Written by Dale Cudmore on 01.08.2020
outreach conversion rate

7 Reasons Your Email Outreach Conversion Rate is Low ?

You’re putting in the work to send outreach emails.

But one of two things is happening…

You’re either not getting responses, or you’re getting responses, but not getting conversions into an actual result (backlinks or whatever your goal is).

And I’m sure you tried to fix it, but just can’t quite figure out what’s going wrong.

When I do outreach, my typical response rate is about 60-70%, and my overall conversion rate for my goal is about 10%.

If you’re falling way short of those numbers, I think I can help you.

I’ve gone through all the outreach emails I’ve received personally over the last few months, and compiled all the common mistakes here.

Chances are you’re making at least one of these mistakes, and it’s really limiting the effectiveness of your outreach.

1. You’re Targeting the Wrong People

It doesn’t matter how good email is if you’re contacting someone who could never link to your content.

There are 3 main targeting mismatches that are possible:

  1. Irrelevant – The most obvious one. A blog about kittens isn’t going to link to a blog about hot air balloons.
  2. Competitors – Don’t email other pages trying to rank for the same types of keywords you are. For example, a tech review site won’t link to another tech review site.
  3. They don’t link out – Some sites just never link out to external sites, it’s a waste of time trying to target them.

If you’ve been guilty of any of the above, what should you do instead?

There are 3 main types of ways to build an outreach targeting list:

  1. Shoulder topics – Find related topics (shoulder topics) that often mention your topic, and then find posts about that shoulder topic and ask them to link to your content as a reference.
  2. Extension topics – If your content builds on another topic, contact people who write about the base topic. For example, if you create a tool that helps people create a good meta description, target pages about writing meta descriptions. Your content complements theirs.
  3. Who links to your competitors – If you write a guide to SEO, see who links to other (hopefully inferior) guides to SEO. Pitch your content as an alternative.

Going into these in more detail would take another post entirely.

The easiest place to begin is by compiling a list of the top URLs ranking for the term(s) you are targeting, then plugging them into Majestic or Ahrefs to see their backlinks.

ahrefs backlinks example

If they’ll link to a similar piece of content, they could link to yours as well.

2. You’re Full of Sh*t

That sounds harsh, but I see it so often.

If you blatantly lie, even a small one, you’re email is going to get instantly deleted by most people.

Have you ever sent an email that started something like:

  • “Love your blog!” (but you’re not subscribed to it or have never commented)
  • “Great posts!”
  • “I just happened to come across your post…” (totally by accident right?)

It may genuinely be true in some cases, but almost every site owner or writer has seen these so many times that they don’t seem genuine.

If you’re going to say something like that, prove it.

Show that you’ve taken action based on their post. Show that you’ve shared it with your friends or on a forum. Show that you’ve linked to their other content if you love it that much.

If you can’t do that, which you probably won’t be able to do for every outreach target, that’s okay. Just skip the phony stuff in your emails and be honest.

3. It’s Not Clear What You Want

What if you’re actually writing solid outreach emails.

You get a good response rate, and the responses are all pretty positive (“I like your tool/guide”).

But then you’re not getting links or social shares from the emails. In other words, you have a poor conversion rate.

There’s a few causes of this, but the most common is that you’re not clear about what you’d like from them.

Sometimes it’s obvious based on your first email, but other times it’s not.

After they reply to your first email, you may have to ask for what you want, they can’t read your mind.

So send them another email saying something like (not this exact one every time!):

Hi [name],

Thanks so much for getting back to me, I really appreciate it.

I’ve added a small update based on your feedback, I think my guide looks much better now.

I know I’ve asked a lot already, but if you could share this with your followers on Twitter, it would make my week.

Thanks so much,

[your name]

4. You’re Using a Template

If you’re going to use an email template, expect bad response rates.

All your emails should be personalized.

At the very least, do a mix of both by having a template, but personalizing certain parts of it.

At the very least, 2 parts should be personalized to make it clear that you’re familiar with your target’s work:

  1. Their name (and spell it right!)
  2. A brief reason connecting your content to their work.

I can’t count the number of emails I’ve received addressed “Dear sir” or “Hi there”, when it’s really easy to find my name.

5. It’s All About You

Most marketers know they should give some sort of value to their target.

After all, why would someone go through the trouble of looking over your content and potentially linking to it if there was no benefit for them?

Where I think many link builders get confused is they don’t understand what their target values.

I’ve seen many outreach emails where the main value proposition is “I think your readers would really like my guide.”

And it might be true. But for a site owner or content creator, do I think many of my readers will see a link I add to an old post I wrote? No, of course not.

So while it’s not a ridiculous request, it’s not going to motivate me to take time out of my day to do it.

Think of a real reason that someone would benefit from seeing or linking to your content.

If you can’t, there’s a fundamental difference the value you need, versus the value you can provide.

Here’s an example: A freelance writer reached out to me with a link to a post she wrote. The twist – she linked to my site in the post.

I read her post as a result. It was good enough so I tweeted out a link to her post as well.

Now I know who she is, and she’s made a good first impression. If she had reached out in the future to ask for a link, I would have given her one.

If you think their readers would benefit from reading the post, offer to write a similar one tailored for their audience (which could link back to yours). That way they get actual content and their readers are happy.

Maybe you think they’d like your content based on a comment of theirs on another blog, in one of their posts, or social media. Your content might solve one of the blogger’s problem – that’s value.

You can offer services if you have any skills, offer advice to improve their site (focus on revenue). In return, ask them to read and potentially link to your guide.

Make sure you’re offering real value to the people you email.

6. You’re Not Reaching Them

Outreach is about connecting with people one-on-one.

If you fill out a general contact form on any business site that has 2+ employees, there’s already a low chance anyone who could actually link to your site will ever see your message.

It either gets lost, or not passed on by an assistant.

Always try to find your target’s specific email address first. If that’s not possible, try to connect with them on whatever social media platform they use and send a message through it.

Only use a contact form as a last resort, or if your target is the sole manager for their site.

7. Your Emails Are Too Long

It’s not too common, but some outreach emails are way too long.

If someone can’t get the gist of an email in 10-20 seconds, and it doesn’t seem particularly important, they’ll usually just delete it.

You should emailing people who have authoritative domains, which means they’re busy. They get tons of emails every day, and don’t want to waste more time than they have to.

Keep your emails to 5-6 sentences MAX. Be concise and cut out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary.


There’s a lot that goes into writing an effective outreach email.

You will get better at it over time as you practice more.

Try to be honest with yourself about past results, and see if you’re making any mistake that I went over in this post.

If there’s some specific issue you’re having that you’d like more detail on, leave me a comment below and I’ll point you in the right direction.

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