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Email Outreach Leads

A Simple Rule to Increase Response Rates

Jason Quey
Last updated: Nov 22, 2019
Originally published: Mar 20, 2023

This is a series on how we create email outreach programs that get 20-40% reply rates. Before choosing your leads, you need to understand your goals and objectives. You can check out all our articles on email outreach here.

What would you do if you had Michael Phelps email address?

Yeah, the eight-time gold medalist in 2008. Who, if he was his own country, placed 10th over all other countries. The right answer? Probably nothing.

When I was a newb to email outreach, I came across his email. It was a fluke. I showed it to my boss, we had a good laugh, then I deleted it. Why? Because I had no reason to email him.

The goal is to always send the right message, to the right person, at the right time.

Let’s get something clear:

  1. Just because you reach out to a journalist, doesn't mean she will cover you.
  2. Just because he’s a VC, doesn’t mean he will invest in your startup.
  3. Just because she has a blog, doesn’t mean she will accept a guest post from you.

My point is too many people email someone without doing their homework to make sure they are a fit. Now comes the tricky part. How do you know if they are the right person?

No one is a mind reader. But, with a little bit of detective work, we can discover who is likely to open and reply with delight.

A good rule of thumb: Your odds are best if someone has taken a similar action to your goal in the last year. Let’s look at each of these examples to see how you can find someone who might be relevant.

Pitching Journalists

Use Buzzsumo and do an author search on the person’s name (for example, do a search for author:Aaron Orendorff). Then pitch him something similar.

Or if you have a topic in mind (for example, content marketing), you can do a search and find the relevant bloggers and journalists.

Keep in mind most journalists want more traffic. So your best bet is to pitch them original research, an exclusive tip that's controversial, or something on a trendy topic.

Pitching Investors

Use Signal and VC Match to find investors who have invested in startups in your industry, amount of funding, and for your round of funding in the last year.

Pitching Guest Posts

Use Buzzsumo to find bloggers who write in your niche in the past year. Keep in mind that the topic should be similar, but not the same as what they have written about before. An easy trick is to use SEMrush to find similar blogs, then pitch titles using Buzzsumo of their top content.

Pro tip on pitching guest posts: Show the blogger three published articles and three topic ideas in your outreach emails. My placement rates doubled from about 20% to 40%. Learn more on landing guest posts here.

And please, check to make sure that your articles are a fit. Just because we write articles on digital marketing on the Growth Ramp blog, does NOT mean I accept any article on digital marketing. At the time of this writing, every article is based on marketing strategies we’ve tested to grow a site.

Once you’ve done your research to find the right person, it’s also important you find the right email address.

Naturally, if you send an email to Y-Combinator partner Paul Buchheit, intending it to go to Paul Graham, you might find yourself in a little pickle. But here’s something you may not know.

Sending an email to PG’s personal email instead of his work email may also land you in hot water. Why? Some people keep personal and business separate. So they believe if you sent an email to their personal account, you did not do your homework.

Sometimes they will respond, but not as fast. Depending on what you are asking, that may not be a problem. To be clear, finding a personal email is better than finding no email at all.

On that note, here’s how to find any email address.

Jason Quey

I am the CEO and Founder of Growth Ramp. I enjoy serving early-stage startups and later-stage scale-ups on their journey from idea to scale.

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