The average office worker receives over 100 emails each day. Most of us have a keen eye for filtering out unwanted noise, from endless product promotions to unsettling requests for personal information.
Conducting link outreach via email can feel like an uphill battle. How can your unsolicited (but well-intended) messages stand out?
The key to successful link outreach is writing personalized emails, as individualized messages yield a much higher response rate.
You may be tempted to create a one-size-fits-all outreach message, but a more successful link building approach requires several customizable email templates.
Start your outreach campaign by building a targeted list of names and email addresses.
You can begin collecting names by exploring the “About Us” section of company websites in your industry.
Look for individuals who have responsibility within the organization.
If you know very little about your addressee, you will not be able to speak to their needs.
Use a spreadsheet to track key details about each person, such as their job title, recent achievements, and potential pain points. Then, you will be able to tailor your email based on the person’s seniority and area of expertise.
Try to avoid the “contact@,” “webmaster@” or “info@” email addresses, as those points of contact may not reach the person who makes decisions about the website.
You may have to dig, but finding name-based addresses will get your messages in front of the right people.
An optimized subject line encourages the reader to open your email. A bad subject line dooms your unopened message to the trash.
Avoid revealing your quest for a backlink opportunity in the subject line.
Instead, include enough relevant detail to pique the reader’s interest, but leave them wanting more.
Your subject line should address every person’s unspoken question: “What’s in it for me?”
At a minimum, ensure your subject line is spelled correctly and makes grammatical sense. Another best practice is to create multiple subjects and run A/B tests to see which version entices more opens and click-throughs.
Unfortunately, email recipients often display hostility towards SEO link builder outreach. Many people receive dozens of irritating, mediocre messages each week.
To make a connection, your message must immediately seem authentic.
First and foremost, an authentic outreach email reads like it was written by a human being and not copy/pasted from a script.
Proper spelling, grammar, and paragraph structure are essential.
Mention specific details about the recipient’s company or work to show you’re seeking a real interaction. Authentic outreach also involves stating your intent in plain and honest terms— don’t use overly salesy language.
One common mistake that undermines authentic outreach is over-the-top flattery. Marketers try to warm up the reader by giving lavish compliments. This tactic can backfire because it’s part of a commonly used outreach script.
If you seek to build rapport with reluctant (even hostile) recipients, use compliments sparingly, and only offer kudos when there is an actual context for you to offer it.
People hate reading emails. They especially hate reading long paragraphs that lack a clear point.
When writing link outreach email templates, your job is to quickly provide the information your reader needs to see.
To keep your recipient engaged, make all of your templates succinct. Utilize the reverse pyramid method to relay key information at the beginning of each message.
Bullet points also draw the reader’s eye and deliver important details concisely.
Your reader only needs a few sentences to decide if they are interested, so keep it short, and make it easy for them to learn more by including links to your website and social media.
After striking a tone of authenticity, your email template must support that tone with specific evidence. Avoid an overt sales pitch. Instead, leave subtle hints about your company’s credibility.
If your outreach person has a LinkedIn profile, a shared connection can help bridge a path of trust between you and the recipient.
You can also build trust by mentioning your previous guest posts with a related organization, blog, or well-regarded publication.
Even a well-placed logo from a popular brand you’ve worked with or signal of membership in a related organization can boost your credibility.
Be ready to provide links to past link building interactions such as guest posts in order to provide social proof to foster your reader’s trust.
For example, if you’re soliciting a county-level organization, it will help if you have already worked and associated with the state-level organization. And if you’re outreaching to the state-level organization, it will help if you have already worked on a project, any project, with the national-level organization.
Those can be non-link related projects like contributing to their print magazine or to a monthly newsletter. These non-link projects can help build trust that leads to links.
Your outreach should be more than personalized; it should be personal. Readers can tell when you want to make a true long-term connection based on a shared interest. This step may require the most effort, but it can yield impressive results.
For example, if your campaign targets pet clubs, mention that your company donates to animal shelters (bonus points if your company happens to support shelters local to the recipient!).
If your campaign targets restaurants, mention that you love one of their signature dishes.
If there is no connection then don’t invent one. Be careful to communicate these commonalities subtly so you don’t seem disingenuous.
Finally, take a moment to informally introduce yourself; you never know which of your interests or experiences will resonate with your reader.
If you went to college in a nearby town, mention it. If you’ve vacationed in the area, mention something you appreciated from the area.
Don’t force the personalization step or consider it as an absolute requirement. But if you feel it and it feels right then give it a try.
If you want your link outreach email templates to work, they must not seem like templates.
Instead of blasting one email to dozens of people, craft several different outreach messages that can easily be personalized.
One strategy might be to have a “standard” template for CEO-level recipients, a template for coordinator-level recipients, and a template for unusual characters who might appreciate your creative flair.
The more templates you create, the more tools you’ll have in your outreach toolbox to increase your click-throughs and response rates.
Our inboxes are brimming. Our schedules are packed. For successful link building, create outreach templates that acknowledge the chaos and make room for genuine connection.