Link-Building Outreach: How to Negotiate Effectively (+Email templates)

Link-building outreach email

The art of using email copy to win link-building negotiations

If you're a link builder or in charge of your own backlink building strategy, then it pays to know how to negotiate effectively. As in link-building outreach, you can't be laying out the terms and then expect the other party to simply comply.

There are many link-building tactics out there but “outreaching” is one that is often misunderstood. That's why we'll go over each aspect in detail and provide templates for your use! This article will dig deep into the art of using email copies to ace link-building negotiations.

The importance of good email copy in link-building negotiation

What is email copy?

Email copy refers to the body text in an email. Depending on what you are emailing about, the body text may be quite long. By introducing compelling content, building engagement, and providing solutions for your readers, not only will you increase your open rates, but you will also increase your conversion rates. 

Why is email copy important?

In the world of link-building, there are few things more important than email copy.

The reason for this is simple: Email is the most direct way to communicate with your audience. It's a one-on-one medium where you can build relationships and connect with people on a personal level.

It also works as a powerful tool for building links because it's the fastest way to reach out to people who could link to your content in a heartbeat — if they like what they see.

Here’s how Joe Troyer of Digital Triggers & InvisiblePPC used email copy and cold outreach to successfully build backlinks to their sites and their client sites.

First, he built a prospect list by searching for bloggers that fit his client’s audience. 

He added the list to a spreadsheet, with information like

  • Name
  • Website URL and Position
  • The niche they write about

He built a list of 1,405 prospects (and did his research on each one) so he could be confident he’d get enough replies to move the needle for his client. 

Then, he defined his core KPI. In this case, the reply rate was what mattered most. If Joe received a reply from his prospect, he knew there was a chance they could work together.

Next, it was time to prepare his email templates. Joe’s email sequence contained three short and sweet templates designed to start a conversation. 

Here’s the first email template: 

Joe Troyer's first outreach email

He also used QuickMail’s A/B testing feature to compare how different subject lines performed.

His campaign resulted in 437 responses, which amounts to a 31% reply rate.

3 Stages of link-building outreach


In link-building outreach process, the pre-outreach stage is usually the first step in a successful link-building campaign.

The primary goal of this stage is to identify the right prospects for outreach, find their contact information, get a list of websites they own, and gather information about each website and its content.

There are many ways to find people who might be interested in linking to your content:

  • Use a prospecting tool like BuzzSumo or Ahrefs to identify influencers in your industry and see what they've shared on social media recently. You can make use of this list as a starting point when reaching out to them.
  • Find out the websites that have already linked to your competitors' websites or content, and reach out to their team members via LinkedIn or email.
  • Look at the sites that rank highly for keywords related to your business, but don't rank highly for keywords related to your business (yet). Reach out with a friendly introduction and ask if they'd be interested in linking to your site.

If this looks like too much hassle, you can consider hiring a link-building agency to do all the legwork for you. 


The mid-outreach stage is the second step of the link-building process. It involves sending emails to potential targets that you have identified with a link-building outreach template.

You've already done your research, so now it's time to take the time to craft a personal email.

Here are some tips for effective mid-outreach emails:

  • Keep it short and simple
  • Use the same email template for everyone
  • Personalize it with metrics that matter to your recipients (not just links)
  • Ask for advice or feedback, not just links

For instance, this is a personalized version of a template that the pioneer Brian Dean uses for broken link building.

Brian Dean's broken link outreach email

Brian based this template on scripts and case studies that he had read before and added his own twist to make it unique.

Personalization also makes this outreach email a success. It’s the key thing that separates spammers from pros. In fact, an analysis of millions of outreach emails discovered that personalized emails get 1/3rd more replies than generic emails.

Here’s how to personalize your outreach emails:

  • Use their name. Brian suggests, “It’s amazing how often I get outreach emails that say “Dear sir” on them. When I see that, I don’t even bother to read the rest. Simply saying “Hi Brian” makes it 10 times more likely that I’ll read it.” 
  • Mention something you saw of theirs as a reference (by linking to their source), either on their site or somewhere else. This shows them that you do know who you’re sending your email to.

Finally, there are four possible responses when you send an email: 

  • Accepts Your Request – Accepts are always great, but don't just stop there. Make sure you have a follow-up plan and get ready for when this happens.  Don't be afraid to ask for something more than just a link or mention. You can ask them to share your content with their network as well. If they say yes, make sure your content is easy to share and looks good on social media! And keep in mind to send a “thank you” email. 
  • Declines Your Request – If someone declines your request for a link, don't take it personally — just move on to find other opportunities for outreach (or maybe even better opportunities!). There are lots of reasons why someone might not want to work with you: maybe they have brand guidelines that prevent them from linking out or maybe they don't think your content is valuable enough for them to put their name behind it.

    But the fact that they say “No” to your pitches now doesn’t mean they will say “No” forever. Do keep in touch with them, just in case they change the guidelines in the future, or you level up yourself to meet their standards. That time, you can reach out again. 
  • Counters Your Request (asks for something else in return) – Countering might also involve offering something else in exchange for the link. This could include promoting content on social media or adding a link to their site from yours. In some cases, it may mean paying them for their time or services.
  • Ignores Your Request – There are a few reasons why someone might ignore your request. It could be as simple as they forgot or they just haven't had time to get back to you yet. If it's been more than a few days, send them another polite reminder. If they continue to ignore you, there may be more going on than just a simple oversight. If this happens, don't take it personally; it's just the way business works sometimes!


At this stage, you have to add value to the relationship you already have with the person who has agreed to link to your content.

Turn the conversation into link opportunities. Once the article is live, send them an email with the link, an offer to make any last changes, and a social media share request.

What should take into account for an effective email copy

Avoid copying standard templates at any cost

The problem with using standard templates is that they're boring and predictable. They don't grab the reader's attention, because they're filled with industry jargon and generic language that everyone else uses too.

Instead, you need to write a personalized, unique copy that stands out from the rest of the crowd. Your goal should be to make people want to read your emails and follow through with what you're offering them. 

Know your potential link target

To help increase your chances of getting a response, spend time ensuring that the sites you've found are relevant.

Start by visiting your target bloggers’ sites, going through their content, and finding out what they like and dislike. Also, you can visit their social media accounts to see the type of links they have shared recently.

Be personal

Link building is about creating relationships with people who will help you share your content and build your brand. Start by being friendly and personable in your emails. 

Statistics suggest that marketers get an average increase of 20% in sales when leveraging personalized experiences. And when you add a personalized video to an email, it can increase click-through rates by 200%.

People like talking to other people, so don't hide behind a cold corporate facade. Be real, honest, and genuine — just like you would be if you were talking to someone in person.

Your subject line should directly preview your body copy for the email

Your subject line should directly preview your body copy for the email. This means that when someone clicks your email, they should know why they should care about what you have to say. 

Don't use vague or generic subject lines like “Here's what you've been waiting for” or “Just wanted to share this with you.” Make sure there's some kind of benefit or information in the subject line that relates back to what you're talking about in the body copy.

Here’s an excellent example:

Why RuffAmor's missing on Google 1st SERP


The subject line is also precise. It focuses on RuffArmor’s search performance and implies the importance of achieving first-page rankings.

Use actionable language

Make sure that your email copy uses language that encourages readers to do something, instead of words that just make them feel something. 

For example, instead of saying “You will see great results with our backlink” say “Click here to see how the link is relevant to your article!”

Make sure your emails short, sweet, and to the point

Since an average person receives about 121 emails per day, they won’t have time to go through long emails, especially if it’s a cold email.

Keep your emails short, sweet, and to the point. You don't want to overwhelm the reader with a wall of text. Just give them enough information to be interested in reading more.

Here’s an excellent example: 

Keep your link-building outreach emails short, sweet, and to the point


Note that the email is actionable, succinct, straightforward, and yet personalized. 

Experts also recommend limiting it to 150-175 words to see a 49% response rate. 200 words result in a 48% response rate. 

Offer value

It’s difficult to get someone to share your content if they don’t see anything that they can get out of it. You can't just send a link request without any context or information. You need to provide value in your email and make it clear why the person should link to you. 

Have a look at this email to get an idea:

offer to write up new report for SocialVille


They are clear about what they’re offering and what they’d like in return, as all good outreach emails are.

Build connections and relationships

The reason why you want to build links is that they give you credibility and authority in the eyes of Google. And the way that you can do this most effectively is by creating relationships with people who have similar interests to you (in other words, where there’s a natural fit).

This means that instead of just pitching your website for links, you need to partake in relationship-based link-building with bloggers and influencers whose sites are relevant to yours. The more genuine the relationship, the more likely they are to share your content with their audience.

Be nice and gentle with follow-up emails

Do follow up, but don't go overboard with it. Stick to one or two follow-ups lest you annoy your contacts. 

You can also provide guest blogging opportunities or use a different angle by offering additional incentives in your follow-up emails.

Have a look at this follow-up email that uses a new angle and provides additional promotional incentives with the link:

Brian's podcast legend offer


Anatomy of some great pitches for link-building outreach

Example 1

The broken link-building email pitch below is an excellent example of an outreach email that is personalized and short. The additional humor is like a cherry on the top. 

broken link pitch example


Example 2

Another great example of a good email copy is the one Gaurav Sharma, CEO of Attrock reached out to our CEO, Michael to write a guest post for MediaBerry. The email sounds natural and gives a personalized compliment that doesn’t sound generic. He also mentions directly the name in the subject line, making it get opened right away. 

new guest post content for Michael from Attrock

Persuade web admins to link to your website!

When it comes to working on link acquisition, there is a multitude of activities you can partake in. Some of these tasks can be more time-consuming than others; others might be more effective in the long run. 

Either way, the goal of this guide is not only to get your creative juices flowing but also to equip you with the knowledge of how to effectively negotiate deals with various targets that are designed to generate quality backlinks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Phoebe is the Email Marketer at MediaBerry. Her main duty is to deliver and find the right homes for great, conversion-focused content pieces through emails. Phoebe is a veteran couch potato when she’s not working. Sometimes, you’ll find her hiking or messing around with her puppies.

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