by Nick Nielson on February 20, 2013
If you work in the digital marketing sphere, I don’t need to tell you how important email is. Send regular updates to your boss and you will become known for your consistency. Accidentally hit reply-all with a snarky message and you could lose a client. When reaching out to create links, email will be the bread and butter tool for contacting site owners. This can hold particularly true if you wish to contact a large number of site owners at once through a mass mail delivery. The strength of your email pitch can have a huge influence the success or failure of your campaign. There are a lot of factors that can influence how you approach potential targets for outreach, but in general you will want to make sure your email pitch satisfies these six elements.
The goal of the subject line in a pitch email should be to entice the recipient to open the message. You may have a great message, but if the recipient never makes it past your header it’s useless. This doesn’t mean your subject line has to wow your audience. Your whole pitch can’t fit into the subject line so don’t try. Avoid coming off as a salesman to prevent setting off spam filters (the email client’s as well as the one inside the recipients head). Instead, focus on a simple message or question that leads to the site owner opening the whole message. One approach is to present yourself as someone who is interested in learning more about the site. For example, I’ve seen good success with the ultra-generic subject line, ‘A Question About Your Site’. Because it is such a generic message the recipient is forced to open it to learn more.
Now that the recipient has opened the message, they’ll want to know just why it is you are contacting them. Make sure to answer this question in the first sentence or two of your email. Like the subject line, this should also be a simple statement (we don’t want to dive into details just yet). At the same time you’ll want to clearly explain why you are contacting them. You can use a bit of flattery here or ask an introductory question.
‘I found your blog while researching sites about _______ and found you had a lot of knowledge on the subject.’
‘I was interested in potentially working with your site to create unique content about _________, would you be the best person to discuss this with?’
Notice the blanks in the above examples? That is your opportunity to connect with the recipient on a personal level. This can be simple enough when writing individual emails, but can get a bit trickier when sending mass mail deliveries. In those cases, you’ll want to make sure you have mail delivery software that allows for inputting variables into your template (I like to use Mass Bulk Mailer).
Every email pitch should have several personalized references to make the recipient feel that the message is unique. You should always include the name of the recipient and the name of their site, but other references such as the title of a popular post, the theme the site covers or a relevant news story can help your pitch stand out.
Saying what you like about their site is one approach to flattery. You shouldn’t go over overboard with flattery (attempt to sound sincere), but always include it in some manner. No matter what they say, everybody enjoys a bit of praise. This article in the BBC goes a bit more in depth on the psychology involved here.
Offer a toddler a vegetable and he will likely refuse. Offer it to another toddler next to him and he may all of a sudden take interest . The same goes for adults, offer exclusivity or a chance to be popular and people will take notice (see: platinum credit cards and Ugg boots). For the purposes of your email pitch, you’ll want to state why the recipient should take note of your offer. Play up what you are offering by explaining how what you are offering is a great opportunity. One way to do this is to market it as exclusive content or a trending topic. This is your chance to be somewhat sales-y so show off those persuasion skills.
“I am only allowed to work with a limited number of sites.”
“___________ is a very popular topic right now and this infographic capitalizes on that trend.”
Just like the subject line, the purpose of your pitch email should be to invite a response. A recipient who responds with a question is nearly as valuable as one who responds positively. It’s all about establishing a conversation. You’ll want to be somewhat vague when describing your pitch to invite responses. Be careful here though, as leaving out important details may lead to confusion and could give people the impression that you are trying to scam them. The best approach is to give a general overview of what you are trying to accomplish, you can then follow up with a statement like, “Please let me know if you are at all interested and I will send along further details.” For mass mails this broad approach also allows you to reach out to a varied audience without alienating a particular segment.
While professionalism is important when performing outreach, it’s important to remember that most likely your email isn’t the only pitch your target will be reading today. It may take that extra touch of personality to attract your recipient’s attention. A conservative dose of humor, humility or sincerity may bring a smile to a reader’s face and get them to look at your pitch in a brighter light.
Creativity and personality can go a long way in helping your pitch stand out enough to elicit a response.
These six elements are designed to give you a cheat sheet to compare your email pitch against. I hope you will find success applying them to your next campaign, and, if nothing else, remember that the purpose of an email pitch is to peak the interest of your target audience and encourage a response.