Expert’s Guide to Content Marketing Outreach
Now that you’ve written your first blog post, you’re all pumped up about sharing it with the world. You upload it to WordPress & hit publish, waiting for the traffic to start rolling in. Any minute now…
Except, it doesn’t. The only traffic you end up seeing is the handful of Facebook friends who stumbled upon your share on their feeds. Which, unless they’re semi-famous, doesn’t help too much with establishing your new blog as an authority.
The takeaway here is that even if you’re the most knowledgeable in your field or industry, traffic and recognition won’t just find you out of nowhere. You’ll have to actively seek it out – and one of the best ways to do that is through promotional outreach.
Getting The Audience & Angle Right
Outreach isn’t all that easy, though. You can’t just email the CEO of Google and ask them to share your article. To get this right, you’ll need to first find the right audience, and then get your outreach angle right (think, making it as least spammy as possible).
The audience part can be quite simple – there are 4 different internet fame-levels, each responding differently to outreach email…
- Celebrity – Anyone with a huge following. Think, Tim Ferris, Gary Vaynerchuk, etc. A single shoutout from them can lead to hundreds of qualified leads for you. The downside is, though, that they’re busy. The only chance you have to get in touch with them is by doing something creative & tailored to their interests. While this may be hard, it’s by no means impossible.
- Influencer – Professionals with a lot of followers, but not nearly as much as a celebrity. They’re significantly easier to get in touch with, given that you get the email angle right.
- Micro Influencer – The sweet spot. They have enough of a following to make your outreach efforts count, but not famous enough for them to just outright ignore you.
- Newbie – Someone who’s just starting out. Good news – they’ll be more than glad to share your content. Bad news – they don’t have much of a following, so you’re not going to see a lot of traffic or leads coming your way.
To get the best results out of content marketing outreach, you’d want to target Influencers and Micro-Influencers, specifically. Celebrities tend to be very hard to get in touch with, and require campaigns tailored to them. Newbies, on the other hand, don’t have enough of a following to make it count.
So now that you’ve got a good idea of who you’re targeting, you need to pick the outreach angle.
Imagine you’re having a really busy day. You’ve closed 2 new clients and made some major headway in finishing a long-term project. During your off-time, you get an email from some stranger on the internet, asking you to read and share their article. Would you? Probably not – you’d be wondering where they even got your email in the first place.
Unless, of course, the article in question has something to do with your interests, or stands to benefit you in some way. The same applies to influencers – write something interesting, and you’re bound to get their attention. There are 2 ways to do that…
In addition to the 4 audience types we’ve mentioned, there’s also journalists. Working with them is a lot different, something we’ll cover in a later article.
It goes without saying, the article you’re sharing should have something to do with the influencer. You can’t email someone with a dog food blog & ask them to share your article on HR (well, you could, but it wouldn’t work).
So, you’d want to find someone who’s written something about the same topic as you. This means that they might be interested in what you have to say, as long as you’re saying something unique.
So, look for similar articles on Google, give them a quick read & see what they have to say. Compare it to your article – is there anything new you’re adding, something that the influencer would find interesting? If so, use that as a hook for your email.
Everyone likes a quick ego-boost – and what’s a better ego boost than a random stranger on the internet quoting your words? By mentioning someone else’s work (and name) in your article, you’re reinforcing their authority as an expert. They will, in turn, be more inclined to return the favor.
Make sure to mind the context, though. You can’t just create an entire blog post based on what everyone else is saying (Unless you’re doing an expert round-up, but we’ll get to that in a later article). The end-goal is always to establish your authority, not someone else’s.
So, depending on the length of your article, you could go for up to 10 quotes or mentions.
Finding the Influencers
First of, before you even begin gathering the influencer contacts, you’ll need a place to keep track of your leads.
The most basic thing you can use is Google Sheets, gathering information such as…
- First Name – you don’t really need a last name since that’s something you’ll never include in an email
- Social Profiles – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. If the prospect is being unresponsive on Email, you could always ping them on social media.
- Blog Name – for “Hey [name]! I’m a big fan of [blog name]”
- Blog Post Name – tying in the reason for contact. “I’ve read your article on [blog post name] and wrote something similar.”
- Blog Post Link
- Personalized Message – for mass emails using Streak (which we’ll explain in a bit). Not needed if you’re sending out individual emails.
Once you’ve got your sheet ready, it’s time to start looking for leads. As we’ve already mentioned, you’d want to find influencers and micro-influencers, specifically, as celebrities and newbies are either impossible or pointless to reach.
To distinguish the categories, you can use either social reach (Facebook, Twitter, etc. follows)…
Or traffic (SEMrush, Ahrefs, etc. estimation)…
The later, however, can be a bit inaccurate, since it estimates through organic traffic. It’s possible for a blog to have a lot of subscribers, without getting almost anything from SEO.
To get a good estimate, however, you’d target blogs with social media following of 5,000 – 50,000 or monthly traffic of up to 100,000.
Then, you need to actually find the right influencers. The easiest way for that is through Google by finding articles on the same topic.
If, for example, you’re writing an article on the latest techniques in SEO. You’ll be looking for articles on the topics such as “SEO best practices” or “killer SEO techniques.”
Then, you’d approach with the following angle…
My name’s [ your name], and I’m a long-time fan of [blog name].
I stumbled upon your article on the latest SEO techniques and was pretty impressed! As a fellow SEO specialist, I’ve been doing some of my own experiments, figuring out what works with the Fred update.
I’ve made some interesting discoveries such as [Finding] and [Finding]
Thought it might be something you’d find interesting. You can check out the article here [link]”
On a similar note, you could find articles that are on other Google updates. Your new discoveries are bound to interest anyone that’s affected by the changes. So, the angle would be…
My name’s [name], and I’m a long-time fan of [blog name].
I’m a big fan of your recaps on Google updates, really helped me out once or twice.
I’ve been experimenting with the changes that came with the new Fred update and managed to make some real interesting findings, such as [Finding] and [Finding].
As a form of giving back, thought I’d give you a head start before the information goes publish.
You can learn more about my findings in the full article here: [link]
The same rules apply to pretty much any niche or topic you’re working on.
If you’re writing an article on “why company culture matters,” for example, you’d look for articles on the keyword “company culture.” For best effect, you’ll look for articles that were published recently (think, within the last month, 6 months, year). You can do that by going to “tools” on the google search and changing “anytime” to your prefered time-frame.
Then, you give the article a quick read and find what your piece says differently. Then, you’ll use that as a hook.
My name’s [your name] from [blog name].
I recently read your article on [article name] and thought it was super inspiring. I wrote something similar recently on [your article], where I [brief description of what the article is about]. Did you know that [interesting fact]?
I’d love it if you could give the article a read and maybe give me some feedback
All the best,
Or, to make it easier, you could just use the other article as a source. All you have to do, in that case, is mention a link & credit the influencer at the end of the article. To make the influencer more likely to reply, you could also include a quote from their article.
For your outreach to work best, you’ll use both types.
For SEO-targeted articles, this doesn’t really work. The people you’ll end up emailing will be the ones already ranked for the keyword, and chances are, they wouldn’t be willing to help their competition by giving them link juice. To make this work for SEO, you should email people who’ve linked to the competitor’s article & tell them how you’ve made something bigger and better.
Now that you know how this works, all you have to do is start gathering the influencer contacts.
Once you start working on this, however, you’ll realize that finding emails can be pretty damn hard. While some websites openly state author emails, a lot of them don’t. A lot of blogs tend to have a general “contact us” email, which is pretty useless. If you go that route, you’re not going to get a lot of replies.
But we’re here to save the day! If you have access to the right tools, you can find anyone’s email. Specifically, you’re going to need ClearBit Connect and MailTester.
The first one is pretty simple – all you have to do is input the company name & you’ll get a list of all the emails associated…
There are times, however, when this doesn’t work. The company might not be in the ClearBit database, or the associated writer might be new.
In that case, you’ll use MailTester. What it does is check emails whether associated with a certain domain actually exist.
Since you already know the authors first and last name, this shouldn’t be hard. Keep trying different [first name] [last name] @ domain.com combinations until you get it right.
Sometimes, however, the company has this disallowed. If both methods fail, there are several other ways to find the email. In most cases, though, you might not want to complicate the process & spend hours looking for an individual’s email. If you haven’t found the right email with the two methods we’ve mentioned, it might be a better idea to do the outreach on Twitter or LinkedIn Inmail.
Generally, gathering outreach contacts can be a pretty grueling task. Once you’ve got your methodology down, you’ll just be doing the same thing over and over. So, it might be a good idea to outsource this to a VA.
How to do Email Outreach (The Right Way)
One man’s blog post is another man’s spam. And no one likes spam.
Even if you have the best email list & the right angle, you’re not guaranteed a response. Your email could, for example, just be overlooked. Or it might not click with the person you’re reaching out to.
To maximize your chances of success, you can use…
- Tried-and-Tested Outreach Best Practices
- Mass Email Tools
- Outreach Analytics
Outreach Best Practices
If you started going into content marketing outreach on your own, you’d have to do a lot of experimentation to see what worked and what didn’t. Thankfully, we’ve done the experimentation for you – here are 4 best practices that have always worked for us.
Spark Their Interest with a Subject Line
The subject line is the first thing the influencer gets to see. It’s also something that determines whether it’s read or not.
Something like “About your blog post” is too generic and spammy. While it can still be read, it’s something that can really be overlooked, since it doesn’t really say anything.
With the title, you’d want to do one (or all) of the following…
Did the influencer miss something important in their blog post? Maybe there’s an easier way of doing something, or a new methodology that simply works better? All of these benefit the
So, let’s say you’re writing an article on E-mail tracking & how it’s useful for landing new clients. You find an article that talks in-depth on the topic, but missing something critical, like DocSend for tracking sent documents.
Your subject line could be something like…
“Re: E-Mail Tracking Article: How to use DocSend to track documents”
Do you have a controversial opinion? Maybe something that contradicts the influencer’s own thoughts? At a glance, it might seem like a bad idea – who’d enjoy being emailed just to be told they’re wrong, anyway?
Well, in most cases, influencer’s write about what they care about. Meaning, it’s in their best interests to be proven wrong – they’ll come out of the experience smarter & more self-assured, whether you prove them wrong or not.
So, for example, let’s say the article is about how culture fit is more important than hard skills. You could spark their interest by starting off the email with a contradictory statement straight off. For example…
“How & why hard skills beats culture fit”
If you’re writing an article that’s relevant to the influencer’s niche (which you are. Or you wouldn’t be emailing them in the first place), it shouldn’t be hard to spark their curiosity.
In this case, you can just go for whatever new information your article uncovers. For example…
“Re: recent changes to the Google algorithm”
This is where the “personalized line” on your Google Sheets comes in. If you tailor your email to the influencers interests, you’ll be significantly improving your success rate.
No one’s going to read your email if it looks like this…
I liked your article about stuff: [link]
It’s an amazing article about stuff, I really liked it!
I, too, wrote an article about stuff!
Check it out here: [link]
Please like, share, and retweet.
You don’t have to, however, custom-write 100+ emails, either. While that would probably be more effective, it would be a major timesink.
Instead, you can have the first part of your email a generic template, and the second dedicated specifically to the influencers interests. You’ll use a tool like Streak to plug in the “personalized line” from the sheet straight into all the email variations.
The personalized aspect should cover 2 things…
Author’s Interests – How is the article related to the author’s interests? Do they tend to share similar content on social media? Are they into long-form, authoritative content? Do they write on a similar topic often?
Article Relevance – What’s so special about the article? Why would the author find it interesting? Include any interesting tidbits of information that could spark their curiosity.
So, for example…
My name’s [your name] from [blog name].
I recently stumbled upon your article on [article name]: [article link]
[Personalized line one: Really liked your approach to email tracking. I’ve done something similar in the past, but I also use BananaTag to track links opened. Thought you might find it super useful.]
In fact, I’ve written an all-you-need-to-know guide on the topic here: [link]
Thought you might like it, [personalized line two: since you love authoritative content so much]
With the example, you have both content (you might want to try this different tool) and personal (mentioning author’s personal preference) relevance.
Don’t Ask for Tweets
Asking for stuff is redundant. The main purpose behind your outreach email shouldn’t be “please please please tweet my article.” If your main intent is to get shares, you won’t do nearly as well.
Rather, you’re trying to create value for the influencer – they should be getting something out of your email.
If the email is relevant, though, they’ll definitely share it on social media. That’s what social media is for, after all.
You should ask for links, though, if that’s what you’re going for. It’s not something implied (as is with shares).
Even if you write the best email ever, it might just slip through the cracks.
So, it’s always good to follow up, in case the influencer didn’t get to see the email. Follow up just once, though. Any more than that and you’ll risk ruining your reputation – if they don’t read this email, they might read the next. That won’t happen, however, if you bombard them with emails.
To make sure you get this right, you can use a tool like Streak. It allows you to see whether or not your email was opened. So, you can easily identify leads who just didn’t see the email and the ones that simply don’t care.
How to Use Streak for Mass Email
Now that you have all that down, you need to actually send the email.
Doing it manually could prove to be more efficient – by writing individual emails, they’re bound to be more personal.
This, however, would be extremely time-consuming. You wouldn’t even be able to outsource it – whoever wrote the article will definitely do a better job at writing the email than a VA.
Nor can you send one generic email to everyone – that’s just a lost cause.
To get the most out of it, you can use Streak (or your CRM of choice) to send a mass customized email.
As we’ve already mentioned, you need to have the right information in the spreadsheet. You’ll be using Streak template fields to use different cells in your email.
Then, if you’re using Google Sheets, you download it as a CSV, which you upload to Streak.
You create a generic email on Gmail and fill it in with the templates for the Excel sheets. The templates will fill in the right cell for each row.
Once you get to this point, all you have to do is hit “send” and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
If you want to have a way to measure your outreach efforts, you could use a tool such as Mention to keep track of who shares your contents.
Wrapping It Up
Now that you know the ins and outs of outreach strategy, it’s time to put all that into practice.
Provide & show real value, be genuine, and you’re bound to get results.
If there’s anything we missed or any personal tips and experiences you’d like to share, let us know down in the comments!