The Guide to Outreach Personalization with Siege Media and BuzzStream

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During our webinar on outreach personalization with Ross Hudgens, Founder and CEO of Siege Media, we covered a lot of best practices and received a ton of great questions. Here’s our summary of the key takeaways from the webinar, and a link to the recording, complete with outreach template examples and expert advice from Paul and Ross.

What’s the state of doing outreach in 2017?

For starters, you need to know that everyone and their mother, father, and dog are doing outreach right now. However, the opportunities for coverage haven’t necessarily increased.

According to a study done by Fractl, “although most writers publish one story per day, 44% of them get pitched a minimum of TWENTY TIMES per day.” So to get coverage, you need a way to stand out from the crowd. That’s where using a strategic outreach personalization framework comes in.

The 4 step framework to effectively personalized outreach emails

1. Segment your audience

Segmenting your prospects is key to striking the balance between efficiently moving through a list, and putting together highly-targeted outreach.

In order to determine whether prospects are in the same segment, you need to ask yourself, “Will the people in this group be motivated by the same email message?” In other words, for each prospect, you need to ask yourself another question: “What is this prospect interested in getting from me?” Once you have your answers, you can group together the prospects that are looking for the same things.

You can boil down people’s motivations for covering a topic or piece of content into six main interest drivers:

  1. They have an interest in/passion for the topic
  2. They have a relationship with the person who emailed them
  3. They want to increase their influence
  4. They know this content will drive pageviews, traffic, etc
  5. They need some new content for the blog and this piece is ready to go (i.e., pressures of a content calendar)
  6. They want to write about this before their competition does

Generally a prospect’s desire or motivation to cover your content will involve varying degrees of all six of these interest drivers. However, your segments will weigh each of these drivers differently, which is something you’ll keep in mind once you start building your email templates.

2. Create email templates for each segment

Once you have your audience segmented, it’s time to create templates for each one. As you’re creating your templates for your different segments, here are some tips for targeting personal bloggers, journalists, and site owners:

Another aspect you’ll want to consider when creating your templates for your segments is whether you’ll want to use the two-step outreach process, or the one-step outreach process.

The Two-Step Outreach Process

The two-step blogger outreach process is when you pitch your prospect without linking to the content you’d like covered. If the blogger or publication is interested, they have to email you back, and then you’ll send the link.

What makes this process beneficial is that it creates interest and mystery around your content, while also giving you a clearer opening to follow-up with your prospect later. For certain segments, it can be a really good fit.

For example, Ross and his team at Siege Media tried the two-step outreach process on a few of their segments. They ended up increasing their placement rate from 4.6% to 7.5%.

In general, keep in mind that although this process works well on most blogger personas, it does not work well for resource pages, contacts with whom you already have an existing relationships, or journalists/editors of very popular blogs/websites. For those guys and gals, you’ll probably want to use the one-step outreach process.

The One-Step Outreach Process

The one-step outreach process is when you pitch your prospect and include a link to the content you want covered. That way, if your prospect wants to cover the content, they have all of the resources they need and can act on it right away.

Here’s an example of what a one-step outreach process email might look like (courtesy of Ross):

This process works well with the same people that the two-step process didn’t work well with. That is, resource pages, people with whom you have existing relationships, and journalists/editors of extremely popular blogs/websites. (AKA people who are low on time.) On the other hand, the one-step process is not as good of a fit for low to mid-high-end blogs. In those cases, you’ll want to use the two-step outreach process is.

In short, when putting together your templates for your different outreach segments, be sure to keep these two processes in mind, and choose the most appropriate approach for each segment.

3. Personalize each email

Personalizing your outreach is where the magic happens. It’s your chance to quickly communicate how interested in your prospect you really are, and how much work you’ve already put into your relationship with them. You can do this with the right blogger outreach tool.

If you’re just getting started with personalizing your outreach and you’re not sure whether your personalization will be effective enough, try asking yourself:

Could this personalization apply to a large number of people/bloggers?

If so, it’s not good personalization.

For example, if I write “I really like your home improvement tips post!” it isn’t nearly as interesting or engaging as “I really like your tip on using mirrors to make rooms feel bigger! I had never thought of that, though I do have a couple of mirrors lying around at home.”

Of course, there is a careful line to walk between too little personalization and too much personalization. As a guiding rule, Ross recommends that personalization elements should make up 10-25% of your email. We don’t want the emails to get too long with extra personalization, because shorter emails with the previously mentioned ratio are more likely to create an authentic sense of “this was written end to end for me” for your prospect.

The three core personalization elements

If you’re at a total loss with where to start with email personalization, you can always start by including these three core personalization elements in your outreach:

  1. First name
  2. Website name
  3. 1-2 tailored custom sentence(s)

For extra credit, you can also include one or more additional custom fragments to these core elements, and you’re off to a solid start.

Let’s talk about flattery

Compliment authentically, or don’t compliment at all.

Your prospects can see right through fake praise, and the second they do, you can bet your relationship-building efforts have gone out the window.

Not at prospects are created equal

Different prospects require different degrees of personalization. Here’s a chart Ross put together that illustrates some situations that you’d want to personalize more heavily for, and some where you can lighten up.

4. Analyze your results

The very last step in this strategic four step outreach framework is to gauge your success. Ross and his team at Siege Media analyze their subject lines, email copy, and the content they’re promoting, as well as use the following benchmarks to track the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Open rate:

  • 70-90% is a great open rate!
  • 50-70% is average. There might be a problem with your subject line and content ideas.
  • <50% may have a deliverability issue in addition to poor subject lines and content ideas.

Click rate:

  • 25-35%+ is great! Keep doing what you’re doing.
  • 15-25% is average. There might be a problem with your email copy, so it’s worth checking out
  • <15% may have a deliverability issue in addition to poor subject lines and content ideas.

Reply rate:

  • 15-20% of total emails sent is great and means your overall execution is on point.
  • 10-15% is solid.
  • Less than 10% means your content may be subpar, especially if there’s a big gap between opens and replies.

Don’t forget to compare your current campaigns to your past campaigns, as this can help you identify new or recurring weaknesses in your process. You may not necessarily be able to adjust your outreach mid-campaign, but you can use these use insights to inform future campaigns in addition to industry trends.

If you have any outreach personalization experiences, tips, or questions you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to leave us a comment below to join the conversation.


Gracelyn Tan Ladd

Gracelyn Tan Ladd

Gracelyn Tan Ladd is BuzzStream's Marketing Manager. When she's not reading and writing about content marketing, influencer marketing, or SEO, she's probably tweeting about her pets.

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