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Don’t end up in spam, or worse, trigger your company to become blacklisted from a publisher. Learn how to write follow ups that will gain the attention of your prospect and even better, result in coverage.

We’ve all been there. You open your email inbox in the morning to find a few pesky unopened follow ups for an offer that doesn’t relate to you.

Maybe you ignore them (again), or you’ve had enough and forward them to your spam folder.

For that reason, it can seem aggressive to send follow ups when you’re on the other side of the email. However, remind yourself that smart prospecting along with a personalized pitch always warrants a follow up.

I can attest to the importance of following up — in fact, within the past quarter, my campaign’s success rate increased by 25% as a result of following up once per prospect. Let’s explore how to increase your chances of gaining coverage through sending effective follow ups.

Stand out from the crowd

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to following up. You must break away from the mold if you want to be noticed by your prospect, therefore, the cliche “just following up” simply won’t cut it.

It’s no secret that journalists and publishers are bombarded with several pitches per day, therefore, personalization is key if you want to be noticed. These are some high-level tried and true points that I always follow when drafting follow up emails:

  • Timing: I tend to send the first follow up email within 3-4 days of the initial email. My second follow up is typically 5–6 days after the first email goes out. As a general rule, the time between every follow up email should increase the more you send.
  • Recurrence: Put yourself in their shoes. Do you get frustrated when you receive 4+ follow ups? They probably will too. Pitching publishers differs from sales emails when it comes to following up. I feel comfortable with sending 1-2 follow ups per pitch.
  • Email signature: Set your email signature to appear in your follow up emails too, and if you can, link to your personal LinkedIn and Twitter pages to help your prospect make the connection between you and what you are pitching.
  • Subject line: If the prospect notices that your email is a follow up, they’ll be more likely to address it. Stay consistent by opening with “RE:” followed by your original subject line.

Reiterate your value

Regardless of what you’re offering, convey who you are and why you’re reaching out again.

Beyond having a proper email structure, the body of the email should include why your expertise or piece of content is valuable to them.

For example, let’s say I’m pitching a study related to the productivity of remote workers. In my follow up, I could relate my experience to the study: “As I mentioned, I’ve been working remotely for over a year and would love to share tips related to how I stay productive while working from home.”

Don’t have experience that directly relates to the content that you’re pitching? Include how your background in content marketing, or a related field, could be utilized to draft a guest post for them.

Take personalization to the next level

Sometimes a prospect’s email isn’t easily available, even if you use an email finder software. If that’s the case, get as personal as possible when sending your pitch to the prospective department or general site email.

If you have to direct the email to the general email, mention a piece that you read on their site, referencing the author who wrote it. It’s likely that your prospect will see the first 40+ characters of the body of the email in their inbox, and if they read a colleague’s name in the opening line, they’ll be more apt to open it. Additionally, link to the original story that you’re referencing so they can easily see the connection.

Speaking of linking, make things easier for the receiver by re-linking to all of the same points that you included in your original email. The three relevant links I include in my follow ups are:

  • A related post or page published on their site
  • The piece of content that I’m pitching
  • Their contributor guidelines page (if applicable)

The third point will show them that you did your research and could help cement coverage. You can easily find a publisher’s contributor guidelines through a Google site search: site:yoursite.com “contributor guidelines.”

Offer something else

There is a chance that you didn’t get a response from your initial email because the prospect is uninterested in what you’re offering. You can avoid wasting a follow up if you have something else that you can offer the prospect such as an embed code, a guest post, or a quote from a thought leader that represents the brand you’re working with.

For example, did you initially request that your piece of content is added to their resource page? Mention that instead you can draft a custom guest post for their blog related to the topic in your follow up.

Pitch a new angle

It’s possible that a publisher simply doesn’t like your idea, therefore, they ignored it.

If you’re pitching an infographic or visual, it’s possible that the publisher will accept an original guest post to go along with it. If the original pitch didn’t stick, consider pitching a few new angles that they haven’t already covered in the follow up.

For example, if you originally pitched a visual on how to groom a dog, you could suggest writing a guest post around how to care for a new puppy, how to safely clip a dog’s toenails or the best methods for washing a dog. From there, you can easily and naturally weave a link to your visual into the guest post.

Your follow up could result in a win-win for both parties: a link for you (or your client) and a custom guest post for the publisher. Here’s an example of how I’d phrase the follow up:

Hey [first name],

Are you open to accepting an original guest post around [topic]?

For reference, I wanted to share an example of a guest post I’ve written on [topic]. You can check it out here [link to guest post].

So far, it’s gained a good amount of [traction/views] for [site]. If you’re open to it, I’d love to contribute to [site name] to share advice on [topic].

Do any of these ideas resonate with you?

        • [idea]
        • [idea]
        • [idea]

Let me know if one of these is a fit and I can have an article drafted by EOD, [date]!

Pro tip: Try to include an author bio in all guest post contributions so you can also land a homepage link. Additionally, have your professional headshot handy in case they require it.

Share an example of your work

If you’re offering to guest post on their site, they’ll likely want to see an example of your writing to ensure that you’re a good fit as a contributor. In your follow up, share articles that you have written around a similar topic, but outside of what you’ve done for your client. I tend to send three examples of guest posts that I’m most proud of.

If you don’t have any examples to share with them, I’d recommend that you work on getting your writing out there. Not only will it help you from an outreach perspective, but it will help with your own professional development.

Do you have a go-to tip for following up that I haven’t mentioned? Would love to hear from you — share in the comments below.

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