10 Questions About Outreach Personalization with Answers from Experts

There was a lot of great discussion during our masterclass on outreach personalization with Siege Media. We got a lot of questions about the right and wrong ways to personalize outreach, as well as some about the nuances of the outreach process. We’ve compiled 10 of those questions below, along with Paul May and Ross Hudgens‘ answers for your perusal.

1. Q: Are agency email addresses more effective or better to use than client emails?

A: It’s case by case. Ross mentioned that Siege has many clients in the lifestyle industry, and in those cases, they prefer to use the client’s email.

When it comes to tech, however, they have better luck using agency or PR email addresses. It also makes sense in the tech and business industries for agencies to start building those relationships with them, so you can leverage those relationships when pitching for other clients as well.

2. Q: Should I reach out to multiple people for exclusives?

A: You can, but you have to do it on a one-by-one basis and give your potential publishers a deadline. If you offer an exclusive to multiple publishers all at once, you risk burning some of your relationships if more than one agrees.

For example of how you’d do it the right way, let’s say your content is going live three weeks from now. You’ll reach out to the primary publisher you’d like to publish your content, and ask them to agree to your exclusive or not by a certain time. If they don’t get back to you in that set amount of time, you move onto your second choice of publisher and repeat the process as many times as needed to find your exclusive’s publisher.

Then, once your exclusive been published, you can reach out to others for follow-on coverage.

3. Q: If you’re tracking open rates, aren’t you worried about deliverability?

A: We don’t worry about deliverability/open rates as much as click rate. Tracking gifs are pretty standard nowadays and Gmail seems to be aware of it, since we’re not seeing significant impacts on open rates.

However, there is the risk of possibly lowering your sender score if you track clicks, especially if your sender score is already low. If you send an email with click tracking and you have a low sender score, it matches a pattern in a common phishing technique and may get you flagged.

In general, track your sender score and make sure it’s solid, then start with click tracking and see what kind of results you’re getting and adjust from there.

To learn more about your own sender score, check out this article for 5 Ways to Check Your Sending Reputation.

4. Q: Is it worth the time to find an editor’s first name on LinkedIn?

A: So there are actually two questions here. The first (implied): Are you better off reaching out to journalists, or editors? We recommended journalists, because they’re more in control of the content they publish. Editors add an extra layer of approval, and may not connect as closely to your content as journalists will.

The second question: Should I look at other sources to find contact information, like first names? And the answer is yes, if you have time.

5. Q: Are you better going for fewer emails to link quality links, than going for more emails for lower link quality?

A: Long story short: Yes, absolutely.

If you’re running a super small microsite, you may make an exception and still “spray and pray” (blast a lot of emails out and hope someone links you) depending on your long term goals. However, in general, spraying and praying is no longer a legitimate way to get links.

Not only is the technique not as effective anymore as it used to be, but Google’s bots are very effective are determining what’s a legitimate link and what’s not, so the low quality links you may get from these low-quality link building email blasts will likely not count for anything.

6. Q: Do you always pitch as an agency consultant? Or do you ever pitch on behalf of a client or create an outreach persona?

A: Paul said he sees people doing all of the above. There are plenty of people still using personas, but if you intend to build relationships or support a site for the long-haul, you’re much better off pitching as the agency or a consultant and being very clear about it. What you should do personally all boils down to what’s your long-term goals for your website.

Ross mentioned that at Siege, they tie their outreach to a real person who works at Siege so they can leverage that touchpoint later. That way, if a publisher actually calls or wants to talk, there’s someone they can physically talk to and further build that relationship with.

7. Q: Is it worthwhile to reach out to influencers/ journalists for content that is older than a year old?

A: If it’s a journalist, no. A site owner might be interested, but it really depends on the resource and the kind of site they run.

8. Q: Would you recommend to pitch topic ideas in the very first email or just focus on personalization, maybe providing examples of my writing to get some traction first?

A: Generally speaking, pitch your ideas or your content first. You can’t just focus on personalization because you need to answer the “What’s in it for me?” question. Have writing samples ready to show, but make sure that the value you’re providing is the star of your email.

9. Q: What are you suggestions on engaging with journalists before pitching an asset?

A: Here are a couple of tips when building rapport with journalists:

  • Follow them on social media.
  • Read their articles. Thoroughly.
  • Retweet/share their content. You can even add some commentary on specific aspects of their articles in your social posts.
  • Provide them a good story or source.
  • If they’re local, consider taking them out for coffee. Try to schedule this meeting further in advance so you don’t interfere with their deadlines. The goal for the meeting is just to get to know them better, and hear from them what they’re most interested in.
  • Be respectful of their time. Acknowledge that they’re really busy, and avoid super long emails or drawn-out, unfocused meetings.
  • Figure out the form of communication they prefer early on (emails, calls, etc.), and use it.

10. Q: Can you offer some tips about creating good prospecting queries for the different audience segments?

A: Here’s an excerpt from a larger guide on prospecting that addresses generating queries:

When it comes to writing prospecting queries, many people say, “OK, keywords, go!” and start plugging in the keywords they’d like their site to rank for – often commercial or transactional keywords. Please, don’t do this, because 90% of the time, it won’t work.

For example, we see folks selling leopard-print Snuggies® (hypothetical example, although snuggies are awesome) typing in keywords like:

  • Snuggie
  • Leopard print snuggies
  • Animal print snuggies
  • Slanket
  • Leopard print slanket

But all you will discover is competitor’s sites. They will not link to you, because they are your competitors. (And when your competitors do link to you, they tend to be linking to content, not to search landing pages.)

The question you want to ask yourself is, “Given my linkable assets, what sort of sites will link to me? How can I align my linkable assets with sites relevant to my potential customers?” Think laterally, and always remember, you’re marketing to people, not keywords.

Going back to our Snuggie example, you find a copywriter on your team who can write great guest posts. You also notice that just about everyone in the pictures in Snuggie® ads seems to be enjoying some high-quality television.

When you think back to the television you’ve watched, you’ve seen leopard print the most frequently on thoughtful, non-confrontational reality television like Jersey Shore and the Real Housewives of Wherever.

You can combine combine these together, and try to find some guest post opportunities around reality TV. Perhaps you could pitch them something about staying comfy while enjoying your favorite shows.

Use queries like:

  • Reality TV inurl: category/guest
  • Reality Shows “Write for Us”
  • Reality TV “Guest Author”

To use a slightly more serious example, let’s say you’re promoting an open-source enterprise IT management company. In this case, being open source is a tremendous intangible linkable asset. You could use queries like:

  • Open source companies “list of”
  • Open source companies “links”
  • Open source Companies resources

To find curated lists of open source software companies to which you can add your company.

To read the fill context of the above content, check out our guide to using BuzzStream’s prospecting module.

If you want to try your hand at writing some queries, you can also use BuzzStream’s free Link Building Query Generator to help you get started.

Want to watch the webinar?

If you’re interested in seeing the presentation that sparked all of these questions, you can view a recording of the webinar here.

Otherwise, if you have any outreach personalization questions yourself, feel free to leave them in the comments below and we’ll add them to the list.