I’ve dedicated thousands and thousands of words to the value of outreach for your content marketing strategy — so much so that I’ve now found myself on the receiving end of pitches. And boy, has it been eye-opening (although you only need to look at @SmugJourno on Twitter to see that).
A positive relationship between your outreach team and key influencers is essential in getting your content in front of the right audience, but a lot of the time your outreach team is starting from scratch and needs to send the dreaded cold email.
Cold emails are one of the most effective and straightforward ways to get a response from someone you haven’t worked with before, but they’re also a form of communication that can easily step over the line between what is and isn’t appropriate.
In this post, I’ll walk you through three mistakes I’ve noticed in recent emails and offer ways you can avoid them during your next outreach cycle.
1. The email was clearly a template.
From: [email protected]
Subject: Follow up
Just wanted to follow up in case this got lost in the shuffle…
It didn’t. I simply deleted your first email.
Would love to share how ‘Another Company’ can make your team faster, more agile, and more strategic, all while adding time back to your days. Our goal is to help increase performance while eliminating those time sucks such as reporting, excel pulls, manual optimization and other monotonous tasks.
“Increase performance” and eliminate “monotonous tasks?” This email could have gone to anyone.
Some pretty cool things on our end that help you do all of that and then some.
Was that last statement even a sentence?
You get the picture, though. And considering an individual sends and receives an average of 112 work emails per day, one of the most frustrating things to see in your inbox is an email that has clearly been sent to thousands of people.
Obviously, when you’re promoting your content at scale, an email with a templated body can help speed up the process, but there are still ways to add a personal touch.
Personalized fields like first name and publisher name are two easy ways to make a recipient feel as if you’re actually speaking to them, not just blasting thousands of emails at once. You can also mention something you have in common with the person in either your introductory paragraph or as a postscript.
2. You didn’t prove why your content or service is relevant.
Another reason the above template failed? It didn’t answer any specific questions that relate to my industry. A great way to add legitimacy to any cold outreach email is to show that you’re on top of the trends within the recipient’s vertical — and provide a concrete example to back up this claim.
For example, if you can connect the content of your email to a current event that affects the recipient’s industry, whoever is on the receiving end will be more inclined to start a discussion with you based on the innate sense of urgency. People are always on the hunt for answers, so think about some of the current questions they might have and answer them.
3. It wasn’t clear what’s in it for me or what you wanted me to do.
I get a lot of incredibly bold emails that simply ask for a link. And I’ll be the first to admit that I admire their honesty, but I’ll also be the first to delete their email.
The most successful outreach emails get straight to the point, but the best ones emphasize why your content is a great fit for the specific recipient and clearly outline what both parties need to do in order to get your content in front of the right people.
So what are some ways to do this?
- Exclusivity: If the content isn’t available anywhere else, the email should say that explicitly.
- A strong CTA (call to action): I’ve received a ton of emails that go on and on about why I should take a look at whatever they’ve linked to, but once I do, what’s next? Should I call? Should I share something on social? Be as clear as possible.
The two biggest takeaways to remember before your next cold outreach efforts are to check whether or not your email is personal and whether it provides value. Will this kind of personalization take a bit longer? Yes, but this approach of quality over quantity will surely get the attention you want: someone clicking “reply” instead of “delete.”
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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