3 Essential Elements of Non-Annoying Email Outreach

by 0 10/30/2012

When it comes to getting the word out about your your content, promotion cannot end with a tweet.

Reaching out to relevant influencers (via email) is essential for getting the exposure your brand deserves.

But how do you go about this? Even better, how can you accomplish email outreach without annoying these influencers, damaging your prospects of ever building a relationship with them?

Today I’ll show you the 3-step plan I swear by.

The 3 P’s of Great Email Outreach

Today, I’m going to break down a system that will show you how you can craft emails that not only avoid the trash bin (“bin-bound” marketing), but also get replied to and get people to take action.

Before we begin though, remember this Golden Rule:

Always keep your emails as short as possible.

One more time… do NOT write long emails! Nobody has time for that, especially not busy people.

That said, let’s get into the 3 P’s…

1.) Personalized

We live in the age of the internet, yet I still get emails from people who have no idea who I am or what I write about… but that doesn’t stop them from asking for HUGE favors!

If you don’t take the time to create emails that show you really know the person you are reaching out to, don’t bother. Better yet, if they have a tribe, know them too.

Mention something that the average browser wouldn’t know about the person.

I’ll give a quick personal example: I had someone reach out saying that they really enjoyed Seneca’s Letters of a Stoic, a book I’ve recommended on Twitter before but NOWHERE else.

That’s an instant connection, and it didn’t take any sucking up!

When I email folks I always make sure to browse their past work extensively, learn about their history, and take my time. It’s better to slow down your outreach and make REAL connections with less people than sabotage potentially awesome connections with a hasty, impersonal email.

2.) Positioned

What does your email (or content piece) have to do with them?

What’s your “affinity” to the stuff that they are doing? As an example, when it came time to promote our recent infographic at Help Scout, I wanted to land on social media blogs because I know they have large audiences of small business owners.

The problem was, our content was about customer service.

I framed my emails by pointing out how important social media (especially Twitter) has become in online customer service, and what an important role social networks play in delivering the exceptional customer service that many buyers have come to expect.

With this sort of framing, we were able to land on places like Social Media Today, SocialMouths, and Social Fresh, generating thousands of shares, all thanks to a few properly structured emails.

If you are just connecting with someone, be sure to position your intro email with an affinity to their work. I always point out my interest in brain and behavior content when reaching out to certain folks, or if we have something else in common (only uncovered by getting personal, point #1), I’ll cite that instead.

3.) Persuasive

Now we’re getting into the good stuff! :)

Although I recommend never sending a link or a request in the first email to totally new contacts, if you’re specifically asking for something in your emails, you MUST be persuasive.

A golden rule of being persuasive is to never “beg”, nobody cares about you, they care about THEIR needs.

Let’s head back to my infographic promotion efforts.

In order to get more cooperation from those I was emailing, I utilized social proof and spent most of my time discussing THEIR incentive, rather than stating what I was getting out of it. In this case, I referenced past pieces of content that I created (or that they created) that were similar, and explained how I knew our infographic would do just as well, if not better, than those pieces.

I did the same when I got myself featured on Lifehackertwice. I noticed that my buddy Leo Widrich had already appeared and done 90,000 views, so I reached out to an editor with the context of: “I saw this piece did really well for you, and I have one that’s even better!”

When you solve the recipients problems (and aren’t so focused on your own benefits), they begin to see the value of what your offering (make sure it is actually valuable!), and your outreach looks less like a “gimme gimme” request and more like an opportunity for them.

What did you think about the 3 P’s method of great email outreach? Let me know in the comments!

About 

Gregory Ciotti is the marketing guy at Help Scout, the invisible help desk software that makes email support a breeze for you and your customers. Get more from Greg on the Help Scout customer loyalty blog.

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