If you want to succeed in sales, you need to learn how to network online. Successful online networking will open doors so you can connect with prospects and influencers in any industry. You’ll probably even make some good friends along the way.
Successful online networking generally starts with a good outreach email. If you do outreach emails right, you greatly increase your chances of making a connection. Here is the definitive checklist for effective outreach emails.
Choose your targets
The first stage of any sales campaign involves creating a relevant list of people to contact. The niche you are operating in and the companies you are targeting will determine your approach. For example, if you initiate a lead-generation campaign and want to connect with influencers, you might use a tool like Buzzsumo.
With Buzzsumo, you can search for content related to your topic. Use the “View Top Sharers” feature to see which websites are publishing similar posts. It’s a great way to search for influencers.
If you want to run a guest post campaign, on the other hand, something I’m focused on, you can use a tool like Ahrefs to create a suitable list of sites.
I do this by finding an authority site in a niche and then reviewing the referring domains (the sites that link to the authority website). This is a great way to get a snapshot of the important websites in a niche.
Tools like Ahref allow you to sort the list of websites according to metrics like traffic, and Domain Rating (an SEO metric that scores sites on a scale of 0-100), to identify the most authoritative sites. If you want to create a shortlist of candidates for a lead-generation campaign for a B2B business, you could use resources like the Inc. 5000 list (5,000 fastest growing businesses in the US) or Google My Business to create your list.
The ultimate goal of your outreach campaign will determine your approach.
Find out your targets’ contact details
One thing we’ve realized over the years of reaching out to influencers is that they hardly reply to messages sent via their online contact forms. But how do you get in touch with them directly if you don’t even know their email address?
There are many ways of getting influencers’ contact details. Let’s start with social media.
A lot of the people I work with like to use LinkedIn for outreach. Search for the organization you are interested in and then the position. This strategy will help you identify who to contact.
Once you’ve connected with the appropriate person, send a message. Or, you can start engaging on LinkedIn before you make a pitch. This approach works across all social media platforms, though LinkedIn is probably one of the best for people operating in the B2B sector.
If you don’t know the email address of your target influencer, you can use an email lookup tool like Voila Norbert. It claims to be able to find anyone’s email address as long as you have their company or domain name, first name, and surname.
Email is the best way to reach out to influencers. Certainly, it’s one of the best ways to make a pitch. We’ll look at how to do that in the next part of this post. But first, you need to consider when to send your email.
Send your email at the right time
Timing your email correctly will improve its chances of being opened. Studies indicate that it’s best to send an email in the middle of the week. As the week goes on, open and click rates tend to decline.
Image Source: Coschedule
Secondly, if you’re conducting email outreach to a few key people, do a bit of online research about the person. If they just posted on social media that they’ll be at a conference for a few days, hold off sending the email til a couple of days after they get back.
Write a great subject line
Did you know that 47% of email recipients choose to open an email – or not – based on the subject line? Given how important a subject line is, it’s important that you get it right.
There are two key things that go into crafting the perfect subject line:
- Length. One study showed that emails with subject lines 6 to 10 words long have higher open rates than those with either shorter or longer subject lines.
- Simplicity. It is tempting to get creative with your subject lines if you’re trying to impress someone, but your busy prospects likely receive hundreds of emails a day. They will appreciate something straightforward and to the point.
Think of your subject line as the first few words of an elevator pitch. It should help convince the person you are messaging that your email is worth opening. Don’t waste that opportunity!
How to write your email copy
A good outreach email looks easy to write but a lot of people get it wrong. For a start, busy people don’t have time to deal with fluff. They read hundreds of emails a day, and they want to know what you need and what you’re offering right away.
Beating around the bush will only frustrate them and reduce your probability of getting a response. People appreciate emails that are concise and easy to understand, especially from a stranger.
Secondly, people can tell in seconds if you sent the same email to a dozen people or if you’re really interested in working with them. It’s a good idea to avoid pretending you loved an article you never read. It’s generic to the point of meaningless.
Depending on what you are asking for, you should also include some social proof. For example, a guest post outreach email might reference other publications where you’ve been published.
Finally, a good relationship is based on the exchange of value. You might be hoping to benefit in the form of exposure for your brand, but they also want to get something of value. Whether it’s more traffic, exposure to a new set of followers, or more credibility in the space you move in, always offer something of benefit to them. A good outreach email takes this into account.
I imagine you’d find it useful to put all this information together. Below is an example template you might use for a lead generation campaign if you happened to offer conversion rate optimization services.
Subject Line: Problem with your website
For the last five years, I’ve been helping businesses like Apple and IBM optimize their websites to get more leads from the same number of customers. I’m interested in working with you. I did a free website audit of your website, which revealed several changes you could make that would increase your sales overnight. I’d love to arrange a 15-minute meeting with you this week to share some of my findings. What day would work best with your schedule?
I look forward to hearing from you,
All of the important points of an email were covered in less than two paragraphs. It’s direct and to the point. I recommend you try to come up with your own email template. If you get stuck, you can use email templates, but you must personalize each email before you send it.
Many people you send an email to won’t respond right away. In fact, as this graph below illustrates, many people won’t send a response to your first inquiry.
Image Source: Iko System
If you haven’t heard back after one or two weeks, send a polite follow-up. Keep your follow-up email short and to the point. Something like this:
Just following up regarding the meeting request I sent last week. Let me know if you’d like to discuss it or have any questions.
We’ve discovered that replying to your own email will save them the effort of rummaging through their inbox just to find your old message. We’re not the only ones.
“At Zoomshift, we rely heavily on cold outreach for lead generation. We used to send just one email. We were able to increase our response rate by 33.5% by sending a sequence of three emails. The increased response rate translated into more warm leads and customers for the business.”
Sam Maloney, Zoomshift
How often should you follow up? This is at your discretion. You need to find the balance between being persistent and being rude. I generally do two follow up emails, however, as the earlier graphic revealed, you can do more.
Importantly, always be polite, remain respectful of their time, and resist the temptation to make them feel guilty for not replying. Nothing turns people off more than feeling pestered.
At best, an outreach email can open doors for you and your brand. At worst, it can make influencers ignore you altogether.
To write a great outreach email, always remember the following:
- Send it to the right person at the right time
- Get their attention right away
- Establish your credibility
- Offer something of value to them
- Stay pleasant and respectful
If your outreach emails tick all the boxes, you’ll have a much better chance of getting replies. Good luck!
Owen Baker is a content marketer for Right Inbox, an email scheduling tool, and Voila Norbert. He has spent most of the last decade working online for a range of marketing companies. When he’s not busy writing, you can find him in the kitchen mastering new dishes.