Let's break it down...
Email / Subject / Greeting
OK - so we're sending from firstname.lastname@example.org - that looks and sounds pretty legit - no free gmail or yahoo account. Plus, we're sending it directly to Stephanie - the person most likely responsible for handling visibility for the organization.
The subject line is critical - in 7 words we're managing to achieve quite a lot - we're telling her that there's a grief directory and that her organization is in it, but more than that - by adding the How in front, we're giving her an indication that there's a story about her organization inside the email - we're thinking that's going to pique her curiosity and encourage her to find out more by opening it.
Section 1: About Her & Her Organization
You have to start with the person's name - outreach emails are personal - if you can't spend the time to find the name of the right individual, why should they spend their time on you?
We're then straight into the reason we're writing - we've added your organization to a directory - here's the link. No messing around - the number one thing we want Stephanie to do is to look at her entry - so - we're getting that straight up at the beginning.
Finally and perhaps most importantly in this first section, we're letting her know that we have taken the time to learn about her organization and that we're empathizing with her mission. This paragraph is the most important part of the email and if it comes off as shallow, copied or just banal then it's game over.
Section 2: About Me & Why I'm Writing To Her
We're writing directly to Stephanie as a person so we need to put ourselves forward as an individual too - we wouldn't be doing this if we hadn't been touched by grief ourselves and we need to let Stephanie know that that is the common denominator between us.
Now comes the reason we're writing, the identification of our shared problem: in our experience of searching for help when dealing with grief - it isn't easy to find and connect to the right organization.
This is going to be one of her main objectives - to increase visibility of her organization - we now have a shared problem which allows us to move to the next step, which is why we are doing this.
The danger here is to presenttoo much information and overwhelm her with justification for our existence - here we use the simple trick of linking to our about page. If she's curious about why and what we're doing she can check it out - but we close this section by reiterating the value and worth her organization has to our shared target audience.
Section 3. The Ask
Before we present our ask - our request for action from her - we have another opportunity to demonstrate our bona fides. We all receive bait and switch emails - people offering one thing and then hoping you'll pay for them later - we need to make clear upfront that this is not the case. A stand alone statement that makes it clear that we're not in this for money from them - should assuage any initial concerns.
Our end goal from this email is to open a dialog with Stephanie - first by getting her to look at what we have done and then by inviting her to make changes etc if she wishes to. Our ask is presented in a way that makes it about her and her needs rather than ours. We of course tell her the best way to reply.
If this seems ridiculously over the top and unrealistic in the real world because of the time you'd have to spend to make the outreach this specific, well, um, sorry, but that's how it is.
Yes there is a template nature to this email - sections 2 and 3 can be pretty much copied but section 1, the paragraph that makes the connection with the reader, can only come from you having spent time researching the target.
And while we refer to them as targets and we're doing all of this because we want something from them - every single line of that email is about aligning our interests with theirs. If we succeed in raising the visibility of the Grief Directory, they in turn will see their visibility increase.
We can't bullshit this or try to trick someone into linking to us. The only way this kind of digital strategy works is if in fact we have created something of value - something that helps not just the organization but the people they serve.
Next Week: And this relates to you how?