Everyone is doing email outreach these days. Social networks may come and go, but email will always be a top communication channel.
With this popularity comes much noise. Everyone is using email to reach people of interest. According to a study by Harris Interactive, most people struggle to manage more than 50 emails a day.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to defy those odds.
These outreach marketing techniques are designed to put the groundwork in place before you even think about sending an email. Whether you’re just starting out in your career or looking to broaden your horizons as an established professional, these tips will help you get your message out.
1. Maintain a Community Presence
Being known is the strongest foundation for successful outreach. If a recipient recognizes your name, they’re much more likely to respond.
The question is, how do you create this top-of-mind presence in the first place?
Online communities are full of influencers, organizational leaders, and other “important people” you might be trying to reach. These channels have so much potential because of how niche they are.
Here are a couple of examples of communities with highly engaged users:
- Growth Hackers: a community of growth marketers, mainly from SaaS and ecommerce organizations
- Inbound.org: B2B marketers interested in content and inbound marketing
These online communities have very active audiences. However, most people fail to leverage this activity because they’re only looking at the short-term benefits. Community marketing is a long-term effort and requires nurturing. Here are some of the best ways to get the most out of them:
Contribute to AMAs
Short for “ask me anything,” these threads involve an authoritative figure from the industry answering questions posted by the community. They’re popular because they allow users to pick the brains of successful or well-known influencers.
For example, a recent AMA on Inbound.org had Sujan Patel, a well-known agency leader and content marketer, answer questions from the community:
This conversation generated nearly 100 comments. Although there were a lot of questions, Sujan gave very thorough and comprehensive answers. For those wanting to engage with Sujan and start building a relationship with him, this would be a great first step.
Look for communities in your industry that run regular AMAs. Get on their email lists so you can stay updated on when they happen. Make sure to do your research and ask thoughtful, relevant questions to get their attention.
Join the conversation
As I mentioned earlier, community marketing is like farming. You need to nurture individuals and make a name for yourself. This helps you become more familiar with other members of the community over time.
Contributing to conversations on a regular basis is key. Do this by providing thoughtful, in-depth responses and comments to discussions.
Put aside some time on a daily basis to go through discussions relevant to your expertise. Contribute to the conversation with comments. Ask questions and provide additional value to the topic. Comments such as “Great article!” contribute nothing, and will likely be ignored.
From here, it’s your job to reach out to authoritative targets within the community. Mention the discussions you’ve had and the connections you’ve made to add context to your outreach.
Your approach will depend on your objectives. For example, if you’re building influencer relationships, then this will be the first of many steps. For distribution, however, things will be more direct and simple.
2. Providing Genuine, Specific Value
Even influencers are trying to grow their business. They care about a multitude of things, from how well their content resonates with their audience to the contribution their product makes to their customers.
This presents an opportunity to cut through the noise. Where most people ask for something, you’re going to give instead.
Give them a testimonial
Co-marketing and business development opportunities can be closer than you think. Your suppliers, as well as the tools and software you use, likely have a similar audience to you.
Get the attention of organizational leaders from within target companies by giving them a testimonial. This is one of the easiest ways to give something valuable and get attention.
I often see testimonials from the most proficient sales and marketing experts in the industry. And I believe it’s strategic.
There are obvious SEO benefits here, as a testimonial in the right place can provide a high-value backlink. But from an outreach perspective, this is a great way to build a relationship.
Document your influencers
This next approach gets influencers and thought leaders to talk about you. It takes elements of a testimonial and extends it into long-form content.
It’s a true win-win solution. You get your name in front of the expanded audience created by your target influencer. And they get to create content that truly demonstrates that their product or service works.
Bryan Harris of VideoFruit did this to get his first 10,000 readers. His approach was as follows:
- Identify your audience down to interests, desires, and particular traits
- Create an incentive – in Bryan’s case, a free course teaching how to create videos for small businesses
- List those who have access to your audience
- Filter based on specific criteria
- Choose one you feel you can generate a great case study for
- Reach out with the results their product, service or advice has got you
As a result, Bryan was featured in an email to 600,000 people and mentioned in Lifehacker. He became a “poster boy” for those he wanted to reach.
The objective here is to provide some real value upfront to those you’re trying to reach. Most people stop at blog comments and sharing articles on Twitter, expecting a response.
Instead, help your audience achieve their own goals or solve their problems. This is the best way to build long-term relationships.
3. Guest Blogging as a Foot in the Door
We’ve talked about providing value as a method of getting your foot in the door. But there’s something all business leaders love: exposure.
Guest blogging is a content strategy that many marketers use to generate new business opportunities, backlinks, and referral traffic. An often overlooked benefit if guest blogging is influencer engagement.
Expert roundups used to be popular in getting the attention of thought leaders. But now most see right through it, both from the influencer and reader’s perspective.
Get influencers involved in your guest blogging efforts. Not only are you adding third-party stories to your content, but you’re helping your target influencers get their message in front of a larger audience, too.
Here’s the best way to do it.
Step 1: Find a common theme
If you’re investing time in creating a great piece of content, you may as well engage with as many influencers at once as you can.
Therefore, you want to find a theme that connects several influencers together within your piece. This is what Tom Whatley did for a piece on side project marketing for Crazy Egg:
Step 2: Ask for relevant insights
This approach isn’t to create another “expert roundup.” The insights you gain from influencers should back up and reinforce the points you’re making in your content.
You need to find the sweet spot between your content’s topic and your target influencers’ experience. In the example above, the article listed seven different side projects that helped fuel growth. Tom researched each company to see how they did it, and asked the right questions:
Step 3: Distribution
Now you’ve established and nurtured those vital relationships, you can work together to distribute the content. Helping the publication with content promotion will form stronger relationships.
This approach is effective for business development and co-marketing opportunities. You’ve already proven there’s an overlap in interests, as well as your reliability to deliver on your promises.
Outreach Email Best Practices
Doing the preparation work is just the first step to successful outreach. What you write in your email may be the difference when your targets choose “reply” or “delete.”
To wrap up this post, let’s cover some best practices to keep in mind when crafting your outreach emails. There aren’t hacks or tactics, but rather philosophies you should bake into all stages of your approach.
Personalization beyond form fields
I’m not the first person to talk about personalization, and I certainly won’t be the last. The problem is, many people start and end at the “first name” and “company name” fields.
Depending on the nature of your outreach, this is fine. The right segmentation of audience and email copy can lead to successful mass outreach. When reaching out to high-demand individuals, however, you need to go deeper.
There are several ways you can do this:
- Drop them a note about something they’ve created or written about, citing what you found valuable and even posing a question.
- Make a call-back to discussions you’ve both taken part in at various online communities.
- Mention a mutual friend/associate. This should not to be confused with an introduction, so make sure the burden of the connection is taken on by you.
The idea is to open up a conversation and demonstrate you know who they are. More than that, though, influencers and senior decision makers can smell scripts a mile away.
According to Marketing Donut, 44% of salespeople give up after just one follow-up. Couple this with the fact 80% of sales require five, and you can see why results are often sub-par.
Get sophisticated with your follow-up processes. Set regular reminders to reach out to influencers and organizational leaders you’re trying to connect with. This is why it’s crucial to have your CRM constantly updated.
If you struggle to generate a response, go back up the funnel. Use one of the techniques above. It’s imperative you remain persistent!
Show off your credibility
When reaching out to organizational leaders and influencers, it’s important to give them a reason to care. They want to work with people with a proven (and consistent) track record. Therefore, there’s nothing wrong with talking about your accomplishments. Even if they haven’t heard of you before, they may be familiar with the work that you’ve done.
At the same time, treat them as equals and express interest in their work. Again, this is a form of personalization. But if you can link your work and theirs, they’re more likely to respond.
How are you currently performing outreach? Which tools and techniques do you find work best?
About the author
Timo Rein is the co-founder and president of Pipedrive, a provider of sales CRM software that gives sales teams control over their selling processes. He has more than 15 years of experience as a salesman, sales manager and software entrepreneur. Before co-founding Pipedrive, Rein helped build a leading sales and management training house in the Baltics. Prior to that, he was among the top one percent door-to-door salesmen with Southwestern Company.