Email Outreach in 2017: what you should do and what you should avoid

Email outreach in 2017 is one of the best ways of sharing your content, service or any kind of product among people in the world of web.

With the help of this technique, you can earn backlinks, shares and, simply, build some new business connections.

Despite the fact this method is very powerful and popular, there are still lots of people who don’t know how to reach out in a proper way (or they make serious mistakes).


You might think: “What is special in reaching out people? Just send the email saying and asking whatever you need


Unfortunately, no. If you do so, your messages will end in a trash bin (as the rule). Sorry.

So, how is it possible to do your outreach in a right way?

I am going to reveal you some tips on what you should do and should not in this 2017.


  • Who Is Who

Let’s say you have just started practicing an outreach and you want to gain the best results in it. You want to reach out the most well-known influencers in your niche. You are sure that the content you promote is just a masterpiece that the world has never ever seen before.


Yeah, but the one you wanna reach out gets dozens of offerings to view some other masterpieces as well. How do you think, will he or she read your message (especially, if you neglect of following ‘golden rules’ of email outreach)?


The recipient will ignore your message or delete it at all. I know, it is an unpleasant surprise!

You should realize that people you want to reach out are very different due to their popularity and significance in a particular niche throughout the internet.  Your duty is to know how to identify who is who because when you know your target, you will be able to find a loophole to reach the person out.

Thus, the first thing you are going to do is to teach yourself to identify people.


There are a few basic groups:


  • Sharks. People who have a huge amount of followers on social media and who have reached the height in terms of some particular business belong to this group. They don’t have any time to read your messages; thus, if you want to reach them out, you should work hard if you want them to notice you. However, your efforts will be rewarded as hell!
  • Big fish. Here you will find less popular but still significant people in your niche. It is yet gonna be hard to reach these people out but you have a bit more chances in contrast to ‘sharks’ group. If you want your message to be read, you will have to make it very personal. Forget about using templates! They don’t work here at all.
  • Small fish. If you are reading my post, thus you belong to this group (I will be surprised if you are from the first two groups). These people have a very small audience and they just gain their popularity in the niche. They will likely read your message and, moreover, get in touch with you.
  • Spawn. The people from this group are those who have just started their own long way in the niche. I will give 100% they will read and reply your message even if you used some template to reach out. Unfortunately, you shouldn’t waste your time on these people because they won’t bring you any traffic.

As far as you understood, you should target on first three groups (you might push luck with sharks) but still, the main priority is big and small fish.


  • Things You Should Keep Doing to Succeed in Your Email Outreach

Now I’m going to clarify what you should keep doing during an email outreach. Fortunately, there are not so many ‘rules’ you should follow but these rules require some patience, persistence and time.


  • Be Persistence in Finding One’s Personal Email Address

Why is it so important to find a correct email address?

The question seems to be silly, isn’t it?! But there are lots of cases when you take a given email address and use it without verifying (I mean send the message to this ‘wrong’ email). And you’ll get the following notification as:

address not found

Fortunately, you can avoid this and send your message to the right address. Remember, people often point out their contact information within social media accounts. Please, have a look:

contact information within social media accounts

If you can’t find it via social media, you should use specialized tools for email ‘hunt’. I highly recommend you using, voilanorbert. Once your list of correct email addresses will be collected, it is time to think about emails.


  • Subject Line Is a Kind of the First Impression   

The first thing that your recipient notices is a subject line of your message. And that’s why it is important to gain his or her traction with it.

I believe it would be better for you to get a visual example of what subject lines catch one’s eyes and what don’t.


Subject: [name], a few words about your article

Subject: [name], your post is just great


Such type of subject lines signals us that the message is just a rough template (that has been sent dozens of people). As matter of fact, you will understand that the person needs something concrete from you (and don’t be too naive, if the person sends you this ‘template’ email, he or she hasn’t even read your piece of content).

I highly recommend you avoid using this type of subject line.

You should focus on the following types:


Subject: negative SEO

Subject: [name], just one short SEO question for Ahrefs post


The first example of the subject line is short and tells the recipient the main purpose of your message. ‘Negative SEO’ – what it could be about? Whatever the recipient thinks, he (she) will be curious about it and open the message.

Our second example is a bit long; however, it has a small ‘call to action’ because you’re asking recipient’s opinion on some question. Firstly, he or she will be proud of himself (herself) because you’re asking his (her) opinion. Secondly, you point out the purpose of this query + mention your brand (which means a lot in terms of reputation).


  • Create as Personalised Email as You Can

I am sure everyone would love to get the message where he (she) sees that it is really a personal one.

Everyone wants to get such messages but not everyone can create them.

What do you need for personalization the message?

The first thing you have to do is to discover more private information about the recipient (don’t get me wrong). Hobby, interests, preferences. And, the most importantly, you should take stock of the previous works of the person you want reach out to (articles, case studies etc).

This material might help you in creating your message. Let me provide you with my own example:

private information about the recipient

Start from the subject line: I discovered that this lady likes coffee (it is little more than nothing) and I decided to add this fact in my email.

If you see the body of the message, you will notice that I made a reference to one of her previous works. Nothing more. It has worked:

subject line

As you can see, this lady was impressed with my message! It was gained with the help of my discovering work.


  • Don’t Be Afraid of Following Up

I am sure every marketer has ever had a situation when he or she tried to reach out a desirable recipient but the last one didn’t reply (but your message has been read). I also had and even yet have such cases. I was confused at first but lately, I understood that it doesn’t mean you will never reach out this person.

You should always send a follow-up message (at least once). I recommend you do so in a few days after sending your first one. Your follow-up email should be like:


Hi [name]

Just curious about how did you like our post?:)




That’s all! And you will see the result won’t slow to arrive. See this:

email follow up

I sent my follow-up message on the next day (I could wait a bit longer; gosh, I’m so impatient). Nevertheless, the recipient replied me. I got the result.

In the case, if you couldn’t reach out the person even in a few days after your second follow-up message, you should leave (but not forget) your recipient for a couple of months. Afterwards, try to get in touch with him again. It works!


  • Things You Should Avoid Doing to Succeed in Your Outreach

Now you definitely know what you should keep doing during the outreach but what about those things you should avoid?

Let me give you some insights.


  • Stop Using Old-Fashioned Email Templates

The art of email outreach makes a modifications in templates from time to time. And those templates that were previously in trend don’t bring any value anymore.

It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use templates – no. I understand that you should be insane to create and send a brand new message to every recipient you want reach to. However, don’t neglect of customizing any template you send (make it more personal as I wrote before).

Nevertheless, you should clearly understand and see what kind of template is worth using and what not.

Let me give you some examples of both.


Hey [name]

I just read your article [link to it]

It’s a great post and I learnt lots from it.

By the way, I have written the article on a similar topic

[link to it]

It would be great if you could add a link to my post or share it.



How do you think, would you be glad to get such kind of message? I bet you wouldn’t!

Here you can clearly see the items that reflect the template was used. These items are called ‘patterns’ that have been created in some automated way.

When I get such kind of message, I realize that the addresser didn’t want to bother with a preparation of a good personalized template.

No, I don’t delete this message, I read it but I understand that this addresser wasn’t interested in catching my attention. I realize that a complete avoidance of patterns is inevitable; thus, you should use them cleverly.

Here what kind of template I suggest you create:


Hi [name]

I just saw your post about [specify the topic but don’t copy/paste it; try to tell in your own words] and [add some thoughts about the material]. As your article covers this topic, I decided to reach out with our huge list of SEO tips from Ahrefs.

We did a small research and figured there was no good one-size-fits-all list of actionable SEO tips. They were either too noob or too advanced. So we created and recently extended an all-purpose list of SEO tips. Now it includes over 200 proven actionable items for every aspect of SEO.

You personally might not learn a lot of new tricks from it, but it can be a good place to send newbies to when they ask “how to do SEO”

I really wonder if you, with your vast experience, have anything to add to our list. Drop me a line if you notice and outdated or ineffective tip, too.



Yes, here you can see patterns but they make the template more personalized. Plus, it is pretty good to add a short explanation of why the material you offer is worth attention.

I hope you got a clue on how you should structure your email templates:)


  • Don’t Tell “Fake” Compliments

I agree with you that it is so pleasant to get compliments. It is great when these compliments are sincere. However, a major part of compliments you can see in your inbox are fake. Believe or not but the one who sends your the message hasn’t even read your post:)

How can you see any kind of flattery?

It is as easy as pie.


Hi [name]

I read your article and it is awesome!

Hi [name]

I am a huge fan of your blog!


Doesn’t matter what the message tells further. The matter is you can predict a real purpose it has.

I highly encourage you don’t use these compliments!

If you have nothing to say, you should better refrain from it. Otherwise, try to underline something concrete from the person’s post and share your real thoughts about it (yes, read it attentively and make some conclusion). Here is the example:


I liked the way you’re explaining these 5 steps in your post. Especially, the fourth one….I will definitely take it on board.


I specified some section and shared my thoughts with the recipient. Afterwards, you will get a reward a kind of:



  • Don’t Ask About Social Shares


Let’s face the truth because email outreach implies asking for shares throughout social media and link exchange. The irony of the situation is that if you ask about sharing or linking to your content directly, you won’t get anything in return (yeah, sometimes it works).

Or your recipient asks you to do the same (but you see his or her material doesn’t satisfy your requirements). What will you have to do?

Here is the trick  – you must never ask about social shares!

It goes without saying if your recipient found your content awesome, he or she will share it with a pleasure.

If your aim is to ask for a link, you should do this covertly.

Let me show you some examples:


Would love to know what you think about our findings and if you have any requests of what else we could study in the future. And if you find the study useful, maybe you’ll consider mentioning it in your future writing🙂


I don’t ask about the link directly – I leave the choice to the recipient. If the person thinks your article worth it, he or she will link to it.



Email outreach is not a simple strategy. It requires some inventive power and some basic aspects of psychology. You should remember that every person requires a special approach. It is unthinkable to lump everybody under a general umbrella. You must always go into your recipient’s shoes because this person might send the same message one day to you.

I hope my pieces of advice will help you with an outreach in this brand new year:)

Don’t forget to comment and share.


Author’s bio:

Sergey Aliokhin is an Outreach manager at Ahrefs. He spends most of the time discovering and learning SEO and Internet Marketing tendencies. His primal goal is to study and practice new aspects of an outreach strategy. In his spare time, he likes to spend his time with family, visit specialized sports club, study martial arts. If he has nothing to do at all, he prefers reading books on science-fiction and playing the bass guitar.