The 5-Step Outreach Strategy Cheat Sheet

The 5-Step Outreach Strategy Cheat Sheet

Farzad Rashidi

Farzad Rashidi

Lead Innovator at Respona

The 5-Step Outreach Strategy Cheat Sheet

Cold blogger outreach strategy for link building/Public Relations is a catch-22.

You need both volume (more prospects) and personalization to see significant impacts.

And combining both can feel impossible.

Scaling often leads to less personalization, as writing personalized pitches is incredibly time-consuming. But you need personalization if you want any hope of capitalizing on those link building or relationship opportunities.

Anything less than hyper-personalized outreach just comes across as spammy, annoying, fake, and ruins your conversion potential.

That’s why we developed this step-by-step cheat sheet to create your own personalized outreach strategy.

Without further ado, here is how to craft your own cold outreach strategy and put it to use.

Link building cheat sheet

Link building cheat sheet

Gain access to the 3-step strategy we use to earn over 86 high-quality backlinks each month.

Download for free

Step 1: Outline Your Main Outreach Goals

The first step of any successful outreach strategy is outlining goals.

Sadly, most take this for granted, spending ~10 minutes max jotting down simple goals like:

  • Increase traffic
  • More brand mentions

These goals are a total waste of time. We all want more traffic. Everybody and their insta-famous cousin wants brand mentions.

These goals are far too broad, generic, and lack any hint of actionability that an effective outreach strategy demands.

Just listing goals and going through the motions of this step is a big mistake.

What do good outreach goals look like? They are often broken down by a few big factors:

  • Goal type
  • Sub-goals
  • Actionable steps
  • Timelines

But first, what are some good, high-level blogger outreach goals in general?

  • Link building: generating high-quality backlinks to content on your website from as many strong domains as possible. This helps your content rank better in search engines, drive targeted traffic from referring domains, and increase content relevance.
  • Product review generation: getting natural product reviews is tough. Getting them without outreach efforts and doing some leg-work is nearly impossible. Product review generation focuses on getting good reviews from top bloggers in your space.
  • Guest posting: guest posting is where you write a blog post for another website. It’s a stellar way to build active brand awareness and drive relevant traffic to your site.

While goals can be wide in range, these are fantastic main targets.

Let me give you a fleshed-out example of this.

Let’s say you just launched a new landing page for a new product/software. Naturally, you’ll want to build some high-quality links to it to start generating referral traffic and page/domain authority.

But merely listing “get links” as your goal leaves you quickly stalled. Where do you go from there?

A good goal is first outlined by goal type. In this case, building links would fall under cold outreach.

Breaking it down further, you should start listing sub-goals. Sub-goals are what help you achieve your primary target.

For instance, a sub-goal of building links would be developing relationships with editors. Sub-goals are great to break down different avenues that lead to your final goal. In this case, having editor relationships is one great avenue for acquiring top tier links.

But, without actionable steps, they are again worthless, as you have no actionable outreach plan.

Now is where you start to list critical steps to achieving those sub-goals:

  • Research top three direct competitor backlink profiles and analyze their strategy to spot common trends/editor relationships that you can leverage
  • Connect with top publication editors on social and start engaging with them

You can do this with spreadsheets, task management software, or anything that works for you and your team:

link building list

Lastly, you’ll want to connect all of these actionable steps and goals to direct timelines. If you don’t, you’ll be spinning your wheels for months without concrete progress.

Let’s recap how to plan your goals fast, yet effectively. This can be done directly in a Google Sheet. For a template of this to-do list for your goals, click here.:

Step 1a. List out your main, overarching goal. I.e, building links to a new landing page:

spreadsheet screenshot

Step 1b. List out sub-goals, the avenues for achieving your main goal. I.e, building relationships with editors.

spreadsheet screenshot

Step 1c. Develop a list of actionable steps to reach those sub-goals. I.e, research your top competitors backlink profiles to spot editor relationships you can leverage.

spreadsheet screenshot

Step 1d. Put it on a timeline that is realistic and achievable. I.e, prospect three competitors this month and land contacts with three editors.

spreadsheet screenshot

Once you’ve repeated this process for all of your main goals, you can start diving into the meat and potatoes of personalized outreach efforts.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

Step 2: Search For Niche Content To Build Your Outreach List

Most people go about creating an effective outreach strategy without knowing what prospects can do for them.

Depending on if you are link building, trying to acquire product reviews, or develop real partnerships, you need to know what type of contact you are conducting outreach with.

High-level editors and journalists aren’t going to be giving you product reviews. But they would be great for building relationships.

So, where do you start? What is the best jumping-off point for starting outreach?

Well, first, you need targeted prospects. And the best practice to do that is by looking for relevant content. Once you’ve found relevant content, you can reach out to their authors directly and build a connection.

Since these authors are writing about relevant content in your space, your chances of landing a backlink or mention are much higher than outreach to random lists.

Let me show you how.

With Respona, you have targeted outreach campaign templates for every purpose:

  • Content promotion
  • Partner/affiliate recruitment
  • Digital PR
  • Link building
respona campaign templates

Simply pick the template that suits you best and fill it out.

As an example, let’s do “blogger outreach”:

There are only two fields:

  • Your target keywords
  • An incentive to start a collaboration

The first one will be used to set up your search string, and the second will be pulled straight into your email sequence.

For link building purposes, we recommend using an incentive like mentioning your prospect on socials, in your newsletter, or an upcoming guest post.

Click “Use this template” once both are filled out.

You’ll be brought into the campaign editor.

The first step is to review your email sequence.

Since we used a template, our is already good to go – but we’ll return to the topic of templates later.

respona sequence builder

Let’s click “Next step” and move on to finding opportunities.

respona search engine

As you can see, the keywords we entered at the campaign template page are already put in the search bar, with the “inurl:blog” search operator to help us narrow down the results to only blogs.

Next, let’s add some SEO filters to narrow them down even further:

respona seo filters

Next, we have some advanced options at our disposal.

setting up contact search

First, let’s run a simultaneous contact search based on the job titles and seniority levels of our prospects.

Respona’s search engine will both find opportunities and contacts associated with them at the same time.

Next, let’s enable AI personalization:

ai personalization settings

Here, you can add instructions and examples for AI variables (if you have used them) in your sequence.

Forging a great email sequence is an art in its own right and it deserves a section of its own, so we’ll return to this in the next step.

Last but not least, you can toggle to make your search recurring at your preset time intervals.

enabling recurring search

Thiw will automatically rerun your search, ensuring you always have fresh opportunities locked and ready to go.

When all settings are set up, hit “Run automation” to start the search.

Results will start populating your screen, as they are found in real-time.

found opportunities.

Alternatively, you can upload a .CSV file with your own prospect list, if you already have one.

respona .CSV import

Once all opportunities are found or imported, you can move on to personalization.

But first, let’s dive a bit deeper into crafing strong, personalized email sequences.

Step 3: Segment Targets By Goals to Build Outreach Templates

Most outreach strategy templates suck. Plain and simple. They aren’t going to land you big fish that generate real business growth.

If your goal is to get 1-2 backlinks out of 1,000 bloggers, sure, go for it. Send that generic template and roll the dice.

But if you want actual business impacting connections you need personalized email outreach templates.

And no, i”m not talking about the “I saw your blog post, here’s mine” template. That worked a decade ago. Not anymore.

Now, templates need specific points of personalization to show real effort. Just name-dropping a recent post doesn’t show that.

The best practice to scale templates that are actually personalized is to mention something about their article. This indicates you have taken the time to study and digest their content before reaching out. It shows that you received value from their insights.

This is where Respona’s AI variables come in.

ai variables

See the little stars next to the subject line, icebreaker, and “P.S”? This indicates that it’s an AI variable and not a regular one.

Regular variables will populate depending on set information about your opportunities, whereas each AI variable will be unique for all contacts in your campaign.

The tone and style of these personalizations are governed by your inputs in the “AI Personalization” settings we mentioned above:

ai personalization settings

They also pull information directly from your prospects’ content, without the need for you to actually go through and read it.

But hey, psst, we didn’t tell you that.

Here is an example template we’ve produced, feel free to directly use this in your outreach. It’s a template we’ve personally seen huge success with when pitching high-level blogger targets:

Subject: Subject

Hi [First Name], 


I’m writing a guest article about link building tips and would love to give you a mention.

I thought it’d be a good idea to exchange links since you just published a post on the topic.

Is that something you’d be interested in?


Here’s an example of our AI variables in action:

ai variables in action

You don’t have to search through every article, meaning this strategy is absolutely scaleable.

Real personalization isn’t just mentioning an article topic. It’s showing the prospect that you learned something from their content and applied it in your own work.

But doing this at scale with traditional methods is nearly impossible. Unless you enjoy losing money, which you don’t.

It’s generally too time-consuming when you’ve got hundreds of prospects to conduct outreach for.

The problem quickly becomes generic, stale templates that generate tiny conversion rates and huge list churn.

AI personalization helps immensely – all you have to do is double-check its results.

Here are a few more essential tips to be aware of when sending outreach email templates for hyper-personalization:

  • Showcase specific sections of the article that you found moving, and explain why.
  • Don’t make it all about yourself. Instead, focus on how you can provide symbiotic value to them, too.
  • Don’t ask directly for promotion or links. Build a relationship over a few back and forth emails before.
  • Keep your intros short and sweet. Don’t self-promote!
  • Study their social profiles (more on this in step five!) to gain valuable insights on their work, success, and career highlights.

Once you’ve made the first contact with your personalized emails, it’s time to actively engage on social and form your relationship.

Step 4: Actively Engage With High-Value Prospects on All Mediums

Personalized outreach strategy only works if you are genuine. If you really care about the prospects value and content.

High-level editors, influencers, and writers aren’t dumb.

They can spot insincere outreach the second it hits their inbox.

Select. Delete. Mark as spam.

Because outreach is becoming saturated, you have to take more steps to connect.

And one of the best ways to do that is via social media channel engagement or virtual calling: showing a direct interest in their content and success.

Look at your current contact list and start to engage on their profiles

Comment, like, and share their latest posts.

When commenting, seek to add value by telling them how that given post impacted your view on a topic:

Linkedin comments

Mention the influencer you want to connect with in your comment, too.

Beyond social media channel engagement, take it one step further and start promoting their content on your own dime.

For example, using a platform like Quora, you can find relevant questions that people ask and use your prospects content as the answer.

Let me show you how.

Take the “18 incredible infographic tools” post from above that we used as an example for connecting with the writer/influencer.

Millions of bloggers and writers use infographics to condense information into a better reading experience. And since millions do this tactic, helping your outreach target to promote it would provide instant value.

How? Head to Quora and search for that parent topic, i.e, infographic tools:

Quora search

Depending on query popularity, you should see a few posts on the topic.

This is your chance to provide value to the influencer or editor you want to connect with!

Click on a given topic/post on the search results and craft your response:

Quora answer

Answer the question and link directly back to your prospects blog post as a great source of information on the subject.

This will, in turn, drive relevant traffic to their post and increase their social footprint.

Now, grab the link to the Quora thread and email your prospect, letting them know that you utilize their post to answer a question on Quora, asking for their input on what else you can add to improve the response.

Quora URL

This is a fantastic strategy for high-level prospects that get bombarded with outreach emails daily.

This will help you (1) stand out from others and (2) provide unparalleled value without demanding anything in return.

Want better, personalized outreach success? Go the extra mile. You’ll thank me later.

Step 5. Be Active (Not Annoying) in Your Follow-Ups

Follow-ups are an inevitable part of any outreach strategy.

People get 121 emails per day on average at work. So the odds of them seeing your first one aren’t great.

Following up will be critical to your success, but doing it wrong can get you marked as spam faster than you can blink.

Most go wrong with follow-up emails by trying too hard:

Email example

A simple follow up on the same email thread as your first email ensures you get the message across without being annoying or forcing the prospect to dig into their already filled inbox for the original message:

Email example

Keep your follow-ups simple, and limit them to 1-2 sentences max.

Even something like “Hey there, just following up on this! Cheers.” is perfect.

In Respona, automate your responses to save yourself time and the need to keep track of hundreds of outreach responses.

adding follow-ups

Simply set the response time for 3-5 business days from your original email. Create a new step and add a simple message that will send if the prospect doesn’t respond.

This way, you’ll ensure the highest chances of them seeing and replying.

If you struggle to get a response after 2-3 follow-ups, try sending another introduction email and test a new headline/subject!

This can be a fantastic way to rejuvenate your campaign.

Key tips for active, not annoying follow-ups:

  • Wait 3-5 days before sending your first follow-up
  • Limit follow-up messages to 2-3 sentences
  • Follow-up on the original message
  • Test new subject lines if you don’t get a response
Link building cheat sheet

Link building cheat sheet

Gain access to the 3-step strategy we use to earn over 86 high-quality backlinks each month.

Download for free


Personalized outreach strategy is the holy grail. But achieving it at scale can be complicated, to say the least.

To get started, be sure you take the time to outline your main outreach goals. Don’t just list them, but actively break them down into actionable steps that you can execute on. These will form your next steps.

Search for niche content in your industry to compile a list of bloggers to target.

With the right tool, you can turn those bloggers into contacts and start segmenting them into targeted campaigns.

Pull personalized information from their articles and explain in detail how it impacted you.

Be genuine and actively engage with them on social media to help build a relationship. LinkedIn outreach is not to be underestimated.

And as always, be sure you are following up, keeping your prospects engaged, and above all, providing value.

Don’t hesitate to start your 7-day free trial to try Respona for yourself!

Farzad Rashidi

Article by

Farzad Rashidi

Farzad Rashidi is the lead innovator at Respona, the all-in-one digital PR and link-building software that combines personalization with productivity. He also runs the marketing efforts at Visme, where he helped the company gain over 12 million active users and pass 2M monthly organic traffic.

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