A few weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk when Sean from Sprout Social emailed me, complimenting a post I wrote on the Lead Generation Insights blog, and we started emailing back and forth. He passed an article he was featured in, describing how he wrote the perfect outreach email.
After looking through the article, I agreed that Sean did a fantastic job following best pitching practices. He was rewarded with a share/link from someone with whom he had never interacted with — an outreacher’s dream.
By doing a quick search, you can see there are thousands of “outreach best practices” articles on the Internet. I decided to look through a good number of these posts to see what I thought they were missing.
Most of these articles had similar talking points, which makes sense. Tips such as make it personal, do your research on the site, make it brief, ask for only one thing, and compliment the publisher were common pieces of advice. I believe all of these points are 100 percent correct and necessary to get your foot in the door. However, with publishers getting more requests every day, there is something every outreach message needs to separate it from other requests: a value add.
What Is a Value Add?
A value add is the reason a publisher should take the action you are requesting. Usually, people make the mistake of not adding any value when they say, “… We think this is something that your readers will enjoy.” Just assuming that the name of their post, infographic, company or whatever they’re outreaching about will pique a publisher’s interest.
Why will your content offer value to a publisher’s readers? That is the question you have to answer every time you hit “send.” If you can answer that question, then your response rates will greatly increase.
For example, a few months ago, my team was pitching an infographic for a client about the updates coming with EMV credit card readers. We wanted to find retail magazines and blogs we thought would be interested in posting the infographic. Once we grabbed our pitch list, we wrote a brief, personalized outreach message, and instead of saying, “we think this is something your readers could learn from,” we used a value-add statement:
“… with Oct. 1 being the EMV liability switch, [our client] created this infographic to help educate businesses on the topic to save them from hassle in the future.”
Our response rate on this infographic was really high. First, the content was timed perfectly (we did the outreach in September and the topic was getting a lot of coverage). Second, in a very short time, our pitch conveyed what the content was about and why it would be worth the publisher’s time to check it out.
When it comes to off-site content marketing — getting your content, links and videos published — persuasive pitches are crucial. Crafting emails with great value adds will lead to more opened emails, responses and ultimately placements — which then produces more traffic that hopefully turns into sales leads.