This is a guest post by Lesley Vos.
Let’s start with the bad news:
Overwhelmed with email, people don’t always open, read, or respond to them. And with only 4% of all business related emails clicked, 22% opened, and 78% ignored, “overwhelmed” sounds like an understatement.
But the good news is:
Email remains the most effective digital communication channel with an average of $38 in returns for every $1 spent. Plus, email is 40 times more authoritative than Facebook and Twitter combined.
So the problem is not email, but how you use it, especially for your outreach efforts. With an average of $6.85 for every $1 spent, influencer marketing has become an integral part of most campaigns.
In fact, email outreach as the #1 tactic to hit a target. But with 84% of marketers running this strategy, how are you going to stand out and succeed?
Consider these core principles of email outreach when planning your marketing campaign:
What makes email so efficient?
As ProOpinion states, email is “inherently personal – each person receives a message straight to his or her inbox.”
So forget about writing cold templates, paraphrasing and plagiarizing emails from other bloggers, and try to better personalize every outreach you send.
- Use first names
- Offer a compliment
- Show them you know them
- Use a conversational tone
- Be honest and sincere
- Concentrate on what’s in it for them
Source: Tim Soulo for Ahrefs
Sounds obvious, but so many productive bloggers ignore these principles. They write “Dear Sir” or “Hello, Webmaster,” forgetting about psychology and the natural desire of every person to be treated as a friend and individual.
“Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Studies show that when we hear our names, a reaction in the brain makes us sympathize an interlocutor, allowing the latter to benefit from it.
Just like that!
Lyrical digression: try to guess if senders who email me with “Dear Sir” get a response. Yes, I get such letters. Yes, even in 2017 (and despite dozens of articles from influencers on writing badass outreach emails).
Personalization is about flattering one’s ego. You might want to double the effect, repeating a receiver’s name throughout the email, but be careful not to go too far and risk sounding insincere.
2) Power Subject Lines
The first thing people read is the email subject line, which helps them decide whether or not to open it.
So make this line appealing enough to spark recipients’ interest and encourage them to check your offer.
- Personalize it (personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened)
Source: Lesley Vos for SEMrush
- Create intrigue (make the subject just clear enough to pique interest)
- Consider length (subject lines of 51-60 characters or 6-10 words have the highest read rate)
3) Power Words
Words are a weapon in email outreach because they can make people feel a certain way and influence them to take action. Use power words to sound trustworthy.
- Make your message readable: use short sentences and paragraphs, don’t ignore bolded words and bullet lists.
- Give your email a power information scent: what is the “meat” of your message?
- Add surplus value: what makes you different from others? Why should readers choose and trust you?
- Use power words: active verbs, no cliches, no jargon or plague words.
Visual and informational clues help recipients see the value of your outreach just by scanning it. Also, when writing for business, language patterns appeal to basic human instincts.
In his article for Mention, Mike Hanski recommends five power words to use in your emails:
- You – appeals to selfishness
- Easy – appeals to laziness
- Save – appeals to greed
- Results – appeals to pragmatism
- Guarantee – appeals to skepticism
Be honest. How many of you continue getting emails from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org?
To enhance the chances your emails will be opened, tend to your credibility:
- Use a professional email address or, at least, your real name for Gmail
- Take advantage of the email signature
An appropriately named email address will help keep it out of the spam box and lets readers form an opinion of you as a reliable and competent person. Your signature tells influencers who you are and helps them remember you.
Source: Lesley’s outreach letter (not a template to use all over the place!)
When outreaching influencers, give them a reason to care. They don’t want mediocre work, so you might want to introduce yourself with a brief mention of your past publications, if you have any.
You can share publications on top blogs, shareable content, or simply well-researched articles that demonstrate your professionalism and ability to do awesome things.
Also, make it easier for recipients to research whether you are a good fit by including your name, website URL, and social media links in your email signature.
Never contact influencers with vague sentences or ambiguous statements. Keep your message simple and to the point with the one-ask-per-email formula.
Write clearly and objectively, but don’t sound demanding. That’s a core principle of not conflating clarity with pushiness. Decide on a single offer or request:
- Do you want them to read an article?
- Are you asking for an expert opinion?
- Would you like them to review a product?
- Want them to share a link with their followers?
- Are you pitching a guest post idea?
Keep it short and be sure they’ll never have to ask, “What do you want from me?”
Also, be humble.
Consider the 3-5-7 rule of email copywriting when writing your outreach emails:
- 3 seconds to get their attention
- 5 seconds to draw them in
- 7 seconds to compel them to act
The perfect length is 150 words or up to 5 sentences/short paragraphs. Use lots of line breaks and white space so your email easy to scan.
As much as 56% of emails are opened on mobile devices now, so your outreach risks deletion if not displayed correctly.
Source: Dave Schneider for HubSpot
Time matters for sending emails. Succesful marketing campaigns prove it:
- The best days are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
- The optimal times are 6 a.m., 10 a.m, and 2 p.m.
But since there is conflicting data on the topic, it’s best to A/B test your email list and learn the exact time to outreach them. As we all know, what works for one marketer won’t necessarily work for another.
Follow up on your pitch.
This is a bit controversial because no one likes a pain in the neck. After all, if you pitch a valuable proposition you should get a positive response without any follow-ups, right?
Out of all of my outreach emails, 60% get a response only after I follow-up. And that’s not because influencers don’t want to work with me, but because they’re busy.
Follow-ups act as reminders. But that doesn’t mean you should write them every other day and ask recipients if they’ve read your email. Give them at least 72 hours minimum to reply.
For example, I followed up with Marc a week after sending him the outline of the post you are reading right now:
Yes, I wanted to be persistent but understood that following up too frequently would look like a nuisance.
How many follow-ups are enough?
Well, my experience says two, though some experts recommend three or even four. But I remember those epic screenshots from Tim Soulo’s post with his reaction to bothersome follow-ups. There’s a limit to everything, after all.
Core principles for improving your email outreach are as follow:
- Make it personal.
- Use power words and create compelling subject lines.
- Keep it short and to the point.
- Consider your credibility.
- Send it in right time.
- Be yourself.
- Show what’s in there for influencers.
- Always follow up.
Getting influencers to respond and compel them to action is not that difficult, provided you are competent and persistent. Start giving a value, and you’ll succeed.
About the author:
Lesley Vos is a professional web writer and guest blogger contributing to publications on content marketing, social media, and self-development. Feel free to ask Lesley to write for you (an attentive reader, you might see her email address in the above article) or drop her a line on Twitter.