Posted by MoosaHemani
In 2012, I wrote a detailed post on Moz.com on how to write emails that get better response rates. Since then, things have changed incredibly within the digital marketing spectrum. Outreach and communication is my favorite subject, so I ran some tests and experiments to find out what has changed in regards to that in SEO and link building.
As a result, I found out that if you are using email templates, you will receive low response rates (or no responses at all); but even if you are writing customized emails, your response rates may have dropped in the past few years.
In this post, I’ll share what’s likely behind this major change, and what you should alter in your email and outreach process to increase response rates.
Level up personalization
Personalization is the main tenet of any email you send to anyone, for any purpose. However, personalization becomes much more important when you send a large number of customized emails to people you may or may not know.
If you are going to use a generalized email (write one email and send it to 100 people), the response rate will probably be zero. Most bloggers, journalists and people in general are busy, so they tend to ignore these messages altogether.
The basics of email personalization look something like this:
1. Use the recipient’s name in the email
2. Talk on common grounds
3. Make your point clear
4. Keep it short
Those are good places to start; but if you really want your emails to get opened and deliver the results you hope for, you’re going to have to think beyond the basics.
Let me share my ideas for smartly stepping up your email game.
Personalize the subject line
It is, indeed, important to use a recipient’s name in the email. But what if the person didn’t open the email? My idea is to use the name of the recipient in the subject line, which is likely to get their attention and cause them to highly consider opening your email.
Hey Jeff, would love to talk about your latest blog post.
Go beyond the first name
While using the first name in an email is certainly a sign that you have researched the recipient, including information that suggests you know where they are geographically based is even better.
Hope everything is going fine with you! I was actually collecting some data about UK SEOs and the first name that came to my mind was yours. 🙂
Incorporate latest happenings
Incorporating elements regarding the latest news and happenings, particularly if they are likely to impact the recipient, can also be invaluable. This could have the effect of making them feel you’ve spent time getting to know them, their work and their interests.
Hope everything is fine with you. I am sure you must be busy with stuff related to the SEO Secrets conference with SEO Hacker. If I was in the Philippines, I would have attended that.
To get the responses you need, you must go beyond the first name of the recipient and make them feel like you share a more personal connection.
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours
When you ask someone for a favor, no matter how small, you recognize the commitment of time, money and effort the favor “costs” on their end. If you are not going to offer something equally valuable in return, your response rate will be impacted, and you will have likely negated the chance to build a lasting relationship.
Always keep Robert Cialdini’s principle of reciprocation in mind when conducting outreach, for in the online world, it all about give and take.
For instance, if you are asking for a writing opportunity, assure the blogger that your content quality will be top-notch and that you will promote it in such a way that they will receive eyeballs and traction beyond what they might normally expect.
If you are asking for content placement, explain to the email recipient how it will benefit their audience.
Also, if you are calling bloggers to cover an event, let them know what’s in it for them (e.g., networking and free food.)
Recently, I was talking to Matt Janaway, VP of Search & Digital at The Workplace Depot, and he drove home the importance of reciprocity:
“Perception of value is key. You have to provide the person you are reaching out to with the perception that you are helping them out as much as they are helping you out—if not more. It’s a trade-off that both parties have to be happy with. If you want them to do you a favour by posting your content, then you have to show them how important this is for you and give them something in return. It could be that the article you give them is of an incredible quality, but you could also provide value in the form of advice, a tip, a gift, an introduction to somebody you already have a relationship—or even an I.O.U. Be creative, but always try to ensure you offer value to the person you are trying to build a bond with, otherwise they will see it as a one-sided relationship.”
Find topic-specific prospects
When you are sending outreach emails for your link building campaign, it is very important to make sure you’re clear on who you’re targeting.
Look beyond industry-specific blogs and begin targeting the blogs closely related to your topic. Let’s say my topic is on WP Hosting and its impact on SEO. In this case, I should target blogs that cover WP hosting instead of looking for blogs that talk about SEO.
Go slow, step by step
Formerly, it was my practice to keep emails short and to the point.
An idea I learned from Brian Dean is to go slow and go step by step.
Instead of sending everything in one email, try to send an email that talks about the recipient and the scope of your content. Instead of sharing the link, seek their permission first.
I witnessed a 3% bump in my email response rate during my first test of this method.
There are obviously other elements to consider when crafting and sending outreach emails, but mine can be summed up rather succinctly:
1. Send only emails that are short and to the point.
2. Double check grammar and punctuation before hitting the send button.
3. Make sure your subject link is personalized and mobile-friendly.
4. Always give the recipient a reason to reply.
Do you send outreach emails for link building? What responses are you getting? Please share your experiences with us in the comment section.
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