Picture the scene – you’ve been searching high and low for the perfect linking opportunity for your brand or client. After spending hours looking and researching you finally find the one.
You craft an outreach email you think will have them jumping at the chance to work with you and send it off already anticipating their reply.
Then you wait.
And you wait some more.
But you hear nothing back.
If you work in outreach, chances are you’ve been through this process time and time again.
But why? You’ve done everything right and this seems like the perfect opportunity.
I wanted to find out what sends bloggers towards the delete button, so I spent the first half of this year trying to learn why.
I surveyed and interviewed close to 300 different bloggers to find out why they aren’t getting back to you.
1. Research the Blog’s Topics & Ethics
Most bloggers and influencers have spent years building up their own space on the web that reflects the person they are.
When I surveyed bloggers, I found that 31 percent said that they have turned down an outreach opportunity because the brand didn’t fit with their ethics.
To avoid wasting everyone’s time – do some research. Don’t try and send steak to a vegan or place links to loan companies on a blog about becoming debt free.
Bloggers share their lives online. Even a quick scroll through their posts should tell you enough about them to see if they would be interested.
If you can’t immediately tell from reading their blog, I’ve found before that being honest in the outreach email helps.
For example, “This might not be to your taste but I thought I’d let know you anyway” yields a much better response. The blogger may still turn down my proposal but I’ve had polite replies and preserved the relationship I have with them.
Ethics are deeply personal. When a blogger collaborates with a brand, they then become an ambassador for them.
2. Write a Better Email Pitch
OK, this is a topic I could write several articles about – don’t mess up the pitch email.
Out of the bloggers I talked to, 40 percent of them had turned down a brand’s collaboration request solely due to the outreach email.
Some outreachers are still sending huge mass emails with no name or personalization to bloggers. The days of smash and grab outreach should be long, long behind us.
Building links that have benefit to your brand or client takes time. If you’re automating your outreach and the response rate is dwindling, then you need to start looking at the amount of emails you’re sending.
Pitching your brand or client to a blogger is a sales job; you have to prove your content is worth a place in front of a blogger’s loyal readership. Therefore, bloggers deserve some personalization in their emails.
Always include their name. Skip the “Dear Sir”, “Dear Madam”, “Dear Website Owner”, and other generic greetings.
Also, check that you haven’t made any silly grammar or spelling mistakes.
There is no harm in getting to know a blogger via Twitter or just dropping them a more general email. That doesn’t just mean the old “I saw your recent blog post and loved it” line. Ask bloggers about the kinds of collaborations they enjoy working on or which they are proud of before reaching out to them with your proposal.
No one really likes unsolicited emails dropping into their inbox, especially if you’re sending out huge infographics. By continuing to send out unwanted emails you’ll end up getting marked as junk.
Plus most bloggers will have a media kit or a collaborations page on their site and this should set the tone for the kind email you send. If you can’t find one then all you have to do is ask. Reading the media kit should also give you a good idea of whether your brand or client will fit with the blogger’s posts.
3. Stop Asking for ‘Dofollow’ Links
Asking for a dofollow link sounds incredibly risky to most bloggers.
We know from Google’s guidelines that bloggers must disclose when they’ve been sent a product to review in exchange for a link, and that the link should be nofollowed. While I’ve yet to see a blogger be hit with a Google penalty for giving a followed link, it’s still risky.
This is where it gets tricky.
The aim of link building is usually to gain a followed link back to your website. Referring back to Google’s guidelines, the safest way to do this is by creating content that earns links from its own merit.
— Lauren & Hannah (@every1pr) August 17, 2017
Within the blogging community that I speak to on Twitter, I found that there was a fair amount of confusion surrounding the benefits and risks of follow links.
I ran a quick poll which showed that 25 percent of bloggers didn’t know the difference between dofollow and nofollow, while only 6 percent used exclusively follow links.
Unfortunately, I think a lot of SEO pros try to take advantage of bloggers naivety over dofollow links and there are still outreachers who are offering bloggers lots of money just for this purpose.
In a way, it’s our duty to educate people on this topic so that they can make informed decisions.
4. Offer Some Type of Compensation
The days of buying a boatload of dofollow links and increasing your rankings are thankfully long gone. But just because you aren’t buying links anymore doesn’t mean that if you’re asking a blogger to write an article for you and spend their time promoting your client, you can ask for a freebie.
Nowadays, your time is much better spent creating high-quality content that earns links off its own merit.
But what if you need bloggers or vloggers to help you create link-worthy content?
If you’re working on a charity project or awareness drive then fine, but you can’t expect bloggers to jump at the chance of spending hours working on something if they aren’t passionate about it.
If it isn’t a charity project and you’re working at an agency on behalf of a client, or in-house marketing for a brand, then asking people to work for free not only reflects badly on you, but also the company you’re representing.
And guess what? It’s not just money that talks. Bloggers do, too.
A bad outreach email can have hundreds of retweets in the blink of an eye. So don’t become that outreacher.
When you have no budget to work with then be honest with bloggers. If you have a product sample to send them to review then that’s better than nothing, but definitely, don’t ask someone to buy your product to review on their blog or offer “exposure” in return for hard work.
5. Find Your Aspirational Hook
Not all brands are created equal. Some clients are harder to outreach for than others.
If you’ve spent years cultivating a following, the last thing you want to do is be seen endorsing questionable products to your fans, some of which could be younger and more impressionable.
There are some sectors which really cannot work for blogger outreach, If you’re peddling porn, gambling, or certain medications then expect to come across lots of rejection from bloggers.
Sometimes it might not even be that bloggers don’t want to associate with you due to the sector you’re in. It could also be that your product is slightly too mundane.
Bloggers are usually seen writing about aspirational products like cars, holidays, and beauty products. As one blogger I talked to put it “I write about cosmetics, why would I want to review toilet wipes?!”
If you’re working with a client whose offerings are potentially controversial or they aren’t setting the world alight, there isn’t much you can do beyond accept it and try and consider some more creative ways to build links for them.
6. Excite Their Readers
Just like all of us who work in digital marketing, bloggers are always looking for campaign opportunities that will drive traffic and grow their followers.
Some bloggers, especially the big ones, receive hundreds of outreach emails every week. If your campaign doesn’t stand out then you can expect to be ignored.
And let’s face it, we’ve all had an idea for a campaign which sounds great in theory but doesn’t fly in practice.
It could also be that you have the right brand but the wrong campaign. If you’re outreaching in a niche sector or you’ve found the blogger from searching through a competitor’s backlinks, then they’ve probably worked on a similar campaign before.
I asked bloggers how likely they were to work on certain kinds of projects. 40 percent of the bloggers I asked said they were either not likely or never going to work on vlogs.
When split into segments, I also found that certain types of bloggers work on different types of collaborations. For example, “travel” bloggers were least likely to want to do a vlog and “mom” bloggers were most likely to review products. So it could be that they don’t do what you need.
To ensure a blogger knows exactly what you need from them, don’t be too vague in your approach email. Keep it concise but detailed. The more information you can give about your campaign, the more likely you are to have a better working relationship.
In outreach, the only thing worse than being ignored is getting a great reply then a blogger dropping out.
Another major thing I found out from surveying bloggers was that more half of them (54 percent) work on their blog as a hobby. When their blog isn’t their primary source of income, and they aren’t relying on brand collaborations as a job, bloggers can be more picky about which campaigns to get involved in.
Until now, we’ve focused on the results of the survey. But I also wanted to share a few more best practices that can help increase your outreach response rates.
7. Interact with Your Outreach Campaign Target(s)
Make sure that when your target gets your email, they already know who you are (or at least recognize your name). This increases the odds they will open and respond to your email.
This could simply mean finding, following, interacting with, or sharing his or her content on Twitter.
8. Use a Unique Subject Line
Creating an attention-grabbing subject line is super important. You need to make your subject line stand out from all the generic and mediocre pitches in their inbox.
Here’s a trick you can try when writing your subject lines. Make sure it answers these two questions:
- What are your recipient’s interests or needs?
- How does your pitch align with those interests or needs?
9. Tell Them How They Will Benefit
Remember: It’s all about the blogger and the blog’s audience, not you. Persuading them on how working with you will benefit them (e.g., traffic, engagement) is more likely to get a positive response. If your pitch is more about the benefits you will receive, or your demands, then please just stop – you’re giving us all a bad name!
10. Follow Up
People are busy. Don’t assume silence is a rejection. It could just be someone is busy or on vacation. Make sure to follow-up with a gentle nudge. That said, if you haven’t heard back after 2-3 tries, you’re probably out of luck.
Getting your approach right is only half of the battle when it comes to outreach.
Research is crucial. You must align your objectives with the right bloggers. Without taking the time to do this you run the risk of creating more problems than you’ll solve and hindering your brand.
Finding the right methods, and the right bloggers, however, can lead to great long term results for a brand, while building valuable professional relationships that you can continue to grow and develop over time.
More Email Outreach Resources Here:
- How to Get Backlinks with Resource & Links Pages
- How a Link Outreach Campaign Boosts the Value of Your Content
- 8 Modern Link Acquisition Tactics that Work
In-post Photos: Created by Lauren Henley, August 2017.