I’ve been rather irritable lately, and as a result, I’ve fired off a couple of snarky emails in response to annoying blogger outreach emails from marketers. So I thought I’d write about it.
What blogger outreach is
Links matter to Google, and as a result, links matter to people who want attention from Google. Links show Google that people have an interest in your site, and therefore searchers might be interested too. There are various ways of trying to quantify this, such as domain authority, which is a system developed by Moz that gives its best guess as to what Google might think of your site.
You can boost your search engine optimization (SEO) slowly by naturally building up links to your site (aka backlinks) by interacting with others online. Or, you can try to do it faster. One way of doing it faster is through “blogger outreach”, which is a sufficiently mainstream strategy that marketing guru Neil Patel is writing about it.
The Neil Patel way is classy and there’s reciprocity. The one link I’ve ever inserted by request was from a site that offered to share the page I’d be putting the link on across their social media. It was a website I was already familiar with anyway, so that was a good fit.
The classy ones are few and far between on a smaller blog; they’ve got bigger fish to fry. Instead, we get the sketchy ones. The “collaboration” they suggest involves you doing something for them (inserting a link) and them doing nothing for you.
Before you open that email…
I very recently found out that marketers can sometimes tell if you’ve opened an email or not. Sounds creepy, right? Yeah. This explanation may not be 100% right, but the general idea is that there’s a tracker linked to an image in the email, and when you open the email, it fetches the image from the source, and boom, they know you’ve opened it. You can get around this creepy business by setting up your email so that it doesn’t automatically load images. No image loaded, they don’t know you’ve opened it.
They typically send three emails, or sometimes four, before giving up. They will include a hyperlink to your blog post/page they want to put their link on. If they include a link to their site and you’re curious, don’t click on it. Copy the text of the link and paste it into your browser instead, because often, the actual hyperlink has a tracker so they know you clicked through from the email.
Tips for marketers doing blogger outreach
Here are some what not to do’s that these kinds of marketers should really pay attention to if they want to avoid annoying bloggers.
Take that extra 5 seconds
The most recent snarky response was to a marketer for a crystal healing company. The marketer had done a search for mentions of this company’s name, and she was trying to get a link added to that mention. I had mentioned the company in a post I did about crystal healing, and how a lot of the claims out there (including the claims made by this company) were pseudoscience and/or just plain nonsense. If people like crystals, all the power to them, but that doesn’t mean these kinds of claims aren’t nonsense.
Anyway, this marketer clearly hadn’t read the post, and also hadn’t noticed that I had a link to the source article on the company’s site at the bottom of the post. My snarky response suggested that she really take a quick peek at the blog post before bugging the blogger, and as a result of her email, I’d changed the dofollow link (which is good SEO-wise) to a nofollow link (which is less good), so she’d just made things worse for her client.
Harassment is bad
The marketing company The Sixth Degree has been harassing me for a while. Their email templates aren’t too bad, but they’ve ignored what seems to be the convention of 3 emails and then give up. The Sixth Degree appears to be an actual company, but I suspect that the personas they send out emails from are fabricated. “Cassadee Palmer” is a very distinctive name, and there are no Google results for it, which is probably a pretty good indicator that it’s made up.
From another persona that doesn’t seem to correspond to the name of an actual person, I got 8 emails asking me to add a particular link to the site. The company that they’re trying to get me to link to should be embarrassed that they have such dodgy people doing their marketing. He was the recipient of another snarky email. He stopped emailing me after that, but “Cassadee” didn’t.
And when someone admits in their spammy email that they’ve been pestering me with multiple emails, that sends a clear message that they know they’re harassing you, and they don’t give a crapy.
Up the standard of your email templates
Blogger outreach emails aren’t written from scratch each time; these people use templates for the first, second, and third (usually final) emails. The good marketers will tweak them to personalize them a bit, as described in this article on Backlinko, but the crappy ones don’t. The crappy ones may also announce in form email #2 that they will email you one more time to follow up, and/or announce in email #3 that this is their final email. They might as well be putting ***spam*** in the subject line.
There seem to be sketchy marketing companies that do blogger outreach for a bunch of different drug rehab centres, and they’ll hit up the same bloggers with emails using the exact same template with the same style of email address but for different rehab centres. So I might get an email from joemarketer@RainyDayTreatmentOutreach.com and janemarketer@SunnyDayTreatmentOutreach.com using the exact same email template. Rainy Day Treatment wouldn’t actually have a domain with “outreach” for their in-house marketers, so it’s probably an email alias that makes it look more like an “official” in-house marketer rather than some dodgy fly-by-night operation.
Activate brain before deciding who to pester
Yesterday I mentioned the email I got from Ammo dot com asking me to link to their article blaming antidepressants for mass shootings. Anti-psychiatry sites, of which there are plenty, make an appropriate target for that kind of garbage. Mainstream mental health blogs, on the other hand, are wildly inappropriate, and bombarding those bloggers with that kind of garbage can be really harmful. So don’t be an asshole.
I came across an article on the site PointVisible with suggestions on how to track down hard-to-find contact info for bloggers. Big hint: if the contact info is hard to find, it’s because the blogger doesn’t want to be spammed. So rather than playing detective to track down contact info, read between the lines and see that that the blogger is telling you to fuck off.
You’re not a “freelance writer”
Some marketers will email saying they’re a freelance writer or a health writer, wanting to do a guest post for you. Yet it’s from their CloudyDayTreatment email account, and the point of all of this is that they want to put a link to CloudyDayTreatment on your site. Why the weird freelance writer bit? Why not just come out and say that you’re a marketer working with/for CloudyDayTreatment when you so obviously are?
When bloggers do accept these kinds of guest posts, it also makes it look misleading on their part if whatever they’re publishing claims to be written by a “freelance writer,” when it’s really no such thing. The “free” in “freelance” doesn’t mean they write for free; it means you have something you need written, and you pay them to do it. If you aren’t paying them, they’re not freelance writing for you, although they may be freelancing writing for the company that’s paying them to do the blogger outreach, which isn’t the same thing.
If you are interested in getting sponsored posts, dealing with random sketchy people is not the way to do it. Get Blogged is a legit avenue to explore that kind of thing.
If nothing else, these kinds of messages often provide amusement value. I remember when I first started getting them, though, I was rather confused as to what was going on.
Do you get many of these kinds of annoying blogger outreach messages?
The blogging toolbox series has tips to support you in your blogging journey. It includes these posts:
26 thoughts on “Annoying Blogger Outreach Tactics”
No, but today was like the jackpot of spam comments!
Spammy emails can be such a waste of time. If you do need the money, I think accepting sponsored posts or doing link inclusion is okay, but it needs to be disclosed and it needs to gel with what you’re doing on your blog to begin with. I now have a draft email that I send in response. Some that are too rubbish to even look at I just ignore, but for others I’ll send the template. When I first started blogging, I did publish a few posts for free and thought some of these people were, in my naivete, actually genuine. They actually liked my blog! Of course they didn’t. They don’t read your blog at all, they just fire off the same email to thousands of bloggers hoping someone will do them a big favour in return for absolutely nothing. The email you had from Ammo dot com highlights that quite well.
They make out like they’re doing you a favour, but you have to learn about how these things work and what it is they get out of it, ie. a do-follow link for SEO purposes. I had no idea about that when I first started blogging. I’ve also had those “freelance writers” contact me. They don’t have a budget because they’re just doing guest posts from the goodness of their kind little hearts. “Here, Ms Blogger, you’ll get an awesome post just for your site that I have made so much effort to do just for you”.
When I refused one guy not that long ago, he kept pestering me. They he offered me $5. I kept politely saying “no thank you but I wish you well finding another blogger to help me out”. He kept emailing me, even when I started ignoring him. They came an email calling me a bitch and telling me my blog was utter shit anyway. Blocked that turdhead and wished I’d done it straight away.
Wow, that’s awful that dude was such a turdhead.
If I was doing sponsored posts and that kind of thing on my blog, I think I’d prefer to go through a site like Get Blogged or something like that. I like the idea of a selection of opportunities being made available to bloggers, and then bloggers being able to choose what works for them.
I occasionally get emails that are legit propositions, but those are few and far between, like smaller companies reaching out for product reviews.
There are so many people trying to take advantage of bloggers who don’t know how all these things work, and that’s really not cool.
Thanks for increasing my blogging vocabulary! I had no idea that we could have dofollow or nofollow links. Those messages do sound like they’re not accomplishing anything and wasting their time as well as the blogger’s time.
Is this why random bloggers pingback to a post? I tend to just trash them because it seems rather ruuuuuuuuude to do that to someone without invitation or permission.
There are problably a few different reasons why people do that, but definitely one of them is to get the link that comes from that pingback. I always delete those. I can’t stop them from doing it, but I can stop them from benefitting from it.
Yes, I sometimes write about alcohol addiction and I get requests to add links. I ignore but they have not been too spammy.
I list a few addiction resources on my site’s mental health resources page, and probably as a result of that I get quite a few requests to add those kinds of links. The requests that come from in-house marketers usually aren’t particulaly spammy, but the ones that seem to come from external marketers rather than directly from the company (as in a rainydaytreatmentoutreach.com email rather a than an actual raindytreatment.com email) are significantly lower quality.
Since having a website, the spam has gotten worse and worse. Ever get the ones where they say you stole their pictures and that they’ll be suing? So annoying when it’s for your business website and email
Luckily I’ve never gotten one of those.
They freaked me out at first but when I sent it to my website manager, they assured me a lot of therapists sites get those threats…
Grr, so pathetic of them.
I get quite a few of these and l find them really bloody effing annoying – because it’s blatantly obvious that all they have done is a very basic search and then expect me to believe them, that their valued link offered to replace a link l have used on a post from four years ago or three or two or whatever that is NO longer read by anyone except muppets performing basic searches will be suddenly viewed by their 100K readers ………. well all l can say is that l tell them to duck fluff themselves!
There are many others, but my main annoyance is from a a DIY blog!!
I don’t think the sketchy people care about the link not driving traffic to their site. They just care about the SEO value of the backlink itself, and that SEO value is better if it’s a post that has something to do with their thing, whatever their thing happens to be.
It surprises me that these sketchy people don’t realize that if they behaved better they would probably get more people agreeing to do what they were asking for.
Ah, the SEO currency of value.
I haven’t been approached by too many lately and simply ignored. But I’m in the exactly right mood today to fire off some snarky emails so perhaps I will wander over and have a look to see if I got some today. 😛
Great writing Ashley! I must be the odd duck because I have not received any kind of these emails.
I do get follows that are marketing companies.
That’s good that you don’t have anyone bothering you by email! And yes, such a large chunk of new follows can be sketchy.
I’ve been getting some idiot commenting on random posts “support me guys,” which I simply delete. I think I’ve blocked the whole IP and email now. So annoying
Really interesting post, a lucky shame I’m not big enough to receive these kinds of emails yet😅
I also find it incredible some marketers try market their products to a person who literally wrote a post denouncing their products, that’s some next level brain fart
Yeah, not the brightest crayons in the box…
Once in a while I’ve gotten emails from people who seem just like any other blogger but then they start acting strange and pretty soon they are trying to sell me a service. Seems like such a waste of time on their part. Might as well be up front about it.
Luckily I dont get these type of emails! Thank god!