Outreach emails

If you have a business or you’re planning to start one, reaching out to people in your niche is inevitable. This is how marketing works and everybody does it. But if you’re not getting any replies, you’re probably sending the wrong outreach emails.

While there is not a very specific formula that guarantees your outreach strategy will be successful, you still need to go by a few unwritten rules to improve your chances of engagement.

After years of doing outreach and experimenting with various ways of addressing people in our industry (and receiving quite a few outreach emails ourselves), we learned some hard lessons about writing successful outreach emails that we wanted to share with you today.

Want to learn what those lessons are? Keep reading to find out how to write better outreach emails that catch people’s attention and get replies.

Let’s dive in!

How to write outreach emails that get replies

Now that we’ve shared why outreach emails are important, let’s look at eleven excellent tips that will bring you immediate results.

Share a very specific proposal – not generic “collaboration”

When you want to partner with a site, then you must have a plan or at least an idea of how you could promote each other.

Actually, that’s the point of sending an outreach email – presenting a business idea that you already have in mind.

If your email doesn’t contain an exact partnership plan (i.e. describe how you would approach the partnership and why), the chances to get a reply are close to none.

Why? Because it puts the recipient at work, making them send extra emails asking for more details about your intentions, which in most cases won’t happen.

This is an example of a vague outreach email:

Don't be vague in outreach emails

What are these opportunities? Why should I be interested in learning about your site?

No one wants to do extra work, especially when there’s nothing that piques their interest. If you’re not able to pitch your idea in a professional way to begin with, why would anyone play back-and-forth with you?

Be specific and present your offer clearly, with bullet points, examples, and benefits.

Make a proposal that benefits them, too

While this might sound like the obvious thing to do, I’m still getting emails where people ask for something big and, in return, they will just “share your article on Twitter”. That indeed sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime — *not*.

So if your email is only about you and the recipient doesn’t get anything beneficial from this deal, then do not send it. By benefiting the other I don’t mean instant traffic or money, but it should be at least something that will help them in the long-term.

For example, the possibility to enter a new niche and target a new audience or an invitation to work on a project together.

Just don’t make your outreach emails all about you. Earn the deals, do not beg for them.

Personalize your message for each company

Coming with a partnership plan is a type of personalization itself, but you can take a few other aspects into consideration when writing outreach emails:

👉 Do not write one message and send it to all the companies on your list.

👉 Based on how well you know the person you’re contacting, your message can change. You can be casual with people you’ve met or collaborated with before. You can actually mention “I’m X, we’ve met last year at the Y conference, we talked about marketing and pizza”.

👉 Using the same message but changing a link and a name does not count as personalized. E.g. “I found your post about X and loved it. Very useful tips. Would you consider adding our tool?”, where X is the first article you see when you enter someone’s blog. It’s definitely not original.

This is an example of a standard, generic message:

Generic outreach emails

👉 Avoid standard and overused corporate language like “Hope this email finds you well” or “Looking forward to your reply”.

Actually, think like this: if there’s a sentence you wouldn’t use in a live conversation with that person, then do not use it in your outreach emails either.

Try not to use the general contact form of a company

This is not necessarily a total failure, but there’s a risk your message won’t ever get to the right person. If the company has a policy in place that doesn’t accept business proposals, then the support team will close it without asking for a second thought.

If you have something interesting to say and you’re contacting the right person via their own email address, they might make an exception for you.

What’s even better is to directly contact someone you know from a company. They will remember your name and will open your email. The chance to get a reply, even a negative one, is higher.

Sending your proposal to a person that’s part of the department you want to contact also implies that you were motivated enough to do a minimum of research about the company and you didn’t just use the first contact form that came in handy for you.

Do not send outreach emails on Fridays or weekends

Sending outreach emails on Fridays or during weekends will just decrease your chances to get a reply. No one will be in the mood of reading, let alone answering, business proposals on Fridays. People just want to wrap up their week and finish other important things they had on the agenda. You’re their least important task.

Most of them will simply delete your email, others will keep it in their inbox in case they will give it a look next week, while others will read it but probably not answer because it’s Friday and no one wants to start a deal on Friday.

Saturday and Sunday? That’s out of the discussion. People have personal lives, too. When the next business week begins, your email won’t be the first thing they will do or check, so it can get lost easily.

Write a clear, actionable email subject line

This is another important aspect that you probably overlook often because you are too focused on the pitch. But the subject of the email is what your recipient sees first.

It might convince them to open your email or delete it without checking it, based on how clear and summarized it is.

👉 Again, do not be very formal, vague, and corporate-like (e.g. “partnership request”).

👉 Try to make your subject line intriguing and interesting to the recipient. When you say “check my article”, that’s not very interesting. Why would I care to check your article?

Instead, using something like “have an idea to improve your content” or “I have a question about your work” or “feedback on your latest TV sketch” might make the recipient open your email out of curiosity.

This is an example of a subject line that makes you open the email to find out more:

Email subject line for outreach

Our post on how to write great email subject lines provides some good general best practices.

Follow up, but not more than twice

When someone doesn’t reply the first time, they might have missed or forgotten about your email. It happens to all of us when we’re busy.

Some people do reply after you follow up the first time because they remember. Some still do not. So you send another follow-up whose result should give you the answer you were looking for, no matter if you get a reply or not. Not replying is an answer itself.

When someone doesn’t reply at all after the second follow-up, there’s no point in trying again because this is where you will annoy people. Their lack of interest in your proposal is more than evident, so going on with “What do you think about my proposal?” will put you directly in the spam folder.

A method that might increase your chance to succeed with your second attempt is to offer the recipient something extra that you didn’t mention in your initial email.

Follow-up technique for outreach

Don’t use worn-out templates

Among hundreds of emails that I’ve received during the past years, I can count on one hand those that were not using one of the classic email templates that we all spot in our inboxes.

While I briefly scan through an email that uses a standard template, I automatically hit delete because I recognize the pattern. I don’t even care about the proposal.

Sending the same template over and over again means that you are not targeting a specific company. You just send tens of emails hoping that someone (whoever that is) will eventually answer.

The recipients notice that they are just another brick in the wall, so why would they care to invest in a superficial collaboration?

Here’s an interesting way to approach a company, where the sender introduced himself by forwarding an internal email:

Tricks for a better outreach strategy

Introduce yourself and show your expertise

Together with all the essential details that you propose, write a few lines about who you are and what recommends you. Show some examples of your work, but do not get too lengthy. A paragraph and two-to-three links will do.

Whatever your job title is, link to some examples of your portfolio so that the recipient can analyze your work quality.

Don’t sound salesy and marketing-like

If you are hoping to get replies to your outreach emails, don’t act like those salesmen who try to convince people to buy a product. It doesn’t really work like that.

Start a normal conversation, where you state what you need and what the other can gain out of the deal. When you’re being too pushy, forget about any feedback. Talking superlative also won’t work.

When you contact someone, the more human you sound, the more chances to replies you’ll have. No one wants to start a conversation with someone who writes like a robot and tries to impress. You can spot fake emails from a distance.

Why sound like a robot when you’re a human? Be respectful, but friendly and natural at the same time.

Check the outreach emails twice before sending them

How many times do you get emails that spell your name wrong or address to a completely different person/company?

Check twice before sending outreach messages

What about receiving praise for an article you didn’t write or a project that’s not yours?

That’s an immediate turn-off. You only had one job, to copy-paste my name and link to the right company website, and you failed. Who wants to collaborate with someone who can’t handle at least that?

Put some effort into writing better outreach emails

With all that in mind, it’s time to try harder and write better outreach emails if you want to increase your success rate. Especially if you are genuine and really looking for honest partnerships with companies you like, don’t make these novice mistakes that can cost you a cool deal.

With time, it will come naturally, but you need a little exercise first. Get rid of all the templates in your head and be creative. For starters, here’s what you need to do:

  • Come with a specific partnership plan
  • Propose a deal that benefits the recipients
  • Personalize your message for each company
  • Try not to use the general contact form
  • Do not send outreach emails on Fridays or weekends
  • Write a clear email subject line
  • Follow up, but not more than twice
  • Don’t use worn-out templates
  • Introduce yourself and link to your portfolio
  • Don’t sound salesy and marketing-like
  • Check the emails twice before sending them

If you’re specifically sending outreach emails to snag guest posts, you also might want to read our guide on how to write better guest post pitches.

What do you love or hate about outreach emails? If you have any examples or tips worth sharing, do not hesitate to write a comment below.

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