Outreach is a new term for an old method. At its core, outreach is simply networking with your online peers.
The idea is to connect with influencers – people who are well respected – within your niche, in the hope that you can arrange a way to get a backlink from them.
These backlinks will come from a variety of different sources: guest blog posts being the main one, but reviews of your products are also highly favorable.
Outreach can end up providing multiple benefits:
- Quality backlinks
- Access to a wider, related, audience
- An increase in perceived authority (on top of the shoulders of giants)
- Potential increased sales
- Potential business and joint venture opportunities
A lot of people in the internet marketing profession, and not just newbies, find outreach hard to do. Perhaps they just don’t know how to or perhaps, like I was, simply scared of making contact.
The thing is, outreach is needed, regardless of your niche. While SEO and social network posts are awesome, there is nothing like getting backlinks from a quality and highly respected source.
It’s even more beneficial when influencers talk about you and your brand, as this can catapult you in front of a wider but related audience.
To get you started, here are my little guide for creating an outreach campaign.
Like with almost anything in internet marketing, you can’t start an outreach campaign half-cocked.
You need to do your due diligence and start researching potential influencers who you can contact and build a relationship with.
There are two ways you can start this research: manually or with automated help.
Start by doing a Google search for the “Top [niche] blogs” or similar term. Create a spreadsheet to track your data so you can log who you are trying to outreach to.
Examine each blog in detail, check for:
- Similarities to your own site and content
- Social shares and discussions
- Comment counts and discussions styles
What you are trying to gauge here is whether the blogger is a good fit for you, and vice versa.
If they blog about SEO and you focus on email marketing, you may want to add them to your maybe list rather than focusing on them.
You also want to make sure that their content is popular and that there is a valid discussion based around the content (i.e. no flame wars, spam comments or a lack of input from the influencer).
For each site mark down:
- Site name/URL
- Influencer name
- Contact details (email, contact form etc.)
- Niche focus
- Facebook URL
- Twitter URL
- Google+ URL
- Any notes that may be relevant such as type of content they prefer or frequency of posts
Using software such as Ninja Outreach can take the pain out of the initial research.
Ninja Outreach allows you to simply enter a keyword and the software will search high and low for related blogs.
It will provide numerous additional details at the click of a button, and can save you literally hours and hours of work.
The program also allows you to track your outreach attempts, create email templates and even send out emails, making things a little easier for you.
You can even filter results by things like social shares, SEO metrics and whether or not they have contact details available.
You will still need to do some leg work though as automated software can’t tell you if the site is a good fit or not.
Quality not Quantity
Remember, the idea with this research is to find the top influencers who suit your site and own personality. If your list ends up at 100 or even 50 people long, you’re doing it wrong.
There’s no harm in compiling a long list like that but you should only focus your efforts on the top five or ten at first.
Once you have a list of potential influencers to contact, the next thing to do is to find what sort of value you can offer them!
That’s right; you need to give them value. You see, these people are at the top of the heap and no doubt are being contacted by both genuine customers/readers and a million and one wannabes offering value or begging favors.
In other words, they are busy people with no time for spammy, or thin value offers.
What you need to do, is offer something that will attract the attention of the influencer and prove to them that you are worthy of their time.
What can you offer?
One of the most popular options is to provide the influencer with quality content. This could be in any format, but should be tied closely to the influencers own style of content.
The content should be of the very highest quality possible; crap content will simply equal a rejection and probably a black mark against your name in their eyes.
Right now there’s no need to produce content, merely to find the right sort of content the influencer would appreciate.
Scour there site to look for content that has been popular and see fi there are opportunities to expand or improve upon it. Look for gaps in their content plan that you might be able to fill with your own content.
Regardless whether you think you have the best content that could actively improve the influencer’s site, before you even think about getting in touch you need to warm them up first.
The best way to do this is to sort of stalk them:
- Read their blog
- Comment on their articles
- Share their content
- Follow them on social media
- Join in any discussions on social media
- Find the sites that they visit and join in the discussion there too
The idea here is not to barrage them with “me, me, me”, but to honestly and genuinely start building a relationship with them.
Don’t beg favours or ask why they haven’t responded to your emails in these public places: it will simply annoy them and make you look like a douche.
And on that note, don’t act like a douche either! If you haven’t got anything productive or informative to add to the discussion then don’t. You’re selling yourself here so behave!
This will take some time, you can’t fire 5 comments at them one day and think yourself done, it will take weeks or longer to get the influencer receptive to outreach.
Get in Touch
Once you feel that you have built up enough of a relationship, it’s time to get into action.
The best way to do so is by sending them an email.
The email must be:
- But friendly
- To the point
The idea is to not waste their time with rambling nonsense.
Feel free to use a template to get a basic outline of the email you want to send but, and this is vitally important:
Personalize each and every email you send to an influencer.
This is not just about changing their name and website, but actually being personal. Perhaps you can mention their recent content or discussion on a point they raised.
However you go about it, they must not feel like you have simply copied and pasted an email and sent it to 3,000 people!
Each email must contain:
- A to the point subject line
- A brief intro
- Who you are
- What you want
- A brief summary
Here’s a brief example:
Subject: About your article on content marketing with outsourcers
Hi John Smith,
My name’s Steve Razinski and I run I’ve Tried That, a site about marketing and marketing scams.
I saw your recent article on XYZ.com and was impressed by its detail. I especially enjoyed your angle on using outsources for content marketing.
I noticed that you don’t yet have an article on ZYX subject, and I think that a post like that could really benefit your audience.
If you’d be interested I could create that article for you. All I would want in return is an author bio box and link back to my site. You can see some example work below.
Please let me know if this is something that would interest you, or if there’s something else I could write for you.
If you don’t yet have any existing content for other people, at least include a couple of links to your own content so the influencer can gauge skills and style fit.
Make sure your site is hyperlinked, and it’s also worth making sure your signature has links to your social network profiles.
As always, make sure the email is well formatted (no wall of text!) and has been checked for spelling and grammar – you make a mistake now and you will blow any chance you have.
There are rules for following up with an influencer.
1. Give it some time! Allow the influencers a few days at least to respond, they are busy after all.
2. You should follow up! If you haven’t had a response after about a week, there’s no harm in sending a quick follow up email. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve received an interesting email, and put it to one side to respond later and forgot about it.
3. Don’t harass them! If you get a rejection or fail to receive a response to your follow up, take the hint and mark them on your list as not unresponsive and move on. Spamming them will only result in you being labelled as a spammer, which will considerably hinder future outreach attempts.
If the influencer is keen for your content, get it ready as quickly as possible while still making sure it is very high quality.
Never outsource this work unless you are 100% confident in the ability of your outsourcer, though I would still suggest writing it yourself as this allows your personal voice to be heard and resonated.
On delivery of the draft offer to make any changes necessary, and make sure that you supply any images agreed on and that they are quality but optimized.
Promote Accepted Content
After your content is published, promote the hell out of it!
Share it on all your social networks, mention it to your email list, maybe even write a short post about it on your blog.
The idea here is to help the influencer with the promotion, as it also helps you too!
The Bottom Line
Outreach isn’t difficult but it does take, time, persistence and the willingness to step outside of your comfort zone.
The benefits are well worth it, with both a solid, natural backlink, increased exposure and potentially more sales and opportunities coming your way.
Do you have any tips on outreach? Do you have any preferred tools? Let me know in the comments below!