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15th July 2014
By Jamie

Outreach can be tough. If you don’t go about it the right way, you’ll end up sending out a barrage of emails, only to be met with a muted or negative response from every single person you’ve contacted.

Using this scattergun approach, you might think: ‘if I email 100 people, I’m guaranteed that at least three or four will reply’. There are several problems with this:

– You’ll waste valuable time emailing the ninety-six or –seven who don’t reply – time that could be better spent elsewhere

– You’re unlikely to receive responses from the people you most want to hear back from

– It’ll be almost impossible to send a genuine, personalised email
I recently approached outreach by contacting just one person, someone who I was genuinely interested in connecting with, and gained a 100% response rate. It was by doing this that I found myself with an interview with Rand Fishkin. Here’s the story of how that happened.

Why I chose to contact Rand Fishkin

For our new client Marketing Quotes, one of our inbound marketing ideas is to use industry expert interviews.

Marketing Quotes cover a number of areas of marketing, such as SEO, PPC, branding and PR. To cover the SEO area of this, I thought I’d be ambitious and try to get an interview with Rand Fishkin, co-founder and former CEO of Moz.

Moz is a popular inbound marketing software provider and home to one of the most highly thought-of SEO blogs on the web. Meanwhile, Rand has become an extremely well-known SEO commentator through his regular blogging and popular ‘Whiteboard Friday’ videos. They are an industry insider’s must-see videos and we love them!

How did I do it?

I started out by doing some research around Rand, which allowed me to personalise my questions, and increase the likelihood of him wanting to answer them, rather than asking some standard SEO questions. It also gave me the chance to ask some ‘fun’ questions to find out more about him.

I also decided to dive straight in and pose the questions to him, rather than just asking if he’d like to take part. I thought this would increase the chance of success, by removing a potential extra step from the process, and letting him see whether he’d even like to answer the sort of questions I was going to pose.

What was the outcome?

Despite Rand being an extremely busy guy, possibly receiving hundreds of emails from strangers each week, he emailed me back within a couple of days saying that he was happy to take part, and answered all of my questions fully! He even answered some secondary follow-up questions I had, and was generally just very helpful. I was greatly appreciative of this, and proud to share the success with my colleagues.

By personalising my questions I was also able to gain insights that would not have been possible from more generic questions, and that is beside the fact that I may not have received a response with a generic approach.

The interview has now been turned into a blog post for Marketing Quotes, which is valuable content for anyone interested in Rand or SEO in general, and will hopefully gain Marketing Quotes more exposure.

My top 5 tips for outreach success

1. Be personal – have genuine interest in the person’s business, their work, and themselves in general

2. Tailor your questions based on this to make it more interesting for the person to answer them

3. Don’t ask for too much – don’t request shares or links of your content – rather make the content itself shareable

4. Make your request really clear and straightforward to fulfil – I included the questions I wanted to ask in the initial email

5. Be friendly!

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