Statistically, 91.5% of cold outreach emails are ignored.
And they deserve it.
Who wants to read long, unclear, and generic emails based on copy/paste email templates and only ask for favors?
However, the small number of outreach emails that do get responses often bring in backlinks, PR, partnerships, and leads.
In this article, I’ll share proven tips for writing such emails.
Email outreach is the process of sending cold emails to a well-defined audience (one or more recipients) to achieve a clearly defined business goal.
When done correctly, email outreach is very effective.
However, most people do it the wrong way.
For example, look at this outreach email.
That’s a pretty bad outreach email, not just because I or my business have nothing to do with mattresses.
It had none of the qualities of a good outreach email.
So, I never responded to it.
What are the qualities of an engaging outreach email, you ask?
The following image sums it up:
An effective outreach email is
- always to the point
Still, those are just the foundations of a good email.
There are several other important qualities your outreach emails need to have to get a positive response.
I’ll describe these qualities in much more detail in the rest of this article
If you don’t want people to delete your outreach emails without even reading them, make sure you follow these email outreach tips.
Remember, cold email outreach isn’t spamming.
It’s only the wrong approach that makes it look like spam.
Like this email.
They got my “reference” from “the” Google and want to know what I’ll charge for letting them post spam on my site.
Here’s another example.
No personalization and no introduction.
You can’t send the same email to a list of 500 people with varying interests and call it an outreach email.
That’s just spamming.
This approach might work for small affiliate marketers or black hat SEOs, but not for SaaS businesses.
You won’t get many positive responses that way — especially from reputable sites or niche influencers who can make a difference to your business by linking to your content or tweeting it.
What is the right approach, then?
Let me explain in the next point.
Start by researching your target recipients.
Your goal should never be to send a thousand outreach emails to random people.
Instead, make a list of people who:
- are well-known in your niche
- have loyal audiences on social media and their blogs
- run high-authority sites
Still, that’s not enough.
You need to narrow down your targeting criteria even more.
Broadly speaking, there are four types of websites/influencers in any niche.
These sites, brands, and influencers have achieved global celebrity status, and it’s unlikely to ever get a response from them, unless you’re someone well-known yourself.
2) Top Tier
These are the sites/brands/influencers that are regarded as the top authorities in their niches, but they’re still growing and remain connected with their audience.
3) Mid Tier
Mid-tier sites/influencers/brands are still new but are consistently putting out great content and improving their reputation.
They aren’t well-known in their niches yet, but have mid-authority sites and growing social media profiles.
4) Low Tier
Completely new or low-quality sites that aren’t growing belong in the low-tier category.
There is very little to no benefit in reaching out to low-tier sites, especially after you have established a name for yourself.
Therefore, your outreach strategy should mainly target the top and mid-tier sites/influencers/brands.
How to Find the Right Blogs
You should focus on top and mid-tier blogs because they’re the most likely to respond to you, and they have both the audience and authority to benefit your brand.
So, how do you find such people?
- Search Google for the problems/topics relevant to your business and see which sites and bloggers are regularly covering them.
- Search LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to see which sites and influencers are talking about those topics.
- Divide them in the tiers I shared above and target those most likely to get back to you.
If you’re looking for more tips on finding your audience for outreach, read this detailed guide.
Whether you’re looking for a backlink or just want to introduce your product to an influencer, it’s always better to engage with them before reaching out.
The goal of engagement is pretty simple.
They must already be familiar with your name (in a positive way) when they see your email.
You can achieve this by:
- commenting on their blog posts for a few weeks
- following them on the social network where they’re most active (mostly Twitter) and sharing and commenting on their posts
- giving them a free backlink or shout-out on your site
Why does this work?
It’s human psychology.
We feel compelled to return favors.
When you give someone a free backlink, share their content, or mention them regularly in your posts, you get a place at the back of their minds.
Then, when you finally reach out with your pitch, you’re much more likely to get a positive response.
You need a Tweet, you need a backlink, you need a guest posting opportunity. You need this, you need that.
Well, no one cares about you.
People care about themselves.
So, tell them what’s in it for them.
Think from their perspective and offer something that benefits them.
Venngage, a graphic design tool, used a brilliant strategy to get backlinks from some of the highest-authority sites in the marketing niche.
First, read their marketing pitch, then I’ll explain their strategy.
Do you see what they did in this email?
They identified a few dozen mid-tier and top-sites sites in the marketing niche that they wanted to target for link building.
But they didn’t send mass email pitches.
Instead, they studied the content on every site and identified the articles that could be turned into infographics.
Then, they reached out to every site offering a free infographic version of their article. In return, they asked for a text caption that said “Created with Venngage” with a backlink to their site.
Infographics are hard to create.
Why would any site refuse a free, professionally created infographic?
Giving them a backlink in return was a very small price that most sites were happy to pay.
Venngage secured dozens of high authority backlinks this way.
Their whole email outreach strategy was based on putting the recipient first and showing them the benefit instead of asking for favors.
It doesn’t matter what’s inside your email if no one opens it.
According to research, 69% of people report email as spam based on the subject line, while 47% of people read emails only because of the subject.
Most people in the tech and marketing space can spot poorly made outreach emails by the subject lines.
Here’s what the email subject of a mass outreach campaign usually looks like.
It’s a clear template: [URL]+Request To Submit Guest Article.
Don’t write such email subjects.
Instead, get the attention of your recipient by using their pain point in the subject line.
Here’s a really good example.
There are several things I like about this email subject.
- It’s not overly formal
- It is conversational
- It engages the reader by asking a question
- Above all, it mentions a pain point (procrastination)
If you target the right audience with this subject line, the open rate should be high.
In my experience, subject lines with small letters work better—probably because they’re more informal.
Using questions in email subject lines is another effective technique that many leading marketers use.
You’ll need to test different subject lines to find the best ones.
But whatever you do, avoid following subject line templates because everyone else is already using them.
Personalization is a guaranteed way to increase the open rate and response rate of your outreach emails.
According to research, personalized emails have a 26% higher open rate than generic emails.
However, personalization is much more than just using the recipient’s name in your email subject and content.
Real personalization comes from creating customized email content that’s relevant to your recipient and speaks directly to their pain points.
It tells them that you’ve done your research and understand what they need.
The following outreach email is a good example to follow.
Notice the personalization in this email
It starts with the recipient’s name, followed by a quick compliment that indicates the sender has done his research.
Then in the third paragraph, it mentions an article written by the recipient followed by a short sentence from that article, which again shows this is not a mass email.
What does personalization achieve?
It gets people interested in your email and earns you a few extra seconds to persuade them.
Often, that’s enough to get a positive response.
You’ve got them to open your email and used personalization to build a connection.
Now’s the time to share your URL and give them a good reason to have a look at it.
However, this is where most outreach emails lose the deal.
They don’t share a strong reason why someone should check their resource and link back to it.
For example, look at this outreach email that was hoping to get a backlink from my site.
All he says about his resource is that it’s “super in-depth and awesome”
Why should I, or anyone else, care?
Tell me what it offers and why it deserves a link.
Does it include a unique study or survey you conducted?
Is it an infographic I can use? Does it feature an interview that I can quote from?
What’s the tangible value on offer?
You need to clearly state the value your resource offers and why it deserves a backlink.
For example, look at this outreach email.
“We outline how to dominate Instagram based on lessons we learned while studying 30+ tourism and travel accounts.”
That’s how you sell your pitch!
“Lessons from 30+ tourism and travel accounts” — that’s an inviting statement for any content creator!
Plus, they’ve also highlighted that the article includes multiple examples—another great point to support your link.
Here’s another pitch you can learn from.
It’s an outreach email from a SaaS company that’s pitching itself as an alternative to Canva.
Does it give a strong reason for mentioning it? Yes.
“We offer everything Canva offers at a lower cost and our free version includes 10000 free templates and over 1.2 million images”.
Can you see the trend?
Successful pitches sell their resource by giving a strong and measurable reason to use it.
High-traffic sites and popular influencers receive hundreds of outreach emails every day.
If you want them to open and respond to your emails, you need to show them you’re representing a serious company and are not just another blogger or affiliate marketer looking for a backlink.
You can do that in several ways.
Include Your Company in the Sender Name
Mentioning your company with your name is an easy way to stand out and show that you’re representing a business.
Here’s a good example.
Many SaaS companies use this format.
It acts as a good reference point for the recipient and improves your open rates, especially if your company is well-known in your niche.
Highlight Your Clients or Media Coverage
Another proven way to show you’re the real deal is by highlighting the media coverage of your content/company or by mentioning the past clients you’ve helped.
Like this outreach email hoping to get a backlink from my site.
Ryan, the email sender, first mentioned that he’s representing Venngage and later in the email added more credibility by saying that they’ve served Buffer, Hubspot, Adweek, etc., with the same offer.
Mention a Mutual Connection
Have a mutual connection (a past client or a social media connection) with your target recipient?
Mention it in your email subject or content to improve your chances of getting a response.
For example, you can use these subject lines to leverage mutual connections.
- “X told me about you.”
- “X said you might be interested.”
- “X gave me your email.”
You can then expand on this subject line in the email content with a statement like:
Bryan from Growth Tools said you might be interested in this.
I’m Tom from Venngage, and I recently published a detailed survey of 3000+ content marketers…”
I’ve personally used all these three approaches to connect with several influencers and have always found them very effective.
Praising someone in real life is an easy way to start a discussion.
However, in outreach emails, vague praises can backfire and make your pitch look like a mass email campaign.
For example, have a look at this guest post pitch I received on my site.
She loved my site and was really enjoying my content.
There’s a small problem.
I hadn’t published on my site in years.
There was no content for her to enjoy.
She just picked up an email template, added my links, and sent it over.
Don’t make that mistake!
If you want to praise someone, be very specific.
Tell them what you learned from them or which article helped you and how.
No need for details — just mention the article name or a quick lesson you learned from them.
For example, Bryan Harris, a popular marketer, shared a part of an email pitch he received which, according to him, was one of the best pitches he’s ever seen.
I just want to highlight this paragraph from the email pitch praising Bryan’s work.
Look how they specifically mention the content type and the episodes they’ve enjoyed the most:
This is the kind of praise that works in email outreach and shows that you aren’t signing praises just to get a link.
An email is not an essay.
You don’t need an introductory paragraph or formal conclusions.
Introducing yourself, building credibility, and personalizing your message can all be done in just a couple of sentences.
Then get straight to the point with a clear offer.
Show them the value of your offer, clearly state what’s in it for them, and what you need them to do.
For example, if you’re reaching out to get a backlink for an article, there’s no need to write an email like this first.
There’s almost nothing right about this email, but I want to emphasize the lack of clarity here.
Even after reading the whole email, you don’t know what they want from you.
If you want a backlink, just send the published infographic with a link.
Who has the time to first respond to your email and then wait for your infographic?
This is a really important point.
Just like sales pages, emails also need a call to action (CTA)
It can be a link or plain text (not a button — because it’s too formal for outreach emails).
But it has to be there.
The most popular CTA format for outreach emails is to ask a question.
For example, if you’re looking to schedule a call with a prospect, don’t just ask if they’re interested.
Send them a calendar link to choose the best time slot.
“Will you be free this Thursday for a 15 min call? You can use this link to indicate when you’re free.”
If you want more examples, this guide about CTAs for cold emails is a really good resource.
You don’t want to be guessing whether someone has opened your cold email or not.
This is why I recommend using Hubspot’s free Chrome extension to track emails in Gmail.
You’ll need to create a free Hubspot account for it to work. Once activated, the extension will track all your emails and let you know someone opens them.
There’s a popular sales quote that says, “money is in the follow-up.”
That’s true for cold outreach emails as well.
People are busy, so it’s easy to miss an email.
Just send them a couple of lines to check if they’re interested in responding.
That said, there’s no need to repeat your first email in the follow-up like this.
Also, don’t follow up more than a couple of times — especially if your tracking tool shows you that the recipient has seen and opened your email.
If that’s the case, they’re clearly not interested.
Bloggers, affiliate marketers, and small website owners usually keep following up for months.
It might work for them, but as a SaaS company, you have a reputation to maintain.
Therefore, send prospects weekly reminders and leave them if they don’t respond.
Influencers and popular blogs are bombarded with so many emails these days that even the best emails sometimes struggle to get their attention.
But if you follow the email outreach tips I’ve shared in this article, you’ll give yourself a very good chance of engaging your prospects.
Remember, no email outreach template guarantees a higher response rate. In fact, it’s best to stay away from the email templates popular bloggers have shared on their sites.
Instead, reach out to your target sites with a personalized and well-crafted email that makes a strong offer, builds credibility, and drives action.
That’s bound to get you the best results.