Pretty much everyone has received a form letter of some type in their lives. “Dear Friend,” they often begin, or with some other overly familiar greeting. Sometimes, these letters even insert your name at random intervals or mention something that the sender thinks they know about you.
“As someone who is interested in dogs,” it might say, before going on to tell you all about their amazing product for dogs. These letters are signed by someone you’ve never met before — and may or may not even exist — who has no business calling you a friend. You know that everyone else on your street received the same letter, and end up tossing it in the trash or hitting the delete button.
You know how it feels when you receive a “personalized” outreach email that isn’t really personalized at all. At the very least it’s irritating. At worst, you can even feel like your privacy’s been violated. Now imagine that you are a blogger or journalist, and you receive dozens or more of these faux personalized emails every day.
Sure, they might contain your name and maybe a small detail that shows they at least glanced at your site, but they aren’t nearly personalized enough to 1. Make you even the slightest bit interested in what they have to offer, 2. Show you why you should respond, and 3. Indicate that they have done any research other than a cursory glance at your work to determine your interests.
Clearly, when you are reaching out to bloggers, personalizing your pitches is important. No one likes to receive the same pitch as 100 other people, or have to wade through dozens of irrelevant pitches to find one that’s interesting. Simply put, automating your email outreach does not work. If you want to receive a positive response, build lasting relationships, and create buzz for your content, you have to learn how to really personalize your outreach emails.
Effectively personalizing outreach emails begins with doing your homework. That means digging deeper than looking at contributor guidelines or blogger bios. Read some of the posts on their blog. Look past the headlines and try to get a sense of who they are, what unique perspectives they bring to the conversation, and what specifically interests them. It’s easy to find people who cover, say, diet and exercise. But not all bloggers within that sphere write about the same things. Some focus specifically on nutrition, while others cover mostly trends. By reading their work, you can get an idea of their slant, as well. A nutrition blogger who has railed against juice cleanses is probably not going to be interested in your piece on the best juice cleanses. Again: Do your homework.
Before you reach out you must choose a professional email address, this is something that should be decided way in advance of any outreach and is a simple yet effective way to improve your trust signals to your intended recipients. Once you have identified the person or people you want to email, the actual email needs to be written specifically for them. You can devise a basic template, but to come across as authentic, you need to write an email that speaks directly to the recipient and shows that you put some thought into it. This includes:
1. Using the person’s name. People respond to seeing and hearing their name, so pepper it throughout, but it doesn't mean to go overboard, it has to feel natural and not robotic. Also, be 100 percent positive that you are spelling their name correctly. You lose them right away if you can’t show you care enough to get their name right.
2. Demonstrating that you’ve done your homework. Here is where you establish why you are contacting this particular person. Mentioning a specific post he or she wrote, something you saw about him or her in the media, or another detail that shows you aren’t just shooting in the dark builds your credibility. Speak to specific details without being boring. Show you did more than just find their work, but actually, read it.
3. Using personal details — but only in context. Using personal details in an email can get attention and build rapport quickly. It can also come off as creepy and a violation of privacy. If you are going to use personal details, like the name of someone’s dog or their alma mater, be sure you can explain where you found the information and how little digging it would take to find it. For example, you might say, “I saw on your LinkedIn profile that you went to UConn” or “I enjoyed your piece about your Labrador puppy. I have a spaniel, and he does similar things.” Avoid using details that appear stalker-ish, but again, show that you’ve done some research.
4. Giving them a “why.” One of the biggest complaints bloggers have about pitches is that they don’t always know why someone is pitching them. Share your thought process, and make it easy for them to say yes. Explain why your pitch is something they might be interested in. Show why your pitch will help both of you and that’s it’s not one-sided.
Truly personalizing emails can take a little more time than just automating your outreach, but the results are more than worthwhile. It all comes down to treating the recipient like a real person and knowing their interests, not like just another name on a list.