When you are looking to create a comprehensive outreach strategy, it needs to have two components that often feel as though they are at odds with one another:
- One one hand, you have to make sure you are reaching a high enough volume of targets that you are seeing a steady growth of conversions.
- On the other, you have to ensure that each one of those outreach opportunities are hitting a certain level of personalization that will drive past the feeling of being canned and so engage with each lead.
How do we do both?
There is no denying it is a tricky balance to strike. Logic would say that the more leads you generate, the harder it will be to connect with them on that personal level you need to.
Don’t worry, it isn’t impossible. It is as much about how you plan your outreach strategy as how you implement it.
Here is a simple checklist to follow to help you tick off both boxes and maximize results.
Create a Thorough Goal List
This is the most important step and the one that people don’t spend nearly enough time on. You may find it easy to jot down a collection of basic goals you want to accomplish with your outreach. But if you have tried that in the past, you may also have noticed that following it hasn’t led to those goals being met.
The reason why is simple: you aren’t being specific enough.
Let’s say that your number one goal is to increase your brand mentions across social media platforms by 10% per platform. Seems specific, right? Ok, but how are you going to manage that? What results, other than getting your name onto the social web, will it accomplish? Is it really what your goal should be, or will it be a measurable result of other actions that will occur naturally as your engagement increases?
The same goes for goals like “generate more links” or “get more clicks from social media searches”. OK, all good things but those are also a natural progression that come from better outreach.
So let’s get more specific. Your goals should be more than just what you want to happen, they should be a blueprint for action that will lead to certain results. Goals are a verb!
An example of one goal could look like this:
- Goal: Acquire at least 2 links to my content a week
- Goal Action: Reach out to at least 30 publications a week
- Result Parameters: Number of links, gradual organic visibility growth
- Time To Results: Measure twice a month to establish patterns from certain sites.
See? It is essentially the same goal. Only now you have a way of actively reaching it and a way to measure its success. From there, you can tweak it as necessary.
Setting highly manageable and actionable goals is referred to as S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goal setting. The best thing about this goal setting approach is that it keeps you (and your team) motivated by allowing you to take one step at a time.
Find The Right Contacts
Here we have another great way of managing outreach that does take a bit of elbow grease. You want a network of bloggers, journalists, industry experts and influencers who you can collaborate with to get your work seen.
It all starts by searching for relevant content to your niche and finding those who have a genuine interest and regularly share that content. Details for contact are usually right on their site or social media, so getting in touch shouldn’t be too hard.
It is a good idea to create your linking personas, i.e. people (bloggers, journalists, editors) you are targeting with each of your campaigns. This will help you relate more to the needs of your future outreach targets and hence create a better strategy to engage them.
Using contact management solutions like Mailshake helps you turn your outreach contacts into leads. You can select the criteria (a reply, two opens, etc.) based on which your outreach targets will be organized for you to configure a more personalized relationship management strategy.
I also like using Google Spreadsheets to keep my best, most responsive contacts there.
Create Effective Outreach Templates
Here is where it gets a little tricky. You want to have a standard template that makes it easier (or even possible) to contact your outreach targets. But anyone who has been working in their industry for more than five minutes can sniff out a lazy copy/paste a mile a way and a fair number of those will go right into the trash with barely more than a skim.
You need to stand out, so you should be writing a template that has the bare bones (introduction, who you are, your website, ect). But it should have spaces for putting in relevant information that you customize.
Some of that personalization should include specific areas in posts you have read that you can comment on, or information about what you have gotten from their site as a whole over time. Show them that you are approaching them as an industry leader you respect, as someone who has something to offer them or their user base.
Mailshake offers powerful templates and personalization options to make this task easier:
- Personalize messages with powerful merge fields.
- Schedule personalized follow-ups based on opens, replies, and clicks.
It is a good idea to time your outreach campaign well. Seasonality and trending topics can make a real difference to your outreach efforts because bloggers and publishers are always looking for fresh and timely content. You will be getting better and better at that but using Google Trends is a good start.
Build a Relationship Before You Ever Contact
When you have a high value target in mind for outreach, you want to really leave an impression. That starts by becoming a regular part of their landscape. When I first began sharing my content on a website that had high volume traffic, I did not just approach the owner of that blog.
Instead, I began to comment on, share and like their social media posts. I took part in their weekly Twitter chat. I would comment on their blog. Everything I said was valuable and related, giving my own expertise on the matter and engaging not just with them, but with their other readers. This put me on their radar quickly and paved the way.
Make sure you are putting in the work to build a relationship, not just trying to use them for links. First of all, it is rude. Second, it won’t work anyway. They know when you are being sincere, just as they do when you are sending them a cold outreach email. Get their attention.
This is why a solid social media marketing strategy is the one that includes outreach and influencer relationship building. Your social media interactions should help start a relationship, so that your email is promptly recognized and opened.
Once you have it, follow up. Don’t be pushy or annoying, but let the conversation flow naturally. Pitch your ideas and be open to feedback.
Any steps to add to the checklist? Let us know your outreach genius plan below!