When you’re trying to build a brand, outreach is one of your most valuable tools. As you link up with other reputable sites, your own reputation online improves and you gain more content authority. Unfortunately, it can take a lot of outreach to build a few solid relationships. Approaching people the right way can improve your chances of making those connections. Before you begin, make sure to have a strategy that will warrant a positive response.
What is Content Outreach?
Content outreach is how you make contacts and get them to share and promote your content. There are a few kinds of content outreach to be aware of. One is just contacting the owner of a popular blog or site and having them share your website via a link. Another is having your content tweeted, shared on Facebook or posted on another social media site by a reputable blogger or brand. Another is guest blogging, where you create content for a different site; the content you create would promote you as an expert and also point back to your own site.
How Does Content Outreach Benefit My Brand?
Content outreach has three major benefits for your brand. The first is that it can position you as an expert in your field. When people with brand authority quote you, promote you and share you on their own sites, it shows potential customers that you can be trusted. The more you engage in the community for your brand, the more you’ll be visible and reputable.
The second is that it offers SEO benefits. The more links you have back to your content, the higher you’ll appear in Google search results. When your links appear on the pages of respected, frequently-updated and authoritative sites, you’ll see a boost in your sites authority. That’s one of the reasons why content outreach is so important. The higher you appear in Google search results, the more clicks you get.
The third benefit is organic outreach. People who are reading the pages where your content is shared may click the link and visit your site. If your content is up-to-date, interesting and relevant, they may share to their own communities or return to your site later to get more information or pay for products or services. That’s one reason why it’s so important to try to connect with reputable, respected sites and people.
Who Should I Contact?
Obviously, the more high-profile and respected the person you contact, the better. However, if you’re reaching out to people like Matt Cutts to get links about SEO, you’re probably not going to get a response. You need to find a good balance between the high-profile, well-respected contact and the contact who will actually reply to you.
There are basically four groups of people to consider.
- High-level experts with a large audience. For example Rand Fishkin of Moz.
- Less well-known, but still authoritative people with a more moderate audience.
- People who are just getting on the radar in your community. They’re also working to actively gain a larger audience by promoting themselves and being active in their niche.
- Sites with no major audience that isn’t niche-specific and isn’t self-promoting.
Though it can be difficult to contact a high-level expert, the exception to this is if you have a personal connection to them. If you do, use it to reach out and you may get a lot of return in the form of new traffic. When your site is shared by someone with a lot of influence, it could mean many new visitors. If you don’t have a personal in, however, it’s better to focus your efforts elsewhere.
Focus on the people who are less well-known and those that are actively promoting themselves to have a better chance of connecting and getting some type of content share. One way to think of it is to consider how many unsolicited emails a given person must receive. The more they get, the more likely they are to skip over your outreach.
When deciding where to focus your efforts, consider using a tool like Moz’s Site Explorer to check the page authority and what kind of links your target produces. That way you can be sure you’ll get the most return for your effort.
Of course, using the right strategies will improve your response rate.
How to Identify Contacts
If you’re new to content outreach, start small by looking for blogs that accept guest posts. A simple Google search can unearth many blogs that take guest posts, submissions and other types of content that you’ll be able to post along with a link to your own website. If you’re interested in contacting these blogs, be prepared to create a new post to publish on their sites.
To reach out to influential bloggers and people on your niche, look for their contact information on their websites. Avoid using the contact form embedded on the website, since it can be less targeted. Instead, find their contact information and send them a personalized email that includes your content, what you can offer and what you’re hoping to get.
If there’s no contact information on a website, look for a profile page. You can also look up site owners on social media like Facebook or LinkedIn. It’s best to try to find a professional page or one associated with their site, rather than contacting them on a personal account.
Finally, each site has its information published online. You can often find a contact email if you search for the domain information.
“It’s easier to be real than to fake being real”
Matt Cutts, Google
How to Approach Your Contact
The first step in approaching someone is to make sure you have their information correct. Double check their name, email address and the spelling and capitalization of their website. First impressions matter; it’s important to look professional and competent. Before you send the email, too, you should go back over all the pertinent details and make sure that you’ve covered all your bases.
Address the person and introduce yourself if you haven’t met them before. If you have, refresh them on who you are and where you met. Explain where you’ve seen them or found out about them if applicable. For example, if you’ve read their articles, used their apps or watched videos they’ve produced, mention it.
Explain what you want to share with them. Whether it’s your best blog post, the results of a customer survey, or analysis of your website traffic, send them a link to the information you’re hoping they’ll share.
Ask for what you want, whether it’s feedback or a boost to a larger audience. Keep in mind that you’re more likely to get feedback than an immediate content share—and the person will share it in any case if they find it interesting. Sometimes it’s better to not ask for the boost and instead appeal to the person’s expertise by asking for feedback instead. This is the case when you’re writing to someone who’s significantly more influential than you currently are. Asking for a critique may be met with a better response, but it will still get your link in front of that person. In the same token, someone on the same level as you who’s actively working on building their brand may be more open to a content exchange.
Thank them for their time, and sign the email. Keep it short and sweet—it’s better to get to the point quickly than to ramble on and lose the person’s attention. An executive research firm tracked their emails for five years and found that short emails get quicker responses.
Offer Something Unique
The best way to get a return on your time is to offer something unique to the person you contact. For example, if you have some kind of information that they haven’t seen before, offer to share it with them. This could lead to a click from the person you’re trying to make an impression on because they’ll want to read the study you’ve conducted or the data you’ve gathered.
If you’ve built an interesting tool, share it with them. Don’t wait to share the most interesting things about your brand and what you can offer until you’ve made contact. Offer that information right away so that you increase your chances of getting noticed and being able to share your content.
Keep in mind that a popular person could get multiple emails every day and won’t be able to respond to or feature everyone. If you figure out what makes responding to you worth that person’s time, you’re halfway toward developing a relationship with them that will help you market your brand.
It may seem like it takes more time to offer something unique in a targeted, personalized way–but it will pay off when you’re seeing more positive responses than negative ones.
Five Ways to Get Noticed
- Personalize the email – Address the person by name and the entire contact will seem more personable and approachable. You’ll stand out in a sea of emails that aren’t geared directly to the person receiving it. For example, personalized emails in marketing get six times higher responses than those that don’t personalize, but most marketers still don’t personalize. Doing so will help you stand out.
- Give a little bit about you in the email – Since you may not be known to the person you’re contacting, it will help give you a little authority and show why the person will want to work with you. James Smith is just a person. James Smith with a degree in marketing who runs operations for a web startup is someone with a background and knowledge on a topic that may interest the person to whom you’re writing.
- Target your content to the person you’re contacting – If you can work in a quote or a mention of something they’re trying to market, they may be more interested in clicking the link you send. People want to get something out of the interaction. If you offer relevant content, you’ll stand out from the people who send out less targeted links.
- Find out who influences your ultimate targets and then create relationships with those people – You can use a tool like Followerwonk to see who the person you want to work with follows to get an idea of what interests that person. Once you have an idea of who to they follow, determine whether those people would be receptive to your outreach. If they’re too high in your niche to respond to you, consider looking at who they quote and what they share. Those sites may have people who would be receptive to working with you. It’s all about learning who’s influential in your niche, what sites are on the rise and who the most dominant figures in the industry are keeping an eye on.
- If you want to complement their content or site, do it in a measurable, active way – Say that you’ve tweeted it, shared it or that it gave you a different perspective on a topic, for example. Simply saying it’s “interesting” or “good” won’t be as compelling. Many people will give generic compliments. Make yours active and specific.
Content Outreach Mistakes to Avoid
- Don’t be too arrogant or demanding – Be confident in your site, abilities, and links, but beware. If you come off as too arrogant, the person may not be interested in working with you. Being humble and quietly confident means asking for feedback. This is better than demanding that the person looks at your link and shares it right then. Keep in mind that you’re asking for a favor.
- Don’t let your email look like spam – Writing the same outreach email over and over may cause it to look like spam. It’s another case where personalization can be the difference between the person clicking “delete” or “reply”.
- Don’t use every article on your blog for outreach – Pick the best articles with the freshest ideas and most original content. That way, you have the best chance of being picked up and shared.
Content outreach can help you increase your authority and visibility in your niche. By networking with other professionals and exchanging content or links, you’re making your website more influential. Content outreach is a long term strategy, so don’t get bogged down worrying about the people who decline. Eventually, the effort will pay off with better search ranks and more hits on your blog. As your reputation increases, you may one day find yourself fielding outreach offers more than you send them out.