If you work in outreach the reply rate is probably one of your biggest hurdles.
In our day and age bloggers and journalists receive so many inquiries that they don't have the time to reply to all of them - sometimes they don't even have a chance to review them all.
Here are five of the most successful ways I've found to improve how often I get replies from those I've emailed.
1. Do Something for Them First
We are all selfish and we want to spend as little time per lead as possible to achieve our objectives.
But this is not the way anyone should operate anymore and it simply doesn't work. Treat your contacts as people and it goes a long way.
A few examples of going that extra mile:
- If the blogger has a newsletter, subscribe to it and let them know you've done that
- Share the latest article of a journalist you're contacting and show them you've done it via a link
- Write a few suggestions for the website owner - prior to even making your 'ask'
- If it's an editor of a really great magazine/website and you really want to get them on your side a flower/doughnut delivery goes a long way! (If they're the healthy kind, send them a free box of Graze on you).
2. Creative and Persistent Follow Up
Everyone is busy and frankly - if someone outreaches to me and doesn't follow up - more often than not I end up not replying. It shows someone didn't care enough to really get my attention.
I employ a few basic techniques to follow up:
- Twitter - follow up with a tweet
- Phone - yes, calling really works, especially if you're dealing with someone working for a real company (outreaching to company owned blogs is actually easier than privately owned blogs)
- Letter? Seriously? Yes, seriously. It's a great way to get attention, although obviously won't work if you don't know someone's postal address. If your audience is 50+ a letter is the way to go.
Follow up to 5 times. I know some people say 2 or 3 is enough, nope, for me enough is when you get a response. Or when you have really exhausted all the avenues. Not all contacts are worth the hassle so I leave you to do the judgment call.
3. Mention a Deadline
Often things that don't have an expiration date get left to the end - so why not create one?
It's simple - just mention that your offer/ask/question is on a deadline - ideally within the next 2-3 days so there's enough of a sense of urgency to reply, but also enough time to reply if someone can't deal with it right that moment.
This way your email doesn't end up on the 'to do some day' pile, that so many go onto.
4. Create an Instant Personal Connection
The lazy way to do outreach is to just write 'I've been following your blog for a while now, I especially liked the x post about y - you really showed how z you are through it.' Really? Do you really think the blogger hasn't read that line 5 times that day already?
The instant personal connection is all about effort, creativity, and being a bit crazy.
Example: Recently I've done outreach and I noticed on the about page of the blogger that she removed her old about page (to which there was a link). In my outreach I have put 'Your old About page - I love it!' as the subject line. In the email itself I started off by comparing the old about page to the new and saying why I think it was better before.
Then I moved on to my agenda but just lightly mentioned the 'ask' - she replied and gave me an opportunity to say more about my offer.
The most important part is to be sincere - nothing kills outreach faster than manipulation.
5. Proof Read and Have a Copywriter Approve Your First Email
First email is really your first impression. Even if I spoke to someone on the phone before emailing, or I tweeted them previously, I still prefer to run my first email by a copywriter. If I sold my offer/product/service really well over the phone and then I email using a poorly written template, it will likely destroy the work I've put in so far.
It's really worth it. I know it's extra time and I don't do it for every single email I send, but for some crucial leads it pays off.
I think that this little extra mile stuff really works and definitely the results shown that putting in that extra effort goes a long way.
I'd love to hear if you use any of these already and if I missed any golden techniques.