off-page seo

Having an outreach strategy isn’t sending out a bunch of generic emails and hoping someone says yes. Do you respond to all the junk mail you get? Business and website owners are confronted with a barrage of requests on a daily basis. If they don’t know you or your product, then why would they want to work with you?

Understand Outreach Strategy

That’s where understanding outreach strategy comes in. The most important thing to remember is link building isn’t just asking for backlinks or product reviews. You’re making a connection. You’re building a relationship with another person or brand. In the end, the answer may still be no, but if you’ve developed a relationship there’s also the chance you’ve just created an opportunity for more than a one-time deal. Before you reach out to anyone, do your homework. Check out their website. Research their blog or brand. Is it something you want to associate with? Is there a commonality you share that you can remark on?

A successful outreach campaign is built on mutually beneficial outcomes. You want to gain backlinks and improve visibility for your brand or product but what are they getting? Highlight how whatever you’re offering will benefit them, their brand, and their audience. You aren’t asking for something, you’re giving something.

Do Your Homework

As mentioned above, a successful outreach strategy is built from doing your research. You know your product. You’re aware of what your brand stands for (and if you don’t, you need to figure that out first!). Is your target aligned with your brand goals? Also, and it’s astounding how often this is overlooked, are they direct competitors?

That last one may seem like common sense, but it’s truly mind blowing how many people skip out on their homework and end up sending a generic pitch to a direct competitor. Not only are you setting yourself up for failure, but you’re also coming across less-than-spectacularly to a competitor. Oversights can happen, yes, but 99 times out of 100 you should’ve checked the site out and seen this.

As for researching their brand and their site, it doesn’t take long. A quick glance over their site should tell you what you need to know. If you’re unclear what their site is after a quick glance, then it’s probably not one you want to link to anyway. Quality over quantity. See if they have content relevant to your pitch. Do they accept guest posts? Do they consider adding links? Many bloggers and brands will plainly state what they accept. You can frequently find this alongside their contact information.

Personalize Your Message

Whether you’re sending an email, a DM, or smoke signals: personalize your message. You can have templates, sure, but personalize however, and whenever, possible. There will be times when you can’t find a specific name to address your email to and that’s fine. The body of your email can still be personalized in other places. Include why you feel whatever you’re pitching them is great for both of you. Tell them why it fits with their brand. People respond better to communication that feels personal. Speak to them one person to another. Don’t act like they’re a robot or not a random email address you sent a form letter to.

Hand-in-hand with doing your homework is making sure your personalization is accurate. Misspelled names, incorrect company names, and irrelevant topics are excellent ways to ensure your message gets trashed immediately.

Get to the Point

This is, appropriately, very straightforward. Get to the point! This starts with the subject line of your message and continues into the body of text. Keep it clear and concise. Feel free to introduce yourself and your brand, but don’t make your target read through four paragraphs of fluff before they get to the point of the message. It’s guaranteed they will never read that far and into the trash it’ll go. More to the point, they know why you’re contacting them. There’s no mystery in why brands reach out to one another. A straightforward, concise message is all they need to determine if they vibe with you or not.

Be Persistent, Not Annoying

People get busy. You stay busy, right? Well, so do they. If you’ve reached out to a target and you haven’t gotten a response then follow up! There’s a difference between following up and harassment, however. If you follow up and still receive no reply, take the hint. Either they’re not interested or maybe now isn’t a good time. Give it a while and then you can consider reaching out to them again in the future. Keeping your outreach strategy organized will help you stay on top of who you’ve heard from, who you’ve followed up with, and who you need to let alone.

When it comes down to it, outreach strategy is building a relationship between people and working to benefit both sides. There’s an art to it. Outreach is essential to your digital marketing strategy. It helps improve SEO, drive site traffic, and expand brand visibility. Try these tips and see the difference for yourself.

A version of this article originally appeared here.