Does this sound at all familiar? You spend days on your latest piece of killer content, including interviews with experts, kick-ass graphics, and several rounds of revision and polish. You click publish, share with your social media profiles, and then …
Sure, you got a few likes and maybe a couple of comments, but nowhere near the level of traction you expected.
Why? You didn’t promote as well as you could have and should have. That’s the secret sauce to content in 2018.
“It’s smarter to find another 10,000 people to consume what you’ve already created as opposed to creating more.” ~Derek Halpern, Social Triggers
Promote more than you create.
There’s no shortage of options: share to social media, bookmarking sites, paid promotion, internal promotion, and more.
But it’s worth noting that social sharing is not the powerhouse it once was. BuzzSumo found that social sharing between 2015 and 2017 decreased by half, and social referrals are driving considerably less traffic these days.
Still worth it, yes, but you can’t rely on just your audience on Facebook and Twitter anymore.
And the best way to connect and get the ball rolling?
Yes, cold email. Email remains one of – if not the – best channels for outreach and marketing in general. It delivers a median return-on-investment of 122%. That’s 4x higher than any other strategy, and helps to explain why 89% of marketers use email as their primary lead gen channel.
Email generates 174% more conversions than social media, while 81% of SMBs use it as their main customer acquisition tactic, and 80% use it for their customer retention efforts.
Depending on the country, industry, and even the email provider, those numbers can be a little higher or a little lower. Constant Contact, for example, puts the average open rate in 2018 at 18.16% for their customers, with an average CTR of 7.77%.
Regardless, billions use it, and it’s effective for acquisition, retention …
Here are the 12 best cold emailing strategies for content promotion.
1. Impress Out of the Gate
The bigger the influencer, the more requests they receive for a share, quote, or favor. They’re going to make a snap decision about you and yours in seconds. Remember the old adage: you only get one chance to make a first impression.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Don’t be afraid to take some copywriting courses to sharpen your copywriting skills. Remember, less is more, simple is better, and don’t forget to include a clear CTA in all your emails.” ~David Campbell, content marketing manager, Voila Norbert
In email, that means writing a clear and professional message that gets noticed. Stand out with a professional email address, greeting, and salutation. Use a clear and compelling subject line. Check your main body for spelling and grammar mistakes. Then check it again.
Finally, make it easy for them to do whatever it is you’ve asked them to do.
2. Cold Email Doesn’t Mean “Cold”
Simply put, segmented campaigns and personalized messaging improves every metric that matters.
Do your homework on your targets. Research them so you can personalize your outreach. If the message isn’t relevant to them, they’re not going to click or respond. Period.
“These numbers reveal that clicks are still driven by relevance, but opens are driven by interest.” ~Skip Fidura, Strategy and Insight Director, dotMailer
An email outreach solution with smart fields can automatically personalize your messages at scale, no matter how many you send out.
3. Subject Lines Are Key
Personalized and relevant content will get the click, but subject lines get your message opened in the first place.
In fact, 47% of emails are opened or discarded based solely on their subject line, and those that include the recipient’s first name have a higher CTR.
Focus on your subject lines and the first line of your message, as these are typically shown in email preview fields. Catch their attention. Pique their interest. Get the open.
“Be creative with your headlines and the opening line of the email body message. These are the two things that appear in snippet popups and within the Outlook account pre-opening. Ego baiting with compliments and personalization are the key differentiators that I find help the most with cold email open rates and replies.” ~Lee Wilson, Head of SEO, Vertical Leap
Brief, personalized, concise, clear, and casual are battle-tested options, but don’t be afraid to experiment, test, and tweak your subject lines to find what works best for your recipients. If nothing else, at least run it through a subject line evaluator to get some feedback and suggestions to make it better.
Subject lines matter. A lot.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
Speaking of experimenting, testing, and tweaking, you should prioritize playing with and A/B testing every aspect of your outreach: not just subject lines, but also opening lines, CTAs, word choice, and more. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
“Your main objective should be to get people to open your message, but also not be pissed off that they did so. I’ve found that overly clickbaity subject lines may get the opens, but few positive replies. I like to keep the subject line informal, as if I’m talking to a friend. One trick is using all lowercase – I’ve A/B tested this and gotten a win most of the time.” ~Ryan Farley
That which gets tested, gets improved.
5. Skip the Intro
Influencers receive a lot of email and a lot of requests. They honestly don’t really care who you are, so skip the intro.
Use the short amount of time you have their attention to instead demonstrate your value to them. Quickly tell them what you do or what you have for them, but focus on how exactly it helps them.
The advice that applies to subject lines also applies here. Make clear, concise, and casual the order of the day. Get to the point. Quickly.
“With cold emails, you have a very brief window to catch the reader’s attention, before you find yourself in the spam folder. When they open an unsolicited email, they’re scanning to see if it’s anything important, so starting with a lengthy personal introduction will only harm your response rate. Briefly summarize what you are about, and get to your CTA, or the task you would like them to complete.” ~Leighton Burley, Founder, Artiiseo
6. Deliver Exceptional 10x Content
If you want someone to put their reputation on the line by sharing your content, you’d better make absolutely certain it is worth the risk.
Avoid the boring “me-too” posts that everyone is creating. Go beyond. Make it controversial and/or emotionally compelling. Find a new angle. Make it 100% unique with original research (surveys, polls, interviews, case studies). 10x content is 10x better – at least – than everything else out there.
Repurpose existing content into new forms (article to video, podcast to infographic, and so on).
“The best way to catch and sustain the attention of visitors is repurposing your content into visually appealing videos. Using an online DIY video maker tool like Biteable, you can easily turn your existing blog post into engaging explainers or slideshows. It’s as simple as choosing a template and adding your text. Turning text-based content into video gives you the chance to get more people excited about your business, helps to increase dwell time, and site traffic.” ~Tope Longe, Content Marketing Manager, Biteable
Update your old content so it’s fresh and relevant today.
Deliver top-notch content to them, and they’ll happily share it with their audience.
7. Multiple Touchpoints
Getting a cold email response is hard in the best of times, especially with major influencers.
Increase your odds of success by connecting in several ways and on several platforms before you message them. As I said previously, cold email should never be truly cold.
Follow and engage with influencers on social media (share and like their stuff), comment on their latest blog posts, compliment or congratulate them on a recent achievement, event, or award.
“You should always connect with them on LinkedIn by sending a personalized invite before you send them an email. Multiple touchpoints helps increase the reply rate as they trust you more.” ~Shaurya Jain
A “familiar” name is going to at least help get your foot in the door.
8. Use Templates
Cold email for content promotion is – at least in the beginning – a bit of a numbers game. You need to reach out to many in order to succeed with a few.
Use templates to make it fast and easy. Automate your outreach until you get a response, at which point you always personally respond.
9. Give First
Cold emailing someone with an existing audience – large or small – and immediately asking for a favor is not going to win you any fans.
“Bake promotion into your content creation process. Quote influencers’ work in your articles and then reach out to them when the posts are live. Use the simple subject line ‘You were featured on [site name]’. Ask for a share only if they like it. Because the influencer is now part of the content, they’ll be more likely to respond positively and share the post with their audience.” ~Qhubekani Nyathi, Founder and CEO, Wholesome Commerce
Treat your content promotion as a “give first” scenario. Make it about making them look good and/or providing for their audience and/or spreading awareness of their brand.
10. Be Authentic and Sincere
This is good advice in general, but especially pertinent to cold outreach: no games, no tricks, no insincere flattery.
“Forget most outreach breakdowns and tips, and just be straightforward, talk like a normal (non-insane) person, and have a good reason for reaching out. If your ask or reason for reaching out sucks, no subject line hack or social engineering is going to save you.” ~Alex Birkett, Growth Marketing Manager, Hubspot
Be, write, and interact like the real human being you are. People respond to that authenticity.
11. Build the Relationship
“Never send your full pitch in the first email. The first email should only serve the purpose of a brief introduction, with a minor CTA. Reserve proposals or other “heavy” content for subsequent correspondence, after your original email has gained their attention, and they have an idea of who you are. If you try to submit your full proposal in the first email, they’ll experience ‘information overload’, and since they don’t know you, they’ll respond by ignoring your email.” ~Leighton Burley
Nurture and cultivate the relationship above all else. Become an asset to them – not a nuisance – and they’ll reciprocate.
You’ve got to give, give, and give some more: notify them that you’ve linked to them or their content in your latest piece. Share a new tool or resource. Point out a broken link.
Only then you can take. A little. Ask them for a short quote, or to look over your post before publishing it. They’ll feel flattered and invested in your content.
Be an asset. Create exceptional content. The rest will come naturally.
12. Repeat After Me: Follow-up
Always follow up. Always. And more than once.
Content marketing is powerful and popular. It works. But the promotion of your content is the oft-forgotten key cog in the machine. No matter how good it is, it doesn’t mean a thing if no one sees it. You’ve got to leverage the audiences that exist for others.
And cold email is your invite to their party.
What cold email strategies for content promotion are your favorites? Share in the comments below:
Sujan Patel is a partner at Ramp Ventures, makers of Mailshake, Pick, VoilaNorbe