Why SEOs Need To Stop Automating Email Outreach For Links


Email outreach is something that the SEO industry is obsessed with automating. Of all the things that I get asked about, outreach is probably the most common.

What’s the perfect email template you’ve used to get links?

This is a question that always makes me cringe. Yes, maybe a couple of years ago this was a valid question because the industry wasn’t quite used to the flurry of guest blog requests that hit your inbox every day.

Nowadays, guest blog emails have become a more frequent occurrence within my inbox than Groupon promotions! This has forced me to become incredibly skeptical whenever I open any kind of content pitch.

Just take a look at this email that I received a couple of days ago:

Hi there,

Greetings for the day!

Hope you’re doing great.

Writing informative blogs has always been my utmost passion. Today, while searching for the finest blogging sites, I came across your esteemed blog http://www.matthewbarby.com. I really liked the content published on your site and would definitely like to become a part of your writing team.

With an incredible blog writing experience of 5+ years, I’m thoroughly competent in delivering 100% unique, related and informative blogs that are surely going to impress your readers. Hence, I’d like to convey my interest in contributing some value content for your esteemed blog. Each write-up submitted by me will be as per your blog submission guidelines and I assure you that the same wouldn’t be published elsewhere over the web.

If you’re interested in my proposal, do share the topic(s) you’re inclined to publish a blog on. Or else, if you want I can choose a random topic and submit an awesome content on the same.

Does this look familiar to you?

I thought so.

With this in mind, I’m going to share with you some insights that I’ve gained over the past few years of successfully running content marketing and SEO campaigns.

These simple tips should hopefully get you thinking about the approach you take to email outreach, and maybe it’ll cut down the number of terrible emails I get sent each day!

Stop Over-Automating

You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m not going to show you the best place to insert your target’s [BLOG NAME] into your email template. In fact, I’m going to suggest the complete opposite approach.

I know that we all want to scale our link building work; but seriously, stop mass emailing 500 people with the same message that’s tweaked ever so slightly!

Even though you may get a few results this way, you’re probably only going to get success with the type of people that will say yes to anyone, which isn’t exactly a future-proof strategy.

Instead of looking at how you can create a time-saving email template, look at how you can automate different parts of the process.

Matthew Barby Outreach Process

Whenever I’m planning some outreach, I don’t begin the process with the outreach itself. You should be thinking about your content first.

The first step that I take is to identify a list of potential publications/websites that I’d like to get my content featured within. To do this, I use a number of different tools and techniques; but, if you’ve not used BuzzSumo before, then you’ll want to check it out because it’s a fantastic tool for finding popular and relevant websites within your niche.


Once you have an idea of the type of websites that you’re focusing on reaching out to, find the individual influencers within each.

For example, you may want to find out who the editor-in-chief is, or a specific columnist related to your content. You can then get an idea of the kind of content they are sharing, reading and creating by using a tool like Followerwonk.

Once you’ve got a good idea of the type of content that your targets are receptive to, this knowledge can be plugged directly into your content creation process. This is something that you can’t automate.

The reality is that if your content isn’t up to scratch, it doesn’t matter how good your email outreach is.

Invest time and resources into creating content that is aimed directly at each individual publication. If you’re creating one piece of content that is going to be fired out to 100 different websites, I highly doubt that it’s very focused.

Crafting Your Email Pitch

Once you’ve prepared your content and you know exactly who you’re going to be pitching it to, it’s time to start crafting your email pitch.

Whilst I’m not going to give you a template with which you can insert your target’s name into and press send, I will give you some general guidelines that my team and I always adhere to:

  1. The outreach email shouldn’t be more than 190 words in length.
  2. You should be addressing the recipient by name.
  3. You should give a very brief intro as to who you are and who your client is (if you’re pitching on their behalf).
  4. The pitch section should get straight to the point of what the content is and take up no more than two paragraphs.
  5. Never send over the full content in your first email pitch. Wait until you’ve had a response and built an initial relationship.
  6. If your pitch is quite complicated, use bullet points to get the main points across in a concise manner.
  7. Add an emotional hook so that the recipient will want more information from you.
  8. Every pitch should be unique and completely personal to the recipient, and a nice way of doing this is to find out what they’ve been tweeting about and start a conversation from there.
  9. Make sure you get across how publishing your content will be mutually beneficial.
  10. The email subject line should not be longer than 55 characters in length and should also include the content idea within it.
  11. Get straight to the point and don’t use buzzwords!

If you want to take a look at a few specific examples of what some top journalists like to see from an email pitch, check out this survey run by Henley Wing of BuzzSumo or this column on Marketing Land by Kelsey Libert.

Another key point that I want to make is that you really want to be measuring the success of your outreach campaigns. If you don’t measure them, how will you ever know if you’re doing something right?

A simple way of doing this can be through just keeping track of all the emails you send, along with the responses you get, within a spreadsheet. If you want to take it a little further then you can use email marketing software like GetResponse.

The advantage here is that you can set up auto-responders, measure open rates, click-throughs and run A/B tests, which will give you a much more detailed analysis into what’s going right/wrong with your campaigns.

Finally, Be Realistic.

The last point I’m going to make is that you need to be realistic with your outreach campaigns.

We all want those top-tier publications mentioning our business, but is this a realistic goal at this stage in your campaign? Maybe it is, but if it isn’t then you should focus on what you can realistically achieve at this point in time and then work your way up to the bigger targets.


  • Stop over-automating your email outreach
  • Less is more when it comes to targeting publications
  • Cater your content to specific targets; don’t work on content as an after-thought
  • Get to the point and be a real person
  • This is about developing a mutually beneficial relationship, not just a transaction
  • Be realistic

The post Why SEOs Need To Stop Automating Email Outreach For Links appeared first on Search Engine Land.