When people talk about business, they always think about something prominent, material and lucrative. And for good reason.
Any business involves all these features. Furthermore, I could even add a few more pleasant attributes like respect, wealth and, of course, business connections.
Nevertheless, newcomers to business mostly face problems. It happens due to the fact that newbies just don’t know which way to move first.
Just imagine starting a business without a solid budget, without experienced team-mates and, most importantly, without business contacts. You don’t know what to do.
That’s why the idea of launching a business might seem slightly daunting.
Business online is “cut from the same cloth” as physical businesses – you meet the same problems. However this kind of business opens up new possibilities. The new insights available to online businesses have changed attitudes towards business drastically.
It might sound a bit jittery to you, but, please, don’t panic. This guide will reveal to you the secrets of building connections both with your customers and competitors.
In other words, let’s find out what the process of outreach is and how to do it correctly.
1. Back to the Roots or What Is Outreach?
Outreach is the process of building business relationships following the scheme “human to human”, where one person (a business owner) offers a particular service or tool to another person (a “consumer”). There are no strict limitations in communications between a “salesman” and a “customer”. The aim of the process of outreach is to persuade a customer to buy your product.
Since the world of Marketing keeps its head above water thanks to leading specialists in this sphere, it would be criminal to avoid a few statements from Marketing gurus on what outreach is.
Neil Patel says
On the other hand, Rand Fishkin states that
“Outreach emails are sent for a variety of reasons, but the majority have one thing in common: they’re structured too poorly to merit a reply. For every group of outreach emails we receive, usually only a few are worth opening…”
If you compare both statements you might be a bit confused with what outreach actually is. It seems like the process is simple as hell but it has some significant hurdles.
Hence, it might more sense to describe it in terms of goals: traffic, trust, leads, and visibility.
But before you start your outreach campaign you should take care of your professional background first.
2. Lay the Foundation
I am sure every person understands the basics of engineering. When an engineer creates a building, he or she starts by laying a foundation. Without a good foundation, there is no chance the building will stand up. This rule is applicable to your personal development too.
I expect you wouldn’t build any business relationships with a person you know nothing about. It is a bad idea to trust someone you’ve never heard of before. I stick to this way of business as well.
If you want to inspire trust, take care of creating accounts throughout the most popular Social Media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. When your customers can explore your background information (with all the interests, hobbies, and achievements you have), they will trust you more.
Once you are in the limelight, it is time to pay attention to a couple of significant elements like – niche and target audience.
You might ask me “Does it really matter what niche I am involved in?”
Yes, it matters. Moreover, your niche might have a wide spectrum of sub-directions that differ from each other. In order to explain what I mean, let me provide you with an example.
Let’s assume that you would like to launch a website that provides marketing services. The first thing that comes to mind is that the niche you belong in is Internet Marketing. You are right. However, Internet Marketing is a general type of a business model that is divided into more specific directions. Please, have a look what Google returns for this search term.
As you can see, Internet Marketing contains various specialisations, so you should decide for yourself which one of these specialisations fits your online marketing agency the best. Your choice is the key to identifying your primary target audience.
Once you have determined your specialisation, you should focus on engaging your target audience. Having a specialisation lends credibility to your brand by positioning you as an expert in the field. You can then use this credibility to help turn your target audience into paying customers.
But how do you find your target audience?
My answer is simple – Social Media and your competitors.
Due to the fact that you are interested in gaining new business prospects, I advise you to start with LinkedIn. Let’s say your online marketing agency offers an Email Marketing tool. Put a query “Email Marketing” in the search bar in LinkedIn and it will suggest to you people who are related to this niche.
Furthermore, if you want to get only people who are working in Email Marketing, you can add the keyword “email marketing” in the “Title” field of the “keywords” section on the right side of the LinkedIn search dashboard.
Twitter can help you find a target audience as well. You should do almost the same steps as with LinkedIn. Use the search to find people and reap the benefits.
Twitter introduces you to not only the consumers you want to get, but competitors also. It is a very convenient way to get familiar with your closest competitors.
If you thought about using Facebook to find customers, then my advice is to not bother with it. Yes you can find users to engage with on there but it is time-consuming and doesn’t yield great results. This might seem confusing as Facebook search returns reasonable looking results:
You can find lots of people in your niche on Facebook but there is a very low possibility that they will turn into consumers. Remember that Facebook is a Social Network for entertainment mostly and not for business.
What about using your competitors in order to find customers?
The following scheme of looking for your target audience works the best (for me) and requires only a couple of steps.
3. How to ‘Borrow’ Consumers from Your Competitors Correctly and Without Any Fuss
I love to share my knowledge on this topic. The process of outreach is a complex one. It involves a few core positions that can’t be missed. Here are steps you should follow.
- Google research
- Backlink research
- Email hunt
- Email template personalization
- Follow-up email
- Tracking progress
3.1 Google research
Start with a simple query related to your niche. I’ve given you as an example “Email Marketing” but let’s try something different now. For instance, you are an owner of an eCommerce website. You sell music gear in the USA and due to strong competition, you have few customers. You are of course eager to push up sales and engage more customers.
To start with, you should try searching for something like “buy music gear usa” and see what Google shows you.
Scrolling down the list you’ll see more of the results. Believe it or not, but it will actually be enough for you to stick to just a few competitors’ websites.
The next step is to get the backlinks these websites have.
3.2 Backlink research
One of the best ways to check backlinks is with the help of Ahrefs tool. You’ll get a complete picture of the backlinks one of your competitors has in almost one click. Enter a link to a competitor’s resource into the search box and just see what data you can explore.
With this example we found 36.9 million backlinks – that is too many! Furthermore, the majority of these backlinks might be already lost or removed as they are from any date.
I therefore advise you to filter the results down by time period. The last few months would probably be best.
After filtering the data down you’ll get the freshest backlinks for the chosen period of time. The number of links might vary. In this very case, it has narrowed down to 571 backlinks.
The owners of these backlinks are great targets for outreach, as you know they are already interested in your niche.
3.3 Email hunt
Backlinks are only half of the work. The most interesting part is ahead – so, let’s get to the meat.
The easiest way to find someone’s personal email address is via their Social Media channels. People who are involved in business generally provide their contact details, especially their email addresses. I always visit LinkedIn first because there are more chances to stumble onto a person’s email address in contrast with other Social Media platforms.
Note: Pay attention to their current place of work. I have had situations where I used a user’s personal email address that was related to their previous place of work. If the person changes his or her place of work, the email address related to this work place becomes invalid. Don’t skip this step – it’s important.
Unfortunately, there is nothing perfect in this world. Searching email addresses via Social Media channels could be in vain as well. Luckily, you can avoid this problem with the help of these tools for email hunting.
I would like to introduce you a couple of tools for finding emails that I personally use during my outreach campaign. I must underline that these tools I am going to talk about are awesome and that each of them has some key features that make them extra useful.
Find That Email
Find that email is the first tool I use when I am in a desperate strait. It works very simply – you just need to know person’s full name and the domain of the website that person is related to.
There is an option of verifying email addresses which shows you the percentage of validity a particular email address has.
Furthermore, this tool has a chrome extension that helps you monitor email addresses right within LinkedIn profiles. From my experience it has a 90% success rate in searching for emails.
Voilanorbert. I used Norbert long before I got familiar with the Find That Email tool. The way it works is much pretty the same – you need to have the full name of the person you want to get the email address of, and the name of the domain the person is related to.
This tool is different however as provides an avatar of the person you’re looking for. It is a really great feature in my opinion, especially when I see a few people with the same name. Thanks to the identified person’s avatar, there’s much less chance to make mistakes when searching for a valid email address.
Frankly speaking, I tested ContactOut a couple of days ago. A representative of this service sent me an email offering me a trial of this tool to review, and I liked it enough to mention it here. It works much easier than the tools listed above. You need only to find the right person on LinkedIn and click the icon of the extension.
Rapportive is the last outpost of verifying email addresses. Download the extension, compose a message, put the email address, get the email verification.
3.4 Email template personalisation
How often do you review and reply to messages that have been sent by people you know nothing about?
I would guess that you reply to such messages very rarely (neither do I). Your potential consumer can also ignore your emails. And you can do nothing to make him or her reply to you – especially if there is no information about your brand and personality on the web.
You can turn the tables though. It goes without saying that it is impossible to make yourself popular for a couple of months. However, you can impress your recipient with a well-personalized email template.
For a start, I would like you to compare two email templates.
Now let’s compare both emails.
The first example is a formal “cold email” outreach message. No personalisation at all. As you can see, there is no reference by name, no introduction section. Furthermore, you can clearly see that it is a follow-up email.
When I received this message, I skimmed through the lines and decided for myself – I don’t want to bother my brain with this stuff.
The second example (actually, this is an example of how we customise email templates at Ahrefs) has a different structure to the template. I, personally, always start with the process of personalising the subject line of a message.
I seek additional information on the person I want to send a message. For instance, in example 2 I combined the person’s hobbies with his job. As the result, we’ve got a mixed subject line “A sound mind in a soul body + marketing = success”. Yeah, it might seem weird but it is not generic at least.
The introduction part of the message is also slightly personalized. I didn’t want to go into details, I just made a reference to his post sharing some thoughts about it, and I didn’t ask about a link (which is the most important part).
Of course, the level of personalization depends on the person you want to reach out to. Nevertheless, you must do it if you want to win the attention of your potential customers.
3.5 Follow-up email
I don’t shy away from the fact that the messages I send could be ignored by my recipients. It is a normal occurrence. I understand that people are busy, they get tons of emails every single day. Do you think it is a reason to stop annoying users with your follow-up messages?
Sending follow up emails is a must! Just for the record, follow-up emails have a 30% higher response rate than the very first message you send.
The best time to send a follow-up email is a few days after your first attempt to get in contact with your target. Even if you don’t get back any reply, don’t give up the fight! Sometimes it requires you to send a follow-up message in a month or even in half a year.
I would like to show you examples of follow-up emails based on my personal experience.
In this case, I sent a follow-up email in 14 days after my first pitch and I got a reply.
Here you can observe that it took me 10 months before the recipient finally replied me.
To conclude this section, I want to persuade you to send follow-up emails every time you don’t get feedback. I don’t want to assure you that your next follow-up message will be successful but why not try to get on a roll?
3.6 Tracking progress
“The one who takes control over any kind of activity gains more success”. This rule is definitely applicable to outreach.
Outreach is like a lottery where your email templates are the tickets. If you don’t want to miss out in this lottery, you need to know which ticket will bring you a positive result.
That’s why I recommend that you monitor each template you use. I know it is impossible to do manually and without specialized tools, so I would like to suggest you try Buzzstream. It is the very first tool for tracking outreach progress that we use at Ahrefs.
Moreover, the tool shows you whether the messages you’ve sent are actually opened or not.
I am sure this tool is able to improve your outreach process and steer it in the right direction.
Now my question to you: “What have you learnt from this post?”
The article introduced you to the major attributes of the process called “outreach” with all of the elements you should follow. I gave you my best pieces of advice on how to maximise your success in this craft.
In a nutshell:
- Lay the foundation first
- Discover your main competitors
- Work with backlinks
- Take care of finding valid email addresses
- Customize email templates
- Don’t forget to send follow-up emails
- Keep an eye on your progress
That’s all my friends. If you think that this content deserves to be shared throughout Social Media channels, please, don’t hesitate to do it.
Don’t forget to comment! Your thoughts and ideas might help me a lot 🙂