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The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Email Outreach

Outreach marketing is the practice of seeking out individuals or organizations that have a shared interest in what you or your company has to offer.

It aims to take marketing back to its roots, thus focusing on a human-to-human connection.

Outreach marketing is all about reaching out to the right people at the right time.

And what better channel to do that than some good ol’ classic email?

The Phases of Email Outreach

There are some specific steps you should follow if you want to take significant results and reach your end goal. The outreach process requires the following 3 phases:

  • Preparation Phase
  • Execution Phase
  • Post-Execution Phase

First things first, you need a list with people on your hands. There are two cases when it comes to your target audience:

  1. You are targeting to your existing customers, so you already have the leads but in a bad state (i.e. dormant, disengaged, leaking to competition).
  2. You are targeting to a new audience, so you have to find leads from scratch. This means you have to spend some time deciding:
    • What is your audience and how to discover them
    • What companies your audience is working to
    • Who are the people in these companies
Photo: Jerry Kiesewetter

In this step-by-step guide, we analyze both cases.

1. Email Outreach with a list

A. Preparation phase

Step 1: Data Cleansing

Throw away what’s not necessary for your data.

Take a careful look at the data you have collected until now. Chances are that not all of this data is of the same quality and significance.

Step 2: Consolidate your data

Put all data together to make a mega-list.

Tracking data from different places across the web, using various tools each time, means that you end up with many lists that have to be combined. In this step, you put all of your data together and create your mega-list.

Step 3: Set your valuable elements

Define your dimensions, or else, any helpful information you know about every person on your list. Your dimensions may refer to the industry they are working in, their demographics, habits, etc.

If the list comes from your database, try to collect as much metadata as possible. All these things will help you segment that list in the best possible way.

Step 4: Create Segments

Make segments using your dimensions in every possible combination. This will result in all of your options being available for outreach audiences.

For example, if you have four different dimensions, you will end up with around 16 different segments. Select those that make sense for your business.

Step 5: Pick your fights

Pick the top segments according to the 80/20 principle. What the Pareto principle practically means here is that NOT every customer counts the same. In other words, pick those that make the most impact on your business.

The Pareto principle

Step 6: Create your content

Of course, you are not going to outreach to each segment with the same copies. Otherwise, there would be no point in the segmentation process. Create your content accordingly.

For each segment you have to use different copies, subject lines and digital properties (it could be a contest, a discount coupon, a personalized offer, a gift, an informational page, a sign-up form, a thank you page, anything). Keep experimenting until you find out what is the most engaging for each reader segment.

B. Execution Phase

Step 7: Execute

Time for implementation! Send out your emails and make sure you have used all of your options to make your retargeting possible and easier.

Step 8: Analyze

Analyze the first results and the collection from your first wave of outreach. This will show you which variants performed best, so you can use them later.

C. Post-Execution Phase

It’s now time to follow up. Change copies and variants. Use the ones that performed best to those that didn’t engage.

Step 9: Repeat

Re-execute, again and again, targeting those recipients that didn’t open your emails at first.

The above-mentioned steps concern your email outreach campaigns if you happen to have a list in your hands.

So what to do when you don’t have one, and you start from zero?

2. Email Outreach Without a List

A. Preparation Phase

Step 1: Decide your audience

It’s impossible to set up an email outreach campaign without knowing who you are talking to. Defining your audience is vital, from the goals you are setting to the copies you will write and use. Therefore, your very first step is to write down who are you targeting.

It’s not necessary to have only one target audience – actually you shouldn’t have! Instead, you can set a primary and a secondary audience.

Remember, at this step, you are just identifying your audience, you are not researching for leads. This step will save you a lot of time later when you will have to start your actual research.

Step 2: Create customer Personas (aka Micro-segmentation)

An audience and a customer persona is not the same. An audience includes groups with similar characteristics, such as companies with a certain number of employees, activity sector, or year of establishment.

On the other hand, when we talk about personas, we become more specific. For example, if our audience targets small technology companies, in London, with 10-25 employees, our personas could be the CEOs of these companies. A persona represents your ideal prospect as it combines the most desirable characteristics you want to see in a customer.

If you want to know more about customer personas and how you can make your very own persona, this is how you create a buyer persona.

Step 3: Set your potential actions

Behind every action, there must be a reason that justifies that action. There is a reason for running an email outreach campaign, and that’s your end goal or goals.

Most of the time, there are more than one ways to reach your end goal, so don’t stick to a certain path.

To have a successful email outreach campaign you have to give something to your audience, that they’ll consider it as valuable, time-worthy, or to put it simply, awesome. Be it a book, a video, or an infographic; it must give some kind of value. The same goes for service!

Always remember to do A/B testing, trying at least two different ways to approach your audience and see which one performs the best.

Step 4: Technical support

Now that you have an idea of what you are looking for, why you need it, and partly how to use it, it’s time to think if you have the proper technical knowledge and support to execute. You need to ask yourself: Can you technically support the email outreach process?

Searching and finding your audience from scratch requires a lot of time researching, web scraping, reading, and analyzing the data collected since you want to make sure you have quality leads.

Apart from that, building strong relationships with your audience is not something that you’ll get from day one. It takes time and effort to succeed and reach your end goal.

B. Execution Phase

Up until now, you’ve put on paper everything you needed to know actually why you are running your email outreach campaign, what is your goal, who are your targeting, how you’ll approach your audience, and if you can run the whole process.

Now it’s time to take some action, which brings us to the execution phase.

Step 6: Start by finding companies


When it comes to audience tracking, it’s much easier to start by finding companies that fit your niche. There are plenty of tools that can help you in this step, making your life easier. Some suggestions I usually make include dealroom.co, crunchbase.com, builtwith.com, and ghostery.com. Experiment with these for a start and find out what’s the right tool for you.

These tools will provide you with significant data and lists of companies, depending on your parameters — data such as industry, geographical region, establishment date, number of employees, and last fund round.

There is also CrunchBase or AngelList, the yellow pages, and other directories. They will not come cheap, but they can bring volume.

Step 7: From companies to individuals

Assuming that you now have the domains of the companies, it’s time to find the people working for them! Of course, having a list of the companies you need takes you one step closer to that.

Maybe you haven’t noticed it yet, but the execution process is a dance of tools. Again, you’d better use more than one tool.

To make sure you are not wasting your time with tools that don’t function, make a test using your company or a company that you know. Chances are that if you are taking the right results for your company, the same will happen for the rest of the companies.

To help you save even more time, I suggest you to consider using Anyleads and Hunter.

If you want to know more about those, then look no further. We’ve written step-by-step guides for both of them:

> Anyleads’ guide

> Hunter’s guide

Email flow automation with Anyleads

Step 8: Take your time

Knowing that you’ve already spent a lot of time to reach this step, you’ll probably be in a hurry to finally execute and run the process.

But if you can’t manage that, you risk sending all of your efforts right into the trash. Take a breath and set your time frame. Split your actions across this frame to be able to evaluate each action.

Step 9: Segments, dimensions, and copies

You’ve spent much time creating your list so you ought to extract the maximum possible value from it. Enter A/B testing.

1. Make a list of all the data you have collected from different companies and their employees.
2. Start making segments according to common characteristics (age, gender years in the company, position or whatever you need according to your strategy).
3. Create different copies and define what offer you will give for each segment, according to the copy you’ll send.
4. Create variants for each segment. Don’t even start unless you have at least three variants per segment.

Did you notice that I didn’t mention copywriting until step 9? Copywriting is one of the major factors that will determine the success or the failure of your email outreach campaign. You already know that your offer is valuable. You have to convince your audience that it’s also valuable for them. The single best way to do that? Effective copywriting! Thankfully, we have a guide for that, with the best tips on how to craft compelling copy.

Step 10: Time to execute

The moment you were waiting for has come! You are now ready to start outreaching your audience.

This is the simplest part of the whole process. Again, remember, there is no reason to rush and send all of the emails at the same time. Create a calendar and start sending them, while monitoring their results for about three days.

Then decide what worked and what didn’t, make any appropriate changes and send the next ones!

C. Post-Execution Phase

If you thought that an email outreach campaign ends with the sending of the emails, you couldn’t be more wrong! In this phase, there is a single step, yet it’s an important one if you want to reach your end goal, as set in Step 3 (potential actions).

Step 11: Follow up

In sales, they say that you have to knock 3 times before the customer opens the door. Follow-up is a necessity if you want to see results.

You can change copies, and subject lines, and use what works best. No matter what, don’t stop sending until you’ve gone through 3 waves of contacting your audience.

Don’t overdo it though – three times is the maximum you should usually go for, as more than three usually shouts spam.


Remember the Nigerian Prince email scam? If not, I should tell you that it’s one of the most infamous emails scams involving an alleged ‘Nigerian Prince’ that asks for your bank account so he can send you a shitload of money.

The ‘Nigerian Prince’ scam goes way back

Well, don’t be surprised when I tell you that there are people out there that have fallen for this scam – and still do. Why? Because volume!

Think about it, even if the ‘conversion’ is as low as 0.01% percent, the Nigerian Prince scams are sent by the millions. It sounds obvious, but we often overlook volume: The more people and businesses your outreach, the higher the chance to reach your goal.

So try to make your email outreach list as big as possible. And don’t forget to learn how you can avoid email spam filters like a pro.

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