I Just Deleted Your Outreach Email Without Reading. And NO, I Don’t Feel Sorry (2017 Revisited)

Tim Soulo
Tim is the guy responsible for marketing and product development at Ahrefs. But most importantly he’s the chief evangelist of the company.

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    WARNING: This article will drastically improve your outreach skills.

    Tim, your post about outreach had a massive impact on the amount of links we were getting. It was something like 7–10 links for every 100 emails sent. Now its like 7–10 links for every 50 (or so) emails sent! People’s responses were totally different too (in a good way). I’ve since hired someone to do email outreach completely based on your post. Works b.e.a.u.tifully! (I hope you read that in Jim Carry’s voice) 🙂 
    Keith Bresee ValconMedia

    The profession of an “online marketer” requires us to do lot of so-called “outreach.”

    We reach out to let others know about our content, ask for a backlink or simply make a connection.

    But there’s one more group of people who do lots of “outreach.”

    SPAMmers.

    So where’s the red line between the two? And which camp would you put yourself into?

    Trivia: Outreach or Spam?

    Here’s an email I got the other day:

    templated outreach email

    What would you call it: Outreach or SPAM?

    Please leave your vote before you read any further. It would be fun if there are two opinions to it.

    Is this outreach or spam?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading …

    As for me, I deleted it without reading. It’s not that hard to notice a template:

    1. Hey, I just found your post: http://post1
    2. It links to this post: http://post2
    3. I have a similar post: http://post3
    4. Please link to me too.

    Yeah, sure… *Delete*

    Outreach” is not “Broadcasting”

    You just published a new article on your blog and now you’re going to send a mass email to 100+ top people in your niche with an excuse: “I saw you tweeted a similar post.”

    I’m sorry to say this, but your article is not welcome in their inbox.

    Otherwise, they would probably already be signed up to your email list.

    And besides, it’s just disrespectful to mass-email top people in your niche with some generic “outreach template.”

    The more famous a person is, the more of these outreach templates he gets in his inbox daily.

    That’s why you should divide your list of prospects into four groups and treat each group differently:

    1. Sharks

    These are the people with a huge audience and notable achievements (think Gary Vaynerchuck, Malcolm Gladwell, Tim Ferriss, etc.).

    They don’t have time to read emails from strangers, so your only chance to reach them is by a personal introduction or by doing something really creative and outstanding.

    It will take a ton of work (and probably luck) to get on their radar, but these people can send hundreds of customers your way with just a single tweet. So the outcome is well worth the effort.

    2. Big Fish

    These people are not as famous as the Sharks, but their audience is big enough to make an impact on your own business (think Noah Kagan, Nathan Barry, Glen Allsopp, etc.).

    There’s a good chance to reach them with a nice personal email, but never with a template.

    Asking Big Fish for tweets and links is unproductive (and silly), you will get much more value by asking them to critique your work or validate your ideas.

    And if what you’re doing is worth attention, they will tweet it and link to it anyways.

    3. Small fish

    These people don’t have a big audience yet. Their websites are only starting to get traction and they are actively promoting themselves by contributing to niche communities, writing guest articles and participating in all sorts of events.

    They are your ideal outreach targets.

    4. Spawn

    They are just starting out in your industry and they will most likely reply to your outreach email even if it’s 100% templated.

    But it doesn’t really make much sense to reach out to them. They don’t have any traffic to send your way, and a link from their website is hardly worth anything because it’s so new.

    TIP
    Ahrefs’ “Domain Rating” metric helps you understand the “power” of a website, based on its backlink profile. As a general rule, links from high-DR websites carry more weight than links from low-DR websites. Read more here.

    As you have probably guessed, you should focus your outreach efforts on two groups: “Small fish” and “Big fish.”

    And what follows is the process that Ahrefs’ marketing team uses to reach out to these people and get replies like this one:

    1. Use the correct email address

    This first tip may seem like a total no-brainer, but give me a chance to explain.

    Too many people rely on some automated tools to scrape (or sometimes even guess) their outreach prospects’ email addresses instead of investing a bit of time to research a person manually and find his actual email.

    For example, my own email address is listed on our team page for everyone to see: timsoulo@ahrefs.com

    But some people prefer to send their emails to a non-existent tim@ahrefs.com, which are picked up by our catchall:

    I ignore these emails in 99% of cases.

    The fact that a person didn’t bother to find my real email tells me he’s not that interested in getting in touch with me. So I’m not interested in replying either.

    If you need a good process of finding email addresses, check out our recent article: “9 Actionable Ways To Find Anyone’s Email Address.”

    2. Think what’s in it for them

    You want a link, you want a tweet, you want to be featured in front of their audience. But what will THEY get out of it?

    If you don’t provide value and only ask them to do something for you, your success rate is going to be extremely low.

    Here’s how you can make your outreach about them:

    Show them something new & valuable

    If you have something truly unique and outstanding, influencers might appreciate a heads up.

    And besides, people with large audience need a constant flow of awesome content to cater to their fans, so they will be grateful if you show them something of value.

    But let’s face it, Sharks and Big Fish are super hard to impress. The stuff that seems unique and outstanding to you might easily be old-school for them.

    Research your topic well before contacting top people in your field and be realistic about the novelty and uniqueness of your offering.

    Once you define what makes your content unique, make sure to clearly articulate it in your email so you can pique their interest.

    Here’s an example of my own outreach email:

    I didn’t just say, “Check out my amazing research of guest blogging.” I actually explained what I did there and shared a few quick takeaways from my article.

    This helps the recipient evaluate whether your content is worth checking out and reduces the chances you’ll waste their time on an article they view as only “average.”

    Feature them

    It’s incredibly hard to resist checking out a piece of content when you know it talks about you. So why not use this to your advantage?

    Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language 
    Dale Carnegie
    Dale Carnegie

    If you see a way to feature a well-known person (or their business) in your article, do it and let them know about it.

    This can be anything really:

    • A quote from their article, podcast or talk
    • Some feedback about the things you’ve learned from them
    • A positive experience with their product, service or company

    If you make them look good, they’ll want to tell their audience about it:

    3. Only use your best work

    We have 300+ articles on the Ahrefs Blog and most of them are very good, but we only do outreach for a handful of the very best ones (most of them are featured on our blog homepage).

    This aligns with the tip that I just shared above: “Show them something new & cool.”

    You only have one chance to make a good first impression on the top people in your industry. Do you really want to blow it by sending them your “average” article? I hope not.

    But the reality is, most people think every article they publish is a masterpiece. That’s why influencers’ mailboxes are flooded with content that’s anything but special.

    So how do you make sure your outstanding article won’t get buried in that pile of “average”?

    Provide social proof

    Is there anything about your article that would prove you’re not the only person who thinks it’s cool?

    • Did it generate 100+ comments?
    • Did it get tons of upvotes on Reddit?
    • Did someone famous tweet it?
    • Did you get cited by authority website in your niche?

    Anything along these lines will make your outreach email stand out massively.

    Take a look at my example:

    Try to get some initial traction with your article and then use it as your social proof when reaching out to people.

    4. Re-think your outreach excuse

    Here are the 3 most common excuses that I see people use for outreach:

    You tweeted this post, and I wrote a similar one…

    You published this post, and I wrote a similar one…

    You linked to this post, and I wrote a similar one…

    Why would anyone want to check out a post that’s similar to what they just read?

    Similar article” is a very poor excuse, and it shows you didn’t study the person you’re reaching out to.

    A decent excuse would look like this:

    You tweeted this post, and I thought you’d be interested in checking out a different opinion on that topic. In a nutshell it’s all about XXX and you can read about it here…

    You wrote this post, but you didn’t mention one very important aspect. I’m talking about XXX and I’ve explained it in this article…

    You linked to this post, and I thought I should show you a much better resource on that subject. It’s better because XXX

    I’m pretty sure the difference is clear.

    But to come up with an excuse like that, you’ll have to actually skim through the post they wrote/linked to/tweeted and figure out how your own article is different from it.

    Most people never bother to study their outreach prospects, and this is how they find themselves featured as bad outreach examples:

    Reading every article before you reach out and figuring a proper excuse for outreach might sound like a ton of work.

    But that’s only the case when your article isn’t unique enough.

    Let me explain what I mean with an example.

    In our recent article, we called out SEO professionals for popularising a wrong definition for the term “long tail keywords” and shared the right one.

    Guess what kind of excuse we’re using in our outreach template for that article?

    Hey %First Name%,

    I noticed that you’ve mentioned a concept of “long tail keywords” in your recent post about {post topic}.

    Here at Ahrefs we believe that the definition of the term “long tail keywords” in 2017 needs to be revisited. As well as the actual strategy of getting traffic from them.

    Please check out our recent post for more details: https://ahrefs.com/blog/long-tail-keywords/

    Given that you have a lot of experience in the SEO field, it would be interesting to know what you think about it.

    Thanks in advance!

    In other words, if your content is offering something really unique, it won’t be too hard to craft a good outreach excuse.

    5. Throw away your outreach templates

    As you can probably tell by now, there’s no way to scale your outreach while maintaining the quality.

    It’s too easy for your recipients to see when your email is automated and therefore ignore it.

    I have no hard feelings when I throw automated outreach emails into the trash can. I know hundreds of other people have received the exact same email and most of them didn’t bother to reply.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating against templates—there’s no way to email 100+ people about the same thing and write your email from scratch every time.

    I’m only trying to say you should spend more time crafting a template that doesn’t look like one and leave some room for personalization.

    Here are a few tips to consider:

    Don’t use generic subject lines

    Let’s go back to the subject of the email I shared above.

    Subject: Hi Tim, Compliment on one of your posts

    Doesn’t this look sleazy right off the bat? I didn’t open the email yet, but I’m already sceptical.

    My favourite approach to email subjects is to keep them short and not too obvious.

    Example:

    Subject: ahrefs link building advice

    You can clearly tell that this subject has something to do with link building and Ahrefs.

    But what exactly?

    • Is there some problem with their backlink profile?
    • Am I offering them some link building advice?
    • Am I asking them for link building advice?

    You’ll never know until you open the email and learn that I am asking you to check out our amazing Noob-Friendly Guide To Link Building.

    Avoid patterns

    When people use outreach automation software, they often follow an easy-to-distinguish pattern.

    It usually goes like this:

    Hey %First_Name%,

    I just came across your article: %URL_of_their_article%

    It’s an amazing piece of content and I learned a lot from it.

    I noticed that you linked to this post: %URL_where_they_link_to%

    It’s a great post, but I wrote an even better article on that same topic.

    Check it out here: %URL_of_my_article%

    I hope you can add a link to my post in your article or at least tweet it.

    Thanks!

    Whenever I see an email structured in a similar manner, I realize that there’s some automation in place, which gives me the moral right to ignore it.

    Here’s an example of a template we use at Ahrefs:

    Hey %First_Name%,

    I just stumbled upon your article about {what their article is about}

    {Try to say something smart about their article: feedback, compliments, jokes, etc}

    I figured you might be interested in checking out our (Ahrefs) “Noob Guide” to link building:

    https://ahrefs.com/blog/link-building/

    Obviously you’re not a noob, and it is unlikely that you’ll find anything groundbreaking there.

    But I’m pretty sure that you get some “noob” questions about link building now and then, so perhaps you’ll find our guide good enough to share it with these people, instead of trying to explain everything on your own.

    In this guide we have featured all the major link building strategies and even did an industry survey to figure out which were the most popular and most effective ones.

    Oh, and if you think our guide is lacking something — we’ll be happy to revise it.

    So yeah, looking forward to your feedback.

    And thanks in advance!

    -Tim

    That is still a template, but it leaves room for a lot of personalization and it doesn’t follow any obvious pattern.

    Other than this one:

    1. Mention which article of theirs made you reach out.
    2. Give feedback about that article (if any).
    3. Plug your own article.
    4. Explain what makes your article unique and why they should care to check it out.
    5. Ask for feedback.

    If you follow this pattern, you will create a unique outreach template for every new piece of content.

    And if you ask me, I wouldn’t dare to delete an outreach email like this one

    Quit stupid flattery

    Everyone loves to be praised, right? That is why every outreach template that you’ll find will start with a few words of praise.

    And it’s usually ugly as hell:

    I just read your article and it is very cool.

    I’m a long-time reader of your blog and I think your content is totally amazing.

    Thanks for posting your outstanding article about %topic%, I’ve learned a lot from it.

    You should never use this kind of templated flattery in your outreach emails.

    Either say something meaningful, or don’t say anything.

    Here are some good examples:

    I loved your advice on doing XXX. I’m totally going to implement it this month.

    Your story of XXX is totally inspiring. I’ve just shared it with couple of my friends.

    Your take on XXX totally rocks! I never thought of it this way!

    That “XXX” part was highlighted for a reason. By adding context, you show them that your flattery is not templated, but you actually took time to study their work.

    Nick Churick is pretty good at that:

    6. Show them you know them

    If you take time to dig a little to learn more about the person you’re reaching out to, your chances of getting a response from them will go through the roof.

    I mean, if you cared to spend your time learning about me and you showed it in your outreach email, I’d feel like a total ass if I didn’t reply.

    Look again at the email example I shared earlier:

    I knew that Jimmy was a fan of epic guides, because he recently published an “epic guide to email marketing.” And this allowed me to send him a personalized outreach email.

    7. Timing is your friend

    Just because someone wrote an article about something a few years ago, it doesn’t mean they still care about it today.

    And there’s almost no chance you can get them to update that old article and link to you.

    But the opposite is also true.

    If the article was published just yesterday, its author is an easy outreach target.

    Here’s a screenshot that shows how Brian Dean updated his newly published article with 22 more tools, shortly after it was posted to Inbound.org:

    seo tools backlinko

    That’s because he got a ton of outreach emails with tool suggestions immediately after publishing his article.

    Do you think you can make him add your tool to the list if you email him now?

    The chances are very slim.

    He has already moved on to something else and won’t get back to that article anytime soon.

    PRO TIP
    Use Ahrefs Alerts to track when people publish articles on your topic (or link to your competitors) and reach out immediately. 

    8. Ask wisely

    Asking for favours is an art. But most people never give it a second thought and act as if everyone owes them something.

    Here are a couple of rules we follow at Ahrefs when reaching out to people:

    Don’t ask for tweets

    It’s obvious, that you’re reaching out because you want some exposure for your piece. You know it and your recipient knows it too.

    But as soon as you ask for it directly, two things happen:

    1. Your email is no longer about giving value to them. It’s about asking for a favour to you.
    2. If they don’t want to tweet your article, you’re putting them in a difficult situation.

    I hate to tell people, “No, I won’t tweet your article.” I’d rather not reply their email at all.

    But if I like your content, I will tweet it, even if you didn’t ask me to:

    Ask for links

    Unlike with tweets, people do require a soft nudge if you want them to link to you.

    But you have to make sure you’re giving them an easy way out, in case they don’t want to do it.

    Just frame your request like this:

    Let me know what you think about the post. Maybe it’s worth mentioning in your article (or in future ones)?

    Would love to know your opinion on that article. And if you’ll find it useful, please consider linking to it from that post of yours, or perhaps mentioning it in your future writing.

    You’re still clearly asking for a link, but you’re making your request easy to ignore, if a person doesn’t want to do it.

    9. Follow up, once

    Quite often people don’t respond, not because they don’t want to but because they forgot to.

    This can be solved with a short polite follow up:

    Hey %First_Name%,

    Just a quick follow up in case you’ve missed my email.

    If you’re short on time right now — no worries. I won’t bug you about it again.

    Thanks.

    -Tim

    That’s it.

    Please don’t send more follow ups.

    Seriously:

    Don’t be that guy.

    Level up your outreach game

    I sincerely hope this article makes you reconsider your outreach strategies.

    Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Be genuine and provide real value to the person you’re reaching out to.

    There’s a human like you on the other side of the screen. Always remember that.

    And should you get a bad outreach email in your inbox, just reply to them with a link to this post 😉

    Tim Soulo
    Tim is the guy responsible for marketing and product development at Ahrefs. But most importantly he’s the chief evangelist of the company.

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    • gold dust! As someone who has sent you an email before (only to be ignored) I can certainly see why it maybe was now. I was scrolling down thinking “please don’t me email be in this article” phewww. Ill be upvoting this for sure!

      • hey Paul.. but now that you’ve read that — I’m sure you’ll have no problems reaching me 😉

    • Viktor Zdraveski

      Maybe so, but I’ve sent out e-mails with “I love your blog” and it was a genuine phrase as well as that e-mail. I get that outreach should be a original way to reach out to someone and let them know you actually care about them, but sometimes you might mix up the two. You can see from your pool, almost 50% of the people thought that wasn’t a spam or automated e-mail meant for outreach. Maybe the original sender wrote it with a genuine intention and turned out to look like an outreach template, can’t that be the case?

      Anyway, “I love your article and keep up the awesome work :P” — I mean it though 😀

      • what my poll shows is that using a template like that, you’re immediately decreasing your response rate by 50%, because these people will treat you like a spammer 😉

        • Viktor Zdraveski

          Clearly you’re decreasing your response rate by sending something not personalized, but I had a different point to make though. I’m saying that e-mail might not be a template, which is less likely, but still it’s a tough call to make. To be honest, I don’t see much of a difference between your e-mail which received a well response and the one in the pool. 

          You did mentioned that he’s fan of epic posts (which sounds pretty general even though he wrote epic posts about something), do you think that will make a huge difference when reaching out to someone? I’d say yes, if it’s well researched compliment or observation, but then comes the question is it worth the time to look for unique way to reach someone? It’s natural to think it’s worth, why wouldn’t it be, but online marketing being a numbers and stats game, testing might surprise us. Maybe you’ve done some testing so I’d love to pick up your brain on this and get some quality takes on e-mail outreach, I’d be doing plenty soon enough.

          Anyway, here’s what I meant:

          1. Hey “Name” I know you’re fan of
          2. I don’t do this often
          3. Check out my article
          4. Not asking for anything just want to share

          Isn’t this something that can be called a template?

        • Viktor Zdraveski

          Clearly you’re decreasing your response rate by sending something not personalized, but I had a different point to make though. I’m saying that e-mail might not be a template, which is less likely since it was all Brian from Backlinko on that one, still it’s a tough call to make if it’s not super obvious.

    • Shang

      *Insert generic comment about your article* — no, but really, perspective I found very valuable here. Thanks for your brutal honesty! Bye now.

    • Giraffe Value

      Tim great article, I couldn’t stop laughing at that first email template. I think any Email outreach that asked for links/shares on the first or second Email is just bad(no matter how good the email is). I wonder why so many seo experts are showing it as example in their blog.

    • Great article! The first email reminds me a lot of the type of outreach email Brian Dean recommends using in his blog. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was copy and pasted from his blog. A few years ago they probably worked, but today since everybody are using them, they’re too easy to detect, especially if the outreach is done inside the online marketing industry. Thanks again for writing such a great article!

      • yep.. when you get your first email like that — you definitely read it and react.. but after a third email like that you’re starting to get pissed

    • Thanks for the great article. As someone who have just published a post on writing high-quality content, I am still figuring out how to do outreach. Your article has make me realise that doing outreach is no longer easy.

      I will apply the lessons learnt here and hopefully one day, you will read my outreach email and reply to me. Thanks once again!

      • glad that my article was helpful to you, Thiam!

    • Elena Gorsvan

      I receive a lot of outreach emails and, to be honest, I always ignore them. I mean they want me to actually click that link and read someone’s article. That requires time and mental energy! I already have information overload. If I want to read something interesting, I use sites like StumbleUpon. I have hard time to imagine many people reply these emails. I clicked through the link to this post because I thought that someone will finally say that email outreach doesn’t work, but no, it’s more tips instead 🙂

    • Help Your Life

      Thanks for sharing information. I am so glad that I found this.

      I got many information here. Thank You.

    • Taught me a few things here as well Tim, nice article!

    • Zhivko Stanev

      The number of people who voted “outreach” is disturbing. No matter how often we hear that quality is important, we still bet on volume to “get results fast!”… I guess the problem is — like you said — that canned emails do work pretty well. But hey, who said spam doesn’t?

      • yup.. SPAM works too.. it all depends on your goals and if you’re looking to keep your connection with these people afterwards

        • Zhivko Stanev

          So I guess the main objective should be reconsidering our goals then… Right now the goal is get visible results asap which you can show to the client and not lose it. Instead it should be… What?

    • Michelle Hughes

      Great article, I’ve saved it ready for my next outreach approach. I have just deleted my outreach templates and like a few other comments below, I am relieved to see none of my emails used as an example!

      • Awesome! Let me know if you see that a more personalized approach works better for you.

    • Hey Tim, I’m a really huge fan of AH Refs. I’ve been a reader for quite some time now.… JUST KIDDING! Haha. No but really, this is a great post. However, I’ve seen a few comments regarding this already, but I think you were a bit harsh on the “Big Fan” outreach approach. I definitely get that its overdone and generic when you use those cheesy templates, but I think when its done tastefully and its personal, it still works. For example, don’t just say you’re a big fan and then put a URL to an article that was written. Actually mention what you liked about that article, or specific things that were missing and where value can be added. Keep kicking ass man! — Gaetano

      • Actually mention what you liked about that article, or specific things that were missing and where value can be added.” — that’s something that can’t be automated 😉

    • Dustin Gallagher

      I just started doing outreach for a company recently and this article is quite the eye opener for me! Last week I made the mistake of sending out a mass email with the wrong journalist names in place. Rookie mistake. Thanks for this article! I don’t feel completely like a deer in the headlights now.

      • yeah.. messing up your automation while reaching out to 100s of people is super lame

    • I call this SPAM REACH!

    • AtiqUr Rehman

      Great article however do you not think that because you know all about this stuff you can easily tell about a templated email? or you want people to spend some time researching you before contacting you which is fair enough but not everyone thinks like this.
      There are many mummy bloggers or sites who don’t really know much about outreach. If you email them about their previous work and asking permission to send something to have a look they will still reply and surely it can’t be categorized as spam if you are asking for permission to send a content link?

    • Hey Tim

      Really like the steps you’ve included here, and I do agree with them. 

      My only problem is the time it takes to reach out to each person one by one, and get on a personalised level. I think the biggest struggle for most businesses is how little time they have to be able to do this, which is why outreach templates are often made.

    • Michael Pozdnev

      Excellent article, Tim! It’s lucky that I did not send you such an email 🙂 I noticed you in the comments to the video from Gael Breton on YouTube, and then contacted you through Ahrefs support. It’s nice to meet you, by the way 🙂

      Since I have recently started my blog, of course, it was impossible for me to take no notice of such a topic. Frankly speaking, I thought about using templates, as we are all in a hurry 🙂 But I’m surely going to make such emails more personal. First of all I want others to know a bit who I am when they open my emails and I aspire to it. You divided the influencers into three groups in a very correct way, my approach to online marketing experts was personal, too, and it had effect.

      Once again, thanks for your interesting thoughts!

    • Ashley Faulkes

      Tim I have been looking for something like this for ages, to send to these people who outreach. Although I am guessing I am wasting my time trying to educate them :> but let’s see. There are also some great examples and tips in there I am going to use/steal for my future outreach. So thanks bro!

    • Gurpreet Singh

      Hey Tim, Great piece of advise. We are working on reaching out to influencers for our SAAS product, Pixpa and were making many of the mistakes that you have pointed out here. Working on re-shaping our approach and implementing many of the suggestions that you have posted in this article. Looking forward to more success in our outreach from here on 🙂

    • Just found this article (NOT gonna send you an outdated email to say how much i liked it haha) — thanks for the tips you’re giving! And for showcasing that guy’s efforts, hahaha, really made me laugh 😀

      • thanks for the comment, Olga! glad I could make you laugh 😉

    • Hallelujah! Most of the “outreach emails” (ugh, is it a sign that I even hate saying that word these days?) I get, get ignored or filtered by my VA (yes, I’m looking at you auto-template-I’m-just-following-up-did-you-get-my-last-3-emails-people). Occasionally we will reply and do our good deed for frustrated bloggers and influencers everywhere and give some feedback about what not to do and what they are doing right, but that’s only if we can see they are really making an effort and/or if they are clients or community members. Though I am unfortunately doing that less and less, as bad outreach has become ridiculously prevalent! 

      The other issue is that there are bloggers out there that have done well with a couple of big outreach emails and they are teaching “outreach” and influencer marketing in courses when they are actually not doing it in a great way themselves in the first place.. to the point that quite a few of us have them on a skip filter. Sigh. 

      But NOW I can just reply with this. Love it! 

      Great post Tim! 

      PS And I have to say, it is funny to check and delete old emails caught in our “nope. filter” filter…they are in there crying out “just sending you an email” “just checking you got my email “just checking if you are reading emails” “just checking again why you haven’t opened my emails” “just checking if you are alive” “just checking if my automated system is working” … Glad I have the sound turned down!

      • It’s clear how frustrating and annoying this is to people. Thanks for the heads up on ‘subject lines NOT to use’ 😉

        • haha yes… though I may have made one or two of those up but you get my drift! Tim’s right .. one follow up is more than enough.

          • Agreed. To be honest. In my outreach campaigns, I don’t even do followups, but I will start to add just one from now on, as Tim makes a good point about people forgetting to reply, or being too busy at the time.

            • Yes for sure. I appreciate it being limited to one follow up if any though, as I get so many requests that it becomes added emails to process (and then you need to direct resources to a VA for vetting). I get back to them when I can and there’s a point when being reminded constantly actually turns me off rather than egging me on to finish it haha.

            • Yeah, that makes perfect sense, Donna. Thanks for the insight.

    • Love your work Tim. As detailed and as useful as all the content you continue to publish. Keep up the awesome work mate.

    • Aahahaha this was a satisfying read. I’m going to feel much less guilt deleting these emails now. 😀

    • Awesome, Tim. I recognise a lot of these templates. Not because I’ve been sent them, but because I may have used a few in the past. ;-P

      It’s a beginners mistake (or perhaps a downright spammers tactic), but as you grow you realise that building real relationships with people is the most important part of what we do. Short on resource, or not.

      Anyway, you’ve clarified what I’ve come to know and added a few extra tips in there to sweeten the deal. Thanks, Tim.

    • Hey Nikolay,

      I agree. It’s all about building real, worthwhile relationships. 🙂

    • Off topic, but who is creating your post cover graphics? They’re absolutely AMAZING (and hilarious)!

      • they are created by an amazing illustrator who I work with 🙂

    • Carol Tice

      OMG, the people who hit you 3 times begging you to tweet their thing! No, no, no. This is a TERRIFIC post. I probably do most often share the ones who just say, “I wrote this post on a topic I think you’d be interested in — hope you enjoy it.” Nobody likes being told what to do.

    • Who drew the featured image? It’s stunning.

      • I always love featured image illustration from Ahrefs! And this is too good 🙂

      • we work with an amazing illustrator 🙂

    • Alexander Tereshchenko

      Hi Tim, nice post!

      You did a great job with samples!
      However, I’d want to share my opinion about couple of statements:
      — “you’ll have to actually skim through the post they wrote/linked to/tweeted” -why not read the whole piece attentively?;
      — “either say something meaningful, or don’t say anything.” — again, it’s better to think for a while and come up with smth. hyper relevant, and chapter 6 of your post is exactly about this.

      I agree with all your tips but think that some of them may (and should) work only on a higher degree… Because it’s all about relevant, authentic human connection, but not a link.

      Anyway, great piece!
      Thanks

      • thanks, Alexander 🙂

      • Artem Baryliuk

        Oh, it’s you, dude.
        You have great results on creating a fake “bloggers” profiles.
        That is really hard and long-time process to get such trustful “writers”.
        I especially like the Lesley one.

    • Bolo TV Youtube

      I got a lot of useful information from your blog posts Tim, but this one meh if I want to be honest simply because you have a lot easier way to outreach to people because well.. you are from ahrefs blog of course lol you are NOT some unknown person from 10th google page — if you get what I mean.

      Don’t get me wrong I love your articles there is a lot of research and knowledge in them, but sometimes you are forgetting that you ARE ahrefs blog — guy who counts and sometimes forgetting to place yourself among “noobs”

      Hey no hate, I don’t do outreach anyway lol im blackhat 😉

      • well, the examples of my own outreach emails that you see in this post are from the time when I wasn’t working at Ahrefs 🙂

        but yeah, company brand helps.. as well as personal brand.. so you want to start building them early on 🙂

        • Bolo TV Youtube

          Can’t wait for your next blackhatworld package testing (can’t remember if it was you who wrote the post about sarkar services tho)

          Good luck =)

    • James Rice

      Thanks for updating your outreach manifesto Tim. As someone who occasionally has to defend the reputation of SEO folk, a little bit of me dies every time I see a templated outreach email. As with many things, the secret is not to be lazy. Ditch the templates, ditch the automation, and take a polite interest in other people. You’ll find it’s more fun 😉

      I actually wrote an article for SEMrush on this topic a couple of years ago, with some similar points. It’s not as good as yours, but if anyone wants to read a second article with thoughts about what went wrong with outreach, search for ‘How to do SEO outreach in 2015’. This is an important debate I feel.

      • imbenking

        …with some SIMILAR points”

        Did you even read the article above?!?

    • SErgio Ibarra

      Hi, very awesome article and I liked the images too! How you create the arts like you use in this post?

      • we have an amazing illustrator 🙂

    • I’m sure Brian is suffering from his own tactics :)))

      • I don’t mind a smart idea, but whenever it becomes a tric, it becomes annoying 😉

    • I voted in spam reach.

    • Hey Tim,

      You just made it easy for me to reach out to you (I hope no one emails you on time@ahrefs.com anymore) 😉 

      Honestly, I see those cranky templates all the time and it gets annoying. People put in so much efforts to build contents but then using templates to reach out to people is the laziest way to promote. 

      I guess people want quick results these days, and templates are the result of desperation. 

      Fantastic article!

    • The article is old, but it’s gold. Great share my friend @RobbieNevens:disqus 🙂

    • I would delete it at “your site about discover popular articles tool. I get emails like that all the time. I have one post called “A Stripper’s Guide to Writing”, and I get emails referring to my A Stripper’s Guide to Writing website. Seriously? Delete!

      • yeah.. these automations can be pretty nonsense, right? 🙂

    • Thanks for this Tim. This adds the human element back into promotion all over again. Outreach is about touching people, not robots. Surprising that so many people forget that.

      • soooo true!! and not just outreach.. the whole marketing thing is about communicating with humans like you and me

        who wants to read boring landing page copy? who wants to see sleazy ads? who want’s to read outreach templates? 🙂

    • Thanks for the great tips, Tim. I’ve just started my guest blogging campaign so these are very helpful on the proper way to reach out to get the most out of my time. Thanks again.

    • zeuthunder

      Am a great fan & subscriber of Ahrefs. the swiss army knife of link building. Nice post Tim. 

      Whenever i send outreach mail, i think for some minutes “if i will be the person receiving this mail, should i read or ignore”.

      • yeah, that’s a great start to a good outreach email 🙂

    • Great post Tim, and I know I am not the first person to say so. 

      Was searching for effective ways to do my outreach and found you on the very first page.
      Exciting and informative stuff, got what I was looking for. Taken notes out of it, will definitely apply them in my future communications.

      A very interesting title too. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      Cheers!
      Gaurav

      • thanks, Gaurav! good luck with your outreach! 😉

    • Sreelal G Pillai

      Hey Tim,

      Very solid opinions here. 

      While I agree to most of it, I personally feel that starting the email with “I just stumbled upon your article about ####” can also be tied under templated message. 

      I see the exact line of “I just stumbled upon your article about ##” in many places — where there are ready made outreach templates are offered. 

      What I use in outreach emails is that I introduce myself and give a hint on why I am sending the email.

      It will be something like ‘Hey Tim, Hope you are doing great. I am Sreelal and I work for xyz company. I just thought of letting you know about one of my recent article on.……’ goes on.

      Sometimes I find it very effective to convey the message in a straight and profession way rather than sugar coating the entire content. Some people like ‘to the point’ emails, as they dont have time to read the entire story and figure out what this guy actually wants.

      Of course, we all experience different scenarios. You nailed the points and I believe that the folks who read this blog would never dare to send such crappy pitches to others [at least to you, lol].

      Being said that, I am thinking about what should be the subject line of my pitch to you 😀 something like ‘Tim, I swear, this is NOT an automated mail’..lets see.

      Shared this to everyone in my agency. Thank you.

      • hey @sreelal_g_pillai:disqus

        I never start emails with introducing myself.. maybe that’s a wrong thing to do, but I try to make my email about them, not about me

        they can always see who I am in my email signature

        I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to start from introducing yourself, I’m just saying that I personally don’t do it

    • Julian Sakanee

      Just laughing at that email in your trivia thing. “…found your post about discover popular articles tool.” Hehe

      I feel sorry for all the people who’re trying to automate their outreach. Especially cold outreach. That first impression is pretty important. You fuck up once, you can basically kiss that contact goodbye.

      That illustration, though. Your guy is a legend!

      • yeah, love these illustrations too 🙂

    • Hi Tim — interesting update. I think one thing you should have mentioned in this post is the absolute saturation of outreach emails in the SEO and internet marketing industry. It is absolutely insane! Do you know that I personally receive 10–20 expert roundup requests PER WEEK?!!? On top of that, I get about 10–20 outreach emails DAILY!!! Keep in mind I am nowhere near “big fish” status, so I can only imagine what some of the actual big fish are getting. 

      If you are in the SEO industry and are doing outreach, you really need to take a good hard look at the emails you are sending. As Tim said, chances are 99% of them are going to get deleted. Again, our industry is completely saturated and anyone with an established SEO blog is already receiving dozens of these per day. They all go in the trash. 

      The “outreach blindness syndrome” (OBS I call it) really started with Jon Cooper’s “most creative link building post ever.” This post was so successful it spawned the “expert roudup inudstry” and really made it so most folks that read about SEO stopped reading these roundups. 

      Me personally, I can spot an outreach email a mile away. If it is from someone that I don’t know, and contains the URL of a blog that looks marketing / SEO related it goes in the trash. I’m not angry at these people, it just isn’t part of my strategy and I don’t know of an SEO blog that exists that ranks well using blog posts obtains from cold strangers.

      Can anyone cite a blog (that most people have heard of) that ranks well in Google that gets most, or even some of their content from outreach emails? I can’t think of any.

      • thanks, Patrick! looks like the article resonated with you a lot 🙂

    • Shabbir Nooruddin

      Your concluding sentence is probably one of the most brilliant endings to a post I’ve ever seen!

    • Albert Tan

      I was researching link building and influencer outreach tactics over the last two weeks. Your this post stands out like a thorn among the roses. Why? Because of a few good takeaways:-
      1. Influencers are sick of templated outreach emails hitting their inbox (thanks to some gurus which gave away their templates in their blog or course)
      2. We must ask what is it in for the influencers.
      3. Do something different from the others to get their attention: give help, ask or help to critique. etc.
      4. Use templates with a twist or twists, i.e. modify the templates to allow more personalization. Never use a template that is already in the internet without first modifying it.
      All in all I learned a lot from this post and I must admit I made some of those “silly mistakes” as well.
      I would print out this post and stick it in front of my computer whenever I write outreach emails. 🙂

    • I always see in these articles to offer value. However, what is value, really?
      I would think something like: “I have some good facebook/twiiter communities -and show some numbers- and will promote your post”
      or “I have this many emails and will promote your content to my list”
      Even, “I can create some links to your article from some of my sites”
      that would be some real value!

    • Dennis

      Just as I was almost hiring a company to send out 5000 emails a month for me I stumbled upon this post 🙂 It’s that they refused cause they had a more profitable plan for their selves in mind cause otherwise it would’ve happened already.

      Anyway, I think mass outreach can work as well but a lot of targets would be missed, on the other hand, would they remember my first poor automated outreach attempt?

      Anyway, I just send you an outreach email 🙂 it’s a little lengthy but I think it’s worth a read, and also I just ignored your advice to go after the big & small fish and not the sharks lol.

      But yeah you definitely make some very good points but I really have to find the time to implement this customized approach.

    • Steve Warren

      Thanks Tim: this is invaluable advice. I will be using it when I reach out to you in the near future …

    • Andrej

      After how long time do you recommend to follow up if you don’t hear back from them?

      • I’d follow up exactly in a week.. but to be honest, our own team doesn’t do follow ups often.. only in exceptional cases

    • Hey Tim
      You know the best line of your blog is “And should you get a bad outreach email in your inbox, just reply to them with a link to this post”. Although i am doing outreach in really a bad way but still i don’t want myself to be called as spammer, because the email i am sending is the best i can write(till now, before reading your post). Just want to let you know that from tomorrow i will start my OUTREACH season 2.0. Still i don’t from where should i start but still a **big thanks** to you for this post.
      Thanks

      • good luck with “outreach 2.0” 😉

    • seobizhub.com ™️

      AWESOME! This makes my job easy this weekend..

    • Ayodeji Awosika

      Hi Tim,

      I’m just a small/medium fish myself, and even I feel overwhelmed with my inbox. I can only imagine how real influencers feel. The attempts are so lazy and I can feel how one-sided the transactions are. 

      What gets me most is when they don’t even bother to spell check their own emails…

      People even use templates in comments nowadays — “This is a very helpful tool for us bloggers.” ugh. But at the end of the day those who exert even a tad bit more effort than usual will win, so it balances out.

    • It’s fun how this very article attracts new examples of hilarious outreach. See the latest one attached 🙂 https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/38605d7da7f9f701de80610784a25ccec1566222fb8ce2f4ee69ed859d47b9bf.png

    • Maikel Michiels

      Hey Tim, excellent article on doing outreach the right way! 

      I’ve got a quick question:

      When you’re working as a blogger with a team, how do you feel about someone from the team reaching out to a blogger/influencer? On one hand it feels kinda unauthentic since I wouldn’t be the one reaching out myself in this case. On the other hand it would still be back and forth communication and making the connection.

      What do you think about this? Is it a no-go, or okay to do? And if it is,do you have any tips on doing this the right way (besides the information above).

      Maikel

    • Rienzi Mosqueda

      Hey Nick,

      Funny bumping into you here.:) hope everything is doing okay with you.

      Cheers mate!

      - Rienzi

    • Rienzi Mosqueda

      Keyword “spend time to craft your template” finally! TBH I did not like the first version of this article because you seem to hate templates rather than utilizing it’s purpose — to be more efficient with your outreach process. Or maybe I just didn’t see it the first time:D

      But I praise you for making a stand. I’ve grown since this article first came out and that is b’coz I’ve been digging you’re knowledge of gold mine! (Gold mine of knowledge/wisdom, whatevah! Lol

      As always Kudos sensei!

    • I call this SPAM REACH

      Thanks for Ahrefs!

    • Hey Tim, fabulous article on doing effort the correct way!

    • Tim, this is an awesome read! Really enjoyed going through it all.

      What caught my attention (aside of the whole article:)) is you use the word “excuse” for the part which is the reason why you’re reaching out. Curious to know why “excuse”

    • Smruti Hingnikar

      A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. post it is!!! It is really so informative and exhaustive. I hope it will improve my way of reaching out to people. I would also love to read about HOW TO FIND those ‘Big Fish’ and ’ Small Fish’ with much more accuracy.

    • Andrew M. Warner

      BOOYAH! Where the hell has this been all my life. 

      Tim, this is absolute gold. I’m changing my entire outreach strategy now because of this post. Changing my templates … everything. I’m beyond giddy. Thanks for this.

    • till today I thought about sending e-mail and asking for links is spammy so I never did it. Yeah… “asking for links” is a clue : ) it’s not about asking for links… is all about relations.

    • Get something cool and interesting stuff now i can start outreaching with more conversion
      Thanks for sharing this awesome guide

    • Is there any tools that we can automate these emails send?

    • najmussayadat SEO

      The Article is very Practical and Logical , bit lengthy though it’s worth the time || Thanks

    • And should you get a bad outreach email in your inbox, just reply to them with a link to this post” — Definitely a smart way to end the article. Fantastic resource, Tim.

    • Piyush Modi

      Great one Tim…I like the humor you bring in your blogs…keeps the blogs fresh.…I am gonna implement your points in my outreach now.…lets see how it goes in my niche which is ‘happiness’ and ‘startups’ 🙂 thanks again

    • Nicky Deng

      Have to reflect on my previous work, valuable article. Thank you Tim

    • Wow Tim, this article offered quite a few unique perspectives I haven’t seen in other outreach posts (or even courses). Loved it. Especially the concept of categorizing the “leads”.… also, had some great ideas on personalizing templates.

    • Hi ,
      Your blog is very useful for us and informative also

    • It was a massive article describing each and every element very clearly and I really Like and appreciate the handwork behind the post. Thank you so much

    • Shashank N

      Hey Tim. This post is class-apart and strikes right through my thoughts. My friends used to say i am wasting time framing and personalising every outreach mail i send, and finally I have a social proof here. Thanks and may be sometime I will try reaching out to you. 🙂 

      P.S. I know from where exactly the outreach template that made you say “I deleted it without reading” comes from. 😉