Quantifying Outreach : Mike King Link Love 2012

This is part 2 of my blow by blow account of Link Love London 2012, featuring a full run down of each presentation.

Mike King : Link Love London 2012

Quantifying Outreach. What we learned from analysing 300,000 Outreach Emails

Mike King : iAcquire @ipullrank

Mike King’s presentation was just about as actionable as presentations can get. Anyone who didn’t come away from this with solid take-aways of how to do better is either a genius or just doesn’t do outreach. Mike is now Director of Inbound at iAcquire. As part of that role he was been working of a study of 300,000 outreach emails to analyse what results in engagement and eventually links. Mike’s Link Love presentation (slide deck here) was a charismatic and witty presentation of key points from the results of that study. The full report is also available to download  from iAcquire.

I don’t want to just reproduce a watered down version of the study here, so instead are a few key points to whet your appetite, after which you can just go off and download the whole thing.


  • The iAcquire link building process starts off with a large scrape/crawl. This is then filtered to remove certain commonly found sites (bluelist filter), competitors, bad neighbourhoods etc (blacklist filter) before having client specific seo metrics added. This then goes through manual review for general quality measure plus client specific ones before entering the outreach process.
  • The study involved the mails sent as part of that process, plus data from buzzstream
  • The results looked both at what factors solicited a response and those that finally resulted in a link (see the actual report for all the details and caveats)

What the evidence says

  • The myth that female senders get more response from outreach emails is true, however the difference was very small. Male senders though actually secured more links.
  • Using the recipients name is unsurprisingly the best option. When this isn’t possible a simple “Hi” was the next best. Use tools such as Rapportive and RapLeaf [MB: or RavenTools contact finder] to find details
  • Time (or schedule using  tools like Boomerang) your emails to arrive before spam fatigue sets in. Send overnight or over the weekend for best results, or early in the day if not.
  • Follow emails up once or twice for best return on time spent. However persistence pays off after 6 mails. Again, Boomerang can help with this
  • Mails of over 1,000 characters work better than shorter ones. Shorter mails get a higher response, longer ones close more links.
  • The sample of when first-touch was made by twitter was small, but results were exceptional. Social link building FTW.
  • Emails without a phone number performed better than those with. Possibly raises concerns over follow-up calls.
  • Logos on emails improve performance. Trust signals.

Other Great Stuff Covered

  • Talk about “link equity” not “link juice” if you want clients to take it seriously [MB: The nomenclature of our profession is a huge bone of contention to me. It's great to hear someone else talking about this]
  • Demonstrate link Equity as Incremental Traffic * CPC in Paid Search * Price of labour for those links monthly
  • Use niche specific Twitter accounts for outreach. Keep them honest, but have them tailored to the niche you are working
  • Outreach can work better if you can show the recipient strong examples
  • Consider making contact sharing cool stuff you are not connected to first
  • My quick maths suggested that iAcquire are working to about a 4.5% success rate from first mail sent to link secured.

Summing Up

I can’t imagine that many people who watched this presentation will not be making some changes at least to their outreach methods.  We certainly will (and in fact, have already). We’ll also be working through the full report over the next few days and seeing if we can squeeze any more value from it. Mike’s presentation was not only crammed with actionable tips, but it was really enjoyable too. He definitely left the room buzzing.
The next Session is Branko.


Mat Bennett is long serving web geek and MD at OKO, a Hampshire based web development and marketing agency.