How to Write Email Outreach Templates That Don’t Sound Template

In this blog, we’re going to talk about writing template outreach emails that are personalized and don’t feel or sound too template. Now, why does this matter? Well, link building is often looked at as a spammy tactic from both SEO outsiders and insiders – and for good reason.

People are sending emails like this that sound like they were swiped from templates on blog posts. They’re disingenuous and clearly transactional. Now, if ppc services sending these generic template emails, your chances of standing out are slim and link building is truly only a numbers game. In other words, emails like this are more likely to get marked as spam than to lead to a link.

Master Writer of Outreach Emails

There’s no video, book, blog post, or course that’s going to make you a master writer of outreach emails. Practice and feedback are what will help you get better at this skill. And for that reason, I’m going to walk you through some examples and an exercise to help you get your reps in. But before we get to this exercise, let’s look at a typical template email and talk about why it sounds template.

In my opinion, a huge reason for these robotic sounding emails is that people focus on creating templates rather than writing emails. And when you work off of a template, you’re basically searching for predefined personalization fields to satisfy the template. When in reality, it should be the other way around. For example, a template might look like this. “Hi {name}, I was reading your post on {topic} and really liked how you mentioned.”

No matter what you put into these blanks, it’s going to sound unnatural. Now, a much better way to do this is to write a personalized email to one of your prospects and then extract personalization fields, if any, to see if it can be template. Here’s what an email might look like: “Hey Frank, Wondering if you’ve tried broken link building since you wrote this post (in 2019 it seems).

Forbes Writer

I know that the Forbes writer you mentioned said they converted links at 20%, but boy oh boy… it’s tough to believe you can still convert links like that today with BLB.” So if we extract the personalization fields from this sample, then we’d need to find the URL of the contact’s page, the publishing date, the competing page’s company name, and the 20% part.

Hybrid Method

The beautiful thing about the hybrid method is that all of these personalization fields aside from the year of publishing can be easily template because we’re sending emails to segments. For example, our segment for the example we just went through would be people who link to Forbes’ hypothetical page on broken link building because of their 20% success rate.

If we were to templatize this email, it’d look something like this: “Hey {name}, Wondering if you’ve tried broken link building since you wrote this post (in year it seems)).” And we’d link to the prospect’s URL with some HTML and a merge field. And everything after that would be the same because we’re only sending this email to our 20% segment. Now, if you struggle to write natural outreach emails, you can do this simple exercise of writing an email and extracting merge fields from it. Let’s dig deeper into this exercise and write an email together. But first, we need a scenario to work with.

Personal Finance Blog

Let’s say that you have a personal finance blog and you wrote an awesome post on budgeting. Now, as you’re researching a competing page’s link profile, you notice that a good chunk of their links are attributable to a point around the 50/30/20 budgeting method. Now, for illustration purposes, we’ll say that you have a way better budgeting method that you created. So a rough pitch angle can be something like, “the 50/30/20 budgeting rule sucks.

I made this awesome new method that you’re going to love because of X Y and Z.” Great, we have a segment to work with and it’s time to start drafting our email. The first thing to do in this exercise is to choose one prospect from your segment and write an email to them as if they’re a friend. Let’s choose this one. Now, the page is clearly recommending to use the 50/30/20 budget rule and again, our hypothetical post has a better method – let’s call it “the 40/10/10/40 rule.”

As a first draft, I might write: “Yo! Quick question: I’m seeing that you recommend the 50/30/20 budget rule on your blog. Are you personally using this? Because I think it’s a super impractical way for millennials to save with mortgage payments, kids, college funds etc. Basically, the money printers are going brrr. If interested, I wrote about why the 50/30/20 budget rule is impractical and an alternative method on my blog which is better for millennials (the 40/10/10/40 rule).

There’s a spreadsheet in there too if you want to give it a shot. Let me know what you think and a link to my post would be super appreciated if you agree with my method. And if you don’t… fight me. Kidding. Miss you. Sam” This is obviously far from what you might send to someone, but the point of this step is to a) break away from templates so you sound a little bit more like yourself; and b) to go in with the mentality of delivering value because that’s what friends do for each other. Alright, so that email took me around 4 minutes to write.

First Round of Edits

I’m going to move on to step 2 which is to go through our first round of edits. And at this stage, you’ll want to remove any empty statements, false flattery, and language you typically wouldn’t use with a stranger. So I’ll change “Yo” to “Hey Frank” and remove the “Quick question” part because it’s kind of pointless to have. Now, this part where I say that it’s “a super impractical way to budget” comes off a bit strong and arrogant, so I’ll change it to… “Are you using this method because I’ve personally found it to be an impractical way for millennials to save with mortgage payments, kids’ college funds etc.” And in my opinion, this “personal angle” changes the context from “people who use this method are dumb” to “it didn’t work for me.” Now, the “money printers going brrr” part is a finance meme related to the federal government printing money which has led to asset inflation.

It doesn’t really sit well with me, so I’ll change this line to: “With rising inflation and wages having barely budged, allocating 30% to wants and 20% to savings seems like a recipe for disaster.” The next part seems fine at first read. But the “lmk” part that comes after is a bit too informal. Plus “let me know what you think” is an empty statement. So I’ll rework this sentence to… “If you agree with my method, a mention in your post would be super appreciated.

Alright, so this looks okay for me so I’ll move on to the next step which is to ask someone for feedback. And to give you a real simulation of what this might look like, I asked my friend and outreach extraordinaire, Bibi Raven, for input. Let’s take a look through her feedback. So in the first part, “I’m seeing that you recommend”, she says that it’s good to get straight to the point but prefers to use some sort of “nicety” comment before the intro to make it sound more genuine and not like a zillion other emails. And the example she uses is wishing people an excellent cup of coffee.

Fake Flattery or Anything Like That

Now, she’s not talking about fake flattery or anything like that. If you’ve ever talked with Bibi, when she says these things like hope you have an excellent cup of coffee, I think she actually means it. But it’s just not me, so I’m not going to take her suggestion here. And I think an important takeaway from this is that you shouldn’t try to sound or be like someone else because it will surface in your email copy and play against you. Alright, so next, she left a comment on this part: “your blog,” and she suggests using the brand’s name because a lot of link builders use this phrase in their outreach.

I agree on the whole, there are 2 reasons why I’m hesitant to take the suggestion. #1. I don’t think it’ll be worth the additional effort to manually format each person’s brand name. And #2. Emails sometimes look more template to me when people use a personalization field here. For example, if I had a blog at and someone said… “I’m seeing that you recommend the 50/30/20 rule on the Sam Oh blog,” it just sounds weird. So rather than potentially overcomplicating this part, I’m going to pass on this suggestion.

Are You Using This Method

The next part, I say: “are you using this method because I’ve personally found it to be an impractical way.” And Bibi brings up a couple of great points. First, she says that I’ve made this email about me and the site owner/editor when it should be centered more on their audience. Agree! Second, she says that this isn’t really a question, but it’s actually implicit criticism. And the example she uses makes it crystal clear. “Are you still using hairspray because I think it’s bad for you.” It just sounds awful, so I think this needs to be rewritten.

The next comment is a small one and I fully agree with her. On the “etcetera” part, she says it just adds vagueness to the statement. There’s no denying that. Moving on. The part where I say “if interested,” she suggests a small edit so that I’m speaking directly to the reader – “If you’re interested.” But, she offers an alternative which I like better. She says to not make it an “if” thing but to write more confidently. So this sentence needs to be reworked too. Alright, on to the more critical stuff. For the pitch part, she tells me that it doesn’t sound enthusiastic.

Sound Looks Enthusiastic

Why not mention why it’s better, why it fits their audience, results people have gotten, and more juicy stuff. Basically, she’s pointed out how weak my pitch is and she is absolutely bang on. So there’s another rewrite that I fully agree with. Now, on the spreadsheet part, she says it’s good not to push too hard because from her point of view, it just sounds “whatever whatever.” And if I take myself out of this bubble where all people love spreadsheets, it becomes clear that it truly is “whatever whatever.” And within her comment, a suggestion that really resonated with me was to tell them how my budgeting method has brought value to others. So I’ll definitely take that suggestion in my rewrite.

Sentence Sounds Similar To What Other Link Builders Use

As for the last part of the email, she tells me that this sentence sounds similar to what other link builders use so basically, another rewrite that I agree with. And for the sign off, she says to use a more creative, warmer sign off. I’m actually fine with cheers, but her “may the budget be with you” made me smile so I’ll use something along those lines. Last but certainly not least, she made a comment on the overall flow of the email. She said: “Maybe it’s weird, but I also like to look at how you start each section in your email. In this case, it’s I’m, if, if.”

Now, when I saw that, I realized how focused the email is on myself and my passive statements. Alright, so after soaking in all of her feedback, I took another 15-20 minutes to rewrite the email and here’s what I came up with. “Hey Frank, I see that you’re recommending the 50/30/20 budget rule on your blog. It’s definitely a great method if you own assets, but it has some drawbacks – especially for millennials and households that make under 80k/year in the US.

With rising inflation (money printer go brrrr) and wages moving at a much slower pace, most households need to allocate more than 50% to needs and have very little left for wants, let alone savings. Another budgeting method that your audience might appreciate is the 40/10/10/40 rule. It’s when you [Whatever it does because it’s not actually a real thing].

It’s Worked For People Like

Jane, a single mom from Ohio, who’s now able to contribute to her children’s college savings; Derek, a recent grad, who was able to pay off his student loans in 2 years with the help of our spreadsheet; Jamie, an executive at a tech company that’s now saving 23% more each year, which she donates to charities. I wrote about this budgeting method on my blog and would love to get your thoughts and opinions. Also, if you dig it, a mention in your post would send me to the moon. Happy budgeting, Sam” It’s a bit long, but I’m relatively happy with this email.

Let’s move on to the next step which is to see if it can be template without sacrificing the personalized feel. So assuming we were sending this to anyone who’s recommending the 50/30/20 budget rule, I think the only thing that would need to change is the name of the recipient. And the size of our segment in this case, would be up to 465 prospects. Now, all you have to do is rinse and repeat the same steps for your other segments and you should be able to do hybrid outreach in an effective and impactful way. Now, everything I’ve shared in this course from prospecting to vetting to outreach can be done by yourself. But if you really want to scale up your link building operations, then you’ll need a team, a system, and workflows to follow.

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