We all know what it’s like to spend hours perfecting the perfect outreach pitch, intended for a reporter or blogger, only to find that their email address is nowhere to be found. This is really frustrating, but after desperate searching, you finally resort to sending your beautiful email creation to the black hole known as the “Contact Form,” never to be opened or read again.
Many sites like Backlinko and Search Engine Land agree that sending a personalized pitch to the right person is extremely important in improving your outreach success rate. However, this is difficult if you’ve found the perfect reporter or blogger who covers the beat you’re targeting, but you can’t find a way to contact them personally. This post outlines some of the techniques and tools that I’ve found useful for finding personal email addresses and improving outreach success.
Brief Case Study
Here’s a brief case study from a recent outreach campaign I completed for a client. It was a brand mentions campaign in which I found and contacted 60 sites that had mentioned our client in an article, but had not linked back. Of the 60 brand mentions I contacted, I found 37 personal author or editor email addresses (firstname.lastname@example.org), 20 general site email addresses (email@example.com), and had to use 3 contact forms for sites where neither of these email addresses could be found.
- When using a personal email address for the author or editor, 43% did not respond, 27% responded but rejected, and 30% added a link.
- When using general site email addresses, 40% did not respond, 35% responded but rejected, and 25% added a link.
- For the 3 sites I could only find a contact form for, 100% did not respond.
I admit there are inherent problems and variables in the statistics of this small case study (small data sample, recognizability of the brand, etc.) but my experience in this case and with other campaigns has shown that the success rate is higher when emails are sent to actual people, not just generic emails or contact forms. Here are 5 tips I use to find a personal email address.
1. Look for their email on the site itself
Sometimes a miracle happens, and you can find the author or blogger’s email address right there at the end of one of their articles.
Isn’t this a beautiful sight?
When it’s not there (which is usually the case), I’ll typically click on the author’s name, if it’s hyperlinked, and see if that takes me to a brief bio about them which might include their email address. If there’s no luck there, I’ll begin searching the site’s “About Us,” “Contact Us,” and “Meet Our Team” pages.
Sometimes, even if I don’t find the email address for the person I want to contact, I’ll still find the format or structure of email addresses on that site— this is gold. Say for example the site editor’s name is John Doe and their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Well there’s a really good chance your author’s email follows that same format of first.lastname@sitename.
Another place I’ll typically look is back to some of the earliest articles or posts they created on their site. This works especially well for bloggers. Sometimes when bloggers first started writing, they included their email address in their first few posts to encourage reader feedback. I’ve found a few bloggers’ emails from doing this.
2. Do a “site:” search
Typing their site name into a Google search along with the word “email” or “contact us” in front of it has also been a great source for me. For example, I’ll do a Google search for “contact us site:yourtargetsite.com” which shows me any Google-indexed page on their site that contains the words “contact us.” Doing this will sometimes lead me to pages that weren’t visible or easy to find from their site navigation menu and will often lead me to the contact’s email address.
3. Search for their personal sites
If you can’t seem to find the reporter or blogger’s email address on the site they contribute to, try searching for their name “John Doe” along with the name of your target site, or even just their name. These searches often bring up any personal or CV sites the author may have, and they sometimes lead me to other sites the author contributes as well, giving me even more places to search for their email.
4. Try social media
Another great place to find an author’s email address is through social media sites. I’ve found particular success with Facebook and Google+. Here’s an example of where you may find an email address on a Facebook page:
Authors sometimes include their email addresses in their Twitter bio or in other profiles, so it’s important to search through all of the social media accounts you can find.
5. Use contact information services
Services like ZoomInfo.com offer access to regularly updated databases of the names, titles, and email addresses of the people at popular companies and blogs. I’ve only used the free version of ZoomInfo, but I’ve still had a lot of success finding names and personal email addresses for my previous outreach campaigns.
Bonus: Free email tracking services like Streak for Gmail and Yesware are also great services for after you’ve sent your email. These services actually secretly track your sent emails and notify you when and if they’re opened which also helps you optimize the outreach subject lines you’re using.
There’s so many other components to consider when doing outreach (your pitch, your content, subject lines, etc.), but I hope these tips help you get your personalized pitches to the right people, and ultimately help you improve your overall outreach success rate.