Ok let’s admit it
Email outreach is a pain in the ass. But it’s also a critical part of your link building strategy. That’s why I look for ways to automate the boring parts and spend more time on the fun stuff. I’m going to tell you the exact technique that I use to find and send 300 outreach emails in 30 minutes.
Why 300 emails?
I’ve had employees and interns execute link building campaigns where they spent hours creating a kick-ass resource or a beautiful infographic. Then they sent off a few personalized outreach emails, tweeted the link, and called it a day. They asked me why it failed to get any links. Quality over quantity right? Wrong. It’s the #1 reason why most people fail at link building: you didn’t send enough emails. Let’s do some basic math. If you convert 5% of your emails into links and only send 20 emails, that means maybe you will have 1 person link back to you. If you’re a rockstar ninja and convert 10% then maybe you’ll get 2. Did you think that was a lot of emails? It’s not. You need to 10x that to be successful.
How long does email outreach normally take?
My first thought was that I could easily outsource email outreach to a virtual assistant. If you don’t have one, read “How To Find A Damn Good VA”. I like to use Upwork for my VAs now instead of onlinejobs.ph, but the same principles apply.
I’ve tested email outreach with 5 VAs, giving them a time limit of 2 hours each to find as many links with contact information they can on a specific keyword. Keep in mind a URL without an email address doesn’t count, so approximately ⅓ of the websites checked never even made the list. On average I would get 15 back complete with contact information. The higher paid VA got me double that – 30. So to get to my goal of 300 it would take them approximately 20 hours!
Then you have to email people and create whatever piece of content you are sending them. Real quick, let’s break down the process and look at the most time consuming parts…
- 20 hours research
- 8 hours email outreach
- 2 hours content creation
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Then I tried buying emails
You pay about $450 for a list of 1,000 emails (the minimum purchase), from lead generation services, and sometimes it costs even more than that. They are targeted by job title, demographic, and industry but you really have no idea how relevant they truly are. The open rates are terrible and it’s not worth it. At this point I felt like I was losing the email outreach battle.
Look, you don’t have to be a Spartan to find 300 emails.
Enter Scrapebox. Scrapebox was well-known for it’s automatic comment poster back in the day.
“Hey Hayden, nice article! I’m just commenting for a link! Whoops did I think that or type it?”
Sound familiar? Well the times of blasting comments are over. Most are no-follow or filled with other commenter’s low-quality outbound links. But did you know you can use scrapebox to automate email research?
How I found 300 targeted emails, step-by-step
We’re about to get geeky. If you want to get really technical or aren’t finding enough results I suggest watching the videos from Loopline, who is a Youtuber that makes some advanced Scrapebox tutorials. I’ve simplified the process as follows:
Step 1. Setup proxies. A proxy is a third party server that masks your IP. You don’t want to overload Google with all of the searches you’re doing and get banned, so proxies are the way to go. Scrapebox has a built in feature that can find proxies for you. Just click the “manage proxies” button at the bottom and tick the boxes of 6 sources. It doesn’t matter which ones. Then perform a proxy search. I wait until I get 5 Google approved proxies before aborting. Make sure to select “keep Google approved” or else you’ll end up with too many.
Step 2. Enter keywords. Here are a few examples: “[niche] guest post” or “[niche] blogs”. Don’t put more than two or you may end up with too many results.
Click “Harvest URLs”. Have yourself a nice cup of green tea while the Harvester runs. We’re looking to get around 10,000 results here.
Step 3. Remove duplicate URLs.
Step 4. Run the email grabber with the option to crawl sites. It’s no longer necessary to run the link extractor to find internal pages as suggested in the videos, because Scrapebox 2.0 has this built right into the email grabber. That means it will crawl the website for internal links AND find the email. The email isn’t always on the homepage (or the page you scraped), and that’s why you want to use this features to look at the internal pages because it could be on the author’s page, an about page, or a contact page, etc. There are a few settings for the email grabber you should use…
- CHECK 1 email per domain box. It doesn’t do us any good to blast everybody that works at a blog with the same email.
- CHECK Save URLs with Emails. This makes the follow-up much easier when you know what site they came from.
- EXCLUDE .edu, .gov I will probably continue adding to this list. I found that these emails weren’t useful for my particular niche and I was getting a lot of them.
Step 5. Export the research as a CSV.
Now I’ve got my research! Time to start emailing. Sending out 300 individual emails takes another 8 hours.
The problem with using mailchimp and other email marketing tools is that it’s going straight to the promotions tab, or worse the spam folder. And, there’s mailchimp branding all over it. They are difficult to deal with in general. I’ve had mailchimp accounts banned from sending to my own customer lists just because they didn’t double opt-in.
A free, easy way to automate your emails
I’m a big fan of Google sheets for tracking processes, and since the emails can be exported from Scrapebox as a CSV it would be nice to send these emails out without having to create lists and all of the nonsense that comes with email marketing tools.
There’s a free plugin for Chrome called GMASS that can send emails using a list in Google sheets. You can also try “Yet Another Mail Merge” but they limit the amount of emails you can send.
Sending with GMASS step by step.
Step 1. Create a Google sheet column titled “Email Address” and paste your scrapebox results in there. Take a quick look through to make sure there are no “fake” email addresses. Occasionally I’ll see one in there that isn’t real but got picked up because it looks similar to one. It causes an error in GMASS and looks like firstname.lastname@example.org so remove any of those.
Step 2. Next to the search box in Gmail, click the red grid button to connect the sheet to GMASS.
Step 3. Draft your email and click the red GMASS button to send it, not the normal send button you usually use. This will send the emails out individually.
Pro Tips For Using GMASS
- Make sure you setup a domain or uncheck the results tracking box. You’ll get a nastygram from GMASS and maybe Google as well if you don’t because this feature is pinging their server a lot.
- You can only send 500 per day due to Google’s limits.
- Emails can be customized by putting more columns in your spreadsheet and then clicking the GMASS button in your draft to insert a tag into the email. For example if I wanted to include the URL I found them from or if I made a special note in the spreadsheet I could include that in the email template.
My open rate with GMASS was about 30%, which is above industry average. Not bad for a cold email! I had a few bounces, so 292 emails were sent in total.
My open rate with YAMM with the same subject line was 20%. I had to split the email in multiple sends due to YAMM’s daily limit, which is why it only says 74 emails sent. Also, I didn’t have click tracking on for YAMM.
So there you have it. In 30 minutes you can send 300 emails for free (minus the one-time cost of Scrapebox)! If you have a modifier to add to my Scrapebox list or any tips for email outreach, please leave a comment below.