The Custard Blog

Words of wisdom from our team of online marketing experts

How to write the perfect blogger outreach email

Since the dreaded Penguin update back in April, blogger outreach has become increasingly popular as ‘easy SEO’ became a thing of the past.

More SEOs who previously relied on the dark arts of article marketing and directory submissions (you may have seen it advertised as “SEO Gold Package – Google Number 1 Guaranteed!) had to build genuine relationships with bloggers and journalists.


In short, spammers either started doing things the hard way, or were run out of town.

Another outreach email guide… really?

I know what you’re thinking. There’s hundreds of posts like this, why should I read yours? Well, Custard’s outreach emails are pretty amazing. But then I would say that.

So instead of listening to shameless self-promotion, check out this flattering feedback from one of our outreach targets:


Not my words ladies and gentlemen, the words of Barry Adams, Editor at the fantastic State of Search blog and digital services director at Pierce Communications in Northern Ireland.

As much as I’d love to take credit for the email that led to such glowing praise, it was in fact courtesy of Adam Snape, one of our Web Analysts here at Custard. Adam has worked hard to refine his outreach emails for maximum response rate and continues to do so on an ongoing basis.

I’m convinced! Teach me!

Sorry for going on about how great we are. Here is the Colonel’s secret recipe for the perfect outreach email.


“Dear friend” doesn’t work. “Hi” is regularly shunned. Michael King famously analysed 300,000 emails in for his Quantifying Outreach research, which showed (amongst other revelations) that a personalised salutation not only got the best response rate but also the best close rate – after all it’s about links, not just replies.


This is the best way to open the lines of communication. Speak to the blogger about something they would want to discuss, their own work being the best example. Voice an opinion on one of their past posts – preferably not from the homepage!

Appeal to their other interests too. Adam spoke to a blogger with an ‘about’ page mentioning that he was a fan of foreign films. He recommended a movie and got a response almost instantly.

Make an offer, not a request

Say not what the blogger can do for you, but what you can do for the blogger. Yes, you want a link, but you’re also offering high-quality blog content that will pull in a ton of longtail search traffic.

Offer high-quality blog content

Preferably the type that will pull in a ton of longtail search traffic. A well-written article is essential so if your link building team aren’t up to the task, feed it into the copywriting team.

Make sure your article is credible (does it have any ‘expert’ input?) and offers something different to any other posts on that topic. Would you share it, or would you apologise to your friends and say “oh yeah sorry, that was for work….”?

Be contactable

Sign off with your name, email and if possible a less formal means of contact like a Skype or Twitter username.

If you work for an agency, getting your hands on a client domain email will build trust, but if this isn’t possible, don’t try to con anybody. Just be open about the fact that you work with and that you’re spreading the good word on their behalf.

K.I.S.S them

Keep it simple, stupid. You want to implement as much of this as possible but try to keep it to 2-3 paragraphs maximum. Too much and people will lose interest before they get to the offer.

Do you ask for sex before you get a date?

Of course not, so don’t ask for a link before you get a reply. Build relationships through conversation before you charge in with a link request.

(By the way, I forget whose blog I stole this line from so if I’m ripping you off, let me know and I’ll credit you!)

The kicker

Bloggers are getting sick and tired of crappy outreach emails, to the point where even the good ones are being deleted without being read.

Our link builders report back that their best outreach emails don’t have the success rate they used to. So if you’re going to do blogger outreach, don’t do it for links.

You read it right – stop link building. Or at least stop relying on it as an entire strategy.

Guest blogging has been done to death, but content marketing is a robust strategy that will survive any algorithm update. Create something amazing and you’ll have something to offer a blogger that they’re delighted to share with their 10,000 RSS subscribers and 50,000 Twitter followers.

Over to you

Do you have any more outreach tips? Feel free to comment below.

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