These days, link building often gets a bad rap, no matter if it’s a white or black hat campaign. In February 2018, a writer for Forbes called link building a “contentious” SEO practice, and plenty of sites are so terrified of being penalized by Google that they avoid including links in their posts altogether.
But those in the business understand the value of link building firsthand, and sharing knowledge with others about the myriad benefits of SEO and backlinks is essentially the purpose of outreach. Along with building quality links, of course.
When it comes down to it, effective email outreach is vital to every link building campaign — so how can you ensure that your message reaches the right eyes and doesn’t immediately get flagged as spam? You can take advantage of some common email outreach best practices in order to garner a high response rate and cultivate a successful link building campaign.
According to Page One Power, “great outreach is the only way to build worthwhile links.” And while the process is indeed really that simple, crafting effective outreach is a multi-faceted process that involves everything from understanding your business and link targets to creating an outreach list and link prospecting.
There are some universal best practices SEOs should follow from the start of every outreach campaign. Successful outreach is all about resource-subject relevance, networking, community, real talk, and real correspondence, rather than auto-messages that look like spam.
Effective outreach starts with the subject line.
Even if your email outreach message is clever, concise, and professional, it may get ignored or trashed without a compelling subject line. SEO expert Julie Joyce even went so far as to say this about cold emails: “If it’s not from someone I know, or it doesn’t have an interesting subject line, I’m deleting it.”
Since it’s possible that plenty of others feel the same regarding unsolicited emails, your outreach email subject line should be as specific as possible. It’s also important to note that shorter subject lines, 50 characters or less, typically have a higher open rate.
Many link builders have discovered the perfect outreach formula by tracking the results of multiple different subject lines in order to pinpoint which is the most effective. There are a variety of tools available that track results and even pre-screen subject lines for effectiveness, including Net Atlantic’s Email Subject Line Grader and Zurb Subject Line Preview.
The most common email marketing mistakes essentially involve the lack of double-checking and/or proofreading. Ensure that your subject line is correct and catchy, and that any links in the body of the email work before hitting send.
Further, avoid putting more than one link in the body of your email, as multiple links may be mistaken as spam. Further, avoid neediness by sticking to a simple, single request in your initial email. Once your contact responds to your exceptional outreach email, you’ll have the chance to ask for more.
The fundamental ingredients of outreach is of course the message itself, and personal connections may garner stronger responses. Even if you don’t have a direct relationship with the person you’re emailing (and you likely won’t in most instances), you can connect via social media or a shared interest.
For example, if you know that a particular person is a dog lover or mountain biking enthusiast, don’t hesitate to highlight your shared interests. Or, connect with them via social media, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or Instagram, prior to sending your outreach email. That way, you’re no longer a stranger, and your email is more likely to stay out of the trash.
Influencer marketing tactics provide another avenue towards personal outreach connection and relevance. Name dropping an industry leader who you either personally know or admire is a great way to break the ice and connect with the recipient of a cold outreach email.
If all else fails and you’re unable to make that personal connection and don’t have any relevant influencers to mention, you can still win over your outreach contacts with a great story. Perhaps highlight a particular company that has seen great success through link building.
No matter your storytelling approach, it’s really about “getting into your user’s heads and understanding them,” says entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author Neil Patel.
For most people, it feels good to give back, and you can channel that Good Samaritan energy into your outreach. Since you’re asking for something in your message, what can you offer in return?
Maybe there’s an article on your contact’s blog that you found helpful or enjoyable. Let them know, especially if you have the opportunity to reference that particular article or post on your own site. The giveback, as long as it’s done naturally and doesn’t seem forced or aggressive, is a “very, very smart tactic,” according to Moz’s Rand Fishkin.
When the centerpiece of your link building strategy is high-quality content, you’re well on your way to greatness. But, these days, SEO success involves much more than great content and keyword density. Outreach can bridge the gap between marketing and content, and help you generate more leads at the B2B level.
There are a few tricks to the outreach trade, and once you master them, you’re likely to see a higher response rate. Your outreach campaign should start with a catchy subject line your contacts can’t ignore.
Keep in mind that personal connection is imperative to in-face communication, and email outreach should be no exception. Impress your contacts with your networking or storytelling skills. Top everything off with an appropriate giveback, and you may just see your LTRs grow alongside your business.
Create your free account to unlock your custom reading experience.