Are you tired of reaching out to people, asking them if they can link to your content, only for them to ignore you?
I’ve been there many times. But through trial and error, the Venngage infographics marketing team (including me) has developed an outreach strategy that works.
Listen to this: my team increased our outreach email open rate from 10% for a regular campaign to between 70% and 80%. And we increased our email response rate to 25% – 35% for an average campaign.
There are two major components to our strategy: first, we use infographics and second, we use a tiered email outreach process. Let’s break it down.
This first step actually includes multiple steps involved in writing an article and creating an infographic. This article isn’t about that, though, so I’m not going to go into those details (here’s a great guide on how to create infographics). But I wanted to make this a point on its own to emphasize that having a visual element that can be extracted from an article and re-purposed on its own is incredibly useful for outreach and can almost guarantee more interest and more backlinks.
I’ve found that placing visual content front and center in email outreach has yielded great response rates. Infographics are a hot content form right now. Including an infographic in your article ensures that even if someone doesn’t read your article, they can still take a moment to look over the infographic.
Plus, infographics are easy to repurpose and super shareable. They perform great on social media sites. And writers can build their own articles around them.
For one article, I typically reach out to anywhere between 100 and 200 contacts. But these aren’t just any old sites I’m reaching out to–it’s a culled list of relevant sites.
How do you compile a list like this without it taking all day? I won’t lie: the process still takes some time, but we’re talking hours as opposed to days. The payoff is worth it, and the more you do it, the faster you’ll get.
Use a combination of tools like Moz, Buzzsumo, and good ole Google to search keywords related to the article to be promoted. These tools generate lists of articles related to your keywords–these are sites and writers who will potentially be interested in linking to your article. The sites that have published infographics in the past will be particularly likely to show interest.
Copy the resulting list into a spreadsheet and then go through it and remove the useless links. Useless links are for sites like Pinterest, Blogspot, Reddit, Growthhackers, LinkedIn, and other sites that you can’t really outreach to.
That’s the easy part. The hard part is finding specific contacts for each site. Depending on how many people you want to outreach to, you can either find your contacts manually by searching the writers and editors of the articles (yes, this involves some light internet creeping…) or you can hire a virtual assistant from a site like Upwork to do it.
You can also do this: Swap the first and second step of this process. This is known as the skyscraper technique, coined by Brian Dean. Basically, you send your first wave of outreach emails before you even publish your article, building excitement and gauging interest. The result is that when you do publish your article, you will have already generated interest in your content, resulting in faster shares and backlinks.
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As crucial as actually creating content is, crafting an outreach email that people will actually read. When it comes to a cold email, short and to the point is best. One of the most common mistakes marketers make when first learning to email outreach is to write emails that are way too long.
Craft a concise, friendly email template that you can send out to a big batch of contacts using a mail merge tool like ContentMarketer.io. I like that particular tool because it allows you to schedule automatic follow up emails (more on that in the next step).
Here is an example of an outreach email I sent out to promote an article + infographic about the hero’s journey in popular movies:
Here’s the no-frills list of things you should put in your infographic outreach email:
That’s really all you need!
Pro tip: if they respond and express interest in your infographic, offer the embed code, not just the image. They may choose to just use the image anyway but at least this way they’ll have the option. Be sure to include a link to your site in the embed code.
Here’s a little secret my team learned through trial and error: following up with contacts not once, but twice increased our open rates to between 70% – 80% for an average campaign. That’s way better than the 10% open rate we averaged before we started sending follow-ups. It’s a learning process. Persistence works.
The fact is that many of the sites you reach out to receive tons of emails in a week, and it’s easy for your email to get lost in the fray. A couple of follow-up emails will bring your pitch back up to the surface.
I typically send the first follow up email three to four days after the first email, then the second follow-up email another three to four days after that.
What should you put in a follow-up email? Next to nothing. Follow up emails should be short–no longer than two sentences–and not too pushy, serving as gentle reminders that your first email exists.
From my experience, people aren’t usually bothered by follow up emails (and if they are, they’ll probably just continue to ignore you). Usually, people will respond with something along the lines of, “Sorry, I meant to respond to your email but have been busy.” No harm done.
Here’s an example of a follow-up email I typically send:
The third email that you send will be a similar variation of the second one. If they don’t respond after a third email, drop it.
To make this process less time consuming, I recommend using a mail merge tool.
Email outreach can be frustrating when it yields poor results. You will probably have to try a couple of different templates to see what sticks. Even then, a fair number of people will still ignore you. But if you keep it concise, friendly, and offer the infographic as something a little extra special, the number of people who do read your email and–miracle of miracles–respond, should increase significantly.
So don’t be discouraged by the email outreach process. Regroup, revise, and try again until finding what works best for you.
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