How I Reach Out to Busy People and Get Responses

How I Reach Out To Busy People

Thinking of doing an expert roundup in your niche?

Read on to see how I managed my email outreach for the latest roundup “Kick Ass Local SEO Strategies from Around the World” and got 28 contributors onboard in just 5 days!

We’ll also discuss what works at dramatically increasing your response rates.

In this post I’ll be demonstrating how I use BuzzStream to manage my email outreach efforts.

Step 1 – Create a List of Contacts in Excel

For the local SEO roundup I divided people up by country and with one separate tab for Gurus:

Dividing Prospects Up By Country With One Separate Tab for Gurus

I then filled out each person’s contact details under 6 fields:

Website Domain
Website Name
Email 1
Twitter
Person First Name
Person Last Name

Create A List Of Contacts With 6 Fields In Excel

Note: I use these specific names for each field because later when I upload the excel in .CSV format to BuzzStream they match up perfectly.

Step 2 – Upload People to BuzzStream

I then save the file as a .CSV and upload to BuzzStream.

Save File as a CSV and Upload to BuzzStream

Match My CSV

Upload File to Import

BuzzStream automatically matched up the fields with my import file headers:

Match Your Data With Fields in BuzzStream

There are many more fields to choose from but I just like to use 6 because it makes the whole process a lot faster.

Step 3 – Create a Template

Once I’ve got my contacts uploaded my next step was to create a template:

Create an Email Template

BuzzStream makes it easy to personalise your templates with dynamic fields:

Dynamic Fields

I used these fields to personalise my local SEO outreach template like this:

Local SEO Email Outreach Template

Note: One thing I’ve learned from my email outreach campaigns is that it’s best to keep your question as short and sweet as possible. Also, notice how I put a link to the last roundup as a P.S. to show a little social proof and encourage people to get involved with the new one.

After preparing my template I saved it and went back to my list of contacts.

Step 4 – Start Outreach

So now that I’d uploaded all the Gurus and other local SEOs from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States and United Kingdom it was time to commence outreach!

First I selected my contacts:

Select Contacts for Email Outreach

Then I began outreach!

Start Outreach

Instead of emailing everyone at the same time I scheduled emails to go out in blocks to hit each country’s time zone at 1pm (just after lunch) on Monday and Tuesday afternoon. Since I currently live in China, 1pm EST is 1am for me ;)

Scheduling Emails for 1pm in Each Time Zone

The reason I chose 1pm instead of 9am is because people usually have a backlog of emails to get through in the mornings and my email would have less chance of getting buried.

I also spaced out the outreach between Monday and Tuesday because I was worried I might be too overwhelmed by replies if I did them all at once.

Step 5 – Tracking Responses

As soon as people started replying the email conversation appeared in the BuzzStream Dashboard. This is an awesome part of the CRM that allows you to keep on top of all your interactions.

Interactions Appear in the BuzzStream Dashboard

I then noted each stage of the conversation in my original excel sheet so I could easily see who had answered already, or needed following up:

Green = Answer received
Orange = In process of writing an answer (needs following up)
Red = Too busy (don’t follow up)
Blank = Unresponsive

Tracking Responses

The email template yielded 20 contributions from 31 replies:

Local SEO Around the World Template Conversion Rate

These first 20 contributions were received without any need to nudge or follow up later in the week. That’s a pretty low conversion rate (13%), however, it must be noted that the question was VERY specific, requires quite a bit of thought and many of the people I emailed were SEO agencies who likely would not want to get involved.

2 days after emailing everyone I began following up all those who either said they’d get back to me later, or were unresponsive to the first mail shot.

Step 6 – Following Up

Here are a few examples of followup emails I sent at various stages of the process and their conversion rates:

Follow up email sent 2 days after no response to first email:

Follow Up Email Template Sent Two Days Later

41 sent
5 contributions
12% conversion rate

Follow up email sent to lightly nudge those who said they’d contribute:

Follow Up Email To Lightly Nudge

6 sent
3 replies
50% conversion rate

Last ditch attempt email to reach important people:

Last Ditch Attempt Email to Reach Important People

36 sent
0 replies
0% conversion rate

In total I received 8 more answers from these follow up emails bringing the grand total to 28 on Friday 23 August.

Note: You’ll notice I dropped a few of the experts’ names in these follow up emails to entice people to get involved. This clearly helped a lot in securing 8 more contributions, as many people may have been reluctant at first to contribute.

To sum up, in total I reached out to 153 people and landed 28 answers. That’s an 18% conversion rate.

This conversion rate may sound low, but that’s because most were not the right people to reach out to.

When you isolate the list of high profile gurus I contacted (22 people), we see a much higher conversion rate, because 10/22 gurus contributed an answer (45% conversion rate)

Reply Quickly

One extra thing I feel has to be mentioned is that over the course of the 5 days I spent emailing and chasing up experts for their contributions I did not sleep ;)

Between 5am on Monday morning until 10am on Tuesday morning I had just one 1/12 hour power nap on my sofa. The most sleep I got over the rest of the week was just 4 hours every 24 hours or so.

This is because I know it’s vital to reply to people as soon as possible in order to maximise response rates.

I made it even harder for myself because I was reaching out to people in various time zones so once I’d finished chatting to people from New Zealand and Australia I’d then move on to the UK and later US, so I needed to be awake around the clock to ensure quick replies!

Comparing Roundup Conversion Rates

There’s a big difference in the overall conversion rate between my local SEO roundup and the link building tools roundup. The ratios here are answers received out of total amount of people contacted:

Link Building Tools: 55:115 = 47% conversion rate
Local SEO: 28:153 = 18% conversion rate

The Right Question

In a nutshell, the fundamental reason my link building tools roundup achieved a higher conversion rate is because the question was right on the money:

“If you could only use 3 SEO tools for your link building campaigns which 3 tools would you choose?”

This question worked better because:

  • It’s short and sweet
  • Doesn’t demand a lengthy response
  • Can be answered with a simple list of 3 tools
  • It’s fun because it urges you to think what you love most and what you can live without

But the most powerful reason this question got a huge response rate is because…

…it could be answered in a single Tweet:

Twitter Q&A Brian Dean

Reach Out to the Right People

The other reason my previous roundup saw more volume in responses is because I reached out to the right people.

For the link building tools roundup I only contacted real people and knew they were all frequently blogging or writing about SEO. They were more approachable and regularly active online.

But for the local SEO roundup, many of the contacts I emailed were actually SEO agencies, many of which did not have Twitter accounts, were not “internet personalities” and perhaps did not want to divulge their secret tactics.

The reason I emailed a lot of agencies was because these guys were ranking high on Google for “local SEO” and “local search”, so although they were not known as “gurus” they were still obviously doing a great job and their insights would be just as helpful.

Also I wanted to create an “around the world” vibe and could not really market that if every single person was from the United States.

Anyway, the results are fantastic and despite the conversion rate being a little low the final post has produced a wonderful mix of answers that will be a huge help for anyone seeking to rank their business online!

Conclusion

Expert roundups take a lot of effort to put together but the results are well worth the hard work and lack of sleep!

It’s important you are persistent and reply quickly in order to maximise results.

If you’re not sure your question is quite right, test it out on a few people first and then rework it for the majority. (Although I didn’t mention this above, the week before I started my email outreach I tested a question with a handful of agencies in the UK and no one responded. Then after asking a few friends in the industry they said the question was a little too difficult and needed reworking, so I fixed it over the weekend and started again on Monday).

Key Takeaway: If you’re thinking of doing an expert roundup and want to blow people away with the crazy amount of experts or big brands you get involved, craft your question so it can be answered in a single Tweet to dramatically boost response rates.

Do you have any special tactics for boosting your outreach conversion rates?

Comments

  1. says

    Great post! I used Buzzstream daily at an agency and loved it! Two things I really like to do use Twitter to cut through the noise is a great way to get a hold of people who have very busy inbox’s. Buzzstream will also track those conversations which is awesome.
    2. Sending emails over the weekend. Many consultants/bloggers website owners etc… check their emails every day and it seems they get less emails over the weekends.

    • Richard Marriott says

      Thanks Jared!

      Love your tip about sending emails over the weekend. That’s gold mine advice right there!!!

  2. Victor says

    Thanks for showing that Excel upload snapshot. I have a nearly identical process in pitching (what you did on Excel), minus the use of BuzzStream. I think I’m about to sign up again. Did I say thanks?

    Thanks Richard!

    • Richard Marriott says

      Hey Victor! Thanks for the thanks and the thanks haha and cool avatar btw :)

      Nice to hear you have an almost identical process. I’d like to look for ways to keep refining it. Perhaps using Yesware to track email opens, but I’m not sure if Yesware can be used in tandem with BuzzStream.

  3. says

    Awesome post Richard! I love the simple step-by-step guide and the conversion rate stats!

    How do you think these numbers would differ if you had not already done the “55 SEO Experts Reveal 3 Favourite Link Building Tools” post and shared it in your initial outreach emails?

    I imagine many people reading this will be in a situation where they don’t yet have social proof and encounter a different set challenges.

    • Richard Marriott says

      Hey Matthew, glad you liked the post!

      You raise a very good point about how numbers would differ if I hadn’t mentioned the previous roundup. In fact, I reckon it would have made a huge difference. The reason being because the question for the local SEO roundup was WAY more demanding of people’s time because it required a much deeper answer and couldn’t be answered in a single tweet or with 3 bullet points.

      This is not to say, however, that without social proof it is impossible for a newbie blogger to get experts involved in an interview, because I managed to get 55 people onboard with the first roundup when clambr was an unknown blog with only a dozen visits a day.

      So in a nutshell, if someone’s blog has no social proof when they embark on their first ever expert roundup question they should make the question as simple as possible so people can fire off valuable answers without much thought.

      Then once the first roundup gets some social wins, they can tackle more complex questions in the future.

    • Richard Marriott says

      Hey Daniel!

      Glad you enjoyed it mate and thanks so much for getting involved!

      I’m looking forward to having a nice break for a few days now hehe ;)

  4. says

    Great breakdown of your roundup outreach successes, really cool to see the behind the scenes and I had no idea you put so many hours into one post – but the results speak for themselves. Love the transparency of showing your process so soon after you published the post too – that’s rare!

    • Richard Marriott says

      Hey Joe,

      Glad you like the breakdown of the process. It was indeed a laborious few days. I think next time I’m going to spread the process over two weeks otherwise it gets a little too unhealthy lol.

      Thanks also for your comment about how I showed the transparency of the process just before publishing the big post.

      Next time I’m going to do three posts at one time. The reason being is because when I release these major roundups they bring in a ton of traffic and I wanted to tap into that and keep people on the blog and keep them engaged.

      Once the initial buzz wares off it’s harder to get people back and if I released the outreach process a few days later it wouldn’t be so fresh in people’s minds and likely wouldn’t have got so much exposure.

      So, yeah, gonna try this technique again for the next big post and I’ll let you know how it affects bounce rate and time spent on the site. Hopefully it’ll prove to yield some useful data :)

  5. says

    Hey Richard, great post as always!

    Believe it or not – I actually have an Excel file that looks more or less the same like yours. However, I usually use Google instead for initial research. For example, if I am looking for experts in gardening, I’ll search “X number of gardening blogger to follow” and so on. In most cases I will bumped into roundup posts that had all the details sorted out.

    However, apparently your approach using Buzz Stream is a lot more efficient and scientific. :)

    I look forward to your next massive roundup post! ;)

    • Richard Marriott says

      Hey Jerry,

      Glad you liked the post and thanks for sharing how you go about finding experts!

      In terms of future roundups I’m gonna chill for a while until next year perhaps. In the meantime I’m going to be blogging on clambr about a new authority site I’m building. Hope you’ll still be interested to pop by here because it’s gonna be quite a change to the usual stuff hehe ;)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] How I Reach Out to Busy People and Get Responses Richard Marriott Follow @clambr Recently, Richard Marriott of Clambr has written a few blog posts which have collated the thoughts of several top SEOs on various subjects, the most well known of which being his link building tools post. His latest post tells us how he manages to get so many responses in such a short amount of time, via some very efficient outreach. Richard goes into detail as to how he uses just Excel and Buzzstream in order to gather his outreach targets, send out the emails and keep track of the responses, as well as offering a couple of tips in order to ensure that your outreach endeavors are successful. Tweet Richard’s blog: Tweet [...]




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