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, naturally build 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, 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?