Outreach, a guide for humans
Are you human?
Probably. So why do you insist on acting like a robot when writing your outreach emails? Why do you write canned, templated, boring plain vanilla form letters? Easy, because you don’t have time to form a personal connection with every outreach opportunity you come across.
That’s why I’ve written this post, (my first ever on Searcherize, here’s to many many more), to show some of the ways I try to build a quick connection with a webmaster before I send that form letter out.
Nothing in this post is going to blow you away. In fact it’s quite possible you already use many of these tactics in your outreach, but this post is about real down to earth easily applied tactics that you can start using today. Hope you enjoy and find something useful!
Be Human - Form a connection
That’s really all we need to do. Remember to act like humans when we email people. First form a connection, get to know the person in some small way. Then email them. The connection necessary for Link Building does not have to be as deep or as firm as the connections we make in real life.
In real life, we rarely ask favors of complete strangers. Favors are more generally requested from family and friends. People who we already have a connection with. So that’s were we start, by forming a connection. Of course, online favors are usually not as involved as offline favors so online connections do not have to be as strong as offline connections should. In fact, often, as is the case when offering guest posts, the outreach target will be receiving a benefit as well. So the connection doesn’t have to be strong, but any kind of connection will increase the probability of a successful conclusion many times over. There have been a few awesome articles on natural outreach written recently. One by Michael King called Throw Away Your Form Letters (or Five Principles to Better Outreach Link Building) is simply put one of the most awesome outreach posts ever written. If you’ve never read it, stop, read it, and come on back. Another incredible outreach post is by Justin Briggs. It’s awesome, epic, and of course, full of zombies, it’s called Content-based Outreach for Link Building and it is another must read post.
Those two articles are great. But what if you are doing quick hit link building? What if you don’t have the time to build those great natural relationships, or if the sites you are reaching out to simply aren’t worth that kind of time investment? Should you drop the whole relationship thing and just go straight with form letters and hope for the best? I say nay. Here’s how I do quick, low-level relationship building for Link Building victories without too much time.
- Twitter: I love using Twitter for outreach relationship building.
@richardjustice Richard. I have a quick request for one of the articles you wrote. Any way I can email you?
— Steven Weldler (@StevenWeldler) December 16, 2011
The response I received to this tweet was the same contact info publicly available on the MLB website, however I believe that the reason the I got a response and a link on MLB.com from the email I subsequently sent was because I asked for contact info on Twitter. Suddenly I wasn’t just one of many many people emailing Richard Justice every day, I was the guy who contacted him on Twitter. A small difference, but one that often makes all the difference.
Notice that I specifically mentioned our Twitter conversation in the subject, that’s crucial. I even misspelled his name and still survived, how do you like that?! Of course for all I know Richard is an email responding machine who answers every email ever sent to him including emails in foreign languages that Google Translate says are telling him about his late Nigerian uncle who left him a fortune. I doubt it.
Here is another tweet that led to a link.
@LynnHasselbrgr Lynn. If I wanted to pitch you an infographic that I think you’d like, how do I reach you?
— Steven Weldler (@StevenWeldler) November 9, 2011
In short, quick relationship building for outreach is easy and quick through Twitter.
- Forums: Joining a site forum and engaging/messaging through the forum is a great way to cut through the noise and grab someones attention. When pitching an Infographic to a large auto industry site, I noticed that one of the author’s who often posted Infographics was very active in the forums. I joined the forum and messaged the author directly apologizing for being “stalkerish”.
WIN! Forum outreach is so much more personal and so much harder to spam, that it kicks every other outreach method into another continent, provided that the author in question is active on the forum.
- Step out of the box: It works in real life why wouldn’t it work online?
- Send a letter. No, put down that email, I mean a real letter, through the post office. It’s out of the box, and I guarantee a higher rate of success. Much higher.
- Call them. Pick up the phone. Talking to someone on the phone means you have their attention, and when they feel you are a real person, your chances increase many times over.
Hold the connection for future use
When you’ve formed the connection, established the relationship, and gotten the link, the very last thing you want to do is lose that connection. Follow them on all social networks you are active on and interact with their content, +1, retweet, comment, whatever, just do it. In fact, some of my best online “friends” have come through link building relationships that have turned into real relationships. (Or as real as online relationships can be).
That wraps up my very first post on Searcherize. I’m very excited with this new project and I hope some of you will take the time to subscribe, share, and drop me some words of encouragement in the comments. Any tips would also be much appreciated.