Why is Email Outreach so Powerful for Link Building?
Email remains a crucial channel in both our personal and business lives.
Email outreach lets you directly contact your target audience, including website owners, bloggers, or journalists.
It enables you to increase your success rates by personalizing messages, yet remains time and resource-efficient through the use of templates and tools.
Most Popular Link Building Methods Utilizing Email Outreach
Several popular link building methods rely on email outreach, including:
- Guest Blogging: reaching out to relevant websites to propose writing a guest article.
- Broken Link Building: identifying broken links on relevant sites and suggesting they be replaced with links to your content.
- Resource Roundups: contacting websites to include your content in their posts as a resource.
- Expert Roundups: reaching out to website owners to feature your expertise in industry roundups or interviews.
- Digital PR: identifying journalists or influencers in your niche to pitch news, stories, or insights they might find valuable.
Tactics to Improve Success Rates
There are strategies to enhance your success rate in securing backlinks and getting responses.
You might think some tactics are too minor, but they significantly boost success rates across numerous outreach emails.
Find the Decision-Makers
For larger sites with multiple content overseers, contact those with the authority to grant what you seek, usually editors or marketing heads.
You can use an email finder tool to obtain their email addresses and then contact them using that data.
Using a generic contact form or messaging writers often results in your message being ignored.
Warm Up Leads
Before asking for a backlink, establish a relationship with website owners.
This doesn’t mean becoming friends but can be as simple as commenting relevantly on their articles or social media.
Be strategic and engage with them a few times before sending your email.
Keep your link building outreach emails short and to the point.
Long emails from strangers are unwelcome, especially for favors; conciseness ensures more people at least read your messages.
By personalization, at least include the website owner’s name in the salutations.
I instantly delete the “Dear sir or madam” emails, and I bet many other website owners do too.
If the owner’s name is elusive, use the website’s name like “Hi Wall Street Journal Team” for a more personal touch than “Dear sir” or “Dear wallstreetjournal.com admin.”
Further personalization, like referencing their articles, is acceptable, but only if genuinely relevant; avoid insincere flattery.
Following up is crucially important to boost your response rates.
Not just once, but I recommend following up at least 3 times over a few weeks.
You might read contradictory advice elsewhere, even to avoid following up at all.
In my opinion, that’s usually advice of people who haven’t sent a single cold outreach email in their life.
Forget your pride; follow up 3 times for the best chance of success.
Those inclined to ignore your emails will do so regardless, but you might engage those undecided, nudging them to respond.
When running a link building campaign, responding promptly to interest is vital.
Letting responses sit can lead to missed opportunities, so act quickly to secure your backlink when someone shows interest.
Measure Results and A/B Test
Relying on your first outreach template is a mistake.
Start A/B testing right away, closely monitoring outcomes.
Even minor adjustments can increase response rates, so test across 200-300 emails to find the most effective templates for your niche or industry.
Use Your Domain Email
When doing cold outreach, you want to stand out from the spam.
Using your domain email instead of generic email services can help you stand out.
I’ve encountered countless email addresses filled with random strings of letters and words over the years.
They get instantly deleted.
Emails from less than reputable service providers often end up in spam folders, not seen by anyone.
At the minimum, use something recognizable like Gmail.
But, warm up your account and start with smaller email volumes per day or Google might limit your use.
Own the Grift
I’m a big proponent of owning the grift in trying to get free backlinks by adding humor to your outreach messages.
For instance, you could end your email with “Please don’t mind the grift” or “Help a brother/sister out,” showing you’re aware of the ask.
It’s clear what you’re doing; you might as well embrace it.
This approach can gain sympathy or make someone smile, increasing the chance of a positive outcome.
Pitfalls to Avoid in Email Outreach for Link Building
Here are mistakes that lower response rates in link building email outreach campaigns.
- Mass Mailing and Lack of Personalization: Don’t send thousands or generic emails to irrelevant recipients without a shred of personalization.
- Deceptive and Manipulative Tactics: Don’t use misleading subject lines, pretend you’re someone you’re not, or make false promises.
- Begging and Pushiness: Don’t beg for links, be overly persistent, or resort to guilt trips.
- Low-Quality Content and Spammy Requests: Don’t offer low-quality guest posts or link exchanges. Don’t spam irrelevant websites.
- Ignoring Follow-up and Building Relationships: Don’t ghost respondents who express interest or let responses sit for days or weeks unaddressed in your inbox.
- Outreaching to Non-Decision-Makers: Don’t waste time contacting those without the authority to assist you.
- Giving Easy Outs: Don’t use language that provides an easy exit for the recipient like “I know you’re swamped so take your time.”
Creating Your Email Outreach Template
This one’s easy, though often overcomplicated.
Simply use “Quick question” as the subject line. It’s simple and effective.
To personalize, use “Hey [Name], quick question.”
If you want to try something different, keep it under 50 characters and be direct, like “My contribution to your expert round-up article.”
Avoid being the “Dear sir” guy or gal; instead, greet by first name.
If unsure about formality, match the website’s tone to resolve your dilemma.
Example: “Hi [Name],” or “Hello [Title] [Name],”
Prioritize conciseness in your email’s body.
While the length may vary by link building method, aim to eliminate unnecessary fat.
Skip explanations on how your content “benefits their audience” or “enhances their article.”
Let them be the judge of that.
And don’t critique their content by pointing out the “weak points” or “argument gaps” your content just happens to fill out nicely.
Don’t pretend you’re helping them when in reality you’re asking them for favors.
Call to Action
Be clear and specific in your send-offs, using strong verbs and avoiding ambiguity.
You want a response, so act like it’s expected—but without being pushy, just confidently treat recipients as peers.
Examples: “Looking forward to hearing from you. Let’s connect.” or a more casual “Shoot me a message and let me know your thoughts.“
Ending your messages with “Best regards, [Your Name]” is fine, but adding your full name, title, website URL, and social media links beneath offers much more.
This approach is ten times more professional and transparent, making your emails stand out positively—a rarity that hardly anyone takes advantage of.
Useful Free and Paid Tools
Building successful backlinks through email outreach requires both strategic planning and efficient execution.
Fortunately, numerous tools, both free and paid, can empower you at every stage, from finding prospects to personalizing messages and tracking results.
Here are some of them.
- Features: Free spreadsheet software with data organization, filtering, and collaboration tools.
- Strengths: Highly customizable, readily accessible, familiar interface for many users, integrates with other tools.
- Weaknesses: Lacks automatic email sending and personalization features, not specifically designed for outreach.
- Features: Finds email addresses associated with websites and domains. Chrome extension, API access, bulk search functionality.
- Strengths: Highly accurate email finding, diverse search options, free plan with limited searches.
- Weaknesses: Paid plans required for higher search volumes, no built-in outreach functions.
- Features: Email automation platform with personalized templates, scheduling, link tracking, A/B testing, analytics.
- Strengths: User-friendly interface, affordable pricing, good for personalized outreach and campaign management.
- Weaknesses: Limited contact database (requires integration with Hunter or other sources), fewer link prospecting & analysis tools compared to dedicated platforms.