is hit or miss. These people often don’t understand what’s in it for them and feel like they’re giving out free consulting work.
My two cents. Outreach for this article brought me a 53% response rate and a 40% success rate.
That 13% difference mostly stands for people who agreed to contribute at first but didn’t provide a quote after receiving my question. Most of my questions were a bit tricky and required some thought and time from them. They probably couldn’t fit me in their busy schedules.
Also, the question I sent wasn’t in a single line. To make sure everything was clear, I added a few more sentences of explanation. It might have been a bit overwhelming for some peeps.
9. Creative outreach: using someone’s inbox as a channel for your ingenuity
How could you spice up your pitch?
Gurus say you should highlight some portion of email copy in a different color.
I wonder if visual tricks like coloring don’t make emails more complicated.
Everyone says a pitch should be as simple as a message from a friend. And I don’t think I ever highlight anything in different colors when texting my pals.
Opinion from Aoife O’Connor – Head of Digital PR & Creative at Aira (digital marketing agency providing SEO, PPC, content, social, and web development services).
To make it as digestible and easy for journalists as possible to get the information they need, we inject a bit of color into our top stat, just to make it stand out to get cut through. We tend to only use this one, before outlining our other stop statistics, like below.
We learned this from a conference we attended in late 2018 and decided last year to start introducing this into our own pitch emails. And it has worked well for us, getting good responses from journalists and great coverage.
From reading several tips from journalists and listening to several talks from experts within the industry, we have found that this layout gives the information journalists need quickly, in a digestible manner, and is nice and eye-catching with a top stat for them to lead with.
My two cents. The main thing here is not to overdo it.
Highlighting one key point in a different color will bring it into focus, which is cool. But if you have some stats in a row, it’ll be too much to use a different color for each of them. Don’t turn your business pitch into a coloring book.
How to stand out in the inbox full of monotonous pitches?
Gurus say a good pitch is always about the people you reach out to, not about your wants and needs. That’s why you should personalize it based on their interests.
I wonder if email senders could show their personality too, besides adapting to someone else.
Cold emails aren’t the most anticipated messages. A lot of them sound as if they were composed by robots following a strict algorithm. Is it OK to humanize them somehow, e.g. with pop culture references, funny gifs, etc?
I don’t do much cold outreach, but here’s my approach to including pop culture references in newsletters.
Word them so that even if someone’s unfamiliar with the reference, they get that it is a joke or pop culture reference. There’ve been times where I’ve mentioned a fictional character and people have been like, “wait, who’s that?” So instead of saying things like “As Moira Rose would say…”, I’d be sure to say, “As Moira Rose from Schitt’s Creek would say…”
That way, if someone doesn’t get the reference, your actual message isn’t lost or confusing. But if they do, it’s an added bonus! And regardless, they get that bit of your personality.
My two cents. This tactic works best when pop culture references both convey your emotion and ring a bell with your prospects.
Try to find a quote or GIF from a movie that would look familiar to your prospects. If it doesn’t trigger any associations with them, it won’t have a big effect.
10. Outreach problems: what you can sort out yourself
How to break through the wall of rejections in outreach?
Gurus say you should be able to take no for an answer.
Rejections are common in blogger outreach. If you keep on arguing with editors, it will only annoy them and, as a result, get you blacklisted.
I wonder if it’s possible to change their mind somehow.
Are there any tricks to revise a pitch and get a second chance from someone who initially turned you down?
Opinion from Nico Prins – Founder of Launch Space (digital PR and SEO service that helps SaaS companies scale their guest post outreach to authority sites).
If we get turned down by the publication, we normally do two things.
First, we admit that we understand why the ideas we pitched wouldn’t work with the editor. No point in being confrontational, as it doesn’t achieve anything.
We then follow that up with a subsequent pitch of another three ideas we think would work well based on a revised understanding of their editorial focus. It’s important that these ideas are backed up with a strong justification.
- Your competitor has written about these topics, and they are getting 123 visitors a month for the post, but you have yet to cover the topic.
- The topics below have a clear keyword focus (essentially pitch number two if that wasn’t used the first time).
- Or, desperate swing, do you have any topics you’d like us to write about that you plan to cover.
A percentage of editors respond to the revised pitches. I’d say, probably 1/3 of editors. For a lot of people, if you failed at the first attempt they don’t take your backup pitches seriously. It’s understandable, however, some editors will give you a chance to pitch a second time. Generally, they’ll be a bit more thorough when they accept the idea. For example, they’ll ask you to then provide an outline of the article.
Keyword optimization is great and all, but it can hardly guarantee organic traffic.
If I get a link building guide published on some blog, it won’t push any of the industry giants out of the top 10. At least not due to a keyword focus.
How do editors react to additional metrics like a low keyword difficulty score? It can at least indicate that getting that post ranking is realistic.
Very true, keyword optimization doesn’t guarantee traffic.
Unless they are going to put the effort into promoting, the guest post content is not likely to rank. That’s not always true, but it’s mostly true. Keep in mind though, if you’re accepting guest posts, then a pitch that aligns with keywords and aligns with the editorial focus is better than 95% of the cold pitches the editor gets. In part, it’s a case of putting yourself in their shoes.
The difficulty score, yes, we’ve done this. It works. Plus, we get asked to write for sites again when they see a piece of content organically ranking.
My two cents. Hearing back from editors is a good sign, even if it’s a no for the time being. As a rule, they just ignore spammers. If you got a reply, the chances are your pitch didn’t turn them off.
It won’t hurt to ask what might be wrong.
Is this your topic in general or do they already have something similar on their blog? If there’s some minor issue, you could talk them into checking out another idea you have.
What if your link has suddenly gone missing from your guest post?
Gurus say everything is gonna be fine as long as you provide high-quality content.
In the worst-case scenario, editors will reject your final draft. That will be a pity, but not a disaster. There’s no shortage of blogs that accept guest posts. You’ll be able to pitch it elsewhere.
I wonder what to do if a post gets published without a client’s link.
It’s like the worst link builder’s nightmare. There’s no way to pitch the same post anywhere else because of the duplicate content issue. Basically, all the work goes down the drain. But like it or not, editors are entitled to delete any links at their own discretion.
How could guest writers reduce the risk of their links being dropped?
Opinion from Olivia Wiltshire – Head of Digital PR & Promotion at Builtvisible (specialist SEO, content, digital PR & data agency).
I think the best way to encourage a link is by ensuring you’re providing editors, writers, or journalists with a clear beneficial reason to link back.
E.g. the content piece you’re outreaching to them has further research or data where the content originates (your client’s site), which will be of interest to their readers.
Or, perhaps the hero asset has an interactive format that is best experienced on the hosting site. Again, this would be of benefit to their readers to then click through – therefore it’s in the editor’s interest to provide a link back.
Ultimately though, there’s never going to be a hard and fast way to “convince editors,” but it’s all about making sure your content is valuable enough to make adding a link a default reaction.
My two cents. Referring to someone’s stats is a sure-fire way to secure your links. The problem is you won’t always need to build them to case studies.
For example, your linkable asset can be a guide without any figures. In this case, you could list tips from it, preferably on a custom illustration, and credit it with a link as the original source of data. Most editors won’t dare to remove that link, as it’ll feel like some sort of a copyright breach.
11. Following up: your second chance with prospects
Where to resend a pitch when there’s silence in the mailbox?
Gurus say you should follow up on social media when people don’t reply by email.
Some even suggest sending a video or audio note over Facebook Messenger. It will ensure closer interaction between you and your prospects than you’d achieve with text messages.
I wonder if following up on social media works better than traditional emails.
I rarely check message requests on Facebook and DMs on Twitter. As for sending audio or video files, doesn’t it look like an attempt to draw more of their attention than they’re ready to give?
Opinion from Matthew Turner – Author & Content Strategist at TurnDog.co (motivational resource with lots of tips for millennial entrepreneurs).
Connect with Matthew on LinkedIn.
From my experience, FB Messenger works quite well, but it really does come down to targeting the social media(s) that the individual seems to use. I’ve had success in the DM’s, but also simply by tagging them in a tweet or on IG (and Linkedin Messenger can work quite well).
But it does come down to… depends. Go where they are, and focus on the platform they seem to use the most.
As for video and audio, it’s hit and miss. Mega busy folks lean toward text only (a video or audio doesn’t work). But for someone with less authority (not one of the mega folk with mega audiences), a video or audio can work real nice. I’ve done private videos in my time, too, using something like Loom or Wistia.
The first follow-up tends to be an email. For the second and third follow-ups, head to social (and get creative).
My two cents. To me, audio notes feel more like cold calls. And cold calling is probably the only thing that annoys people more than cold emailing.
Sending a personalized video seems to be a more interesting idea, as long as it’s short. If people didn’t have a minute to read and reply to your email, they won’t spend more time watching your video.
Back to the future: how to follow up in the long term?
Gurus say you shouldn’t give up on people who didn’t write you back.
The silence on their end doesn’t necessarily mean you screwed things up and they don’t want to deal with you at all. Some recipients probably couldn’t squeeze you into their busy schedules. Others might have found your offer not good enough to react to it.
Instead of annoying them with never-ending follow-ups, just take a break and try again in half a year or so.
I wonder what to tell prospects to make things work next time.
Resending the same pitch doesn’t seem optimistic, as it failed earlier. Should the later offer be completely different or have more value, e.g. four months of free product access instead of two?
The key with follow-ups is to offer something NEW that you didn’t mention in your initial email.
In other words, don’t do the whole “just following up on this” thing. That kind of follow-up can improve your conversion rate by 5% or so. But you’re going to burn bridges along the way.
Instead, say something like: “Not sure if you remember, but I reached out a few months ago about X. I forgot to mention Y. Is now a better time to chat more about this?”
My two cents. If you see that recipients opened your previous emails, it’s naive to assume that they were all too busy to reply. Most of them didn’t like something about your pitch.
For a long-term follow-up, consider starting over in a new thread. There’s no need to remind them about your previous failure. Since you can’t know what exactly failed earlier, make sure everything is new next time – your email copy, request, and value.
12. Outreach finale: how to nurture relationships with bloggers the morning after
When could you squeeze more out of your prospects?
Gurus say you should try to get more from people who approved your first pitch.
Today, it’s hard as hell to find individuals sympathizing with link builders. If someone didn’t mind linking to you once, the odds are they’ll have no problem doing it again.
I wonder how to make a subsequent link request the right way.
Should it be just another ask offhand? Or should email senders do some favor to recipients before reaching out with one more request?
Opinion from Mark Webster – Co-founder of Authority Hacker (free podcast, blog and video training on everything authority websites).
It depends on the mood of the conversation. If it’s very positive the first time around, you can go back at any point and ask for more. Of course, it helps if you overdeliver on your end (e.g. content is epic for a GP).
We’ve asked for a second link quite a lot, but if someone says no or doesn’t reply, we haven’t tried following up on that. We just leave it be.
One good tip is to link to their site from another guest post you are doing on a 3rd site, say.
Statistically, we reached out to about 50% of the people we got 1 link from (those who we had a good relationship with). About 60% said yes to a second link.
My two cents. Successful outreach is based on give-and-take.
I personally keep on helping people who help me in return. And I don’t keep score of how many times such interactions of mutual benefit happen. Be it for the second or twenty-second time, I don’t mind.
Rewarding prospects for their help, you’ll make them more inclined to repeat it. Otherwise, they’ll just feel used and add you to the ignore list.
How to turn a one-night stand into long-term relationships with bloggers?
Gurus say your interactions with bloggers shouldn’t be a one-night stand.
There’s much more to gain from long-term relationships. If you become a regular contributor to someone’s blog, you won’t just get more exposure for your business. You’ll have a platform to do favors to other people you’re gonna approach.
I wonder how to nurture relationships with bloggers over time.
Let’s say I reached out to someone and got what I wanted. What’s next? Should I remind them about myself by commenting on their blog posts, engaging with them on social media, or how does it work?
Opinion from Nevyana Karakasheva – Senior SEO & Content Strategist at Socialfix (business consulting and digital marketing agency).
“One-night stand” is all about seeking immediate gratification, right?
When you reach out to bloggers without a long-term “agenda” in your mind, you practically act pretty irresponsibly and let all this time you’ve invested in flirting (engaging) go to waste.
It’s the typical novice link builder’s approach. They are just like teenagers who are pushing for a quick win, while they could actually benefit and get to “score regularly,” if they nurtured a mutually beneficial relationship.
It all falls down to respect, “listening” to what the blogger needs (that is often deducing without having to ask them directly by paying attention to their writing style, topics covered, authors accepted to write on their site, and so on), and giving them just that.
Sometimes, just like a good marketer, you’d have to create a need – that is you’d have to “explain” to the blogger that his/her audience really has to read about this and that.
When you take time to appease their needs, it really shows and bloggers respect you for it.
The long-term relationship is a two-way thing. But as it comes to us reaching out to bloggers, we can do our homework and understand what thrills them, what gets them going, what scares them, and what they believe in. It is only then when you could really convince them that you “really like their blog,” that “they have a great cause,” and that “your input will be valuable to them.”
You can convince them because you can justify each of your statements and because you really mean it (hopefully). And if that is not a good old-fashioned way to say “I love you,” I don’t know what is.
So, if it is a mutual thing, you’ll get invited to the secret club, you’ll be given login credentials and access to all the blog topics down the pipeline that you could claim and start writing immediately. Or you’ll be regularly sent out round-up invites, or your future pitches will be quickly accepted and prioritized as it comes to publishing.
No one knows where your blogger relationship will take you, but of all the possibilities listed above, do you really wish to settle for a sole backlink opportunity and start all over again tomorrow morning?
I don’t know if you are a masochist like Sisyphus, but I am surely not, so I’d go for the long-term relationship instead:)
My two cents. Once you get what’s yours, don’t let your communication with bloggers end. Keep talking with them about everything industry-related.
You’re all in the same boat.
For example, link building is getting harder and harder. They must be struggling with it like everyone else. You could give them a glimpse into what worked best for you:
- where it was easy to gain backlinks;
- how you earned a link from a top-notch resource;
- which of your outreach campaigns had the highest success rate and why;
- if any of your fellow bloggers accept guest posts and introduce them to each other.
This is not the information that everyone is willing to share, which makes it even more valuable.
How to step away from the “churn and burn” approach in outreach?
Gurus say you should outperform other guest writers to build long-term relationships with bloggers.
I wonder what else to do for bloggers that hardly anyone else does.
I mean, besides submitting “high-quality” content on the topic that’s unique, has a ranking potential, and brings organic traffic to their competitors so they should have it too.
It all sounds fantastic but there’s obviously no guarantee that your post will perform just as well for them as it does for others. At least not because of simply appearing on their blog.
With site owners and editors receiving so many terrible pitches, you can stand out from the crowd by saying something like “I’ll promote the article with my X social followers and link to it from future posts.”
But it’s important to remember that a successful guest blogging campaign is the sum of its parts. From the prospecting stage right through to the content you deliver.
The promise of social promotion and links from future articles may get you through the door but you need to be able to deliver the kind of quality the editor/site owner is looking for. The problem is that most marketers are big on promises but don’t deliver. You can stand out from the crowd by exceeding expectations.
This is the secret to getting invited back to write more guest posts and turning one-off contacts into long-term relationships. This approach leads to more links than the “churn and burn” approach of most campaigns.
My two cents. To get ahead of others, try to link to your prospect’s pages of strategic importance.
Let’s say they’ve just released a new tool or feature and are struggling to promote it now. For your part, you could get it featured in one or more of your upcoming articles. Besides a link to the product page, which is much harder to gain than links to blog posts, they’d also get some exposure to their stuff.
At what point is it legitimate to pay for guest posting?
Gurus say your guest posts should bring traffic or/and social engagement to bloggers. That’s what will prompt them to invite you as a regular contributor.
I wonder how to improve the performance of guest posts.
The reality is they don’t usually perform well on their own unless bloggers or guest contributors have a large, active social following.
Opinion from Kristen Matthews – Freelance Digital Marketing Specialist and Owner of Rubicly (B2B content marketing resource).
I do a lot of guest blog posting for my clients because it’s a great way to establish thought leadership and get brands in front of new audiences. However, simply posting and considering the project done is a skewed way of thinking. To make the most out of my guest blog posts I promote them to gain more visibility.
If the guest post is for a B2B brand, I’ve had a lot of success promoting them on LinkedIn. And the beauty of LinkedIn is that you don’t have to have a big budget to promote them on the platform. I would say $100 per post.
For B2C guest blog posts, I like Facebook. I recommend to my clients that they move some budget from traditional and less effective marketing strategies and promote posts on Facebook instead of self-promotional ads about their company. Consumers resonate more with content than they do with ads.
My two cents. This tactic is definitely not for every blog on your list.
In the first place, order social ads for your guest posts on better-performing blogs. I’m referring to those that have higher metrics like domain authority, traffic, etc. These are the places where you can expect a return on your investment.
I hope you enjoyed going behind the scenes of blogger outreach reality.
As you can see, there’s more thought to give to some strategies before blindly implementing them. Blogger outreach isn’t math, and you can’t do it by someone’s proven formula. To understand how recipients see your pitch, always put yourself in their shoes. Would you accept your own offer?
Then, it’s quite naive to expect that someone else will. Don’t underestimate your prospects – they aren’t fools.
Drawing conclusions from a single opinion seems a bit questionable. That’s why I’m gonna collect some stats on the most controversial questions and update this post soon, so stay tuned.
P.S. No guru was hurt in the process.