How To Do Outreach Marketing: 3,111 to 220,352 Traffic in 12 Months

Lately, everyone’s been talking about “outreach marketing”…

But very few people are talking about what it is, or how to do it.

In this post, I’m going to lay out our entire B2B outreach marketing process step by step.

I’ll include the exact email templates we used to land huge media mentions and grow the organic traffic of a brand new software startup by 7,083%% in just under a year. 

And above all, how we bootstrapped the entire marketing strategy ourselves, saving upwards of six figures on a third-party PR firm.

See, getting press – particularly as a B2B company – can be extremely expensive. Retainer fees for startups tend to cost $5,000 to $10,000, and can exceed $20,000 for established B2B companies[1].

For most businesses, particularly startups starved for cash, these kinds of retainers would quickly bankrupt the entire company…

How is that that just a few press mentions can be so expensive? 

The fact is, PR agencies usually charge a hefty mark up on their services[2].

Their billed hourly rate, the price paid for content, the price paid to media partners… is all upcharged and passed on to clients who end up footing the PR bill.

What’s more, these agencies often have a tough time showing their client’s big investment in PR actually had an impact.

In a recent study of the top B2B marketers[3], PR “outreach marketing” was listed as the most difficult marketing channel to show proof of ROI.

If PR outreach agencies:

  • ☑️ Charge way too much, and
  • ☑️ Can’t even shown the ROI on their press and media buys…

…Why on earth should you consider hiring one?

You shouldn’t.

Getting high-quality press and media mentions as a new, B2B startup is actually much simpler and more straightforward than most founders and business owners realize.

It may seem like a black box of handshake agreements behind the curtains, but PR is actually downright simple when done right…

There are just a few elements of nuance involved that most B2B content marketers and PR agencies overlook, and it’s in those details where great PR is earned (and money is saved).

Today I’m going to share some of those nuances, so that you can avoid the same mistakes made by nearly every B2B business owner looking to hire a digital PR agency[4].

I’ll share the process we used to grow several B2B startups in some of the most competitive B2B niches today, and the results we were able to achieve with a small, agile team.

We’ll share the steps for connecting with journalists who are eager to talk about your business, including the exact email templates we used to win them over.

Above all, we’ll share some of our own secret sauce at Blue Tree for getting this kind of press for your business without paying the kind of absurd retainer fees charged by most B2B press and media agencies.

Setting Expectations

Before we jump in, a big nota bene for you, dear reader.

We are about to share our exact process for getting really good PR for cheap, down to the smallest details… but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to replicate – not in the slightest.

This approach will take a considerable amount of up-front elbow grease. The first few months may even feel like you’re treading water, not quite getting anywhere.

But remember, this is about building real relationships – the payoff of which is a lot higher than buying one-off, transactional links or press releases.

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started.

If you’d rather speak with us directly, click here to set up a call.[5]

How We Cracked the “Outreach Marketing Code”

Public relations, at its core, is about connecting with journalists, influencers, and other folks in the media to get your business mentioned and shown – the purpose of which is to get eyeballs on your brand and bring in new customers.

This also indirectly helps B2B businesses get more customers because any major media mention is great for SEO…

The links in articles on strong sites help improve a website’s search engine rankings in Google and other search engines, which then leads to more organic traffic (which is the most valuable form of traffic[6], followed closely by email).

Surprisingly, most PR firms traditionally focus on metrics like aggregate view count and completely ignore the SEO value of strong, authoritative links.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with wanting more eyeballs on your brand but the “press only” approach ignores a very important fact: it does nothing for a company’s SEO (and in some cases is a net negative).

On the flip side, most self described “outreach and PR specialists” are simply nothing more than SEO consultants try to get backlinks. In PR lingo, a “relationship-building email” is just a formal way of saying “trying to get a link”.

The key to succeeding with B2B PR in 2020 and beyond is to get media mentions that are strong from an SEO perspective as well as get viewed by thousands or tens of thousands of potential customers…

To really get your brand to stand out, you need both SEO and PR working together in harmony.

The main problem with this approach is that startup founders (who are often technical developers) and B2B business owners are extremely busy and don’t have the time – or bandwidth – to do this effectively.

So, how did we manage to grow the organic traffic of a brand new B2B software startup by more than 7,000% in just under a year? ?


PR That Works – Our Approach

Are your PR efforts producing a positive ROI? If not, maybe it’s time to consider a different approach.

At this point, you might be wondering – how the heck do I get legitimate press that shows a clear ROI and doesn’t break the bank?

Let’s walk through the process, step by step.

Step #1: Build Your Digital Persona

Nearly everyone who uses the internet today has a digital version of themselves – an “avatar” so to speak.

Our social media profiles, blogs, and general internet history tell our story: what we like, who we know, and what we’ve accomplished in life.


Building a strong online persona is incredibly important to succeeding at any type of online business.

Since we can’t always meet people face to face, we have to rely on the trust signals associated with their name and online profiles.

Today, fierce competition and a growing lack of trust in online marketing[7] are changing the way people make buying decisions online.

So, it’s more important than ever to make your persona as polished and trustworthy as possible in order to build the trust necessary to convert traffic into paying customers.

Here the steps you should take to make this work for your own business and clients:

1. Get bloggin’.

To demonstrate your interest in the particular field or topic, make sure the person doing the pitching has some kind of writing portfolio to their credit.

It doesn’t necessarily need to be a beautifully designed website, but consider having your team engage with the industry by writing thought pieces on your company blog, Medium, and elsewhere.

Recent research from Content Marketing Institute[8] demonstrates the importance of blogs for B2B demand generation, showing that blogs are the most effective means for generating top of the funnel awareness for B2B leads by a long-shot:

If a company looks up the person behind the email, they will be more likely to reply if they see that they’ve written about their industry on third party blogs.

Case in point, here is an email from an editor at Forbes in response to an email from one of the outreach team at Blue Tree (who prolifically blogs on many websites):

The editor was impressed by Laura’s blog writing, even offering to pay her.

2. Get social.

Spend some time building a high quality Linkedin profile. Connect with some people or get your team to spend 10-15 minutes a day using Linkedin and engage with others in the industry.

Linkedin is the new resume, and you can really “connect with who you want” on the platform, without going through gatekeepers.

A whopping 92 percent of B2B companies are looking at Linkedin profiles for trust signals.

Many of our team members get regular invites to conferences and requests for opinion, soundbites on other publications, and even TV news appearances in his Linkedin inbox.

A hedge fund manager seeking advisory support.

An I.T. engineer offering to translate a client’s article into Chinese (free PR!).

3. Use an email from

As mentioned earlier, if you’re a PR agency representing a client, ask them for an email Don’t be shy about this — it has a big impact on response rate.

You need to do this for two reasons: First, you look way more professional. Second, you’ll get better email deliverability. (More on deliverability in a minute.)

To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at a poorly executed outreach email from an ill-defined persona. Here is an email one of our B2B software clients recently received, soliciting a guest post or press release:

Needless to say, this is a weak attempt at landing a backlink. There is no personalization whatsoever and the email is just a random Gmail – it could be anyone.

Pitch aside, if we look up the name, there’s a strong indication that the person is just looking for a link, or that he/she doesn’t even exist. A quick Google search of ‘Faiza Farooqi’ reveals:

  • ✅ An Upwork profile listed as “Digital Marketing Expert”
  • ✅ A Twitter profile filled with auto-tweet spam
  • ✅ No trust signals (legitimate social media profiles or blog writing)

Not only would this email not get a response, but it would be flagged as SPAM.

?Now let’s take a look at a B2B PR done well. Here is an email sent from a PR firm on behalf of their client, NETSCOUT:

Notice how in depth and well crafted this email is. It accomplishes a lot:

  • ✅ The sender comments on recent articles we wrote, and on which sites
  • ✅ They ask if we’re attending an upcoming industry conference
  • ✅ They offer to meet
  • ✅ They provide a ton of value by offering to share their report
  • ✅ They offer to make an introduction to a well-known policy advisor and influencer.

All in all, this sparked a great relationship with our client and has led to tens of thousands in repeat business between the two companies.

Note: this PR person could have done even better by 1) picking out specific details from our articles about what she liked, 2) using an email address from the company (, rather than her PR firm, and 3) keeping it a bit shorter.

All in all, though, this was done well.

Notice the huge difference between the first and second emails: one is purely trying to take without giving anything in return, whereas the second is almost all value up front without asking for much.

Step #2: Build a Highly-Targeted Email List

Now that you’ve set up a trustworthy digital “persona”, it’s time to start building a list of people to reach out to. As the saying goes, “the money is in the list”.

Likewise, “the money is in building the list.” Many B2B companies reach out to us with large email lists that are a mix match of clients, customers, vendors, and much more. Note – there isn’t a whole lot of value in a broad, unsegmented list of emails.

So, when endeavoring to build a list of people and companies to connect with via email, it’s important to use a “sniper rifle” approach, rather than shotgun.

It will take a bit more time, but the quality of your list will be much higher, and ultimately it will cost a lot less time and money in the long run as you can actually act on the data you’re getting from your outreach campaign.

That said, let’s walk through the steps to building a list of qualified email contacts in any B2B industry.

Let’s start off with my first and favorite one…

1. Ask for a Referral

It turns out that the editor community is pretty small and a lot of big sites work together. Often times, one huge digital magazine is part of a large media conglomerate, which owns many similar sites in a particular niche.

Once you’ve gotten in an editors good graces (by following all the steps outlined above) asking for referrals is easy. We’ve gotten columns on Entrepreneur, Payoneer, Marketo, Forbes and GeekWire by asking for referrals.

(Coincidentally, this is something that no other SEOs are doing, so it comes across as even more natural than the “perfect” cold email pitch).

2. Use Good Email Finding Software

Tools like Hunter[9] (our favorite) and FindThatLead[10] expedite the process of what would otherwise be manually searching for emails.

If you’re doing lots of outreach, for SEO or otherwise, investing in one of these tools is a no brainer.

3. Hire and Train Contract Workers

When operating in the software / tech space, it’s not uncommon for one founder to be associated with many different companies, ie domains. So, their go-to email is rarely going to be “”.

The only way to find their preferred email address is through some digging on Google, Twitter, Linkedin, their personal websites, and whatever else you can find.

Tools can’t do this, but talented contractor works and virtual assistants (“VAs”) can.

Note, these strategies work on a case by case basis. Every correspondence will be slightly different, so this can’t be scaled – it must be done painstakingly, one custom email at a time.

But that’s the beauty – once you’ve made the connection, you can rest assured that the vast majority of PR firms aren’t putting in the same amount of effort to find the emails.

Hold up.

At this point we need to take a minute and reemphasize one of the most important points of this approach: it won’t be easy at first. It will be slow, tedious and feel like low ROI on your time.

But like anything in life, high barriers to entry scare off lazy competition.

You need to think about this form of B2B PR as compounding over time. The up front hustle, relationships and previously-written pieces compound on each other to make future efforts and networking easier.

In just a few months, you can be at the point where a single outreach specialist on your team can land several media mentions per day when done well.

Quality over quantity. Start slow and do it right.

Step #3: Using Your Persona For High-Touch PR Outreach

Before we dive into the details of writing emails, let’s address the elephant in the room: most PR agencies pitch journalists and webmasters using email addresses at the PR agency

Consider this the “cardinal sin” of B2B PR outreach – using an “agency email”, rather than an email set up on the client site itself.

News flash: people want to do business directly with other people, not through intermediary agencies who use cookie cutter templates full of marketing jargon.

What this means, in practice.

1. Write pitches for individual people.

You need a specific angle… for the site and the person being pitched. Maybe a technical background or a specific opinion or a criticism of the editor’s information breakdown.

Ideally, the pitch should be:

  1. ☑️ Timely/newsworthy, based on a current event happening right now
  2. ☑️ Relevant to the site and its audience
  3. ☑️ Relevant to the person being pitched.

This may sound overly granular, but it’s this level of granularity that almost guarantees a response and separates you from the legions of others pitching them the subject line “Re: Love your content! (and a proposal)”.

This stopped working years ago (in fact, we’re not sure if it ever worked.)

I cannot stress how important this is. It’s truly what separates successful (re: positive-ROI) PR agencies from everyone else.


2. Do things that don’t scale.

For the simple reason that most PR firms – regardless of the tactics they use – think purely in terms of “How_Can_I_Scale_This?” ????? (scientific representation of the average PR agent’s thought process.)

Can you imagine if you had to deal with hundreds of these people on a weekly basis? It would get exhausting. And that is precisely how most journalists, editors, and webmasters feel when they see a pitch like so.

Rather than send a templated pitch like the above from your email “”, try something more personalized with a softer touch.

At Blue Tree we regularly ask, “What can we do differently… even if it doesn’t scale? Especially if it doesn’t scale.”

Our emails often have 6, 7 or even 10 personalized touches, written specifically for the receiver. This allows us to connect with some very strong websites, eg the U.S. Library of Congress[11]:

3. Improving Email Deliverability.

One important tip regarding deliverability. Email deliverability is something not many PR companies talk about but it’s extremely important. After all, once the point of building a database of journalists and influencers in your industry and email them all if your emails never even make it past the spam folder?

Here are four quick tips for improving yours. Be on the lookout for a guide about this in the future.

  1. ✅ Don’t add links, documents, or attachments in the first cold email.
  2. ✅ Avoid spam and commercial words like “free”, “cheap”, or “discount”.
  3. ✅ Check deliverability via – Mail Tester[12].
  4. ✅ Use a reputable ESP – ideally one that runs through Amazon SES
  5. ✅ Send to active subscribers first (based on web activity or another signal), then Gmail users, and then send your pitch to the rest of the people on your list.
  6. ✅ When using a new email inbox, send 2-3 emails per day for a week to friends, family and colleagues with casual conversation. This effectively “warms up” the inbox, so that when you start scaling up outreach, the messages won’t be flagged as suspicious.

Implement each of the above six tactics and email deliverability won’t be an issue.

Step #4: Best Email Templates and Tactics For B2B PR

If you came to this post just to find some B2B cold email templates, you’re in luck because that’s exactly what we’re going to share in this step.

(Don’t worry, we’re not offended. In fact, we quite enjoy coming up with B2B email pitches in our spare time… #outreachnerds ?).

Inside look at a Blue Tree team meeting.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past six or so years of doing cold email PR outreach, it’s that one crafty pitch can truly change the course of your business in a huge way.

In the words of Gumroad founder Sahil Lavangia, “A well-written cold email can change your life.”[13]

So that being said, here is where we spill the beans, share the goods, and open the kimono (choose your favorite marketing “reveal” aphorism).

?Warning: most B2B email marketers and PR firms will tell you not to copy their emails verbatim (“Use your own creativity!”). On the contrary, we encourage you to use these exactly as is, or modify them if you like.

The only way to know if they will work is to try them yourself.


When writing a pitch, there are a handful of variables you need to consider that will determine what kind of message you write. These include:

  • ☑️ The person you’re pitching (role at Company X and background)
  • ☑️ The site you’re pitching and the type of content on the site.
  • ☑️ Your persona and background experience.
  • ☑️ The general approach of your campaign – eg, is it a short, targeted list or broad list with not much discretion as to who you’re emailing or the types of sites you’re targeting.

If, say, you’re targeting the CTO of secure cloud storage companies in the B2B space who just raised a Series A round between $2-5 from a “security expert” persona, then your pitch needs to be written in a way that aligns perfectly with the above criteria.

If, however, you’re emailing all the companies listed on AngelList and pitching general PR, it needs to be broader and more open-ended, able to appeal to a wide range of people.

With that in mind, here are our four favorite email templates for B2B cold email outreach, and the rationale behind each one:

Email Template #1: The “Technical Writer”

This is a template we use at BlueTree for messaging broad lists of tech, software, and security-related publications for our B2B SaaS clients.

It’s sort of the “default” message we send, and despite sending it to a variety of different websites, has a very high response rate (more than 25% across the board on the first email alone).

The email cadence (ie, tone) is a bit direct. The idea here is that the person pitching is coming across as no-frills, not wasting an editor’s time.

As mentioned earlier, editors regularly get pitched by hundreds of B2B marketers and PR agencies, so keeping it short shows respect for their time.

Here’s the pitch:

Let’s break down this pitch to see why it’s so effective for cold email outreach. It works because:

  • Starts with “Dear”, comes across as a bit formal (which matches the person pitching, and older gentleman.)
  • Intros with an indirect apology, which disarms their “marketing shield” and again, matches the persona.
  • Includes a bit about yourself: you’re a “technical writer”, not just a writer or copywriter. When you say “technical writer” it literally means someone who can write about code (not a developer per se), but it could also mean someone who writes about technical topics. By positioning yourself as such, you further disarm their “marketing shield”.
  • You’re writing about network security and open source applications. Nowadays, nearly every software company has a security component[14], and likewise, most people in the software development community are open-source advocates.
  • You ask if there’s an option to “contribute” and “write for the site”, not “submit a post”. The subtext here is that it could be a long-term engagement. Most big companies don’t have the time nor energy to field “Guest Post” requests; they are looking for regular contributors.
  • Quickly add some credentials (social proof) and be on your way.

This pitch is so effective on un-targeted lists that I sorta regret sharing it in this case study… we’ll have to think of a new variation soon. ?

Email Template #2: Comment + Thank, Comment + Add Perspective

This is a straightforward PR tactic, whereby you email a journalist and mention something from one of their recent articles (or Tweets, or video, or any piece of content), and explain why you like it or something you learned from it.

You can elaborate on how your behavior has changed as a result, showing that they’ve had a real, tangible impact on your life in some way.

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